Extreme Reader Challenge 2021

2021_extreme reader_web_header

2021 Extreme Reader Challenge

Sign up now for the 2021 Extreme Reader year-long reading challenge! 

The Basics

Looking for a new way to challenge your reading life or just want to shake things up a bit? Sign up for the Extreme Reader year-long reading challenge to explore new titles and authors, read more diversely, and connect with fellow book lovers in the community! 

  • Read 50 books (teens read 25) in 50 weeks from 55 categories to complete the challenge 
  • Open to adults and teens (age 13 and over at time of sign up) 
  • Books read must apply to current category list 
  • Participants must have a valid Tacoma Public Library card to register

Key Dates for the 2021 Challenge:

Tuesday, Jan. 5 – 2021 Extreme Reader challenge begins

Sunday, Feb. 21 through Sunday, Feb. 28 TPL Budget Closure see 'Updates' below

Saturday, July 31 – Final day to register for the challenge 

Monday, Aug. 2– First day to complete the challenge 

Sunday, Nov. 28 through Sunday, Dec. 5 TPL Budget Closure see 'Updates' below

Saturday, Dec. 18 – Last day to complete the challenge 

2021_extreme reader_logo

Categories & Recommendations

Reading Log

Use the officialExtreme Reader reading log to track your progress! Reading logs may be picked up at the library or downloaded and printed from home. 

Printable Reading Log, opens a new window   l   Downloadable Fillable Reading Log, opens a new window 

Category List

Staff curated booklists are available for many of the categories and can be accessed by clicking on the category belowThese links will take you directly to the Tacoma Public Library catalog where you can place holds and add titles of interest to your own library account lists. To print an easy to read list:

  • Click the printer icon at the bottom of booklist
  • In the top right hand section select “Print these…” or “Print Options”
  • From "Print Options" you can choose to print the list with or without images

For 2021, booklists will be released in waves throughout the first several months of the challenge. If a catalog link isn’t currently available, please check again in the coming months.

Not sure what a category means or is asking for exactly? Descriptions for most categories can be found here, opens a new window or, see our recommendations in the booklists linked below.

Download the printable category list here!, opens a new window

2021 Extreme Reader Categories 

  1. A book about climate change, opens a new window 
  2. A book about music or musicians, opens a new window 
  3. A book about or involving social media use, opens a new window 
  4. A book about or with art or museums, opens a new window 
  5. A book about or written by a journalist, opens a new window 
  6. A book about or written by a woman in STEM, opens a new window 
  7. A book about social justice, opens a new window
  8. A book about the American Civil War, opens a new window 
  9. A book in which a natural disaster takes place, opens a new window 
  10. A book of your own choosing 
  11. A book published in the year you were born 
  12. A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics, opens a new window 
  13. A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent, opens a new window 
  14. A book set in Ireland, opens a new window  
  15. A book set on a mode of transportation, opens a new window 
  16. A book that passes the Bechdel Test, opens a new window 
  17. A book that takes place during the 1920s, opens a new window 
  18. A book that takes place during the Middle Ages, opens a new window  
  19. A book that takes place during winter, opens a new window  
  20. A book where the characters save (or attempt to save) the world, opens a new window 
  21. A book with a book on the cover, opens a new window 
  22. A book with a character who is older than you 
  23. A book with a glyph in the title, opens a new window 
  24. A book with a heist in it, opens a new window 
  25. A book with a map, opens a new window 
  26. A book with a medical professional, opens a new window  
  27. A book with a metallic cover, opens a new window 
  28. A book with a person’s name in the title, opens a new window 
  29. A book with a royal moniker in the title, opens a new window  
  30. A book with a skull on the cover, opens a new window 
  31. A book with a title featuring repeating words, opens a new window 
  32. A book with an unlikely pair, opens a new window 
  33. A book with crafting or related to the Do-It-Yourself “DIY” movement, opens a new window 
  34. A book with military personnel, opens a new window  
  35. A book with one of the four elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Air) in the title, opens a new window 
  36. A book with only words on the cover, opens a new window 
  37. A book with parents or parental figures in it, opens a new window 
  38. A book written by a South American author, opens a new window 
  39. A book written by an author that uses an initial(s) in their name , opens a new window 
  40. A book written by an author you’ve never read before 
  41. A book written in the first person, opens a new window 
  42. A book you finished in one day  
  43. A Goodreads Choice Awards winner (Adult Fiction list, opens a new windowTeen & Adult Non-fiction list, opens a new window)
  44. A legal thriller, opens a new window  
  45. A magical realism book, opens a new window 
  46. A play, opens a new window  
  47. A prequel or a sequel to another book or series, opens a new window 
  48. A Pulitzer Prize winning or finalist book from the non-fiction category, opens a new window 
  49. An Afro Futurism book, opens a new window 
  50. An alternate history book, opens a new window 
  51. An anthology book, opens a new window  
  52. An antiracist book, opens a new window 
  53. Reread a favorite book 
  54. Two books that share the same title, opens a new window (Title A) 
  55. Two books that share the same title, opens a new window (Title B) 

