New Directions

September Challenge: 30 Days of Book Talk

Earlier this year, when we did the 30 Day Photo Challenge, I enjoyed thinking creatively about each day’s prompt. That inspired me to come up with a September challenge which might require the same kind of creativity. Add to this the fact that September 24-30 is Banned Books week and you have this month’s challenge: 30 Days of Book Talk!

I’m an English professor, so it probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that I’m also a devoted reader. What does surprise some people is the fact that I read a little bit of everything: mysteries, popular fiction, memoirs, self-help. Even if I think something is badly written, compelling characters or stories can keep me moving forward. (Earning a Ph.D. doesn’t require surrendering your right to read for fun.)

The premise for this challenge is pretty simple: each day, think of a book that aligns with a prompt. As always, you should feel free to move around among the prompts. How you connect those two pieces is entirely up to you.

Some of these prompts are very straightforward. For instance, “Book into movie” is asking you to think about a specific group of novels and stories. But should your focus be on the best movie adaptation of a book? The worst? The most ill-conceived? That, too, is entirely up to you.

Other prompts are less obvious. “Poetry” might lead you to a book of poems, but it also might lead to a novelist whose writing feels like poetry. “Banned” could refer to a book that often appears on the ALA Banned Books list, but it could also refer to a book your mom wouldn’t let you read in high school. “Name” might refer to a book with a proper name in its title, or to a book with a character whose name you like. (My daughter was named after Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby. I’m pretty sure that novel marked the first time I’d ever encountered the name, which used to be far less common–and I loved it right away.)

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Once you’ve made a connection between a book and a prompt, what do you do? Also entirely up to you. Take a photo of the book and post it to Instagram or Facebook, along with a short meditation on it. Or keep a journal for yourself this month, and write an entry about a book each day. Make a piece of art inspired by each book you’ve chosen. Partner up with another reader and discuss your daily choices.

This challenge is designed to be something of a personal book club, and its membership is at your discretion. But if you’re posting on Instagram, use the hashtag #BookTalkChallenge so I can see what you’ve been reading. I’m always on the lookout for suggestions!

Download the 30 Day Book Talk Challenge

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