Reading Women Challenge 2021

We are nearing the end of the year which means it is nearly time for another reading challenge. Once again, I will be joining the Reading Women Challenge next year. Reading Women is a weekly podcast about books, celebrating books written by women and I have participated in their challenge for the past two years.

The prompts for next year’s challenge were just released and the aim is to read a book for each category which was written by or about a woman. The focus of the 2021 challenge is to encourage everyone to read more internationally, to broaden their literary horizons. I love this idea and I think it is perfect for this current time. Since we cannot travel the globe as we might like to do, the next best thing is to explore different cultures and places through the books we read.

I have done some research and I have found some very promising titles for the challenge. So, without further ado, here are the prompts for the 2021 Reading Women Challenge. I am of course open to any suggestions!

1. A book that was longlisted for the JCB prize:

This prize aims to celebrate Indian writing and make it better known throughout the world. Some titles I am considering are Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, A Burning, and All the Lives We Never Lived

2. A book by an author from Eastern Europe:

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (Poland), The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish (Russian Federation), Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (Ukraine/Belarus)

3. A book about incarceration:

I already have The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which I think fits very well with this category. I am also considering Educated and Homegoing

4. A cookbook by a woman of colour:

One of my favourite television shows is the Great British Bake Off and I love to bake myself, although I am nowhere near as good as the contestants on the show! So I think I would like to read one of the baking cookbooks by previous winner Nadiya Hussein, and maybe try out a few recipes!

5. A book with a protagonist older than 50:

There is a bonus here if the author is also older than 50. I like the sound of The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett, Two Old Women and The House of Spirits

6. A book by a South American author in translation:

One of the prompts for this year’s challenge which I haven’t managed to complete was to read a book by Isabel Allende. So I am thinking that I could read one of her books next year, for this prompt. The House of the Spirits or Island Beneath the Sea maybe

7. Re-read a favourite book:

Now, this is a fun challenge. My only problem is that most of my favourite books are at my parents’ house in Switzerland at the moment…

8. A memoir by an indigenous, first nations, native or aboriginal woman:

The Right to be Cold, Blonde Indian, Tracker, Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence

9. A book by a neurodivergent author:

By neurodivergent, they mean an author on the autism spectrum or someone with a condition such as ADD or ADHD. I think this is a really interesting prompt and I have found some really exciting potentials: Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate, Odd Girl Out, Exciting Times

10. A crime novel or thriller in translation:

I love a thriller and I have been tempted to read more into the Nordic noir genre, so I’m hoping to find something along those lines. Snare, The Tenant, The Dying Game. Or maybe The Silence of the White City for something completely different.

11. A book about the natural world:

Since this is a very vague prompt, I’m not sure yet in which direction I want to go with this. I have The Salt Path on my TBR, which I think would work. Otherwise, I have seen The Bird Way or Unbowed, which seem really interesting

12. A young adult novel by a Latinx author:

My mind went straight away to Clap When You Land when I saw this prompt. I have been seeing some great reviews online so I’m looking forward to reading this one

13. A poetry collection by a black woman:

I don’t have a plan for this one yet, but a friend of mine is a big poetry fan so I’m hoping to get some advice from him for this one

14. A book with a biracial protagonist:

If I read Clap When You Land for number 12, then that would fulfil this prompt as well (one book can count for multiple categories)

15. A Muslim middle grade novel:

I don’t read much in the middle grade genre, but I have found The Night Diary, which sounds interesting

16. A book featuring a queer love story:

Exciting Times, Last Night in Nuuk, Red, White & Royal Blue

17. A book about a woman in politics:

The way I see it, there are two possible routes for this prompt. The first would be to read about a contemporary woman involved in politics in some way. In that case, I may go for Unbowed. Otherwise, I could read a book about a woman in politics in history. I love the Tudor period in English history and I have had my eye on Alison Weir’s series about the wives of Henry VIII

18. A book with a rural setting:

Several options I have mentioned already would fit this prompt too, such as The Salt Path, Educated, Two Old Women, etc. I have also been wanting to read The Great Alone, so this might be the perfect opportunity

19. A book with a cover designed by a woman:

Now, this is another really great prompt! I follow She Designs Books on Instagram and they feature tons of incredible books whose covers were designed by women. I already own The Girl with the Louding Voice, so I may go with that one. Another book which has caught my eye is The Bass Rock

20. A book by an Arab author in translation:

I am thinking of reading Celestial Bodies for this prompt, but I am on the lookout for other potential candidates as well

21. A book by a trans author:

All the Birds in the Sky, Upright Women Wanted, The Echo Wife

22. A fantasy novel by an Asian author:

I love fantasy, but I can’t say that I have read any fantasy books by Asian authors, so I’m excited to find something new. My potentials for this one are The Poppy War, The Library of Legends and The Never Tilting World

23. A nonfiction book focused on social justice:

With social justice being such a driving force in 2020, there are so many great options out at the moment, I’m spoiled for choice! I am tempted by The Central Park Five, So You Want to Talk about Race and It’s not about the Burqa

24. A short story collection by a Caribbean author:

I don’t know the last time that I read a collection of short stories so this will be outside of my reading comfort zone, but that’s the point of a challenge like this! How to Love a Jamaican and Everything Inside are on my list for this one

Bonus:

  1. A book by Alexis Wright
  2. A book by Tsitsi Dangarembga
  3. A book by Leila Aboulela
  4. A book by Yoko Ogawa

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