Right now there are about 25 URLs lingering in a document titled “2011 Challenges” in my reading folder.

And those are the ones that “really” interest me. The ones that make my reader’s heart beat a little faster.

And those are not including the two challenges to which I’ve already committed: the 4th Canadian Reading Challenge and The Heroine’s Bookshelf Challenge.

If I were to join every one, I’d be setting myself an additional challenge, completing even more (and many of them new-to-me) reading challenges than I completed this year (that’s 21, if you’re wondering).

And likely that would mean, too, that I’d have to read more books than I did this year. Which I don’t think is possible (even though I haven’t added it up yet).

Not for me. Not in this upcoming year.

But I did love completing the challenges I took on for 2010.

It’s laughable now, but I only planned to join three challenges for 2010. But most of them reflected reading goals that I had already set for myself, so it was really just a means of keeping myself focussed on the books (or kinds of books) that I had wanted to make a special effort to read anyhow. (Only two books in a year’s worth of challenge reading were chosen specifically to complete a challenge: I’ll tell you about them in a couple of days.)

So some of the challenges weren’t even that challenging. (I wonder: does that mean I’m a cheater?)

But one in particular was intensely challenging for me. It revealed a habit in my reading that turned out to be much more deeply ingrained than I’d realized; it’s going to take some serious work to widen my reading experience in that regard. That’s a challenge I’ll be adopting not just for 2011, but more generally in my future reading habits.

And that is what’s behind that folder I’ve been adding to for a few weeks. Because joining that particular challenge made me think differently about my reading. It made me want to stretch in a different — albeit temporarily uncomfortable — direction. If even one challenge in 2011 has that effect on me, I’ll be thrilled.

But My Twelve Days of Challenges aren’t about my 2011 plans; the next twelve days will highlight some of my favourite reads from this reading year that also counted towards reading challenges.

And, in the meantime, I’ll be bargaining with myself to see what I’ll be joining for 2011. (If I were to stick with just three challenges, that would mean I could only add one more!)

Is there a challenge you think that I really shouldn’t miss? Or one about which you’re especially excited yourself?