On Monday I shared my twelfth and final book review for my 2018 Reading Challenge. This was the third consecutive year that I’ve participated in a personal Reading Challenge (here’s 2017 and 2016), and it was a highlight of my reading life in 2018. Just for fun, let’s take one last look at the categories I chose for my Challenge this year: 

These categories were designed to give me flexibility within my book choices, while also guiding me to new territory with my reading. And as anticipated, the Challenge was successful in helping me veer from my well-trodden literary paths and break new ground in my reading life. Most—if not all—of the books I read for this year’s Challenge were titles I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen for myself. Mission accomplished! 

Here’s a quick glimpse at my selections, as well as links to the original reviews:

Grace Based Parenting And Every Day the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer + Of Mice and Men + What It Is Is Beautiful + 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness + Between the World and Me  + Giant Days + From the Ashes + How to Read a Dress + Peace Like a RiverStay With Me Bluebird, Bluebird

I had remarkable luck with the book selections themselves: five received 4.5 or 5 stars from me, and even the books that weren’t favorites were titles I’m glad to have read. And beyond just leading me to some great books, the Challenge provided me with many insights about my reading life. While I could easily have listed more, here’s one key takeaway from each month:

January: I liked starting off 2018 with a book related to my Word for the year; it offered clarity on my word and helped set the tone for my year. I’ll be keeping with this tradition for as long as I claim an annual Word.

February: really love novellas, especially ones from masterful wordsmiths who can infuse a lot of meaning into a brief story.

March: Not every classic is worth reading. (For the record, I didn’t hate this classic and don’t regret reading it, but it isn’t one I’d recommend to others.)

April: I need more poetry in my life. 

May: I like learning about historical figures, but don’t necessarily enjoy biography compilations; in the future I’ll read about one historical figure at a time. 

June: Reading about polarizing current events is bad for my blood pressure but good for keeping me on my toes and stretching my mind. 

July: It really isn’t scary to ask a librarian for book suggestions. Also (my biggest reading-related shocker of the year): graphic novels are pretty awesome!

August: There’s always room for another smart, engaging mystery series in my life.

September: Textbooks can make for delightful reading, particularly when beautiful images are involved. 

October: If a book’s been on my TBR for years and I’m still hearing good things about it, I should do everything I can to get my hands on a copy. 

November: Books by diverse authors, set in an unfamiliar setting, are challenging but rewarding reads. 

DecemberNot every award-winning book is boring; some are truly deserving of the accolades. 

While this year’s Challenge played a key role in bringing diversity to my reading life in 2018, I believe that the value of a Reading Challenge has run its course for me. Thanks to three years of successful Challenges, I’ve grown more comfortable with seeking out new topics and genres, and tackling books that are more “important” than “fun.” In order to make room for some new reading goals and book-related blog content, I won’t be taking on another Reading Challenge in 2019, but my past challenges have equipped me to be a more adventurous and well-rounded reader next year and beyond. 

Did you participate in a Reading Challenge in 2018? How did it go? Did it teach you anything new about your reading habits? Will you be tackling a new Challenge next year? I’d love to hear about it! 

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