OK somebodies – the New Year is approaching (very slowly, at almost break-neck speed). As such I have one thing – and ONLY one thing – on my mind.
It’s time for a reading challenge!
That’s right somebodies – reading challenge time, brought to you by Ragdoll Reads.
Now this challenge is a monster. It’s aimed at the really serious, can’t-live-without-a-good-book, bury-me-in-a-book-shaped-coffin readers. It’s a biggy, and should keep even the most hardcore readers going. We’re talking:
52 basic categories
4 ‘free read’ categories
3 ‘Wildcard’ categories
That’s 60 books for those of you who can’t be bothered to work it out. 1 read a week, plus a few extras thrown in. Finish this, and you can consider yourself a Serious Book-Dragon!
Book-Dragon: (n) Bookworm has some serious negative connotations. Small and slimy, crawling around and getting crushed underfoot. Dragons are awesome. Big and cool, with lots of treasures – breathing fire and flying about bothering people. Book Dragons treasure books like gold.
(If you are looking for a more manageable challenge, click the link below for a smaller, 24 category challenge!)
(If you are looking for a considerably more manageable challenge, click the link below for a smaller, 12 category challenge!)
You don’t need to do them in any particular order, just pick one book per category and read, read read!
1. A funny book. Let’s start things off nice and easy. Something that will make you laugh or smile, to get you started.
2. A Family members favourite book. Ask your favourite family member for their favourite book – find out why it’s so great.
3. A book that passes the Bechdel Test. “The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.” Honestly, it’s pathetic how little media passes this, so find something that does.
4. A book with a real city in the title. Pick a city, any city…any REAL city…Rome, Paris, Milton Keynes…find a book with the cities name in the title and read it ’til you it’s done (unless you picked Milton Keynes, then just read it until you’re sick of hearing about Milton Keynes!)
5. A non-fiction book. Reading isn’t just about escapism, it’s about learning stuff – find a book about aaaaaaanything, as long as it’s real. Expand your beautiful minds!!
6. A book with NO ROMANCE. Specially for the valentines period – any book with NO ROMANCE in it (or as little as possible). While everyone else is getting their sappy on, we’ll be getting our anything else in the world on!
7. A Science Fiction book. Sci-fi isn’t just aliens and spaceships (although those things are tres hoopy). There’s alternate histories, the future, mad science – it’s a colossal world, go and explore it.
8. A ‘Young Adult’ book. Young Adult books aren’t just for the young. They are just written without some of the more ‘adult’ themes, but they can still be amazing.
9. A book you wouldn’t normally read. Think of a genre you wouldn’t normally choose, and pick something from it. I recommend using Goodreads to find something; if you search a genre they will have loads of lists of books recommended by users.
10. A graphic novel. Some of you may be thinking “Oh no, I don’t want to read some dumb Superhero picture book“. Well firstly, those are awesome, and secondly graphic novels are so much more than just superheroes. Have a look at ‘alternative’ graphic novels if you don’t like the mainstream ones. Just because it has pictures, doesn’t mean it’s not good reading.
11. A book by a P.O.C. or LGBTQIA+ author. Double points if it has a related theme. If we are being honest, most of us have a real lack of diversity in our libraries – time to fix that problem.
12. A book about spies, crime or politics. Fiction, non-fiction, up you. This category should cover a lot of ground.
13. A ‘free’ book. If you’ve got a kindle, that’s a good place to start – lots of free books there. Or a library. Or borrow from a friend, family member or coworker. If you must steal one, don’t get me involved when you get caught!
14. A book about aliens, warriors, cowboys or pirates. Another category that should cover a lot of ground. Quadruple points if you can find one that combines the lot! (Seriously, tell me if you find one)
15. A book with a colour in the title. Green Eggs and Ham, The Scarlett Letter, Anne of Green Gables – there a loads of books with colourful names. Double points if you read one with 2 or more colours.
16. A book you’ve been meaning to read. Got a book you’ve always wanted to read but never got around to it? This is your chance!!
17. A book by a female author. Let’s be honest, a lot of us will read mostly male authors. Probably not intentionally, but still we should do something about it.
18. A book with an element in the title. Periodical table elements (iron, palladium, gold, etc) or ‘traditional’ elements (Earth, Wind, Water, Fire) – either works.
