Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Where do you get your ideas?"

I have never understood this question. Or, I have never understood it is a question.

The ideas are there, all around, everywhere. Everyone has ideas. Every idea is born the same way.
One sees something, hears something, reads something, associates with things one has seen, heard, read earlier, and there it is, an idea.

Being an author, one puts the ideas into stories. I suppose that's what people are actually asking...

Let's say... you read a newspaper article. It's about some kids who bravely stopped a train and prevented an accident.
So - you start wondering... who were these kids? Let's think... three kids sounds good (maybe they were three children in the newspaper article. If so, it's really easy, then.) I want the oldest to be a girl, and then there should be at least one of the other gender, so one girl and one boy, and the youngest... I want her to be a girl. The oldest... do I base her on me at that age? Or someone I know or have known or read about? I think she's called Roberta... Bobby for short. And the boy is Peter, and looks like this, and the youngest is Phyllis. So... why are they there? They like to play by the railway. Why? Hmm... Perhaps they have just moved next to a railway. Why?
and so on and so forth. One just keeps asking the 5 W's and H.
Who was involved?
What happened?
When did it happen?
Where did it happen?
Why did it happen?
How did it happen?
To me it's easy to create characters. There are about 7 billion people on this planet, and they are all people. Not two are exactly alike, but most are almost alike... most of us have two eyes, a nose, a mouth and two ears. For most of us these function "normally". Most people can see, smell, taste, speak and hear. Most of us have a head on top of their necks, two arms, two legs and a torso between. All of us have a mother and father. Some of us have siblings. Most of us have likes and dislikes, love some things and some people, hate some other things and people. Most of us have some ambitions, goals, aspirations - might not be big ones, might not be much, but they are there. Most of us want to live. Most of us like doing the same kind of things for entertainment. Most adults have a job. The psychology works for most people, if not all. Maslow's hierarchy of needs work for most of us. I can use myself as the base for all the characters and just change some bits.

And in the Western world we all have met thousands of people. If a person reads, one meets even more so. So, just take a couple of all the people you have met, and put them together.
Your first teacher + the girl you saw at a store last week + the side character from the book you last read.
Miss Gray, as young... Vera Gray. She's small and slender, has dark hair, bright blue eyes. She is affirmative, friendly, but serious. She's a quiet person, but her eyes look straight into you. She sees you, really SEES you. Everyone likes her, though, because she seems to like what she sees. How can she like you, when you know how unlikable and boring and nobody you are... what does she see you don't see? And - the story is on.

The names for characters usually just pop up. Just think about naming your child. You might think of the family names, maybe your own name, or the other parent's name, maybe some ancestor, maybe some celebrity, or a character from a book, tv series or movie. Maybe you heard a nice name somewhere.
My eldest sister got her name because my grandmother heard someone mention it at a store. Another big sister was named by a girl in a newspaper article. I don't know where my name comes from, but my mother had decided it already before I was born. "If it's a girl, it will be Sanna, if a boy, Sami". (Sanna is the Finnish short form of Susan, and Sami of Samuel. It might sound like a girl's name in USonian ears, but it isn't.) Another big sister was named after the day my parents got married. A brother got a variant of my father's name. They were discussing naming the child after the name day of the day.
The thing is that the characters do get a sort of life of their own. You could do a little experiment. Go to a random character designer.

Random Character Appearance Generator
Skin: Light brown
Hair: Mid-length, curly, graying light brown
Eyes: Gray, somewhat small
Height: Average height
Weight: A bit pudgy
Build: Average
Maybe something like this?

Now - prejudices and preconceived notions. What could she be called? Melissa? Apple? Lulu? Anything goes. She looks pretty mischievous and naughty there. Up to no good. Maybe Weasley twins' spiritual sister? Does she have brothers and sisters? Little by little you notice you have created a whole character with a life story. Fill in the character sheets available online about her.
It's totally fine to steal and plagiarize at this point. You are just practicing here.

Which is another nice exercise in developing character ideas. Genderbend your favorite characters. How would a female Sherlock Holmes be? Change the other parameters. How would Sherlock Holmes be if he was living today? Or she? Try different genres. Fantasy Sherlock Holmes? Scifi Sherlock Holmes? What if he was black? Asian? Could you mix in some African folklore? Or Native American? Now, change his/her name. Change the addiction. In stead of cocaine, she could be addicted to exercise. How would that look in Victorian times? Or maybe he's spiritualist. Maybe he's extremely religious. Change the hobby. Let him make origami instead of playing violin. Enhance some of the qualities, like narcissism. Make him a fashionista. Tune down the marysue. Give her a backstory that explains the observation and deduction skills.
Now take Elizabeth Bennet. Genderbend. Change genre. Change time. Change environment. Change ethnicity. Change family circumstances. What if she was the eldest? Youngest? What if she was stupid? What if she wasn't interested in men? What if she wasn't interested in anything but men? What if he wasn't interested in anything but men? How Elijah seduced Fitzwilliam...
What if Elijah Bennet was Sherlock Holmes? Or if Siùsaidh Holmes was Elizabeth Bennet?

