Try The 'Reading Without Walls' Challenge This Month

Posted by Cybil on April 7, 2017


Books can take you anywhere and allow you to experience the world (or distant worlds, even) through new eyes. And that's why we're excited about a new event called Reading Without Walls, which challenges readers to explore beyond their usual literary comfort zones.

The rules of this challenge are simple. Just pick your next book using one of these suggestions:

1) Read a book about a character who doesn't look like you or live like you.

2) Read a book about a topic you don't know much about.

3) Read a book in a format that you don't normally read for fun (a graphic novel, a book in verse, or an audiobook).


Beginning this month, Reading Without Walls is planned as an annual event every April. It's meant to expand the range of books children read, but we think it's a great idea for readers of any age. You can check out the Reading Without Walls website more information, reading lists, kids' activity books, and more. And if you want to follow along on social media, check out the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls.

Reading Without Walls began as a pilot program last year when author and comic book artist Gene Luen Yang was appointed National Ambassador of Young People's Literature (you can see Yang announcing the project in the video here). Yang is the author of American Born Chinese, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and many more graphic novels.

We'd love to know how you get out of your reading comfort zones and how that's helped you become a better reader. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Check out more recent blogs:
The Top World War I Books on Goodreads
Atwood Expands The Handmaid's Tale in New Audiobook
The 2017 Hugo Award Finalists Are Here


Comments Showing 1-50 of 115 (115 new)


message 1: by Elinor (new)

Elinor This is Simon cool!


message 2: by Elinor (new)

Elinor *so

Auto correct is evil :)


message 3: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Elinor wrote: "*so

Auto correct is evil :)"


Isn't it the worth?!

*worst*


message 4: by Vincent (new)

Vincent So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


message 5: by Simon (new)

Simon Elinor wrote: "*so

Auto correct is evil :)"


You were right the first time.


message 6: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Simon wrote: "Elinor wrote: "*so

Auto correct is evil :)"

You were right the first time."


Nice!


message 7: by Cat (new)

Cat Vincent wrote: "So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "

10 points to Gryffindor!


message 8: by Chris (new)

Chris How about "Half of a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and then "Americanah " by the same author. Both took me right out of my life and into another world. Highly recommend!


message 9: by Tena (last edited Apr 07, 2017 08:38AM) (new)

Tena I guess I'm an unofficial member of this group! I was very sick in bed last November and signed up for EVERY giveaway I could for 3 days straight... I won a bunch of books and intend to read them all! My only criteria was it came in the mail! I have encountered a wide range of genre & styles & authors this way.


message 10: by MD (new)

MD #1 and #2 are already two of my favorite kinds of books! But the Hugo nominees were just announced so I will be too busy reading those to participate in this challenge. Thousands of readers vote on the Hugos every year. Consider changing the timing for next year?


message 11: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse Vincent wrote: "So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "

Just means you're already refusing to be pigeon-holed in your reading! You could always try a genre that you'd normally avoid.

And now that I've said that, I probably need to go take my own suggestion. Hmm...graphic novel or chick lit? Definitely graphic novel.


message 12: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes Yaaresse wrote: "Vincent wrote: "So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "

Just means you're already refu..."


Give a try to chick lit. You might be surprised!
I read a PNR this month and found an author I would really check again in a genre I've disliked until I read her book. :)


message 13: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Marin I do this all the time for the first two so I guess I'll listen to an audio book since I usually avoid those. There are very few genres or topics that I refuse to read about. My books are much like my music and my dad says my iPod looks like either 6 people or a person with multiple personalities owns it ;)


message 14: by Carol (new)

Carol Nicol Thanks for the recommendation!!

Chris wrote: "How about "Half of a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and then "Americanah " by the same author. Both took me right out of my life and into another world. Highly recommend!"


message 15: by Lynne (new)

Lynne I enjoy sometimes reading about characters very unlike me, or about things I know little about, but I have never "read" anything using an audiobook. I look forward to it and thanks for the challenge :-)


message 16: by David (new)

David Honestly this is just how you should be reading all the time...


Fantastical Geek (Atarashii Sekai) David wrote: "Honestly this is just how you should be reading all the time..."

Yes, it is, and that's how I do it. :D


message 18: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Marin Carol wrote: "Thanks for the recommendation!!

Chris wrote: "How about "Half of a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and then "Americanah " by the same author. Both took me right out of my life and into ano..."

