Going into every new year, I like to try doing reading challenges. They’re fun and sometimes get me to read books I’ve been putting off for years.
This year, I decided to do more than just the 22 I want to read this year. I wanted to hop into other popular reading challenges because what is better than basically creating a TBR that will make up almost all of my reading goal this year?
And then I forgot to post about it here. I posted about them on my Bookstagram, but it never made it here. Until now.
12 From 12
I saw other people doing a 12 in 12 reading challenge and posting about it. It’s basically the idea that you pick the 12 books you most want to read and read one a month. Similar to the 22 in 2022 challenge.
Then someone adapted it to 12 recommendations from 12 friends. I felt like that would be more fun since I already had picks for my other challenge. Also, it would encourage me to try books my friends loved and venture out of my comfort zone a bit more.
Turns out though, finding 12 friends to recommend me stuff I’d actually want to read was more difficult. Some people recommended Stephen King, but after my last experience with his work, I doubt I’d enjoy his other books. There were also some recommendations that didn’t feel like something I would read. It took a few tries, but I finally got 12 recommendations with only a tiny bit of cheating.
Look, I can barely name 12 friends for any kind of challenge, it’s not easy to get that number of recommendations, okay?
Liz (@ladymagicreads) - Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim
Almost immediately after getting this recommendation, I saw three different people rave about how amazing it is. I’ve only seen more praise for it since then.
It’s a historical literary fiction, a genre I’ve only touched once last year. Literary fiction is always a bit intimidating because I worry about not being smart enough to understand it, but this has enough praise from people I trust that I think it’s safe to put it on my list. Adding in the history of Korea and it sounds like something I would enjoy.
I’m trying to read more from Asian authors in general because I want to support them as much as I can. I haven’t picked up much from Korean authors, so this will be a good one for me to pick up as part of this reading challenge.
Phoebe (@phoebe.chloee) - Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
I’ve heard good things about this book floating around the Internet over the past few years. It’s usually on someone’s list of translated works, so I was really excited when I saw this pop up in my recommendations.
Phoebe is a good friend from high school and the one who told me to read The Night Circus. Considering how much I loved that book, it felt right to trust her when she suggested this one.
Plot wise, I know basically nothing and I kind of want to keep it that way. It feels like the kind of story that would be best to go into blind. I think it technically counts as literary fiction too, but I’m not quite sure. The cover is adorable and I think it would be a nice, quick read when I get the chance to pick it up.
Negin (@neginreads) - Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
This sounds like it would be a great LGBTQ+ book that simply wrecks me emotionally. The tag from StoryGraph does say that’s it’s emotionally heavy, but I think it’s gonna be the kind of book that leaves me sobbing in bed early in the morning as I regret how affected I’ll be in the morning.
I know it features moving to a different country and coming out around people who don’t judge, but other than that, I’d like to stay pretty blind to this too. It seems to be the first in a duology, so if I like this, there’s another book to continue with.
As a friend, Negin and I have interacted with each other quite a bit over the last several months. From what I can see of both our Bookstagrams, our taste line up well enough that I think trusting this recommendation will go well for me. Reading challenges are most fun when I get to try favorites from people I’ve gotten to know.
Clara (@clariiskies) - Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
No reading challenge is complete without getting the hyped books involved. There’s been nothing but praise for this book online ever since it came out. I’ve heard so many great things about this and it’s about time that I get my hands on a copy to read it. Even knowing that I’ve massively missed the boat on the hype train is already making me feel like a bit of a bad Asian book reviewer.
I know this is a fantasy interpretation of Wu Zetian, known to be one of the greatest rulers of Chinese history. I’ve never really learned about her beyond my little tuition lessons as a child where I’d occasionally read stories about Chinese history. Other than that, my education being American led me to know very little about many of these figures.
A few of my friends who are also Asian Bookstagrammers and reviewers have said that it’s not the most historically accurate. I honestly wouldn’t know, but it’s something for me to keep in mind when I do read the book. At the very least, I’d like to see what everyone loves so much about this and see how I feel about what I know is a popular poly-relationship that the book community goes crazy for.
Maggie (@writermags) - Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
As far as real life reader friends go, Maggie is someone I trust wholeheartedly. The fact that we were roommates and have had several classes together means she knows my reading taste better than most others. If she recommends something and raves about it, it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’ve love it too.