19. A ‘classic’ book. “′Classic′ – a book which people praise and don’t read.” ― Mark Twain. Let’s fix this – find one, read it, see what all the fuss is about. You’ll love it. Goodreads has a massive list of ‘classic’ books if you’re not sure of what to pick; here.
20. An award winning book or author. There are countless literary awards. Pick a book or author who has won any award you like and read it.
21. A book you’ve never heard of. We’ve all been in a bookshop (or amazon, or wherever), and seen a book we’ve never heard of. We’ve never heard it mentioned or reviewed…we don’t even recognise the author! Let’s take the plunge – who knows what we might be missing!
22. A book or author with an alliterative name. Alliteration – where you use the same sounds in quick succession, like this, Peter Pan (book), Daniel Defoe (Author), Ragdoll Reads (Hoopy blog)
23. A book that will teach you a skill. I was going to make this a book about learning meditation (I really can’t recommend meditation enough) but I figured it might not be for everyone so I changed it. Pick a skill you’ve been wanting to learn (or something that just seems vaguely interesting) and read a book teaching you how to do it.
24. A book with animals, dinosaurs or mythical creatures. They don’t have to be the main character or anything like that, but they should be an important element.
25. A translated book. Read a book that wasn’t written in English (or your first language). This is sometimes a bit tricky but usually really rewarding. Again, Goodreads is your friend for finding something for this category.
26. The most hyped book of the year so far. We’re six months in (more or less) so let’s take a look at something popular. Doesn’t have to be the best seller in the country, just something you’ve heard people talking about or heard that was good that came out this year.
27. A book with ‘blood’, ‘bones’, or ‘fear’ in the title. This category sounds a bit gruesome, but you don’t have to read something gruesome. There are plenty of books with these words in the title that aren’t so grim.
28. A book with a terrible cover. You know the type – you look at it and think ‘Now why on EARTH would I buy that?!” Maybe it’s boring, or cheesy, or just outright silly – but the book could be great – well guess whose gonna find out!
29. A book set somewhere sunny. We should be getting to summer right about now (depending on your location obviously), so let’s all get in the mood by reading something set somewhere hot and sunny.
30. A book published when you were a teenager. Loads of books were published between your 13th and 20th birthdays. Find one and read it.
31. A ‘Random Number’ book. Roll a 6 sided die, then look for a book with that number in the title. I.E. Roll die, get a 3 – read Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K. Jerome).
32. A book you hated as a child. I’m sure most people have experienced this – they read something (or watched something) when they were little and thought it was terrible, then they read (or watched) it again and loved it. Sometimes we’re just not ready for the good stuff. Find a book you didn’t like and give it another shot. If you still hate it, then no big deal, but you might find a hidden gem.
33. A book that was popular in the 90’s. I was born in 1990 – that’s not important at all, but that’s where I got the decade from. Time to be real 90’s kid!
34. A book set in another country or culture. I’m going to say some rules here that you can choose to follow. 1. If you’re in England don’t pick America (and vice versa). 2. Alien / fantasy worlds don’t count. For some people this will be really easy, for others it’s a chance to broaden your reading horizons.
35. A book with a body part in the title. The Tell-tale Heart, The Lovely Bones, Jaws – there are loads of body parts, find one in a book title. Let’s get anatomical!
36. A book with a great cover. We’ve done the terrible cover, now for the opposite. Find a book with a front cover that’s totally hoopy – maybe it’s cool, pretty or inspiring – and see if the book lives up to the cover.
37. A memorable book. Most people have at least one book they remember reading that made them love books. At the very least, a book they remember really enjoying. Think of the book that got you hooked, and go read it again!
38. A book under 250 pages. There’s nothing wrong with short books – in fact they can be amazing. Writing compelling work in a short space is a skill and we are gonna appreciate it!
39. A book set in Africa, Asia or South-America. Continents full of countries with fascinating histories, cultures and stories. On the whole, we tend to miss stories from these places and that’s a shame. Let’s get some new experiences!
40. A book whose author shares your initials. Probably easier to just do your first and last initial. Your name is John Voltaire? Read Jules Verne! Molly Anderson? Read Margaret Atwood! Lawrence ‘Murderball’ Armstrong? Read Louisa May Alcott! You get the idea…
41. A book over 500 pages. Any book, any genre, 500+ pages – what could be simpler?
42. A book with a strong female lead. Strong as in well written, not necessarily physically strong. Female leads who get stuff DONE, kick some butt, or are just super cool!