Now, take your favorite character (or any character you liked, from a book you recently read) and do the same exercise. Put in as much variation as you can come up with.

race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability, language, cultural origin, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status

When you create a character and give him/her flaws, remember that these flaws must be a natural companion to the virtues and abilities. Every quality has a good side and a bad side, just like Pollyanna said. Sherlock Holmes' intelligence and abilities did set him apart from most people he met, and it was natural for him to develop some distaste for the dumb people he had to share his life with. It's natural one has little patient when one always needs to explain and update people, because they just can't keep up with you.

Ok, then... when you have worked with the "who?" enough time, you'll realize that it's no longer you who decide. Authors will describe what happens next as if the characters refuse to co-operate, resist the decisions you make, have their own head, will, way... you'll notice that your Sherry doesn't have red hair and she dislikes raspberries. She won't say the words you want her to say, because "that's not her". She says something totally different, something that will surprise even you. Where did THAT come from?

When you are telling the story, this starts happening more and more. Stephen King says that this is how all his stories happen. He just puts the ball rolling and then follows it to the end, happen what may. He's just writing down the story as it happens. He doesn't invent the story, he doesn't decide what happens, he doesn't plan, he doesn't make the characters do, say and feel. They tell him what they did, said and felt, and he is just a scribe.

The next W is "what happened?" - this is the "children save train from accident". The ideas are usually just something as simple as that. Astrid Lindgren read an article about a house fire, and how a big brother rescued the little brother by jumping out of the window and he died at the fall. She wrote Brothers Lionheart, which is one of the best books ever. The incident is in the beginning, and the book is about the little brother, his short life after the big brother died, and then what happened after they died... According the "myth" in the book, when people die, they go to a magical kingdom named Nangijala, which is like a medieval fantasy fairytale world, and then they have adventures there. This started with a simple newspaper article and evolved through "what happens after death?"

"What if...?" is a another "What?" question. We got a look at that already with the characters. What if Sherlock was Siusaidh? What if Eliza was Elijah? What if it happened in Africa and not in England? What if it happened in the 14th century Russia? Or 24th century China? What if someone had managed to stop "it" from happening? What if someone hadn't stopped "it" from happening?

Some of the story ideas I have had on this line are: "the stories of people taken by fairies are always told by the taken - what would it look like if seen by the society? How would they react if someone appeared from nowhere and claimed to have come from 100 years ago?"

Another "what" question is "what happened then?" A lot of people have written sequels and prequels to classics, but one could just tweak it a little, change names, descriptions, some qualities to hide the origin, and write new stories. Frankly, I dislike prequels and sequels to classics, because everyone else's but the original author's version is only as good as my own, and I have my own. I'd much prefer if they wrote their fan fiction sequels and then changed it enough to mask the origin. I mean, I don't see Twilight in 50 Shades of Grey. I don't see Harry Potter in City of Bones. There's a lot of books that were born as fan fiction, and then edited to be independent stories.

There really aren't too small stories. Think about Emma, for example. What is the story? A girl thinks about and meddles with love stories among her limited amount of friends. Finally she finds out that she loves a man and he loves her. Nothing happens in the book. Yet it is a loved story. One can really spin a tale of a sausage peg. :-D
Frankly, it's better to do it so. I hate Sarah J. Maas because she puts in EVERYTHING (AND the kitchen sink AND her dog, too) in her stories. I mean, Throne of Glass series, the heroine is the world's best assassin, pirate, fairy, street urchin, orphan princess super-talented magician, the promised one and probably dozen other things as well. In The Old Man And The Sea, the hero is an old man who fishes. He goes out to fish, is away the whole day and comes back with no fish. Sarah took 4397 pages to tell her story and one can't find 100 pages as good as the 132 of Ernest's Old Man.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A genre you will never read

There was a "Nope book tag" going on on YouTube, and one of the prompts was
"7. NOPE. Genre:
A genre you will never read."
Most people have nothing to say about this, because most people are pretty omnivorous when it comes to reading, but I think it might also be because people don't know much about genres.

So... is there anything on this list that sounds uninteresting or downright repugnant?

