Are you ready for our brand new 2023 reading challenge? We had several themes under consideration, and one on our list came up as a suggestion over and over again on our annual reader survey last year. So, we made it happen!
What is the Read Around the USA Challenge?
In 2023, we’ll be reading around the United States! Before you panic, don’t worry, we do NOT expect you to read a book in every state. Instead, similar to our Read Around the World Challenge, we broke the states & inhabited territories out into 12 groups.
Most months will be made up of 5 states from connected regions. The intent of the challenge is to choose ONE book from that region. Of course, if you have the time to read more than one, that’s okay too.
As with all of our challenges, we’ll provide book recommendations for each region, including multiple selections from every state.
How does the Read Around the USA Challenge work?
For each monthly prompt, we’ll be your travel guides. We curate a diverse list of book recommendations for you to choose from so everyone can find something that suits their reading style and mood.
- Review the list and select one of our suggestions OR choose your own book that meets that month’s prompt.
- When you’re done reading, submit your rating and any feedback on the book log, which you’ll find in each Friday newsletter during the month. This is not mandatory but is super helpful.
OPTIONAL STEPS FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN DISCUSSION
- When you’ve chosen your book, fill out the book selection survey in your Friday newsletter and let us know what you plan to read.
- If enough other readers selected your book, you’ll be able to participate in an online discussion about the title within the Read with the Book Girls Facebook Group at the end of the month.
- We also have a spoiler-free monthly book review thread within the Facebook group for anyone to share thoughts on their pick or see what others enjoyed.
What kinds of books are included?
The Read Around the USA Challenge is perfect for anyone who loves to armchair travel or is interested in learning about different regions and cultures.
Each list includes a wide variety of genres, from contemporary and literary fiction to mystery, romance, and non-fiction. In addition to a range of genres, we always try to include diverse characters and authors. For this challenge, we also include many books by authors with strong ties to the region to add authenticity to your state reading.
That means that every month, you’ll find a curated list of between 25 and 35 highly-rated books to choose from! The books are a mix of new releases and older books that may be easier to find at the library without a wait.
Within the book list, each recommendation includes a synopsis of the book and often includes additional details to help you select your perfect read.
That sounds fun! How do I join the Read Around the USA Reading Challenge?
The most important thing to do in order to keep up with the challenge is to sign up for our Friday email newsletter. It’s the easiest way to make sure you’re getting the new book lists, log links, etc.
When you sign up using the box below, you’ll get a welcome email that includes a link to download the cute printable tracker for this challenge. The map tracker has the states broken into the 12 months of the yearly challenge.
NOTE: The inhabited island territories are grouped together on our printable map for the purposes of the reading challenge, but are not geographically accurate.
If you use Facebook, we also recommend joining the Read with the Book Girls group. It’s the place book discussions happen for the challenges and a great spot to get more book ideas from other readers.
It’s more structured than other book groups. For example, we have one ongoing thread each week to share what you’re reading. This means your feed won’t be overrun with posts from our group. That said, because the Facebook algorithm doesn’t show every member every post, it’s important to be on the email list.
How do I find your book recommendations each month?
Each month, we’ll update the section below with links to the new lists, so you can always find them on this page. However, the best way to ensure you always get the new list first is to be on our email list. If you filled out the blue box above to get your map tracker, you’re all set!
Each Friday email has a section dedicated to that month’s challenge, and on the 20th of each month, we’ll send out a new list for the following month. For example, the February list will be released on January 20th.
We did get January’s list finished early, so you have plenty of time to pick your first book before the holidays. The section below also contains the schedule for the rest of the year.
Read Around the USA Upcoming Schedule
Book list to be published 2/20/2023
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee
Book list to be published 3/20/2023
US Island Territories including:
Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Book list to be published 4/20/2023
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska
Book list to be published 5/20/2023
Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Book list to be published 6/20/2023
Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas
Book list to be published 7/20/2023
California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington
Book list to be published 8/20/2023
Books with Characters Traveling Across State Lines
Book list to be published 9/20/2023
Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota
Book list to be published 10/20/2023
North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia
Book list to be published 11/20/2023
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin
Can you send me a printable list with the book titles but not descriptions?
This was a big request last year that we weren’t able to add to our plates in 2022. New for 2023, readers who support Book Girls Guide through our Buy Me a Coffee membership site will receive special monthly printable journal pages as a thank you bonus. The voluntary members (we call them our BFFs) help cover the cost of running the challenges so we can keep them free for everyone.
We’re so excited to be able to offer this fun perk this year!
The new pages will be pre-filled with every book title for the month, and include space for you to mark your interest level, make notes about whether you’ve requested the book from the library (or any other notes you’d like), and then fill in your rating. We’ll also include blank lines in case you have other books on your TBR (to be read) list that meet the prompt. We’d love you to sign up here!
That said, you’ll always find the most updated version of our recommendations with descriptions each month at no cost on our website. We do update the list and descriptions regularly based on reader feedback. But, we know some of you wanted to print the list to take to the library or bookstore, and we hope this helps.
How do the Discussion Groups work?
Around the 25th of the month, we review the book logs to see which titles have had enough people interested in discussion to set up a group. The discussions are hosted in events within the Facebook group, which allows spoilers to be openly discussed because only those who have read the book can see the event.
The discussion takes place in writing over several days as readers have time to pop in and engage with each other’s questions/statements about the book. This allows everyone to participate regardless of their schedule or time zone.
Each month, you’ll find a link to the discussions in the newsletter at the end of the month.
We also have a book selection form that you can fill out after reviewing the book list, along with whether you hope to discuss the book. The form will be included in the email with your new book list each month. You’ll never be obligated to read that book or commit to discussing, we’re just trying to get a better idea of what will be most read.
