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2021 Reading Lists and Challenges to Expand Your Reading

At this point, we’re all just so excited for 2020 to be over and done with. It does seem like with this excitement comes everyone getting their reading goals for 2021 ready earlier and planning their yearly goals accordingly. 2021 reading lists and challenges are coming out every day, with most aiming to help readers read more diversely, widely, and, above all, read great books!

There are so many lists to choose from, and the fun part about reading challenges is that you can participate in as many as you want to! Below is a roundup of a few of the many 2021 reading lists out there already.

And if you’re ready to pick some 2021 reading lists to tackle, don’t forget that may also include habits on how to read more every day so you can get to all those books!

1. Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

Book Riot’s very own Read Harder Challenge is obviously one of our favorites! With 24 tasks designed to get you out of your reading bubble and read more widely, this challenge always includes fun tasks that challenge you to find lesser-known titles for specific categories. 2021’s includes prompts like reading a non-European novel in translation and reading a book with a cover you don’t like. Keep track of what you read for this challenge with a printable or by using the new 2021 reading log

2. PopSugar’s 2021 Reading List

The 2021 PopSugar Reading Challenge has 50 tasks, broken down into 40 “regular” prompts plus 10 “advanced” challenges if you get through the first chunk too quickly. These challenges include prompts for reading a dark academia book and reading a book by a Muslim American author. They also have a fun printable for you to keep track of accomplished reading goals. 

3. Reading Women Challenge

The Reading Women Challenge is hosted by the Reading Women podcast and challenges you to complete tasks while also making sure all the books read are by women or people of other historically marginalized genders who are comfortable being included in feminine-coded initiatives. There are 24 main tasks in this 2021 reading list, plus four bonus tasks that are author-focused, including reading a book about incarceration and a book by a neurodivergent author. The website also includes information about each challenge along with any definitions or helpful facts about how to complete each task and why it’s on the list. Record your progress using their printable

4. The 52 Book Club Challenge

Reading 52 books in 52 weeks is the goal of this 2021 reading list, and the club also has fun prompts for each week along the way, as well as lots of Instagram posts to help keep you motivated and give you ideas for what books will fit the categories. Challenges include topics like reading a book published by an author who is over 65 years old at the time they published and reading a book that features an exotic animal. 

5. Read the World 2021 Reading List

This reading challenge is hosted by Rachael and Lauren on Instagram, and throughout 2021, they’re reading books from 21 countries/regions of the world, and they’re inviting readers to join in their challenge with them. Follow #ReadTheWorld21 on Instagram to chat with other readers, and throughout the year you’ll read books from areas across the globe from the Caribbean to Russia. 


There’s all kinds of more specific reading challenges, from the NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge (to tackle your mounting eARC collection) to the Diversify Your Reading Challenge (to explore new genres and push you out of your comfort zone) and the American Indian Library Association’s Read Native 2021 (to “support and recognize our Indigenous authors, scientists, legislators, storytellers, and creators throughout the year, not just during the national Native American Heritage month”) and beyond. There’s a reading recommendations list for almost every reader. 

Girl XOXO has compiled a huge database of 2021 reading lists, so if you’re already done with the challenges here, head over to find even more reading lists to challenge yourself in 2021. 

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