Absurdist/surreal/whimsical
Action
Adult Literature
Adventure Fiction
Airport Novel
Alien Invasion
Allegory
Alternative History
Antinovel
Apocalyptic
Atompunk
Bildungsroman
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir
Biopunk
Bizarro Fiction
Black Comedy
Body Horror
Campus Novel / Varsity Novel
Children's Books
Christian Fiction, Islamic Fiction, Jewish Fiction, religious fiction of any kind
Classic
Climate Fiction (cli-fi)
Clockpunk
Comedy
Comedy Horror
Comedy of Errors (farce)
Comedy of Manners
Comedy-drama
Comic Fantasy
Comics/graphic Novel
Contemporary
Contradiction
Cosmic
Crime
Cyberpunk
Dark Fantasy
Detective Fiction
Dieselpunk
Disaster Thriller
Drama
Dying Earth
Dystopian Fiction
Education Fiction
Epic
Epistolary Fiction
Ergodic Literature
Erotica
Existentialist Fiction
Experimental Fiction
Fable
Fairy Tale
Family Saga
Fan Fiction
Fantasy
Fictional Biography
Folktale
Ghost Story
Gothic Fiction
Heroic Fantasy
High Fantasy
Historical Fiction
Holocaust Novels
Horror
Humor
Imaginary Voyage
Juvenile Fantasy
Lab Lit
Legal Thriller
Legend
LGBT Fiction
Light Novel
Literary Fiction
Literary Nonsense
Lost World
Low Fantasy
Magical Realism
Mathematical Fiction
Matron Literature
Medical Fiction
Medieval Fantasy
Melodrama
Men's Adventure
Metafiction
Milesian Tale
Military Fiction
Monster Literature
Musical Fiction
Mystery Fiction
Mythic
Mythology
Mythopoeia
Nanopunk
Neo-slave Narrative
New Weird
Nonfiction Novel
Novel of Ideas
Occult
Occupational Fiction
Parallel Universe, Aka Alternative Universe
Paranoid Fiction
Paranormal Fantasy
Parody
Pastiche
Philosophical Fiction
Picaresque Novel (picaresco)
Play
Political Fiction
Post-apocalyptic
Prehistoric Fiction
Psychological
Psychological Thriller
Pulp Fiction
Punk
Quantum Fiction
Realistic Fiction
Regency Novel
Roman à Clef
Romance
Romp
Saga
Satire
School Story
Science Fantasy
Science Fiction
Scientific Romance
Screwball Comedy
Sea Story
Slasher Fiction
Slave Narrative
Slipstream
Social Fiction
Soft Science Fiction
Space Opera
Speculative Fiction
Splatterpunk
Sports Fiction
Spy Fiction
Steampunk
Subterranean Fiction
Superhero Fiction
Supernatural / Paranormal
Survival Horror
Survivalism
Suspense/thriller
Swashbuckler
Tall Tale
Thriller, Suspense
Tragedy
Tragicomedy
Travelogue
Urban Fantasy
Urban Fiction
Utopian Fiction
Vampire Fiction
Weird Fiction
Werewolf Fiction
Western
Women's Fiction
Workplace Tell-all
Young Adult Fiction
Zombie Fiction


I know Slasher fiction is something that sounds abhorrent to me and I find no way I would ever willingly read anything like that. Marquis de Sade is close enough. I wish I had never read a word by him, I wish books like that were never written, my disgust is so strong that I would accept liking his books as a reason of capital punishment, because I can't imagine there's anything right with those people, and they will end up sooner or later hurting people or justifying people being hurt. Brr.
So Body Horror and Splatterpunk are out, obviously.

Another literary genre - or sub-genre I find hard to see me reading is celebrity memoirs, and with celebrity I mean the people who are famous just because they are famous, like "known from TV", most every famous person who is younger than 30, people who are famous because they are pretty or married some other famous person, person who are famous because they did something stupid or are involved in some scandal or another. I mean, I read happily Michelle Obama's, Katherine Hepburn's or J.R.R.Tolkien's biography, but I will never read Kim Kardashian's or Paris Hilton's memoirs.

Workplace tell-all sounds really stupid also.

Other genres I'll probably never read are: survivalism, sports fiction, political fiction, paranoid fiction, military fiction, medical fiction, mathematical fiction, lablit, existentialist fiction, Ergodic Literature sounds boring as hell, too, I'm not into Dying Earth and Dystopian novels, either, though I know I'm going to read those subgenres. Most punks sound uninteresting as well, like cyberpunk, atompunk, nanopunk etc. Steampunk sounds good, though :-D Alien Invasion sci-fi is also non-interesting to me. I'm not into misery, suffering and oppression.

Anyway, it would be a good reading challenge.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Writing book reviews

1. The purpose of a review is to inform others if they might be interested in reading this book. Talk about the things that make you interested in reading a book, or if you wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, the things that make you not wanting to read a book.

2. Review the story, the book, the writing.
Don't review the cover, cover blurbs, publisher, marketing, other readers, the author, political opinions etc. etc. That is, a book is not bad because you don't agree with the author's political opinion, you didn't like a character or the character's political opinion or sexual orientation, you don't agree with the message presented in the book. It's naturally OK to say this, but don't mark a book down just because of this.
Please, don't refer to other reviews. Don't refer to other readers.
Don't say "Here's my unabashed assessment, untainted by the millions of people who seem to LOVE this book". I don't give a crap about how unabashed you want to appear, how intelligent, above the stupid crowd, who LOVES things that are obviously below your level, and the level of any independently thinking, intelligent person.

3. Be civil. Be kind. Be polite. Try to think the author is a person you like and how you would feel if someone spoke to or about that person the way you talk about the author. What if it was you and your book?
Be honest. Don't use the review to hurt the author, to make an impression of yourself, to promote some other books

4. Start with a short description what this book is about, so that people know you have actually read the book :-D (Don't review books you haven't read. It's OK to review books you didn't finish, if you read at least 1/4 of them, because the reasons why you didn't finish it are important. Reviewing hearsay or blurb is stupid.)

