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Let us contemplate for a moment the idea of the “reading challenge”.


You see mentions of such things in social media especially at this time of year – what’s your reading goal, a book a week? A classic? Something really difficult? That sort of thing. 

We were intrigued this summer when we spoke to Rebecca Joines Schinsky, the executive director of the blog BookRiot, for our Zoomer radio show.

In this episode of Kobo In Conversation we talk to the author of A Great Reckoning, Louise Penny, the staff at Kobo have a brand new pick of the week and we sit down with the Executive Director of Book Riot, Rebecca Joines Schinsky, who mentioned the Read Harder challenge, now in its third year. It’s a list of 24 “tasks” – things like “read a book about sports” and “read a travel memoir” – meant to bust a reader out of a rut.

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Like its corollary, the book club, the intention of any challenge is to persuade an avid reader to read outside the lines – in other words, to try something you wouldn’t think you’d like, in case you do.

There’s an initial appeal to this – if you could find something new to love, there would be more love in total and those “I don’t know what to read” droughts might be shorter, or non-existent.

Then again, there are so many books and so little time, why not stick to the tried and true? And, isn’t reading the thing we do to escape all the “oughts” and “shoulds” of our lives, isn’t it an escape? Can we wring even more value and virtue from it?

According to Joines Schinsky, this is the why of the Read Harder challenge: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. No one is keeping score and there are no points to post. We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try out. That’s what this is – a perspective shift – but one for which you’ll only be accountable to yourself.”


The notion of finding a new perspective is the necessary enticement. The past year was a troubling and difficult one and wouldn’t it be wonderful to now turn the focus onto books to find either escape or understanding?

So with that, let’s challenge ourselves to explore new worlds and ideas through books. It is an act of necessary rebellion against a world that would otherwise become more satisfied, or self-satisfied, with prejudices instead of ideas; chauvinism instead of conviction; dogma instead of faith and beliefs.

That’s a challenge worth taking.

Here are a few to get your ideas flowing: