Reading. It should be a means of escape. A way to unwind after a long day of reality. A way to curl up with a tasty beverage and relax.

It’s not! It’s a means to win things and to beat out the competition!!!

Well, in the summer anyway.

Summer Reading Programs – Bring it On!!

Each summer libraries across the U.S. conduct summer reading programs. This started out as a way to make sure the kiddies kept up their reading skills and didn’t get too stupid over their school break.

But then the adults said, “Hey, we don’t want to get stupid either…. And we wouldn’t mind getting in on some of those prizes.” And so the Adult Summer Reading Challenge was born (please don’t cite that as being historically accurate).

Each summer my local library offers up a basic summer reading program where you fill out a slip for each book you read (or listen to), then there’s a weekly drawing for a prize of a gift card to independent book stores or locally-owned restaurants.

In addition to the basic program, my library tempts my hunger for prizes with an additional “focussed” challenge in which the evil evil EVIL librarians force you to read genres outside your comfort zone.

It may be tough, but the prize is far more substantial than the basic summer reading program.

Bring it on!!

Counting Down the Challenge

This year’s challenge?

Read the Dewey Decimal system.

Honestly, this notion was rather disappointing because the overall theme of this year’s Summer Reading across the U.S. is “A Universe of Stories.” It seems only right that they should have made the challenge to read books with a Solar System theme (The Martian, Dispatches from Pluto, The Pillars of the Earth, you get the idea).

Sigh, when will the world start consulting me on these important matters?

Oh Well, Challenge Accepted

Despite my disappointment, all anyone needs to say is, “There might be a prize” and I’m all in.

So, in addition to my usual strategy for the basic Summer Reading Program (namely to save up my shortest books for the summer months and blaze through them until my eyes burst), I’ve also been slogging my way through the Dewey Decimal System.

In Case You Don’t Know

The Dewey Decimal System is a method of organizing books by subject matter. The main groupings are by 100s, then you narrow down the topics by tens, ones, and, yep you guessed it, by decimal places.

Because it’s not terribly interesting to anyone but librarians, I’ll leave it up to you if you want to delve more deeply into the topic (if so, you can read more HERE).

Anyway, Back to the Challenge

I’m already a winner!

No, I’m not being cheesy by saying I’m a winner for reading. I really am a winner!

Last week I got a call from the library saying I’d won one of the weekly prizes for the basic Summer Reading program. It was a tough decision to pick which gift card I wanted, but, since I just stocked up on a huge stack of books at the annual library book sale (see the treasure trove HERE if you missed it), I opted for the gift card to a restaurant owned by one of my neighbors.

As for the Dewey Decimal Challenge. I have survived the ordeal!! I just finished my final book a few days ago and I am GLAD to see the back of this feat of endurance.

I do enjoy reading about a wide array of topics from history to language to science, but some of these categories were ones I would have never touched. Which, I guess was the point of the challenge: forcing readers out of their comfort zones.

Because honestly, if there hadn’t been prizes involved, I’d have gladly stayed in my normal reading sphere.

Here’s where the challenge has taken me (the titles are links if you want to learn more about the book)…

  • 0-99 = Emergence by Steven Johnson (I LOVE Steven Johnson’s books, but this one was a terrible example of his normally fluid ability to connect ideas.)
  • 100-199 = Ghostland by Colin Dickey (this ended up being really disappointing, I mean how on earth do you make ghost stories completely boring?)
  • 200-299 = The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (not my cup of tea, but it was very cute)
  • 300-399 = The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama (remember when we had a U.S. president who could form and articulate coherent thoughts?)
  • 400-499 = Living Language Conversational French (bit of prep for an upcoming trip to France this fall)
  • 500-599 = Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (okay, I’ve already read this a couple times, but it’s really good)
  • 600-699 = The Perfectionists by Simon Winchester (ugh, this was very dry but there were a few interesting bits about the limits of how precise our engineering has become)
  • 700-799 = Absolutely Fabulous by Jennifer Saunders (this full script of Season 1 had me laughing my bum off, sweetie darling!!!)
  • 800-899 = Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (Excellent guide to novel planning)
  • 900-999 = From Mist & Stone: The History & Lore of the Celts & Vikings by George Stone (Celts, Vikings, history, and plenty of pictures…who could ask for more?)

The winners of the prizes for the Dewey Decimal challenge won’t be drawn until the end of August, so keep your fingers crossed!!!

What about you? Does your library have a summer reading program for kids and/or adults? Have you participated? Do you ever pick up books outside your reading comfort zone? Drop a comment in the box below and tell me what you’ve been reading lately.

I’ll be back next week with a peek at my writing numbers for July. See you then!!

Don’t Forget Your FREE Books!!!

If you’re looking for a way to meet your Summer Reading challenge (or just want some new books), there’s over 75 science fiction & fantasy titles to choose from in this fabulous giveaway. Just click/tap the image below to start browsing….



One Final Note on Mr. Dewey

Apparently even library cataloguing can’t escape the turmoil of politics, as explained in this article…

Melvil Dewey’s Name Stripped from Top Library Award

Note: The book links above are affiliate links. They don’t cost you any extra if you choose to buy the books, but I get a very tiny percentage of the sale to help with support the cost of my newsletter and blog).

11 thoughts on “Throwing Down the Reading Gauntlet

  1. We are also doing A Universe of Stories, but we can read fiction and nonfiction, in 5 categories. It’s forced me to read things I wouldn’t otherwise read, but it’s been fun!


    1. These extra challenges on top of the regular Summer Reading Program do force me to read different things. Last year my library did a book bingo as the extra challenge and there were some genres on there I would never have read voluntarily. Some were fun to try, but others (I’m looking at you, Westerns!) were miserable to get through. But it is good to try new things…except for Westerns :)) Goo luck with your challenge!!!

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  2. Our library has a challenge, but no prizes 😟 Last summer they had a selection of categories ~ a classic, a collection of poems, a biography and others that I have forgotten. I enjoyed it, because it included areas that I wouldn’t normally choose, like poetry, but broad enough for me to find books that intrigued me. I quite like the idea of reading the DDC.
    BTW, how was the winning dinner?


    1. What! No prizes? What kind of scam are they running? :)) I have enjoyed some of the books I’ve been “forced” to read. Unfortunately, I also found several books in my preferred genres to add to my to-read list. I’ll never get to the bottom of that darn thing. As for the dinner, we haven’t had time to have it yet…too busy reading…haha!


  3. Oh Summer Reading Challenge, where were you in my youth? Obviously I was reading… But reading for prizes? Genius! Congrats on your win… And for making it through The Tao of Pooh. I’m not sure I could have stayed the course! 😂


    1. Little secret…I “read” it in audiobook format, otherwise I might not have made it. Unfortunately, my maturity levels aren’t high enough not to giggle every time the narrator said the word “pooh”.

      Liked by 1 person

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