5. What did you like about the book? What did you dislike? What irritated you, what enchanted you?
How did the story affect you? How did you feel about it? How did it leave you?
I really like reading people's reactions, especially the illustrated ones :-D
Was it an easy or a hard read? Why
Personal connections?
Why did you choose to read the book?
Did it keep the promises? Fail them? Exceed them?
What did you learn, realize from this book?
How are you different since reading this book?
Would you recommend it? To whom?

Think that maybe the author actually reads your review, and learns from it. If you just pour bile over it, the author will just get sad and won't change anything, but if you give constructive criticism.
You give constructive criticism by following the sandwich theory :-D Sandwich the body of criticism and everything negative between two pieces of something positive, good, nice, encouraging.

Be sure to state your opinion as just that, by saying "I think, I love, I hate, I like, in my mind, I feel, I believe..." Avoid absolutes and exaggerations.

Always say what you think the author could have done differently, better, how the author could fix this problem etc. Give solutions, suggestions and advice, not just judgment and condemnation. :-D

Explain both good and bad critique. Don't just say you liked the book, tell us why. Don't just say the book was boring, tell us why. If you can't, don't say it.

6. Most books should get 3-4 stars.
1 star - OMG! I HATE THIS! I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS CRAP GOT PUBLISHED!!!
2 stars - I didn't like it
3 stars - it was OK, nothing special
4 stars - I liked it
5 stars - OMG! AMAZING!!! THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER!!!

7. Be careful with spoilers! That being said, I like one or two quotes from the book in reviews.
Mark clearly with "spoiler alert" if you think there's ANYTHING you say that could be a spoiler.

8. Proofread your review. Check your spelling, grammar, facts, especially check the spelling of names, and quotes.

9. To get better, read reviews and learn - emulate what you like, avoid what you don't like.
(Really, if you don't like reading a scathing mean review of your favorite book, don't write scathing mean reviews.)



Thursday, February 28, 2019

Reading again!

So... since I posted about the reading challenges, I have been reading. At least 1 book every day.
I'm so happy about this! 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Reading challenges as writing prompts

So - why have I been posting all these writing prompts here?

The first rule of good writing is "READ!" Read good literature, read bad literature, read more, read everything!

Also, when I was reading these reading challenge lists, I got inspired. It felt like a list of books I WANT TO WRITE.

Instead of "read a comic written and drawn by the same person", I start thinking about writing and drawing a comic book."

"A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries" How would a story set in Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa look... hmm...

"A book about nature" What would that be? How would my Walden be? Maybe some sort of combination of Walden, Blue Castle and Two Little Savages... written from the point of view of Valancy and Barney's daughter... maybe add a bit of The Bear And The Nightingale to it... I like Vasilissa. She reminds me of myself when I was little.

"A western". Karl May never visited the American West.

A book of colonial or postcolonial literature. My first thought was "how could I write this, I'm not from a formerly colonized country." But then I realised that I most certainly am :-D Finland was colonized by the Swedes from 13th century and by the Russians from 1809 to 1917. I can most certainly write postcolonial literature!

On top of this, I am inspired by the books I write... I was thinking of writing fan fiction of all the books I read, but... I have read like a book a day since I started this, and I have no time for writing :-D
Uh, I know... excuses, excuses. If I spend less time writing on my blog and more time writing, I would have all the time needed :-D After all, I am not reading 24/7. (or 16/7) I COULD give writing a couple of hours every day, after all, I do think of me as a writer.

Bah.
There was a blonde woman named, Cindy, that was in deep financial problems.
So she got on her knees and prayed "Dear God, please let me win the lottery. I really need your help or I'll loose my car, the house, and everything else."
She doesn't win.
The next day she prays to God "God! I really really need your help! I'll loose my car, the house, and everything else."
Once again, she doesn't win.
The next day she says the same prayer; then God speaks to her " Cindy! work with me here, BUY A TICKET!!"
God tells me "Ket! Work with me here! WRITE THE BOOK!"

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Reading challenges; mysteries, crime, thrillers, detective novels

Mystery genre
Detective Fiction

"...falls in a mystery category (crime fiction/detective novel/police procedural/suspense/thriller/spy & espionage/hard-boiled/cozy etc.)"


