Hello 2022 and Happy New Year!

While I’m very happy to see 2021 in the rearview mirror, it wasn’t a total write-off. I was able to do a little bit of traveling, including checking something off my bucket list (visiting a ghost town). Even this small return to travel lifted my spirits immensely.

And, the big news for the year is that my book was published and released in September, Secret Seattle: A guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure. It’s available for purchase in all the usual locations, local bookstores, Amazon, and directly from me.


Secret Seattle: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure

By Mary Jo Manzanares

Discover the unique destinations, colorful history, and wacky legends that make the greater Seattle area such a popular destination to live and visit. Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a visitor wanting to feel like a local, Secret Seattle lets you in on dozens of secrets around the Emerald City.


I did a lot of reading in 2021, completing 88 books (coincidentally, the same number of books I read in 2020). There were a few long-haul flights where I got some reading done, but most of the time it was curled up on the couch, lounging in a bubble bath, or in bed. But just because I wasn’t traveling much, didn’t mean that I could enjoy and feel challenged by the Travel Reading List Challenge.

I’m generally a Kindle reader. I like having dozens (actually hundreds) at hand. It makes for light packing, it slips into a purse, and with the reading app, I can synch it up to all my devices. I have the Kindle Paperwhite. It adjusts to various light situations, so I can read it in a darkened airplane cabin or in the bright light of a beach. You can click on that photo above to learn more about the specs and see if it’s a good choice for you.

Because I’m also a frugal reader, I get a lot of my e-books from my local library (where I usually have a dozen or so books on hold) and only purchase when I absolutely can’t wait to read a new release. Check your local library online services, I bet you have this available as well. I always purchase hard copies of guidebooks, though. There’s something about having one that I can write in, underline, and refer back to on future trips.


All-new Kindle Paperwhite – Now with a 6.8” display and thinner borders, adjustable warm light, up to 10 weeks of battery life, and 20% faster page turns.


Four years ago, I started a Travel Reading List Challenge, founded out of my love of reading and curiosity for the world – and as a means of exploring new topics, writers, and points of view. It’s also a way to decide what to queue up in the Kindle so there’s always something to read. I invited a few other travel bloggers and avid readers who love travel to join me in the Challenge. We’ve kept at it, and today we launch the 5th Annual Travel Reading List Challenge.

The reading challenge is designed for those who enjoy travel and learning more about the world. And when we’re not traveling, we can still explore the world through a good book.

The basic reading challenge has a pace of two books per month, for a yearly total of 24 books. The advanced portion of the reading challenge adds on another six books, bringing the yearly total to 30 books. It’s a doable number and gives you a way to be mindful of your reading choices.

The challenge is self-paced. Read what you want, when you want it, there’s no order you must follow. Fiction or non-fiction, both are great. Feel free to interpret the list in any way you wish, choosing the type of books that you enjoy. However, I also hope you’ll be encouraged to try some new authors, genres, and add new voices to your reading list – that’s part of the fun of the challenge.

For suggestions of what to read, lively discussions about our favorite books, and recommendations of what to take along on your next trip, please join the Facebook Group. We talk about books, authors, reading, travel, and all the great stuff of life. You’re welcome to join us there. You can also sign up for our monthly (or more likely quarterly) newsletter here.

Basic Challenge (an average of two books per month)

  1. A book by an author from sub-Saharan Africa – In Every Mirror She’s Black
  2. A book set in Canada – The Cruelest Month
  3. A book set in Colombia
  4. A book set in Egypt
  5. A book written by a Native American author
  6. A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins
  7. A book set at the beach
  8. A book with a female spy
  9. A book with a royal character or setting – Matrix; God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen
  10. A book about books
  11. A book that involves a swindle
  12. A book about or set in a National Park
  13. A book with a political theme or setting
  14. A book about an explorer or exploration
  15. A book about wine or vineyards
  16. A book set on, in, or about a river
  17. A book set in a place you have been and would like to visit again –Shakeup (NYC)
  18. A book featuring an animal as a main character – Curiosity Thrilled the Cat
  19. A book set in a small town, real or imaginary – Golden Girl (Nantucket); The Book of Longings (various destinations in Israel)
  20. A book with a city in the title
  21. A book featuring nature as a central theme
  22. A book about language or lexicology
  23. A book set in a school
  24. A book with a season in the title

Advanced Challenge (an additional six books)

  1. A book published in the year you turned 21
  2. A book with a spooky theme
  3. A book from a celebrity book club list
  4. A book by or about a lawyer – The Judge’s List
  5. A book with a plucky Victorian heroine
  6. A book with a found family theme – Under the Whispering Door

And others that don’t necessarily fit a category: Fear No Evil; Atomic Habits; The Passenger; The Man Who Died Twice; Rock Paper Scissors; Married to a Bedouin

Who’s in?

I’ll be updating this list with the books that I’ve selected for each of these reading prompts. I hope you’ll follow along. (You can see the books I read for the 2021 Travel Reading Challenge here.)

Download the Travel Reading List Challenge here.

Save this travel reading list to your favorite Pinterest boards and share it with fellow book lovers.