Have You Tried a Reading Challenge?

by Ellen Bard

It’s that time of year. Time cleaning up after the old year. Time for planning the new. Why not start your 2020 with a reading challenge?

Many people count how many books they read but there’s no better way to improve your reading record than to keep a challenge list. It will keep you motivated to read and set some goals that may be outside your comfort zone. A good reading challenge can really help build your street cred as a reader.

For example, the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge sets a goal of 24 books– which doesn’t sound like a lot. The challenge is that each title meets a different specific criteria. The categories are the challenge and they are designed to help you “break out of your reading bubble and expand your worldview through books.” The individual challenges range from easy-peasy (read a graphic memoir; read a book about climate change) to really!? (read an audiobook of poetry; read a mystery where is victim(s) is not a woman). To help, we’ve got some suggestions for the first six categories. We’ll keep you posted with more throughout the year.

ya nonfiction book

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

March Book 1 by John Lewis

Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes

Shout: A Poetry Memoir by Laurie Halse Anderson



retelling of a classic canon, fairy tale or myth by an author of color

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan Shaykh

Pride: a Pride and Prejudice Remix by Ibi Aanu Zoboi



mystery where the victim(s) is not a woman

Fake ID by L.R. Giles

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

Secrets, Lies, and Crawfish Pies by Abby L. Vandiver



graphic novel memoir

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee

Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole J. Georges

Dumb: Living Without a Voice: A Graphic Memoir by Georgia Webber

Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair With A Famous Cartoonist : A Graphic Memoir by Bill Griffith


about a natural disaster 

Eclipse by Zack Kaplan

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in A Storm-ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink

Supervolcano: Eruption by Harry Turtledove

One Thousand Year Flood by David Welky



play by an author of color and or queer author

The Amen Corner: A Play by James Baldwin

Angels in America by Tony Kushner

The Mammary Plays: BookHow I Learned to Drive ; The Mineola Twins by Paula Vogel

Topdog/Underdog by Suzan Lori Parks