Dark Thrill 2018 Reading Challenge

A book that will be made into a movie or TV show
a thriller set in the wild
a funny crime book
true crime
a book about a villain
the thriller on top on the NYT bestsellers list
the first book in a series you never read
a classic thriller
a book set in a place you want to visit
a thriller set at the beach
a YA mystery
a spy story
a thriller written by your favorite author
a thriller with a cover you absolutely love
a book set in the sixties
a detective involving animals
an oldfashioned but modern detective story
re-read a favorite
a literary thriller
a book by two authors
an Italian thriller
a book set in London
a book set in LA
a thriller recommended by a friend
a freebie on Kindle
a book with a red cover
a book about hackers

Vintage Mystery Bingo

Color: in the title or cover
TBR First Lines (
Read one book set in the entertainment world
Read one country house mystery
Read a book with a detective "team"
Read one book with a method of murder in the title
Read one book set anywhere except the U.S. or England
Read one with a number of quantity in the title
One book that has been made into a movie or tv show
one book with a lawyer, courtroom, judge, etc.
One book with a time, day, month, etc. in the title
Read one book with a place in the title
Read one book that features a crime other than murder
Read one book with an animal in the title
Read one book with an amateur detective
Read one book already read by a fellow challenger
Birthday: Read 1 published in the birth year of yours or a loved one/friend
Read a book published under more than one title
Read one locked room or impossible crime
Read a book by an author you've nver read before
Read one book with a man in the title
Read one book outside your comfort zone
Read one short story collection
Read one historical mystery
One medical mystery (or features a doctor or a nurse)
Something "spooky" in title or the cover
Read one academic mystery
Read one that involves the clergy or religion
Read one book set in England or the U.S.
Read one book written by an author with a pseudonym
Read one book with a professional detective
Read one book with a woman in the title
Read one book that involves a mode of transportation
Author whose first or last name begins with same letter as yours
Read one book that you have to borrow
Eat, drink & be merry; featuring food, drink, or a party

100 great mysteries for children

Calendar of Crime Challenge

Now, this is interesting!

This challenge is to read 12 mystery novels, one for each month.
Each month has the same challenges OR a specific, month-specific challenges
- month in the title
- author's birth month
- primary action takes place in this month
- action surrounds a holiday that takes place this month
- original publication month
- book title has a word starting the same letter the month's name starts
- month-related item on cover (like snow for January and bunnies for April and pumpkins for October)
- if your birth month - book of your choice

The month specific prompts are:
January: Snowbound country house mystery
February: Couple/romance/love triangle plays major role
March: Money/fortune/inheritance has major role
April: Church/minister/religion
May: military figure or mother
June: wedding or father
July: takes place in USA or Canada
August: Summer holiday setting (beach, resort, etc.)
September: setting is a place of employment
October: costume/disguise/mistaken identity
November: family relationships
December: house party/family gathering

The Maze of Death

Each square has a number. You must read a book where that method of death or attempted death occurs.
1 - gun
2 - poison
3 - fire
4 - stabbing
5 - explosives
6 - vehicular
7 - animal/insect/snake
8 - blunt force (beating)
9 - asphyxiation/suffocation/drowning


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Even more reading challenges!

Apparently there's a LOT of these!

Burns' 26 books to read in 2015

A book you own but haven't read
A book that was made into a movie
A book you pick solely because of the cover
A book your friend loves
A book published this year
A book by an author you've never read before
A book by an author you love
A book at the bottom of your "to be read" pile
A book with a color in the title
A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
A book you started but never finished
A book with a lion, a witch OR a wardrobe
A book with a female heroine
A book set in the summer
A book of poems
A book you learend about because of this challenge
A book that will make you smarter
A book with a blue cover
A book you were supposed to read in school bu didn't
A book "everyone" but you has read
A book with a great first line
A book with pictures
A book from the library
A book you loved - read it again!
A book that is more than 10 years old
A book based on a true story

Burns' 26 books to read in 2016

A book with water on the cover
A book set on a school campus
A book with a murder or a mystery
A book about siblings
A book with a great first line
A book written in the decade you were born
A book with a number in the title
A book that will help you grow
A book from the library
A book about a vacation or a road trip
A book with food in the title
A book based on a historical event
A book you've been meaning to read
A book that won an award
A book you read with a friend
An autobiography or memoir
A book with a one-word title
A book with over 400 pages
A book set in the future
A book with magic in it
A book you learned about because of this challenge
A book based on a true story
A New York Times bestseller
A book of ALA's Banned & Challenged Classics list
A book that will make you laugh
A favorite book from your childhood
A book of your choice, any book


Burns' 26 books to read in 2017

A book with a one-word title
A book about a place/time you wish you lived in
A book based on a historical event
A book in a genre you generally avoid
A book taht's becoming a movie this year
A book with yellow on the cover
A book you listen to
A book you can get for free
A book you planned to read last year but didn't
A book you read on a trip or vacation break
A book suggested by a friend
A book from a series you started b have yet to finish
A book you can finish in a day
A book published this year
A book you learned about because of this challenge
A book with an epic romance
A book that takes place somewhere warm
A book outside of your comfort zone
A book that will help you achieve one of your goals for this year
A book considered a 20th century classic
A book set in the future
A book you choose because of the cover
A book with a mother/daughter relationship
A book with a reputation of being "un-put-down-able"
A book of short stories or under 200 pages
A book, any book

