The 52 Book Club’s 2023 Reading Challenge Guide

The 2023 Reading Challenge Guide

We are so excited to take a closer look at our 2023 Reading Challenge! In this post, we’re going to examine each of the fifty-two prompts on the 2023 challenge. If you’re stuck on a prompt or have a specific question about it, this is the place to check first!

Before reading the 2023 guide:

  1. We recommend that you first check out our original 2023 challenge page. You can find a downloadable copy of the list there too!
  1. Don’t forget to stop by our rules and list of FAQs to get better acquainted with how this challenge works!
  1. Keep in mind that we always encourage participants to get creative with the prompts. You never have to take them exactly at face value. Think outside the box and have fun with it!
  1. Prompts can be completed using any reading format: hardcover, paperback, audiobook, e-reader, braille, a live reading from the author — they all count! Each prompt is possible to complete using any form of reading.

We’ll be adding to this list throughout the year as we see new and creative ideas pop up — so feel free to check back or add your own ideas in the comments.

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1. A book with a subtitle

The first prompt on this year’s challenge is, “A book with a subtitle.” While this prompt may initially lend itself towards a non-fiction read, there are fiction options available too. For example, did you know that Mary Shelley’s subtitle for Frankenstein was “A Modern Prometheus,” or that Vanity Fair was subtitled, “A novel without a hero?”

What is a subtitle? A subtitle is an explanatory phrase that follows the main title of the book. It gives more information about the book and allows readers to better understand what the book will be about. For example: Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster” — in this case, the subtitle is the part in italics.

Examples: The Stories We Tell: Every Piece of Your Story Matters, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath

Goodreads List: A book with a subtitle

2. Featuring an inheritance

This prompt is for books featuring an inheritance. The inheritance could play a main role in the story, or it could be a secondary plotline. It may feature a scene in which a lawyer reads out a will, a regency-era character who inherits his father’s title, or the word itself in the book’s title. The possibilities are vast and can include any type of inheritance: monetary or otherwise.

What is an inheritance? An inheritance is something that someone inherits upon the death of an individual. It could be property, titles, debts, cash, investments, etc. It’s any asset that is left to someone else when they die.

Examples: The Inheritance Games, The Testament, The Inheritance, Rebecca, Heiresses

Goodreads List: Featuring an inheritance

3. A title starting with the letter “G”

Continuing with our tradition of working through the alphabet, find a title starting with the letter “G.” This works as either the book title or a series title. It’s also up to you whether or not you decide to count definite or indefinite articles like “The” or “A” as the first word in the title. (Example: Some readers might decide to use a book like “The Great Gatsby” for this prompt, even though it starts with the word “The.”)

Examples: Ghosts, Gone With The Wind, The Great Gatsby, Gossip Girl, Gone Girl

Goodreads List: A Title Starting with the letter “G”

4. A title starting with the letter “H”

The second of our alphabet title prompts for this year is, “A title starting with the letter ‘H.'” Again, this could be the book title or the title of a series. You can decide whether or not you’ll count definite or indefinite articles like “The” or “A” as the first word in the title. (Example: Some readers might decide to use a book like “The Hobbit” for this prompt, even though it starts with the word The.)

Examples: The Hobbit, Holes, Hamlet, Harry Potter, House of Earth and Blood

Goodreads List: A title starting with the letter “H”

5. A title starting with the letter “I”

The final of our alphabet title prompts for this year is “a title starting with the letter ‘I.'” Same as the previous two prompts, this could be the book title or the title of a series. Again, it’s up to you whether or not you decide to count definite or indefinite articles as the first word in the title. (Example: Some readers might decide to use a book like “The Ice Princess” for this prompt, even though it starts with the word The.)

Examples: In a Cottage In A Wood, The Ice Princess, I Let You Go, I Found You, Insurgent

Goodreads List: A title starting with the letter “I”

6. Under 200 pages

Last year we had a prompt for a book over 500 pages. This year, we want you to find a book under 200 pages.

  • “What about e-books? If I change the size on my reader, I change the page count. Does it still count?” We get asked this question a lot with prompts like this. As always, this is your challenge! As long as you feel the book meets the “under 200 pages criteria” then it counts!
  • What if I’m listening to an audiobook? How can I find the page count? Goodreads is an excellent spot to find page counts. We recommend starting there!
  • What if my copy has more than 200 pages but another edition of the same book is under 200? As long as one of the book’s editions is under 200 pages, it counts for this prompt. You can read this book in any edition or format and it will still count toward the prompt.
  • I’m reading a book that’s over 300 pages long but it’s broken into three different novellas. Does that count? You can definitely count one of the novellas for this prompt, as long as it’s under 200 pages!

