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I attended a workshop recently wherein the speaker challenged us (librarians) to keep a list of our reading by genre (Sci-Fi, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy, etc.) and to notice the gaps in our reading. We were challenged to fill in some of those gaps by reading outside our comfort zones, to add more subgenres, include lots of diversity, and to become truly well-rounded readers’ advisors. Easier said the done, but I decided I’m game.
There are so many reading challenges out there, covering every imaginable topic, type of book, or numbers of books read. Search the internet for a book challenge that inspires you. A coworker recommended one for me that is made up of a variety of ideas to mix up your reading choices, not specific book titles. My goal is to discover a new favorite book by trying something unexpected.
Here are a few random samples off my list:
A book about an immigrant or refugee
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This highly acclaimed debut novel is my current read, and it fulfills the “immigrant or refugee” category and several others on my list. I really like it so far. The story spans several centuries (thus also fitting the category on my list “a book set in two different time periods”), and includes the history of Africa and African-Americans. It is maybe a bit overambitious, but it begins by focusing on the lives of two young women, half-sisters, one captured and sent as a slave to America, the other remaining in Africa, and continues to the lives of their descendents.
A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
There are so many, really too many, books out there that would fulfill this category for me. I’ve never visited Australia, so anything by Liane Moriarty fills this requirement for me. Her works are generally considered women’s fiction, and I have liked every one so far. The Hypnotist’s Love Story is an older one, but my most recent read. Ellen, the main character, is a hypnotherapist in Australia, and her love story becomes intertwined with her work, with interesting results. It might also trigger an interest in hypnotherapy.
A book you got from a used book sale
This is a chance to plug the Friends of the Library Book Sale at the Fairgrounds, February 25 and 26. Any book you purchase will fulfill this category!
A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
It's the true story of the unsung heroes of NASA — the black female mathematicians who quietly enabled the biggest achievements in space in the 1960s.
A book with a family-member term in the title
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
This is another debut novel which follows three friends growing up in California, making choices and living with the consequences. It is at times a heartbreaking story. The Mothers in the title are the long time members of the Church of the Upper Room, who see and know everything.
A book about food
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
There are so many good reads in fiction and nonfiction about food, but this is the most recent book on my to-read list. Each chapter is devoted to a single character and dish. This is a book that will make you smile, and then it can satisfy another category on my reading challenge “a book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile.”