Around the year in 52 books

The 2019 List

1. A book that was nominated for or won an award in a genre you enjoy
2. A book with one of the 5 W's in the title (Who, What, Where, When, Why)
3. A book where the author’s name contains A, T, and Y
4. A book with a criminal character (i.e. assassin, pirate, thief, robber, scoundrel etc)
5. A book by Shakespeare or inspired by Shakespeare
6. A book with a dual timeline
7. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #1
8. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #2
9. A book from one of the top 5 money making genres (romance/erotica, crime/mystery, religious/inspirational, science fiction/fantasy or horror)
10. A book featuring an historical figure
11. A book related to one of the 12 Zodiac Chinese Animals (title, cover, subject)
12. A book about reading, books or an author/writer
13. A book that is included on a New York Public Library Staff Picks list
14. A book with a title, subtitle or cover relating to an astronomical term
15. A book by an author from a Mediterranean country or set in a Mediterranean country
16. A book told from multiple perspectives
17. A speculative fiction (i.e. fantasy, scifi, horror, dystopia)
18. A book related to one of the elements on the periodic table of elements
19. A book by an author who has more than one book on your TBR
20. A book featuring indigenous people of a country
21. A book from one of the polarizing or close call votes
22. A book with a number in the title or on the cover
23. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #1 Something Old
24. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #2 Something New
25. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #3 Something Borrowed
26. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #4 Something Blue
27. A book off of the 1001 books to read before you die list
28. A book related to something cold (i.e. theme, title, author, cover, etc.)
29. A book published before 1950
30. A book featuring an elderly character
31. A children’s classic you’ve never read
32. A book with more than 500 pages
33. A book you have owned for at least a year, but have not read yet
34. A book with a person's name in the title
35. A psychological thriller
36. A book featured on an NPR Best Books of the Year list
37. A book set in a school or university
38. A book not written in traditional novel format (poetry, essay, epistolary, graphic novel, etc)
39. A book with a strong sense of place or where the author brings the location/setting to life
40. A book you stumbled upon
41. A book from the 2018 GR Choice Awards
42. A book with a monster or "monstrous" character
43. A book related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) [fiction or nonfiction]
44. A book related in some way to a tv show/series or movie you enjoyed (same topic, same era, book appeared in the show/movie, etc.)
45. A multi-generational saga
46. A book with a (mostly) black cover
47. A book related to food (i.e. title, cover, plot, etc.)
48. A book that was a finalist or winner for the National Book Award for any year
49. A book written by a Far East Asian author or set in a Far East Asian country
50. A book that includes a journey (physical, health, or spiritual)
51. A book published in 2019
52. A book with a weird or intriguing title

The 2018 List

1. A book with the letters A, T & Y in the title
2. A book from the first 10 books added to your To Be Read list
3. A book from the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards (link)
4. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #1 Earth (in title, cover, content, setting, author...)
5. A book about or inspired by real events
6. A book originally written in a language other than English
7. A gothic novel
8. An "own voices" book*
9. A book with a body part in the title (heart, bones, teeth, skin, blood, etc)
10. An author's debut book (their first book to be published)
11. A literary fiction
12. A book set in Africa or South America
13. A book with a plot centered around a secret (forbidden love, spies, secret societies, etc)
14. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #2 Fire
15. A book with an unique format/writing structure
16. A narrative nonfiction
17. A book you expect to make you laugh
18. A book with a location in the title
19. A book nominated for the Edgar Award or by a Grand master author (books & authors)
20. A book rated 5 stars by at least one of your friends
21. A book written in first person perspective
22. A book you have high expectations or hope for
23. A medical or legal thriller
24. A book with a map
25. A book with an antagonist/villain point of view
26. A book with a text only cover
27. A book about surviving a hardship (war, famine, major disasters, serious illness, etc)
28. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #3 Water
29. A book with a "Clue" weapon on the cover or title (lead pipe, revolver, rope, candlestick, dagger, wrench)
30. A short book
31. A book set in a country you'd like to visit but have never been to
32. An alternate history book
33. A book connected (title, cover, content) to a word "born" in the same year as you (link)
34. A suggestion from the AtY 2018 polls, that didn't win but was polarizing or a close-call (link)
35. A book featuring a murder
36. A book published in the last 3 years (2016, 2017, 2018) by an author you haven't read before
37. A Women's Prize for Fiction winner or nominee
38. A science book or a science fiction book
39. A book with a form of punctuation in the title
40. A book from Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list (link)
41. A book by an author with the same first and last initials
42. A book that takes place on, in, or underwater
43. A book with a title that is a whole sentence
44. A ghost story
45. A book that intimidates/ scares you
46. 4 books linked by the 4 elements: Book #4 Air
47. A book where the main character (or author) is of a different ethnic origin, religion, or sexual identity than your own
48. A book related to one of the 7 deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, sloth)
49. A book from one of the Goodreads Best Books of the Month lists (link)
50. A book with a warm atmosphere (centered on family, friendship, love or summer)
51. An award-winning short story or short story collection
52. A book published in 2018

