Julia’s 2013 reading challenge

Around this time, many of us start thinking about new year’s resolutions. According to About.com, some of the most common resolutions include hitting the gym, spending more time with family and quitting bad habits. I’m all for setting goals and optimism, but am I the only one who finds some of these resolutions a little clichéd?

I can’t count how many years I’ve said I’m going to “drink more water” or “actually use my gym membership” or – the one that currently haunts me – “write the GMAT exam”. Like most people, by February my new year’s resolutions have become good intentions that dropped off… completely.

In late 2010, right after I started the Unputdownable Book Club, I decided to set more realistic resolutions for myself. (Actually, let’s call them “annual goals” to avoid the stigma attached to “new year’s resolutions”, okay?)

Among these attainable annual goals was my 2011 reading challenge. I had recently graduated from university and was getting back into “reading for pleasure”, but I wanted to up the ante, so-to-speak. I decided to challenge myself to read more – at least two books per month, or 24 books in a year (presumably one would be our book club pick, the other a novel of my choice).

Some of the books I read in 2012

Some of the books I read in 2012

To track my progress, I joined Goodreads in October 2010 (the best website for book lovers). I went through ups and downs. Some months I would read three books, and others I would read one or none. It was harder than I thought it would be. Despite my best efforts (which included reading the shortest books I could find all through November and December), by the end of 2011 I’d come up short. I’d only read 19 books, not 24.

So, for 2012, I decided to change my reading challenge a bit. I have a bad habit of buying books faster than I read them, so I was accumulating unread books. I chose 12 specific books – some I’d owned for years – and decided my annual goal would be to read every last one of them. I’m proud to report that by November 2012, I had completed this challenge! Here are those books:

  1. The Birth House – Ami McKay
  2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
  3. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel
  4. A Spot of Bother – Mark Haddon
  5. The Thorn Birds – Colleen McCullough
  6. The Shack – Paul Young
  7. The Postmistress – Sarah Blake
  8. For One More Day – Mitch Albom
  9. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  10. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  11. The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
  12. One Day – David Nicholls

Obviously this goal worked really well for me. And the interesting part? So far this year, I’ve read 26 books. That’s seven more than last year, and I still have a month to go!

More of the books I've read in 2012

More of the books I’ve read in 2012

Right now I am working on finalizing my 2013 reading challenge, which will be the same as last year’s – 12 specific books. Here’s the working list:

  1. The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
  2. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  3. The Edible Woman – Margaret Atwood
  4. Me Before You – JoJo Moyes
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
  6. Fall on Your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald
  7. Room – Emma Donoghue
  8. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
  9. The Whole Truth – Kit Pearson
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  11. The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  12. The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton

I feel like this list is good a mix of classics, Canadian authors and “books with buzz”. I might still make some last-minute tweaks, but we’ll see. I still can’t believe I haven’t read Little Women or To Kill a Mockingbird!

The trick with annual goals is to stick with it. You have to be fully committed and do regular check-ins. Over the next year, I’ll periodically blog about my progress.

Are you planning a reading challenge for 2013? If not, should you? Are there books you’ve been dying to read, or maybe you just want to read more? Comment below and tell me your plans!


About Julia Kent

Julia is an outgoing and energetic writer and food blogger from Halifax. Five years ago, Julia started The Unputdownable Book Club and her food blog, The Domestic Blonde. A graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program, Julia currently works in Ottawa in public relations. As a former broadcast journalist and with a background in musical theatre, she is a natural presenter. In her free time, she recipe-tests, reads, runs, hosts a podcast called Young PR Pros, watches bad television and plays competitive soccer. She’s addicted to Canadian Living and Chapters Indigo. Her favourite books include A Thousand Splendid Suns, Pride & Prejudice and The Book of Negroes. Twitter: @kentjulia
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16 Responses to Julia’s 2013 reading challenge

  1. Catherine Kitts says:

    I’m following in your footsteps Jules, and also going for 24 books this year! Although, I’ll probably only choose 5 specific books, need to keep ontop of my “Books with Buzz” 😉


  2. Julia Kent says:

    oh yes you do!!! can’t to hear what’s next! 🙂


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