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The Indiana Bicentennial Reading Challenge!

January 6, 2016 by Reader's Connection

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m borrowing parts of Rachel Manwill’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge and adding other elements. Since our state turns 200 this year, it made sense to have some Indiana-related challenges.

All the book covers that appear here are just suggestions. They aren’t necessarily books that I plan to read. That especially goes for the one about Donald Trump; but if he’s your guy, have at it.

For more information about any of the Public Collections pictured here, just click the picture. If you get an “Aw, snap!” response, please try again.

Evolution of Reading, by Kimberly McNeelan, at White River State Park

1aa3.aVisit three of the Public Collections (click for info) here in Indianapolis. Take a book at each one, read it. Really, I hope to visit more than three of the Public Collections, but I don’t want this first challenge to scare anyone off.


4 – 6. Read 3 books by authors who have won an Indiana Authors Award. Each book should be in a different category: National Author, Regional Author, Emerging Author. Click on Fire in the Water for a list of the winners.

Deadstick7. Read a book by an Indiana author who hasn’t won an IAA. You can choose an author who has been nominated, but that isn’t necessary. The criteria will be the same as for IAA nominees: Any living published writer who was born in Indiana or has lived in Indiana for at least five years will be eligible.

The Miami Indians of Indiana


8. Read a book, fiction or nonfiction, about indigenous people of Indiana. I read a couple of novels about indigenous people for the 2015 Read Harder Challenge, but both books involved Scandinavia. This category needs to come home.

If the Indiana restriction is too confining, at least read about indigenous people of the United States.





And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana
9. Read a collection of poems from and/or about Indiana. Pam Wright in our Processing Section recommends And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana.







The Fault in Our Stars




INresistible in Indy tweeted: “Love this challenge! An additional suggestion: read a book that is SET IN INDIANA. I like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS!”

So number 10 in our challenge is: Read a work of fiction set in Indiana.


The remaining challenges don’t necessarily have Indiana components, but you can add them if you wish. Reading a book of essays by an Indiana author or a book about religion in Indiana is a fine idea.

Monument, 2015, by Brian McCutcheon, at Monument Circle,



11. Read an unfinished work of fiction. You can click on The Acts of King Arthur to see BuzzFeed’s list of suggestions.


Spooky Action at a Distance : The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time - and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything12. Read a nonfiction book about science. I’m going to take another shot at physics. My physics blog posts tend to be silly, but Rachel Manwill is making me do it.

The Classic Horror Stories



13. Read a horror book. I may chicken out on this one. I usually do.


Topiary, by Eric Nordgulen, at the Southeast Corridor of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail


The Givenness of Things: Essays14. Read a collection of essays.

Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success



15. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography).


Wouldn’t you rather read about someone from Indiana?









A Streetcar Named Desire



16. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born. The decade, mind you, not the year. There ought to be something in that decade that you haven’t got around to reading.

I’ve seen the movie, A Streetcar Named Desire, never read the play.





The Complete Stories/Edgar Allan Poe





17. Gregg Jackson at the Southport Library has proposed an ingenious variation on that last one. “How ‘bout reading something originally written in the same decade as you were born BUT with a twist – minus 100 years.” So since I was born in the 1940s, and Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” was first published in the 1840’s, that story could be part of my reading challenge.



The answer is in the question, by Phil O’Malley, at Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center

The Sun


18. Read a magazine, cover to cover. You can skip the ads. I invented this one last year. It allows me to sit down with a magazine and claim that I’m rising to a challenge.





Beyond the Bedroom Wall



19. Re-read a book you enjoyed way back when. See if your reaction to it changes.






The Catcher in the Rye

Melanie Hoffman at the Pike Library commented: “How about the reverse of #19 — rereading something that you absolutely hated when you first read it. Not to offend, but for me, The Catcher in the Rye and anything by Faulkner come to mind!”
So a new challenge could be: Re-read something you didn’t like, and see if that situation has changed.

I don’t know if I can rise to that challenge, though. Do I really want to subject myself to what is likely to be another bad experience?

On the Roadaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa aaa So Challenge 20B can be an alternative: Read some celebrated book that you’ve always avoided, and see if you’ve been wrong to do so.I’ve had friends, down through the years, who have raved about Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and writers and critics whom I respect have praised it highly, but I’ve never been able to get started. There’s no appeal for me in a guy just typing out a scroll of a tale, bursting with male egos.

Perhaps it’s a hormone thing. Anyway, 2016 may be the year that I finally hit the road. What supposed classic have you always avoided?



Moonlight Leaning Against an Old Rail Fence: Approaching the Dharma As Poetry



21. Read a book, fiction or nonfiction, that involves religion.












22. Holy Lunar Reading Challenges! Bethany Warner of the Library Foundation has helped to issue a monthly challenge on her Word Nerds blog. Click on the image and you’ll have a read for each month. Maybe I should number this 22 – 33, but I’m holding off on that.



Harvesting Knowledge, by Brose Partington, at the City Market






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  1. Sue Kennedy says:

    I ALWAYS read The Sun magazine cover to cover!

  2. Aha! This means, Sue, that one of your challenges will be met, even if you don’t accept the challenge!

  3. Melanie Hoffman says:

    How about the reverse of #18 — rereading something that you absolutely hated when you first read it. Not to offend, but for me, Catcher in the Rye and anything by Faulkner come to mind!

  4. Sarah Batt says:

    Love the photos of the Public Library collection installations – makes me want to join you in challenges 1-3! Love the other challenges, too. I may take bits and pieces for my own reading challenge this year. Next year, I think you should add re-reading a book you loved as a child, reading out loud TO a child, and reading one of the many award-winning children’s books in our collection. I think people who read books for grown-ups would be surprised at the quality of writing one finds in children’s and young adult books.

  5. Christine Wynne says:

    re: #11… ever read my fovorite: Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland? Beyond wonderful for even the least science-mind…

  6. Reader's Connection says:

    Thanks for the comment, Christine. I haven’t read that book, and it doesn’t seem to be in the library’s collection.

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