The 2017 List

1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 (link)
2. A book with at least 2 perspectives (multiple points of view)
3. A book you meant to read in 2016
4. A title that doesn't contain the letter "E"
5. A historical fiction
6. A book being released as a movie in 2017
7. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title
8. A book written by a person of color
9. A book in the middle of your To Be Read list
10. A dual-timeline novel
11. A category from another challenge
12. A book based on a myth
13. A book recommended by one of your favorite authors
14. A book with a strong female character
15. A book written or set in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)
16. A mystery
17. A book with illustrations
18. A really long book (600+ pages)
19. A New York Times best-seller
20. A book that you've owned for a while but haven't gotten around to reading
21. A book that is a continuation of a book you've already read
22. A book by an author you haven't read before
23. A book from the BBC "The Big Read" list (link)
24. A book written by at least two authors
25. A book about a famous historical figure
26. An adventure book
27. A book by one of your favorite authors
28. A non-fiction
29. A book published outside the 4 major publishing houses (Simon & Schuster; HarperCollins; Penguin Random House; Hachette Livre) - check all the editions
30. A book from Goodreads Top 100 YA Books
31. A book from a sub-genre of your favorite genre
32. A book with a long title (5+ words, excluding subtitle)
33. A magical realism novel
34. A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere
35. A book where one of the main characters is royalty
36. A Hugo Award winner or nominee (link)
37. A book you choose randomly
38. A novel inspired by a work of classic literature
39. An epistolary fiction
40. A book published in 2017
41. A book with an unreliable narrator
42. A best book of the 21st century (so far)
43. A book with a chilling atmosphere (scary, unsettling, cold)
44. A recommendation from "What Should I Read Next" (link)
45. A book with a one-word title
46. A time travel novel
47. A past suggestion that didn't win (link)
48. A banned book
49. A book from someone else's bookshelf
50. A Penguin Modern Classic - any edition
51. A collection (e.g. essays, short stories, poetry, plays)
52. A book set in a fictional location

The 2016 List
1. A book you meant to read in 2015, but didn't
2. A book set in a different continent
3. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 (winner or nominated)
4. A book by an author you discovered in 2015
5. A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name
6. The highest rated on your TBR
7. A book about books
8. A classic book with less than 200 pages
9. A book that was mentioned in another book
10. A book by an author you feel you should have read by now
11. A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge
12. A childhood classic
13. Reader’s Choice
14. A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How)
15. A book set in the past (more than 100 years ago)
16. A book from the top 100 mystery novels
17. A book with a beautiful cover
18. A book on a summer/beach reading list
19. A non-fiction book
20. A book with a first name in the title
21. A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page
22. The first book in a new to you series
23. The next book in a series you are reading
24. A "between the numbers" book of a series (0.5, 1,5, 2.5, etc.)
25. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
26. A book everyone is talking about
27. A book with a beautiful title (in your own opinion)
28. A biography, autobiography, or memoir
29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name
30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
31. A work of young adult fiction
32. A historical fiction book
33. The 16th book on your TBR
34. A book about mental illness
35. An award winning book
36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
37. A book that you've seen the movie of but haven't read
38. A book about an anti hero
39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list
40. A novella from your favorite genre
41. A book about a major world event (fiction or non-fiction)
42. A top 100 fantasy novel
43. A book about a thing that goes bump in the night
44. A book you're embarrassed to read in public
45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have
46. A crime story
47. A book with a type of food/drink in the title
48. A dystopia
49. A book with a great opening line
50. A book originally written in a language other than English
51. A short story from a well-known author
52. A book published in 2016

Book Challenge by Erin 10.0

Read a book that is at least 200 pages
Read a book that was made into a movie
Read a book that is set in Europe
Read a book that was a Newberry Award winner (medal winner or honor book)
Read a book that is a friend or family member's favorite
Read a book originally published over 100 years ago.
Read a book with six words (and only six words) in the title.
Read a book with a compass or cardinal direction in the title.
Read a book that was originally published in a different language from your own.
Read a book that begins with the letter "N."

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

Read a book that is at least 200 pages
Read a book that starts with the letter “N”
Read a book that has a (mostly) orange cover
Read a book with an unlikeable character
Read a book from the list of 100 books that PBS calls “The Great American Read” (although, they aren’t all by American authors); helpful link: http://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/books/#/
Read a book with something related to water in the title; i.e. ocean, sea, lake, river, waves, etc.
Read a book you’ve owned the longest but haven’t read yet
Read a book with an emotion word in the title; i.e. joy, sadness, grief, love, anger, etc.
Read a book (must be at least 2 words in the title) where each word in the title of the book begins with the same letter
Read a book featuring a character who shares your profession or similar one

Book Challenge by Erin 8.0

Read a book that is at least 200 pages
Read a book that starts with the letter “L”
Read a book that has a (mostly) red cover
Read a book with a character’s name in the title
Read a book from this list: Book Riot’s 100 Must-Read Books with Plot Twists https://bookriot.com/2017/04/11/100-books-with-plot-twists/
Read a book with the words “house” or “home” in the title
Read a book by an author whose first and last name begins with the same letter
Read a book originally published in a different language than your own
Read a book where most of the action takes place on a form of transportation i.e. bus, boat, car, plane, etc.
Read a book with a character that suffers from a debilitating physical illness


