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The Goodreads Seasonal Reading Challenge

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

goodreads headerThe end of August marked not only the functional end of the summer but it also marked the beginning of the Fall Seasonal Reading Challenge. (To be fair, every three months signals a new version of the Seasonal Reading Challenge.)

What is the Seasonal Reading Challenge?

The easy answer is that it is a Goodreads group that creates a reading challenge thematically tied to each season. Which is probably easy to infer from the name of the group. But the more complex answer is that readers are given reading tasks, which have point values based on their difficulty (page count, complexity of fulfilling the prompt, etc.), and the point values that readers earn determine if they can create a task during the next season’s challenge.

Most of the challenges have themes aside from the particular season, to give them a little more structure. This year’s over arching theme has been Board Games and the Fall theme is Risk.

There also are often LOTS of tasks. (This fall, for example, there are 51 tasks, with a total possible point total of 815.) Seriously, I am in awe of people who complete every task each season. Most of readers though don’t finish them all and it’s up to you how many and which you’ll complete.

The whole system is amazingly complex and well-organized, with help threads for each task so readers can check to see if their picks fit the specifics of the task. There are readerboards to keep track of point values, guidelines for completing the challenge, rules, and much more in-depth Introduction and Getting Started posts.

This is all very vague, so how about some specifics?

The five-point tasks are each based on a school subject, like Language Arts: “Grammar Lesson of the day. Prepositions of spatial relationships describe where an object is in relation to another object. Read a book with one of these spatial prepositions in the title or subtitle: above, across, against, ‘ahead of,’ along, amid, among, around, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, from, ‘in front of,’ inside, near, ‘next to,’ off, out of,’ through, toward, under, within. The phrases in quotes must be used in full. ex. ‘Ahead of’ Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School.”

Or Geography: “Read a book set predominately in a continent other than the one where you were born. For the purposes of this task we will use this list of country/continent assignments plus Antarctica. State the continent where you were born and the continent where your book is set.”

For the 10-point tasks, many of them are based on events that happen during the fall, like Banned Books Week or this one: “In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), read a book with something pink on the cover.”

As the point values go up, so does the level of task complexity.

One of the 25-point tasks is Choose Your Strategy which also pulls in the overall board game theme:

The game RISK is the theme of this challenge. The object of the game is to occupy every territory on the board and eliminate the other armies. For this task choose two of the following options relating to the game and read one book for each.

A – Risk is a STRATEGY board game. Read a book by an author whose initials can be found in the word STRATEGY. Middle initials can be ignored. Letters can be used only as many times as they appear in STRATEGY.

B – Read a fiction/non-fiction book with the genre War on its main page.

C – Read a book with a weapon on the cover.

See what I mean? Complicated.

Before I started blogging, I participated in a few seasonal challenges, and while it seems like a lot of work for…well…not much, the fun of these challenges is something you don’t really think about until you start trying to fit books into the tasks.

If you’re one of those people who, like me, loves crossing things off a to-do list or who loves competition in everything they do or who wants incentive to read books on their TBR that otherwise would still be unread, this challenge could be perfect for you. You also get to read and compete alongside a huge community of other task-completers (there are currently over 3,000 members though not all of them participate in every seasonal challenge).

And it’s not too late to get started! I’m going to see how many of the books that are already on my shelves (no buying more books for me!) I can fit into these tasks and how many I can actually read before the end of November.

Are you going to join in?


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