Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Introducing the Squad Goals Reading Challenge

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I love a reading challenge. Whether I’m searching for a book set in my home state or one with nonhuman characters, one with a color in the title or one that’s becoming a movie this year, if you give me a series of prompts and a checklist to mark off, I’m a happy woman.

In 2016, the Book Squad worked on Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, but in 2017, we’re trying something new.

Introducing the Squad Goals Reading Challenge, created by your very own Book Squad!

We’re keeping this pretty simple: we’ve put together a collection of 13 prompts that will encourage you to get a little outside your reading comfort zone while also letting you pick the books you want to read the most. You can spread the books out across the year or read all 13 in a row; you can read in hard copy, e-book, on audiobook, or in any combination of formats you find appealing; and if you end up not loving one of the books you picked, no need to suffer through it — just pick a new one! This challenge is all about helping you find books you’ll love, so whatever works best for you is what you should do.

You can download the Squad Goals Reading Challenge Form or pick up a hard copy at the library. The form has space to keep track of what you’ve read, plus a bunch of Book Squad-approved recommendations for each prompt. (Not interested in our suggestions? No problem.)

Check out the prompts and my title choices below!

Read a diverse romance — I’m going with Sonali Dev’s “The Bollywood Bride.” Dev writes gorgeous romances set in contemporary India, and after reading others by her, I’m thrilled to get my hands on this one!

Read a retelling of a classic story — I love a retelling of anything, and I read them whenever I can. For this prompt, I’ve chosen “Getting Mother’s Body” by Suzan-Lori Parks, a loose reimagining of Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying.”

Read a book about sports (fiction or nonfiction) — I’ve been eyeing Jeff Passan’s “The Arm: Inside the Billion-dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports” ever since I spotted it on the shelves back in the summer.

Read a book by a Lawrence author — Lawrence has a fantastic literary history, and since I’m trying to up my nonfiction reading in 2017, former KU professor Simran Sethi’s “Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love” seems like a great choice.

Read a book with a feminist element — So many great books would work for this prompt, but I picked the brand-new collection “Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology,” by Kianna Alexander, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart, and Piper Huguley. Four novellas about awesome black women fighting for their rights and finding love? Be still my heart!

Read a book with an unreliable narrator — This one has been on my to-read list for years: “Turn of Mind,” by Alice LaPlante, about a former surgeon with Alzheimer’s who may have killed her best friend — she just can’t remember.

Read a steampunk or gaslamp fantasy novel — Steampunk is historical sci-fi or fantasy with technology inspired by nineteenth-century steam-powered machinery, while gaslamp fantasy is historical fiction, usually in the Victorian or Edwardian periods, with a supernatural or gothic edge. I’m stretching a bit with this one, but I’ve chosen Naomi Novik’s “His Majesty’s Dragon,” which kicks off a series about the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.

Re-read a book you haven’t read in more than 5 years — In middle school, I was wildly obsessed with Annemarie Selinko’s novel “Désirée,” historical fiction about Napoleon Bonaparte’s first fiancée. I own multiple copies of this book but haven’t read it since college, so I’m excited to see what I think about it now.

Read a book translated from another language — I haven’t read anything by Elena Ferrante yet, so I’m fixing that by reading “My Brilliant Friend,” the first in her famous series of Neapolitan Novels.

Read a Western — I grew up watching Westerns with my parents, but I don’t think I’ve ever read one. I picked a modern classic from the genre, Glendon Swarthout’s “The Homesman.” (Bonus: my parents haven’t read it, so I’m getting them copies so we can read it together!)

Read a microhistory — I’m so obsessed with microhistories that I listed them as an interest on my LPL business cards. “Debt: The First 5,000 Years,” by David Graeber, is right up my alley.

Read a historical novel by an author of color — Book Squad member Kimberly suggested that I try Y.S. Lee’s “A Spy in the House,” about a young orphan in Victorian London who becomes part of an all-women spy agency. Yes, please.

Read a standalone or nonfiction graphic novel — I saw this one while reshelving and couldn’t resist: Derf Backderf’s “Trashed,” about the adventures of three small-town garbage collectors.

I can’t wait to see what other people want to read, so pick a prompt, choose a book, and let’s get started!

-Meredith Wiggins is a reader’s services assistant at LPL.