Bob on Books 2021 Reading Challenge

Run by Bob on Books

From the words of our host, the challenge guidelines and tasks are as follows…

There are lots of reading challenges that have to do with how many books we read. Some of us like them. Some don’t. We all have our own tastes. But I thought I would come up with my own reading challenge. An ongoing challenge for me as I get older is settling into familiar ways, ruts, maybe even my own “echo chambers.” So I thought of some “challenges” that at least will help stretch my reading habits. No number of books are involved (although if you read one of each you will read twelve–one for each month). You are welcome to join me for some or all–or none. The point is to keep reading both fun and enriching.


Old. Read one book that was written before your lifetime. One of the hazards of reviewing is that many of the books I read are published in the same year I’m writing. Old books can give a sense of perspective at times.

  • My book: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
    • Completed January 24th

New. At the same time, I tend to read authors I like and am familiar with in different genres. Most have published a number of books, so I can keep doing that for a long time. Find a new author in your favorite genre–read reviews, talk to your bookseller, or local librarian.

  • My book: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
    • Completed January 28th

Different genre. We tend to have our favorite genres. Get some recommendations and a book in a different genre. My son introduced me to graphic books, which I’m coming to like. A friend has been bugging me about reading a few thrillers. That might be the different genre for this year.

  • My book: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley — 1818 edition
    • Completed April 3rd

Science or technology. I’ve observed that most people have never talked to a working scientist. The ones I’ve talked to have opened my eyes to the wonders of the world. There is so much we see but don’t really understand. I want to read something that will help me understand some part of the physical world a bit better.

  • My book: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
    • Completed May 1st
    • It’s still fiction, but the sheer amount of scientific fields represented here, and the well-researched exposition of it all had me learning a hell of a lot more than I had before!

Issues. Go deeper on one issue in the news. If you’ve already formed an opinion, try reading something that takes a different perspective. There are people as intelligent as I am who disagree with me. I’m curious why. Are you?

  • My book: Home Body by Rupi Kaur
    • Completed March 11th
    • It may be a poetry book but it’s about the immigrant experience (India to Canada) and coming to terms with/fighting back against the sexualization and demand on women’s bodies, especially those of the ‘Other’ (non-white), including sexual assault and more.

Foreign country. Read a book about a country or a person from a country other than the one in which you reside. It could be history, biography, or even a travel book.

  • My book: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
    • Completed September 11th

Local history. From writing about the town where I grew up, I’ve discovered that both I and many of my readers knew little about the place where we grew up. So, now I have a book about Columbus on my reading stack–I’ve lived here 30 years and don’t know that much about my current home town.

  • My book:

Foreign fiction. Fiction written by someone not from my country of origin allows us to see the world through a person who sees it from a different perspective.

  • My book: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    • Completed July 13th

Re-reads. It can be a fascinating thing to re-read something we read at a different time of our lives. The book hasn’t changed but it is a mirror reflecting how we have.

  • My book: Dune by Frank Herbert
    • Completed March 19th

Religious Text. Here I have several suggestions. You could go deeper in exploring something in your own faith or you could read about a different religious tradition within your faith. You could read about another faith to understand it better. Spiritual but not religious? You might try a work of philosophy. Whatever is the case, we all could do with living up to the tenets of what we believe and understanding others better.

  • My book:

A possible new hobby or interest. Yes, I know, reading is your hobby. It is one of mine as well. But you might try reading about a hobby you might take up or an interest you could pursue.

  • My book:

Health. This is a year that has reminded us we can’t take our health for granted–physical, mental, or spiritual. Read a book for you. It might be to better understand your body and care for it, or perhaps books to help us understand ourselves. Books on the Enneagram have helped been helpful in my own self-understanding. Perhaps you’ve discovered how important resilience is and want to learn how to cultivate that.

  • My book: Untamed by Glennon Doyle
    • Not read yet

From Bob: “So there’s my challenge. I’ve not recommended particular books because I believe that discovering interesting books in these area for yourself is part of the fun and enrichment of reading that this is all about. I’ve left room for us to fill in our books. I’ll let you know next year how I did and I’d love to hear from any who decide to take up my challenge.”

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