Examples: Animal Farm, Cat Among the Pigeons, The Beautiful Cassandra, Night, The Call of the Wild

Goodreads List: Under 200 pages

7. A city or country in the title

For this prompt, we are specifically looking for books with a city or country name in the title. This can be from anywhere in the world, and as always, can be in any language. The city or country name could also be found in the subtitle or a series title. Alternatively, to get creative with this prompt, you could also choose a book with the word “city” or the word “country” somewhere in the title. You might also choose an ancient city or country that no longer exists, or a fictional city or country from a science fiction or fantasy novel.

Examples: The Paris Apartment, The Berlin Girl, From Russia With Love, A Tale of Two Cities, Brooklyn

Goodreads List: A city or country in the title

8. Dystopian Fiction

What is dystopian fiction? This genre of speculative fiction explores a world or society that is opposite to a utopia. These novels are usually set in the near-future and often explore themes like mass poverty, oppression, extreme social or economic class divides, etc. There may be an oppressive ruling government or perhaps, the use of advance technology to control the people. It may be set following some sort of disaster, in a world that is largely inhabitable, with characters who have to fend for themselves, etc.

Examples: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale, Brave New World, Station Eleven

Goodreads List: Dystopian fiction

9. A book with a dedication

What is a dedication? Often times, authors dedicate their books to family, friends, or even someone famous. You’ll usually find these dedications within the first few pages of a book, right before the story begins. Sometimes, these dedications are really simple and are just a name or a set of initials. Other times , they’re humorous, witty, or might even make us cry. (Just for fun, check out this amazing collection of dedications.) It’s up to you which sort of dedication you’re going to pick for this prompt!

If you find an author who has been especially creative with their dedication, don’t forget to share it with the rest of us on Facebook, Instagram, or in the Goodreads Group! #the52bookclub2023

Examples: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Souls of Lost Lake

Goodreads List: A book with a dedication

10. Takes place during the roaring twenties

The “roaring twenties” refers to the time period from 1920-1929. This term might bring to mind things like flappers, prohibition, bootleggers, jazz clubs, etc. For this prompt, pick a book set during the 1920s. It could be entirely set during the 1920s or have a dual-timeline. This book could be set anywhere in the world during this period.

Examples: Bluebird, The Great Gatsby, A Certain Age, These Violent Delights, Blind Tiger

Goodreads List: Takes place during the roaring twenties

11. A book about secrets

This prompt is for any book about secrets. The book could contain the word “secret” in the title or use secrets as a plot device. Mysteries, thrillers, family drama, historical fiction, and romance are just a few genres that regularly use secrets as part of the main plot. Non-fiction examples could include true crime, a political or celebrity expose, or historical secrets recently come to light. It could be a secret past that the main character is hiding, a book about secret societies, a secret love affair, etc.

Examples: The Paris Secret, The Secret Garden, Pretty Little Liars, Big Little Lies, The Da Vinci Code

Goodreads List: A book about secrets

12. High Fantasy

What is high fantasy? High fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy. Critics often disagree on the differences between high and low fantasy, but the primary distinguishing factor is THE SETTING. High fantasy is set in an alternative world that is independent of the real world. This is in comparison to low fantasy which is set in the real world but includes supernatural occurrences.

For example: The Lord of the Rings is considered high fantasy as it is set in an alternate world, Middle Earth. This is compared to Harry Potter, which is considered low fantasy, as it is set in a fictional version of the UK. (Although, it could be argued that elements of the Harry Potter series fall into a grey area.) Additionally, some books have both high and low fantasy elements. For example: The Chronicles of Narnia series are partly set in the real world and partly in an alternate dimension.

Other common characteristics of high fantasy may include: a hero, fantastic creatures, magic, good versus evil theme, epic conflict, etc. (You can read more here if you’re interested: High Fantasy vs Low Fantasy or 6 Characteristics of High Fantasy.)

It is up to you how rigid or flexible you want to be with your definition of high fantasy!

