Adult Reading Challenge 2023 - Reading Suggestions

Are you participating in the Adult Reading Challenge and looking for some reading inspiration? To help make the challenge a little easier, we have created a list of suggested reading for each of the challenge categories, check out our lists below. 

Please note: A different book must be read per challenge category. A book includes hard-copy, eBook & audiobook. 

Recommended Read - Staff Picks


Stepping Up - Sarah Turner

The Other Side of Beautiful - Kim Lock

Love Objects - Emily MaGuire

Early Morning Riser - Katherine Heiny

Scrublands - Chris Hammer

The Axeman's Carnival - Catherine Chidgey

Victory Park - Rachel Kerr 

Lessons in Chemistry - Bonnie Garmus


Contemporary Retelling of a Classic

On Beauty – Zadie Smith (Based on Howards End)

Circe – Madeline Miller (Retelling of Homers Odyssey)

Ayesha at Last – Uzma Jalaluddin (Pride and Prejudice)

Emma: A modern retelling – Alexander McCall Smith

Boy. Snow. Bird. – Helen Oyeyemi (Retelling of Snow White)

The Hours – Michael Cunningham (Mrs. Dalloway)

Pride – Ibi Aanu Zoboi (Pride and Prejudice)

Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmad Saadawi (Frankenstein retelling)

The Meursault Investigation – Kamel Daoud (Retelling of The Stranger)

Fragile – Sarah Hilary (Rebecca)

Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (Jane Eyre)

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (Pride and Prejudice)

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski (Hamlet)

Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion (Romeo and Juliet)

Pride - Ibi Zoboi (Pride and Prejudice Remix) 

The Gap of Time - Jeanette Winterson (The Winter's Tale) 

The Spring Girls - Anna Todd (Little Women) 

Shylock is My Name - Howard Jacobsen (Merchant of Venice) 

New Boy - Tracy Chevalier- (Othello)

Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood (The Tempest) 


Autobiographies / Biographies

Motherwell: A Girlhood – Deborah Orr

A Dutiful Boy – Mohsin Zaidi

Grand – Noelle McCarthy

House of Glass: the story and secrets of a twentieth-century Jewish family – Hadley Freeman

The Yellow House – Sarah M. Broom

Just Ignore Him – Alan Davies

Greenlights – Matthew McDonaughey

Spare – Prince Harry  

Agatha Christie: A very elusive Woman – Lucy Worsley

Love, Pamela – Pamela Anderson

Second Chances – Hayley Holt

Shackleton: A Biography – Ranulph Fiennes, Sir


Fantasy Novel

Including: Magical Realism, Fairy Tale, Urban, Dark, Historical + more

Check out here for in depth details on Fantasy sub genres.

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke

The Power - Naomi Alderman

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis


Try these Fantasy Authors

Juliette Marillier

Joe Abercrombie

Jodi Taylor

Terry Pratchett

Sarah J. Maas

Neil Gaiman


Self-Help / Motivational

Definition: Books that help to solve a personal problem or provide tools to motivate you to achieve a goal.

Be your best self: ten life-changing ideas to reach your full potential

The Greatness mindset: unlock the power of your mind and live your best life today. – Lewis Howes

Atomic Habits – James Clear

Untamed – Glennon Doyle

Four Thousand Weeks; time management for mortals – Oliver Burkeman

The 5am Club – Robin Sharma

Think Like a Monk – Jay Shetty

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

Big Magic: Creative Living beyond fear – Elizabeth Gilbert

Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes


Climate Fiction

Definition: Climate fiction, or cli-fi, explores the impact of environmental change on our world. These novels delve into dystopian futures, apocalyptic scenarios, or subtle shifts in climate, highlighting the consequences of human actions. They provoke reflection, inspire activism, and offer cautionary tales, merging science, storytelling, and urgent calls for environmental awareness.

The High House – Jessie Greengrass

Last one at the Party – Bethany Clift

The Overstory – Richard Powers

Cloud Cuckoo Land – Anthony Doerr

Sea of Tranquility – Emily St. John Mandel

Greenwood – Michael Christie

The Last Migration – Charlotte McConaghy

When the Lights Go Out – Carys Bray

How Beautiful we Were – Imbolo Mbue

Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood

Cold Fame Citrus – Claire Vaye Watkins


Banned or Challenged Books

This challenge celebrates the freedom to read and show cases books that have historical attempts to be censored or banned from schools, libraries and bookshops. You might be surprised by some titles below that were on the banned book list at some point but are now freely available.

Books that were banned

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

The Colour Purple – Alice Walker

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Attwood

Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Beloved – Toni Morrison

The Call of the Wild – Jack London

This is a list of some of the most challenged books of 2022 compiled by the American Library Association.

Gender Queer: A Memoir – Maia Kobabe

All Boys aren’t Blue – George Johnson

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Looking for Alaska – John Green

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas



Definition: A bildungsroman novel focuses on a main character's journey from youth to adulthood. It's about their personal and moral growth & self-discovery. These stories start when the character is young and follow their experiences, challenges, and lessons as they grow up. You'll find themes like finding your identity, dealing with society's expectations, and having mentors who shape you. Examples of bildungsroman books include "Great Expectations," "Pride and Prejudice," "The Catcher in the Rye," "To Kill a Mockingbird," and the "Harry Potter" series. These books give you insights into personal growth, real-life struggles, and the journey to adulthood.

Go as a River – Shelley Read

Magma: A Novel – Thora Hjorleifsdottir

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith

The Goldfinch – Donna Tart

Never Let me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Emma – Jane Austen

Perfect - Rachel Joyce 


Read around the World


People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks

Life of Pi – Yaan Martel

The Last Train to London – Meg Waite Clayton

Wish you Were Here – Jodi Picoult

The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds

To Italy, with Love – Nicky Pellegrino

Harbouring – Jenny Patrick

The Paris Architect – Charles Balfoure

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul – Deborah Rodriguez

Shantaram – Gregory Roberts

Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver


The Durrells of Corfu – Michael Haag

My Life in France – Julia Child

Backyard to Backpack – Evie Farrell

Nomadland – Jessica Bruder

A Walk in the Woods – Billy Bryson

A Sailor, a chicken and incredible voyage – Guirec Soudee

Wildboy – Brando Yelanvich 

Graphic Novel

The Sun, the Sea, the Stars : Ancient Wisdom as a Healing Journey - Julia Bochis

Enter the Blue - Dave Chisholm

Mophead : how your difference makes a difference - Selina Tusitala Marsh

Brazen: Rebel Ladies who rocked the World - Penelope Bagieu