TPL Reading Challenge 2022: A Year in Review

January 10, 2023 | M. Elwood

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TPL Reading Challenge 2022

Another year has passed and another Reading Challenge has ended. Since passionate readers don't really take breaks, the 2023 Reading Challenge is already underway.

2022 was a great year so let's do a brief round up.  Last year, we hosted 12 Reading Challenge events that were viewed by 362 people. Events were also replayed 192 times.

Our online events are a great way to get recommendations for reading challenge categories and share your own suggestions. Our first reading challenge event in 2022 will be on January 19, at 7 PM. All are welcome. Register: Reading Challenge 2023 Online Book Discussion: Kick Off!

Facebook is another way to share your love of books with other readers. In 2022 we had 468 posts with 3,388 comments. Our Facebook community now has over 2500 membersIf you use Facebook, consider joining us!

We've taken a look at the reading challenge submission forms. Hundreds of books were mentioned and used in various categories. These are the ten books that were used most often by people in the challenge:

Scarborough

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez

This much admired novel is set in the Galloway/Kingston area of Scarborough and tells the story of the low income, ethnically diverse neighbourhood through a large cast of characters. Hina runs a literacy program and tries to be a support to underprivileged children but is frustrated by bureaucracy. Laura, Bing and Sylvie are three of her students. Laura is being raised by her angry, racist father. Bing struggles with his sexual identity and Sylvie is an Indigenous girl living in a shelter while her family tries to find permanent housing. 

Scarborough was selected as Canada Reads 2022 book. It was also a finalist for the Toronto Book Award and Edmund White Award for debut fiction.  

It was used in these categories:

  • A book by an author from Toronto
  • A book about family
  • A book about a city

What strange paradise

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

A Syrian child named Amir is the only survivor when an overloaded fishing boat full of migrants capsizes. He wakes up on the beach of an island and is chased by men whose language Amir doesn't understand. Vänna, a local teenage girl helps him hide and takes him to a local refugee camp. The woman who runs the camp suggests that someone on the other side of the island may be able to help Amir get home. Vänna becomes Amir's guide and protector on the journey across the island. 

What Strange Paradise won the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 

It was used in these categories:

  • A book about a refugee experience
  • A book written by a journalist
  • A book about an issue that is important to you

Department of rare books and special collections

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

When she isn't writing mystery novels, Eva Jurczyk is a librarian at U of T's Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Her work there inspired her debut novel. Liesl Weiss has unexpectedly become interim head of the rare books library at a major university when the previous head had a stroke. Her first day in this new job is the same day the university president is hosting a tour of wealthy donors. They are expecting to see the department's latest acquisition but the priceless book is missing. Is someone in the department responsible for the theft?

It was used in these categories:

  • A book by an author from Toronto
  • A book about mental health
  • A book about a library worker
  • A book published this year (2022)

The midnight library

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora Seed has lost the things she cares about: her brother, best friend, job and cat. Unable to cope with her sadness, she takes an overdose. When she wakes up she's in The Midnight Library—a place between life and death for those who are unsure which condition is right for them. There is an endless number of books in the library. Each one contains a different version of Nora's life—what her life would be like if she'd made another choice. Nora is given the opportunity to exchange her current life for one of the alternatives presented in the books. Which life will she choose?

It was used in these categories:

  • A book about mental health
  • A book about magic
  • A book about solitude
  • A book about a library worker

How to pronounce knife

How to Pronounce Knife: Stories by Souvankham Thammavongsa

This debut short story collection examines the inner lives of Laotian immigrants often on the edges of society who are struggling to adapt to their new circumstances while preserving their identity, culture and dignity. 

Winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller prize and 2021 Trillium Book Award for English prose. It was also a finalist for the 2021 Danuta Gleed Literary award for short fiction. 

It was used in these categories:

  • A book by an author from Toronto
  • A book about a refugee experience
  • A book about a city

The maid

The Maid by Nita Prose

Neurodivergent Molly Dunn works as a hotel maid. She loves her job and gets fulfillment from returning hotel rooms to a "state of perfection" but she does find it difficult to read body language and has trouble with social situations. Her beloved grandmother used to interpret the world for Molly but since her recent death, Molly is alone. She has a friendly relationship with hotel regular Giselle Black, the wife of a wealthy tycoon. One day while cleaning the Blacks' suite, Molly discovers Mr. Black's body and becomes the prime suspect in his murder. Fortunately, Molly loves puzzles and has watched a lot of Columbo episodes and she sets out to prove her innocence.

It was used in these categories:

  • A book by an author from Toronto
  • A book about solitude
  • A book written under a pen name
  • A book published this year (2022)

Detransition baby

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Reese, a transgender woman, had a great life with her girlfriend Amy. They broke up when Amy, now Ames, detransitioned and returned to living as a man. Both were devastated by the breakup. When Ames' current partner, a cisgender woman named Katrina becomes pregnant and is uncertain about keeping it, Ames proposes that the three of them raise the child together. 

It was used in this category:

  • A book by a trans or non-binary author

Sea of tranquility

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility tells the story of a time traveller and the people he encounters in the 1910s, 1990s-2020s, 2200s, and the 2400s.

It was used in these categories:

  • A book about time
  • A book published this year (2022)

Long way down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Fifteen-year-old Will is determined to avenge the death of his brother Shawn by killing the person responsible. He takes Shawn's gun and gets on the elevator that will take him to the street and his destiny. On each floor, someone from Will's past gets on. Each of them is dead, all victims of gun violence and they have stories to share. 

It was used in these categories:

  • A book of poetry
  • A book that is a retelling of another story
  • A book about someone who is not alive
  • A book that takes place in a single day

Mrs dalloway

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

First published in 1925, this stream of consciousness novel tells the story of Clarissa Dalloway, an upper class woman preparing to host a party. As the book progresses, the reader is given access to the internal thoughts of 20 characters including Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus Warren Smith, a war veteran with shell shock. 

It was used in these categories:

  • A book in the public domain
  • A book that takes place in a single day

This place

This Place: 150 Years Retold

This graphic novel is a collection of stories covering the story of Canada since Confederation from the perspective of Indigenous authors and artists. Each story focuses on an Indigenous historical figure or an event and examines the survival strategies of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. 

It was used in this category:

  • An illustrated book by an Indigenous creator

Join the 2023 Reading Challenge. Visit our website or pick up a copy of our categories in one of our branches.

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