As you might have seen in my wrap-up of last month, in July, I decided to challenge myself to read 31 books in 31 days. Why would you do that to yourself? you will ask. Well, because I was on holidays, wanted to read as many books as possible to lower my daunting Goodreads TBR (I’m not talking about unread books I own, though), and wanted to enjoy the free time I had to read, before working full time and then starting university again in September.
I didn’t put the list with my entire wrap-up in this blog post, as it was already pretty long, but if you’re curious about what I read, I talked about it in my July wrap-up.
I had previously done such a challenge in June 2015 (which was the time I started this blog, oh my, how does time fly), but I wasn’t that much connected to the book community, then, so I decided to do it again, now that I was, and it was so much fun. I’m so surprised by the amount of people who cheered me up, congratulated me, or even said that I had motivated them to do such a challenge in turn. So to anyone who messaged me about it or have been following this adventure, thank YOU. Anyhow, I thought that today, I would talk a little more about how I won this challenge and my tips, for those interested.
Before I start this blog post, Resh did a 30 books in 30 days challenge earlier this year and talked about her experience in this amazing blog post.
HOW TO SURVIVE THIS CHALLENGE
On which books to pick up…
Reading 31 books in 31 days is about focusing on quantity (but don’t lose quality over this), which means that reading shorter books is the best course of action. Obviously, you won’t want to pick a book that is a thousand page long (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I promise that I’ll read you soon!), it wouldn’t be productive in regards to this challenge. When the month started, I made a list of the smallest novels I had on my Goodreads TBR, of novellas and comics I had been wanting to read for so long, so I could make them a priority. I didn’t get to them all, but I had a large choice of options and it always helped me to have ideas when I didn’t know what to pick up. However, it doesn’t mean I only read short books during the month, but I’ll talk more about that later on.
Side note: I only mentioned novellas and comics, because there were some I wanted to read, but graphic novels, mangas, plays, collections of short stories and so on are equally as great for such a challenge.
Besides, trying to read a large quantity of books means that it’s better to pick books you’re confident you’re going to adore, it might not be the time to get out of your comfort zone and experiment, for if it doesn’t work out for you… You might end up in a reading slump. I’m not saying that reading outside of your comfort won’t work, just be careful with that… On the other hand, it’s true that you might also be disappointed by books in your comfort zone. But we’re just trying not to fall into a reading slump here!
On a similar note, do not hesitate abandoning books you don’t feel like reading – in the end – early on, you don’t want to drag a book behind you for weeks now, don’t you? I DNF-ed one book during my challenge, because I read 20% of it, then put it aside for days, before realising I didn’t want to read it anymore. Of course, you might end up reading books you won’t like that much during the challenge and finishing them, I did that too (well, we’re still trying to read loads of books), but if you’re not feeling it in the first few pages, don’t force yourself.
While I’m at it, try to pick books that you can read quickly, I’m not talking about their length here, but how difficult they can be to read, depending on the writing style. I didn’t pick that many classics during the month, while I adore them, because I know that classics will take me longer to read.
On managing your reading time…
Before I get into this portion of the post, I
‘ll actually confess that… I didn’t read every single day of July nor did I finish one book every day. Still, I managed to read 31 books, because I managed my reading time well enough.
The first tip is always the same one every single reader will give you to read more: have a book with you everywhere. You’ll never know when you’ll have five minutes to read, or even more. What about if you have to wait for someone who is late? For an appointment? Anything else? In the meantime, you can always manage to read a bit. At the end of one week, you’ll see how many pages you’ll have gotten through.
What helped me the most during this challenge was balancing shorter books with longer ones; that’s why I didn’t necessarily finish a book per day nor read every day in July. When you’re reading shorter books, such as comics, short stories, novellas, mangas or anything else, it can take you less than an hour to two hours, depending on their length. There are days where I only read comics or novellas, increasing my book count for the challenge.
