2017 Reading Challenge

(Photo “Book” courtesy of user Blok 70 and Flickr).
It’s here! Tim Challies has released a 2017 version of his reading challenge. As December arrived, one of my first thoughts was, “A new reading challenge should be coming out son.” So I was extremely excited to see it posted only a couple of days later. So here’s what it is:
  • A challenge to all readers to encourage you to read.
  • A list of varying topics or suggestions to motivate you to read widely.
  • A distribution of books to not overwhelm those who read less than others.
Basically, Tim has listed out varying topics or ideas such as, ‘A book about Christian living,’ ‘a book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with,’ or ‘a classic novel.’ This listing is meant to give you ideas about what to read, which is especially helpful for the many people, like me, who get stuck in a rut routinely reading similar things. It adds variety.
However, he has broken it down further. Recognizing that people read at varying speeds, have time commitments that take away from reading time, or whatever the issue may be, he has created four categories: Light, avid, committed, and obsessed. Each category or group comes with a goal based upon how many books one can read in a given time period. A light reader commits to attempting to read one book every four weeks, while avid commits to a book every two weeks. For those who want more, the committed and obsessed are the way to go, with each attempting a book a week or two books a week respectively.
While last year’s was great, and pushed me to think outside the box a little bit, there are some changes this year that I like.
  1. More emphasis on Christian books. What I mean by that is more room for material that is specifically directed at Christians, whether preaching, theology, or Christian living.
  2. More space to choose your own books.
  3. A choice of some different authors. Periodically, he inserts suggestions by specific authors, whether Christian or classic. This year offers up some suggestions not on last year’s list (such as Iain Murray and John Piper).
While some of these changes means forgoing certain things I liked about the previous list, I can’t complain because again, the variation helps me to vary my reading more. Overall, these changes are great for me. So far in 2016 I have read slight over 100 books, however, I have several gaps on the reading challenge list because those books simply didn’t fit into the categories that I needed to fill. This is because for certain areas, my reading is already determined and not negotiable (especially in the category of Christian living and theology). The new setup offers me a bit more flexibility there and so I think I can fill up more, if not all, of the list this year.
So I urge you to pick a category and start reading with us.
Some pro tips:
  1. Encourage some friends to join the challenge. Then you can challenge and encourage one another.
  2. Join in the conversation on social media using #vtReadingChallenge.
  3. Start with Tony Reinke’s book, Lit, a book on how to read books. This will help you in the rest of you reading.
  4. After downloading the list, copy it into OneNote (if you have Microsoft). Then you can write or type directly onto the list. This works great for not only checking off the books, but also keeping track of what books you read by listing them next to the category you placed it.
  5. By keeping an electronically written list like mentioned above, you can move books around later if I find a book that doesn’t fit somewhere, I can see about exchanging it with a previous book that may be able to be moved somewhere else).
For more information or to download the reading list, click here: Challies 2017 Reading Challenge