Thursday, December 7, 2017

Reading Naturally Challenge 2018

The purpose of this challenge is simple: encouraging readers to dip their reading toes into books that will deepen their understanding of nature via excellent writing about a variety of subjects. Renewing our connection with the natural world is good for us on many levels--let's spread that around!


Reading comes naturally, right, so why not read something natural? The categories are intentionally broad and numerous, and both fiction and non-fiction are eligible. All genres are eligible, too, so everything from a camping how-to book to a Harlequin romance can qualify! Reading outdoors is highly recommended, but optional.

Even if you're not outdoorsy, you'll find something to suit you. That's the point, actually: Nature is everywhere, around us and within us. After all, as Wendell Berry says, "The earth is what we all have in common"--but there are many good ways to approach that.


1. Join anytime before December 1, 2018. The challenge ends at midnight EST on December 31, 2018.

2. Choose your reading level:

     Exposed to Nature: Read 1 to 3 books 
     Engaged with Nature: Read 4 to 6 books
     Immersed in Nature: Read 7 or more books

3. Choose from these categories (one book per category, fiction or non-fiction, any genre):

*Classic: written by Rachel Carson, Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Gary Snyder, or another giant in the field
*Outdoors Gear on the Cover: backpack, snowshoes, snorkel and fins, etc.
*Animal or Bird Related
*Outdoorsy Heroine
*Current Issue: climate change, biodiversity loss, etc.
*Water Related
*New: published in 2017 or 2018
*Dystopia Flavored: emphasizing future consequences
*Extreme Element: sailing around the world, mountain climbing, etc.
*Season Related
*Plant Related
*Set in a Wilderness Locale
*Spiritual: emphasizing connection
*Skills Related: how to camp, kayak, survive in the woods, etc.
*Advocacy Related: speaking up for nature
*Biography or Memoir of an Environmentalist or Conservationist: Jacques Cousteau, Jane Goodall, Teddy Roosevelt, or another nature advocate
*Orion Book Award winner or finalist: any year, any subject (2016 winners here, earlier winners here)

4. Books may come from your TBR pile or list, but they don’t have to.

5. Overlaps with other challenges are allowed and encouraged.

6. Change your list at any time.

7. Reviews and reactions are encouraged, but you don’t need a blog to participate.

8. Progress will be tracked at a “Progress & Reviews page” in the sidebar.

9. Please pass the word about this challenge! A sign-up post on your blog would be excellent. Feel free to borrow the button for display, too.


When you meet your reading goal, you'll receive a small, fun, nature-related prize personally selected for you!


On January 15, 2019, all the readers who've met their goals in each category will be entered into a drawing for a prize package combining bookish and outdoorsy interests. The prize package will include, among other things, an Orion Book Award winner or finalist of your choice. What could be nicer?
So, are you in? If so, sign up below by leaving a message in the comments with your list or a link.


  1. I will join with Engaged with nature :)

    1. Welcome, ici! I have added you to the progress page.

  2. So glad you started this challenge. I was going to do my own by myself. These are my favorite books to read I will be doing Immersed in Nature. Tracking my progress on Goodreads.

    1. Hi, Owl! I'm so glad you've joined this challenge! Unfortunately, I can't see your Goodreads list. If you'll keep me updated as you go along, that will be fine. Thanks for joining!

    2. Sorry, I just saw you reply. Did you try to copy and paste my link? I am planning on starting a blog, but haven't gotten it done yet. In the mean time, how should I keep you updated on my reading. I plan to do the Immersed In Nature reading 7 or more books.


    3. Hmm, the copy and paste worked that time, although no books are listed yet (right?).

      The best way to keep me updated is to make a comment on the Progress & Reviews page as you finish a book, with a link to your review. That page is at:

      I hope you'll enjoy being immersed. :-)

  3. I have made my post, Jane, with pleasure! Please know I answered all of your blog visit commens the same day. Most recently, all four of my reading group themes are open for signing-up. Sincerely, Carolyn.

    1. Hi, Carolyn, and welcome! I'm so glad you are joining again this year and hope your reading is an adventure! You're signed up on the progress page and I look forward to your updates. (Will be circling back to your 2018 challenges again soon - I still have Ethereal 2017 to finish before January is out!)

  4. Just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed this challenge over the past few weeks. I have been reading even more than usual because I got successive flus (so gross) so I have already read more than 7 books, and am on track to get all of the categories done by the end of the year. Here's what I have read so far:

    Non-Fiction Nature Classic - Land of Little Rain by Mary Austin (Penguin classic & a wonderful memoir about life in the Mojave desert)

    Outdoor Gear on Cover - What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (has a harness on the cover)

    Animal Related - Going Bovine by Libby Bray (protagonist gets "mad cow disease")

    Extreme Element - Calvin by Martine Leavitt (protagonist attempts to cross one of the Great Lakes in the middle of winter - this one could also work for the "skills" category as well)

    Season Related - Slow Storm by Danica Novgorodoff (story centers around tornado season)

    Plant Related - A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (protagonist is haunted by a tree)

    Set in a Wilderness Locale - Ruby by Cynthia Bond (much of the story takes place in the woods surrounding a very isolated community)

    Spiritual/Emphasizing Connection - Bog Child by Siobahn Dowd (protagonist finds body that was preserved in an Irish bog and starts seeing visions of her life)

    Skills Related - Wild Bird by Wendelin van Draanen (angry teen protagonist forced to go to Utah wilderness rehab camp and has to learn to make fire, find water, etc.)

    1. Hi, Margie! I'm glad you're enjoying this challenge so much. Too bad about the double flu, but at least you've found a positive angle on it! I hope you're on the mend now.

      I've added your list to the Progress & Reviews page ( so you're good to go. The books sound varied and interesting! Enjoy!

  5. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think this site needs far more attention. I'll probably be back again to read
    through more, thanks for the info!

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