One Upping the Goodreads Challenge


As we begin the new year, those of you who use Goodreads (my profile is here) will be setting your 2018 reading challenge. In 2017, I challenged myself to read 18 books and exceeded that goal by completing 22. This is my highest total in many years – perhaps ever (though I went through the Hardy Boys books like water when I was younger).

The Goodreads challenge has provided a helpful push to increase the time I spend reading. But it’s lacking something important – balance. I could satisfy the challenge by always making the safe, easy choice. A better challenge is one that encourages me to take chances, sample from different genres, and open my mind to new ideas.

Two years ago, after hearing about Modern Mrs. Darcy, Julie created the Doel Family Reading Challenge for us. Beyond just reading a certain number of books, we have categories that we need to satisfy to complete the family challenge.

In 2017, we added a Doel Family Watching Challenge as a companion to the reading challenge. Most of us spend quite a bit of time in front of the television or in a movie theater. But as with reading, we knew a balanced diet would not only be fun but also encourage us to take in new experiences.

The challenges themselves have evolved over the years. I’ve had a few folks ask me about them, so I figured it might be good to share. I’m including my own results from 2017 along with the scorecard for 2018 in case you or your family want to play along or use it for inspiration in developing your own version. Given how much time we all spend in our individual echo chambers, adding some variety to our media intake can only help us to understand perspectives beyond our own and with luck, make it easier to talk to each other.

2017 Doel Family Reading Challenge

Read One Book in Each Category

Read Ten Poems

  1. Ants Nest by Jane Hirshfield
  2. Advent by Bridget Lowe
  3. Sheba by Anna Scotti
  4. Greetings, Friends! by Ian Frazier
  5. Wade in the Water by Tracy K Smith
  6. La Mediterranee by Nick Laird
  7. From “Like Nebraska” by Sophie Klahr
  8. Declaration by Tracy K Smith
  9. With Her by Giovanni Giudici
  10. Generic Husband by Rebecca Hazelton

Read Ten Short Stories

  1. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving
  2. Good People by David Foster Wallace
  3. Whoever is There, Come on Through by Colin Barrett
  4. The Lazy River by Zadie Smith
  5. Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian
  6. A Love Story by Samantha Hunt
  7. The I.O.U. by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest by Sherman Alexie
  9. Crossing the River No Name by Wil Mackin
  10. Riddle by Thomas McGuane

Additional Books Read

2017 Doel Family Watching Challenge

Watch One in Each Category

2018 Doel Family Reading Challenge

Read One From Each Category

  • Book published this year
  • Book published in a year that ends in 8
  • Book published before you were born
  • Book you’ve been meaning to read
  • Book recommended by a librarian, bookseller, or teacher
  • Book chosen for you by a spouse, sibling, child, BFF, or parent
  • Book that was banned, challenged, or censored at some point anywhere in the world
  • Book you’ve already read at least once
  • Book that was nominated for or won any book award
  • Biography or memoir
  • Non-fiction book #1
  • Non-fiction book #2
  • Graphic novel
  • Book made into a movie
  • Sequel
  • Play
  • Philosophy book (loosely defined – how and why people do certain things)
  • Book set in a culture other than your own
  • Science fiction or fantasy book
  • Book listed on Cassady’s scratch-off poster
  • Mystery
  • Historical fiction
  • Book set in the future
  • Novella (180 pages or less)
  • One other book of any type
  • Book of the Bible or a portion of another religious text
  • Speech – historical or other
  • Long form magazine article #1
  • Long form magazine article #2
  • Long form magazine article #3
  • 4 poems
  • 4 short stories

Substitution Rule

If you don’t want to read a specific category, you can read 3 of something else and fill in those as a substitute.

2018 Doel Family Watching Challenge

Watch One in Each Category

  • Best Picture winner from any year
  • Movie released in year ending in 8
  • Live theater performance #1
  • Live theater performance #2
  • Movie in an independent theater
  • Animated film
  • Action/Adventure film
  • Western
  • War time film
  • Comedy
  • Movie based on a book
  • Documentary
  • Foreign language film
  • Crime, gangster, or courtroom drama
  • Movie based on a true story
  • Mystery, suspense, or thriller
  • Black & White film
  • Sequel
  • Musical or dance movie
  • Short film
  • Silent movie
  • Disaster film
  • Horror film
  • Science fiction, fantasy, or set in future
  • Original or remake
  • Movie recommended by a friend, parent, spouse, or child
  • Movie with either Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep
  • Watch a movie from Matthew’s scratch-off poster
  • Watch a favorite film again
  • Watch something with each of your family members
  • In Memoriam – film of an actor/actress who died 11/17 – 12/18

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