There seems to be a huge number of various so-called „reading challenges“ on the Internet, a phenomenon which I am not even sure how I feel about.
“Motivate yourself to read more books” one website says. Really? More? Rabid readers don’t have a problem motivating themselves to read more. They have problems putting down their books to take care of the mundane chores in life, such as mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, laundry etc… not to mention things like washing windows or doing tax returns. Escaping reality in general… So the only challenge seems to be in finding even more time to read the ever-growing stack of books.
But perhaps a reading challenge can be a way of narrowing down the choices in the immense sea of literature out there, or turn to a genre one does not normally read. Diversifying. I like lists, so I can see how one would want to read a book set in each of the fifty states, or one from each country on a continent for example. It gives structure to something which is otherwise an almost completely random process with no end in sight. For some people it’s probably a form of goal setting. You have a list and check off titles as you read them and when you are done, you have finished something (something bigger than a single book), i.e. the list. One would just have to be careful not to let the list take control to the point where one is just zipping through books solely in order to check them off lists.
Having just written about the World Cup, it occurred to me that one could do a reading challenge based on the qualifying countries and read a book from each of the 32 countries.
Or, you could work with what you already have at home. Group A includes Brazil, Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon, and based purely on what is already on my bookshelves, Mexico (Laura Esquivel, Carlos Fuentes and Octavio Paz) would make it into the next round with Brazil (the two books I’ve ordered) and poor Croatia and Cameroon don’t stand a chance because I don’t own a single book by an author from these two countries.
So you see how this way England and Spain would be in a much stronger position literarily than out on the field this year, since there is a good chance that we have a large number of English and Spanish authors on our shelves. I am sure one could make up all sorts of fun rules for such a reading list!
Since this occurred to me so late in the game, it’s a bit late to start such a reading project for this world cup. But there’s enough time to prepare for the next one…