A good half of this reading challenge is made up of fantasy of all different kinds. I’m always down for a good fantasy story, so I’m excited to pick this up and see how I feel about it.
I know nothing about this story except that Maggie said it has some Six of Crows vibes. Pretty much all I think of with this book is how pretty the cover is and how much she loves it. A good reading challenge for me is one that introduces new books and also encourages me to pick up backlist titles. This counts as both.
Negin (@neginreads) - Skyhunter by Marie Lu
This is where the cheating kind of begins. Negin had told me to look at her favorite books from 2021 and pick some that I wanted to read for this challenge, so that’s what I did. We share a love of Marie Lu’s work, so I jumped at having more reason to pick this up when I knew that it made her favorites.
It’s the only book off this list that I’ve already read. I’ll try not to say too much about it beyond the fact that I loved it as much as I thought I would. There’s something about the way Lu writes her duologies and her action scenes that makes me fall in love with her books time and time again.
A review for this is already on my Bookstagram if you want to see more of my thoughts on this. I should have one up here as well in the next month or so, depending on whether I can keep to the rest of my blog posts on schedule.
YumYum (@yumyumreads) - Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
It’s almost an online book community crime that I haven’t read a Brandon Sanderson book yet. He has so many books out there and I’ve managed not to own any of them. 2022 feels like a good time to change that.
Skyward, to my knowledge, is a sci-fi book about pilots. It follows a female main character and I think there are at least two or three books in the series. That’s really it. I mean, I know that Regan loved this when she read it a few years back. Like we know from my previous posts, I trust her fully when it comes to fantasy books and that goes for sci-fi too.
Unlike the others, this one is a bit more of a chonker. The book is over 500 pages and probably weighs a ton. A little scary, but long books feel like the right choice for a reading challenge. It pushes me to read more of what I’m intimidated by and hopefully find new favorites.
Ingrid (@ingridinneverland) - The Beast Hunters by Christer Lende
Of all the books on this reading challenge, this is the only one I’ve never heard of. It’s another fantasy book and I’m assuming that it has something to do with hunting beasts. Just a gut feeling.
StoryGraph says that it’s a relatively short book, which I’m all for when it comes to fantasy. There aren’t enough fantasy books out there that I know of that aren’t just short, but also standalones. I’m quite excited to get around to this and need to start searching online for a copy. Something tells me that it’ll be hard to find here considering how under the radar this feels.
Jemi (@sechelt_girl) - The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Ahh romance books. The genre I rarely touch because it takes so much for me to be interested in their plot. Jemi said, and I quote, “THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS. Read a romance for meeeeeeee” when I asked for recommendations. Yes, I counted the exact number of Es she typed into “me.”
I have to admit, I picked this up because the hype around it is so immense. Literally every major book reviewer has read this and so many people I know have loved the book. It’s a fake-dating romance between a PhD candidate and a professor in the biology department (not her professor, so it doesn’t break any rules) and there’s a grumpy-sunshine trope as well.
Currently, I am reading this and I’m about 1/3 of the way through. At this point, I can’t say I’m too impressed with the book. That could change and I hope it does. It’d be nice to love something everyone else loves. We’ll see how this one goes, so be sure to check my April Look-Back to see what my final thoughts are.
Ukamushu (@ukamushu_the_bibliophile) - The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
We’ve got another hyped book on this reading challenge. Not only is this hyped on BookTube and Bookstagram, it’s also one of the most recommended books on BookTok. Everyone raves about this and everyone cries.
Madeline Miller is widely regarded as an author whom everyone absolutely loves. She writes a lot of heart-wrenching books and I know there’s another one coming out either later this year or some time next year.
It’s Greek mythology, it’s LGBTQ+, it’s emotionally destructive. I will read this when I feel like emptying all the emotions that I keep inside. I have a feeling that I will like this book and it’s also another venture into M/M romance for me.
Ukamushu and I have been friends since my junior year of college. We bonded over hating similar books and characters in our literature class and have continued our friendship since graduating. She’s one of my biggest cheerleaders and I will be happy to read this because she kindly asked me to.
