I’m only a teensy bit addicted to reading challenges. It started with one made by some friends in 2017. I didn’t quite make it through that list of about fifty prompts- but it did lead me to seek out lots of new and interesting books.
In 2018, I joined up with PopSugar’s 2018 Reading Challenge and following that, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to also join GoodRead’s Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge. I also joined an Inclusive Book Bingo challenge… and a fall and summer seasonal challenge… the list goes on. I have seven prompts left for PopSugar and four left for ATY.
That isn’t terrible considering between the two of them there were about 100 prompts (there was a lot of crossover). The last seven prompts for PopSugar aren’t ones I’m terribly excited about- they are pretty far out of the realm of what I typically read (Nordic Noir, a Microhistory). I’ll attempt the finish regardless- but I discovered the past year that what I love about reading challenges is doing the research for the prompts. What better way to discover new authors, genres, and themes you love?
In that vein I thought it might be fun to come up with my own challenge for next year- one that I could work completely around Science Fiction and Fantasy. I also didn’t want to over commit myself (as I so clearly did this year) so it’s rather short.
The idea is this- read two books a month with opposing or contrasting themes and ideas, and when I’ve finished them- compare and contrast the two books. I haven’t hammered out the exact themes I’d like to go with yet- but here’s a tentative list:
A book from a non-human perspective and a book from a human perspective. I stole this idea from PopSugar- but it was one of my favorite prompts of the year (FYI- I read Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.) The second prompt an easy gimme as most books would qualify. I thought it might be fun for comparison sake to see how author’s characterize nonhumans. These prompts would probably work best if the same author was used for both books.
Published before 1965 and published in 2019. Having recently read Babel-17 and being impressed with so much that it contained in a world where wi-fi wasn’t a thing, I’m wondering what else has been around forever and what out there is actually new.
A debut author/author’s debut book and a Grand Master author.
A book featuring a utopian society and a book featuring a dystopian society. I actually don’t like dystopian novels that much. When I first read Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, I thought it fell closer to the realm of utopian. Following discussion of that book a lot of my buddy readers pointed out that it could just as easily swing the other way- and the topic as a whole has fascinated me ever since.
A book where the setting is environmentally conscious and a book with a polluted world.
A book set on Earth and a book set on a different planet or the moon.
A book set in or underwater and a book set in space or on a spaceship.
A book set in your own country and a book set in a country you’ve never visited.
A book featuring a primitive society and book featuring a futuristic well established society.
A book told from a villain’s perspective and a book from a hero’s perspective.
A book featuring magic is a tool and a book featuring technology as a tool. This is one I’d like to dig really deep on and see what I can find. I’d love to see a book where magic/technology has adverse effects on the user and environment.
A book with a 4+ rating on GoodReads and over 50,000 ratings (“universally” loved) and a book with a 4+ rating and less than 500 ratings on GoodReads (a hidden gem). I’m actually pretty excited about this prompt. The truth is, while I find GoodReads ratings pretty arbitrary, I will often look at the number of ratings a book has. However- I’m often hesitant to pick up a book that has only a few total ratings/reviews. It automatically makes me question – what’s wrong with the book? Is it just that it hasn’t been publicized enough? Or is there something else going on?
A classic and a retelling of a classic. I’m also excited about this one! Which one did it better? (And I am absolutely not convinced it is always the original.)
A book told in present tense and a book with a non-linear narrative.
A colonial novel and a post-apocalyptic novel.
A book featuring a religious society and a book featuring an atheist society.
There are a few of these that are admittedly pretty easy (human perspective, hero’s perspective and set in your own country) so I’m still not sure if they will make the final cut. If they do- I’m hoping I can find some novels where these are prominent features of the book.
What do you think? Reading challenges, yay or nay? Do you have any interesting ideas for my 2019 challenge? I’d love to hear them!