Nonfiction Reading Challenge

My six non-fiction reading goals for 2018.

I saw a sign-up post for this challenge on Misfortune of Knowing while procrastinating on my 2018 reading/blogging goals list.  After checking out the challenge overview, I realized this fit nicely with the reading goals I already had, which were mostly for nonfiction.


Read 10 books about Africa, set in African, or dealing with the African diaspora.

One of the areas I want to focus on this year is reading more books from Africa.  I have a pretty good track record of reading African fiction (although I’ve not reviewed that many), but my nonfiction record is dismal.  I was preparing for this in December so I already read one book, own a few, just picked up one from the library, and have another book on my holds list.

Read 10 books from my unread shelves.

Nonfiction takes longer to read and is more of a mood read for me.  I like to buy books and get many as gifts as well, or random cheap books from thrift stores, library sale shelves, and dollar bins.  Last year in particular I went overboard buying diverse nonfiction.  I have two or three shelves worth that I’d like to make a dent in before purchasing brand new books.

Read 10 library books.

From whatever library.  I’m only counting them if A) I finish reviewing them and B) I don’t go into overdue status.  That’s going to be the real challenge!

Read 10 books that fit into my ongoing multi-year challenges.

I’ve already got several nonfiction books purchased for the #100indigenousbooks challenge and would like to read and review those before getting more.  I’ve been more focused on fiction with the Diverse Disabled challenge but the two nonfiction books I read were both winners, so I’d like to at least read the ones I already own.

Read 10 books that fit the monthly diversity goals OR are chosen for the quarterly group reads.

This is my very loose goal for when I’m bored with the other categories, but still want some general direction.

Complete any one of my challenge books from start to finish.

If you’ve been around for a while, I’ve mentioned these here and there before.  Basically these are books which I have been trying to read for more than a year.  The first three are all over 400 pages.  Long Walk to Freedom (the comprehensive autobiography of Nelson Mandela), For Hearing People Only (a textbook about Deaf culture and ASL), and Roots* (the story of one black family through several generations).

The other two are books that really shouldn’t be so challenging.  I’ve read every single chapter of The New Jim Crow at some point in the last year.  I just haven’t read the book in a cohesive enough manner to comment with any clarity on it.  God is Not One is Stephen Prothero’s response to Huston Smith, a study of the world’s religions.  It’s under 400 pages, I’ve read and enjoyed portions, but I keep getting stopped out and setting it aside for long periods of time.

*I realize that Roots is today classified as a work of fiction.  However the old edition I have was marked nonfiction so it’s been shelved with those books and fits better in this part of the challenge.

My Rules:

It has to be a chapter book.

I will include middle grade and YA books but am not planning to count early or elementary chapter books.  I think nonfiction graphic novels will be okay with me too (although I’m not sure if the official challenge will count them).

Double-dipping is okay.

I realize this list looks overwhelming (51 books!), but I definitely plan to overlap.  The categories of “books I own” and “library books” can overlap fully with other categories, and I already own all of my challenge books.  One of my RL book clubs is ending, which will free up reading time.  Depending on the books I choose to read, this could be as small as a 20-30 book challenge.

Reviews can be posted late.

It takes me ages to write reviews and since I schedule most reviews, it might take a few months for a book I read to show up on the blog.  I realize that the reviews posted in 2019 won’t count toward the official challenge, but I’m going to count them toward my personal goal.  (That does mean I might post a wrap-up late as well, so I can link to all the reviews.  I’ll decide when I get there.)

The goal is to have fun.

Sometimes I forget this with challenges and stress myself out.  If one of my goals needs to change, or go unmet, then that’s okay.  I have many goals in reading and in life, but ultimately my health and real-life priorities always need to come first.


I’ve set up a progress page that includes my Stretch Goals (aka tentative plans for 2019).

What are your 2018 goals?  Do you plan to read more (or any) nonfiction this year?


Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

14 thoughts on “Nonfiction Reading Challenge”

    1. Thanks! An open-ended challenge like this was just what I needed this year. I’ve been debating posting my Africa TBR list, since I did actually make one for this. The first book I read, Tears of the Desert, was emotionally challenging but very well written.


  1. Great challenge! I’ve already found that I’m reading more nonfiction this year than I ever did. If I find I don’t have one on the go I have to start one immediately! I like to read 4-5 books at a time so it’s a great opportunity to work on my pile. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems that once you get into it, it is possible to read a great deal of nonfiction – and it’s great for 15-30 minute time slots. I’ve always read nonfiction for my jobs and book clubs but not much that I chose, so this newfound freedom is very exciting. Congratulations on your nonfiction reading!


  2. Here’s a couple recommendations that came to mind if they can be helpful. Last year I read Rwandan Women Rising by Swanee Hunt – it’s NonFiction, academic in intention, but a look at the role of women in rebuilding the political landscape of Rwanda after the genocide. I loved Tale of a Boon’s Wife by Fartumo Kusow set in pre-civil war Somalia, a quick read of tension and insight, but in the fiction category 🙂 And last year I also read Deaf Culture: In Our Own Hands edited by Brian H. Greenwald and Joseph J. Murray – a series of essays about deaf agency and community in the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Long Walk to Freedom is powerful. Roots is on my tbr as well, but I have a couple other behemoths that I’ve already started and need to finish first. Looks like a good reading year in 2018!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are great recommendations! Especially Rwandan Women Rising – I’m going to put in a request for that one. I have a few books about genocide on my shelf and have been looking for some more positive reading to balance those out.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These seem like great reading goals! I’ve not read much about Africa, so I might need to make a point of changing that in the future as well. I am fascinated to hear that Roots used to classified as nonfiction, because I had thought it was nonfiction and was surprised to see it shelved as fiction on goodreads. I hope you do have a lot of fun with your reading challenges 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I was surprised by how little I’d read about Africa. This article does a good job of explaining how Roots was originally classified as “faction” (since the dialogue was obviously invented) but later found to be inaccurate. It has a troubled past but I’d still like to read it because Roots has been so influential in African-American culture. So far I’m really enjoying the challenges!


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