Examples: The Way of Kings, Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Shadow and Bone

Goodreads List: High fantasy

13. Published Posthumously

What does published posthumously mean? This means that the book was published after the author died. It may have been published a few days after the author’s death, or several decades later. This might be a full length book or part of a short story collection, a play, a work of poetry, etc. It might also be an unfinished work.

As a creative interpretation, you might choose an author who had a book published posthumously but decide to read one of their earlier works published while they were still alive.

Examples: The Diary of a Young Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Agatha Christie: An Autobiography, Northanger Abbey, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Goodreads List: Published Posthumously

14. A survival story

This prompt is all about survival. Choose a book that features a survival story – either fiction or non-fiction. It may be a character who survived a plane crash or a natural disaster. It might also be a more personal type of survival: a character who survived a traumatic upbringing or personal experience, an inspiring story by a cancer survivor, etc.

Examples: Into Thin Air, Unbroken, North of Normal, I survived book series, The Martian

Goodreads List: A survival story

15. Set in Australia

From the Outback to the Sydney Opera House to the Great Barrier Reef, this prompt is for a book set anywhere in Australia. It doesn’t have to be by an Australian author, although that’s a fun add-on to the challenge!

Examples: The Rosie Project, The Light Between Oceans, The Forgotten Garden, The Husband’s Secret, Cocaine Blues

Goodreads List: Set in Australia

16. Featuring one of the “seven deadly sins”

What are the seven deadly sins? Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and slothfulness have historically been referred to as “the seven deadly sins.” They have been popular themes in plays and literature throughout history.

For this prompt, your pick could make reference to the seven deadly sins in general, or you could focus on one of the seven. The word could appear in the title or subtitle (Example: Pride & Prejudice), could be a major theme within the book, or could be a character trait for a specific character.

You might also chose to go with a more modern or alternate interpretation of the words. This is an opportunity to get creative and think outside of the box! (Maybe you just want to read a super cute, non-fiction book about the animals, sloths!) Show us what you can come up with!

Examples: Pride and Premeditation, Envy, The Grapes of Wrath, Lust for Life, Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths

Goodreads List: Featuring one of the “seven deadly sins”

17. By a Caribbean author

This prompt is for any book written by a Caribbean author. The Caribbean is a sea region located between the mainland territory of North and South America. Examples of Caribbean countries include: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, etc. You can find a full list here.

Examples: Clap When You Land, The Girl With the Hazel Eyes, Augustown, Love After Love, Patsy

Goodreads List: By a Caribbean author

18. Set during a war other than WWI or WWII

Many readers have a strong fascination with settings during the first or second world wars. But for this prompt, we want you to find a book set during a war OTHER than WWI or WWII. (This means avoiding settings from 1914-1918 for World War I, and 1939-1945 for World War II.)

Apart from those two time periods, the setting you pick is up to you! You may choose a more recent war that occurred during your lifetime, or one that happened thousands of years ago like the Trojan War. Examples of other wars include: The French Revolution, The Cold War, The Korean War, The American Civil War, War of 1812, The Crusades, etc. You can find a full list of wars from here.

The war may play a pivotal part in the plot with characters who are actively involved in it, or it may be a backdrop for the larger narrative. This prompt works equally well for either fiction or non-fiction reads. It may also be set during a fictional war.

Examples: Girl at War, My Dear Hamilton, The Spy and the Traitor, The Iliad, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Goodreads List: Set during a war other than WWI or WWII

19. Typographic cover

What does typographic mean? Typography has to do with the style and appearance of printed materials, or the way the type is arranged. (Think about book titles and the fonts used.) For this prompt, find a cover that has a strong emphasis on the title itself. This might be a text only cover. Alternatively, there may be graphics or visuals, but they’ll be secondary to the typography or incorporated in a way that emphasizes the type itself. See this article for examples.

Remember that different editions of books often have different covers. As long as at least one edition has a cover with a strong emphasis on the typography, your copy of the book doesn’t have to look the same.

Still confused? Check out the examples we’ve provided below to give you a better idea of covers with strong emphasis on typography.

Examples: Eat Pray Love, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue, Ready Player Two, The It Girl, Unmasked

Goodreads List: Typographic cover

20. A book about siblings

This prompt is for a book about siblings (brothers and sisters.) It may feature the word siblings in the title. You may have a character with a dozen siblings, or it may be about a group of brothers, or two sisters, etc. You might choose a book that focuses on the sibling dynamics and family relationships, such as in a family drama or memoir. It might also be a book like The Hardy Boys series, where two siblings are the main characters, but the plot isn’t actually focused on exploring their relationship to each other. Siblings can also be “found family.” They might not share DNA but instead have chosen a relationship as siblings.

