10 Interesting Reading Challenge Ideas for 2023

At the start of the new year, we get a chance to start over and try new things. It’s good to have goals for life and career but it is also great to have goals for hobbies. You can keep it low-key and still finish a yearly goal that will give you satisfaction, or you can be ambitious and see how much you can do.

Whether you are an avid reader or not, reading challenges can really spruce up your life. The best part is reading books that you wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

I’ve done a few annual reading challenges so far and the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that push me to find books and read completely new ideas. Even if I don’t like books, I learn something from them. Reading challenges also help you develop a reading habit by making reading fun.

Hence, today I’m sharing a few fun reading challenge ideas that you can try. And they will definitely push you to try new books.

1. books set in the world’s least visited countries

Books give us the opportunity to experience places that we probably may not get to see in real life. But most of the books are generally set in the world’s most “popular” countries. I have not been to America or the UK but I’ve read so many books set there that I feel like I know everything.

Try something new this time. Read books set in the world’s least-visited countries. To keep it easy, pick one book set in one of the countries every month. That way you can experience 12 countries that most people don’t even consider.

2. reread a book you read years back every month

As we grow up and change, our reading tastes change as well. Books that I loved in my teens look subpar to me now, and I now understand books I didn’t fully understand then. I’ve loved books and later realized that they’re problematic.

You can also learn more about yourself through rereading old favourites. Why did those books make an impact on you then and do they still do it? Do you understand more of the book now? Does nostalgia make the book even better for you? Do you remember all of the books well? Do you notice things that you never did before?

The longer it has been since you read the book, the better. You can also pick books that you read in different stages of your life.

illustration of a person lying down and listening to an audiobook

3. pair a non-fiction read with a fiction-read every month

This is such an interesting way of reading books which I totally stole from this Reddit post. Through this challenge, you will read one fiction and one non-fiction book every month and you will explore 12 topics in different ways.

This challenge is best for nerds (like me), to be honest. Sometimes I read fiction books and want to know about the main topic from a factual point of view. I also love reading different books on the same topics. Seeing how the topic is handled in both the books and whether they complement or go against each other, and annotating both the books with correlations would be really fun.

The Reddit post has quite a few suggestions in the comments so I suggest looking at it for recommendations.

4. books from non-human perspectives

Most of the books published are from human or human-ish (vampire, witch, etc.) perspectives. We don’t read books from other perspectives. Mostly because they’re harder to relate to.

Try reading books written from non-human perspectives. The narrators could be inanimate objects, animals, aliens (who don’t act like/resemble humans!), or robots.

We don’t come across such books easily but there are quite a few when you go looking for them. Such books make us think in completely different ways and can be food for thought.

an illustration of a person holding a couple books with one hand folded over the other

5. books set in different decades

Time and setting matter a lot in books. They influence everything. Reading books set in different decades would mean reading very different kinds of books.

Most people have a timeline preference in content. For example, I like consuming content set in the modern day. I don’t like historical stories as much. Reading anything set over 50 years back is out of my comfort zone.

At the same time, there is so much to learn from every decade. History is vast and rich. We don’t learn nearly enough in schools and what we do learn is generally biased. Exposing ourselves to different versions of history through books is a learning experience. Go for this challenge if you’re interested in history and want to more about different parts of the world.

6. participate in a different book club every month

There are tonnes of book clubs nowadays. Think of a topic, genre, or type of book and there will be a book club for it. Most of the time, we stick to one book club or try to do several at a time (because we want to read allll the books) and fail.

For this reading challenge, participate in a different book club’s reading every month. This way, you will actually read some of the books because you’re focusing on one book at a time. You can also push yourself to read books outside of your regular genres or preferences.

illustration art of a book stack with a pair of spectacles on it and a desk calendar next to it with January dates

7. books related to your life events

Let’s say that January is the start of a new life for you. Read a book where the main character is going through the same. If you’re going on a trip in February, read a book set during a trip. If you have exams in March, read a book where the main character has exams too.

This is a variable and really interesting reading challenge because you can’t decide the books way in advance. You might not know what event will be the highlight of your life 6 months later. You have to find the books either during the month or right before it starts.

This can be therapeutic too. You will be reading about characters who are going through something similar so you will feel less alone and might also pick up some advice.

8. books originally written in 12 different languages

This is a version of translated books challenges. Generally, those reading challenges have prompts about the place where the books are set or where the authors are from. Here, I’m suggesting a small tweak.

Pick 12 languages (other than your main language) and read books that were originally written in them. Not only will this expose you to vastly different experiences and ideas, but you can also see the different writing styles that rise due to the language used.

We lose out on a lot of good books by restricting ourselves to read books written in one language. There are perspectives that we will never find in books written in other languages, simply because they don’t cater to the larger population. These books can be intriguing and eye-opening.

illustration art of a person sitting cross-legged on bed, with a book on their lap, holding a mug.

9. books set in the respective months

This is a less personal variation of the life events reading challenge. In January, read a book set in January. In February, read a book set in February. And so on.

It is easier to find books for this challenge than the life events challenge but it might also be less relatable. Either way, this is a nice option if you want a fun reading challenge involving lesser effort.

You can relate to the books a little, enough to feel a sense of connection, but the characters can be having a wildly different life than yours.

10. books loved by celebrities/artists

This is another really fun reading challenge idea. Especially if you have favourite celebrities or artists. Reading books that they love can give you more insight into them and their work.

I personally really want to read all the books that Namjoon/RM from BTS loves. Ideas from those books are present in the songs that he writes. Listening to the music after understanding the inspiration will give the songs much more meaning.

If you’re looking for recommendations, Jack has several videos where he reads and reviews books loved by celebrities.

bonus annual reading challenge ideas!

  1. Read a book recommended by a different friend every month.
  2. Buddy read books with a different person every month.
  3. Read a book from a different genre every month.
  4. Read a different retelling every month. Or a book based on folklore.
  5. Read 12 books that feature identities that are not yours.