2019 Year of Reading Dangerously

Year of Reading Dangerously challenge

Welcome to the 2019 Year of Reading Dangerously

This is a year-long opportunity to push the boundaries of your reading and explore new topics and genres. It is not a competition, just a personal challenge, but there are some incentives to share your ideas with others in our community of readers.

Register online to join and to receive updates about the challenge.

Register Now

Once you have registered, collect your free library bag* and challenge sheet from your local Willoughby library, or download your pdf format challenge sheet (*library bags available while stocks last).

We welcome you to write a review of any or all the books you read as part of the challenge.

Submit Your Review

Reviews may be displayed on our website, or in our Libraries. There will also be a monthly prize draw for reviews submitted each month.

Who can join in? The challenge is open to anyone aged 16 years and over. Missed out on the first couple of months? No problems – just join in or opt out when you like.

Read one or more books each month from the following 12 genres: 

January – Travel stories

‘Travel stories’ evokes thoughts of swaying palms, snow-capped peaks, crowded souks, exotic street foods… But before you reach for a travel guide, there is a lot more to travel-related writing than a Lonely Planet. 

There are the first person accounts of travellers and explorers which open up the world and, best of all, let you travel to far-off destinations that you may never see. Eric Newby, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson, Bruce Chatwin, Dervla Murphy, Jan Murray, all entice you beyond the front fence.

Alternatively, try a novel set in an exotic locale that may even inspire a visit.  Many readers have booked a trip on the Orient Express after reading Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Maybe you wish that space travel is a reality after being inspired by The Martian by Andy Weir, or maybe 'The Shire' is real in your imagination after reading The Hobbit.

Find more inspiration for reading in the Library catalogue or download our suggestions sheet:

Whatever your January travel story choice - why not share the journey? Don't forget to submit a review of your read.

February – Books set in China

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with our Chinese community by reading a book set in China. You may be aware of the 'Crazy Rich Asian' series by Kevin Kwan or the books of Amy Tan but this is only the beginning.
Why not explore our non-fiction collection?

  • Chinese history (find it on shelf at 951)
  • Chinese Astrology (find it on shelf at 133.5)
  • Chinese art (find it on shelf at 709.51)
  • Chinese cooking (find it on shelf at 641.59/CHI)

Try searching the Library catalogue with the keywords China novel or Chinese biography for novels and fascinating first person accounts.

Chinese speakers will find lots of inspiration in Chatswood Library’s extensive Chinese language collection!

Find more inspiration for reading in the Library catalogue or download our suggestions sheet:

March – Book to Movie

Are you inspired to re-read a favourite book after watching its latest dramatisation?

Do you get excited when you discover that a favourite novel will be made into a movie? A movie can also create awareness or spark interest in a book that you have never read or heard of. 

The quote "Never judge a book by its movie" is clever because it acknowledges that they are two very different creatures. Some people think that books are better than movies because books can let you imagine the setting, the events happening in the story and appreciate the skill of good writing. Although books are undoubtedly more detailed than the movies, movies provide an aspect which the novels lack: visuals. It is extremely exciting to see characters come to life and to witness the creative interpretation of a book by the director and actors.  

Movies based on books can be fantastic, creative and so much better than the book - think The Godfather. Or they can be questionable - (I'm sure you can supply your own title here!)   

It is amazing to discover how many movies have their origins in books. When researching this topic it was surprising to learn that the classic Science Fiction novel by Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? is better known as the Blade Runner movie.

Find more inspiration for reading in the Library catalogue or download our suggestions sheet:

April – Young Adult Fiction

What do you think when you see a book categorised as Young Adult Fiction? Is this a turn off for you or would you read the novel if you find the synopsis attractive?
It is estimated that 55% of all readers of Young Adult fiction are adults. Does this figure surprise you? 

Why do you think adults enjoy reading books aimed at the Young Adult market? Some suggest reasons such as escapism, or exploring the 'Coming of Age' theme, nostalgia for the intensity of the first time, exploring social issues, or simply because of the quality of writing. 

Classic titles that have been read by adults are S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Albrandi.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak are interesting as these titles are classified as adult novels but the protagonist is a teenager.

Jackie French writes for both young adult and adult audiences. Some of her titles are found in both adult and young adult collections within libraries. And J.K. Rowling is unique, as she has to be the only author whose writing style matures as her original readers grew.

Find more inspiration for reading in the Library catalogue 

May – Prize Winners

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." — Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626)
This month we would like you to explore literary prize winners and write a review about the book or author you choose. 

There are literary prizes that cover the world, regions, countries and states, languages, subjects and genres. There are at least 15 international awards, five awards that cover the British Commonwealth and over 50 Australian literary awards. The number of awards can be quite overwhelming. Books appeal to us on an emotional level as well as a literary level; a book you value may not be valued by others.Taking all of this into consideration, the quote by Sir Francis Bacon summarises what many people feel about Prize Winners — that it is not possible for all winners to be loved by all readers! The positive gain for us readers is that prize winning books and authors are brought to our attention. We may discover a new writer who becomes a favourite. You may be thinking ‘where do I start?’ Here are a few suggestions:

  • Do you have favourite authors and books and want to know if they ever won a prize? Do some investigating and tell us why it deserved an award.
  • Have you read a book that won a literary prize and wondered why that author won? Share your thoughts with us.
  • You may choose to start reading prize winning books by exploring the lists of winners. Why not start at the top and choose an author who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Past winners include: Kazuo Ishiguro, Alice Munro, Doris Lessing, Nadine Gordimer and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • Other well known literary awards include the Man Booker Prize, Miles Franklin Award, Pulitzer Prize and the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

Find more inspiration in the Library catalogue - try using an Advanced Search with the keywords: Man Booker Prize or Miles Franklin Award or Pulitzer

June – Sci-Fi or Fantasy

Our challenge in June is to tempt you to overcome any misconceptions you may have about Science Fiction and Fantasy novels and stories.
The Sci–Fi and Fantasy genres are often undervalued and little explored by readers. If you have never read Sci–Fi or Fantasy fiction you could be missing out on discovering “a new favourite” genre.
Some common misconceptions about Sci–Fi and Fantasy fiction are: the audience is mainly male; they are only written for teenagers; the content is confusing and hard to understand; and the books all contain monsters and science.

A frequent question asked about these genres is “What does a book set in an ‘unreal’ world tell us about the real world?” The short answer to this is ‘Plenty, read George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.’

Both the Sci–Fi and Fantasy genres have many subgenres, some of which are listed below. 

Science Fiction subgenres:
  • Hard — the novels in this genre are based on the scientific facts of the time. Authors include Arthur C. Clarke, Kim Stanley Robinson, Jules Verne.
  • Military — action packed adventure set in space. Authors include Orson Scott Card, John Scalzi.
  • Near Future — the novels are set in the near future. Neal Stephenson, Philip K. Dick.
  • Sociological — character based. Examples include Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 421, and authors Robert A Heinlein, or George Orwell.
  • Dystopia — novels are set in a dysfunctional society/world. Read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids.
  • Alternative History — imagines what the world would be if known historical events had a different outcome. Eric Flint, Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials series, Stephen Baxter.
  • Space Opera — world building/imaginary worlds. Anne McCaffrey’s Pern Chronicles, James S. A. Corey, Ben Bova.
Fantasy subgenres:
  • Epic or High Fantasy. Think of series such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.
  • Arthurian / Celtic. Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series.
  • Paranormal romance. Christine Feehan’s Dark series, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series.
  • Fairytale retelling. Mercedes Lackey

Novelist Plus is an online resource discovery tool that can help you find your next great read - browse by genre and discover read-a-like authors. Library members can access this resource from home with their Library card.

You can also find more inspiration in our Library catalogue 

July – Indigenous Authors

In celebration of NAIDOC Week 2019, the theme for July is Indigenous writers and culture.

There are many Aboriginal writers of quality fiction, pick up one of our Indigenous Fiction bookmarks in the Library to give you inspiration for your July reading choice. If you prefer non-fiction, explore 994.9 for Aboriginal history and culture, or 709.949 for Aboriginal art.

Staff have enjoyed reading all the excellent book reviews. Please keep sending your reviews for the Year of Reading Dangerously challenge.

See our Library catalogue for suggestions and further inspiration.

Happy Reading.

August – Popular Science

The challenge of the science writer and journalist is taking a complex scientific theory and explaining that theory to the layperson in an easy to understand way. Writers who have this ability are very gifted. To celebrate the talent of the science writers and National Science Week the theme for August is Popular Science.

When exploring popular science, one soon realises that this is a broad theme. The choices are general science writing, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, wildlife and conservation, genetics, botany, animals etc. The choice is endless!

The recent reminiscing about Apollo 11 and the moon landing may inspire you to choose an astronomy title or inspire you to read about the space race that cumulated with the Apollo 11 mission. You may like to approach this theme from a philosophical view point, enjoy a biography on one of the great scientists, or explore the application of science by choosing a title about inventions.

Whatever your August choice, why not share your thoughts? Don’t forget to submit a review of your read — you may win a prize! 

Check the Library catalogue for some Popular Science inspiration.

September – Historical Fiction

In celebration of History Week 2019, the theme for September is Historical Fiction

Novels classified as historical fiction are set in a significant time period in the past. The writer can examine how a famous figure from history responds to events of the time or create a fictional character and a plot that includes historical events. While the historian uses speculation to bridge between one known fact and another, the historical novelist uses the imagination to create a story which links the facts.
The writer, who takes the time to research the past, can make history come alive for their readers. This is why there are quite a few historians who are successful writers of historical fiction.  Alison Weir would be the most well-known historian who has made the leap to historical fiction writing- others include Giles Milton, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Harry Sidebottom, Patrick Bishop, Ian Mortimer, Kate Williams and Deborah Harkness.
While readers are being informed as well as entertained, we must remember that the writers do take some liberties with the truth, tamper with history and attempt to fill gaps that may in fact be missing from the historical record all in the name of writing a story filled with excitement, adventure,  romance and drama. Why let the truth (according to history books), get in the way of a good story.
Visit the Library catalogue to find a list of suggested reading, check out the display in the library or browse NoveList Plus by the genre Historical Fiction, to find your September read.

Happy Reading!

October – Banned Books

The theme for October is Banned Books.
If you research banned books you will quickly discover that most have been banned for political reasons, religious reasons or because of obscenity.
The earliest record of censorship is thought to be from Roman times. Thailia, written by Arus who lived 256- 336 AD was banned in the Roman empire in around 330AD, demonstrating that censorship has been around since the earliest of times.
The following is a list of books that at some stage in their publishing history have been banned in Australia:

American Psycho - Ellis, Bret Easton
Borstal Boy - Behan, Brendan
Brave New World - Huxley, Aldous
Catcher in the Rye - Salinger, J. D
Fahrenheit 451 - Bradbury, Ray
Lady Chatterley's Lover - Lawrence, D. H
Letty Fox: her luck - Stead, Christina
The Decameron - Boccaccio, Giovanni
The group - McCarthy, Mary
Ulysses - Joyce, James

Looking at the list above it is hard to believe that classic novels now found on the school curriculum such as Brave New World, Catcher in the Rye and Fahrenheit 451, were once banned in Australia.
For more banned books, visit the library display or check the suggested reading in the library catalogue for inspiration.

November – Australian Rural Fiction

Inspiration to come…

December – Food

Inspiration to come…



Need help finding books?

Discover read-alikes and expert picks in the databases below. Simply log in with your library card.

Good Reading Hub for Book Lovers  

Good Reading Hub for Book Lovers 

News, events and competitions for book lovers. Includes online access to all past issues of Good Reading Magazine. 

Good Reading magazine  

Good Reading Magazine - Digital Magazine

Read the current issue of Good Reading Magazine online. 

Novelist Plus  

NoveList Plus

Great for read-alikes and award winners from around the globe.


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