Negin (@neginreads) - Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi
I promise this is the last from Negin’s stack of favorites. I’ve heard amazing things about this as an Asian-American story and one about siblings. I need to read more books about sisters and siblings in general, so this feels like a great one to pick up.
Family stories are a genre I tend not to read a lot of. YA is filled with too many dead or absent parents, and adult books either don’t talk about parents or have them be estranged for the sake of some mysterious plot. This is about a reunion and I think there’s something incredibly hopeful about that.
More than anything, I want to know the meaning of the title. The cover has me so intrigued and the color is so bright. I need more bright books to balance out the darkness that’s typically on my shelves.
Marissa (@mareliterarum) - Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Lastly, it feels fitting to end this challenge with a recommendation from the person who first encouraged me to start a Bookstagram. Marissa talks about Rebecca so often and I’ve been intrigued by it because of her and her alone. Every time I see it on her feed, it feels like a sign that I need to pick up this classic.
It’s a mystery, it’s a classic, it’s a long book that I’m sure I’ll love. Nothing will convince me that this isn’t the best way to end this reading challenge. Not that this is going to be the last book I read from this list, but it was the last recommendation I got and therefore is the last one in my reading journal spread.
I know I’ll need to buy a beautiful copy for my shelves because I’ll likely be posting about it a lot.
Okay fine. It’s really a 12 from 10 challenge because I took three book recommendations from one person. I can’t help it. Finding more friends is hard and people weren’t giving me enough suggestions. And there were suggestions that were so wildly not what I would read.
The intention is still good. I still hope that these books will broaden my reading horizons and provide me with new favorites. I’ve already loved Skyhunter and it has the potential to become a favorite of the year. I’m pretty confident that it’ll be in my top 5, if not the top 3 of 2022.
Buzzword Reading Challenge
I’ve done a few of Lala’s Buzzword readathons in the past. The whole idea behind it was that there are a lot of words that appear often in book titles and it would be fun to do a readathon where everyone tried to read as many books as they could with each buzzword.
In 2021, it became a year-long reading challenge so it was less pressure for everyone to get their buzzwords. While there are monthly themes, the buzzword books can be read at any time. I took this as the chance to take some of my 22 in 2022 and put them toward another reading challenge. The best ways to knock out challenges are to double them up.
For most of these prompts, I tried to pair them up with books that were already in my 22 in 2022 list, minimizing how much I had to expand my TBR by. In some cases, I chose very specific books because I knew it’d be hard for me to get to them if not for this challenge.
January - Who, What, When, Where, Why, How
I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. Most of them are. Choose a book with “who, what, when, where, why, how” in the title.
For me, I decided that it would be time to knock off Where the Crawdads Sing with this prompt. And then DNFed the book. So it counts. Technically, it really does count because I read some of the book and decided that it was too boring for me to continue with.
This one is crossed off to me. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten to print out the cover for it in my bullet journal so that’ll have to wait until next month.
February - Pronouns
Again, pretty simple. This one is any pronoun, which are very abundant in mystery titles. In my case though, I’ll be tackling a book that was given to me years ago - Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You. Lots of pronouns there and a title that has been sitting on my shelves for nearly five years. If I get to it before July, I can avoid hitting that five year mark.
It's well over 500 pages long, so I'm a little worried about how long it might take me to read it. But I would like to see what it's actually about and cross it off my TBR.
March - Locations
I also have a pick for this one already. The Great Zoo of China fits perfectly and it’s been around my shelves for quite awhile.
There are other picks on my bookshelf if I don’t end up wanting to count this toward this reading challenge prompt, but I’d like to have this one be my read.
In general, locations are fun prompts because they also appear often. If I’d like to count this one as already complete, I could choose Gallant, which I read in February. I think I’ll stick with my original pick though. There’s plenty of time to change my mind.
April - Size
No concrete picks for this one yet. I’m sure something will come up among the books I choose to read. There are plenty of unread books on my shelves, new books coming in all the time, and library books that I borrow. One of them will count at one point.
Beasts of a Little Land could be the pick. It might end up being what I double up on if I don’t read many other books with sizes in the title.
May - Directions
This one could double for me. I could pick Skyward because that’s literally a direction, but I could also wait and see if anything else comes along. There’s bound to be some library book or NetGalley ARC that comes along and fits this prompt too.
