2022 IHS Reading Challenge
TB still remembers the first book she read on her own. She can’t remember how old she was because numbers are her nemesis, but she does remember reading The Hobbit when home sick from school. This magical story changed TB’s life, instilling a lifelong passion for reading. And, she likes to encourage others to read as well.
Also, TB is really competitive. It was probably inevitable these two qualities would combine eventually, and thus, the reading challenge was born.
So, what exactly is the 2022 IHS Reading Challenge?
The short answer is it’s a fun event to get readers to read more Sapphic books. It runs from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022. A reader can join the challenge at any point during the 365-day span.
The purpose of the challenge is to encourage readers to read a variety of women-loving-women stories. To achieve this, the IHS team has selected 50 categories, ranging from age-gap romance to sci-fi, and everything in between. The full list of the categories can be found below.
You can read in any format, meaning ebook, paperback, and audiobook are all acceptable. And, if you have a favorite book (or a hundred) you love to reread, as long as it fits one of the categories and you read it again during the calendar year, it qualifies.
To help readers discover lots of new books from all our different categories, IHS will feature a different category each week and will share book suggestions we’ve compiled for that category. This doesn’t mean you have to read one of the books IHS features to count. They’re merely suggestions, and by no means do we pretend to offer a comprehensive list.
You also don’t have to read from a particular category during the week it’s featured. That’s just our way of putting categories and books in the spotlight. Read in whatever order you’d like. If you’re the type who likes to know what’s coming, click here for the complete category schedule for the entire year.
Bottom line, read whatever the heck tickles your fancy! The point is to have fun and immerse yourself in stories.
Why Should I Get Involved?
Because reading is fun! But, if you’re the type who likes a challenge, we’ve crafted different levels to tackle, depending on how many books you want to read during the event.
Also, IHS is not against bribery, so there will be a monthly prize drawing, with a whopper of a prize at the conclusion of the event.
Tell Me More About the Prizes…
Every month, we’ll award one reader a $25 Amazon gift card. To enter, look for our post each Wednesday on the IHS Facebook page (join here) to ask what book peeps are reading for the challenge that week. Tell us the title and what category the book is in. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a book from that week’s category as long as it’s one of the 50 for the year. You can enter every week of the month, which on average is four entries, but some months have five Wednesdays just to keep us at IHS on our toes.
If you’re not a fast reader, and it takes you more than a week to read a book, that’s fine, too. As long as you reply to the new post the following week (or weeks) to say you are still reading that book, we will count it as a new entry toward the monthly drawing.
And, for the speed readers, if you read more than one book in a week (go you!), you may enter once for each book you read.
If you don’t use Facebook, no problem. You’re more than welcome to email us your info. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, put “Monthly IHS Reading Challenge Giveaway” in the subject line, and tell us the name of the book and the category. Just like the Facebook peeps, you can enter every week of the month. All entries for the drawing will need to be received by midnight Eastern time on the last day of the month to qualify. Entries received after that will roll over to the next month’s drawing.
You cannot enter on Facebook and via email to double your chances. Let’s keep this fair, folks. Remember, the point is to have fun.
We’ll assign a number to every entry we receive, and then we’ll use a random number selector to choose the winner.
In December, we’ll ask readers to email their completed cards with all the books they read for the challenge. Depending on how many books and categories were completed, you will qualify for one of five different levels for the end-of-the-year prize drawing.
- Garnet Level — $50 Amazon gift card
- Topaz Level — $75 Amazon gift card
- Sapphire Level — $100 Amazon gift card
- Amethyst Level — $150 Amazon gift card
- Emerald Level — $250 Amazon gift card
Remember, you will only be entered once in the end-of-the-year drawing based on the highest level you achieved (meaning you cannot send in multiple cards to try to enter all five).
Okay, What Are These Levels?
I’m so glad you asked!
There are five levels with increasing difficulty. For the purposes of this challenge, you may only count a book in one category, even if it fulfils the elements of multiple categories. If you read an age gap sci-fi with a pinch of suspense, you’re going to need to choose one of those categories for this book and read a different book to check off the other category. You can download the badge by right-clicking on them and feel free to display them on social media, websites, and/or blogs.
Garnet Level: Read at least 8 books from 8 different categories.
Topaz Level: Read at least 15 books from 15 different categories.
