Lifetime of Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 2024 Lifetime of Reading Challenge!

Throughout this year-long, self-paced challenge, you’ll enjoy a wide range of books featuring main characters of different age ranges.

While we’re both enjoying our early 40s, we have readers ranging from their early 20s to 80s. No matter the age, we’re constantly impressed by your willingness to learn and stretch beyond your normal reading comfort zone.

Each decade of life brings different joys and challenges. It’s easy to dismiss those younger or older, but we believe that each generation is worth embracing and has plenty of things to teach us. We’re stronger when we work together to find similarities instead of focusing on differences. While everyone’s individual story is unique, we hope this challenge will reinforce your appreciation for those in different phases of life.

How Does the Lifetime Challenge Work? 

For the challenge, there are ten prompts consisting of age ranges from childhood all the way up to centenarians. Two additional reading prompts, one focused on books that span a character’s lifetime and another on intergenerational novels, make a total of twelve books to read for the challenge by the end of the year.

Because this challenge is self-paced, you can start with whichever prompt you’d like and read books that fit the twelve prompts in any order throughout the year!

For each reading prompt, we curated a diverse list of book recommendations, which are all linked below. These book lists will allow you to find something that suits your reading style and mood without forcing you to spend hours researching novels on your own. Review the book recommendation lists and select one of our suggestions, or choose your own book that meets the theme.

What Kinds of Books are Included?

As with our other challenges, we provide carefully researched lists of highly-rated titles for you to choose from for each reading prompt. Whether you’re looking for historical fiction, contemporary novels, YA, or a bit of mystery, you’re sure to find a great book!

We select a combination of newer and older books, so you should be able to make it to the end of our challenge using only the library if you prefer not to purchase books.

Join the Lifetime of Reading Challenge

We have a free printable book tracker for you to log your challenge reads through the year. We couldn’t think of a better representation of a lifetime than the rings of a tree.

To get the tracker, along with our weekly email newsletter each Friday, fill in the box below. If you’re already on the email list, it’s okay to fill it out again for this year’s tracker using your same email address.

If you’re joining the challenge, in addition to the email list, we recommend joining our Read with the Book Girls Facebook group. It’s a friendly place where we discuss books, both for the challenges and anything else that we’re reading.

Reading Challenge Prompts & Book Recommendation Lists

Links to our book recommendations for all twelve of the Lifetime of Reading challenge prompts can be found below:

While the book recommendation lists for all of the reading prompts are available now, we will occasionally update the lists with new titles that we discover throughout the year. Be sure to check back each time you’re ready to select a new book. Additionally, when a booklist receives a substantial update, we’ll let you know via our Friday newsletter, so be sure to sign up for our email list in the blue box above.

Do I Have to Read in Age Order?

Absolutely not! You can start with a child protagonist, 100-somethings, your own age group, or any other method you’d like! By the end of the year, you’ll still have a fresh perspective on what struggles and perks come with different age ranges.

In many ways, the characters on the older end of the age spectrum are our personal favorites. However, depending on your book selections, if you go in age order, you may end up with several books in a row of characters facing end-of-life situations. It might be nice to break those books up with another prompt in between.

Self-Paced vs. Fully Guided Challenges

The Book Girls’ Guide hosts two different styles of reading challenges. For 2024, two will be self-paced (including Lifetime of Reading), and three will be guided. Here’s an overview of the differences between the two different challenge formats:

Visual graphic showing how a self-paced challenge works as described throughout this post.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to participate?

All our reading challenges, as well as our other book lists and resources, are free for everyone! It takes an extraordinary amount of time to put together and administer the challenges, but we never want finances to be a barrier to participation. At the request of some of our readers, we established a totally optional Buy Me a Coffee membership for anyone willing to help support our work.

How do I find the recommendation lists each time I’m ready for a new book?

All the book lists are available in this index. You may want to bookmark it now for ease, but you’ll also find a link to the Lifetime of Reading book lists in the Reading Challenge section of our newsletter each Friday morning. Registering for this challenge via the email form in the blue box above will also add you to our weekly newsletter list.

Do you host any other reading challenges?