Examples: My Secret Sister, American Royals, My Sister’s Keeper, Little Women, A Wrinkle in Time

Goodreads List: A book about siblings

21. A second-hand book

This prompt is all about where you find your book. Second-hand means that it hasn’t been purchased brand new but has been owned and/or read by someone else before. There are lots of ways to find second-hand books: used book stores, little free libraries, garage sales, borrowing a book from a friend, buying a used book online, etc.

Goodreads List: *There is no Goodreads list for this prompt*

22. A body positive message

What is body positivity? Body positivity is a social movement focused on the acceptance of all bodies, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, and physical abilities, while challenging present-day beauty standards as an undesirable social construct. (Definition from Wikipedia.) For this prompt, chose a fiction or non-fiction read that celebrates the differences in our bodies. For more examples, check out this Book Riot list with 30 body positive reads, or this BuzzFeed list about 15 books with curvy characters that don’t center on weight loss storylines.

Examples: Dumplin, Hunger: A Memoir of my Body, Starfish, Wonder, Disability Visability

Goodreads List: A body positive message

23. An alliterative title

What is alliteration? Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of closely connected words. For this prompt, we want to see that alliteration in the title. (As with our other title related prompts, this alliteration could also be in the subtitle, or in the series title.) Whether this is a two-word title or ten, it’s up to you!

Examples: Love’s Labour’s Lost, Oona Out of Order, Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade, Gone Girl, Black Beauty

Goodreads List: An alliterative title

24. Nordic Noir

What is Nordic Noir? Nordic noir, also known as Scandinavian noir or Scandi noir, is a genre of crime fiction usually written from a police point of view and set in Scandinavia or Nordic countries. (Wikipedia) These feature crime investigations that have dark atmosphere and twisty plot points. They often explore social issues, set amidst a cold Scandinavian backdrop.

Looking for a lighter, creative interpretation? Try a different genre set in a Scandinavian country, or perhaps a short story or novella instead. As always, feel free to ask in our Facebook group for some introductory reads into the genre.

Examples: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Ice Princess, The Chestnut Man, The Snowman, The Forgotten Girls

Goodreads List: Nordic Noir

25. A fashionable character

Pick a story with a character who is considered “fashionable.” This could be a character from any time period or location, fiction or non-fiction. Fashion itself does not have to be integral to the main plot but it could be. You could also choose a memoir by a model, a biography about a fashion icon, a fictional story about a seamstress who starts up her own clothing line, a murder mystery in a clothing boutique, etc. The fashionable character may be the main character, or a secondary character.

Examples: Christmas Shopaholic, House of Gucci, The Seamstress of New Orleans, The Paris Dressmaker, Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon

Goodreads List: A fashionable character

26. Has an epilogue

What is an epilogue? An epilogue is a section of writing at the end of the book that brings further closure to the story. It often explains the fate of the characters and wraps up loose ends.

Epilogues differ from an afterword in the fact that an epilogue is from the character’s perspective, while an afterword is from the author’s. In non-fiction, books may have a “conclusion” (this may be a creative interpretation of the prompt for those who are completing the challenge with non-fiction reads only.)

Examples: Mockingjay, Bel Canto, The Bridgertons Series, The Ways We Hide, The Dark Tower

Goodreads List: Has an epilogue

27. Newbery Medal Winner

The Newbery Medal is awarded to the author of “the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children.” This prompt is for any book that has won a Newbery Medal. Their covers usually have a golden stamp on them, noting that they’ve won.

Alternatively, you could also choose a book that won a “Newbery Honor.” These are also referred to as a Caldecott Medal. These books didn’t win the Newbery Medal but were runners-up. Each year there are as few as zero or have been as many as eight Newbery Honors awarded, providing a broad range of options for almost all genres.

You can find the full list of medal winners and honor winners here.

Examples: When You Trap A Tiger, The Last Cuentista, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, Holes, Bridge to Terabithia

Goodreads List: Newbery Medal Winner

28. Includes a funeral

A funeral is a ceremony (sometimes called a “celebration of life” or a “memorial service”) that honors and memorializes the life of an individual who has died. Funeral practices vary in different cultures, and this will be reflected in your reads. For this prompt, choose any book that includes a funeral. There may be several chapters (or the entire book) designated to this event, or it may only be mentioned in a paragraph or two.

