When did reading a book turn into a game? Yes, millions of people are participating. 2024 Reading Challenge.
It has been said that reading has become a sport. Because of all the reading challenges, do you want to compete?
In a recent CBC News article, the phenomenon of reading challenges is explored, where millions of people worldwide participate in challenges like the Goodreads challenge to read a certain number of books within a year. Suzanne Skyvara, VP of marketing at Goodreads, notes a surge in sign-ups for the 2024 challenge, with over 4.4 million participants in the first week of January. While many find these challenges motivating, others, like Caley Krantz, face accessibility issues due to disabilities.
Some critics on platforms like TikTok and Shondaland express concerns about the gamification of reading, with influencers recommending strategies like listening to audiobooks at an accelerated speed. Jael Richardson from The FOLD Canada emphasizes a different approach, releasing a 12-book challenge each year that encourages readers to diversify their selections and cultivate empathy through thoughtful reading.
Individuals like Flavia Camargo and Brooke Nicholls share their unique approaches to reading challenges, focusing on diversity and personal growth. The article acknowledges that challenges can be motivating for some, but there’s a call for a more conscious and diverse approach to reading rather than a sheer quantity-based goal. Critics argue that reading shouldn’t be turned into a competitive sport but should remain a meaningful and enjoyable activity.
Here is the article with thoughts by Jenn Foster.
This is reposted from CBC News,
A composite of six books recommended by Toronto Public Library as part of its 2024 reading challenge: There is No Blue by Martha Baillie (memoir by a Canadian author), Escapes by Daniel Tunnard (book about playing games), The Librarianist by Patrick deWitt (book set in a library), Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (a nonfiction book by an Indigenous author), The Pit by Tara Borin (book set in the Canadian territories), and The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers (book from an animal’s perspective). (Toronto Public Libary/CBC Graphics)
Read your height. Read the world. Read the alphabet. Read anything, but read a lot of it. Read less, but read more critically. Read only library books. Listen to only audio books. Read only books with cats as the main characters (no, really, that’s a real challenge that exists).
As another new year begins, the options for joining challenges that promote reading seem endless, and they have become a popular way to encourage people to consume more books. Nearly eight million people around the world participated in the 2023 Goodreads challenge, for instance, and they had an average pledge of 43 books per person. I love Good reads. Follow me there. Author Jenn Foster.
So far, just a week into January, over 4.4 million people have signed up for the 2024 challenge. Suzanne Skyvara, vice-president of marketing and editorial at Amazon-owned Goodreads, a website and app for readers and book recommendations, says that’s the most they’ve ever had sign up in the first week of the year. I’m going to join the challenge now too.
“Our members tell us that they find it motivating to mark a book as ‘read’ on Goodreads and see how they are progressing toward their goal,” Skyvara told CBC News.
Reading challenges are widely supported by the book industry (bookseller Indigo does one, as does U.S. retailer Barnes & Noble), along with libraries and authors eager to connect with new audiences. But as many readers flock to these challenges, sharing their stats on social media, others find them off-putting and anxiety-inducing.
“I love to read, but multiple disabilities make reading challenges pretty inaccessible due to the expectation of reading a plethora of books in a set amount of time,” said Caley Krantz.
Krantz, 38, who lives in Vernon, B.C., struggles with skipping over words and processing text and audio.
“It’s frustrating watching everyone posting and engaging in these challenges when it’s not an option to participate,” they told CBC News.
On TikTok, where #BookTok has a whopping 214.2 billion global views, some popular videos illustrate the feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm that some readers feel when they see others bragging about their hundreds of reads per year.
Others online are turned off by what they see as the gamification of reading. As a writer noted on Shondaland last year, “influencers recommend listening to audiobooks at 1.5 times the speed, and multiple Goodreads users told me they deliberately pick up shorter books to achieve certain goals.”
‘Sport or homework’
And that’s not always very fun.
“It’s either sport, or it’s homework,” Jael Richardson, the executive director of The FOLD Canada, a foundation that celebrates diverse authors and storytellers at literary festivals and events based in Brampton, Ont., told CBC News.
“I try to make it neither.”
Each year, the FOLD (the Festival of Literary Diversity) releases its own 12-book challenge, encouraging readers to diversify their selections rather than trying to meet a specific number of titles.
January’s challenge, for instance, is to read a book by a Palestinian author; February’s is to read a book that’s been challenged in Canadian schools.
Many other challenges focus on the act of reading in and of itself. The FOLD challenge, on the other hand, aims to create more conscious readers while also amplifying voices that don’t get as much publicity, according to Richardson.
“Reading is a really, really important act that’s unique from all other kinds of media in that you consume it on your own,” she said.
“As a result, when it comes to difficult topics and difficult subject matter, it’s a really powerful place to create change in your own heart, in your own mind, and to cultivate empathy.”
Whichever challenge you choose for 2024, have fun and share your reviews and experiences of your reading challenge with the world through your social media channels.
One of my favorites I’ll do this year is by ReaderHaven.com Check it out and print the challenge and we can have the journey together.