Get Ready for the Ultimate Summer Reading Challenge

Posted by Cybil on May 14, 2018
This summer, take your 2018 Reading Challenge to the next level! We asked Lori Hettler, the founder and moderator of The Next Best Book Club, to create two exclusive summer reading challenges just for you. She’s also sharing her favorite indie reads and spilling her secrets on how to run a successful book club. You can download a PDF of the challenges here. Happy reading!


Goodreads: You moderate one of the largest book clubs on Goodreads, The Next Best Book Club, with more than 17,000 members and a motto of “Feeding your reading addiction, one book at a time.” What have you learned about people’s reading habits and how to successfully recommend books through your work on TNBBC?

Lori Hettler: It’s certainly not a surprise to hear that everyone reads differently. Some people read for pure enjoyment, some for growth and development. Some readers stick to one or two favorite genres, others read more diversely. Some read competitively, tracking and charting their reading, while others read solely for themselves.

But no matter how people choose to read, one thing has always been very clear to me: Readers love to interact with other readers. And that’s part of what’s made TNBBC so successful. We’ve created a welcoming, comfortable space on Goodreads for readers to engage with one another in a variety of ways.

Goodreads: Every year, you create a new reading challenge for your book club, with this year’s theme of Read Whatever The F*** You Want and last year’s challenge of the David Bowie Reading Challenge. Why would you recommend that people try a reading challenge? What goes into a successful reading challenge?

LH: Reading challenges really stretch you as a reader. Not only are they a great way to track and categorize your reading, but if you let them, they’ll pull you out of your comfort zone and get you picking up books you might not have done so otherwise.

I think the most successful reading challenges are the ones that focus on building in fun tasks and flexibility—seasonal challenges with specific themes, year-long challenges like the Goodreads Reading Challenge that allows you to set your own goal and pace, and challenges that incorporate books you already own but haven’t read yet. At TNBBC, I’ve had a blast over the past couple of years designing reading challenges out of a musician’s or band’s entire discography, using the song titles and lyrics to build reading tasks that anyone could complete, regardless of their familiarity with the music itself.





Goodreads: You are known for your passion for independent books and small presses. Where does that passion come from, and can you recommend some of your current favorite independent reads?

LH: My love for small press and self-published books began as a happy accident in the mid-2000s, and believe it or not, Goodreads played a pretty big role in that. I had run out of things to read and became tired of picking up the same big names and big listed titles as everyone else. Frustrated that that’s all the bookstores seemed to sell, I turned to the internet to try to uncover books that no one else was reading, and ultimately stumbled upon Goodreads in 2007. Through the site, I quickly discovered authors like Ben Tanzer, M. Clifford, and D.R. Haney and fell in love. After reading and reviewing their work, we were able to connect here with one another directly, and they began recommending I check out books from some of their favorite authors. It really started to take root from there.

Honestly, prior to those first few interactions, I hadn’t paid much attention to who was publishing what and didn’t understand the hierarchy of imprints. Now, 99.9 percent of what I read is published through amazing small press communities.

Asking a reader to recommend some of their favorite books is such a daunting question! There are so many books that are worthy of recommendation, but based on who is asking and what their usual reading preference is, my choices would vary. Here are a few that jump to mind pretty immediately:

Novels: Each Vagabond by Name by Margo Orlando Littell (University of New Orleans Press); Above All Men by Eric Shonkwiler (Mg Press); The Alligators of Abraham by Robert Kloss (Mud Luscious Press); My Only Wife by Jac Jemc (Dzanc Books); The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell (Two Dollar Radio); A Long Curving Scar Where the Heart Should Be by Quintan Ana Wikswo (Stalking Horse Press); A Shelter of Others by Charles Dodd White (Fiddleblack Press).

Poetry: Even Though I Don’t Miss You by Chelsea Martin (Short Flight/Long Drive Books); Panic Attack, USA by Nate Slawson (YesYes Books); Injecting Dreams into Cows by Jessy Randall (Red Hen Press); The Waiting Tide by Ryan W. Bradley (Concepcion Books).

Goodreads: It seems that everyone wants to read more books! What advice do you have for would-be voracious readers?

LH: Don’t stop reading, and push your comfort zones! Always keep a book around—in your bag, on your nightstand, and in your office drawer for coffee and lunch breaks. Tap into the power of a book buddy for motivation—someone you can team-read with, someone who will tackle the same reading challenges with you, or join a book club. And don’t be afraid to try different formats—listen to audiobooks during your work commute or while you do chores around the house; sneak in a chapbook or poetry book if you find yourself slogging through the novel you’re currently reading, just to break things up a bit; download ebooks when they are on sale and load up that Kindle app; and keep a short story collection close at hand for times when you’re not ready to commit to a longer read.