The book picked could be a humorous recounting of a funeral for a pet goldfish, or an emotional story that moves you to tears. It could be for a character who was hated by his family or one who works as a funeral director or mortician (also known as an undertaker.) It could be a non-fiction read about burial practices, or a book that was chosen simply because it has the word “funeral” in the title.

Creatively, you could also choose a book that has a cemetery or hearse on the cover. It’s up to you what extent the book involves a funeral, and whether you want a light read or something heavier.

Examples: After the Funeral, The Iliad, Middlemarch, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons From the Crematory, Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding

Goodreads List: Includes a funeral

29. Sends you down a rabbit hole

For this prompt we’re looking for books with a subject or topic that is so fascinating, you can’t help but want to learn more about it. For example: After reading Michelle McNamara’s book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” I spent hours researching and Googling the Golden State Killer.

It might be the subject of the entire book that “sends you down a rabbit hole” or it may be a fact that’s briefly mentioned but is so fascinating that you can’t stop thinking about it.

Other interpretations: You may have heard this phrase in reference to the Lewis Carroll’s book, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” As a creative interpretation, you could choose to read this classic, or a novel inspired by this book. You might also decide to read a book that features a rabbit burrow on the cover, or rabbits as characters within the story.

Examples: Cradles of the Reich, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Unmasked, Waiting to be Heard, Escape from Camp 14

Goodreads List: Sends you down a rabbit hole

30. An author with a same name as you

Whether it’s your first, last, or middle name, this prompt is for an author that shares your name! Alternate spellings, maiden names, and nicknames are also completely acceptable. If the author publishes under a pseudonym, both their pen name and their legal name is acceptable.

To find authors who share a name with you, we recommend doing a web search, or searching on Goodreads. You are also welcome to ask for specific recommendations in our Facebook group.

Goodreads List: *There is no Goodreads list for this prompt*

31. Set in a workplace

A workplace is a place of employment. For this prompt, pick a book that is set where the character (or characters) work. You may choose a book with a more traditional workplace, such as an office or factory, or pick someplace specifically unique to the world in which your book is set. This prompt could also feature a character who works from home, a memoir of a successful entrepreneur, an expose on the clothing industry, a character who runs their own business, a murder mystery in shop, an office romance, etc. While the entirety of the book doesn’t have to be set in a workplace, the primary setting for this novel should be easily identified as such.

Examples: The Devil Wears Prada, Must Love Books, Attachments, The Firm, The Office

Goodreads List: Set in a workplace

32. Published by Macmillan

Macmillan is a publishing company that operates in over 70 countries and has imprints in the United States, Germany, the UK, Australia, South Africa, and India. Some of their imprints include: Celadon Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Flatiron Books, Macmillan Audio, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, St Martin’s Press, and Tor/Forge. In the UK, Australia, India and South Africa, Macmillan publishes under the Pan Macmillan name.

For this prompt, pick any book published by Macmillan or its imprints.

Examples: The Silent Patient, The Nightingale, Daisy Darker, The Book Eaters, Hester

Goodreads List: Published by Macmillan

33. A banned book

Seen this prompt before? You’re right! This is the very first time in The 52 Book Club history that we are repeating a prompt. (The “banned book” prompt originally appeared on our very first challenge in 2018.) However, we believe that the right to intellectual freedom is an important enough discussion to earn this prompt the distinction of being the first ever to appear on our challenges twice.

What is a banned book? A banned book is one that has been removed from libraries or schools, or banned from specific countries or regions. This is often due to content that is deemed “offensive” or “inappropriate.”

For this prompt, you may choose a book that is currently banned somewhere in the world, or one that was previously banned. It may be banned in a country other than where you live, or closer to home. The American Library Association has an extensive list of banned books, which you can find here.

Examples: The Hate U Give, 1984, The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, Thirteen Reasons Why

Goodreads List: A banned book

34. Featuring mythology

What is mythology? Mythology is the study of myths. Myths are folklore that often feature origin stories or explain some sort of phenomenon. They may involve supernatural beings. They may be built upon fact or could be entirely fictional. Ancient myths and heroes often have symbolic meaning.

