Reading Challenge

I got the idea for this challenge while talking with a friend: he was thinking of attending a literature course of 10 weeks, and part of it consisted of reading 5 books selected for said course, meaning that he would have had to read 5 books in 10 weeks. Now, the whole thing of reading something a list of books in a set time, reminded me way too much of school times when you had to read specific books during the summer holidays, so I had no real interest in the course my friend was talking about (too much of a free spirit here!). But I really liked the idea of having a set time to read some books: I love a nice challenge, and I love challenging myself in doing something (also kind of competitive, here).

A Bit Of Background

I have always been an avid reader, often preferring reading to go out playing with the other kids (having being bullied a lot as a kid, books were offering an oasis of peace and a break from the outer world). Long story short, the past two years I have been unable to read much (it took me 4 months to finish Middlemarch despite loving every page of it!) because I was focusing a lot on gaining a professional registration. And I really missed reading, diving deep into other worlds, other stories, learning new stuff thanks to non-fiction books, etc.

It is true that when one has spent after several hours focussing on work it is oh so easy to just collapse on the sofa or on the bed binge-watching all that TV has to offer. Same goes for the weekend because you need to recharge from the past week and at the same time you have to mentally prepare for the week ahead.

Hence this Challenge

If you, like me, are someone who likes to read but have been putting off that pile of books for a while, for a reason or for another – life happens -; or maybe you have been reading but not at your usual pace, so you want to go back to your rhythm; or perhaps you just want to start reading. Then this challenge is for you!

How It Works

The idea is to read 5 books in 10 weeks. “Which books?” you may ask. Well, that’s up to you, there are no restrictions on genres, on fiction or non-fiction, comic books, audiobooks: anything that inspires you, go for it!

All you need to do is to dedicate at least 30 minutes to reading, that’s all that this challenge is asking you. Any time during the day: being first thing in the morning during breakfast, or at lunchtime or in the evening. I personally feel that I can better commit to this challenge in the evening, after dinner: I usually watch something during my dinner (one episode of some show), then that’s it, I start to read. But I tell you, 30 minutes fly very quickly and I end up reading for the next 2-3 hours and being late for sleepy time!

There are so many benefits that you gain from reading: it ameliorates your vocabulary, helps to relieve stress, improve sleep and much more (you can read some more here and here)! Plus you learn stuff by reading non-fiction books (from biographies to science/history/philosophy/art/and so on books), you get into different worlds (from utopian to dystopian ones, from places in the outer space to fantastic worlds), but most importantly you’ll have a great time.

To Summarise

Choose your first book (physical, electronic, audiobook, comic, etc.), open it and start reading those first lines – letting yourself go into the world you chose for these first two weeks. Remember, the main purpose of this challenge is to enjoy yourself!

Let me know if you want to start the challenge, which book you chose as your first, or just if you’re thinking of starting it: I’ll be here if you need any help.

Talk to you soon!

Update on the Challenge

So, I started this challenge on the 25th of March, ending it the 27th of May. It has been great having a little push to read at the end of the day: as I said in the original post, a challenge of the sort would help you going back into your reading habits or even developing some new ones. Give it a try and let me know in the comments if you are taking part in it!

Following are the books I read:

  • Human Universe – Brian Cox Brilliant. loved it. Cox explains scientific stuff with ease and lightly so that even a person with little to no scientific knowledge (see, me) can follow and understand what he’s writing about;
  • 1984 – George Orwell. Creepingly beautiful. So on point with some of the ideals of that dystopia, it makes you think a lot about how the world. However, I would read it paired with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley because that is another dystopic worldview that again has some ideals quite close to what some people are advocating about. And once you have read the two, go and give a read to the letter Huxley sent Orwell after the latter sent 1984 to him: it is really an enjoyable short piece with such an interesting exchange of ideas between these two brilliant minds.
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari. Another book that I really enjoyed. Harari deals with big themes like Religion and Immigration, then going into arguing what the values of the future could be. It
  • The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton. Loved it. There is not much to say: if you like parallel universes, time travel and lots of thrills and mysteries this is for you. Oh, and there are a couple of twists in there!
  • The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe – Steven Novella et al. This one was difficult to read. I like critical thinking, I am quite the advocating for it, but I am unsure about this book.
  • The Priory Of The Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon. Absolutely brilliant. A good all-female fantasy

I also tried The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, but I couldn’t pass the first 10 pages. There is a very detailed description of the birthing of a dead foetus. No thanks. I am sorry I couldn’t go past it, and I didn’t want to chance reading about something like that again later on in the book.

I hope this will inspire you to read. And remember, even reading one book (remember, any format!) will be very beneficial to everything, from stress and anxiety release to improve your mental health.

Happy reading! 🙂

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