The reading challenge

I don’t usually take part in reading challenges.

But while I was lying in bed last night, having woken up at about half past two and just given up on going back to sleep, as per usual, I stumbled across the Popsugar 2016 reading challenge.

This may well be the first reading challenge I take part in, ever.

My problem with reading challenges, because they’ve been annoying me quite a bit lately, is that they seem to only aim at reading a certain number of books within a certain time limit.

I don’t get it.

Yes, I admire you if you manage to read many books, but I still don’t understand why. Is it like exercise? Also, how do you make time for your other hobbies? Love and time needs to be distributed evenly.

It could well be I’m just not in the right places, that there are other challenges of the more thematic variety; I can’t recall having seen any tho.

That being said. The point of the Popsugar challenge is to broaden your horizons, to get some variation in your reading. I could be on board with that.

What I also like is that the list includes types of books I’ve already read, do read, as well as types of books I would not normally reach for. This way you can mix and match; as much as I find variation appealing, I don’t really see myself reading books that are “out of my comfort zone” for an extended period of time, and not feeling as if it’s a chore. Reading should never be a chore. (Thusly my aversion to reading challenges of the ‘read this many books in this given time’ type.)

The list and my thoughts:

A book based on a fairy tale. I’ve got no immediate candidates, looking forward to research! As I might have mentioned, my favorite novel Dirty Weekend is written in the form of a fairy tale, which I just think is insanely clever, so this could very well lead to a proper find. 

A National Book Award Winner. I’m thinking maybe translating this into Swedish (free translation of course) and read e.g. some who got the August prize. We’ll see.

A YA bestseller. I so badly want to reread the Jessica Darling series, but that sort of defeats the point of the challenge a bit. I’ll try to find something new and interesting. I’m sure Forever Young Adult could give me a few suggestions. 

A book you haven’t read since high school. I do love rereading, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to reread The Vampire Chronicles, I used to LOVE Anne Rice. The Queen of the Damned was my favorite in the series, so that is definitely going to be my pick. I used to be obsessed with it. Also an opportunity to find out if the Swedish translation is in fact not bad, which was how I felt back then.

A book set in your home state. I guess that could be translated as landskap, in which case I’m thinking Vägen till Bålberget; if memory serves it is about the last of the witch trials in Sweden. I could say my home state is where I currently live right? I mean it is my home, even if I’m not from here (kinda aware I’m stretching it a bit here).

A book translated to English. Part of me wishes it was a bit more specific..on the one hand, I could go for a book translated from Swedish, on the other, I could use it as an excuse to reread The Second Sex, OR finally finish Letters to Sartre – which is just about the weirdest translation ever. That translation deserves investigation and a report, I kid you not.

A romance set in the future. Part of me just wants to reread The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s romance, and there’s future, but might not be romance exactly?

A book set in Europe. Yeeesss..this particular category becomes a bit ridiculous for someone actually from and living in Europe. I was going to say I could do Russia instead, but that’s been done. I had a slight obsession with Anastasia and Rasputin for a while, not to mention Catherine the Great, obvs I’ve also read Dostoevsky. I’ll do some research.

A book under 150 pages. If I wanted to cheat I’d just read Le Petit Prince again. But surely I don’t want to do that?

A New York Times Bestseller. Are you telling me there are books that aren’t?! Probably says something about my reading habits..maybe the latest Stephen King? I’ve completely lost touch with him since I studied literature. And I’m not going to tell you just how long ago that was.

A book that’s becoming a movie this year. Tricky one! Er. For someone who really doesn’t follow movies at all.

A book recommended by someone you met. I’m sorry but this is laughable. An introvert getting a book tip from someone she’s just met? That’s pretty much mission impossible. But what’s the definition of met? If I walk into a bookstore and ask for a tip, does that count? Better yet, library?

A self-improvement book. This is actually a type of book I would say I actively try to avoid. But I’ll give it a go.

A book you can finish in a day. My favorite kind of book! If nothing else, there is always Dirty Weekend.

A book written by a celebrity. I’ve just read one, The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave. So I guess I’ve already started on the challenge, right?

A political memoir. I’ve been wanting to read Underbara dagar framför oss, about Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister who was murdered, so this is perfect.

A book at least 100 years older than you. I’ll see if The Madwoman in the Attic can give me some suggestions on novels that are 100 years older than me and worthwhile reading, that I haven’t read already.

A book that’s more than 600 pages. Right. Except for The Mists of Avalon I don’t really do books that are more than 400 pages. I prefer volumes around the 200-page mark. But I’ll see what I can find. I might sound less than intrigued, but really, I like the challenge of finding something that fits this description and that I would actually like to read.

A book from Oprah’s book club. One of my favorite novels is White Oleander, which is just that. Might reread, might find another, strikes me as likely I’d be able to find another one that I like?

A science-fiction novel. Had to Google for a minute, keep getting sci-fi and fantasy confused. All updated now. I’m thinking The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin – dystopian sci-fi – don’t we all just love that?

Jeez this list is long. I’m going to have to make me a cup of tea.

A book recommended by a family member. If I want to make this a proper challenge, I’ll ask my dad because he reads books I’d never read. But it could turn out to be too much of a challenge. Will probably ask sis, she’s given me good suggestions in the past. As has my mum to be fair, but she likes to read the depressing books.

A graphic novel. Can I reread Sandman!?!

A book published in 2016. Oo good! Chance to get updated, which I feel I need.

A book with a protagonist that has your occupation. Erm. OK. Anyone know of a book where the hero is a uni admin? Anyone?

A book that takes place during summer. Immediately thinking of The Summer without Men, so there’s always that.

A book and its prequel. Well thank god Good Reads has a list, I’d be at a loss otherwise.

A murder mystery. Might find another Carol Goodman to read, I think she does murder mysteries?

A book written by a comedian. Has Jennifer Saunders written a book? I’ve read books by most other comedians I like. Well, the ones who’ve written a book anyway. Or, Simon Amstell?

A dystopian novel. Yes! I still haven’t read MaddAddam, I’m sure that fits into this category.

A book with a blue cover. It is a shame blue is not my favorite color. But I like the idea.

A book of poetry. I usually claim that the only poets worth reading are Karin Boye, Edith Södergran and Emily Dickinson. I’ll either stick to that, or give someone else a chance. We’ll see.

The first book you see in a bookstore. I’m a bit scared of this category. This could go horribly wrong.

A classic book from the 20th century. Is it bad if I want to reread D.H. Lawrence?

A book from the library. Oh good, I just made a reservation for Unspeakable things: sex, lies and revolution.

An autobiography. Will Anthony Kiedis’ Scar Tissue do?

A book about a road trip. I will not be reading On the Road, I’ll tell you that much.

A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with. I would so love a book on inuit culture.

A satirical book. If you Google this, you’ll find Pride & Prejudice. Among others, but still.

A book that takes place on an island. Does The Expedition: A love story count as taking place on an island? I’m not reading Lord of the Flies tho, that’s for sure.

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy. Tough one. It’s not exactly the same as ‘make you laugh’ is it?

So this’ll be fun!? Slightly worried as I nearly didn’t make it through typing this out, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. Maybe.

Are you taking part in any reading challenges? Let me know!

PS. Is this content giving away that I’m almost due for vacation? Just another 3 days to go.


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11 thoughts on “The reading challenge”

  1. Not sure if you trust my recommendations but that’s alright, I’ll survive😉

    YA bestseller + Road trip (combination bonus points?) – “Paper Towns” by John Green.

    If you’re serious about the book about Olof Palme as your political memoir, this will also fill the 600+ pages cause that’s a brick.

    A self-improvement book. I hate these too, but hear me out. I actually found “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” (by Cal Newport) OK. Like I finished it and didn’t hate it.

    I’m doing the 30 – 20 – 10 reading challenge (30 countries, 20 books by an author of the gender you normally read less of (men), 10 decades). They can also be combined, so less stress to read lots of books. Did the same one last year and failed on the country part…


    1. Could I do that and it’d not be considered cheating!? I’ve been sorta thinking I should read Paper Towns so that’s a brilliant suggestion (did read one of Green’s books I didn’t like, so I sort of took a bit of a break and I guess I’m still on that break..?).

      Ah, clever! That one I’m definitely buying because finding another 600-pager I actually want to read..that’s going to be tough. Unless there’s a novel of the historical fiction persuasion with a Norse gods connection, that’s pretty much the only thing that’ll persuade me to read 600 pages anything.

      I’ll definitely put that book on my list as well, readable is good enough for me. It’s short, right?

      Do you have to limit yourself to within the year tho, can’t you just, let it continue until completed? Starting all over with the same challenge sounds, well not like a lot of fun.

      PS., mamma skulle aldrig godkänna denna challenge. Läsa mer män!? That’s the last thing we need 😉 Hon berättar ca alltid om när hon slutade läsa böcker av män, Billys fel btw.


      1. Errr… I saw someone (can’t remember who?) writing about this same challenge the other day, and according to them it was free to pick, choose and combine as desired “making this a nicer reading challenge than most”. I guess that’s between you and your reading-conscience!

        288 pages, according to Bokus (

        Yeaah, I get your point, but I need some sort of motivation otherwise I’ll just not read for long periods of time and then I start thinking how many books there are and how short time we live and that I’ll only ever read a fraction of them and if there are months where I read nothing.. blabla. And so on.

        – Jag tror att det mer för att få lite bredd i det en läser, och för mig gör den punkten varken till eller från för jag kommer nästan alltid över 20 böcker av båda könen. Dock var det lite intressant att se att jag undermedvetet hellre väljer kvinnliga författare. Plus att några av mina favoriter faktiskt är män (Neal Stephenson! Mark Z Danielewski!) Fast jag hör gärna vad Billy gjorde/sa för att hon skulle ta det beslutet, det är garanterat en rolig berättelse!


        1. Well, either way, I should probably just be happy if I can keep the reading up, so if I can combine categories then that should be just perfect!

          Ugh. Bit steep, but OK.

          And that’s when you think ‘Oh whatever, I’ve already read the most important book ever anyways!” 😉

          Om jag inte missminner mig var det helt enkelt så att han fällde kommentaren att det inte fanns några bra kvinnliga författare. Folk som göra sånna generaliseringar..jag vet inte. Inte så mycket att bry sig om? Visar bara hur liten deras värld är?



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