2016 Reading Challenges

What books do you want to read in 2016?

If you read better with some accountability, here are some great reading challenges for 2016 that I’ll be participating in. Look up the details at their individual sites to see if they’d be right for you, too.

Some have rigid rules; others are super flexible. Books can overlap between challenges (I have lots of overlap). You don’t have to have a blog to participate.

These are books I will attempt to start this year; I make no promises about finishing.  

1. Mount TBR Reading Challenge

Mount TBR 2016

The Goal:
Read 12 (or more) books from your To-Be-Read pile (books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2016; no library books count). Most will be from my Kindle. Previous years of TBR challenges have knocked quite a few books off my real shelves.

My Picks:

  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Do What You Can Plan by Holley Gerth
  • The Confessions of St. Augustine by Augustine of Hippo
  • Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke
  • Living God’s Love by Gary Holloway & Earl Lavender
  • Running Scared by Ed Welch
  • Tell Your Time by Amy Andrews
  • 10 Things Jesus Never Said by Will Davis, Jr.
  • Beauty Will Save the World by Gregory Wolfe
  • Habit: The 95% of Behavior by Neale Martin
  • The Addicted Brain by Michael Kuhar
  • The Colors of Hope by Richard Dahlstrom
  • Finding Eve by Rita Springer
  • The Day the Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker

2. New Release Challenge


The Goal:

Read books released in 2016 (minimum 100 pages). Of the 4 levels (from 1-45+ books), I’m choosing the New Release Newbie category (1-15 books).

My Picks:

  • (No way to predict yet; I’m aiming for 5 new releases)
  • Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington
  • Habits of Grace by David Mathis
  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
  • Whispers by Jean Wise
  • The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges
  • The Contemplative Writer by Ed Cyzewski
  • Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
  • Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup
  • The Happiness Effect by Donna Freitas
  • The More of Less by Joshua Becker
  • Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
  • Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
  • The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  • The Bridge to Brilliance by Nadia Lopez
  • How to Be Here by Rob Bell
  • Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
  • Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age by Bob Cutillo
  • 7 Days of Soul Care by Dolly M. Lee
  • Tribe by Sebastian Junger
  • The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D. McLaren

3. Read Harder Challenge


The Goal:
Discover new genres, authors, and books you wouldn’t normally read for shifts in perspective. Out of 24 categories, I hope to meet 8-12. [Download the PDF at BookRiot.] The New York Public Library has a list of reading suggestions.

My Picks: (subject to change)

  • Middle grade novel: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Nonfiction book about science: The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso
  • Set in the Middle East: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie AwardYes, Please by Amy Poehler
  • A book under 100 pages: The Do What You Can Plan by Holley Gerth
  • Book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: George by Alex Gino
  • Historical fiction set before 1900The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
  • First in a series by a person of color: Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Book about religion: Christianity After Religion by Diana Butler Bass

4. Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge

Hard Core Re-Reading Challenge

The Goal:

Re-read a book you’ve read before. I’m choosing Level 1 (0-15 books), hoping to re-read 6 books that deserve a second look.

My Picks:

  • The Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight
  • A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
  • Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gilbran
  • The Search for Significance by Robert McGee
  • The Words of Gandhi by Mahatma Gandhi
  • Reliving the Passion by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

5. Back to the Classics


The Goal:

Read a minimum of 6 classic books (1966 is the cut-off date). Of the 12 categories to choose from, I’m picking 8.

My Picks:

1.  A 19th Century Classic – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
2.  A 20th Century Classic – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
3.  A Classic by a Woman Author – Persuasion by Jane Austen
4.  A Classic in Translation – The Confessions of St. Augustine by Augustine of Hippo
5.  A Classic by a Non-White AuthorNarrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass 
7.  A Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Dystopian Classic – A Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
9.  A Classic Which Includes the Name of a Place in the Title – Walden by Henry David Thoreau
10. A Classic Which Has Been Banned or Censored 

6. The Red Couch 2016 Selections


The Goal:

Not a reading challenge per se, but 6 incredible books chosen by SheLoves Magazine to read together.

The Picks:

  • January: The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle
  • March: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahesi Coates
  • May:  Life Path by Luci Shaw
  • July: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • September: Too Heavy a Yoke by Chanequa Walker-Barnes
  • November: The Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro

7. Newbery Medal and Honor Winners from the 2010s

This is not an official challenge, but something I just want to do.

  • 2010 Newbery Medal Winner: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • 2011 Newbery Honor: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
  • 2012 Newbery HonorBreaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin
  • 2013 Newbery HonorBomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
  • 2014 Newbery Medal: Paperboy by Vince Vawter
  • 2015 Newbery MedalThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  • 2016 Newbery Honor: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

And of course I’ll read random library books and books to review. Who knows what the year holds?

* * *

Want even more challenges? Here are more 2016 reading challenges to choose from!

Which book do you want to read in 2016? Are you participating in any challenges? Please share in the comments.


updated 12/26/16

12 thoughts on “2016 Reading Challenges

  1. Beverley

    My reading challenge is to read all of the Man Booker prize winner since it began in 1968. I want to know what makes a good book and why some books win when they are clearly not that good. I shall be adding it to Good reads. Good luck with your reading.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not familiar with the Man Booker prize–I’ll have to look that up! I do want to read more Newbery Medal winners this year. I haven’t always understood how or why they’ve chosen those through the years either. 🙂

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          Distractions are par for the course, yes? I know I will wander quite often from my list too, but that’s okay. I’ve left lots of open holes for such wanderings. 🙂

  2. Barbara H.

    You’re way ahead of me! I’ve given some thought to the Mount TBR and Back to the Classics challenges but haven’t mapped out my plans yet. I hadn’t heard of the rereading one – I might give that some thought as I know there are several I’d love to revisit.

    I look forward to your thoughts on Augustine. I keep thinking I need to read that but haven’t braved it yet. Persuasion is my favorite Austen book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I always love this time of year when we get to plan some books to read. That doesn’t mean that I will actually read them all though. ha. But I usually stick to the list for the most part, even if it means starting a book and deciding it’s not worth finishing. I’ll look forward to what you decide on!

      I’m glad to hear you say you like Persuasion because I wasn’t sure about that one. It was just a random pick among Austen’s books. I’ll keep you posted on Augustine. I need to make sure I find a very readable translation. 🙂

  3. Jean Wise

    I do admire how you read and now understand this type of schedule/commitment helps to keep you going and also find some great reads. And I do love a challenge and a goal. will look this over again and decide this week. Thanks for the great info. Happy New Year!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Jean. Even though sometimes it feels strange that I schedule so much of my reading, it has really made a huge difference in finally reading many of the books that I’ve wanted to read for so long. But I leave lots of empty blanks for library books too though, and the occasional review book and unexpected books that I just *have* to read. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Isn’t that list just crazy? Ha. I was overwhelmed by the number of challenges. I did good to limit myself to the ones I did. I knew I had to pull back when I almost signed up for a challenge for challenges. 🙂 But I decided to let that one go.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Lexie! The New Release Challenge may be one of the more challenging ones for me since I can’t plan for it. ha. But I love the concept and can’t wait to see what surprises are in store with it! Thanks for hosting.

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