43. A spooky book. Must be getting near Halloween, right? Read something a bit spooky, or supernatural, gruesome, or outright scary! Maybe a horror novel, or a book involving skeletons…
44. A “collected works”. Short stories, poems, collections of novels bound in one great book – there are loads of books with collections of work. Doesn’t even have to be by the same author.
45. A book that takes place at sea. Doesn’t have to all happen at sea, but it should be a key theme.
46. A book set in the past. Go as far back as you like; historical fiction, fantasy; historical non-fiction – get your history on!
47. A book about mythology. The world is overflowing with myths and legends, and that is a passion of mine. Find yourself a book about mythology – could be a non-fiction work, a retelling of a mythological story, a translation of an original text – anything you can find. Mythology is amazing – share my passion with me!
48. A book published posthumously. Occasionally, books get publish posthumously – that is, after the author has died. Let’s read something the author never got the chance to see published.
49. A book everyone else seems to love. We’ve all got books like this. Everybody raves about them, but for some reason you never picked up the book and found out why. Maybe it was over-hyped, or it just didn’t grab you. Maybe you were reading something else and by the time you finished, everyone had stopped going on about it. Time to find out what the big deal was!
50. An ‘Indie’ book. There are plenty of independent or small publishers out there. Find a one, choose a book and give it a go. You might find a hidden gem!
51. Any book in the Redwall series. This was my favourite book series growing up and I think everyone should read at least one. It’s just so wholesome and good. Give it a try.
52. A ‘Top 10 of 2019’ book. It’s the end of the year, everyone’s been rating books for 12 months, there’s going to be a million ‘Top 10’ book lists for every genre known to man. Pick a genre, find a list, pick a book from the ‘Top 10’ and read it. May as well try and end the year on a high!
Free Read (1). Read anything you like.
Free Read (2). Read anything you like.
Free Read (3). Read anything you like.
Free Read (4). Read anything you like.
Wildcards – do ALL THREE of these!!
Wildcard (1). 2 more books from any of the categories. OR. My favourite book, Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Pick one of the above options. Fairly self-explanatory. Les Misérables my most favourite book – the story is so beautiful. It is heavy going at times and super long, but well worth the read. Let me know which you go for!
Wildcard (2). 1 more book from any category. OR. My favourite short book, The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe. This book was adapted into and absolute TRIUMPH of a movie with the same name (“The Pirates; Band of Misfits” for you Americans!). It’s funny, it’s silly, and it’s short!
Wildcard (3). A book involving a dragon. If you’ve made it this far you can officially call yourself a 100% bonefide BOOK DRAGON. As such, you ought to try reading about your dragon siblings and so you know how a dragon is supposed to behave.
You can download a neat little chart (.pdf) so you can keep track of your progress!
So there it is; The 2019 Ragdoll Reading Challenge!
If you’re feeling really wild, why not do it twice! If you do it three times, you’re showing off – but it’s pretty darn impressive; go you!
If you feel like giving this challenge a go, leave me a comment below. If you’re feeling really lovely, share it with your friends – the more the merrier.
Final thing:- Perhaps you’re reading this because you don’t read much, and would like to try and read more – maybe it’s you’re New Years Resolution – the best bits of advice I can give you are:
- Just have a go – Just pick up a book when you get some downtime and read it, even if you only read 1 chapter, or a few pages! Just read – do a little bit at a time and hopefully the reading spirit will come to you. If you find out you just can’t do it, then at least you tried – that’s something to be proud of. Maybe try again in a day, or a week, or a month.
- Send this to a friend – I find this SUPER motivating. I probably read less than 2 books for pleasure in 2016/7 – Before that I read a lot. I shared a reading challenge with my sisters this year, we all picked our books and by mid-April I’d read 27 books. I’m not suggesting everyone will have the time or the inclination to read quite that much, or that quickly, but I definitely felt more motivated to read knowing other people I cared about were doing the same thing. We’ve been swapping books all year.
Point is, give it a go! It’ll be a hoot!!
Happy reading, and GOOD LUCK!