Chasing the Bus: 8 Ways to Catch Up on Your 2016 Challenge

Black headphones on purple background

We’re more than 75% through 2016 and I’m 100% in trouble with my challenge. Are you?


Maybe you bit off more than you could chew. Maybe life happened. Whatever the reason, you and I (and a ton of others) are in the same boat. I’m currently eight books behind schedule, so this post is as much inspiration for me as it is for you. We’ll get through this together!

1..Select shorter books.

This might feel like cheating at first, so if it bothers you, don’t do it. I even felt that way until recently. Then I came across a three-hour audiobook that I couldn’t resist. The rush of energy I got from finishing that book in such a short amount of time only encouraged me to pick up something else. It’s a psychological trick, you see. If we feel gratified by doing something, we’ll want to do it again. The closer in time the gratification is to this stimulus (the book), the bigger the feeling of reward.

It’s a neat little way to jumpstart yourself out of a reading slump and knock a few notches off of that reading challenge as well.

2. Listen to audiobooks.

If you didn’t see this one coming, you must be new here.

I often rave about the many things you can get done while listening to an audiobook. Multitasking is especially effective if you are trying to make up for lost time on your challenge. By choosing to listen to the audiobook format of a book instead of reading the physical version, you can save valuable time. This is a super easy and enjoyable way to fit story consumption into your busy schedule. When I really put the pedal to the metal, I average an audiobook about every 2-2.5 days. That’s at least three a week!

Don’t think it’s possible? Once you get into the habit of audiobook listening, you’ll realize just how easy it is. I suggest downloading an audiobook listening app (Audible, Scribd,, etc.) to your phone and carrying it with you everywhere (don’t you already?). Connecting that phone to a Bluetooth device is another great idea. I have a little Bluetooth speaker (about the circumference of a soda can) that allows me to hear an audiobook anywhere in my house. A lot of cars also come with Bluetooth capabilities. Take a moment and mentally list all of the opportunities in your daily routine that could allow for audiobook listening.

3. Feel the need for speed?

If you decide to go the audio route, there’s a neat little way to quicken your listening process. Most audio apps give you the option to listen at different speeds. Take Audible, for example. The speed adjustment button is in the bottom left corner of the app’s interface (when listening to an audiobook) and is clearly marked Speed. Tapping that brings up several speed options. 1x is the standard speed, 0.75x slow things down, 1.25x speeds it up just a little, 1.5x a little more, and 2x doubles the narration speed. Audible’s speed options go all the way up to 3x, but I don’t recommend that unless you want to feel like you’re listening to an auctioneer!

I’ve never gone past 1.25x and I only do that when a narrator has a particularly slow reading style. But if you’re in a challenge crunch and don’t mind the extra effort to follow along with the narration, why not give it a try?

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4. Switch things up.

Slumps can kill a reading challenge. I was on track until April when something flu-like kept me out of action for nearly a month. By the time I was back in form, I was so behind on schoolwork and life in general that audiobook listening had to be put on the back burner. The next thing I knew, it was June and I was 8 books behind schedule.

A great way to get out of a slump (no matter what caused it) is to listen to something out of the ordinary. It’s understandable that most people would become burned out after listening to the same type of story over and over again. This frequently happens to me with Fantasy. Sometimes I crave it, other times I’m sick of it. Kind of like eating the same thing over and over again, even if it’s your favorite.

The fix? For me, it’s usually picking up a contemporary or mystery audiobook. Most recently, I even ventured into the area of nonfiction! A taste of something different just might be enough to inspire you to pick up the pace and make some headway with that challenge.

➜ Bookbub has a great post recommending which nonfiction titles will appeal most to fiction readers.

5. Avoid “black holes”.

You know when I was talking about being 8 books behind in June? I was actually able to make it all the way back to breaking even with my challenge in July and then… Netflix happened. Even I, The Audiobookworm, am not immune to the sweet temptations of on demand streaming.

My intentions were good. In researching ways to get out of a slump, I came across a blogger swearing that a Netflix binge was the perfect cure. I was behind on a bunch of my favorite shows as well, so I decided to give it a shot. Getting caught up on The Vampire Diaries and The 100 soon turned into beginning new shows like Suits and Fear the Walking Dead. You can see my problem. While Netflix may offer a slump solution for many others, it’s only a deep dark pit for me.

If you ever do try using Netflix to cure a slump, make sure to choose a short series, not long-running dramas with 12 seasons and 24 episodes per season (in other words, no Grey’s Anatomy).

6. Search for inspiration.

I recently created a Pinterest account for The Audiobookworm and I’ve noticed a significant spark of listening inspiration each time I log on. For instance, I’m currently listening to Empire of Storms, the newest installment in the Throne of Glass series, so I created a Pinterest board to collect related fan art, memes, and the like. The fan art is especially inspirational because I enjoy being able to visualize character visages as I listen to their stories.

Sure, you could always do a Google image search each time you want to see fan art, but Pinterest allows you to streamline the process by gathering those images in one place. That way, whenever you need a boost of inspiration, you know exactly where to go. Pinterest could be a real asset to readers and listeners in so many ways.

7. Try the “buddy-system”.

You’ve practiced it since elementary school. It’s not a complex concept. But it could significantly increase your motivation to finish. that. book. Make peer pressure work for you for once.

If you and a friend have similar TBR lists, team up and get crackin’. Decide on deadlines, if you think that would help. Be sure to track each other’s progress and offer motivation, but no spoilers! Bonus points if you both have blogs and can write about the experience.

Don’t have bookish friends? Check out my Goodreads TBH (to-be-heard) list. If we have a title in common, I’ll be happy to buddy up with you!

8. Never give up.

Any good poker player will tell you, sometimes you have to fold a hand in order to stay in the game. I’m not advocating adopting an all around “quitter’s lifestyle”, but if something is not working for you, it’s okay to let it go. If you’re like me, your speed tends to drag when you’re not feeling a certain book. The time you spend lingering in between “To DNF?” or “To Not DNF?” could cost you valuable time on your challenge.

If you are not one to DNF, as I am not, I suggest adopting a “tabling” mentality. Put the book down with the intention of coming back to it at a later point in time. Maybe in a week, a month, a year, or a decade. Tabling always makes me feel less guilty about leaving a book unfinished and makes it easier to move on to something else.

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. There’s no one out there policing challenges and doling out punishments if you don’t complete yours. Celebrate what you have accomplished and reevaluate what you can realistically achieve in time to set your goal for 2017.
As for me, let the comeback begin!
Have tips of your own? Share in the comments section below! 




  1. I’m gonna be honest, I’m a DNFer when I don’t enjoy a book. I am way too busy to continue reading things that haven’t captured me at a certain point. When I find myself in a slump and wanting TV, I usually end up watching Gilmore Girls or West Wing. It always helps!

    1. jesstheaudiobookworm

      I love West Wing! That one is okay for me to watch because I can stop after a couple episodes (without being pulled down into that hole) and resume it later. It’s awesome, but it doesn’t have the same addictive effect on me that some others do (Quantico, for example). I might try Gilmore girls at some point, but only after I’ve caught with my listening!

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