Yes! We have five reading challenges – three of which are “guided challenges” and two that are self-paced (including Lifetime of Reading). You can find more details about all of our challenge options here.

Reading Challenges from Book Girls Guide - 5 Options Showing Printables

You are welcome to join in as many challenges as you would like each year. Many of our readers participate in more than one.

If I’m doing more than one challenge, can a single book count twice?

Yes, absolutely! For example, if you are doing both the Lifetime of Reading Challenge and the Read Around the USA Challenge, a book about a thirty-something living in Minnesota would count both the Life In Your 30s and Minnesota reading prompts.

Do audiobooks count?

Yes! We’re equal-opportunity readers. Whether you choose a paper book, ebook, or audiobook, if you finish knowing the story the author set out to tell, then you’ve “read” the book!

Can I choose my own book?

Absolutely! You can choose any book from our lists or any other book that meets the challenge theme of the challenge prompt. In fact, if you really enjoy an off-list book you select, we’d love to hear about it on this form.

Can I recommend a book for one of the age range book lists?

Yes, we’d love to hear your recommendation, and you can submit it using this form. Please only recommend books that you’ve already read.

Will there be an opportunity to discuss the books we read?

While we won’t have formal discussions set up since everyone will read in a different order, there is an ongoing opportunity to start a thread to discuss your challenge read in our Together forum. You can find the Lifetime of Reading forum here. Additionally, you can join our Facebook group to chat with other challenge participants.

Can I join a reading challenge after January?

Absolutely! How you choose to participate is totally up to you, so there’s no such thing as being behind and any month can be a great time to start! Because the challenge is self-paced, you can complete the prompts on your own schedule.

How do I get the printable reading challenge log?

Just scroll back up and fill out the email form in the blue box, which is located above the links to all the book lists.

What if I signed up, but didn’t receive the email?

Sometimes our emails might get trapped in your spam filter. If you signed up, but haven’t received the email with the printable reading tracker, be sure to check your spam folder. To keep future emails out of the spam folder, be sure to add our email address to your address book, or drag our emails over to your Primary tab in Gmail. If you’ve checked your spam folder and still don’t see the email from us, then please send us a quick email to hello(at)bookgirlsguide(dot)com and we’ll get it sorted out for you as quickly as we can.

Can we use the challenge for our book club?

Absolutely! We’ve had many book clubs use our challenges and reading prompts to help guide their book selections throughout the year. One suggestion is to give each member a link to the book list for each prompt and let them vote on their top 3 options to help narrow down the book options before making the final selection as a club. We also have a list of Universal Book Club Discussion Questions to spark insightful conversations, no matter what title your club is exploring.


Comments on: Lifetime of Reading Challenge

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  1. Now that the Lifetime of Reading challenge is self-guided, and all the lists for the year are available, I just spent a delightful hour perusing the lists and slotting titles into each category. Using your lists as a guide, I found at least one and often two titles already on my Want to Read shelf for almost every category! Only for the Character in their 50s category did I need to stray from my existing (and ridiculously long) Want to Read list! I look forward to completing this AND your other three 2023 challenges!

    1. Melissa George says:

      That’s amazing! We’re so glad the change ended up working out in such a fun way for you, Gerry! We weren’t sure how everyone would feel about the change and hearing positive things has made our day. Looking forward to 2023 with you!

  2. Sherrill Mulkearns says:

    Every month I come to the website to record the book I have read. And every month I struggle to find the right page! Help! Please make it easier to record your books!

    1. Angela Rathbun says:

      Please bookmark this page: where you’ll always find the links to log your reads from the current month. The book log links are also always pinned at the top of our Facebook group, along with being in the newsletter each Friday.

      We don’t include the book log links directly on the book lists, because not everyone reading this list is participating in the Lifetime of Reading Challenge discussions in our Facebook Group. We use the book logs primarily to determine which books have enough interest for discussion groups each month.

  3. OMGosh I started reading again due to your Challenge. I mean I’m not reading 10 books a month. I’ll get there slowly. BUT I’m reading and thank you for that.
    Is there a link to get a PDF list of the monthly list that can be printed?

