Amazon discontinued the ability to create images using their SiteStripe feature and in their infinite wisdom broke all previously created images on 12/31/23. Many blogs used this feature, including this one. Expect my archives to be a hot mess of broken book cover images until I can slowly comb through 20 years of archives to make corrections.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Thoughts on the Future of the #TBRChallenge

The #TBRChallenge has been floating around Romancelandia for a lot of years and in 2012 I took over hosting duties.  I wanted to keep it alive and frankly it was a way to force myself into reading something out of my giant horde of books at least once a month.

However, times they are a-changing.  Blogs are starting to dry up (for various and sundry reasons), more readers are migrating to social media platforms and podcasts, and even though my hosting tenure has birthed a hashtag (#TBRChallenge) - our numbers have dwindled down to a loyal few.  Also, to be perfectly blunt, while I'm still holding on to this blog by my fingernails, my life has changed quite a bit since 2003 and the time I can devote to blogging ain't what she used to be. Reading to theme (even though the themes are optional) and getting reviews up on a specified day - it's hard even for me, and I'm hosting this thing.

But I don't want to just kill the #TBRChallenge like I'm some Supreme Romancelandia Overlord.  I'm proposing a slightly altered version for 2020:

1) Participants commit to reading out of their TBR at least once a month (1 book? 25 books? Whatever!)

2) Reviews/commentary can be posted at any time during the month.

3) No provided themes.  But participants should feel free to create their own (ex. I'm toying with the idea of doing an All Harlequin Print TBR Challenge...)

4) Use the #TBRChallenge hashtag on your blog/social media etc.

For those of you who have been participating regularly, does this sound like a welcome change or a terrible idea?  And for those of you who have never or sporadically participated - do these changes sound like something that may tip you into joining the fray?

Opinions welcome.


Dorine said...

Creating our own challenges sounds fun!

I'm not sure how I'll do without a deadline. Could we come up with some sort of compromise where we all post on twitter by a specific date during the month?

The only reason I ask is that I'm not a frequent social media person. Having a deadline makes me come over there and check out everyone else's reviews. I like to go to all the blogs and comment, if I know they've put a review up.

Where do you see the trends heading? Is there somewhere I should be where you all like to hang out? I'd really love to be more social when it comes to book talk -- if it's out there anywhere. I miss it!

And sorry - silly me hasn't been using the hashtag on my blog, even though I always use it on Twitter. I'll do better this year!

Thank you so much for hanging in there with this. I'd really miss it if it was gone. :)

Jill said...

Hi Wendy,

I'm just a sporadic comment person, but I think whatever brings you least stress is the best choice. Of course I love the TBR challenge, but it does also seem like a lot of work. I probably will always only be a here on the blog and come and go, not b/c I don't love what you do, but b/c I have quit a lot of social media. Not for any grand political or social reason just b/c it was making me feel anxious and depressed. I'll come to your blog as long as it's around, but my vote is still do what works best for you.

Phyl said...

Well, as you know, I dropped out a while back. Life changes happen and I totally get it. Whether the challenge continues or not, I just want to say THANK YOU. I found a lot of good books to read thanks to everyone's reviews, and managed to move quite a few of my own books to the "finally read" pile.

So here's to you, Wendy. Thanks for all you do for the romancelandia. It has always been, and always will be, greatly appreciated.

S. said...

Personally, what I like the most about this challenge is the themes. I really like to browse the books I have through my monthly lists and find out one I'll dedicate to the challenge.

I'm mostly active on goodreads though, so I wouldn't mind being part of a group there, that you might start. Even if you couldn't organize things all the time there, you could find someone to moderate with you and participants could do their own thing anyway, posting a review per theme, etc...
Perhaps it wouldn't demand as much of your time.
I barely check facebook and have no twitter nor Instagram nor any other social media of the kind to follow the blog/the challenge in a different platform or something.

Of course everyone will have an opinion, whether they share it here or not. I agree you should do what you feel like is best for you, that's why this is your blog. :)

Wendy said...

Thank you everybody for your thoughts so far. I don't really want to kill the dedicated day because it is nice to go to the various blogs and catch up on what everybody read. I'm wondering if I just need to pick a new day? When I took over hosting 3rd Wednesday of the month had been the norm for a lot of years. Maybe I should move it to the generic "last day of the month?" The only issues I see there is December 31 and depending on how Memorial Day falls.

And themes. I know some really like the themes - Sonia isn't alone! And really those aren't a huge deal - I just need to give myself permission to go "off theme." Since I'm hosting I kind of feel obligated to stick to them LOL

Let me think on this some more - but I'm thinking maybe just moving the "deadline" to end of the month might fix a lot of issues for me....

