Guess what I want you to do this year! Go on, have a guess…

Nope, not take up the noble art of knitting or run that marathon that you’ve been promising yourself (never) to run.

I want you to read. Simple. Just pick up a book, eReader or start listening to a lovely audiobook. To help you with this goal, we have set some reading challenges, 21 to be precise (it seemed churlish not to…) Now you don’t actually have to read 21 books if you don’t want to, you could read one if you prefer or 79 if you’re keen! Hopefully the challenges are not too devilish this time and if you’re clever, you can maybe combine several challenges into one book.

If you, like me, have been struggling to find your reading groove over the past couple of months because the world is topsy-turvy then this could be your gateway back into reading. I hope that these challenges are interesting and inspiring and help you in whatever way you need this year.

One thing I would really like you all to do (aside from reading) is join our Facebook Group and follow us on Twitter so that you can join in the conversation and tell us what you are reading. You can also ask for as well as give recommendations and generally support one another with your reading journeys. We want to hear about the challenges that fox you or the books that you hate, as well as the books that tipped your world upside down or made you fall in love (especially those! Don’t keep them to yourself.)

Without further ado I shall unveil the challenges:

Obviously I can’t see your reactions right now but I am almost certain that you love them, right? Okay, I’ll accept mild curiosity as a resounding success… I know some of you will have immediately spotted a challenge or two that chimes and that conversely some may have recoiled in horror and dismissed as impossible (a bit harsh, but hopefully I can talk you round.) The good thing about these challenges is that they are more fun when shared with others – friends, partners, distant relatives, children, colleagues, maybe pets and babies and possibly tomato plants, although I would suggest joining our Facebook Group for a more meaningful discussion…

Maybe you and your family could finish the 21 challenges or your team/colleagues could have some fun by taking five minutes each week at the end of (another) Zoom or Teams call to discuss your reading and try and complete the challenges. You could join in with your kids; I can be relied upon to suggest a children’s book for most occasions and I will definitely be sharing my suggestions on our catalogue, Facebook Group and Social Media channels. Fear not, if Junior Fiction is not your thing, I have many wonderful colleagues with a broad spectrum of interests and specialist knowledge who will be sharing their recommendations too. Schools are welcome to take part (don’t forget to send us your reviews and suggestions!) and teachers too, this challenge is for everyone – all ages and interests.

I won’t keep you too long today with a million recommendations but I will just give you my picks for the challenges that I want to complete first!

  1. Read a Mood Boosting book

There are so many options for this challenge, old trusty favourites, a nice little love story, a good old fashioned mystery, something funny, something interesting, something from childhood… We do of course have a helpful collection of Mood Boosting Books which you can browse but I am going to read Kiki’s Delivery Service (available on BorrowBox) as I know and love the story from the film and just thinking about reading it in book form makes me happy.

8. Read a book with an element of unusual travel

Okay, I don’t actually have a specific book in mind for this one so feel free to send me your ideas once I have detailed my requirements! I really want my unusual travel element to be either Ley Lines or a Dirigible. Easy. I’m not sure whether this is how everyone will approach these challenges but I am excited to seek out and read something with either of these elements.

11. Read a book with a link to bees

Do bear in mind my previous reference to Children’s Fiction – I will give you ten seconds to shout out loud which book I am about to reference. Go! Did you guess it? Just a bear obsessed with honey, nearly the greatest bear in literature (sorry, but Paddington is clearly the front runner). Just in case any of you need to hear this, you are NEVER too old for children’s books (or Winnie the Pooh). You can learn just as much from the tenth reading as the first and the feel good vibe that it leaves you with will go a long way to shake off the lockdown blues (see, I said that you would be able to fit several challenges into one read!) Here’s a link to the eAudio title on BorrowBox.

If you haven’t already been using and loving our BorrowBox library then you could use this challenge as a way to explore the wide range of eBook and eAudio titles available for all audiences. Find out how to get started with this handy video and for more tips and tricks, click here.

Keep a look out over the coming weeks and months for updates on the challenge and ways to get involved.

Do make sure to keep in touch (it is so lonely out here in blog space and we do so love #BookChat). Let us know how you are getting on with the challenges and shout for help if you get stuck.

Goodbye for now, dear reader and Good Luck with your reading!