2017 Reading Challenge Recommendations

The new year is a time to challenge yourself to reach new heights, try new things and, of course, read more books. If you’re participating in our 2017 Reading Challenge, we’ll be posting recommendations all year to help you complete the challenge. To get you started, here is a peek at what a completed reading challenge could look like. Each of the book pictured above fulfills one challenge point. Obviously, you don’t have to pick all or any of these, but this list might give you some ideas. Download a challenge list here.

Also, feel free to make recommendations in the comments or in our new Goodreads Reading Challenge Group.

A food memoir:

Alone in the Kitchen with Eggplant
by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

This collection of essays by writers and other food enthusiasts examines the experience of cooking and eating alone. Get a copy.

A collection of short stories:

I Want to Show You More
by Jamie Quatro 

Quatro’s collection of stories touches on a wide variety of topics including marathons, Bible camp and pool parties. Get a copy.

A young adult novel:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs 

This novel about peculiarly gifted children could also fulfill the “book that’s been adapted into a movie” challenge point. It because a film in 2016. Get a copy.

A book with a color in the title:

Black Rabbit Hall
by Eve Chase 

In Black Rabbit Hall a message carved in a tree may unlock a 30-year-old secret. Get a copy.

A book that’s more than 100 years old:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll 

This classic will be sure to surprise and delight. It would also count as a book less than 200 pages. Get a copy.

A book you picked based on its cover:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple 

Maybe one shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, but the contents of this more than live up to the eye-catching design. Get a copy.

A book set in a place you want to visit:

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah 

This may not take place during a time period ideal for a vacation, but Paris and the French countryside are both amazing destinations. Also, every place has important history. Get a copy.

A book based on a fairytale:

The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child draws inspiration from a Russian fairy tale about child who is half snow and half human. Get a copy.

A National Book Award Winner:

Salvage the Bones
by Jesmyn Ward

The weighty family story won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2011. Get a copy.

A book that takes place in a forest:

Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies
Told in vignettes, this novel explores the experience of a little girl and her secret reasons for escaping to the mysterious woods. Get a copy.

A romance that takes place during travel:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 
Time travel counts as travel, and this book is a great love story to read even if typical romances aren’t your thing. Get a copy.

A book under 200 pages:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
A master storyteller, Gaiman doesn’t need long to create a lovely world and tell a moving story. You’ll wish this book was longer. Get a copy.

A book over 400 pages:

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Neil Gaiman, author of the above novel, said Clarke’s novel is “hard to over praise.” It may be lengthy, but from all accounts worth the time. Get a copy.

A banned book:

Looking for Alaska by John Green 
John Green’s debut novel is frequently challenged in schools and libraries, but this Printz Award winning book remains a favorite. Get a copy.

A nonfiction book about nature:

Real Food by Nina Planck
Planck grew up on a farm and went on to found the first farmer’s markets in England, bringing people back to the roots of food. Get a copy.

A fantasy novel:

The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar
New York City isn’t just a melting pot for people, it a place where fairies of all origins come as well, and these fairies must unite if they want to save themselves. Get a copy.

A book by a person of color:

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A fifteen-year-old girl comes of age and finds freedom in a politically tumultuous Nigeria. Get a copy.

A book by a female writer:

Boy, Snow, Bird
by Helen Oyeyemi
This novel chronicles the struggles of a blended family dealing with racial identities. Get a copy.

A book of poetry:

Jagged with Love by Susanna Childress
This collection won the Brittingham Prize for Poetry in Fall of 2005. Get a copy.

A book set in Asia:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
This work of nonfiction tells the story of families trying to make better lives in a makeshift settlement in Mumbai. Get a copy.

A book about immigrants:

The Road from Home by David Kherdian
This young adult novel tells the story of a teenage girl escaping the Armenian Genocide by coming to America. Get a copy.

A book about a historical event:

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
As Chicago prepares to wow the world during the World’s Fair, a darker mastermind is creating a murderous structure of his own in this nonfiction book. Get a copy.

A book with a child narrator:

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
A teenage girl tells her story of coming to terms with the loss of her beloved uncle and the life she didn’t know he lived. Get a copy.

A book translated from another language:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
This book, translated from French, weaves together the lives of those living in an apartment building in Paris. Get a copy.

A book that’s been adapted into a movie (Bonus: Watch the movie and compare):

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The book and film adaptations follow a young girl so fascinated by books she steals them during World War II. Get a copy.

What have you chosen so far for the challenge? Do you have any reading recommendations?


  1. These are good suggestions. I’ve read at least half of them. I’m going to take a look at my to-read list and see what I have that fits these categories and start from there!

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  3. I would like to recommend my books
    The Mirror In My Dorm Room (A Time Travel Story)

    The Harlem Renaissance Time Traveler’s Diary

    Both books are short reads which have 4 & 5 star amazon.com ratings
    Thank you.

  4. Pingback: The 2017 Reading Challenge | Concoctions of a Vagabond

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