Almost a thousand avid readers accepted the 100 Book Club challenge presented by the Lafayette Public Library System in 2014, but when the calendar rolled into the new year, only 176 of those participants were able to say they completed the ambitious undertaking.
“The idea came from our assistant director, who has seen other programs at other places that kind of rewarded people for doing a lot of things in one year,” said Beth Chiasson, community services coordinator for the library system.
Participants, ages 6 and up, had to read one book at least every 3.5 days in order to read 100 books in 365 days.
With a copy of “Rust and Bone” by Craig Davidson resting on his lap, Jason Cavallaro, 35, joined the other 175 challenge winners at the Southside Library Branch on Thursday evening to celebrate their accomplishment.
Cavallaro admitted it was a struggle to finish reading 100 books in a year, but he succeeded by carving out time throughout each day to read.
“Everyone thinks, ‘I don’t have time to read,’ but read in small increments,” he said. “It’s already better because it makes you chew your food slower. Read before you go to bed or if you’re waiting in line somewhere. Even if you’re watching TV, read during commercials because that adds up.”
Cavallaro said he usually averages 60 books a year but participating in the challenge pushed him to break away from his usual horror novels and into other genres like science fiction and fantasy.
“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman was one novel that captured his attention the most, and he considered the book Gaiman’s greatest work.
However, not everyone considered the challenge an obstacle.
Madisun Lacombe, 11, of Iota, said she didn’t struggle tackling her list of books because she already averages reading close to 100 books each year.
Her favorite book series is the “Warriors” series by Erin Hunter, which features a handful of feline protagonists.
Lacombe’s mother, Hilda Hanks, said they are from Acadia Parish but have to drive to Lafayette because there isn’t a library near their home.
Parents Stacy and Tim Ingram read the “Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo” series by Nancy Krulik with their daughters Elizabeth, 8, and Anzlie, 7.
“We always read to them when they were babies,” Stacey Ingram said. “We are avid readers, and we always go to the library.”
The two sisters are signed up to complete the 2015 challenge. Their mother said it helps that her daughters are required to read for school.
Library officials said the outcome of the challenge has been great.
“We are getting families reading together and having a little friendly competition, and I think it’s fabulous,” Chiasson said. “We had one family last year where the dad and the two children did it, but the mom didn’t. This year, all four of them showed up.”
The rules are few.
Participants are allowed to choose their own reading lists as long as it doesn’t include comic books or “picture books for adults,” Chiasson said.
The participants who signed up by Dec. 31 and had 100 books recorded were recognized at Thursday’s celebration.
Aside from the “100 Book Club” T-shirt, goodie bags and cake, those who attended the ceremony also were given a glimpse into the Main Library Branch’s long-awaited renovations.
Sona Dombourian, library director, said she hopes the renovations will be completed by April.
Avid readers are encouraged to sign up for the 2015 challenge by visiting the Lafayette Public Library’s website or by visiting any of the local library branches.
“If you’re reading more, enjoying what you’re reading or finding new authors or genres that you didn’t think about before, then that means a success for us,” Chiasson said. “Don’t limit yourself. Don’t say, ‘I can’t do it,’ before you even try. My advice is to just try.”