Several summers ago my predominant emotion was resentment because I was in the throes of learning a new work rhythm. After years of being tied to a school calendar when it came to work, I no longer was. And resenting it. Aren’t summers for downtime and relaxing and recharging?

Resentment, no surprise, is a terrible bedfellow. I love this part of the Summer Reading Challenge: it was born in a garden. Aren’t most of the best ideas born around flowers and dirt? The mix of beauty and mess. I associate “Summer” and “Reading” so strongly, I wanted a way to help “I’m busy” not be a reason to keep me (and you) from the joys of summer reading.

I love my local library, but I fail at their summer reading program. You need to have a user name, password, and then daily (or weekly) log your reading. Turns out it is a few too many steps for me. When I googled “summer reading challenges” most results were suggestions for libraries to host a reading program. Exit Plan B.

Like a kid pouring over the toy catalog in days gone by, I’ve chatted with family members, dreamed about books, and looked for ways to expand the reading challenge. Today, I  am excited today to reveal this summer’s reading challenge!

It will start on June 1  and run through August 17, 2018. To enter, read seven books from 22 categories. Along the way, I’ll have encouraging posts. If you would like to write a guest post, contact me.

What’s different? Two categories have been added, one of which has a twist! You can now be penalized (self-enforced). The penalty was born because I need it. For a full TWO YEARS, I have planned to read The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt and the Golden Age of Journalismbut it is long. Last year I even added the “get two points for books longer than 700 pages” just to get this book read. It did not work. So I’ve upped the ante. At the start of the challenge choose a book or category you will read or be penalized. (Obviously, you know my pick.)

Years ago when my nieces were young and my sister wearied over the nightly whining over who didn’t like this or that, she had them each make a no-eat list. They could choose five items that they would not have to eat without parental requirement or pushback. Viola, meals were more pleasant. I’m hoping the penalty rule is the Summer Reading Challenge version of “no eat list.” Viola, book read.

What’s in it for you? All who comment on August 17-19th with the names of the books they read will be entered to win one of ten $10 Amazon gift cards.

Sound like fun?!

  1. A book related to professional development (can be loosely interpreted).
  1. A book related to history.
  1. A book placed in a country I’m not familiar with OR about a country I’m not familiar with.
  1. A young adult (YA) book.
  1. A book recommended by a friend.
  1. A graphic novel.
  1. A book you’ve been meaning to read.
  1. A book published more than 100 years ago.
  1. A book recommended by a teenager.
  1. A biography.
  1. A play. 
  1. A memoir.
  1. A book by someone you might not spiritually agree with.
  1. A book that won an award.
  1. A book you read years ago and have meant to reread.
  1. A book that has been translated into English.
  1. A book that is more than 700 pages (counts for two books!)
  1. A mystery. 
  1. A book related to a skill (like cooking, writing, photography, or web-design).
  1. A book by an author you know. Fiction (if you tend to read non-fiction) or Non-fiction (if you tend to read fiction).
  1. Penalty: subtract one book from the total. (You potentially could lose two book points if you select a long one)

Download the challenge and print it off to track your progress. I’ll be posting on Instagram the books I read. Post pictures of yourself reading or the books you read and use #SRC18. I can’t wait to get ideas from you!


In short: Seven books from June 1 to August 17.

Are you in? Pick a couple of categories and share a recommendation or a book you plan to read for that category.



Leave A Comment

  1. Christy J May 25, 2018 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Yay, summer reading challenge! I have loved joining in this for the last two years. I really like the penalty idea. I have already chosen two things for myself for the penalty: Vanity Fair, because it has been on my to-read shelf for a very long time (plus it fits the over 700 pages category), and a graphic novel because I never read those and need to expand my repertoire with a different category. Do you have any good recommendations for graphic novels?

  2. Annalisa May 27, 2018 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    99% of my reading is of books under 20 pages. It’s just one of those seasons in my life. :D Does “Where’s Spot?” count as a mystery?

  3. Bev Baird May 28, 2018 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Love a good reading challenge! I will definitely join in.
    A mystery I have to read is “Glass Houses” by Louise Penny. This is her last in a long series about Inspector Gamache. I’ve loved the whole series.

  4. Kiera May 28, 2018 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    I think I will read Lab Girl for a memoir and an Agatha Christie that has been on my to-read list for a while – The Seven Dials Mystery. There are lots more on my to-read list though too!

  5. Rohan May 30, 2018 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the challenge Amy. For my first one, I’m going for Category 21 – a book just published by my friend Jim Reiher in Melbourne, Australia, called “The Acts of the Apostles and Splinter” – a retelling of the Book of Acts by a clown who is travelling with Peter and Paul: It only costs USD$1.99 … or his previous one retelling the Gospel of Luke similarly is free! And in Category 15 I plan to reread “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming” by Henri Nouwen.

  6. Mabel May 31, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I am finally going to read 1984 by George Orwell, and Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas, my niece has been recommending that series to me for a while. I have a ton of other books I want to read, but those are the two that came to mind first.

    Thanks for this fun challenge. I enjoy this much more than doing the library one.

  7. Linda Schueler June 1, 2018 at 6:41 am - Reply

    It sounds like a great challenge! I could do at least 7 from the category of #7, but I know that it’s 7 categories I need to pick! Happy summer reading!

  8. Chris L. Pontius June 1, 2018 at 8:42 am - Reply

    I’m in! I don’t use Instagram, but I will be tweeting as @chrislpontius. My penalty category is #20, a book by an author you know. Do I have to specify the book now? If so, I’m going with Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree, but I have *lots* of books in this category and I feel guilty about all of them.

  9. Darlene June 1, 2018 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    I’m in! I have the challenge listed on my webpage, but I haven’t figured out my picks yet :)

  10. Emilee June 2, 2018 at 8:04 am - Reply

    I’m not very excited about all the transitioning ahead this summer, but I am looking forward to having a public library nearby again. I am also feeling challenged to read a graphic novel and am excited to read a book by a friend (I have three I’ll have to choose from, or maybe all since they are three different categories!).

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