Curious to see what the categories for previous challenge years looked like? Check out our category archives here, opens a new window!

Completion & Rewards

Completion for the 2021 challenge will be available starting Monday, Aug. 2.Due to the continually evolving environment the library finds itself in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, completion may take place online, in person at the library, or a combination of both options. The completion procedure will be announced prior to or on the first day of completion and instructions updated in this space. 

In the meantime, please make sure to track the titles/authors you read and the categories you've applied them to, in the event that info is needed for the completion process.

Updates & Challenge FAQs

Check back here for corrections, updates, and frequently asked questions!

01/14/21 - Tacoma Public Library announces two week-long closures in 2021 due to budget shortfall  

Please take a moment to read the press release, opens a new window regarding the upcoming budget closures of Tacoma Public Library during Feb. 21–28 and Nov. 28–Dec. 5 2021. A full list of specific service disruptions is included in this information. 

How will this impact Extreme Reader?  

      • ER Facebook GroupExtreme Reader Facebook group will be archived during these time frames. Group members will receive a notification once the group has been archived. Existing members can still see and access group content but cannot post, comment, or react. No new members can request to join. Once the closure time has ended, the group will be unarchived and all functions will return to normal.  
      • ER Website AccessThe library website and online catalog will be unavailable, including the dedicated Extreme Reader web page. Challenge information, category lists and definitions, along with access to booklists for the challenge will be unavailable as well. Sign ups for the challenge will not be available.  
      • Email - Contact via extremereader@tacomalibrary.org will be met with an auto-reply. Staff will respond once they’ve returned to work.  
      • Overbooked - Overbooked meetups will not be held during these time frames.  
      • Completion Reporting - An update will be given for the Nov. 28–Dec. 5 2021 closure and how it will impact completion reporting, once it has been established.

Please reach out to the Extreme Reader team with any questions at extremereader@tacomalibrary.org and be sure to download and check out any materials in the weeks prior to closure! 

Challenge FAQs:

  1. Can both fiction and non-fiction titles count towards the challenge?

Absolutely! Either fiction or non-fiction titles can be read for any category unless the category itself states otherwise.

  1. Does the subtitle of a book apply to category parameters?

Unfortunately, it does not. If a category requires a specific word or parameter, that content needs to be included in the main title.

For example, for the category 'A book with a royal moniker in the title,' the book "A Princess in Theory" by Alyssa Cole would count whereas "Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens" by Jane Dunn would not fulfill the requirements.

  1. Do audiobooks and graphic novels count in this challenge?

Absolutely! Both audiobooks and graphic novels are just another way to tell a story. As long as they are at the appropriate reading level for the participant, they are acceptable formats. 

