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

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. Octavia E. Butler & Damian Duffy – Parable of the Sower (Graphic Novel)
  8. Rivers Solomon – Sorrowland
  9. P. Djèlí Clark – A Master of Djinn
  10. Jordan Ifueko – Raybearer
  11. Jordan Ifueko – Redemptor
  12. Colson Whitehead – The Underground Railroad
  13. Nnedi Okorafor – Noor
  14. Lauren Blackwood – Within These Wicked Walls
  15. Alaya Dawn Johnson – Trouble the Saints


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!