Friday, December 29, 2023

Choosing Books for the Brighter Winter Reading Challenge

Since the winter of 2020, I've been enjoying the Brighter Winter Reading Challenge. The beginning of this challenge coincided with my first year as a widow, when I was reading much more, since I didn't have Ed to talk to in the evenings. 

I love that Brighter Winter stretches my reading into new genres, gives my reading focus, and allows me to share reading with friends. This is the fifth year and by now it is a highlight of my winter. 

You can find more information about Brighter Winter Reading Challenge on their website, but briefly, this free reading challenge gives you a grid for January and February. You record the books you read for each challenge and qualify for drawings for prizes.

The day that Brighter Winter shared the reading grids, I printed them off and began choosing books. I begin filling in the grid with a pencil. When I read the book, I'll record it in pen.

Over the years, I've worked out a system for choosing books for Brighter Winter. This may sound rather obsessive, but I definently read more if I put some thought into my reading goals, so maybe you will get ideas for choosing your next book, even if you don't participate in Brighter Winter.

1. First I considered my reading goals for this winter. For me this includes reading unread books already on my shelves, participating in a book club, and prereading books for my children.

2. Next I looked through the shelf of unread books in my room. I started by pulling books off that shelf that would fit one or more of the Brighter Winter categories. (You can use the same book twice to check off the categories for Brighter Winter so I always like to find books that can fit two categories.)

3. Then I looked through the audiobooks that I saved in Everand (used to be named Scribd - you can try it for free) and picked ones that would fit in the categories. I like to choose one or two audiobooks each month of the challenge, depending on their length.

4. Next I checked my TBR list for any other books I've been hoping to read. I have a gift card to Thriftbooks that I can use to purchase any books that I would like to add.

5. Since my goal is to preread some new books for my children, I checked my library for some Newberry, Calacott, and Coretta Scott King awards. If I put a hold on them now, they will be waiting the next time I'm at the library.

6. And last, but maybe best, I ask friends for suggestions. What are good books that include teachers? Or adoption? Book conversations are The Best and talking about books is one of my favorite parts of Brighter Winter. Several years ago, some of my friends who are all participating in Brighter Winter, formed a Whatsapp group so that we could discuss our reading. It has been a fun way to get some more book suggestions.

Choosing books for Brighter Winter is so much fun! I'll change my mind lots of times, pulling books on and off the shelves, switching one for another. I'll have at least one long book gab session with my sister Charity and probably send her home with an armload of books. Likely I'll take books to church to lend to others doing the Brighter Winter Challenge. To me, sharing and talking about books is as fun as reading books.

And when January 1st rolls around, I'll be so excited to start reading that I will likely wake up early to start on the stack.

If you haven't signed up for Brighter Winter Reading Challenge, you still can.

If you are doing the Brighter Winter Challenge, how do you choose your books? Which category excites you the most? I hope to share some Brighter Winter reading suggestions in a future post.


  1. I’ve been wanting to read “The Lord of the Rings” series for years. I want to use it for the book that intimidates me. I think the challenges look extra interesting this year.


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