2021 DMPL Reading Challenge

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It's Time to Escape

Escape into books during the 2021 Reading Challenge! The Des Moines Public Library is challenging you to read 12 books in 12 months, with the chance to win great prizes along the way. Read 1 book from each of our 12 selected categories and see what you discover!

To register, you'll need to sign up for a Beanstack account, which takes just seconds. Be sure you register for the "2021 DMPL Reading Challenge."

Don't forget to signup for our groups and discuss what you're reading with others! We have two different groups this year:

2021 Reading Challenge FAQ

  • Choose one book from each of our 12 categories and log your progress online. You can read books and categories in any order - there are no assigned months. Find the categories below.
  • We will offer suggestions, but feel free to choose any book that fits within a category.
  • Books, audiobooks, and eBooks all count.
  • A different book must be read for each different category. 
  • Participants who stay on track (i.e., have read three books in three months, six books in six months, etc.) will be eligible to win monthly prizes. At the end of each month, one winner will receive a $20 gift card. At the end of each quarter (March, June, September), we'll draw three winners. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card.
  • Those who complete the challenge (read a book in each of the 12 categories over the course of the year) will be eligible to win one of our grand prizes. One winner will receive a $150 gift card and two will win a $50 gift card.
  • You can always play catch-up! If you don't register until February, you can still be eligible for the monthly prize by reading two books by the end of the month, or for the first quarter prize by reading three books by the end of March. If you miss a month, read two books the next month to stay on track. If you don't register until November, you can still read 12 books before the end of 2020 and be eligible for the grand prize.
  • Must be 18 years of age or older to participate. An individual that turns 18 over the course of the year may register and begin participating on or after their birthday.

  • The contest begins on December 31, 2020.
  • Tag us on social media or use our hashtag and let us know what you're reading: #DMPLReads21
  • Join our Facebook Group - #DMPLReads21 - and talk about which books you're reading with other challenge participants.

The prize structure is as follows. Prizes are given out at the end of each month.

  • January: 1 $20 gift card
  • February: 1 $20 gift card
  • March: 3 $25 gift cards
  • April: 1 $20 gift card
  • May: 1 $20 gift card
  • June: 3 $25 gift cards
  • July: 1 $20 gift card
  • August: 1 $20 gift card
  • September: 3 $25 gift cards
  • October: 1 $20 gift card
  • November: 1 $20 gift card
  • December: 1 $150 gift card and 2 $50 gift cards

2021 Reading Challenge Categories

Choose Your Escape...

Our 2021 lineup is full of best-selling and award-winning fiction and nonfiction authors. Find more details on our AViD page and pick your read!

Have you used Book Chat yet? Answer a couple questions and get some suggestions from our Book Chat librarians. It's a great way to discover new authors and wade into new genres!

Some of the best pieces of writing are just a few dozen pages. It's a great way to read about someone's life or consume fun stories. 

Check out our Recommended Reads page for Short Stories and Essays suggestions.

It's time! We're giving you an excuse to bring that old, fancy book to the top of your TBR list.

The list of 100 books from 2018's Great American Read series is a great place to start, and Buzzfeed's list of 22 Classic Novels That Won't Bore You To Death is also good.

You are indeed invited to judge a book by its cover. Next time you see some flashy colors online, look it up in our catalog and put it on hold.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so your mileage may vary. But the lists below may help you start on your journey:

Hop in a time machine and learn something new about history. Whether it's about wartime in Europe or the creation of paper, you'll have a great time discovering the past.

Check out our Recommended Reads page for suggestions of nonfiction books about a significant historical event.

What's an epistolary novel, you ask? It's a novel written as a series of documents. These can take the form of letters, newspaper clippings, diary entries, emails, broadcast recordings, and more.

Check out our Recommended Reads page for suggestions of epistolary novels.

#OwnVoices is a movement that promotes works of fiction where the protagonist and author share a diverse and marginalized identity. For example, a black female author  writing a book about a black female character, or a paralyzed person writing about a paralyzed main character.

Check out our Recommended Reads page for suggestions of #OwnVoices novels.

Jet off into a new world! Books like these offer both exploration and insight into what it means to be human.

Check out our Recommended Reads page for suggestions of books not set on Earth.


Whether it's aliens or animals, these books are a fun dive into a different world.

Check out our Recommended Reads page for suggestions of books where humans are not the main characters.

Call shotgun and buckle up - there's no better escape than the one you can find behind the wheel. There are lots of great books that are both fiction and nonfiction in this category.

Check out our Recommended Reads page for suggestions of travelogue and road trip books.

Reading Suggestions

AViD Authors

Short Stories and Essays

Books About Significant Historical Event

Epistolary Novels

#OwnVoices Books

Books Not Set On Earth

Books Where Humans Aren't The Main Character

Travelogue/Road Trip Books