Gamify Your Reading Life: Reading Side Quests for All Types of Readers


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If you visit my household, there is a good chance that someone in my household will be playing video games or reading at any given time. Most likely my husband or I (our dogs and cats are smart but lack manual dexterity, natch).

So you can imagine the discussions that were had after reading this tweet by Louisa (who is a magical unicorn with NextDoor postings that are nice and fun? I didn’t know that was a thing!).

What if we combined the best of both worlds and came up with some kooky reading side quests? What if, and how — I did it!

Visit 10 Little Free Libraries

Rioter Carina Pereira rounded up Little Free Libraries Across all Seven Continents earlier this year, so you should be able to find ten. Depending on how large your city is, this could take just an hour or, for those with few and far between, it could be a months-long goal.

I live in a city of fewer than 75,000 people, yet we have upwards of 50 Little Free Libraries. Then again, we were the very first UNESCO City of Literature in the United States, NBD.

Bonus points: Take selfies of yourself at every Little Free Library within 100 miles of your home.

Stop in the Middle of a Book to Write Your Own Ending

The next time you find yourself swept up in a who-done-it or why-they-done-it or what’s-been-done-in-it, stop in your tracks and whip out your closest notebook. Take 30 minutes to jot down your best guesses on how the book will end. Get into as much or as little detail as you’d like. Then when you finish the book, compare your guesses to the reality.

Bonus points: Write the final chapter in its entirety.

Visit Your Local Thrift Store and Find Your Favorite Childhood Book

The difficulty of this task will depend largely on how many thrift stores are near you and how obscure your favorite childhood book is. I’d need to find a copy of The Poky Little Puppy, which doesn’t seem that hard but I haven’t started yet. Wish me luck!

Bonus points: Find every volume of your favorite childhood book series.

Write a FanPoem About Your Favorite Book

You know all about fan fiction, but what about fan poems? Write an epic about your favorite book. You can make this simple with a short, fun poem or you can create a tome-length retelling. It’s up to you!

Bonus points: Write your poem in Rondeau Prime.

Join a Book Club Outside of Your Comfort Zone

If joining a book club at all is outside of your comfort zone, then joining any book club would meet the requirements of this side quest. You can read my post An Introvert’s Guide to Joining a Book Club, which for some reason has several pictures of my dog Fiddle and also a really weird, long, unrelated anecdote in which I approve of people’s right to be Christian, you’re welcome.

If you’re already in a book club or the idea of joining one doesn’t seem that daunting, join one that you normally wouldn’t join. Are you a genre reader? Check out a nonfiction book club. Love literary fiction? Check out a horror book club.

Bonus points: Start your own out-of-the-box book club.

Read Books Recommended by a Dozen People

If you have a lot of readers in your life, ask 12 of them for a recommendation. Do not put any limits on it — simply ask them to recommend a book they’ve loved and then read them. If you don’t have 12 people who read or want to share their favorite books with you (how rude!) check out lists of books recommended by your favorite author, celebrity, ball player, etc.

How Rude GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Bonus points: Read 12 books recommended by people you don’t like. I’m not talking about reading pro-Hitler books recommended by your ignorant uncle, I’m talking about your annoying coworker. In other words, read books that you assume you won’t like. You might be surprised.

Speak to Future Readers

Grab a book that’s ready for a new reader and inscribe it with your own personal note. Advise the person who finds the book to shoot you an email. Then drop the book at a local thrift store, a used book store when you’re traveling, or even on a Greyhound bus. See how far the book travels!

Bonus points: Write a letter to the finder and tell them five fun facts about you. Include a way for them to email you back with their own list of five fun facts.

Which of these side quests speaks to you? Which ones will you be trying the next time you crack a book?


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