2021 Reading Challenges

What would the book blogging world be without reading challenges? That’s right, it would be totally fine, but definitely less fun. 🙂
I will do the occasional readathon in 2021, but as for proper, year-long challenges, I’m keeping it simple. Reading challenges that require some effort (finding the right book to fit a prompt or picking a book from a particular list, etc.) work best for me, as long as I still have a certain amount of freedom.

Beat the Backlist

I love bingo cards and as there’s no more Retellings Challenge this year,  I’ve decided to tackle the Beat the Backlist Challenge hosted by Novelknight. Not only do the prompts really appeal to me, but it also looks like they will take me in interesting new directions and make me dig up books that haven been on my TBR for way too long. I mean… “mentions a pineapple”? This will be so much fun!

This challenge is all about reading books published in the previous calender year or before. So anything with a publication date up until 2020 goes.
It also gives me a chance to combine this with one of my other challenges. Last year, I was all about disovering new-to-me Black authors and I found quite a few whose work I ended up loving to pieces. So naturally, now I want to catch up on their backlists.

  1. Anthology: Various Authors – From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Author has a book releasing in 2021: Naomi Novik – A Deadly Education
  3. A book with illustrations: Holly Black – How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
  4. Non-human character: Alechia Dow – The Sound of Stars
  5. Character has a dream scene: Neil Gaiman – The Sandman
  6. Bone in the title: Andrea Stewart – The Bone Shard Daughter
  7. Character lets out a breath they didn’t realize they were holding: Tasha Suri – Empire of Sand
  8. Second book in a duology: Octavia E. Butler – Parable of the Talents
  9. A Book with multiple POVs: Joe Abercrombie – Last Argument of Kings
  10. Caused a major book hangover: Terry Pratchett – Small Gods
  11. Snake on the cover: Vonda M. McIntyre – Dreamsnake
  12. Person on the cover: Maria V. Snyder – Poison Study
  13. Chapter title page has art: Darcie Little Badger – Elatsoe
  14. Novella: Catherynne M. Valente – Under in the Mere
  15. Non-binary protagonist: Nino Cipri – FINNA
  16. Has a map: Rebecca Roanhorse – Black Sun 
  17. Kept you up late reading: John Scalzi – The Collapsing Empire
  18. Features a second person POV: Tamsyn Muir – Harrow the Ninth
  19. Genre you rarely read: Seanan McGuire – An Artificial Night
  20. Standalone: John Crowley – Little, Big
  21. Good book, bad cover: Robert Jordan – The Eye of the World
  22. Book you’re giving another chance: Isaac Asimov – Foundation + Foundation and Empire
  23. Set in autumn: Katherine Arden – Small Spaces
  24. Book with my country’s flag colors (red and white): Colson Whitehead – The Underground Railroad
  25. First line is less than 10 words: Mary Robinette Kowal – The Relentless Moon
  26. Cover features my favorite color: John Scalzi – The Consuming Fire
  27. Set in a major city (Mexico City): Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Certain Dark Things
  28. Quest to find lost object: Robert Jordan – The Great Hunt
  29. Book with a purple cover: Isaac Asimov – Second Foundation
  30. Picked by a trusted friend/reviewer: R. F. Kuang – The Dragon Republic
  31. Book written in verse: Catherynne M. Valente – A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects

Read More Black Authors

Last year, I challenged myself to read 10 new-to-me Black authors which has led me to discover a lot of new favorites. This year, I’m changing the challenge a little bit. I still want to pick up Black authors that are new to me but I also want to read more by the ones I discovered last year – I still have a lot of Octavia Butler to catch up on, I want to read everything by P. Djèlí Clark, there are unread Nnedi Okorafor books on my TBR… you get the idea. So the challenge is to read 20 books by Black authors, regardless of whether I’ve read them before or not.

  1. Alechia Dow – The Sound of Stars
  2. Nnedi Okorafor – Remote Control
  3. Octavia E. Butler – Parable of the Talents
  4. Tracy Deonn – Legendborn
  5. Tade Thompson – The Rosewater Insurrection
  6. Rebecca Roanhorse – Black Sun
  7. Rivers Solomon – Sorrowland
  8. P. Djèlí Clark – A Master of Djinn
  9. Jordan Ifueko – Raybearer
  10. Jordan Ifueko – Redemptor
  11. Colson Whitehead – The Underground Railroad
  12. Nnedi Okorafor – Noor
  13. Lauren Blackwood – Within These Wicked Walls
  14. C. L. Clark – The Unbroken
  15. Kacen Callender – King of the Rising
  16. Namina Forna – The Gilded Ones
  17. Roseanne A. Brown – A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
  18. Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half
  19. Megan Giddings – Lakewood
  20. Nicky Drayden – Escaping Exodus


I kind of do this every year anyway but this year, in addition to reading as many of the 2021 finalists as I possibly can, I also want to catch up on some older Hugo winners and finalists.

  • Vonda M. McIntyre – Dreamsnake
  • C. J. Cherryh – Downbelow Station
  • Walter M. Miller, Jr. – A Canticle for Leibowitz
  • Ursula K. LeGuin – The Dispossessed
  • Connie Willis – To Say Nothing of the Dog

2021 Releases

Ever since I’ve started nominating and voting in the Hugo Awards, this challenge has become more and more important. This year is no different. In order to make informed decisions and to be able to nominate my favorite stuff, I need to read as many eligible releases as I can. Let’s hope this year is as amazing as the last one (book publishing wise… let’s not talk about the rest).

I’ll keep this page updated throughout the year, adding reviews for the books I’ve read and filling that bingo card as much as I can.

Happy reading, everyone!