I made this small reading challenge for 2019. It’s only 12 books so readers and non-readers can do it without feeling intimidated. If twelve books still seem like a bit much, try combining the challenges, like reading a book by an author of Asian descent with the same initials. Or a non-fiction book about food. Anthony Bourdain’s books might the perfect choice for that.
A book by a writer with the same initials
Take the first letters of your first and last name and find a book by a writer with the same initials. I don’t know any writer with the same initials, which will make it more difficult to find one that I’ll like. But it’s another chance to discover a new author and I’m all for it.
A book published in your birth year
I’m born in the year 1988, so my first choice would be the reread The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho again, but there are so many other good options. A Brief History in Time by Stephen Hawking or The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. Maybe I should pick Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov for something totally different. Search around for the classics from your birth year or go for something obscure.
A non-fiction book
Non-fiction books don’t get as much love as fiction books. While there are readers who read non-fiction exclusively and fiction readers don’t see the appeal of non-fiction, I want the two camps to be a little more open-minded to what the other side has to offer. And since a large part of my audience are fiction readers, I want to challenge you to give a non-fiction book a try.
A book outside of your usual genres
One way to grow as a person is to go beyond your comfort zone. Here’s a challenge to get you out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just one step. If you’re afraid you might not like a book and don’t want to waste your time, check for overlapping themes.
If you like the supernatural, there are a ton of romance, thriller or horror books with those elements. If history is your thing, go for a thriller set in ancient times or a science-fiction with time travel back in time.
An MG/YA fantasy
This might be the most specific challenge of all of these, and there’s a good reason why I chose this combination. I feel that most adults forget what the wonder feels like they had as a child. Reading a middle grade or young adult fantasy book might bring back some of that wonder.
Here’s an example. I read Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, a Young Adult fantasy novel set in a shadow version of London. I absolutely loved it, since it’s quite absurd and filled with puns, but I had to stretch my suspension of disbelief and accept whatever happened to Zanna was possible.
I know that the authors of books aimed at a younger audience value worldbuilding and the legitimacy of their (magic) systems as much as authors of adult books. They just present it differently. Allow yourself to be mystified, surprised, overwhelmed with things you couldn’t even begin to imagine. Go back to your inner child.
The first book in a new series
This one shouldn’t be too hard. There are so many new and established series that are amazing. If you don’t know which series you should read, ask a fellow reader, a librarian or bookseller. If you’re into fantasy and science fiction, check out Worlds Without End to see which books won or were nominated for which awards.
A queer book
So many good queer books came out the past couple of years, but I feel they still don’t receive the same amount of love, recognition and promotion as non-queer books. Pick one up, read it, leave a review or a rating. Tell others that you read it. Maybe even recommend it to someone else if you liked it. Maybe start with the Unbroken anthology edited by Marieke Nijkamp. They can help you find new authors.
A book by a writer of Asian descent
Expand your horizon by reading something from another culture. There are so many great books by authors of Asian descent (even from a different country or culture if you’re Asian) that need more love. Check out Aliette de Bodard, JY Yang, Julie Kagawa or Jenny Han for a wide variety of genres.
A book recommended by your favourite author
I don’t know a writer who didn’t also read. Go find a book recommended to you by your favourite author. If you can’t find it on the internet, they might mention something in forewords, afterwords, acknowledgements or essays. Extra points if you can see how that particular work influenced your favourite author’s work.
A book from the discount pile
Save your wallet and look for a new read on the discount pile. There might be a surprise there.
A borrowed book
Borrow a book from a friend or from the library. Maybe one they recommend or just one that caught your eye.
A book about food
It doesn’t have to be a cookbook. There are many non-fiction and fiction books about food. Isabella May has three books centred around something awesome in her romance books.
Pin or save the image below to keep it with you at all times. Are you taking on this challenge? Do you have recommendations for these categories? Feel free to share your Goodreads profiles and/or reading challenges in the comments as well!