I think both are on my "to read" list. Good suggestions!


message 19: by Sonya (new)

Sonya Audiobooks are great for traveling! Thank you, Cracker Barrel for helping me with that!
Thanks to Goodreads, I have learned to read outside my comfort zone and have found new authors that are now on my favorite lists.
I have always loved to find places, people and topics to escape to outside my current world.
I LOVE this idea and hope that this expands peoples minds and opinions of others and their cultures.


message 20: by Oda Renate (new)

Oda Renate I do that all the time alredy.
There isent that many books that scream "me"(except fangirl by rainbow rowell off course).
Planning on reading Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik soon and as am neither muslim or british that ticks off a lot of boxes.
I do agree its important to read diversly.


message 21: by Merle (new)

Merle Great idea, but I do this all the time, too. It's a challenge to find something that I normally wouldn't read though - maybe a dystopian thriller?


message 22: by Karvendhan (new)

Karvendhan Yeah i'm in...


message 23: by Vee (new)

Vee I pretty much do this often. I was pleasantly surprised when I read Rebbeca Slonit's "Men Explain Things To Me."

If you haven't you should read Gene Luen Yang's "American Born Chinese."


message 24: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Howard I will try this


message 25: by Chris (new)

Chris Evans Vincent wrote: "So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "

Isn't Jim Dale great? :D


message 26: by Okami (new)

Okami Kashikoi What if i already do this on a weekly basis?


message 27: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Marin Okami wrote: "What if i already do this on a weekly basis?"
I know right LOL...except for, in my case, format, because I often don't enjoy audiobooks.


message 28: by Mina (new)

Mina MacGabhann so...I should find an audio book.

I never do those.

Currently reading "IT"...and as I am neither a group of kids, nor a Psychotic Evil Clown...I think that qualifies, right? ;)


message 29: by Charlene (new)

Charlene Well for me 1 and 2 are a done deal but 3 just might be a little bit harder. I am not into verse (poetry is not my thing at all).


message 30: by Dara (last edited Apr 07, 2017 12:47PM) (new)

Dara Harvey Vincent wrote: "So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "

Thank you, I agree. I don't get the need for this. We don't all read books because they have characters that "look like me," etc.


message 31: by Gabija (new)

Gabija I already read both ebooks and paper books, I love verse AND novels AND non-fiction, and I do listen to an occasional audiobook every year, and read through a manga once in three months or so. There's nowhere to go in terms of format for me, haha. As for the content and characters - I'm a 27-year-old Lithuanian woman currently reading about a struggling middle-aged male Icelandic sheep farmer in the first half of 20th century. Nothing has ever felt so alien, haha.


message 32: by Dara (last edited Apr 07, 2017 01:02PM) (new)

Dara Harvey "Reading without walls," seriously? I read as a hobby, and choose books I enjoy - doesn't matter what genre, what the characters look like, or if it pertains to something I'm already familiar with. What matters is good writing, and whether I can learn something from it.


message 33: by Jeanny (last edited Apr 07, 2017 01:28PM) (new)

Jeanny This is an interesting concept. I can see how it be beneficial for the originally intended group. I think exposing a child to a variety of concepts & "reading" materials is always a positive. It may even facilitate concepts & diversity.
Children are impressionable & reading about a topic they may not have been interested in or had prior knowledge of &/or reading about an adverse group of individuals, culturally different MC etc would be a great learning experience for a child. Kudus to the #readingwithoutwalls project.


message 34: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Sounds like fun! I have never listened to an audio book or read a graphic novel. Let the challenge begin!!!


message 35: by Katsuro (new)

Katsuro I'm a huge weeaboo, so I already read lots and lots of Japanese books. That's 1) taken care of. For 2), I'll read the last part of Shigeru Mizuki's history of the Shōwa era. For 3), I guess an ebook will do.


message 36: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Currently listening to In a Dark, Dark Wood, which I'm really enjoying so far. That's an audio book, as well as set in the UK...#1 and #3 covered!

I like audio books for stories set in foreign places. I recently read The Vow: A Novel, and listening along as I read was very helpful with all the Polish.


message 37: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Newhouse Elinor wrote: "This is Simon cool!"

Reminds me of FanGirl, so I think autocorrect actually was awesome this time. Lol.


message 38: by Mary (new)

Mary For those of you who already read across the whole range of genres, including verse, by a range of authors from all ages, language groups, and experiences, and top that off by experiencing those stories in various media including the written word, manga and audiobooks, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You are a very fortunate group. However to generalise from your experience to the assumption that this group is unnecessary seems somewhat premature. I think there are still a few readers who will find this challenge useful.

It is a long time since I have read a book in verse. I'd love some recommendations. And I've never read a Manga book so recommendations there would also be great.

