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 AfricaIn Every Mirror She’s Black
  2. A book set in CanadaThe Cruelest Month; A Rule Against Murder;
  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 sinsPower of the Dog (greed)
  7. A book set at the beachReckless Girls; The Hotel Nantucket;
  8. A book with a female spyThe Prisoner in the Castle; A Sunlit Weapon;
  9. A book with a royal character or settingMatrix;
  10. A book about booksThe Reading List; The Messy Lives of Book People;
  11. A book that involves a swindleThe Magnolia Palace
  12. A book about or set in a National ParkOne Step Too Far
  13. A book with a political theme or settingSomething to Hide;
  14. A book about an explorer or explorationSea of Tranquility; The Lioness;
  15. A book about wine or vineyardsTuscan Women Cook (cookbook); The Lost Vintage;
  16. A book set on, in, or about a riverThe Other Passenger
  17. A book set in a place you have been and would like to visit againShakeup (NYC)
  18. A book featuring an animal as a main characterCuriosity Thrilled the Cat
  19. A book set in a small town, real or imaginaryGolden Girl (Nantucket); The Book of Longings (various destinations in Israel); Crying in H Mart (Eugene), The Patron Saint of Second Chances;
  20. A book with a city in the titleThe Bangalore Detectives Club; Murder in Old Bombay;
  21. A book featuring nature as a central themeFear No Evil;
  22. A book about language or lexicologyLibriomancer
  23. A book set in a schoolParty Girls Die in Pearls
  24. A book with a season in the titleOne Italian Summer

Advanced Challenge (an additional six books)

  1. A book published in the year you turned 21
  2. A book with a spooky themeThe Last House on the Street;
  3. A book from a celebrity book club listThe Maid (GMA Book Club)
  4. A book by or about a lawyerThe Judge’s List; Sparring Partners;
  5. A book with a plucky Victorian heroineGod Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen
  6. A book with a found family themeUnder the Whispering Door; The Lincoln Highway

And others that don’t necessarily fit a category: Atomic Habits; The Passenger; The Man Who Died Twice; Rock Paper Scissors; Married to a Bedouin; Power of the Dog; Last Night at the Telegraph Club; The Horsewoman; Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs; Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli; The Good Left Undone; Marrying the Ketchups; Dream Town; The King’s Justice; City of the Dead; The House Across the Lake; Murder on Astor Place; Grave Reservations; The Venice Sketchbook; Frankie; A Duty to the Dead; The Family Upstairs;

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.