However, I didn’t want to stop myself from reading longer books… So I read them anyway! It could take me three days to finish one, but it didn’t really matter, because I was always ahead or knew I would catch up, when I would read shorter books. Balancing books of different length is perfect for this type of challenge, because you don’t always have time to read one book in one day, or don’t have a lot of time you can dedicate to reading, period. I barely read when I’m with my family, but I caught up while I was on holidays with my best friend (as we’re both readers, reading by the beach was amazing) or on my own.
If you have the opportunity to do so, participating in a 24 hour readathon might be a great idea. My friend Morgane hosted/is hosting one every month this summer (the next one is on August 25th), so it was perfect for my challenge in July. It might be even better to participate in such a thing with a friend (I’ve done three of them with my best friend), so you can motivate each other to keep on reading (coffee also helps, though). I managed to read four novels in one day, which is also why I didn’t have to read every day.
Final tip, don’t forget to breathe. It’s okay to do other things on top of reading. Easy for me to say, when I was on holidays in July, but we all have our lives and many things we enjoy on top of reading. It’s true that this hobby can become a priority during such a challenge, but as I said, I didn’t spend every single day reading: I went out with friends, did family activities, went to the movies, walked outside. Other activities also helped me not to get “tired” of reading, not to fall into a reading slump because I had read so much. With a little bit of organization, you can do this!
Of course, there are other tips and I don’t pretend to be right with everything, but those really helped me in July!
CONCLUSION FROM MY CHALLENGE
I started writing this conclusion part several times, but didn’t really know how. The main thing I realised while doing this challenge was that I am not the same person at all than the Lucie who made the same challenge in 2015. While doing that challenge, I wanted to remember that and it wasn’t just about books, it was about moving forward.
This reading challenge was for the most part positive, because it made me clean my TBR (both my Goodreads shelves and my physical one, as I only have two books in it at the moment) and realise how much my reading tastes had changed, yet again, this year. Last year, I said as a joke that my favourite genres might become historical fiction, classics and mystery, as they were my favourites when I was younger, and I wasn’t far from the truth! The genre – for novels – that I read the most, during this challenge, was historical fiction. Well, it was followed by fantasy, which has been my favourite genre for so long, but looking at my ratings, I saw that I mainly had been disappointed, considering I didn’t even rate one fantasy novel four stars or more. I’ve started to take a step back from it lately and while I can still enjoy it immensely, I’m so picky these days that I’m scared to reach for any. I’m also quite proud of the fact that I’m finally reading more 20th century classics and non-fiction, which I has been so much fun. In a way, this challenge confirmed the type of books I enjoy. Let’s hope I’ll continue on that path!
On the other hand, I know that I probably won’t do such a challenge again, which might be a weird conclusion, no matter how true it is. I know I can read tons of books, you just have to look at my Goodreads challenges from previous years to know that, so reading 31 books in 31 days was just confirmation that I could still do it. I haven’t set up a real Goodreads goal this year (it’s at one book, just to be able to track everyth
ing), I hardly ever look at it, to be completely honest, because it doesn’t really interest me (there, I’ve said it, please don’t hate me). While I think that, I still did this challenge, no one ever said I was the most logical person, anyway.
In my reading life, I am way more interested in challenging myself to read from certain genres more, to get out of my comfort zone at times, which is why I’d rather participate in challenges such as the #classicsathon this month, #Victober in October, or even #NonFictionNovember in (you’ve guessed it) November. Don’t get me wrong, reading books in my comfort zone is great, but I don’t want to become tired of said comfort zone; that’s why I like mixing everything up. I still did that with that challenge, but not that much, because it wasn’t the goals. Besides, reading 31 books in 31 days could almost have become a chore and now that I did it, I realise how much not reading for days can be freeing, in a way. Still, reading IS amazing! I’m just not into that type of challenges anymore.
Have you ever participated in such a challenge?
Do you like to challenge yourself when it comes to reading?
Lots of love,