The notion of reading as part of an organized challenge is one that I've been familiar with for only about a year and a half (thank you, GoodReads!). I don't know why it never occurred to me before...that groups of people often come up with themes around which they will base their reading selections. But it's a great idea, in my opinion. For many a-reason. Challenges can bring a sense of excitement, external to the actual reading. They can provide an avenue for healthy competition amongst a group of readers. And most obviously, they can challenge the dedicated participant to read more, broaden usual selection criteria, and reduce latent piles of books to be read (TBR).
Personally, I've found that my personality and typical behavior is such that I tend to be unsuccessful in short-term reading challenges (and by that I'm referring to those that last 2 to 4 weeks in length). I am the type of person that can be quite indecisive. With respect to book selections, I can also be rather fickle. I might buy a book out of extreme excitement, and then immediately put it on a shelf for several months (sorry Lover Mine, sorry Mockingjay). Likewise, I might be in the mood for an urban fantasy title. The next day the mood will strike for historical fiction...but I'm still in the midst of the UF title! (So then it's Too bad, Mr. UF book, but despite enjoying you I'm going to put you down for a bit while I read something else.) ^_^ What this means for challenges is that I can make selections for 5 books, and then in short order have no interest in any of those titles (until much later). And I'm a stickler for sticking to my selections once I make them. Which means that I've failed more than one 30-day challenge. ^_^
So, I've tried to strike a balance in order to enjoy the benefits of challenges and yet ensure a higher likelihood of enjoying what I choose to read. How do I do this? By choosing longer term challenges: I'm currently participating in two year-long challenges--broken down into quarters--that are proving to be quite interesting. I also tend toward themes that permit greater ability to choose books I'm interested in: for example, "animal-based books," instead of "selections based on the color of the cover". And of course, I now try not to have too many challenges going on simultaneously. If I still manage to "fail" a challenge's original timeline, I'll then consider it "open-ended" and finish the books when I get the chance. And lastly, I keep all of my challenges listed in one spot (HERE, as a matter of fact) so that I can compare and better plan my reading order.
Do you enjoy reading challenges? Do you prefer particular themes or time-lengths? Do you have a method for tackling them?