The most important thing is to Just. Keep. Reading!


Comments Showing 1-50 of 182 (182 new)


message 1: by Rajiv (new)

Rajiv This sounds like so much fun! I'm in for the beginner level :D


message 2: by Irfken (new)

Irfken Rajiv wrote: "This sounds like so much fun! I'm in for the beginner level :D"

I agree, this does sound fun. I'm usually a mess when it comes to reading challenges but this seems surprisingly doable. I have a lot of TBR books that fit a lot of the descriptions.


message 3: by Matthew (new)

Matthew thinking about doing this!


message 4: by Leorah (new)

Leorah Ooof this will be a challenge!


message 5: by Leo (new)

Leo I love the challanges...

...but here, "summer" is considered July to August, so technically I'm already one month behind schedule... :( ;)


message 6: by Shorouk (new)

Shorouk Abd Elhamed I think I will give it a try. That sounds fun.


message 7: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I like this!!


Lucy (LucyinBooktopia) Going to join! :D
The beginner level is something for me


message 9: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Murray Help! Looking for fishing/fisherman & great wide open books for June. Suggestions?


message 10: by Serena (last edited May 14, 2018 02:07PM) (new)

Serena Lauren wrote: "Help! Looking for fishing/fisherman & great wide open books for June. Suggestions?"

Lauren-books with fishing

the girls guide to hunting and fishing by Melissa Bank


for wide open spaces-try a book about a cruise(Oceans are wide open space)

so-the girl in cabin 10 by ruth ware

The Power Trip by Jackie collins



The Perfect storm a true story of men against sea will get you both-fishermen and open space in one spot


message 11: by Serena (new)

Serena I wanna suggest

Final Girls-for a campfire read or It

for a book you can finish in one day? try James Patterson BookShots

and for adults who wanna try the fairy tale spin off

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/1...

if your ok venturing into young adult books for a bit-it has a selection to choose from


message 12: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I'm definitely gonna do this.


message 13: by Zohal (new)

Zohal When it's almost Winter over here instead of Summer ... :)


message 14: by Riya (new)

Riya Agarwal This is SO cool...it's going to be a hard summer :D


message 15: by Nanly (new)

Nanly I never bother to click on the GR logos for events, but these Summer Reading Challenges seem like so much fun! <3


message 16: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow Lauren wrote: "Help! Looking for fishing/fisherman & great wide open books for June. Suggestions?"

The Fishermen


message 17: by Surupa (new)

Surupa Mukhopadhyay Would love to take on this challenge! <3


message 18: by Erika (new)

Erika I'm willing to give it a try...


message 19: by Kmbudzick1008 (new)

Kmbudzick1008 I might give it a go i don't know


message 20: by Rafaela (new)

Rafaela Faraguna I'll try the expert level...


message 21: by Carla (new)

Carla It seems fun! So I'm going for the beginner level :P
Can someone help me find a book that features summer recipes or outdoor summer activities? I looked but... Any suggestions?


message 22: by Ana (new)

Ana Leorah wrote: "Ooof this will be a challenge!"

That is my favorite word off everyone says it all my school to so it makes it special too.


message 23: by Margot (new)

Margot Sounds fun ! Gonna do what I do every time : Am gonna try and fail to do it !


message 24: by Caitlyn (new)

Caitlyn Sweet. Might give the Expert Level a shot.


message 25: by Lori (new)

Lori Lauren wrote: "Help! Looking for fishing/fisherman & great wide open books for June. Suggestions?"

Hi Lauren,

For "the great wide open" you could give Hernan Diaz's In the Distance a shot. Or The Revenant by Michael Punke. Fallen Land by Taylor Brown and Mesilla by Robert James Russell would also fit the bill.


message 26: by Beza (new)

Beza Addis I kind of wish there was something in between the beginner level and the expert one. But this still looks fantastic!


message 27: by Ethlenn (new)

Ethlenn Doing the expert level this year.


message 28: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Chris wrote: "Lauren wrote: "Help! Looking for fishing/fisherman & great wide open books for June. Suggestions?"

How about Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea?"

exactly what I was thinking, plus re-reading a classic!


message 29: by Sharon (new)

Sharon I like this challenge a lot, but think I am going to do a hybrid of both the beginner and expert...thanks for sharing


message 30: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Lauren wrote: "Help! Looking for fishing/fisherman & great wide open books for June. Suggestions?"

