Are you ready for our first ever global Reading Challenge?

We’re more excited than ever about our very first reading challenge, and we can’t wait to show you our fresh batch of books – books that you helped choose! You can jump on the challenge at any time and join us by starting any of the books listed below. Pick a book (or twenty) and let us know what you think! We chose categories that we think need more visibility in the industry, and you all nominated so many awesome titles. We picked some of our favorites and we now invite you to read along with us.

Join in the conversation and share your reading challenge progress by using #TheTempestReadingChallenge2019 on social media.

Without further ado, scroll down for the books that you chose for the first-ever The Tempest Reading Challenge 2019!

1. A book on disability 

On a round, white tray is a pink flower, a cup of coffee, macaroons, and a copy of Sick: A Memoir.
[Image description: On a round white tray is a pink flower, a cup of coffee, macaroons, and a copy of Sick: A Memoir. Via caseyrosereads on Instagram.]

Sick: A Memoir by Porochista Khakpour

For as long as she can remember, Khakpour has been sick and for most of that time, she didn’t know from what. After countless trips to the ER, countless days of pain and anguish, several diagnoses, drug addictions, three major hospitalizations, and a bill of over $100,000, she found the answer: Lyme disease. 

This is her tale: A candid, emotionally-charged memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, anxiety, and the unachievable concept of full recovery. It’s a jarring look into the medical world of people who don’t get an easy answer or fix. 

Honorable mentions: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner and The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

2. A book that was written by a woman of color

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
[Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Photo credits.]

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“A beautiful mess,” is how writer Roxanne Gay describes it. Issues of race, immigration, politics and interracial relationships are wrapped up in a 15-year long burn between protagonists Ifemulu and Obinze.

They were young and in love when they left their military-ruled home country, Nigeria, for the West. Ifemulu took to America where she grapples with what it means to be black, and Obinze took to London, undocumented. Both struggle with their own issues as they work toward building new lives for themselves. Fifteen years later, they return to Nigeria and reunite, sparking flames for each other and the country they left behind.

Honorable mentions: A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (read our review here!) and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.

3. A book by two female authors

[The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrowsook. Photo credits.]

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrowsook

Travel back in time with this historical fiction set in the aftermath of the Second World War. In London, writer Juliet Ashton is on the hunt for inspiration for her next novel, except it finds her. One day, a letter from a man in Guernsey, England, arrives, and Juliet is baffled. Who is this man?

And what on Earth is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society?

And so the answers unfold over the pages of this epistolary novel. Letter by letter, Juliet learns of the German occupation the island of Guernsey was subject to, how it led to the formation of said Society, and the wonderful, warm characters it is comprised of from phrenologists to pig farmers, all literature lovers at heart. Intrigued, Juliet sets sail to Guernsey and finds more than she ever hoped for.

Honorable mentions: Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummingsand My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.

4. A book featuring at least one LGBTQ+ person as the main character

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
[Three editions of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Photo credits.]

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Fans of Rowell’s novel Fangirl will be quick to notice the name, eponymous of the fanfiction written by Cath in Fangirl. This book is exactly that. 

If you love and live for a slow burn, and an enemies-to-lovers trope, then Carry On will deliver. Reminiscent of Harry Potter, follow the magical havocs of Simon Snow on his quest to defeat the Insidious Humdrum. It’s Simon’s last year at the Watford School of Magicks, the world of Mages is in danger and he’s the Chosen One. But all he can think about is his missing, evil and probably a vampire roommate Baz. Monsters, kissing and feels – the makings of an epic romance. 

Honorable mentions: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, and The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu.

5. A book on a real-world issue that you would like more knowledge on

A hand is holding a copy of First Comes Marriage in front of a flowery background.
[Image description: A hand is holding a copy of First Comes Marriage in front of a flowery background. Via booksandmargs on Instagram.]

First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story by Huda Al-Marashi

A Muslim-American memoir dedicated to love and sexuality, this book tells the tale of Huda and Hadi, both American-Born children of Iraqi immigrants. They met when they were six, grew up on opposite ends of California and were then chosen for each other by their parents. 

While Hadi always considered Huda his childhood sweetheart, she wanted more than an arranged marriage. Huda wants the romantic promises set by the American entertainment media – a grand love story. But with conservative families forbidding Huda and Hadi any alone time before marriage, Huda begins to navigate the obstacles, coming to realize the pressures and pitfalls of straddling two cultures and how to move on when life falls short of expectations. 

Honorable mentions: Glimmer of Hope by the Founders of March For Our Lives and We Should All Be Feministsby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (read our review here!).

6. A book that was originally written in a different language 

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
[Memoirs d’Hadrien by Marguerite Yourcenar. Photo credits.]

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

The French author’s masterpiece is a fictional autobiography of Hadrian, who ruled over the Roman Empire between 117 and 138 AD. In the novel, an elderly Hadrian tells the story of his long life and his prosperous reign, known for the many years of golden peace and appreciation for the arts and Greek culture.

Hadrian hates war and violence, and unlike most Roman emperors, would rather talk about love. Long pages are dedicated to Hadrian’s love for Antinous (yes, it was more socially acceptable to be in a gay relationship 2,000 years ago) and to the cult that Hadrian funds in his lover’s honor when he passes away. Set in a time of quiet limb between paganism and Christianity, and written during a time between two World Wars, Memoirs is a novel that deserves to be read by every generation for its eternal themes.

