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2017 Hub Reading Challenge May Check-in

It’s time for another Hub Reading Challenge Check-In, and with less than a month left in the challenge it’s definitely a good time to take stock.


the hub 2017 reading challenge


It’s helpful for me to remember that the challenge is intended to encourage all of us to dive deeper into the award winner and honor books and YALSA selected lists with an eye towards discovering new authors and title, exploring new genres, reading outside of our comfort zones, and improving reader’s advisory wherever that happens.  For me, I’ve noticed that a lot of my reading this year has already resulted in successfully connecting friends, family, and acquaintances with books that might not have been on my radar without YALSA recognition.  I’m especially, stunned and impressed, looking back on it as I write this, by the wide range of reader’s who have benefited from these lists and honors.

For example, I gave Julie Berry’s The Passion of Dolssa as a gift to my beloved (and very well read) mother in law, along with Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.  Ben Hatke’s Mighty Jack and Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona have been given to my daughter’s friends and classmates and have been recommended  to more parent’s of her swim team compatriots than I can count.  Every Heart a Doorway, the first of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children books, was such a hit with my niece that I have secretly pre-ordered her a signed copy of the next book to celebrate her transition from middle school to high school.  

During one of many 13 Reasons Why conversations I’ve had with friends and fellow parents over the past few weeks the subject of other book to movie adaptations came up and I was able to knowledgeably recommend Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star by way of her Everything Everything (playing now at a theater near you.)  And when a friend who was tangentially involved in that particular discussion came to me later to ask for recommendations for her 11 year old son Jason Reynolds (As Brave As You and Ghost) was right there at my fingertips, the perfect books at the perfect time.  In another fortuitous coincidence, I’d been urging (strongly) my oldest niece to read Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan for a long time so when she received a signed copy (!) as a gift she was all the more excited, knowing it was a book she was going to love.  

The longer I stare at the list of Challenge titles the more encounters spring to mind; it’s amazing just how many exceptional books are out there, and how many readers I’ve connected to using just this one year of Reading Challenge books.  What about you?  Have you recommended any of the 2017 titles to friends and family?  Is there a particular title that you’re having success with in your library?  Please share your experiences in the comments!

Let us know how you are doing with the Challenge and don’t forget about the sortable spreadsheet! Here are the guidelines in case you don’t remember:

  • Format matters: a title that has been recognized for both the print version and the audiobook version can be both read and listened to and count as two books, but a book that has won multiple awards or appears on multiple lists in the same format only counts as one title.
  • Books must be read/listened to (both begun and finished) since the award winners and selected lists have been released and 11:59pm EST on June 22. If you’ve already read/listened to a title, you must re-read/listen to it for it to count.
  • Just about everyone who doesn’t work for ALA is eligible to participate. Non-ALA/YALSA members are eligible. Teens are eligible. Non-US residents/citizens are eligible. (More eligibility questions? Leave a comment or email us.)
  • Once you finish the challenge, we’ll contact you with details about creating and publishing your response.
  • If you have finished the challenge, let us know here!  The grand prize winner will be selected by 11:59pm EST on June 23. The winner will be notified via email.

—Julie Bartel, currently reading Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree and Princess Cora and the Crocodile written by Laura Amy Schlitz and illustrated by Brian Floca


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Julie Bartel

Julie is a writer and librarian living in Salt Lake City, UT.


  1. I have 2 books left and and am having a hard time getting them in the whole state (to which I have access)!! Since I last checked in, my favorites are (even tho it is gory) The Female of the Species, Tell Me Three Things, When We Collided, & Life in Motion. A lot of 3s that were okay, but didn’t grab me – Queen of Blood, Beast (narrators just so-so), If I was Your Girl, Unbecoming, What Happened to Goodbye (not her best) & The Diviners (really too long). I did purchase The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar for my 13 yr old grandson. As soon as I started reading it, knew he would love it which he did. Me, not so much, as creepy crawlers creep me out. Not fond of at all were Star Wars Ahsoka (not a Star Wars fan to begin with), Lowriders…Earth, Feminism, Dryland (need narration), You Know Me Well. I’m still not a GN fan, but they do expand my comfort zone. Think my favorite is Salt to the Sea. I also think it would not have made as much of an impression if I had read it instead of listening to it. Have read a lot of good books with this year’s challenge.

  2. I am up to 20 books, so I feel I will be able to read the required 25 in enough time. For the month of May, I read a few graphic novels- Mighty Jack was awesome! I really enjoyed Orange and Plutona was just ok. I really did not like Black Panther. I listened to Ahsoka & also Wink Poppy, Midnight and LOVED these 2 audiobooks! I re-read The Good Braider and highly recommend this urban fiction, refugee/immigration novel!

