By Ellen B.

Meet Your 2021 Reading Goals with Online Reading Challenges

So, you’ve resolved to read more in 2021, but what does that mean? Do you want to simply increase the number of books you will read in 2021? Do you love mysteries but need to find that new favorite author? Or, do you want to step out of your usual reading routine and try new authors, genres, and perspectives?

If you need help getting started, we’ve compiled a list of online reading challenges that could guide you to meet your 2021 reading goals. Some are very general and concentrate on the number of books read, while others have very specific prompts for the types of books you read. 

Choose a challenge, chart your progress in a journal or online, and remember that it’s not about the finish line, it’s about the worlds you explore and the things you learn along the way. 

Have fun! 


To get started on any reading challenge, Goodreads is a good place to begin. 

This social cataloging website, owned by Amazon, allows people to search its database of books, annotations, quotes, and reviews. Users sign up to review and organize books on their virtual  “shelves”. Readers can track the books that they want to read, have read, or are currently reading, making it easy to manage a reading list. Like social media websites, friends can follow each other’s progress. Members also receive personalized book recommendations based on what they are reading.

Goodreads has a relatively simple annual reading challenge: members set a goal of how many books they want to read in a year and track their progress. The subject or genre of the book (mystery, sci-fi, nonfiction) and the format (eBook, audiobook, print) are up to the individual. This would be a good place to start for someone who just wants to read more, or wants to set their own criteria.

Reading challenges from other websites also set up their own discussion groups on Goodreads. Participants can post reviews for the books they are reading to meet the challenge, and get suggestions for very specific topics or goals that some challenges require.  

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 

Book Riot is an editorial book website site that highlights diverse media across all genres. It also provides a home to media such as podcasts, newsletters, and original content. 

Following the site’s mission, Book Riot challenges the reader to “Read Harder” and go outside their comfort zone through 24 “tasks” (2 books per month) that cross age levels, genre, race, culture, and gender orientation. Here are some examples of the tasks for 2021: 

  • Read a middle-grade mystery
  • Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness
  • Read a fat-positive romance
  • Read a nonfiction book about anti-racism

For those who need even more incentive to read harder, there’s a prize! Participants who complete the challenge on time can receive discounts on purchases from a book-related merchandise website. 

Since this challenge is so specific, readers can get suggestions from the Book Riot website or the Goodreads Bookriot Read Harder Challenge Discussion Group.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

For the past seven years, this pop culture blog has published a challenge with 50 book prompts, 40 standard prompts, and 10 advanced prompts. Themes, both serious and fun, in the 2021 standard list of 40 include:

  • A book that has the same title as a song
  • A book you think your best friend would like
  • A book about a social justice issue

All the themes in the 2021 Advanced List come from the reader’s TBR (To Be Read) list, to help finally tackle those books they have always wanted to read. 

  • The longest book on your TBR list
  • The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover
  • A book from your TBR list that you meant to read last year but didn’t

Social media groups on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter are set up to discuss choices and get help finding titles. 

Book’d Out 2021 Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Australian blogger and reviewer Shelleyrae has set up a challenge for those who either only read nonfiction, or those who want to read more of it in 2021. 

Readers can choose their goal and be a Nonfiction Nipper (Read 3 books from any category), a Nonfiction Nibbler (Read 6 books from any category), or a Nonfiction Know-It-All (Read 12 books, one for each category). The categories are Biography, Travel, Self-Help, Essay Collection, Disease, Oceanography, Hobbies, Indigenous Cultures, Food, Wartime Experiences, Inventions, and Published in 2021. How a book fits in a category is based on the reader’s own judgment. 

Girl XOXO’s Master List of Reading Challenges

For those who are still stumped in the search for the perfect reading challenge, explore these descriptions of and links to over 36 different challenges. 

EVPL’s Book Recommendation Service, EVPL Recommends

Book challenge reading task got you stumped? Schedule time with a librarian who will help virtually browse the library through a phone call or video chat. Readers can also arrange to have a list of possible titles emailed to them. 

EVPL’s 2021 Reading Challenges

For readers who would like a challenge that is shorter in length, or need some incentive to get started in a year-long challenge, try EVPL’s Winter Reading Challenge, Reading is Snow Much Fun.

From Monday, December 14 until Sunday, February 14, readers of all ages are welcome to participate by utilizing EVPL’s Beanstack or by calling 812.428.8225 to record hours read. Readers age 0-5 will track the number of books read.

Three winners will be drawn from each of the five age groups! 

But, wait, there’s more! Every group has five bonus activities that are optional but will earn them additional entries into the prize drawing. All five activities will challenge readers to explore books from different genres, authors, countries, and more.  Each season will bring a new reading challenge for our community. 

EVPL’s Monthly Reading Challenge

EVPL will also host a monthly reading challenge via social media.  Each month will focus on a specific theme, and readers will have the opportunity to tag #MyEVPL each month to share what book they read.  One winner will be drawn at random to receive a book bundle. Themes include:

January: Art | February: Black History | March: Women in STEM or politics | April: Travel

Stay in touch with EVPL at evpl.org and on social media for news of other challenges throughout the year! 

Ellen B.

Ellen B.

With 8 locations throughout Vanderburgh County, EVPL is ready to discover, explore, and connect WITH you! We encourage you to uncover new things, revisit old favorites, and to engage with us along the way.

“The Language of Flowers”
All EVPL locations are closed Wednesday, February 1st due to the inclement weather.Our digital resources are available 24/7.