I know January is over and we are already into February; however, that doesn't mean you can't start a fun little challenge for yourself. Reading has always been a beautiful escape for me, but now that there's Netflix, it has most definitely taken a seat on the back burner of my mind. Netflix is so easy to fall into and doesn't require any sort of concentration. Unfortunately, watching too much Netflix isn't always good for us or our bodies. Reading, on the other hand, can have many benefits to us: mind, body, and soul.
Most of those reading this are college students and have busy schedules and lives. therefore, I wanted to create a reading challenge that is easy to do and can still help you feel a little better. I recommend reading one book for every month in the year, for a grand total of 12 books! Here's the challenge part, there are specific types of books I want you to look for!
1. Read a book you've been dying to read.
To start off a new challenge, start with something that will bring you excitement and motivation! I bought the book "That Kind of Mother" by Rumaan Alam mostly because it was written by a person of color. However, once I picked it up and learned what it was about, I was thoroughly intrigued. I started this book last year but I finished it in January 2019, so I'm including this in my challenge. What book are you going to pick for yours?
2. Read a self-help book.
I did say in the title that this challenge was for your soul. Take some time out of your 2nd month of the challenge to read a book that might be able to help you through some tough times. I am currently reading "You Are A Badass" by Jen Sincero and I can honestly say that each time I read it feels as good as finishing up a particularly motivational session with a therapist! And it doesn't cost $80 for 45 minutes!
3. Read a book about current social issues.
Now that you've taken a month to take care of yourself, check out a book that might be a little hard to read but talks about something you're interested in and might give you an opportunity to educate yourself about others. I personally am looking forward to using my March month to read "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander which is about mass incarceration and other injustices in the criminal system. However, this challenge doesn't mean you need to read nonfiction like me! Someone interested in police brutality can read "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas or if you want to read about women's rights, you can read "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood. Regardless of what type of book you choose to read, just make sure that it's something that it has a focus on commentary on a relevant societal issue.
4. Read the first book of a series you want to start.
We've all side-eyed a couple of series' that seemed interesting to us at the bookstore, well, here's your chance to get started on it! I am an avid "Game of Thrones" TV Show fan, but I've heard that the book series is much more complex, therefore I want to give it a shot. Try "Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin. What series are you dying to read?
5. Read a book of poetry.
Poetry is such a beautiful form of art and literature and provides a certain kind of melody and music in your mind when you read it. It's a wonderful way to relax while also stimulating your brain. I chose "Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul" by Nikita Gill because it provides a female empowered twist on our beloved, classic fairytales that we grew up hearing. What poems are you going to unravel for this challenge?
6. Read a book recommended by a friend or family member.
Reading a book recommended by a friend or family member can be a cool insight into not only them but your connection with them. The books we read are such a personal and vulnerable thing to ourselves therefore when we share something like that with someone close to us, allows for a conversation between the two of you that you might not have had before. Both my sister and my childhood best friend recommended "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom to me and I'm very excited to read it and talk to them about it!
7. Read a biography or an autobiography.
Pick a famous person that you admire or want to learn more about and see if they themselves or someone else has written a book about them and read it. I was so excited to hear Michelle Obama was coming out with her book and my friend got it for me for Christmas, so you all know that this is the one I'm most looking forward to reading ... "Becoming" by Michelle Obama. Who do you admire and want to know more about?
8. Read a classic.
Classics have a way of paralleling with current times. Reading a classic is an opportunity to gauge just how much has changed and how much has remained the same in the way that we think, behave and dramatize. I am incredibly excited to read Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" mystery. What classics are you thinking about reading?
9. Read a book that is or is becoming a movie/TV show before you watch it.
This is a tale as old as time, where movie lovers don't bother to read the books before whereas book lovers struggle to enjoy movies after reading the books; however use this challenge as a way to connect with two different mediums of the same subject. Celebrate the differences in the adaptation. I have been wanting to watch "Boy Erased" by Garrard Conley since I saw the trailer, but I haven't had the chance, so now that I have time I'm excited to read the book first!
10. Read a book from a movie/TV show that you watched first.
Sometimes a movie or TV show looks too damn good to have the patience to read the book first, and that's okay! Because there are no rules and it's your life! However, for the sake of the challenge, pick up a book that you've seen the show or movie for and give it a go. Notice how different or similar it is to what you watched and think about which form you appreciated more or if you liked them both equally and for what reasons. I picked "Crazy Rich Asians" for my book #10!
11. Read a book by someone of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. than you.
By picking a book written by someone who has experienced a different sort of life than you can lead to personal growth in the way that you've lead your life. I picked Toni Morrison as my author because she is a strong, African-American author and I'm very excited to read her book "Beloved". Who did you pick and why?
12. Read another book that you've been dying to read.
You've made it to the end of the challenge, so go ahead and treat yourself with something you've been dying to read! I'll be chilling in my bed reading Mindy Kaling's first out of two autobiographies, enjoying the fact that I was able to complete one challenge in my life. Try "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" by Mindy Kaling.
Anxiety has ruled my young adult life for so long and I always struggle to find ways to calm myself down and live in the moment. Netflix always helps with immediate numbing, which is 100% okay, sometimes you need that. Nevertheless, I wanted to start this reading challenge to encourage you to reap the benefits of reading, while also learning how to be present with yourself and your anxiety! Good luck!