Hello book lovers and welcome to Paperback Sanctuary's first-ever reading challenge!
Closing out the old in December and looking forward to the next always inspires me, and helps pull me through a busy holiday season. Finding a good reading challenge to kick off a new year is motivating and energizing, and it's fun to think about how I might expand and enrich my reading life in the coming year.
This year, instead of browsing the internet for a reading challenge, I decided to create and share my own. It's both simple and open-ended, with a different theme each month to inspire and inform your reading choices. Read along every month or pick a few months that most speak to you. Please feel free to download, print and share the calendar below. And if you're reading along, I'd love to know! Keep in touch on social media (Facebook or Instagram), or send me an email (email@example.com) and let me know which titles you select. Here's to 2024, and Happy Reading!
Click here to download a PDF version.
Treat yourself to a new book or choose from your TBR list!
You made it through the end of the year and, likely, a very busy holiday season! Now it's time to treat yourself with a visit to your favorite bookstore or library. Budget an hour to browse the shelves and select something that speaks to you. Or, if you're like me and have a full shelf of books To Be Read, choose the one from there you've most been wanting to read!
Read something published in your birth year or another year significant to you
With Valentine's Day celebrated this month, February is often the month of love. Which made me think of self-love, and how important that is to our health and well-being, which inspired this month's theme. Choose a book from your birth year (1968 for me), or another year meaningful to you. The year you were married, a child or grandchild was born, you graduated from high school or college... Need title inspiration? Search "bestsellers from the year XXXX" online, or check the websites of the Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award and scroll to your preferred year.
Choose a book from a first-time author
Just wanted to give debut authors a little love here! Two of my top choices in this category are Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland; The Maid by Nita Prose; and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Goodreads devotes a Choice Awards every year to honoring debut authors, browse past winners and nominees here.
Read (or re-read) a classic
There's plenty on in April, literarily speaking. April is National Poetry Month, as well as the month to celebrate the birthdays of Maya Angelou (April 4), William Shakespeare (April 23), and Haper Lee (April 28). So it seemed fitting to choose a classic for this month's challenge. I may be spending my time with Hamlet this month, as I'm a bit sheepish to admit I haven't read much Shakespeare.
Read a Pulitzer Prize Winner (any year/any category)
The Pulitzer prizewinners are set to be announced on May 8, 2024. I try to read the fiction winner each year, and I have a lifelong goal of reading through all Pulitzer fiction winners (first one awarded in 1918!) For this month's challenge, I've left it open to you: read a prizewinner from any year in any category. Browse all Pulitzer winners here.
Read a book by an author from a state or country you'd like to visit
Thought this would be a fun way to kick off summer! Need places to source titles? Try A Year of Reading the World, where writer Ann Morgan spent a year reading a book from every country around the world (196!) and documented her experiences. For ideas for U.S. reading, browse Literary Hub or Booklist Queen for ideas.
Choose a paperback from your local library, used bookstore or TBR list
Not only is July Anti-Boredom Month, the 30th is also Paperback Book Day. With it being the height of summer, it seems fitting to toss a paperback into your beach bag or backpack and find a sunny spot to read. Purposely keeping the genre open to give you plenty of options this summer!
Read a memoir in honor of "We Love Memoirs" Day (Aug. 31)
Memoir is one of my top favorite genres, and I have no shortage of recommendations. A few of my top picks are I'll Never Be French by Mark Greenside and Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. Goodreads has a couple of thorough lists to browse -- click here and here.
Re-read a book you enjoyed in school
I'm a big proponent of re-reading books, which is the motivation behind this month's theme. Choose a book you enjoyed in school and see how it speaks to you now. Or pick a book that you always wanted to read, or perhaps never quite finished. Possibilities are wide, I just want to give you permission to channel that inner AP Lit student that's still inside you!
Choose a spooky story or cozy mystery
No explanation needed here! Looking for suggestions? Use this month to read from the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series, or anything from Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book is great for all ages). Richard Osman has a great collection of lighthearted and also heartwarming mysteries, starting with The Thursday Murder Club. Highly recommeded!
Read a National Book Award winner (any year/any category)
Like the Pulitzers, I enjoy keeping up with the titles and authors which have recieved this literary distinction. New winners are announced this month covering a variety of categories. Browse past winners here for a title that fits your reading tastes.
Read a short story or novella
Keeping this month's theme short and manageable for this busy month! I am a big fan of essay collections, with my go-to writers in this space being David Sedaris, Jenny Lawson (both celebrate birthdays this month), and Anne Lamott.
And now, celebrate - you made it to the final month in this year's reading challenge - cheers!