January Reading Challenge: Start the New Year Off The Right Way


The new year is here. What better way to begin anew than with our January Reading Challenge. If you want to read a book a week in 2019 with us, start by selecting books to satisfy these 5 topics.

Ring out the old! Ring in the new! It’s time to start our 2019 Reading Challenge.

To kick it all off, we have a fun January reading challenge for you. While you don’t have to do all the categories on the 2019 reading challenge in order, we plan to!

For those of you who want to follow along with us, we will be breaking down the full list into monthly challenges. It just comes down to one book a week.

For the January reading challenge, we have 5 fun prompts for you to check off. Learn about the categories – and our corresponding book suggestions – in our monthly posts.

If you’re curious, feel free to check out our January Reading Challenge Selections. Moreover, please come back and let us know how the challenge went for you. We’d love to hear what books you ended up reading.

Not ready for a book a week (or just want to join the fun)? Come join our book club! And if you want to stay up-to-date, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase anything, at no additional cost to you, we receive a small commission. For more information, read our Disclosures.

January Reading Challenge

1. A Book with More Than 500 Pages

Let’s kick off 2019 with a bit of a challenge: a book with more than 500 pages.

Finding a book this long can be harder than you think. Many books seems to top out at the 350-450 page count. Only 15% of the books I’ve read have been long enough to qualify for this category.

If you’re like me, when faced with a stack of books, you often reach for the shorter ones. “I can read it in a day,” is usually my justification.

This month, let’s not read it in a day. For the start of our January Reading Challenge, let’s take our time to enjoy a book. Let’s delve into the story and characters. It’s winter anyways, so you’re likely to be stuck inside for long periods of time.

Want to read along with us? Join us for our January book club pick!

Book Suggestions

book cover The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
book cover Dune by Frank Herbert
book cover The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


2. Book You Haven’t Read by An Author You Love

All of us have favorite authors. Yet sometimes we realize we’ve only sampled a small portion of their work. It’s time to rectify that.

This week, pick up a book you haven’t read by an author you love. Maybe you’ll love this new book, too. Or maybe you’ll realize that you should just stick to your favorites. You’ll never know until you try.

Book Suggestions

book cover Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
book cover Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
book cover Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak


3. Goodreads Winner 2018

Next up on our January reading challenge, we are turning to the popular website Goodreads. Anyone who has ever voted in the Goodreads Best of the Year Awards knows that it’s basically a popularity contest.

Yet, popularity contests have their benefits. Generally, the winners of the Goodreads awards are the most widely read book in their genre. That means that you will have an easy time finding someone to discuss the book with!

Related: Goodreads Winners 2018: Popularity Has Its Benefits

Book Suggestions

book cover I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
book cover Circe by Madeline Miller
book cover The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah


4. A Book You Can Read In a Day

What pairs best with a massive 500+ page work? A book you can read in a day!

Now a book you can read in a day is a highly subjective category. Maybe you’ll pick a super short classic under 200 pages.  Or you could select one of those gripping books you can’t put down and devour it in one sitting. Either way is fine with us.

Regardless of how you choose, give yourself 24 hours to finish the book from start to finish. Though, no one is actually counting if it takes you 25.

Book Suggestions

book cover One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
book cover Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
book cover The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo


5. Book About a Difficult Topic

Now that you’ve gotten a short read and a long read out of the way, continue your January Reading Challenge with a deep read on a difficult topic.

What do we mean by “a difficult topic”?

Like everything on the 2019 Reading Challenge, that’s up for you to decide. When we created the category, we were thinking death, divorce, abuse, disease, etc. Anything that can be difficult to face or read about.

Hopefully you find some enlightenment on your chosen subject. Don’t worry. Next month, we’ll have some lighter categories for you!

Book Suggestions

book cover I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell
book cover Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
book cover Night by Elie Wiesel

What books will you choose for the January Reading Challenge?

January Reading Challenge 2019 // Start the new year off the right way. Read a book a week this year with the Pingel sisters. To keep you on track of your 2019 Reading Challenge, begin by finishing the January 2019 Reading Challenge.

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  • Reply Melissia @ Books and Sassy Lilacs December 28, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Love the suggestions, thank you! I’ve been dying to read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and excited for my choices for the other topics this month.

  • Reply Nicola December 30, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I really like this idea! Thanks for the recommendations. Hope you both have a great 2019!


  • Reply CJ | A Well-Read Tart January 3, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    I started reading a TINY bit of CIRCE today on my lunch break — like, 5 pages — and I immediately fell in love with the writing and the story. I can’t wait to dive into it more this weekend.

    Also, for you “difficult topic” category — you should throw MY ABSOLUTE DARLING in there. I had to stop reading it because it’s VERY difficult to read. It deals with sexual and mental abuse between father/daughter, and it’s not very kind to animals, either. The writing style is gorgeous, and I can’t deny it’s a deeply moving book, but it’s very, very unsettling. I’ve read reviews from people who loved it, and from people who hated it, so it’s quite polarizing.

    • Reply Rachael January 4, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      I’m debating between Circe and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark for my Goodreads pick. Though, I might just read them both!

  • Reply Sarah Hood January 21, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    My first book for the year was “The Killing” by David Hewson (the English language novelisation of the Danish TV series, rather than a book on which the series was based), which was 720 pages – the longest book I’ve read in a while, but really gripping. Also just finished Kate Morton’s “The Shifting Fog” (also published as “The House at Riverton”), which was 545 pages. Between them, I think I have categories 1 and 2 covered. The other book I’ve read this year was “The Death of Mrs. Westerway”, by Ruth Ware, but I don’t think that fits any of the January categories particularly. For a classic you can read in a day, I recommend Jane Austen’s “Love and Friendship”, a collection of short stories she wrote as a teenager. Only 87 pages, but a really enjoyable read. Enjoying the challenge, thank you!

    • Reply Rachael January 22, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      I’ve never read Austen’s Love and Friendship. Adding it to my to-read list right now!

  • Reply Sarah H June 12, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Okay, now have the following “locked in” and read for prompts 1-5:
    1. A Book with more than 500 pages: “The Shifting Fog” by Kate Morton (545 pages)
    2. Book you haven’t read by an author you love: “Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly” by Agatha Christie (an earlier and only recently published novella version of her later novel “Dead Man’s Folly”)
    3. Goodreads winner in 2018: “Circe” by Madeline Miller – Loved this! Thanks for the recommendation!
    4. You can read in a day: “Gunpowder Plots” by Val McDermid (would also have met prompt #2 – a book of short stories by one of my favourite crime writers)
    5. Book about a difficult topic: “The Things We Cannot Say” by Kelly Rimmer, a dual time family drama revolving around the Nazi occupation of Poland in the early years of WW2, and a present day woman’s search for her dying grandmother’s past, while managing the care of her autistic son.

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