  3. Cindy McCan Cindy McCan

    I was able to complete 9 books which brings me to a total of 21 books. Just 4 to go! My favorite was The “Passion of Dolssa” by Julie Berry. Again, an excellent book that I learned of through the Hub Challenge. It was my first trip into medieval France and the characters are still with me, especially Botille! Three other excellent books that I read with a strong sense of place were “The Smell of Other People’s Houses” by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (Alaska), “Traffick” by Ellen Hopkins (Las Vegas) and “Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys (Germany). I didn’t know what to expect from Ellen Hopkins’ book “Traffick” about teens trying to leave the child sex trade. Although it is a sequel, it was easy to follow the characters that were first introduced in her book “Tricks”. This excellent book opened my eyes to a problem that I knew very little about. I highly recommend it to teens as well as adults. “The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar” by Matt Simon is a fun and interesting non-fiction book about some of the crazy ways different critters “make a living” and pass on their genes. Perfect for the budding biologist! The 2nd non-fiction book I read that I’d highly recommend to younger kids was “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark” by Debbie Levy. A great biography! The GNs I read were fun but not my favorite. “Mighty Jack” targets younger readers and “Lowriders to the Center of the Earth” would appeal to middle and high school readers. The last book that I read was “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds. This quick read is an excellent book that will keep readers turning the pages.

  4. Whew! Okay, so I did the thing that I said I wouldn’t do this year: I waited until April to really get going on the Challenge, but now that May’s almost over, I think I’m going to finish. I’ve read 14, so now I just have 11 left. (This is actually better than last year, so–progress!)

    Here are the books I’ve finished most recently:
    -Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
    -The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar
    -In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives
    -Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune
    -This Land is Our Land: A History of American Immigration
    -Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word

    I’m really enjoying the books on the list this year, and now I’ve got some great titles for book talks next fall.

  5. Sara Ray Sara Ray

    I am happy to say that I’ve caught up quite a bit since the last check in, most recently reading a lot on a short vacation! I have completed 20 out of 25 and aim to finish!
    ** The Sun is Also a Star – I loved Everything, Everything and this one was a bit of a slow start for me but it did not disappoint.
    ** Exit, Pursued by a Bear – I’ve read a lot of these types of stories and I was skeptical that I would enjoy this one. I picked it up because it is short and I needed to catch up. For some reason, I could not put it down and finished it in two days.
    ** If I was Your Girl – Amanda is not like other transgender teens and her story is very unique and enjoyable.
    ** Pride: Celebrating Diversity – I wasn’t going to read this one but I knew the book would be popular with my teens so I picked it up and learned a lot!
    ** In the Country We Love – It took me a long time to go through this, reading a few chapters at a time. Although some parts were boring, I learned a lot about immigration and love a good rags-to-riches story.
    ** Tell Me Three Things – Drama, love triangles, and mystery. Not my cup of tea but enjoyable enough to want to know who SN was and finish the book.
    ** We are the Ants – This book is also nominated in my state for an award and a teen has recommended it to me several times. I’m not into aliens or sci-fi much but this is not the basis of the story. So, so good.

    What’s next? Dream On, Amber, All the Bright Places, Orange, and whatever else I can squeeze in! Happy reading all!

  6. Jenn Hartley Jenn Hartley

    I’m up to 18 read so far. The best of May was Pride and Gemina.

    I really loved the pictures and design of Pride. The information was well formatted and easy to understand. I learned a lot of history I only vaguely knew before.

    Gemina was another great audiobook by Listening Library and Penguin Random House. I was pulled into the story and can’t wait for the ending!

    I have a few more on hand to read. Hopefully I will be able to finish with Summer Reading now in full swing.

  7. Mackie Welch Mackie Welch

    I am not doing as well as I thought I would be at this point…being in two book clubs really gets in the way!! But I’ve been making my way through some of the audiobooks. I also just finished Reinventing the F Word, which I didn’t learn a whole lot from, but could see would be an excellent introduction to the Feminist Movement to a teen unfamiliar with the concept.

    I’m starting Burn Baby Burn since it’s going to be up to 100 degrees this week!

  8. Kristi Starr Kristi Starr

    So close! 5 books to go. I just finished listening to Salt to the Sea. I read Ruta Sepetys’s book when it was made available on NetGalley in December 2015. I was so glad to revisit it! The recognition as Best Fiction and as an Amazing Audiobook are so greatly deserved. The audio version brought the story to life in a whole new way, and the ending was even more emotional this time, though I knew exactly what to expect.

  9. charlene.librarian charlene.librarian

    I’m not sure I’m going to make it now that it’s mid-June, and I’m swamped with summer reading program stuff. But I’m going to try by blitzing through Exit, Pursued by a Bear and Sarah Dessen’s Dreamland currently. I’ll need a few more to make the 25.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the reading/listening for this challenge. There are so many more from the list I will try to read in the coming months. Thanks!

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