3×3 Reading Challenge

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A 3×3 reading challenge will help dig a little deeper into your reading this year and make the time you spend reading more satisfying.

The photo collage shows the covers of 9 books that could be used for a reading challenge.

While our homeschooling experience was not long lived, it has changed our lives for the better in so many ways.

During that time, I was exposed to extremely influential and inspiring sources that have improved my life dramatically.

Thanks to Pam Barnhill, I now have a daily morning basket routine.

Thanks to the Scholé Sisters, I enjoy an annual 3×3 reading challenge.

My personal reading challenge isn’t something I’ve written about before, but as I’m finishing up my first year, I enjoyed it so much and I knew it was something I wanted to share with you.

What Is the 3×3 Reading Challenge?

The 3×3 Reading Challenge is a fun way to take your reading to the next level.

For the challenge, you intentionally select three books that help you explore a common theme more deeply as a way to expand your knowledge and experience on the topic.

See if you can do this three times in a year, thus the “3×3” part of the challenge.

Still confused?

Keep reading, the examples I have below will make everything clear.

Why Read 3 Books on a Single Theme?

Today’s busy world has us rushing through everything on our to do lists. Sometimes that even applies to the books we read.

We rush through a book to check it off our to-read list or to move towards our annual goal.

But does quantity always mean quality?

If you’re looking to get more out of your reading experience and use your reading time to grow, this is an amazing way to enjoy the lifelong love of learning.

After you’ve read three books on a subject, you will understand that theme on a much deeper level than if you had just read one.

But before this starts to sound like a homework assignment, I strongly encourage you to look through the suggested inspiration list below and see just how fun this reading challenge can be!

Why Just 3 Books?

The original inspiration for this reading challenge suggested 5×5 books, but that can take over your entire year of reading choices, especially if you’re a slower reader like me.

Choosing just three books is a more digestible way to explore a subject but still allows room to dig a little deeper than just a single book.

Is 3 sets of 3 still too much? Why not try just a 1×3 challenge and see how it goes!

Example 3×3 Challenge

The best way to explain this fun reading challenge is to show you an example.

Here is what a 3×3 challenge could look like, I think this would be super fun for the new year:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe book cover in a collage next to two more books about C.S. Lewis.

Set 1: Explore the World of C.S. Lewis

  1. Once Upon a Wardrobe: One of my all-time favorite books, I just read it this year!
  2. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: The book that inspired #1.
  3. C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Children: A super-short read with words from the author himself.
The Bridgerton book cover next to a tea party cookbook and a Jane Austen novel.

Set 2: Take TV Night to the Next Level

  1. Bridgerton Series, Book 1: Especially fun if you’ve seen the Netflix series.
  2. Teatime at Grosvenor Square: Just page through it or try a recipe or two.
  3. Pride and Prejudice: The ultimate classic from a very similar time period.
An Irish YA romance next to two adult novels about Ireland.

Set 3: A Little Luck of the Irish

  1. Love and Luck: A young adult novel set in Ireland. Super fun for fans of Love and Gelato.
  2. The Library at the Edge of the World: A women’s fiction book set in Ireland.
  3. We Are the Brennans: A book about an Irish American family set in the modern day.

Or honestly, any 3 of these great Irish books!

More 3×3 Challenge Theme Ideas

There are so many different ways you could use this reading challenge to explore topics you find especially interesting.

Use the themes below as a starting point to create your own custom reading challenge:

1. Explore a Geographical Area

Want to travel from your living room couch? Choose a destination you’ve always been curious about and try to find three books that mention that location.

Maybe you saw a movie or television program set in an exciting locale, you could start with that as launch point.

You could choose three fiction books that are all located in that area or choose:

  • 1 fiction novel set there
  • 1 non-fiction book about the area
  • 1 book written by an author from that area

2. Explore a Time in History

Historical fiction lends itself to this reading challenge so well!

You could pick one historical fiction about the time period, a non-fiction book about the history, and a book written during that time or just three different historical fiction books that all share the same time.

3. Explore a New Skill or Hobby

Reading is reading, no matter what the book.

I personally LOVE reading cookbooks and learn so much from the beginning pages before the recipes start.

Why not choose a 3×3 challenge that helps you explore a new skill or hobby?

For example:

Read a cookbook, a fiction book about bakers, and then a biography about a professional baker.

You could do the same with a craft like knitting, or quilting, or bird watching!

4. Connect with Family

One of your 3-book sets could be a series of books chosen by your friends or family.

The only shared theme is that someone you love loved that book.

5. Experiment with a New Genre

Choose a new-to-you genre and then choose three books within that category:

  • A bestseller
  • A recommendation from a friend
  • A new release

6. Experiment with a New Format

I always thought I didn’t enjoy audiobooks until I finally discovered the best audiobooks for beginners. Now it is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a book.

For a 3-book challenge, force yourself out of your comfort zone and read three books on Kindle, in paper format, or on audio.

7. Cultivate Your Spirit

I LOVE fiction and believe it brings great value to our everyday life.

That said, dig a little deeper with one of your 3-book sets and consider trying a self-help or encouragement book, a spiritual book or religious text within your own faith or a different one, or a book by a writer like C.S. Lewis.

Som great examples include:

  1. 12 Joyful Devotionals for Moms
  2. Catholic Cookbooks for Entertaining
  3. 22 Powerful Christmas Books for Advent

8. Enrich Your Mind

Try a challenge to read three classics you’ve never read before, re-read three favorite classics, or choose three classics from one author or a single time-period.

Looking for some of my favorites? This list of classics worth re-reading was complied by the members of our book club.

But who said they had to be classics for adults? Why not try one of these classic books for kids?

9. Best Friend Book Club

Head into this challenge with your best friend! Together pick three books you both want to read and start your own mini-book club.

This is a lot easier to complete than a 12-month book club would be but still offers the same benefits of sharing a book.

10. Leadership Development

You don’t need to be employed by someone else to benefit from business and leadership books.

Some of my favorite books have been by authors Jon Acuff, Seth Godin, or Donald Miller.

Brene Brown and Kendra Adachi have great options, too.

Next Steps

If this challenge isn’t for you, perhaps you’d enjoy my book bingo for adults instead?

In any case, joining the best online book club ever is a great way to stay motivated to read whatever is on your list.

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