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Read Around the World: Book Voyage Reading Challenge

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Welcome to year 3 of the Book Voyage Read Around the World Challenge. Are you ready to go on an unforgettable read around the world journey from the comfort of your favorite reading chair?

Whether it’s your first time joining Book Voyage or your third, we’re happy to have you.

Throughout 2023, we’ll be reading some of the best books set in countries all around the globe.

What is the Book Voyage Challenge?

Each month, you’ll read one book set in a different region of the world as a way of armchair traveling and learning more about the vast and beautiful differences in both landscape and culture.

Later in this post, you’ll find a list of the regions we’ll be visiting each month, along with a link to our book recommendations.

How does the Book Voyage 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.

  1. Review the list and select one of our suggestions OR choose your own book that meets that month’s prompt.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Book Voyage 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 world reading.

That means that every month, you’ll find a curated list of between 20 and 30 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.

Three tilted book covers in shades of teal, middle reading How the Penguins Saved Veronica

That sounds fun! How do I join the Book Voyage 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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We took some liberties in dividing up the regions to create a 12-book challenge, so don’t give our map to your kids for a geography test. For example, Russia is located partially in Europe and partially in Asia, but for our purposes, it is grouped with Eastern Europe. Australia is part of Oceania, but we’re including the smaller island nations in our island month, along with other islands around the globe. There are other examples within our divisions of the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Our book recommendation list for each region lists all of the countries that we’ve included for that month.

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 place to get more book ideas from other readers.

Our Facebook Group is more structured than many 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.

I did the Book Voyage Challenge last year, is anything changing for 2023?

Yes! We’re taking a different route around the world this year! In prior years, we ran into some of the regions with heavier books back to back at the beginning of the year. This year, we’re mixing things up!

We’re also adding a fun new book list to the mix! In September, we’ll have a brand new list featuring books that take place while traveling between locations on trains, planes, ships, etc.

To make room for a new list, we’re moving “Books Spanning Continents” to be an extra credit prompt. You don’t have to read a book from that list to complete the challenge, but you’re welcome to fit one in anytime throughout the year.

When each monthly list is released on the 20th, you’ll also find a new book selection form in the email to note which books you plan to read. We’ll compile the results and share which books are most likely to have discussion groups. You’ll have that data before the 1st of the month.

For both the book selection form and the book log, you’ll now have the option to send a copy of your submissions to yourself. We hope this helps those who have had a hard time remembering which books they have logged each month. The email will come from our database company, so you can search your email for Airtable to find all your submissions!

There is also an updated version of the printable tracker. Feel free to use the email sign-up box above to get it, even if you’re already on the list. Buy Me a Coffee Members will also receive new printable journal pages each month. See details further down in this post!

How do I find your book recommendations each month?

Because the challenge is in its 3rd year, we have book recommendations published for each month already. However, we do a major update to each list by the 20th of each month prior to the prompt.

For example, the February list will be updated by January 20th. You’ll receive an email notification when the list is ready. Books will be removed & others added, so we recommend waiting until the new list is finalized before settling on your pick.

If you’re in a panic because you deleted our email on accident and can’t find the list, you can also come to bookgirlsguide.com and click on Reading Challenges in the menu. If you scroll past the overview of each challenge, you’ll find links to all the book lists.

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 links to the 2022 version of the book lists for each region.

Book Voyage Challenge Lists Updated for 2023

Book Voyage Challenge Lists - Not Yet Updated

The following lists were published for the 2022 challenge and are a good reference if you're trying to plan ahead for your Book Voyage Challenge. However, they have not yet been updated for 2023 and are subject to change.

February: Books Set in Western Europe

March: Books Set in Africa

April: Books Set on Islands

May: Books Set in Eastern Europe

June: Books Set in Australia & New Zealand

July: Books Set in Southern Asia

August: Books Set in Northern Asia

September: Traveling on Transportation (coming 8/20/2023)

October: Books Set in the Middle East

November: Books Set in North America

December: Books Set in South America

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.

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.

*NEW FOR 2023*
We know that in 2022, some of you were disappointed when you selected a book, and not enough other readers wanted to discuss it. Some said the discussion factor was important enough that they would have chosen another title to ensure a chance to discuss.

For 2023, we have a new book selection form that you’ll 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 the next Friday. 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 onto 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 Book Voyage, you can see all the details about our Decades Reading Challenge now. Two additional challenges will be announced this week, you’ll get emails each morning with the updated links.

Depending on your reading goals, you can do 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.

Teal Bookmark that looks like a book spine in an open book

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 upcoming age ranges, 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.

Can my kids do this challenge with me?

Absolutely! For YA and above reading levels, you’ll find recommendations on the adult lists each month. For middle grade readers and younger, we recommend checking out our Read Around the World kids challenge. It has links to kid’s book selections, broken down by reading level and continent.

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 Book Voyage 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 to help narrow down the book suggestions before making the final selection as a club.

Where else can I find Book Girls’ Guide?
We also have a Facebook page, Instagram account, and Pinterest account that we’d love you to follow!

Love reading as much as we do?
Join us for more free content, reading challenges, & discussion in the Book Girls’ Guide Facebook Group!

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