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Stags Read: Book Recommendations: The Winter Reading Challenge

This guide provides book recommendations with links to books from the Library's catalog and to other external websites.

Join the Challenge!

How it works

What is the Winter Reading Challenge?

The purpose of this Challenge is for Fairfield University students, staff, and faculty to find reading motivation, try out new genres, and choose titles from a wider range of voices and perspectives. It starts Dec.14th 2021 and runs until Feb. 28th 2022. Sign-up anytime before Feb. 15th.

How does it work?

There are 10 optional reading categories. For the most part, you get to choose whatever text you want that corresponds to each category. You can read in just one category, a few, or all ten! Challengers will be give access to a Quip document to log their titles (and optional feedback) and view and comment on other Challenger's reading choices.

How do I sign-up?

All you need to do to sign-up is email Lisa Thornell, Student Engagement & Outreach Librarian, at to say you are interested. Then you will be given access to the WRC Quip portal. If you are not familiar with using Quip, or would like a refresher, let Lisa know so she can give you a brief overview. You can sign-up anytime before Feb. 15th!

What do I get for taking on the Challenge?

For every book you log by Feb. 28th you will get one entry into a raffle to win prizes. To participate you do not need to read books in all 10 categories- however if you do you automatically get a prize. Prizes are sponsored by the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Health & Wellness committee, and the Fairfield University Bookstore.

How do I find books to read for each of the categories?

Refer to the section below! You can borrow books from us with your StagCard (or request books through Interlibrary Loan). Don't forget about your local public library too. Or if you prefer to buy your books, consider purchasing from the Fairfield University Bookstore or your local bookseller.


#10 - The 2022 One Book One Town title was announced on Jan. 6th. It is The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Save the Date for the author talk on Tues. March 1st.

Last Year's Challenge

Check out what people said about last year's Winter Reading Challenge. See the infographic in the blog post.

The 10 Categories

Categories were compiled from suggestions given by students, faculty, librarians, and staff.

Below are some links to help you find your books. Need further suggestions? Email Lisa at OR ask peers, colleagues, family and friends! People who like to read generally like to give recommendations too so don't forget to ask the readers in your life!

1. A classic novel or play you have yet to read that everyone is always surprised to hear you haven't read

Many of us can think of a title off the top of our head that we have been wanting to get around to reading that is considered a "classic." Perhaps something that others talked about reading in high school but it was never assigned in your classes. Can't think of anything? PBS Great American Read compiled America's 100 most beloved books. Britannica has a list of 12 Novels Considered the Greatest Ever Written. Goodreads has a user generated list of Must Read Classics.  If you want to read a play take a look at Drama Magazine's "Required Reading" list.

2. Any text written by a Fairfield University faculty or staff member (journal article, blog post, poem, book)

Choose anything. Ideas: Stop by the Library to grab a book from the Faculty Publications collection on the Main Level. Or read an article/chapter from the University's Institutional Repository, DigitalCommons@Fairfield. You can of course find other writings beyond these two discovery ideas.

3. Book from the American Library Association's Top Ten Challenged Books (can be a children's book!)

The Library owns most of the books listed on ALA's  Ten Ten Challenges website. Choose one (you can see the reasons why the book was challenged to help you make your decision) and search for it in our catalog. Many will be young adult or children's books and those are okay to choose for this category!

4. Memoir by a BIPOC author

Choose anything. BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Ideas: The Seattle Public Library put together a list you can browse. Goodreads has a list and Book Riot's 2018 post has contemporary memoirs written over the past 20 years.

5. Collection of short stories OR poetry published within the past two years

Choose anything. Ideas: Chicago Book Review's list of short stories. A 2021 blog post on Goodreads includes a nice list too. Lit Hub's list of short stories or poetry published in 2020.

.6. 2021 National Book Award Winner or Finalist

See the NBA website for winners and finalists. Then search for the title on the library catalog or request it through Interlibrary Loan so we can get it for you from another library.

7. Book that addresses mental health or addiction (non-fiction or fiction)

Choose anything. Ideas: You could check Goodread's user generated list to find a title OR Book Riot's list.

8. Book set in a Non-Western country AND by a Non-Western author (non-fiction or fiction)

Choose anything. Google the author when you find a title so you can find out they were born/reside/or what culture they identify with  Ideas: Book of folklore/mythology. The Guardian suggested a few titles in a 2016 article. Goodreads Non-Western Fiction list  or Non Western Culture list.

9. Book suggestion that someone else read as part of this Challenge! Review other's posts on the Quip portal

Once you are signed up for the Challenge and given access to the Quip portal you can view other's logged titles. You can comment on them to ask questions, or look them up on Goodreads to see other reader's reviews. You may want to leave this category for the end of the Challenge so you have more to choose from.

10. The town of Fairfield's One Book One Town 2022 book selection (Fantasy novel)

The 2022 OBOT title is:  The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Save the Date for the author talk on Tues. March 1st.