Learn more about the 5×5 Reading Challenge!

Have you ever been stuck in a reading rut? Maybe you found yourself reading only romances or only self-help. Maybe you found that your only reading was reading aloud to the kids. Maybe this year you found yourself reading too much news and not many books.

We can gain knowledge and be provoked to think by all these kinds of reading, but we grow in wisdom when we have multiple streams of knowledge, when we let history and current events or kid lit and philosophy intersect in our minds.

The 5×5 Reading Challenge provides the structure and accountability we all need to be sure we are reading both broadly and deeply – not letting a single genre or a single author be our sole source of knowledge, but rather seeking out beyond our comfort zone to truly learn and grow.

The structure and premise is simple:

Choose 5 different categories to read. Read 5 books in each category. Total, this comes to 25 books a year. By choosing 5 different categories, you read more widely than usual. By choosing 5 books in each category, you are sure to read more deeply also.

The challenge is free and open to anyone!

Challenge FAQ

The challenge runs annually from January 1 – December 31.

You can begin at any point in the year, of course.

As a fun bonus, we also offer a pin to 5×5 finishers. You can find more information inside Sistership in the 5×5 Accountability space.

Books begun previously count in the year they are finished.

No. You can choose your categories and fill in actual titles as you go.

Some people use the challenge to help them read the books they already own, and thus choose at least a few titles from each category at the beginning, but you don’t have to.

In fact, we recommend leaving room (and perhaps a whole category!) for whim choices throughout the year.

This totally counts!

Books begun previously count in the year they are finished.

Of course not! Start whenever you can! You can start a challenge and fill in what you can from the reading you’ve already done this year.

Even if you don’t finish, the exercise of thinking through and intentionally choosing your reading will help you become a better reader.

Yes! If you have a history category, for example, the history book you are reading with or for your child can certainly count in that column.

Another option would be to have a “preread” or “read aloud” category and fill in the 5 titles you most want to finish or that you find most meaningful this year.

Which do you need to be challenged to read more of?

This is a highly customizable, personalized plan that you can use to help you break out of whatever reading ruts you find yourself and broaden your reading trails.

We do encourage everyone to include both fiction and nonfiction and not choose all of one only. Some even have a mix within a category, such as including historical fiction in their history category to help them get a feel for the culture. Some choose a single author as a category and mix biography, fiction, and nonfiction in that way.

Yes! Years unfold unexpectedly and so does our interest and energy. Adjust the plan as you go to make it work for you.

Of course! Rereading is even a good goal to add to your plan either within a category or as a category itself.

This challenge gives you a lot of freedom to choose books that you want to read, We suggest that you choose fiction and non-fiction, a few big books, and some lighter reads.

If you want some plan ideas or even some done-for-you plans (that you can feel free to adjust!) see the section below.

You certainly shouldn’t feel like you must do a 5×5 reading plan. It is for those who want a specific structure and challenge to increase and broaden their reading life.

But there’s certainly room for impulse reads, even within the challenge!

Some ideas:

  • Choose a “Whim” category for your impulse reads.
  • Choose a “With others” category to fill in with book club selections
  • Keep 2-3 slots empty and fill in as the year goes on
  • Choose broad categories like “humanities” or “Christianity” or “liberal arts”

Ready-to-Go Plans

Choosing categories or titles can be overwhelming.

If you aren’t sure where to start, we have some premade plans and a lot of ideas to help get you jumpstarted.

You can find those inside Sistership, our private community. Join for free and then upgrade to Sophie membership and find the 5×5 challenge supports in the sidebar.