Read a book that is at least 200 pages
Read a book that starts with the letter “B”
Read a book that has a (mostly) yellow cover
Read a book that has a picture of an animal on the cover
Read a book that was published in 2017
Read a book with a compass or cardinal direction in the title
The ALA’s “Banned Books Week” occurs while our challenge is happening.  Read a book from this list of the most commonly banned books in America
Read a fictional book about mental illness
Read a book with a non-human main character; i.e. animals, elves, gods, robots, merpeople, etc.
Read a book a Disney movie was based on OR a book based on a Disney movie

Book Challenge by Erin 6.0

Read a book that is at least 200 pages.
Read a book that starts with the letter “W”.
Read a book with six words in the title.
Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover.
Read a book with a homonym in the title (inspired by the book Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin that I read last challenge with a character who is obsessed with homonyms.)  Only one word in the title needs to be a homonym.  Helpful link:  https://www.cooper.com/alan/homonym_list.html
Read a book by your favorite author.
Read a book set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live.
Read a “Rory Gilmore” book.  The character of Rory from the Gilmore Girls was shown reading over 300 different books throughout the series.  Choose one of them from this helpful link:  https://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyandoli/all-339-books-referenced-in-gilmore-girls
Read a book from a genre that you’ve never read (or rarely read.)
Read a book with time travel.

Book Challenge by Erin 5.0

Read a book that is at least 200 pages
Read a book that starts with the letter “R”.
Read a book with five words in the title. 
Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover.
Read a book with twins as characters. 
Read a book made into a movie
Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit. 
Read a historical fiction book.
Read a music related book.
Read a book originally published over 100 years ago.

Book Challenge by Erin 4.0

Read a book, any book that is at least 200 pages long. 
Read a book that begins with the letter “D”. 
Read a book with a four word title. 
Read a book with one of the following words in the title: “mother(s)”, “father(s)”, “son(s)”, “daughter(s)”, or “child(ren)”. 
Amazon ranks their “most popular authors”, and they update this list hourly.  When you make your reading list, choose one of the 100 most popular authors YOU HAVEN'T READ and pick on book by this author.
Read a book set in any country in Asia.
Read a book with a “Season” in the title.
Read a book that will make you laugh from the list attached. http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/books-guaranteed-to-make-you-laugh-out-loud
Read a book that is a friend or family member’s favorite book
Read a book published the year you were born.

Swedish reading challenge 2019

1. Läs en bok som har ett blått omslag (Book with blue cover)
2. På bokens pärm finns människoansikten (human faces on the cover)
3. Läs en SF-bok. (Sci-Fi book)
4. Läs en hyllvärmare (read a "shelf warmer")
5. Läs en bok som skrevs före 1900. (book written before 1900)
6. Boken har varit kandidat till ett inhemskt litteraturpris (candidate to domestic literature prize)
7. Läs en översatt bok vars originalspråk inte är engelska (translated book not from English)
8. Boken berättar om en plats där du har varit (about a place where you have been)
9. Läs en bok där ingen kör bil. (book where no-one drives a car)
10. Läs en roman som bygger på verkliga händelser (based on true events)
11. Läs en bok av en nordisk författare som inte är svensk. (Nordic but not Swedish author)
12. Författarens släktnamn börjar på samma bokstav som ditt (Author's last name starts with same letter as yours)
13. En bok du tagit ur hyllan utan att titta (a book you took from the shelf without looking)
14. En publikation ett litet förlag gett ut (book from a small publishing company)
15. Läs en bok där det förekommer eller tros förekomma något övernaturligt (book where something supernatural happens or is believed to happen)
16. Läs en biografi (a biography)
17. En bok som blir till film eller tv-serie 2019. (A book that will become a movie or tv serie 2019)
18. En bok med ett fult omslag (with ugly cover)
19. En bok med minst en miljon betyg på Goodreads (1.000.000+ reviews on Goodreads)
20. Läs en rysare/skräck/spöhistoria (thriller/horror/ghost story)
21. Läs en bok som någon på ditt arbete rekommenderar. (book someone from your work recommends)
22. Läs en författare som fått pris i en speciell genre (t ex deckare, fantasy) (by an author who received a genre speficif prize)
23. Läs en författare som inte är nordisk eller anglosaxisk (An author not Scandinavian/Nordic or Anglosaxon)
24. En bok skriven av en kändis (som inte är författare till yrket) (by a celebrity, not an author)
25. Läs en bok vars titel består av 1 ord (1 word title)
26. Läs en roman som är skriven helt eller delvis i form av dagbok, brev, tidningsartiklar eller liknande (novel totally or partially written as a diary, letters, newspaper articles or similar, that is epistolary novel)
27. Läs en bok som utspelas i minst två länder (book set in at least two countries)
28. Läs en bok med en blomma på omslaget (with a flower on cover)
29. En bok som du ser någon läsa i en film eller tv-serie. (a book you see someone read in a movie or tv series)
30. Läs en bok med ett djur på omslaget. (book with an animal on the cover)