2020 was the first year I participated in a reading challenge, and it certainly won’t be the last. I love an excuse to make a good list, buy or borrow new books (or knock them off my physical TBR), and of course actually reading the damn things. Through last year’s Read Harder Challenge and the Reading Women Challenge, I discovered new favourites, tried new genres and authors, and increased the diversity of the books I read.
Now I can’t get enough of reading challenges (My TBR might disagree, but shh). Of course there’s Book Riot’s own 2021 Read Harder Challenge, and we’ve already covered some other reading challenges and lists for 2021. But here are a few more recent additions that will diversify your shelf and bring lots of nerdy fun to your reading life.
The Free Black Women’s Library Reading Challenge
Led by OlaRonke Akinmowo, creator and director of The Free Black Women’s Library, this challenge includes 30 prompts to help you reach the goal of reading 25 books by Black women or Black nonbinary authors in 2021. Sample prompts include “A book by a revolutionary, community activist, political organizer or abolitionist” and “A book by a Caribbean author.” Each month, The Free Black Women’s Library is also hosting an online Reading Club featuring a book that fits multiple prompts from the challenge. Their first pick is Wayward Lives & Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman. If you want to participate, check out their Instagram and website for more resources, including recommendations and a spreadsheet to track your reading.
Native Literature Challenge
Hosted by Mallory Whiteduck (@nativegirlsreading) on Instagram, the Native Literature Challenge 2021 focuses on increasing the number of Native American or Indigenous authors you read in 2021. At only four prompts (plus one bonus prompt), this one in particular is a great late addition to your 2021 TBR. Prompts include “Native nonfiction” and “Fiction published before the year 2000.” For inspiration, check out #NativeLiteratureChallenge2021 or The StoryGraph challenge page.
Disability Reading Challenge
Thanks to The StoryGraph’s special feature for reading challenges, I stumbled upon the Disability Reading Challenge. The challenge was created by StoryGraph user boneloose, a disabled/chronically ill person who never found this aspect of themselves centered in a reading challenge before, and so created one that does. It includes four prompts for books by and about disabled people, with four bonus prompts (two for disabled readers, two for anyone). Some of the main prompts include “Read a fiction book with a disabled main character where ableism is NOT a prominent part of the plot” and “Read a nonfiction book about ableism.” Suggested picks include On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis and Being Heumann by disability advocate Judith Heumann.
2021 Reading Challenge by @sumaiyya.books
Sumaiyya Naseem, Bookstagrammer and co-host of the Reading Women podcast, created this challenge to encourage people to read more Muslim literature, prioritizing the voices of Muslim authors rather than hateful narratives from outsiders. Her 25 prompts include a fun mix of themes, genres, settings, and specific books, like The Far Field or The Moor’s Account. Other sample prompts include “Partition novel” or “Set in Palestine.”
The StoryGraph’s Translation Challenge
Another fun possibility is one of The StoryGraph’s reading challenges. Expand your reading horizons beyond books originally written in English with ten prompts in their Translation Challenge. They include a range of genres and locations with attention to some of the lesser-read areas of translation, like “A book translated from Arabic” or “A translated sci-fi or fantasy novel.” They also have an OnBoarding Challenge and a Genre Challenge if you’re looking for more.
LGBTQ+ Book Bingo
Not up for one of the lengthier challenges? Try a book bingo! @PopCultureLiterary’s LGBTQ+ Book Bingo has a full board of options, all focused on reading LGBTQ+ authors. Prompts include “Asexual or aromantic character” and “Read during Pride Month.” And there’s even a free space! Follow her Instagram and StoryGraph challenge page for more inspiration and great LGBTQ+ recommendations.
Libro.fm Audiobook Reading Challenge
If you’re a recent convert to Libro.fm for audiobooks (like me) or debating the switch, dive in with their 2021 Libro.fm Audiobook Challenge. With 24 prompts, you can support independent bookstores with tasks like “Share what you love about your favorite bookstore on social media,” develop fun new habits (“Listen to an audiobook for at least five minutes every single day for a month”), and support BIPOC authors (“Listen to an AAPI-authored audiobook”). Check out their blog for the full list with recommendations and a sign-up form for a printable PDF and reminder emails throughout the year.