For this prompt, you could pick a book that retells or reimagines a classic myth – perhaps from ancient Roman, Greek, or Norse mythology. Mythology may be featured within the main plot or theme, OR it might appear as a secondary one. The prompt might also feature a character who is interested in mythology or who was told specific myths as a child. The book could have the word “mythology,” or the name of a specific myth or mythological creature in the title or subtitle. It may be mythology rooted in our world or in a fantasy world.

Examples: Circe, A Thousand Ships, Ariadne, The Song of Achilles, Daughter of Sparta

Goodreads List: Featuring mythology

35. A book you meant to read last year

This prompt’s an easy one! Simply pick a book that you were planning on reading last year but didn’t actually get around to doing so.

What if I read all the books I’d planned on reading last year? First of all, you deserve a round of applause! If you can’t think of a book you wanted to read in 2022 but didn’t get to yet, just pick a book that you’ve been wanting to read for a long time.

Goodreads List: *There is no Goodreads list for this prompt*

36. Chapters have cliffhangers

What is a cliffhanger? A cliffhanger is a plot device that leaves the reader in suspense. The main character is often left in some sort of dangerous situation or dilemma, or there is a shocking revelation made. When a cliffhanger is done well, it’s so suspenseful that you don’t want to stop reading. It’s the sort of book where you “have to read just one more page to find out what happens next!”

For this prompt, choose a book that has cliffhangers at the end of the chapters. This doesn’t mean that every chapter has to end in a cliffhanger – it’s up to you to decide how many that should be and whether your book pick fits the prompt or not. Alternatively, you could pick a book that has one big cliffhanger at the very end of the book.

Examples: Knife of Never Letting Go, A Torch Against the Night, Moon Chosen, Nancy Drew series,

Goodreads List: Chapters have cliffhangers

37. Written in present tense

What is present tense? Present tense is a grammatical tense that places the events in current time. These books are written with the action happening now. The narrative could take place in first person or third person, but it should not be written in past tense.

Example of present tense: “I walk to the store. They’re out of milk so I buy juice instead.”

Example of past tense: “I walked to the store. They were out of milk so I bought juice instead.”

Many contemporary YA novels are written in present tense, but this style can be found across genres. The book may also include a mix of present and past tense. Want to learn more about books written in present tense? Check out this article from MasterClass.

Examples: The Hunger Games, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Firekeeper’s Daughter, You, The Martian

Goodreads List: Written in present tense

38. An enemies-to-lovers plot

A common trope within the romance genre is an “enemies-to-lovers plot.” This means that the characters start out as enemies (or really dislike each other) but by the end of the book are together romantically. This may be part of the main plot or act as a secondary plot. Likewise, this may involve the main protagonists or include secondary characters. You don’t have to use a romance novel for this prompt. The enemies-to-lovers trope is also found in many other genres as secondary plots.

Examples: The Hating Game, Red White and Royal Blue, The Cruel Prince, Sex and Vanity, The Unhoneymooners

Goodreads List: An enemies-to-lovers plot

39. The final book in a series

Any book that is the final book in a series will count for this prompt. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a series with three books or a series with thirty – as long as the book you’re reading is the last one.

Tip: Don’t have an unfinished series on the go? Save this prompt for later in the year and try to match earlier books in the series to other prompts first. You might also want to try a series with books that double as standalones (many mystery series work this way.)

To stretch the prompt a little, you could also choose a series that hasn’t ended yet but pick the book that has most recently been released. For example:  As I write this, the latest in the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny will be book number eighteen, A World of Curiosities, released November 29, 2022. While the series is not concluded, currently this is the last book in the series.

Examples: Mockingjay, The Last Battle, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, On the Way to the Wedding, Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Goodreads List: The final book in a series

40. Written by a comedian

What is a comedian: A comedian is an entertainer whose act is designed to make an audience laugh. (

This prompt is for any book written by a comedian. They could be a stand-up comedian, an actor or actress who specializes in comedy, a comedy writer, etc. Books fitting this prompt could be memoirs, short stories, or humorous novels by comedians, but they could also be a comedians take on a more serious subject too.

Examples: Born a Crime, Bossypants, Yes Please, Born Standing Up, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama

Goodreads List: Written by a comedian

41. A character who is a refugee

What is a refugee? A refugee is “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.” (Google Dictionary) For this prompt, pick a book that includes a character who is a refugee. This may be the experience of the main protagonist or a secondary character. This is an excellent prompt for both fiction or non-fiction reads. Examples include: a memoir written by a refugee, a collection of short stories about the refugee experience, a book discussing the refugee crisis, or a novel on the subject.  