Wendy said...

Dorine: As for book talk trends - I wish I knew! There's some decent chatter on Twitter but you have to wade through a ton of garbage fires to find it these days. There's apparently a ton of talk on Facebook but to be honest I find it a bit of a mystery over there and it just doesn't seem to fit what I'm looking for. I'm in one FB group right now where all they seem to do is post pictures of books they got in the mail and...::yawn:: Everything seems to be trending towards podcasts right now and that's just not what I'm looking for.

The short answer is that I'm cranky and old and miss blogs. Sigh.

Dorine said...

I like the end of the month idea...whatever you decide, I'm in.

Thanks for the thoughts on the chatter. Maybe it will circle around.

Well, I'm right with you on old, cranky and missing blogs. At least we're not alone!

S. said...

I also feel a little lost. When I started my blog in 2010 I had no plans to make it a big thing but I followed some blogs and that motivated me to write my own thing.

It's a bit sad for me that practically after that, those blogs I was following started to have less and less entries... some went on to hiatus, in others people haven't posted in a long time, years actually.

Of course, it's those people's decisions, I'm not saying they shouldn't do what feels right for them but it kind of brings you down. I still feel like writing, even if I write badly (English is not my mother tongue) but who knows how long it will last so I love this challenge because it lets me, at least, be in contact with some other blogs and I like the themed posts.

Perhaps you could indicate the last 2 days of the month, since that allows some people more flexibility if those days are in a weekend, for instance(which would be worse for me to post).

Bona Caballero said...

First, I will thank you for the thoughts and work you have put into this Challenge for years.

Secondly, I think that your suggestion is more welcome change than a terrible idea.

Thirdly, I'm gonna talk about myself. I'm still a blogger, I even have two blogs, one for romance novels and the other for art & history. I will keep them and I'm not going to any other media, I'm too old for new tricks. I just want to talk about the things I love.

Moreover, I'm thinking about leaving the only two social media I'm in –Twitter and You Tube. They take a lot of my time and give me more headaches than happy moments.

Last, but not least, this year I took too many reading challenges and I'm a little bit burnt out. So I decided not to follow any challenge next year. But while I was reading your post, I realised that I could sign TBR Challenge again, because the rules are very flexible, so I think I could follow them without stressing myself.

But if less and less people are going to follow it next year, you can let it die and give it a dignified funeral.

Wendy said...

Sonia: I'm going to spend some time this weekend looking at next year's calendar. I think moving the date will help quite a bit - I just need to see how the dates fall in 2020 before I make a decision. And I think I'll keep the themes. I just need to take my own advice that they're always optional!

Bona: I'm always so happy that both you and Sonia participate and that you choose to blog in English when it's not your first language. I don't expect that of anybody who participates and it's so impressive. No way could I write an entire blog post in Spanish! It's so easy to get burnt out. I didn't do reading challenges for a long time because I had too many other obligations. I took over the TBR Challenge in large part because of it's longevity and how low stress it was.

I'm glad I blogged about this because you all have given me some great feedback and food for thought. I'm going to take the weekend to finalize things and hopefully post sign-ups for 2020 next week sometime.

Vassiliki said...

I'd like to start by saying that I am so deeply appreciative of your hosting the TBR Challenge and I think you should make whatever decision you need regarding its future.

Unfortunately, I have some hardcore commitments up until June 2020. I feel like a fraud to have an opinion on how you run the challenge, when I haven't been able to take part this year. After June, I'm in again and with bells on and I am happy to help you out in whatever way you may need.

Even though I haven't been able to take part much this year, I have this internal bell that goes off in my head every third Wednesday and I check all your tweets, the hashtag and all the blogs. I don't mind the date change, but it would be lovely if there was a specific day rather than any time in the month. I have a deep deep love for themes and my in-person bookclub is entering its 19th year on the back of being theme based. Maybe the trick to the themes would be to choose more ambiguous topics such as "the colour blue" or "Winter" or "No Hat No Play", rather than sub-genres. It could make it an easier fit for books that fall outside of the month's theme.

Ultimately, I think you should do whatever will make you happy :)

Wendy said...

Vassiliki: I'm glad I blogged about this because, if nothing else, it helped reassure me. I tinkered with the idea of moving the date (I was thinking last Friday of the month) - but that brilliant idea creates problems in the States because of our Thanksgiving and Christmas is on the last Friday in 2020. So.....

After all this drama of Wendy blathering on (really, I think I just needed to think out loud) I think the date of the 3rd Wednesday will stay for now. And I like your idea of even more generic themes! I'm going to try to brainstorm some today....