Today, I’ll start taking a closer look at the categories for the RWC 2017 Reading Challenge.

Category #1: A Book That Teaches You Something New

I’m going to provide examples both from my personal library as well as books I haven’t read.

The most literal interpretation of this category would be to read a how-to book or a guide to a craft.

Missing Persons: A Writer’s Guide to Finding the Lost, the Abducted, and the Escaped (Howdunit Writing) Fay Faron

This book provides writers with information on missing persons. Why might they choose to go missing? How do the police look for them? How would an ordinary person look for them? There’s a whole series of “Howdunit” books, and while they’re a bit out of date, they’re a great place to start your research. (Tip: Look for an inexpensive used copy.)


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott’s book is a standard for writers. It deals with many specifics about the craft. It also deals with fitting writing into life and how to approach life and writing in a similar fashion.


Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill – Robert Whitaker

I haven’t actually read this, but it’s been on my TBR for awhile. It’s written by a medical journalist and explores how the United States (including doctors, institutions, families, and society) treats the mentally ill.

Other options to consider:

The next no-brainer option would be pretty much anything non-fiction, including memoirs or biographies.

A Fighting Chance – Elizabeth Warren

Learn not only about Elizabeth Warren’s background and how she became a hard-fighting senator, but also learn what causes some people to go bankrupt, how the laws have favored banks and big businesses, and what she’s been doing to fight for citizens.


Crime Fiction: A Very Short Introduction – Richard Bradford

The entire series of “Very Short Introduction (VSI)” books work well for this category. Each includes a bite-size chunk of information about topics from religion to sports to biology to history to movies. But these tiny books manage to go quite in-depth and provide additional sources if you want to learn more.


One Hundred Names for Love: A MemoirDiane Ackerman

This memoir will help you learn about strokes, recovery, and the effect on both the patient and the caregivers.

  I’ll Run Till the Sun Goes Down: A Memoir About Depression and Discovering Art – David Sundum

This memoir comes highly recommended by my friend @dpringle. It covers Sundum’s fight with mental illness and how his art saved him. I haven’t read it, but it includes artwork both by the author and others. The cover art is beautiful.


And finally, for a loose interpretation, you could probably go with some fiction options.

Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

This novel offers a look into the mind of an elderly woman with dementia. As much as it’s a mystery about the disappearance of her friend, Elizabeth, it’s more of a look into the life of Maud as she struggles to keep track of her thoughts.


The Martian – Andy Weir

Perhaps you could stretch a bit and say this book teaches you about the atmosphere on Mars and survivalism.


Astonish Me Maggie Shipstead

As one of the most ungraceful people you’ll ever meet, I had no idea the competitive nature of professional ballet. This book offers a rather raw look at what dancers go through physically and mentally.

What books have I left out that fit in this category? Leave a comment below with your thoughts about these or any I may have missed.

If you have suggestions for books that fit in future categories, let me know. I’ll include your name (and a link, if you like) when I share those suggestions.