Honorable mentions: A Man Called Ove by Friedrik Backman (read our review here!) and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

7. A book that was written in one’s “own voice” 

Children of Blood and Bone
[Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Photo credits.]

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This fantasy young adult novel takes inspiration from West African mythology and presents a beautifully-detailed world where magic is real but it has been suppressed by the ruling class and has disappeared. The protagonist, Zélie Adebola sets out on an epic quest along with her brother and a princess to restore it, fighting numerous enemies in her path.

Adeyemi’s debut novel has been met with praise from fans and the critics for being a beautiful story and an epic allegory of the black experience. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter or Throne of Glass but wish they were more diverse and woke, this book is for you.

Honorable mentions: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

8. A book set during a historical time in your country

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
[My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Photo credits.]

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This award-winning novel is set in the 1950s in the outskirts of Naples. The culturally rural South of Italy could be a hostile cradle for young girls with great plans and desires of self-amelioration. Lila, a fearless little girl of no means, has an insatiable thirst for knowledge but is violently hindered in her passion by her father who does not believe it is a girl’s place to study. But she persists, she dares defend her rights and ideas. While Lila has to even teach herself to read and write, her best friend Lenù – the book’s narrator – is lucky to have more open-minded parents who allow her to go to school.

The novel brilliantly presents the harshness of its setting, which isn’t merely a background but plays a significant role in the characters’ stories. Both girls have dreams of escaping the reality they were born in, a world framed by corruption and crime. The novel follows the lives of the two girls as they grow close and apart and try to create better lives for themselves as they move into adulthood and then old age.

Honorable mentions: Beloved by Toni Morrison and Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation: The Politics Behind #mustfall Movements by Rekgotsofetse Chikane.

9. A book about a female leader

Antigone by Sophocles.
[Antigone by Sophocles. Photo credits.]

Antigone by Sophocles

Antigone is the daughter of the late king of Thebes, Oedipus. Yes, that Oedipus. Hers is a cosmic story of rebellion against the unjust laws of men. Fully aware of the tremendous consequences of her actions, Antigone chooses to openly defy the word of the new king of Thebes and to abide by the unwritten, higher laws of the gods. Sophocles’s most heart-wrenching play still inspires women to rebel against power almost 2,500 years later.

You don’t have to be an expert in Ancient Greek literature and Classical mythology to read this, but once you dive into Sophocles, you will not be able to stop.

Honorable mentions: Becoming by Michelle Obama and I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.

10. A book based on true events

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
[The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. Photo credits.]

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

Set during the historic race riots in 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, TWOOS comes with a trigger warning of racism, graphic violence, on-page death, OCD, and anxiety triggers. It’s been described as unique not only in way of the history it explores but its approach to it and its mix of action and introspection. 

Melati Ahmad suffers from OCD and it’s driven by a fear of losing her mother. This fear reaches its pinnacle when she and her mother are separated on the evening of May 13, the day racial tensions in her home city boil over. Faced with violence on the streets and the turmoil waging war within her, Melati sets off on a quest to find her mother. 

Honorable mentions: Not That Bad by Roxanne Gay and A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (read our review here!).

11. A self-help book that actually helps you

Rising Strong by Brené Brown
[Rising Strong by Brené Brown. Photo credits.]

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Self-help books tend to walk a fine line. They make no sense until they just do. And Brené Brown’s Rising Strong is no exception. Using her own life experiences, Brown walks readers through a journey of self-discovery meant to leave you not only with a better understanding of your emotional self but also equip you with the tools to push forward.

Struggle, Brown writes, can be our greatest call to courage. And it is within these moments, she says, that despite however many times you fall, you will keep finding the strength to rise.

Honorable mentions: Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.

We want to discuss these books with all of you!

Before you get started, we’d recommend joining our Goodreads group, which is made up of readers (like you!) who are taking part in The Tempest Reading Challenge. In addition to keeping you accountable, we’re all about swapping book ideas and talking about our favorite (and least favorite!) reads throughout the year. You’ll also be able to track which books you’ve read and rate them on the site.

Download our printable list here, checking off the books as you go, and pin the handy graphic ahead for reference. Share your progress on Instagram with #TheTempestReadingChallenge2019. Don’t forget to tag @WeAreTheTempest so we can loop you into the conversation (and maybe, repost you!).


P.S. If you would like to share a book review with The Tempest, don’t hesitate to send a pitch to Federica at with the subject title “Book Review Pitch – Reading Challenge.”

  • Federica Bocco

    With a degree in Communications and Media, an insatiable passion for humanities, social justice, and anything involving dragons, Federica is your fandom resident expert. She is a certified multitasker and professional workaholic who is proud to serve as Editor-in-Chief at The Tempest. Her biggest challenge in life is to smash the hetero-normative patriarchy while perpetually running around in seven-inch heels.

  • Sana Panjwani

    Armed with a journalism degree and a passion for reading, Sana is on a mission to find her voice, gives Would You Rather? questions a little too much thought and is a recovering procrastinator.