Sapphire Level: Read at least 25 books from 25 different categories.
Amethyst Level: Read at least 50 books from 50 different categories.
Emerald Level: Read at least 100 books from 50 different categories. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. You don’t have to read two books in every category if they’re not all your cup of tea. As long as you read one book in each of 49 categories, you can even binge on 51 books in your favorite category and still qualify. No matter how you slice it, reading 100 books in a year is a big achievement!
Remember how we said you only get entered once for the end-of-the-year drawing? There’s one exception to that. For all you super readers out there, and we know there are a few, for each additional 100 books you read after reaching Emerald, you will get another entry for the $250 Amazon Gift Card grand prize drawing. (Just be aware that the more books you say you’ve read, the more we’re gonna want some proof. If you say you’ve read 1000 books in the year, that’s spectacular, but make sure you’ve been listing them in the weekly Facebook posts throughout the year to back up your claim, or we might have to raise an eyebrow and ask you to give a book report in front of the class.)
How Do I Get Involved?
That’s easy. Pick up a book and read. There is no need to register before you start, and you don’t need to declare your level right out of the gate. You can, but no pressure. You have an entire year to decide. Remember, this is for fun.
How Can I Chat to Others Who Are Participating?
One of the best things about reading is talking about what you’re reading. IHS has a Facebook group where we would love to hear about your reading progress. We’ve also set up a Goodreads group (it’s currently under construction and will be available shortly) for those who prefer that platform.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?
- The IHS Reading Challenge runs January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022.
- A book must fit one of the 50 categories that have been chosen for this year’s challenge and will only be counted once, even if it fits several categories.
- A book must be started and finished during the calendar year to count.
- The format can be ebook, Kindle Vella, paperback, hardcover, or audio.
- Size doesn’t matter, meaning it doesn’t have to be a novel. Graphic novels, Kindle Vella episodes, short stories, novellas, novelettes, and anthologies count.
- Rereads count as long as they’re read in full during the calendar year.
- Different books in a multi-book series can be counted toward different categories, but remember, each individual title can only be counted once.
- If you initially put a book down for age-gap that can also count as ice queen but then read another age-gap, you can move the first to ice queen. Again, we want to stress, a book only counts once, but it can be moved around accordingly before you turn in your final sheet at the end of the year.
- Each book must have one character with a woman who loves/is attracted to a woman, though it is not necessary for the book to have a romance or romantic subplot. This includes those who identify as lesbian, queer, bisexual, pansexual, and homoromantic asexual women. This also includes nonbinary, trans, and intersex individuals who identify as Sapphic in some manner. We welcome the very broadest interpretation of this definition as long as it keeps to the spirit of the challenge.
- The level goal you reach for is up to you and can be changed throughout the year. For example, if you start off aiming for Garnet but blast by it, you’re more than welcome to keep aiming higher. Or, if you aim for Emerald but don’t hit it, no one will judge you. The goal is to read for pleasure, not drive yourself crazy. Whichever level you have reached by December 31, 2022 is the one you will get credit for when it comes time to enter the final drawing.
- Even though we’ll be showcasing one category per week, that doesn’t mean you have to read according to the category schedule or choose only from books we suggest. Read what you want, when you want. Just keep track of it and keep us updated on the IHS Facebook page or by email if you want to have a shot at the monthly prizes.
Now for the 50 categories. We’ve listed them below, but you can also download a PDF right here. Fill in the title for each category and hold on to your title sheet until the end of the year.
- Age-Gap Romance: A story where one character is at least 7 years older than the other individual.
- POC Character: One of the main characters is a person of color.
- Slow Burn Romance: Where the characters develop romantic feelings at a slow pace.
- Magical Realism: A story depicting a realistic version of the present-day world but has added magical elements to blur the lines between reality and fantasy.
- Love After 50: Where one of the main characters falls in love at the age of 50 or older.
- Fake Relationship: Where the pairing in the novel starts off faking a relationship but end up falling in love.
- Fantasy Romance: A fantasy story with a romantic subplot.
- Suspense: A story with suspense and doesn’t necessarily have a romantic subplot. (It can, but there’s also a Romantic Suspense category.)
- Girl Next Door: One of the main characters has the qualities of the “girl next door”—sweet, wholesome, and everyone’s friend.
