At the start of the year we wrote about 2016 reading challenges and how to make your reading year a little more competitive. Most of those challenges were pretty doable and left enough room for you to decide what you’d like to read. However, we thought we’d step it up a notch and came up with reading challenges that will certainly make you regret ever starting them. Are you up for the challenge?

The Hate Read Challenge

For this challenge you are only allowed to read books you have already read and didn’t like. So get out all of those 1 star ratings and settle in for a great time. And who knows, you might even learn to appreciate one of those books a little more.

The Read Everything but Books Challenge

You are allowed to read everything but books. The name really says it all. We’re allowing short stories online for this one, but no ebooks, audiobooks or short story collections because those are all books and you know it. You got to think a little more creative for this one to get your fiction on and delve into magazines, newspapers, manuals, subtitles and so on. You get bonus points for finding the strangest thing to read.

The Slush Pile Challenge

I was a slush pile reader for a small publisher for a little while and I had a lot of fun doing it, but it does mean you get to read a lot of fiction that isn’t really publishing ready. So your challenge is to slog through the slush pile for a while and just maybe you’ll find a gem in there somewhere.

The Bestsellers Only Challenge

For this challenge you need to pick the most basic bestseller list you can find and only read the books that appear on that list. You can’t mess around with bestseller lists of cool indie bookshops or hipster blogs, but really crawl into the skin of the most basic person you know and then wonder where they would get their books. Your reading life will be dictated by the masses and it will probably make you a great conversational partner at parties, because you have indeed read that book everyone’s talking about.

The Read All the Books Challenge

If you’re a little active in the online book community, you’ll come across a lot of ‘The [insert number] best books [insert genre or time period] you should read. I come across several a day, so depending on your internet habits, this challenge is going to be hard. You will have to read all the books these lists tell you to read in one year, because they are – after all- must reads. This one will definitely crank up the insanity level of your reading challenge.

The Adaptation Only Challenge

This is a challenge that would be pure torture for me, because I suck at not comparing the book and it’s adaptation. With this challenge you’re only allowed to read books that are adapted, but you always need to read the book before you see or listen to the adaptation, so that you get the chance to say ‘that’s not how it was in the book’ every time.

The Seen on TV Challenge

This is a Catch 22, because for this challenge you need to read every book that you see on TV or in the movies. Shows like Gilmore Girls, Mad Men and Orange is the New Black will give you plenty of interesting reading material. Of course you’re thinking, that’s easy, I just won’t watch TV! But think again, because if you’re not allowed to ready any books because you haven’t seen any on TV, then what else are you going to do? Exactly. So boot up some Netflix and start hunting for some books.

The 1001 Books Challenge

There’s this very common challenge of 1001 books that you should read before you die. Although the list can change, most of them are classics ranging from the olden times to modern masterpieces. You’re supposed to get an entire lifetime to slog through these books, but as our challenges are about losing your mind, we’re giving you just one year. You better start, because every second you’re losing time!

Let us know which of these challenges would be the most difficult for you and share your own grueling challenges with us in the comments!


Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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