Hello 2023 and Happy New Year!

2022 was a great year for both travel and reading, and I’m hoping 2023 gives it a run for its money.

I did a lot of reading in 2021, completing 96 books. There were a dozen or so long-haul flights where I got some reading done, but there was still a lot of time reading on the couch, lounging in a bubble bath, or my nightly habit of reading before bed.

I’m generally a Kindle reader. I like having dozens of books (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 the 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 10-15 books on hold) and only purchase when I absolutely can’t wait to read a new release. Check your local library’s 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.

Speaking of guidebooks – you know that I wrote one, right? Secret Seattle was released during covid so you might have missed it.

Five 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 on the Kindle so there’s always something to read. I invited a few other travel bloggers and avid readers to join me in the Challenge. We’ve kept at it, and today we launch the 6th Annual Travel Reading List Challenge.

You can take a look at the results of my 2022 challenge here.

The reading challenge is designed for those who enjoy traveling and learning more about the world. It seems I’m always queuing up a book about someplace I’m going or someplace I’ve been. And on a recent trip to Ireland, I spent time sipping tea and talking about books and books clubs with my Irish soda bread teacher.

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. 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 and genres, and will 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. And don’t worry – it’s a no-spoiler kind of place.

You can also sign up for our monthly (or more likely quarterly) newsletter here. We anticipate quarterly updates with recommendations on what to read, new releases, and more. Of course, we say that every year but it seems we are too busy reading to send out a newsletter. We’ll try to be better about that in 2023.

Are you up for the challenge?

Basic Challenge (an average of two books per month)

  1. A book that has had a movie/TV adaptationIf Cats Disappeared From the World (Japanese movie and I’m hoping it becomes available in U.S.)
  2. A book by or about a chefMastering the Art of French Eating; The Golden Spoon; Your Table is Ready;
  3. A book that includes time travelCity of Time and Magic
  4. A book set in New EnglandVerity (set in Vermont); Catboat Road (set in Massachusetts); The Five-Star Weekend; The Beach at Summerly;
  5. A book set in the South PacificThe Sex Lives of Cannibals (set in Kiribati)
  6. A book set in SpainI’ll Push You
  7. A book set in a former Soviet bloc countryFinding Katya
  8. A book that takes place over a holiday (not Christmas)Pumpkin Pies & Potions (Halloween)
  9. A book about friendsFriends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing; Leonard; A Visit From the Goon Squad;
  10. A book featuring mermaidsThe Queen’s Alliance
  11. A book set on borderlands (real, magical, or imagined)London Seance Society; Ink Blood Sister Scribe; More Than You’ll Ever Know;
  12. A book featuring an arranged marriageLady Tan’s Circle of Women
  13. A book with a two-word titleFirst Women; Distant Thunder; The Bodyguard; Theater Lovers; Unnatural History; The Villa; The Breakaway; Inside Threat; The Exchange; Second Act; Scavenger Hunt; The Housekeepers;
  14. A book in a genre that you seldom readThe Power of Positive Thinking (religion); Money Isn’t Everything, Everything is Money (personal finance); One Million Followers (social media)
  15. A book set in a healthcare settingThe Future You; Looking for Jane; Good Girl, Bad Girl; Murder by Degrees;
  16. A book set on a plane, train, or automobileCome Fly With Me;
  17. A book with a character who’s a veteranSpare;
  18. A book with a character who’s a teacherThe Princess and the Paparazzi
  19. A book set in a coffee shop or about coffeeBefore the Coffee Gets Cold; Butter, Sugar, Magic
  20. A book with a protagonist over 50Livid; Wine Witch on Fire; The Nature of the Beast;
  21. A book with a rural settingThe Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches; My Twenty-Five Years in Provence; The Burnout; The Hike;
  22. A book set in a bookstoreThe Cat Who Saved Books; The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks;
  23. A book set in a time period you know little aboutDeath of Riley;
  24. A book about a hobby or skillThe Cloisters (tarot, museum art); Madame Pommery (champagne); Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon (crypto); The Spectacular (dance);

Advanced Challenge (an additional six books)

  1. A book with a red coverWhiskers Abroad: Ashi & Audrey’s Adventures in Japan
  2. A book that is Southern noirThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
  3. A book set in a country that you aren’t keen to visitCapital Cities (this book features highlights from nearly every capital city around the world, so it covers ones I’m not so excited about visiting)
  4. A book set in winterWinter Garden
  5. A book set on or about a boatMaiden Voyages; Killer Cruise;
  6. A book set on or with an island themeOne of the Girls; The Layover; Birnam Wood (New Zealand); In Dublin’s Fair City (Ireland); From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home; On Fire Island; The Wishing Game;

Click on the link below for a printable check-off list and keep track of the books you are reading in the challenge. 

Other books (that just didn’t seem to fit into a category): Death of Riley; Naked in Death; Someone Else’s Shoes; Jacqueline in Paris; Wallis in Love; For the Love of Mike; A Trick of the Light; Pineapple Street; Meals and Memories with Nonno; Push; Lucy Checks In; The Librarian Spy; The Librarian of Crooked Lane; The Midnight Witness; The Writer’s Library; 3 Days to Live; In Like Flynn; Countdown; The Library Book; The Princess and the Paparazzi; The Sister Effect; Simply Lies; Flight Risk; The Librarian of Burned Books; The House of Wolves; The Medici Manuscript; Contraband; Oh Danny Boy; The White Lady; The Paris Daughter; DK Eyewitness Top 10 Budapest; The Little Wartime Library; Berlitz Pocket Guide Bucharest; Playing with Matches; I Have Some Questions for You; Near Miss; The Beautiful Mystery; In The Lives of Puppets; The Cuban Heiress; Kunstlers in Paradise; Yellowface; Homecoming; How the Light Gets In; The Dinner List; The Only One Left; Casalvento: House of the Wind; Island Affair; Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship; The Little Village of Book Lovers; The Little Italian Hotel; Food & Drink: Modernist Cuisine Photography; The Air Raid Book Club; Camelot’s End: Kennedy vs Carter and the Fight That Broke the Democratic Party; Hello Stranger; The House of Eve; 12 Months to Live; The Long Way Home; Everyone Here is Lying; 23 1/2 Lies; Obsession; Thicker Than Water; Zero Days; Prom Mom; Artie and the Wolf Moon; The Trade Off; Lion & Lamb; The Hurricane Blonde; By the Book; From the Jump; Looking Glass Sound; Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl; Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead;


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