Book Riot Read Harder 2016 GB Challenges Reading Ruminations Reading Themes Spotlight

[Saturday Reads] Reading Themes and Reading Challenges for 2016


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

Reading Themes for 2016

Happy New Year again to everyone! Hope this year brings you more books, a new author to fall in love with, your much anticipated-instalment in a book series, meet-ups with writers and fellow book lovers, and all bookish goodness.

Every year, we have bimonthly themes here at GatheringBooks to give us opportunities to explore new genres, discover new authors, and to also give us a semblance of structure to our often-chaotic reading lives. A lot of this has to do with the fact that all three of us (Fats from the US, Iphigene from the Philippines, and myself based in Singapore) all have psychology and education backgrounds – and so, seeing recurring patterns and themes among the books that we read is kind of like second nature to us.

Here are our reading themes for 2016.

(1) January-February – Fairytales, Romances, and Happily CYBILS-Afters

(2) March – April: Fearless Females and Courageous Women 

(3) May – June: Son of Asia, Daughter of the Universe, Children of Every Nation

(4) July – August: Nomads, Homes, and Habitats – Restlessness and Refuge in Literature

(5) September – October: Into the Wild – The Untamed, The Mischievous, Artists and Rebels in Literature

(6) November – December: Dinosaurs, Dragons, and Mythical Creatures

Tomorrow, we launch our January-February reading theme – and will provide more information about the books that we are looking for. We are excited to go back to the world of fairy tales (and their fractured versions), love stories, and yes, explore titles that have been shortlisted/nominated for or won the CYBILS.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

When Fats posted about the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, I was initially excited – then backed out when I saw how potentially difficult some of the genres are – then came back into it with a bookish vengeance and resolution. I also raided my own bookshelves as I felt that this is the perfect time for me to begin reading some of the books I have acquired over the years.  I took this challenge one step further and tried to examine which of my selected titles can beautifully coincide with our reading themes for the year. Here are my selected 24 titles based on how I plan to read them given our bimonthly themes. Those with asterisks are the ones I will need to borrow from our public libraries here.

(1) January-February – Fairytales, Romances, and Happily CYBILS-Afters

(1/24) Read a Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic Novel.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

(2/24) Read a book under 100 pages.

This is easy, as we read and feature loads of picturebooks here at GatheringBooks. But for starters, here are the CYBILS finalists for the Fiction Picture Book Category, Round 2 where I serve as part of the Second Round Judging Panel announced just a day ago.


(3/24) Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better.


Paper Towns by John Green

(2) March – April: Fearless Females and Courageous Women 

(4/24) Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography).


Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

(5/24) Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900.


Sorcery & Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

(6/24) Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years.


**El Deafo by Cece Bell (borrowed from NIE Library). I like how this contemporary graphic novel published in 2014 played around with the concept of super hero but is technically not about superheroes – and yes it won the Newbery – and also happens to be Cece Bell’s debut comic.

(7/24) Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes.


Black Milk: On Motherhood and Writing by Elif Shafak

(8/24) Read a food memoir.


Aphrodite by Isabel Allende

(3) May – June: Son of Asia, Daughter of the Universe, Children of Every Nation

(9/24) Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender.


I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings with pictures by Shelagh McNicholas.

And if I still manage to find the time, I am also hoping (cross-fingers) to add this to the list:


What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

(10/24) Read the first book in a series by a person of color.


I have so been meaning to read this. Moymoy Lulumboy: Ang Batang Aswang by Segundo Matias Jr. and illustrated by Jomike Tejido.

And hopefully I do sink my teeth into this one as well, given that the second book has been published this year:


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

(11/24) Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness.


Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton

(4) July – August: Nomads, Homes, and Habitats – Restlessness and Refuge in Literature

(12/24) Read a middle grade novel.


Bird by Crystal Chan

(13/24) Read a book originally published in the decade you were born.


If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino (published 1979)

(14/24) Read a book over 500 pages long.


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Since I am scheduled to read this for my book club anyway this January/February, might as well add this one here:


All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

(15/24) Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction).


Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake

(5) September – October: Into the Wild – The Untamed, The Mischievous, Artists and Rebels in Literature

(16/24) Read a horror book.


The Wolf In Winter by John Connolly

(17/24) Listen to an audio book that has won an Audie award.


**The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman (to borrow from the public library) – An Audie Finalist


**Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep is read by Will Patton and won the Audie Award for Fiction. Found both audiobooks at our local library.

(18/24) Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia.


Filipino Heroes League Book Two: The Sword by Paolo Fabregas

(6) November – December: Dinosaurs, Dragons, and Mythical Creatures

(19/24) Read a book that is set in the Middle East.


Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Others: Not Part of our Reading Themes – exclusively for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

(20/24) Read a nonfiction book about science.


**Neurocomic by Dr. Hana Roš and Dr. Matteo Farinella (borrowed from the public library)

(21/24) Read a collection of essays.


Leading from Within: Poetry that sustains the courage to teach edited by Sam Intrator and Megan Scribner

(22/24) Read a book out loud to someone else.


The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness. My 14 year old girl and I just finished reading the first book in the series a few weeks back, and we are ready to go back into the Chaos Walking Trilogy this 2016.

(23/24) Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction).


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

(24/24) Read a play.


An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley.

To summarize, here are my selected books:

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 10.37.39 AM

This list is only a guide, though, as I have a feeling more books will find me this 2016 that would most likely fit into any one of these items here, and I shall adapt and tweak accordingly.

365 Reading Challenge

Since 2011, Fats, Iphigene and myself have endeavoured to read 365 books across all three of us, and we are planning on doing that again for this year. With Goodreads, it is much easier for us to keep track of the books that we read across different genres as well. Here is a summary of books I managed to read last year.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 5.23.37 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 6.14.38 PM

Hopefully, I maintain this track record and do even better this year.

So, what are the reading challenges that you are joining this year?

5 comments on “[Saturday Reads] Reading Themes and Reading Challenges for 2016

  1. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Cyborg Cinderella and Tainted Royalty in Speculative Fiction YA Novels: “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer and “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard – Gathering Books

  2. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] A Comic Version of the Structure and Function of the Brain in “Neurocomic” – Gathering Books

  3. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday] A Jane Goodall Extravaganza: From Award-Winning Picturebooks to a National Geographic Book to a Graphic Novel Format – Gathering Books

  4. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday] The Skin and Bones of Race and all its Meanings in Julius Lester’s “Let’s Talk About Race” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between The World and Me” – Gathering Books

  5. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Immersing One’s Self in the Mind of the Other in “Challenger Deep” by Neal Shusterman – Gathering Books

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