Ahab's Wife, or The Star Gazer - Historical fiction
Any of the Master and Commander books by Patrick O'Brien -- historical fiction
Kon-Tiki -- adventure classic...also would double for the translated from another language book
The Old Man and the Sea - classic
Jaws - pulpy over-the-top suspence
Big Fish - speculative fic (Has fishing, but it is in a pond)
The Sea Wolf - over-the-top chilller/murder pulp (great fun, but just too-too much)
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - not even sure what to call this. It's non-fic, but the whole escapade was crazy.
I wouldn't suggest anyone read Moby Dick, but there is Zomby Dick, The Undead Whale - obviously parody.
Voices in the Ocean -- about dolphins. Lots of "wide open" in it. Also great read.

And I'd think anything about pirates would count. :)


message 31: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Beza wrote: "I kind of wish there was something in between the beginner level and the expert one. But this still looks fantastic!"

agreed, I am going to combine and mix the 2 to make my own challenge... Intermediate would be perfect


message 32: by Nadja (new)

Nadja Miller I think I want to try this. Anything fishing is usually out of my comfort zone


message 33: by Cendaquenta (new)

Cendaquenta Oh I am so definitely IN!
So are we starting now, or is it only June-August?


message 34: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Hayward Sounds fun! When does it start?


message 35: by Kristina (new)

Kristina Burke Why not, this year I am already almost to my Goodreads Challenge Goal (46/60). Doing the Book Riot Challenge with book club, but some of these categories are the same or similar. But some look fun. Won't probably try to do them by the month, only because I have a certification test at the end of July, so most of my summer will be spent studying, so not sure I will get that many books read that month!


message 36: by Diana (new)

Diana Thomsen I'm totally in for Expert. Although I'll say up front that I'm probably going to skip "Campfire Story" since I do NOT like being scared. Maybe if it's a "scary" book for kids, I'd be okay, but this challenge isn't worth nightmares!

As for the rest of the challenges, they are going to stretch me, for sure. A book about nudists? Ummm...okay! lol


Lucy (LucyinBooktopia) Anyone got any ideas for poetry? The Sun and Her Flowers is not an option because I will be reading it for a readthon this month (which means not in the summer)
But please tell me if you have any ideas
Lucy


message 38: by Ana (new)

Ana Hey I think we should put a link out for everyone to vote on the books that we should read over the summer and the most votes that we have for a certain book we should start reading. And here are some good books read thread sisters, wonder, number the stars, love Gelato, almost home. If you have any questions please send me a message on goodreads and I would not mind if people start following me because I’m in need of more followers.


message 39: by Brielle (new)

Brielle help! looking for "father knows best" books and please (if you have time) search through my to-read shelf since i want to complete this challenge from books off my tbr only! thanks!


message 40: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra Yaaaaaaaaaaas!


message 41: by Cendaquenta (new)

Cendaquenta Brielle wrote: "help! looking for "father knows best" books and please (if you have time) search through my to-read shelf since i want to complete this challenge from books off my tbr only! thanks!"

I'd like to help, but your profile's private, so people can't look at your shelves.


message 42: by Topher (new)

Topher Colin hmm.. 'expert level' sounds more like beginner level for those of us who already read from all over the genres, formats, timelines, author backgrounds etc. is there a secret magical hidden door for a room that contains a scroll with more of a challenge?


message 43: by Brielle (new)

Brielle Cendaquenta wrote: "Brielle wrote: "help! looking for "father knows best" books and please (if you have time) search through my to-read shelf since i want to complete this challenge from books off my tbr only! thanks!..."

rightttt, thank you for telling me that! i ended up finding a book "Life in a Fishbowl"


message 44: by Carla (new)

Carla Chris wrote: "Carla wrote: "It seems fun! So I'm going for the beginner level :P
Can someone help me find a book that features summer recipes or outdoor summer activities? I looked but... Any suggestions?"

If y..."


Thanks Chris! :)


message 45: by Sherrie (new)

Sherrie Hi,
Joined your group The Next Best Book Club, I would love to join in on The Summer Reading Challenge. I'll be trying for the Beginner Level. Sounds like lots of fun. Have a great day!


message 46: by Mae (new)

Mae Just one quick question, can a book count for more than one topic?


message 47: by Raven (new)

Raven I was just thinking of joining some type of read-a-thon for the summer. This is perfect.


message 48: by Melissa (new)

Melissa This sounds like a lot of fun. As someone commented above, I’m also a mess when it comes to themed challenges, but this does sound absolutely doable. I read the article and had the PDF pages printIing practically before I was finished reading the last interview question. Thank you Goodreads and Lori Hettler. Great interview and this is going to be fun. I needed a huge push of motivation and found it here. Very cool!


Latanya (CraftyScribbles) I'll pick a few of these as some prompts don't interest me (e.g. the great wide open).


message 50: by Anna (new)

Anna Definitely 'beginner level' for me. I've never been a fast reader but I hope this summer will be my best Reading Summer yet.


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