This is the fifth year that we’ve done the Travel Reading List Challenge and we’re excited about it every single year. The Challenge was founded by Mary Jo Manzanares out of a love of reading and curiosity for the world – and as a means of exploring new topics, writers, and points of view. It’s also a way to decide what to queue up on the Kindle so there’s always something to read while traveling.
The reading challenge is designed for those who love travel and who love to read. For people who have a curiosity about the world around them, those who are always looking for their next great read (whether picking it up in an airport bookstore or finding wi-fi to download to their Kindle), those who want more ideas about what to read, and those who want to explore the world in person and through a good book. Now that we’re back traveling again, a book is both a travel companion and a window to unexplored worlds.
The basic reading challenge has a pace of two books per month, for a yearly total of 24 books. The advanced portion of the reading challenge adds on another six books, bringing the yearly total to 30 books.
The challenge is self-paced. Read what you want, when you want. There’s no order you must follow. Feel free to interpret the list in any way you wish, choosing the type of books that you think you will enjoy. However, we also hope you’ll be encouraged to try some new authors, and genres, and will add new voices to your reading list – that’s part of the fun of the challenge, expanding your view of the world around you.
Your hosts for the 2023 reading challenge are:
Mary Jo Manzanares – Mary Jo is an avid traveler and reader. With a bag always packed, and a Kindle always full of books to read, she and her husband travel the world in search of value luxury destinations and experiences. She loves historical fiction, biographies, and debut authors. Mary Jo enjoys the reading challenge as a way to discover new authors and books that wouldn’t typically be on her to-read list. She likes finding books set in places she’s been, and places she’s going to and loves getting ideas from other book lovers in the Challenge Facebook group. Mary Jo is the author of Secret Seattle, and blogs at Traveling with MJ and Discovering Washington State.
Carol Guttery – Carol is the chief wordsmith for the travel website Wayfaring Views where she helps her readers explore beyond the obvious. She also helps travelers explore California with California Crossings, and writes about books and book clubs on Libromaniacs. Carol is a first-class book nerd and a recovering bookseller. She believes that travel and reading are intrinsically connected and all her trips are paired with a reading list. She’s a big fan of fiction and loves dystopic stories like Station Eleven, hacker fiction like Alif the Unseen, and books about bookstores like The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. Carol’s goal for the reading challenge is to stretch into some new genres and get ideas for her ever-expanding TBR (to be read) list.
Like you, both of us are starting the challenge from scratch and we’ll be tackling the challenge right along with you. We will be updating our selections here throughout the year, and providing suggestions and recommendations in our Facebook group.
We also have a reading challenge set up on StoryGraph. You can find it here, or click on search challenges and search for “2023 Travel Reading List Challenge.”
For suggestions of what to read, lively discussions about our favorite books, and recommendations of what to take along on your next trip, please join our Facebook Group. We are directing all discussions, comments, and questions about the reading challenge to that group. And don’t worry, we keep the talk general to avoid spoilers. Please join us!
You can also sign up for our newsletter here. We anticipate quarterly updates with recommendations on what to read, new releases, and more. Of course, we say that every year and it seems we are too busy reading to send out a newsletter. We’ll try to be better about that in 2023.
Basic Challenge (an average of two books per month)
- A book that has had a movie/TV adaptation.
- A book by or about a chef.
- A book that includes time travel
- A book set in New England
- A book set in the South Pacific
- A book set in Spain
- A book set in a former Soviet bloc country
- A book that takes place over a holiday (not Christmas)
- A book about friends.
- A book featuring mermaids
- A book set on borderlands (real, magical, or imagined)
- A book featuring an arranged marriage
- A book with a two-word title
- A book in a genre that you seldom read.
- A book set in a healthcare setting
- A book set on a plane, train, or automobile
- A book with a character who’s a veteran
- A book with a character who’s a teacher
- A book set in a coffee shop or about coffee
- A book with a protagonist over 50
- A book with a rural setting
- A book set in a bookstore
- A book set in a time period you know little about.
- A book about a hobby or skill
Advanced Challenge (an additional six books)
- A book with a red cover
- A book that is Southern noir
- A book set in a country that you aren’t keen to visit
- A book set in winter
- A book set on or about a boat
- A book set on or with an island theme
Click on the link below for a printable check-off list and keep track of the books you are reading in the challenge.