Thanks to Gene Luen Yang for the inspiration and for caring about young readers and to Goodreads and the moderators for the Challenge.


message 39: by Kyla (new)

Kyla Vincent wrote: "So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "

I love you so much and I don't even know you hahaha


message 40: by Kyla (new)

Kyla Tiffany wrote: "I do this all the time for the first two so I guess I'll listen to an audio book since I usually avoid those. There are very few genres or topics that I refuse to read about. My books are much like..."

HAHAHAHA me too


message 41: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Marin Kingsley wrote: "This is so hard. I like to know a lot about my book before reading, I don't really like graphic novels, and I can't get an audiobook, What do I do!"

What kind of books do you like to read, Kingsley?


message 42: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Well...I certainly wish I'd known about this..... I recently read a poetry book....written more like a story..but still poetry. Defintely out of my realm. But I enjoyed it immensely.


message 43: by Michael (new)

Michael I may do an audio but no guarantee, not a fan of it at all.


message 44: by Karen M (last edited Apr 07, 2017 04:16PM) (new)

Karen M Coincidently I'm reading A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood. Male, gay, British, college professor living & teaching in California, nope, I'm none of those so this one fits! LOL #1 is really easy for me anyway, next book up is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini also a #1.


message 45: by Tiffany (last edited Apr 07, 2017 04:21PM) (new)

Tiffany Marin LOL I'm currently reading a couple that fit # 1. I'm reading Chameleon to review. I'm not a teenaged girl in a Catholic school who got expelled for conducting a seance at my last school and I'm also reading Under Our Skin, I'm not black, male, or a football player for the NFL (how cool would that be though?). Though I am a HUGE fan of him and his team


message 46: by Vincent (new)

Vincent Yaaresse wrote: "Vincent wrote: "So, what if, and hear me out, I'm already doing 3 of the 3? I'm a 45 year old black man currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. "

Just means you're already refu..."


Definitely graphic novel!


message 47: by Superbambi (new)

Superbambi I was gonna post a comment about how I think I already did these things, but a better analysis of, say, the books I've read since the beginning of the year don't really agree with it.

1) I'm not American or European, but I feel like by reading American or European literature I'm not necessarily exposing myself to characters or authors that are/look different, or have hugely different backgrounds. Ton of white authors, ton of, you know, not really Anglo-Saxon, but but nothing about the immigrant experience, either. I don't read nearly enough books by African or Asian authors. The last one I can really think of is A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, but that was years ago. I'm currently reading Lady of Palenque : Flower of Bacal, Mesoamerica, A.D. 749, by Anna Kirwan, which is about a Mayan princess, but the author sure isn't Mayan. Sure, I read a ton of books by German authors, but that's pretty much my life, so it's not anything new to me (apart from A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary, that was different).

2) I'm not doing too well in that department, either. I mostly read fiction, and in that category I mostly read thrillers/mystery/crime novels. Noah by Sebastian Fitzek was a mind-opening read. Otherwise, all the nonfiction I've read lately seems to be about things I'm already interested in. Linguistics (Wordsmiths & Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain, by David Crystal), German History (A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary and Anna Funder's Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall)... I have one book lined up about the Celts, and another about Ireland, but then again, even if those aren't things I've any knowledge about, they're things I'm interested in, so I'm not straying too far from the beaten path and picking up surprising things. Hmm.

3) I pretty much only read printed books. I'm completely unable of following audiobooks (I really can't focus), and the time I tried to read Kim Thuy's Ru is pretty much the reason why I don't read e-books. It's been a billion years since I've last read prose, and by a billion I mean like 5. So maybe I should get to that, as I already enjoy graphic novels, or maybe I should read classics? Those are the nemesis of those with short attention spans...

All in all, I thought I was pretty bamf, but turns out I could do more.


message 48: by Milos (new)

Milos Korenev Seems like an appropriate time to finally take The God of Small Things off the shelf.
Also, Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Volume 1, because I haven't read a manga in ages and this one has been on my to-read list since high school.


message 49: by Emkoshka (new)

Emkoshka I'm currently reading my way through the (small) oeuvre of Mohsin Hamid, a Pakistani author. I started with Exit West (a Goodreads suggestion!) and then devoured The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in an outsider's perspective on America post-9/11. Have also just downloaded an electronic copy of a book set in Libya during the 1970s, In the Country of Men, which I'm looking forward to reading.

I read widely across genres, genders and race, but seem to eschew books that depict characters and stories involving my own social identity as a white, middle-class, young woman (as featured in lots of chick lit). It's a bit ironic, but I just can't relate to those characters and their issues. Does anyone else have that experience?


L.  (Lobster Thermidor Snatching Wench) Elinor wrote: "This is Simon cool!"

I'm going to start saying that now and make people wonder what I mean.


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