We’ll compile the results of the books likely to have discussion groups and share them with you before the first of each month. It won’t be a perfect process because people may make last-minute book changes, but we’re hoping it helps!
What happens if I miss a month?
Nothing at all! Life happens, and we’re committed to our challenges being fun and not stressful.
While it feels great to make it to the end of the year with all 12 months completed, sometimes it’s better to skip a month and move on to the next prompt when you can. You can also go back and read the month you skipped if you’d like, but please don’t feel any pressure to do that.
When can I see next month’s list?
On the 20th of each month! If the 20th is on a weekend, we do our best to finish up the lists and include them in the Friday newsletter on the 18th or 19th, but barring unforeseen circumstances, we’ll have it to you by the 20th at the latest.
For example, your February book recommendations will be in your inbox on January 20th.
Do you have other reading challenges?
Yes! We’ll have a total of four challenges in 2023! In addition to Read Around the USA, you can see all the details about our Decades Reading Challenge and Book Voyage: Read Around the World Challenge now. The fourth challenge is a self-paced option called Lifetime of Reading that focuses on the age of the main character. It still comes with book recommendations for every month, but you can complete the challenge in any order.
Depending on your reading goals, you can choose one of the challenges per year, or complete them in any combination.
That sums up how everything works, but we’ve added some additional FAQs below in case you have any questions!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
How much does it cost to participate?
All our challenges are free for everyone!
It takes an extraordinary amount of time to put together and administer the challenges, but we never want finances to be a barrier to participation. At the request of some of our readers, we do have a totally optional Buy Me a Coffee membership site for anyone willing to help with expenses.
As a thank you, it comes with some extra perks, including bonus book recommendations, a printable version of the challenge list each month, and a cute bookmark in the mail after you’ve remained a member for at least three months.
What do I do when I finish my book each month?
As soon as you finish reading, go back to your latest Friday email and scroll down to the Challenge section. You’ll find a link to the book log to share your rating and any thoughts on the book.
Why should I log my book?
The book logs help us determine which books should stay on our lists of recommendations, which should be removed, and whether any changes are needed to our descriptions. We also compile the results of the logs to create a graphic with the top books from each prompt with our readers. It’s become a fun tradition that many look forward to!
Can I choose my own book?
Absolutely! You can choose any book from our list, or any other book that meets the challenge prompt for that month. In fact, if you really enjoy an off-list book you select, we’d love to hear about it on this form. Keep in mind that if you want to participate in our monthly book discussion groups, those are created for a subset of books from the list.
Can I recommend a book for a future month?
We always love book recommendations! If there’s a book you think we should know about for one of the states, tell us about it using this form. Please only recommend books that you’ve already read.
If I’m doing more than one challenge, can a single book count twice?
Yes! We even help you find books that meet more than one challenge with a special crossover list by the 25th of each month for the next month. You’ll receive a reminder link about it in your email each month.
If I already signed up for another challenge, do I need to sign up again?
If you’re already on the email list from another challenge, you’ll only need to fill in the box above if you’d like the free printable tracker. You won’t get duplicate emails from us as long as you use the same email address.
What if I signed up, but didn’t receive the email?
Sometimes our emails might get trapped in your spam filter. If you signed up, but haven’t received the email with the printable reading tracker, be sure to check your spam folder. To keep future emails out of the spam folder, be sure to add our email address to your address book, or drag our emails over to your Primary tab in Gmail.
If you’ve checked your spam folder and still don’t see the email from us, then please send us a quick email to hello(at)bookgirlsguide(dot)com and we’ll get it sorted out for you as quickly as we can.
Do audiobooks count?
Absolutely! We’re equal-opportunity readers. Whether you use a paper book, ebook, or audiobook, if you’re left knowing the story the author set out to tell, you “read” the book!
Do I have to go in order?
Yes and no. To be part of any discussions and to log your book rating, you’ll want to stick to the order we planned. Having the encouragement of others reading the same region has helped readers stick with the challenge the full years in the past. But, we’ll never know if you opt to go out of order on your own. 🙂
Is this group only for girls?
Not at all! We welcome all to read with us. The “Book Girls” refers to us – two adult friends who love books and wanted to help guide and inspire other readers. We’re also huge fans of the Gilmore Girls! You can read more about how this site started and who we are at the beginning of our books about friendship post.
Can I join after January?
Absolutely! You can join our year-long reading challenge at any time. You’re welcome to simply pick up from the month where you join, or you can go back and start at the beginning.
How you choose to participate is totally up to you, so there’s no such thing as being behind and any month can be a great time to start! If you’re a voracious reader, you can double up and complete multiple prompts in one month. Sometimes people jump in and start with the current month’s theme, while also picking a second book from earlier in the year.
But really, no pressure from us. We’re happy for you to join in whenever and wherever!
Remind me again, how do I get the printable reading challenge log?
To get the printable reading log, along with email notifications when each month’s book list is ready, just scroll back to the beginning of this post and fill out the email form in the blue box. It’s located under the section header that reads “That sounds fun! How do I join the Read Around the USA Challenge? ”
If you’re already on the email list, it’s okay to fill it out again for this year’s tracker (you won’t end up getting double emails from us – we promise).
Can we use the challenge for our book club?
Absolutely! We’ve had many book clubs use our challenges and reading prompts to help guide their book selections throughout the year. We recommend giving each member a link to the monthly book list and letting them vote on their top 3 options. This helps narrow down the book suggestions before making the final selection as a club.
Where else can I find Book Girls’ Guide?
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