2018 New Perspectives Reading Challenge
I informally tried a handful of reading challenges this year, with varying degrees of success. A lot of that is because there were (intentionally) very specific stipulations, but I definitely felt limited in what I could read by the end of the year.
So here’s my version of a reading challenge, meant to challenge and expand horizons without pigeonholing into super niche requirements.
Some notes about these prompts:
- You can use a book to fulfill multiple prompts! If you can find a book that ticks off 5 boxes, by god that’s amazing and you should go for it. (e.g. if you don’t feel like spending hours trapped in a terrifying horror novel, may I suggest a visually stunning horror comic?)
- “Book” is used very loosely. It could refer to a comic, a script, a short story collection, a novella, whatever your heart desires. Go nuts!
- Informally: try to read 50+% by non-white people. I challenged myself last year to read books not by white men, but ended up just reading a lot of stuff by white women. I want to actively do better at reading more diverse perspectives.
Around the World
- 1. Read a book by a Native or Caribbean American author.
- 2. Read a book by a Central or South American author.
- 3. Read a book by a European author.
- 4. Read a book by an Asian author.
- 5. Read a book by an African author.
- 6. Read a book by an Australian or New Zealander author.
Notes: The intent of this section is to read a book from every continent and outside of your country/culture. Feel free to adapt the prompts to suit you! I picked Native American for #1 because I’m American, but if you’re from the UK, you could change #3 to be “non-UK European” or look for the immigrant/aboriginal voices of your country.
Comics & Graphic Novels
- 7. Read a comic only written by person(s) of color.
- 8. Read a comic drawn by a person of color.
- 9. Read a comic from an indie publisher (not Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, IDW).
Notes: This section is designed to whittle my increasing comics collection. Single issues apply! Like other industries, the (American) comics world is dominated by white people, including editors who pretend to be non-white people. If you choose to use mangas here, that works! Just adapt #9.
- 10. Read a book by an author from your current city (<50 miles).
- 11. Read a book by an author from your hometown region (<50 miles).
- 12. Read a book by an author from the country you identify most with, ancestrally.
Notes: For #10, I’m blessed enough to be in greater Boston, but feel free to adapt it to a more general region like #11. For #12, interpret as you will! My family’s 99% Taiwanese, so I obviously identify with Taiwan, but if your family’s from all over, feel free to pick the country that works for you.
- 13. Read a LGBTQ+ romance.
- 14. Read a book with a main LGBTQ+ character that is not primarily a romance.
- 15. Read a comic with a main LGBTQ+ character.
Notes: Basically, these are my twists on a few Read Harder prompts, sans the YA stipulation. Nothing against YA, because I do think it has a lot of value as a subset of literature! But to be honest, my personal desire to read YA as an adult is pretty low. For #14 — any genre counts, including memoirs (or a comic, you could combine it with #15).
- 16. Read a collection of poetry.
- 17. Read a horror book.
- 18. Read a science fiction book.
- 19. Read a fantasy book.
- 20. Read a classic by a person of color.
- 21. Read a myth/fairytale from a non-western culture.
- 22. Read a humor book.
- 23. Read a short story collection with multiple authors.
- 24. Read a script (play or film).
Notes: I’m really bad about reading poetry, which is why it gets top billing in this category (also, the specificity of the Read Harder prompt made it, well, harder). That being said, I personally derive a lot of insight/introspection from reading other genres, as tempted as I am to just read 1000 mystery thrillers. Selfishly, #24 exists because I read a lot of screenplays last year and I think it should count for something!!! Also, seeing the differences between a screenplay (or play) and its produced/finished product is very fascinating. #20 is stolen from Read Harder because I think it’s great and should be on every challenge list every year.
- 25. Read a memoir or a book of essays.
- 26. Read a book by a journalist.
- 27. Read a book that teaches you something.
Notes: Nonfiction books really span the gamut of interests, which is why I wanted to give them their due. Also, #27 is to help me finally get around to reading one of the 8245 design books I’ve been meaning to read.
Bonus (Time & Age)
- 28. Read a book published in 2018.
- 29. Read a book published before 1968.
- 30. Read a book over 100 years old.
Notes: I think it’s important to keep up to date with current stuff, but at the same time, respect what we can learn from historical perspectives. That being said, these are just bonus prompts!
Now go forth and read! Hopefully I’ll soon write up a retrospective on my 2017 Attempt to Read Less White Men that also includes some reading suggestions. Feel free to comment or @ me with your suggestions!
Thanks to Sarah for helping me clarify / modify some of these, generally challenging me to read more diversely, and just being an awesome badass.