reading with coffee

Happy 2024!

2023 was a great year for both traveling and reading. I set a new personal best at 148 books read for the year, and 386 consecutive days of reading. I chalk it up to lots of long fights

You can see a full list of the 2023 challenge, along with all the books I read here.

I know a lot of reading challenges have a prompt that is a recommendation from a friend, so here are a few of mine from last year representing a variety of genres.

  • Lady Tan’s Circle of Women – An immersive historical novel inspired by the true story of a woman physician in 15th-century China.
  • First Women – The stories of the ten remarkable women who have defined the role of First Lady since 1960.
  • Looking for Jane – Based on true stories, this novel weaves the stories of women who are bound together by a long-lost letter, a mother’s love, and a secret network of women fighting for the right to choose.
  • Come Fly the World – A look at the glamorous golden days of Flight Attendants at Pan Am.
  • Yellowface – This novel grapples with questions of diversity, racism, and cultural appropriation, as well as the alienation of social media. 

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 the bright light of a beach.

I have the Kindle Oasis and love it. I upgraded to this version last year. If you’re not ready to step up to this price point or aren’t sure you’ll use an e-reader all the time, the entry-level Kindle is a great start. A refurbished version is also an option.

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, whether through a proprietary app or the Libby App.

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.

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 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 7th Annual Travel Reading List Challenge.

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.

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 newsletter in the subscription box on the challenge home page. We anticipate monthly updates with recommendations on what to read, new releases, and more. Of course, we say that every year but it seems that sometimes we are too busy reading to send out a newsletter. We’ll try to be better about that in 2024.

Are you up for the challenge?

Basic Challenge (an average of two books per month)

  1. A book set in Sweden
  2. A book about a social justice issue or with social justice as a themeThe Frozen River;
  3. A book that’s a Sherlock Holmes retellingThe Daughter of Sherlock Holmes; Holmes, Marple, and Poe;
  4. A book set south of the EquatorDangerous Crossing;
  5. A book about a historical event (fiction or non-fiction)Bright Young Women;
  6. A book that’s the first in a “new to you” seriesBruno, Chief of Police; Murder in Chianti;
  7. A book about aviation or air travel
  8. A book set in a country you dream of visitingSomething in the Water (Bora Bora, French Polynesia);
  9. A book with a country in the titleBig Swiss
  10. A book set in more than one countryCruise Ship Heist;
  11. A book published in 2024Only if You’re Lucky;
  12. A book that’s a #booktok recommendationFourth Wing
  13. A book that’s a locked room mystery
  14. A book that’s a YA (young adult) romance
  15. A book with a subtitleA Day in the Life of Abed Salama: A Jerusalem Tragedy;
  16. A book from the 2023 Goodreads Reader Choice AwardThe Leftover Woman
  17. A book where you go in blind (no reading of the reviews, book jacket, or synopsis)Land of Milk and Honey;
  18. A book with swashbucklingIron Flame
  19. A book with a main character on a questThe Summer of Songbirds (saving a camp); Cork Boat (building a boat out of wine corks)
  20. A book with a title that contains a synonym for woman (girl, lady, female, gal, etc.)Maame
  21. A book with a gem in the title (ruby, diamond, amethyst, etc.)
  22. A book that involves music or musiciansThe Woman in Me
  23. A book about a detective(s)A Bitter Taste of Murder; The Ghost Orchid;
  24. A book whose title starts with the letter “W”Woman With a Gun; When the World Goes Quiet;

Advanced Challenge (an additional six books)

  1. A book set in Eastern Europe
  2. A book by a South Asian author
  3. A book with a tourist landmark on the coverBall at Versailles; The Paris Apartment;
  4. A book with two or more POVsThe Jetsetters;
  5. A book about or set in old Hollywood
  6. A book by a Latinx author

Others read: The Proof of the Pudding; Upside Down; Unnatural Death; A Great Reckoning; Murder Across the Ocean; Resurrection Walk; The Other Mothers; The Summer Book Club; The Women; Rouge; The Guest; Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow; Expiration Dates; The Lost Bookshop; The Heiress; Never Too Late; What Really Happens in Vegas; The Storm We Made;

​You can download a pdf of the list here, using it as a reference and tracking sheet.

I’ve already finished my first book for the challenge – I spend New Year’s Day reading instead of watching football – The Songbirds of Summer. It fits a couple of different prompts (a book that’s a #booktok recommendation; a book from the 2023 Goodreads Reader Choice Award; a book where you go in blind (no reading of the reviews, book jacket, or synopsis); and a book with two or more POVs. I’ll decide where to allocate it a little further into the challenge.

I’ll be tracking what I’ve read here on this post, so check back often.

May your new year be filled with lots of wonderful books!

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