  1. Do juvenile books count towards reading challenge?

As Extreme Reader is based on the honor system, we hope that participants will honor the nature of the challenge with their reading selections. Teen and higher level Juvenile books count, but other lower level books (easy readers, picture books, and board books) will not be accepted. 

  1. I love podcasts; both fictional and non-fiction storytelling varieties. Can they count towards the Extreme Reader challenge?

Unfortunately, podcasts cannot be counted towards the Extreme Reader challenge.

  1. If I sign up for the challenge later in the year, can books I’ve already read be applied to the challenge or can I only count books that are read after I’ve officially registered?

Books read between Tuesday, Jan. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 can be counted towards the challenge, regardless of when you register. Registration ends on Saturday, July 31, 2021. 

  1. Do I have to use the official Extreme Reader reading log or can I keep track on my own?

You may keep a reading log in any form you choose (spreadsheet, journal, typed list, etc.). However, if in person reporting takes place in 2021, a printable version that includes the following information may be required: 

      • Categories (exact wording from official log/category list included)
      • Title
      • Author 
  1. Can I read one book and apply it to multiple categories?

 Each title you read can only fulfill a single category.

  1. If I read a book for the challenge that I’ve already read before, does it still count?

Absolutely! If you read through a book during the challenge, it can be used, regardless of how many times you’ve read it in the past. 

  1. How do I get a reading log or category list if my local branch is closed? 

Visit a branch during TPL to Go hours and request a reading log or category list. Staff can print on demand or may have one readily available. If a branch currently allows patrons into the building, you can also request from staff while visiting. Reading logs can also be printed from home using the link provided with the category list above. 

To print an easy to read list:
      • Click the printer icon at the bottom of booklist
      • In the top right hand section select “Print these…” or “Print Options”
      • From "Print Options" you can choose to print the list with or without images
  1. I’m not old enough to register, can I still participate?

To officially sign up for the challenge, participants must be 13 or older by the time registration ends on July 31. However, anyone can use the category list to steer their reading for fun! 

  1. What if I’m too young to sign up, but will turn 13 during the challenge?

You can still register for the challenge once you’ve met the age requirements, as long as that happens before the registration cut off date in July. Any books you’ve read since the start of the challenge in January will count, even if you weren’t registered at that time 

  1. How do I pick which challenge level to join if I’m 18, or will be turning 18 during the challenge year?

Currently, the only difference between the challenge levels is the book requirement to complete. While adults 20 and over must participate in the adult challenge, teens may participate in either level they wish to. 

Connect & Contact


Connect with fellow Extreme Readers in the TPL Extreme Reader 2021 Facebook group! Share what you’re reading, support to fellow participants, exchange tips and reading recommendations, interact with the ER staff team, and make book loving friends! This group is for registered participants only, registration is required prior to joining the Facebook group.  


Stay up to date on announcements, challenge updates, and more through our Extreme Reader email newsletter! Don’t worry about signing up; if you’ve registered for the challenge, you are already on the mailing list.

Missed a newsletter? No problem! Check out previously published editions here: 

  • Watch your inboxes for the first newsletter coming in February 2021! 

Overbooked Book Group

Overbooked is our low key, no pressure book group for Extreme Reader participants. We meet up throughout the year for fun socializing – where members can talk about what they are reading, share recommendations, and discuss the challenge. Dates and locations for Overbooked meetups are announced via the Extreme Reader newsletter and Facebook group. Currently, all Overbooked meetups are conducted virtually through Zoom. 


There is an 'unofficial' Goodreads group for the challenge, run and moderated by a small group of challenge participants! If you aren't on Facebook, this is a great way to share book recommendations with fellow Extreme Readers! Extreme Reader library staff will add any Overbooked events to the Goodreads group as they are scheduled but other than that, library staff are hands off. Head over to Goodreads to join the TPL Extreme Reader 2021 Goodreads group! 


Please reach out to the Extreme Reader staff team at extremereader@tacomalibrary.org , opens a new windowwith any questions, comments, feedback, or concerns!

Back to Top