The thing I like about reading challenges having to think about the titles of what I’m reading. There’s something so much more fun about picking my monthly TBRs when I get to incorporate little things like this.
June - “All”
Already knocked this one off with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and I’m quite proud of that. When I saw this pop up on the prompt list, I was so excited to cross this book off my list. And then I was even more proud of myself when I actually read it early in the year.
It’s also the only book cover I’ve printed out and stuck into my bullet journal so far. It’ll be nice when I start filling out the page a little more so this one doesn’t have to be lonely.
July - Bookish Words
I have absolutely no idea what I’m gonna pick for this one, but it’ll come to me eventually.
This might be the hardest one for me to complete because I honestly don’t have a lot of books with bookish words in the title. But that’s the whole point of having a reading challenge right? To see how creative I can get with the books I pick throughout the year.
August - Items/Objects
Is it cheating if I literally use Sharp Objects for this because it has the word “objects” in the title? I know it’s technically supposed to be an item or object, but the title fits so well and I feel like it would be funny during my wrap-up at the end of the year.
Again, it’s one that can take awhile for me to find a suitable fit, but I’m sure there will be something eventually that falls into place. Or else I’ll end up using Sharp Objects because I think it’s amusing.
September - Light & Dark
Probably going to go with Dark Kills for this because it’s easy. There’s also A Flicker in the Dark as another mystery genre possibility. I kind of want to stick with a mystery title for this because it feels the most fitting and I haven’t really had a mystery pick on hand for any of the buzzwords in this reading challenge.
Blindness would also work because it implies darkness. Not an exact fit, but I think it’s close enough.
I could also use this as motivation to get to A Conjuring of Light. It could also be a good time to read a duology so I can get to Our Dark Duet. You can tell that I’m trying to slide V.E. Schwab into my picks so I can get through more of her backlist here.
Honestly, there are more options than I initially thought, so I can take my time with picking. Or maybe I’ll aim for a month of books with either of these words in the title. Too much? Possibly.
October - Creatures & Animals
I’m currently knocking this one out with The Dragon’s Promise, my buddy read with my good friend Lyn (@lemonpietrick). We both have a lot of feelings about this and I may have threatened to throw a character off a cliff. But that’s something else entirely.
I always think that animals and creatures in titles for reading challenges are fun because you find more of them than you’d normally think. When I first saw the list of buzzwords, I was a little worried about this one. I have The Goldfinch that works too, though I was intimidated by it’s literary fiction genre and how long it is. At least The Dragon’s Promise is physically less intimidating because my Kindle hides the fact that it’s actually 496 pages.
November - Ending in “ing”
Just so I’m clearing more of my 22 in 2022 list, this one probably will go to Raining Men and Corpses. If not for that, I’d choose The Vanishing Half. Or I could go with Seating Arrangements, a romance I bought years ago and have completely forgotten the plot of other than it takes place in an office. I think. I’m not actually too sure about that.
Who knows though? I could double up on this one as well because it’s an easy one to find a lot of options for.
It’s actually a little more surprising that none of my reads so far this year have had “ing” in the title.
December - Numbers
Lastly, we have one that might takes me a bit of time to find a fit for. Surprisingly, I have few books on my shelves that include numbers in the titles. Unless I reread Six of Crows, which I very well could.
A quick scan of my bookshelf tells me that my options are One of Us is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, rereading Four: A Divergent Collection, or The Big Four. Anything else with numbers in the title is currently slipping my mind because it’s most likely an audiobook or ebook.
So there it is. Two more reading challenges that I’m doing and my picks for them.
As you can see, it’s a lot easier for some than others, but that’s what makes stuff like this fun. I wouldn’t read as widely if not for challenges like this.
Though I’m quite a competitive person and would like to cross off as many challenges as possible, at the end of the day, this is all about having fun with my reading. Stressing myself out to complete everything perfectly isn’t going to make me read more.
I like participating in things like this because there’s a sense of camaraderie in it. Other people are doing the challenges as well and I get to see how they did at the end of the year when everyone is posting their major wrap-ups.
What do you think? Did I get a little too excited and try too many challenges this year? What would your picks be for some of these buzzwords?