Examples: The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Exit West, The Boat People, Night of Power, Lubna and Pebble

Goodreads List: A character who is a refugee

42. Time in the title

This title-based prompt is all about time! This could be as simple as picking a book with the actual word “time” in the title, but could also feature any word that acts as a unit of time or describes time. (Examples below.) Some book titles might also write out time in numeric form, for example: The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci.

Examples of time related words: seconds, hour, minute, week, day, month, year, midnight, noon, yesterday, today, tomorrow, eon, era, decade, century, etc.

As with all our title related prompts, this could also apply to a subtitle or the title of a series.

Examples: The Time Traveler’s Wife, Three Seconds, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, A Wrinkle in Time, A Time to Kill

Goodreads List: Time in the title

43. A book “everyone” has read

This prompt is for the books that you’re missing out on! This is for a book that you’ve seen everyone reading – but you haven’t got to yet. This prompt is purely subjective, but some examples may include: popular reads, books on the New York Times Bestsellers lists, books that you see pop up frequently in our Facebook group, etc.

It also doesn’t have to be a book with widespread popularity. You might interpret this prompt as a book that all of your family or friends have read, or a book by a local author that your town can’t stop talking about, etc.

Your definition of something “everyone has read” will also differ from others based on your preferred genres etc, and that’s part of what makes this challenge so fun!

Goodreads List: A book “everyone” has read

44. A contemporary setting

What does a contemporary setting mean? A contemporary setting means that the book is taking place within the present time period. Some books specifically state what year the story is taking place. If it does not, you should be able to guess from the experiences the characters have, and the language and technology they use, whether or not the book is set in a contemporary setting.

It’s up to you to determine how broad of a definition for “contemporary” you want to use. You may decide that the book has to be set in 2023, or you may choose to go with something set five or ten years ago. Historians define “contemporary history” as anything from 1945 onwards, and you may decide to use that as your marker for contemporary fiction.

Creatively, you may choose a book with multiple timelines if at least one of the timelines is contemporary.

Examples: Every Summer After, Beartown, The Midnight Library, A Man Called Ove, People We Meet on Vacation

Goodreads List: A contemporary setting

45. First word in the book is “The”

The only requirement for this prompt is that the first word in the book must be “The.” We would consider this the first word of the story itself, and not count dedications or title pages (although you may decide to do so.) It’s up to you whether or not you decide to count a prologue or forward.

While this is NOT a “title” prompt, some might choose to interpret it that way and pick a title starting with the word “The.” This would fit given that most books have a title page first.

Examples: A Killer in Kings Cove, The Dutch House, Homegoing, The Codebreaker’s Secret, We Are the Brennans

Goodreads List: First word in the book is “The”

46. Script font on the spine

What is a script font? Script font is a style of font that mimics handwriting or traditional cursive writing. For this prompt, we want to see script font on the spine, either as the book title or the author’s name. As long as there is some script font on the spine somewhere, it fits this prompt!

As a reminder, different editions of books will have different styles. You may choose to read this on an e-reader or listen to the book on audio, and that’s completely fine! As long as at least one edition has script font on the spine, it doesn’t matter what your personal copy looks like.

Examples: Elephants Can Remember, The Simple Wild, The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, That Woman

Goodreads List: Script font on spine

47. Set in the city of Dublin

This year, we asked you all to vote for a city you’d most like to see on the 2023 challenge and not only was Dublin our runaway winner, it was also our live draw pick! This is our first year having a specific city on the challenge. While books set in Dublin, Ireland are probably easiest to find, keep in mind that you may pick any book set in “Dublin.” There are numerous towns of “Dublin” spread across the United States, one in Canada, and even ones in Belarus and Australia.

Examples: In The Woods, Dubliners, Normal People, Off the Map, The Green Road

Goodreads List: Set in the city of Dublin

48. A book by Octavia E. Butler

The second prompt we voted on was our author’s prompt. Octavia E. Butler won our random draw of the top three finalists! Octavia was a renowned American science fiction writer who received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as winning a multitude of awards such as the Hugo and Nebula awards. Butler’s work is taught in colleges and universities worldwide, and is currently being adapted for TV.

For this prompt, pick a book written by Octavia E. Butler. You might also choose a short story or novella by Butler like “Bloodchild and Other Stories” or “Unexpected Stories.” Some of Butler’s work has also been adapted into graphic novels (Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaption or Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaption.)

