Design a site like this with
Get started

Backpacking Bookworm’s 2021 Reading Challenge

After spending a great deal of 2020 creating a 2021 reading journal, it didn’t quite come to fruition (for which I’ll place heavy blame on COVID plus a severe lack in graphic design skills). I do still plan on pushing out a 2022 one but until then, I wanted to share one of the pages I’d created: a year-long reading challenge 🙌 After taking part in The Uncorked Librarian’s 2020 reading challenge, I was really keen to try my own. I’ll still be taking part in Uncorked Reading Challenge 2021 but who doesn’t love juggling a hundred books a month??

So without further ado – ta da!

Let’s break it down.

January – a character with a disability

In an effort to expand my reading, I choose many of my books based on culture, representation, and diversity. Seeing disability positively represented in fiction is something that I really want to explore more of. I’m still working on my blog categories but I currently have one that covers disability and mental health (you can choose either for your January read). Here’s a dedicated blog post with some other recommended reads.

Books I recommend in this category include:

February – a book set in Afghanistan

I’ve been drawn to books set in this country ever since I first read The Kite Runner as a literature student. I’m captivated by the vibrant settings contrasted with the desolation caused by war, the culture and women’s rights (or lack of), and the strict Taliban regime.

Here’s a book list with some suggestions that include four of my favourites:

March – a book that celebrates diversity

This prompt is super vague for a reason – there are so many diverse books out there right now that I didn’t want to spotlight a country/culture/race/history in particular. This one is yours for the taking. Good luck narrowing it down!

Check out the ever-growing book list which includes:

April – a book that teaches you something new

I love coming across a novel that is educational as well as fictional. I’m talking anything from hedgehogs and bee-keeping to taxidermy and piano tuning. I LOVE IT. So much so that I wrote a book list on books that teach you something new with the help of some of my favourite Bookstagrammers and had to add it to my reading challenge. Need a starting point? Check out some of my favourites:

May – personified animal characters

I wasn’t quite sure how to phrase this prompt but it’s basically animals that are given a voice or personality. As someone who isn’t a huge animal lover, I’ve sure read a lot of animal-related books recently and I’m slowly converting. Maybe next year I’ll be living on a farm surrounded by 100 pets – watch this space.

Anthropomorphic books you’ll find on May’s reading list:

June – a book in epistolary, diary, or journal format

Another thing I love in a book is a format that is a little out of the ordinary. I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for the first time in 2020 and loved the letter format – something that shouldn’t work but absolutely did. So this is definitely something I want to explore more of in 2021.

Here’s a selection of what’s on the full list:

July – Indigenous characters and cultures

Since moving to Australia, I’ve seen a lot of books locally that celebrate Indigenous culture and I really want to expand my knowledge here. It’s not something I see very often on Instagram so I wanted to spotlight it in this challenge and encourage others to expand their learning too. So far, I’ve only read Shauna’s Great Expectations by Kathleen Loughnan and I loved it. I highly recommend checking out LoveOzYa which has a huge list of Indigenous reads to choose from.

My anticipated reads:

Check out the full list which also includes books on Native American and Inuit cultures.

August – a children’s classic

There is nothing better than rediscovering a book you adored as a child and reading it as an adult. Unless you’re discovering the book for the first time as an adult – that’s also pretty special. I have made a big effort to read more children’s literature this year because I missed out on a few gems and they give me all the nostalgic feels. Also this doesn’t have to be a classic classic – just a children’s book of your choice.

Here are some of my childhood/adult favourites that have made the shortlist:

Fancy some non-fiction? Check out these educational children’s books.

September – historical fiction based on true events

I’m always drawn to books that are set during WW2 but I wanted to open this prompt to any time in history to expand the options. The book you choose can be set in any country, from any period, as long as it is based on or inspired by a true event.

Here are some I’ve read and recommend:

See the full list ➡️

October – Nordic noir

By October, we’ll be more than ready to embrace the Halloween vibes which is why I picked Nordic noir for this month’s prompt. Described by Goodreads as ‘dark, gritty mysteries with a Scandinavian setting,’ Nordic noir is like a thriller, but on steroids. I’ve only read The Chestnut Man and I’m Traveling Alone but both were top reads.

Here are some on my list:

See what else made the Nordic shortlist.

November – learn about a new culture

Last year, I read a few books that I never would have picked up in the past because they were out of my comfort zone and they absolutely opened my eyes. One of my favourite cultures to explore was Iceland, thanks to The Uncorked Challenge and a lockdown that left me at home with my range of Icelandic picks (my top recommendation here is The Glass Woman). I also read and loved The Night Tiger which covered Malaysian folklore.

Cultural books on my TBR:

Head to the full list ➡

December – character embarking on a journey

For the few that make it this far (hi mum), what better way to end the year than with a good old character journey. The options are endless with this one – will you go for a journey of self-discovery, a physical epic journey, a time-travelling twist or a classic road trip?

Here are my mixed bag of recommendations:

And that’s a wrap! Thank you so much to those who are joining me, don’t forget to use the hashtag #bbReadingChallenge2021 so I can see you posts 😊 Here’s to our best year of reading yet 🥂


10 responses to “Backpacking Bookworm’s 2021 Reading Challenge”

  1. Amazing recommendation.
    Some are already part of my TBR so that’s great!
    Some are haha potential buddy reads for you and I , (i hope) thank you for putting this together!


    1. Yayyy that’s awesome! Definitely up for some buddy reading, let me know which ones you have so we can plan!


  2. […] Backpacking Bookworm’s 2021 Reading Challenge @ Backpacking Bookworm – A category for each month, many of which cover diversity. […]


  3. […] Backpacking Bookworm’s 2021 Reading Challenge. Read a book each month for the […]


  4. this looks like a fun challenge i will be adding it to my stash of too many but at least it helps to diversify and read more than just my go to cozy mysteries 🙂
    i’ll track at my blog


    1. That’s awesome news Traci! I will follow your blog now, look forward to seeing how you go 😊


  5. […] Backpacking Bookworm’s 2021 Reading Challenge. Read a book each month for the […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: