The goal is to read sapphic books that fit as many of the 50 categories listed below as possible. You can read ebooks, paperbacks, or audiobooks; and they can be new-to-you books or re-reads. Depending on how many sapphic books you manage to read in 2021, you can earn different badges and book prizes. Jae will post book recommendations for a new category once a week, and I will try to keep the list up to date. Of course, you could also just read whatever books you want and then, afterwards, see what categories they fit into.
Each book may be used only once, even if it fits several categories. (You may add books to multiple categories to help others find suitable reads, but if you are looking to win a prize, be aware of this!)
The levels and badges of the Sapphic Reading Challenge
The Sapphic Reading Challenge offers five different levels plus a bonus level, so you can pick whatever suits you best, depending on how much reading time you have. You can move up or down to a different level at any time.
Book Penguin: The goal is to read 10 sapphic books in 2021. Each book has to fit one category listed below. Completing 20% of this challenge would award you the Book Penguin Badge. Book Squirrel: The goal is to read 20 sapphic books in 2021. Each book has to fit one category listed below. Completing 40% of this challenge would award you the Book Squirrel Badge. Book Bear: The goal is to read 30 sapphic books in 2021. Each book has to fit one category listed below. Completing 60% of this challenge would award you the Book Bear Badge. Book Dragon (level 1): The goal is to read 50 sapphic books in 2021, one book for each of the 50 categories. Completing 100% of this challenge would award you the Book Dragon (lvl 1) Badge. Book Dragon (level 2): This is the level for our hardcore readers. The goal is to read 100 sapphic books in 2021, two books for each of the 50 categories. Completing 200% of this challenge would award you the Book Dragon (lvl 2) Badge, but it must be two from each category. Book Unicorn: The Book Unicorn is a bonus level that you can pick either by itself or as an additional goal. The goal is to read 10 sapphic books from a list of 12 harder-to-find genres and themes. Jae will post book suggestions for one Book Unicorn category each month. I have listed them as bonus prompts.
The reading challenge will run from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. You can join at any time.
Each book needs to have at least one main character who is a woman who loves women or a nonbinary character who identifies as sapphic.
Each book needs to fit one of the 50 categories (for the Book Penguin, the Book Squirrel, the Book Bear, or the Book Dragon) or one of the 12 extra categories (for the Book Unicorn). You’ll find the list of categories below.
Each book may be used only once, even if it fits several categories.
Pick the level that you think will work best for you. If you later change your mind and realize you’ll be reading fewer or more books than you initially thought, you can switch to a different level any time.
Every week, Jae will post a new category with a list of book recommendations. For the Book Unicorn, she’ll post reading suggestions for one category each month. You can either pick a book from those recommended reading lists or choose any other book that fits the category. (Here is the index of posts, kept updated with links.)
Only books you started and finished in 2021 count.
Books can be any format—ebook, paperback, or audiobook.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a novel. Novellas (usually around 17,500-40,000 words) count too, as do anthologies, short story collections, and graphic novels.
A book of at least 120,000 words. For an audiobook, that means 12 hours or more. Page numbers can be misleading since it depends on the font, the font size, the margins, page size, etc., but if you can’t find the word count, go for books that have 350+ pages.
The protagonist is at least 30 years old and comes out as LGBTQIA during the course of the book, either because it took them longer to figure out they aren’t straight or because they were struggling to come out to friends and family.
The main character qualifies as a nerd or a geek—meaning they are very enthusiastic about some kind of non-mainstream activity or specialized subject, e.g., a video games, science, technology, comic books, cosplay, collections.
A character is mistaken for someone else for at least a part of the book. Usually, it’s misunderstanding (or at least it starts out that way), rather than one character intentionally lying or disguising herself. The misunderstanding can be cleared up quickly or the other character can play along and start pretending to be someone she isn’t, but the situation didn’t start out as an intentional disguise.
Post-apocalyptic fiction is set in the aftermath of a devastating natural disaster or war that made society as we know it collapse. In an apocalyptic book, we’re in the middle of that disaster happening. Dystopian fiction is set in a future society that is oppressive.
The character is nonbinary, genderqueer, or genderfluid person who is attracted to women or female-aligned nonbinary people. Ideally, pick a book written by a nonbinary, genderqueer, or genderfluid author.