2017 Womxn of Color Reading Challenge

December 22, 2016

I’m going to admit it–I buy more books than I can read. Used books, particularly. For the past year I’ve been quietly collecting used books written by womxn of color, with the hope of finishing it before I spend $4 on another used book. So far, most have yet to be read, and honestly, they’re usually in the form of decorative props throughout the house–which you know, is kind of ironic for womxn of color? Yes? No?

In an attempt to hold myself accountable for reading more books, and to redirect my energy from intellectual/emotional/physical/mental labor, I asked a couple of close friends and folks on social media if they wanted to participate in a reading challenge. After a super quick Google search to gather ideas, I was super disappointed. Most of the 2017 reading challenges I’ve searched on Pinterest have great ideas, like this onethis one, and this one from 2015. Yet, none focused specifically on the narratives, voices, and wealth of womxn of color authors. In this day and age, I want to hear less from “best-selling” (whose criteria anyway??) White men writing about anything they think they’re the experts of (ahem), and more from the badass womxn of color who are the foundations for change.

So there is a gap. Let’s build a stronger structure.


  1. Calling all folks who want to read more books, and stay woke, in 2017
  2. All books must be written by womxn of color
  3. You do not have to identify as a womxn of color
  4. Choose one book for each challenge
  5. Borrow from your local or campus library, or purchase your own books
  6. Go in whichever order makes meaning to you
  7. Share your literary journey! — I’m still figuring this part out. We’ll be in touch 🙂

Here we go! Here is the full reading challenge list inspired by other “generic” lists, but most ideas are my own. I thought of it while procrastinating from writing the syllabus for my first-year learning community seminar. It’s a win-win really.

2017 Womxn of Color Reading Challenge List:


  1. A book that became a movie
  2. A book that came out the year you were born
  3. A book that has been on your reading list for way too long
  4. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
  5. A book that is published in 2017
  6. A book about food
  7. A book with more than 500 pages
  8. A book written by a queer womxn of color
  9. A book written by a trans* womxn of color
  10. A book in a genre you usually avoid
  11. A book with pictures
  12. A book purchased from a womxn of color-owned store
  13. An audio book that is at least 10 hours long
  14. A book of poetry
  15. A book that is becoming a movie in 2017-2020
  16. A book with themes of community and support
  17. A memoir – author has the same racial/ethnic identit(ies) as you *skip if not applicable
  18. A memoir – author has different racial/ethnic identit(ies) as you
  19. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
  20. A book that passes the Bechdel test (“features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.”)
  21. A book set in two or more different time periods
  22. A book by or about a person with a disability
  23. A book about a topic or subject you already love
  24. A book that was written in languages other than English (translated works too)
  25. A book that features main characters who identify as LGBTQ+
  26. A book by a best-selling author
  27. A book that you have to wait for (currently out of stock, or that you have to put on reserve)
  28. A book you selected based off the cover
  29. A book whose main character or author owns and expresses their sexuality
  30. A book you’ve given to someone as a gift
  31. A book someone recommended to you
  32. A book you don’t want to admit that you’re reading, but you’re going to read it anyway!
  33. A book about a religion or spirituality different from your own
  34. A book whose main character is approximately 10+ years younger than you
  35. A book whose main character is approximately 10+ years older than you
  36. A book that was on a main display at the library or bookstore
  37. A book based on a true story
  38. A book that was banned
  39. A book with bad reviews
  40. An e-book
  41. A book of short stories
  42. A book that has been picked for a book club
  43. A book with multiple heroines
  44. A book that starts with the first letter of your first name
  45. A book that is accompanied by a podcast, or the author has a podcast
  46. A used book that costs $5 or less
  47. A book with a theme of liberation
  48. A book whose cover has an animal on it
  49. A book you can read in a day
  50. A book you heard about from someone on this reading challenge

Over the holiday break, I am completing challenges #35 (a book whose main character is approximately 10+ years older than you) with The Loved Ones by Sonya Chung. I also just wrapped up #48 (a book whose cover has an animal on it) with Fish in Exile by Vi Khi Nao.

Spread the wealth–please share this with your friends and loved ones. Comment below on which challenge you are attempting + if you already have a book in mind!

Happy reading, and here’s to a new year!

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    Great list of challenges!


    Thank you for this.


    Thanks for this. I’m going to blog about what I read too. Is there a hashtag?


    i am starting with #24 by reading the vegetarian by han kang.

  • I’m starting with #13 by listening to “Swing Time” on audible! You could create a group on goodreads for the challenge so people can share/discuss?

  • I love this! So excited to do this! And yeah, I agree with the previous commenter, maybe start a Goodreads group and then break down each challenge to its own post in the group so that if people are looking for a specific recommendation for a particular challenge item, they can just go to the post that matches.

  • Thanks so much for posting this reading challenge, Der! I’m excited to start on it with #23 (a book on a topic I already love), with Women of Color and Feminism by Maythee Rojas.