- Toaster Oven: A story when one of the mains comes out later in life (after the age of 29), because they either didn’t know or didn’t want to confront their identity.
- Fantasy: A story with a fantasy plot. It can have a romantic subplot, but it doesn’t have to.
- Medical Character: One of the main characters is in the medical profession (doctor, nurse, dentist, etc.).
- Cute Animal / Pet / Wild Animal: A story where an animal plays a small role in the story.
- Rich Girl / Poor Girl: A story where there’s a wealth discrepancy between the two mains.
- Second Chance Romance: Where a couple had been in a relationship and failed, but then try again later in life with an HEA.
- Celebrity: A story where one of the main characters is a celebrity (movies, television, social media, etc.).
- Single Parent: One of the main characters is a single parent.
- Character with a Disability or Mental Illness: One of the main characters has a disability or mental illness.
- Romantic Suspense: A story with suspense but also has a romantic plot or subplot.
- Enemies to Lovers: The main characters who fall in love start off hating each other or are rivals (political, sports, work, etc.).
- Loss / Grieving: One of the main characters is dealing with loss or grief.
- Historical Fiction: A story that is set in the past by at least 30 years.
- Neurodiverse Character: A story where one of the main characters is on the autistic spectrum or has dyslexia, ADHD, etc.
- Sweet Romance: A romance that doesn’t have sex on the page.
- Ice Queen: A story where one of the main characters comes across as cold, indifferent, and prickly. Usually, by the end of the story, she thaws somewhat.
- Hot & Steamy: Stories that include all the juicy elements of physical intimacy.
- BDSM: Stories that involve BDSM, which typically includes elements of roleplaying, dominance, submission, etc.
- Historical Romance: A story that takes place at least 30 years in the past that has a romance or romantic subplot.
- Forced Proximity / Stranded Together: A story where the two main characters are forced to be around the other, such as by being stranded in a cabin in the woods, or they end up working together.
- Friends to Lovers: A story where the two mains start off as friends and end up falling in love.
- Grumpy / Sunshine: A story where one of the mains is the grumpy sort and the other is cheery.
- One Night to Forever: When the two characters share one night together thinking it won’t lead to anything, but it ends up with a HEA.
- Return to Hometown: One of the main characters returns to their hometown after spending years away.
- Young Adult / New Adult: YA stories feature characters between the ages of 12 and 18, and NA has characters who are just entering adulthood, usually 18-25, although some think this goes up to 30.
- Paranormal Romance: Stories that usually lack scientific explanation (witches, werewolves, psychics, etc.) with a romance or romantic subplot.
- Mystery: Stories around an unsolved element that attempts to solve the mystery.
- Sci-Fi Romance: A science fiction story with a romance or romantic subplot.
- Musician: One of the main characters is a musician of some type (singer, drummer, celloist, etc.).
- Vampire: Someone in the book is a vampire. Think Twilight or Interview with a Vampire.
- Coming Out: A story that involves one of the main characters coming out as LGBTQIA.
- Ghosts: The story involves a ghost(s) in some fashion.
- Asexual / Demisexual: A story with an asexual or demisexual main character. An asexual person typically doesn’t have sexual feelings or desires for physical intimacy. A demisexual individual experiences sexual desire after developing a strong emotional connection with someone. For all the nuance types of attraction and a more thorough explanation, here’s an article to read.
- Holiday Romance: A story revolving around a holiday, such as Christmas, Passover, Hannukah, etc.
- Ladies in Uniform: One of the main characters wears a uniform, such as police, firefighter, military, etc.
- Dystopian / Apocalyptic: Dystopian is a futuristic and imagined story that has oppressive societal measures and seem like they’ve created a perfect society, but they are enforced via totalitarian control. Apocalyptic involves stories that show either the collapse or collapsing of civilization.
- Sports: One of the main characters is a sports player, such as soccer, softball, archer, etc.
- Sci-Fi: A science fiction story that doesn’t have romance or a romantic subplot, but it can.
- Speculative Fiction: A story set in a world entirely different from reality with fantastical, supernatural, or futuristic elements. Some refer to them as what-if stories that involve changing the laws of what’s possible and/or real and what that outcome would look like.
- Thriller: A story that is fast-paced with action scenes and is suspenseful.
- Erotic Romance: A story centered on the romantic nature of a relationship through sexual intimacy. Sex plays a strong role in the romance and character development.