Fall Reading Challenge entries due by Jan. 10

It’s time to turn in your Fall Reading Challenge entries! All entries are due in by January 10. Not sure if you read enough titles for the grand prize? If you’ve read in at least four categories, turn in your reading list and you will be entered for the runner up prize, one book of your choice.* 
Books used to fill categories must have been read between September 1 and December 31, 2016. 
The reader filling the most categories could win four new books of their choice* to start the new reading year out right (random drawing in the event of a tie). And all readers who log at least four categories will be entered in a drawing for one book of their choice.*
Titles may only be used to fill one category, but we will have a special prize for the title that fills the most categories.
The list is also available here to print out: Fall Reading Challenge. We also have flyers available at the Lending Desk if you need a fresh copy.
THANK YOU to all who participated! It’s been fun reading along!
*Selected books must be available at library discount rate from our wholesaler.

FRC: A Mystery set in Maine

Maine provides an ideal backdrop for all sorts of mysteries. A cozy set at a coastal inn, or noir in the North Woods, it’s a state full of mystery!

Here are a few sources:


FRC: set in Asia

Asia is the largest continent, consisting of many cultures, religions and languages, so it is no surprise to see the huge range of books available for this category.

Here are a few resources to get you started!




FRC: Short books

There are two categories in the Fall Reading Challenge that call for a short book:

  • A book with less than 150 pages
  • A book you can read in a day

A recent New York Times article had this to say on short books:

True to its essence, the very short book does not pretend to have more to say than it does. This is as charming as encountering the rare person who knows when to speak and when to be silent.

While the amount you can read in a day will vary (depending on, among other things, how much you are enjoying the book and how much you are willing to put off doing other things), here are some lists of short books that you’ll have a good chance of finishing.

On the slightly longer side:


What I read: 

My under 150 page book was Forest of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal, clocking in at 88 pages. It seemed a little too short to me, I was still a little unsure of what just happened at the end. To even things out, the book I read in a day was 724 pages (in large print), The Trespasser by Tana French. I found it hard to put down! Also, I am a new fan of large print, it really is easy to read.




FRC: A Book Set on an Island

An island is a great setting for a novel — with characters cut off from the mainland, the novel may either evoke a sense of escape and calm, or, dread and claustrophobia. There may be a strong sense of community among residents, or a sense of isolation and often both. Mysteries set on islands may have the occupants cut off, knowing that the killer is among them.


And don’t miss our author visit next Monday with Andrew Vietze!

Our past Fall Reading Challenge Newsletters:


FRC: A Book set in the 17th or 18th Century

Historical fiction can whisk you away to another time, by providing the small details of life that might be missing in nonfiction history. Historical fiction is always a blend of facts and speculation, with some leaning more to one or the other, but in all the time period becomes a major factor in the novel.

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries were times of great change and upheaval, and provide a rich backdrop for historical fiction. From the English Civil War to the Napoleonic Wars, from the colonization of the New World to the American Revolution, it was an era full of drama and conflict, perfect for historical fiction!


The library catalog is a great resource if you are looking for fiction based on a particular event. For example, here are some searches for a few events.

United States — History — Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 — Fiction.

United States — History — Revolution, 1775-1783 — Fiction.

Great Britain — History — Civil War, 1642-1649 — Fiction.

France — History — Revolution, 1789-1799 — Fiction.

HistoricalNovels.info has extensive lists of historical fiction from both centuries.

Although not arranged by century, 50 Essential Historical Fiction Books has some good choices, including The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, set in Japan and just squeaking in at 1799.


FRC: A Book that Scares You

This category is a book that scares YOU, and that could be different for each reader! Below are some links to scary books, but other scary books could include nonfiction books about scary people or horrifying events. Within fiction there is a wide range available from the gothic ghost story to horror fiction. This time of year it is easy to find lists of scary books (and not so scary for people like me!). The consensus seems to be that Stephen King’s It is the scariest of all. 


My selection

I recently read the latest in the Atrocity Archives, a series by Charles Stross. The series is a cross between Office Space and Lovecraft as British bureaucrats battle eldritch horrors and requisition paper clips. The latest, the Nightmare Stacks, featured aliens so creepy I was rooting for the vampire. And, yes, I did have nightmares.  

FRC: Dystopias

Dystopian fiction paints a bleak vision of the future. Often associated with teen titles, particularly with the popularity of the Hunger Games series, adult titles like the Walking Dead are also popular. Many award winning authors have imagined a very different world ahead of us from the one we live in now, including Cormac McCarthy (The Road), Colson Whitehead (Zone One), Margaret Atwood (Oryx and Crake).  Sometimes with an over intrusive government like Brave New World, or with no government at all, like Station Eleven, this genre takes a look at how civilization as we know it might end, and what might follow.


96 Dystopian Science Fiction Books

The Apocalypse for Grownups

If you liked the Hunger Games… A nifty flow chart from the Lawrence Public Library

My Selection:

It seems like I read an awful lot about the world ending.  As it happens, I have already read TWO dystopian novels this fall. The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman (Ice Cream Star is the protaganist’s name, ice cream having become mythical) and The Raft by Fred Strydom. I liked both of these books, but I give the edge to The Raft for a unique way of ending the world–suddenly, everyone forgets everything. As memories slowly drift back, communes form with a new set of rules.

ALSO–don’t miss our display of Red Books at the Red Book Roundup near the Lending Desk!

Up Next: A Book that Scares You



FRC: A Book with Magic

Books with magic have proliferated in recent years, with the popularity of Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and other fantasy series. In many traditional or urban fantasy books, magic (and who controls it) may be the focal point of the book. In other books, magic may appear as a small element. For example, magical realism is a genre that uses elements of magic to give a deeper understanding of reality. Other books may introduce the possibility of magic, but leave any answers ambiguous.


50 Excellent Fabulist Books Everyone Should Read from Flavorwire. Some good choices for literary fiction readers looking for just a bit of magic. The site describes these books as “50 excellent novels and short story collections by fabulists, fantasists, and fairy-tale-tellers, literary books that incorporate the irreal, the surreal, and the supernatural, which have no unironic dragons, very few (if any) self-serious necromancers, but lots of delightful, magical, humane, real-as-all-get-out storytelling”.

11 Magical Books to Read If You Love ‘Harry Potter’ from BookBub. Many lists offer Harry Potter read alikes for kids or teens. This list focuses on adult titles.

30 Best Fantasy Series from Paste. Many expected titles, with a few surprises.

My Selection:

I am listening to an audiobook of “The Invisible Library”. The idea is of a library that serves as a hub to many alternate worlds, with librarians visiting worlds to obtain copies of important books (fiction, since it is the imagination that varies from world to world). I’m nearly done, and enjoying it. It’s a little urban fantasy, and a little steampunk, and a little Sherlock Holmes, but somehow it all works.



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