    1. Angela Rathbun says:

      We love hearing that this challenge has helped you get back to reading! We revise the book lists regularly based on the feedback we receive from our readers, and to include newly published titles. As a result, there is not a printable version, but you’ll always find the most updated lists right here on our website if you want to bookmark this page.

    2. @Angela Rathbun,

      Thanks for the reply. We’ve had cold messy days here lately. I finished my long February book the last full week of the month. Not thinking I would find the time for another Feb book. Thought I get started on March and before I knew it…..I read both of my March books over the week end. Sooooo back to list I may throw in a few from Jan and Feb just for the heck of it.

      Again Many Thanks

  4. Pingback: Books with Characters in Their 20s - Book Girls' Guide
  5. Is this an active FB group? My request to join has been pending for over a week?

    1. Melissa George says:

      Hi – The group is very active and we don’t see any pending requests for a Gretchen. Do you have a different FB name? Feel free to email us at hello @ for help troubleshooting. Also, be sure you’ve filled in the favorite book question and agreed to the rules. Thanks!

  6. I finished my first book, Wonder, which was great. Once done am I suppose to list it somewhere or just fill out my own list?

  7. There is a winter reading challenge given through my local library. Read 5 books from Jan.15 thru March 15.
    I am going to start there. This year’s theme is thrillers/horror. I picked 5 christian thrillers.
    How many nooks is involved in the 2022 challenge?
    New to thos one.

    1. Melissa George says:

      Hi Lee, The challenge is one book per month throughout 2022, although you’re welcome to read more than that since each list has a wide range of options!

  8. The Lifetime of Reading Challenge sounds so fun! What an interesting premise! I really appreciate that you give us a very comprehensive list of books from which to choose. A lot of challenges give a topic and not much else. I was just at the library today and checked out my January read!

  9. Debbie. Raymond says:

    Can’t wait to see what this is like.

  10. Bri Tally says:

    Sounds interesting & the Jan. Booklist includes diverse choices.

  11. Hi! I don’t have a facebook, so I couldn’t join in on the online discussions this past year. Is there a goodreads group that we can join to discuss there as well, by chance? If not, could we have one for next years challenge? 🙂

    1. Melissa George says:

      Hi Melanie, Neither of us have used the Goodreads Groups before, but we’ll take a peek and see if it’s something we might be able to make work for 2022.

  12. I have to give it a go in January 2022!

  13. Cindy Young says:

    Looking forward to it!

  14. Hi,

    Will there be a reading list for kids for this challenge? I am a teacher and would love to use this in my classroom. I loved the summer kids challenge. Do you mind if I use that one/tweak to suit our classroom? I know everything is free to me, but can I share links and booklist with parents? I always like to give credit where it is due.

    Looks like another great year. Thank you for everything!

    1. Angela Rathbun says:

      As of right now, I don’t think we plan to do a kid specific version of the Lifetime of Reading Challenge (because we suspect it would be challenging to find appropriate titles for some of the adult age ranges), but we might change our mind as we do more research and as the summer approaches. As for the summer Read Around the World kids’ challenge, you are absolutely welcome to share the link so parents can download the printable coloring map / book tracker, and to share links to any of the related reading lists.

  15. Susan O'Leary says:

    I love your challenges! So very creative and easy for everyone to do. Thank you for all the hard work.

    1. Melissa George says:

      You’re so welcome! Thanks for reading with us!

  16. Jane Mitchelli if says:

    Looking forward to another challenge.

  17. Jodi Paul says:

    Hooray, it’s here! It sounds like another great challenge! Thanks for all you do to give us voracious readers such great content!!

    1. Melissa George says:

      Thank you Jodi! We love having you with us for a 3rd year/challenge!

  18. Linda Jaquet says:

    Can’t wait to start a new year with readers from all over. I sure wish I could meet some of these cool people. Ever think about somehow arranging area meet-ups? It would be so fun to have a NE Ohio meet-up, etc. Think about it!
    Thanks for all you do to make this club happen!!

    1. Melissa George says:

      Hi Linda, We keep dreaming of doing a retreat with the readers one day, so it’s on our radar for the future!

    2. @Melissa George, The retreat is a wonderful idea!

    3. @Nuala, A retreat in the south in the winter and up north in the summer would be awesome.