Already read all of her work? To get creative with this prompt, you might choose a book about Octavia E. Butler or a book inspired by her, such as “Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements.”

For creative interpretations of past author’s prompts, individuals have also chosen authors with the same initials, or first or last name, or chosen another author from our original poll.

Examples: Parable of the Sower, Wild Seed, Kindred, Dawn, Fledgling

Goodreads List: A book by Octavia E. Butler

49. Books on the cover

For our third poll, asked you to vote for an item you’d like to see on the cover. Books was the number one pick. Out of our top three finalists, book also won the random draw, and won a spot on this 2023 challenge!

This prompt is straightforward but, as always, has room for creativity. Pick a book with books on the cover! Here are some examples of what that could look like:

  • Books on the cover design
  • The word “books” in the title
  • The word “bookshop” or “bookstore” in the title
  • The above words in the subtitle or series title
  • Author whose last name is “Books” (In any language)
  • A publisher whose logo has books in it

You could also choose to use the singular form of the word books, and use “a book” on the cover or in the title instead. It’s up to you how strict you want to be with interpreting prompts.

Think this is too similar to past prompts? This is actually our first time ever having books on the cover. However, on our 2022 challenge, we did have a prompt “featuring a library or bookstore.” To mix things up, pick a book with books on the cover that’s NOT set in a library or bookstore. Get creative!

Examples: The Messy Life of Book People, The Mayfair Bookshop, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, The Body in the Library, The Blackout Book Club

Goodreads List: Books on the cover

50. Related to the word “Murder”

For our final poll, we asked you to vote for a word-related prompt you’d like to see on our 2023 challenge. “Murder” was the number one vote, and also happened to be the finalist drawn in our random draw.

This prompt is all about murder! Pick a book that somehow relates to the word “murder.”

Examples might include: The word “Murder” in the title, a depiction of murder or a murder weapon on the cover, a true crime novel, a memoir of an individual accused of murder (innocent or not), any book that includes a murder or a character accused or convicted of murder, a story about a book club that reads a murder mystery, etc.

A creative interpretation for this prompt includes a book somehow related to crows. (A group of crows is called a “murder of crows.”)

Think this prompt is too easy? Find a book somehow related to murder but that’s NOT within the mystery, true crime, or thriller genre. Your challenge, your rules! You can make this challenge as difficult as you like!

Examples: Murder on the Orient Express, A Trace of Poison, The Innocent Man, The Guest List, Gin & Daggers

Goodreads List: Related to the word “Murder”

51. Doesn’t fit any of the other 51 prompts

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, a book just won’t fit on your challenge. And that’s exactly what this prompt is for!

Depending on the level of difficulty you want to approach your challenge with, this prompt could either be extremely difficult OR it could be treated as a freebie. For example: The earlier in the year you decide to use this prompt, the more difficult it may be. If you use this prompt for your very first pick, you’ll have to find a book that doesn’t fit any of the other prompts.

However, you could make this prompt easier by saving it for later in the year when you’ve already checked off some of the prompts. (As an example: You might decide to save it for your last prompt, or for when you only have a handful of prompts left. In this interpretation, most of the other prompts have already been used and the specific book in mind “won’t fit” those categories for your personal challenge because they’re no longer available.)

Goodreads List: *There is no Goodreads List for this prompt*

52. Published in 2023

And for our final prompt of 2023, a book published this year! You may be saving this prompt for a special book that you’re been eagerly awaiting, or you may decide to keep this prompt open and “wing it” with a newly published, popular read. This also could be interpreted as a book that’s out in paperback or audio for the first time but was previously published in another format. It’s up to you!

Curious as to what’s coming out?

Examples: What Have We Done, A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes, Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, The Foxglove King, The Mitford Affair

Goodreads List: Published in 2023

Now that we’ve made our way through all of this year’s fifty-two prompts, don’t forget to comment below with any questions or ideas you may have! We can’t wait to dive into another round of books with you!

4 thoughts on “The 52 Book Club’s 2023 Reading Challenge Guide”

  1. Pingback: 2023 Reading Challenges - Best F/X

  2. Pingback: Книга #2: Не плачи вълко – ltinuviel

  3. Thank you for the time you put into making these challenges. I’ve found a new love for reading. It’s been fun reading new authors and genres.

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