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With this challenge, we are throwing it back with a challenge that might require a little bit of research on your part. This is a real open-ended challenge that should ensure that you’ll be able to find the right book for you because it can be any award! In any genre! Just as long as it’s from the year you’re born!
Because this isn’t a one-size-fits-all challenge and my options from 1992 won’t be the same as yours, I’m going to highlight a list of awards for you to check out so you can hopefully find the best book pick for you! Just a quick note about diversity: Depending on how far back you have to reach, it might be harder to find books by authors of color. I hate that for us! I’ve highlighted a couple when I could find them below, but just know that might be a challenge and not the kind of challenge that we like, as we much prefer the more diverse awards lists of this century.
Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!
The National Book Awards are the United States’ biggest book award of the year, and they date back to 1950 when there were three categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Over the years, the NBA Foundation has added categories for Young People’s Literature and Translated Literature, which are awarded today, and have even offered awards in retired categories such as Arts and Letters, History and Biography, and Science, Philosophy, and Religion. Some past winners include Herzog by Saul Bellow (1965) and All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (1992).
If you’d like to pick up a queer novel and you were born after 1988, then you can peruse the Lambda Literary awards page to discover award-winners in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender representation and in a variety of genres. I love these wards because they’ve worked hard to be an inclusive as possible in recent years. Just be warned that once you start throwing it back to the 90’s, the representation gets broken down by just gay and lesbian. Look how far we’ve come! These awards also get the award for easiest past winners directory to browse!
Here’s an award that’s celebrating 100 years in 2022! The Newbery is awarded each year to a children’s book that is a distinguished contribution to American children’s literature, and it was named after a British bookseller from the 18th century. I bet some of your childhood favorites are award winners here, like Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (1986) and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1979).
Dating back to 1917, the Pulitzer Prize was established to incentivize the best in journalism and arts and letters. Named after Joseph Pulitzer, the renowned journalist who left money in his will to make this award happen, the Pulitzer has expanded in categories as media has developed. But you can always find great fiction, nonfiction, drama, and more for this prize, although not every genre will be represented in every year. Beloved by Toni Morrison took home the prize in 1988, and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller won in 1949.
Known over the years as both the Man Booker and Booker Prize for Fiction, this honor was first awarded in 1969 and it was first awarded to the best novel in English published in the U.K. or Ireland and the British Commonwealth. In 2014, eligibility expanded to include any novel published in English. Past winners include The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992) and Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981).
The Hugo Awards have been presented annual since 1955, and they honor the best in science fiction. It’s one of the few awards where readers can nominate books for consideration and vote on winners (for better or worse), and since the Hugo Award doesn’t have established guidelines to differentiate between fantasy and sci-fi, we often see a blend of both in finalists and winners. Past winners include Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2003) and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1975).
If you’re a horror fan born after 1987, then check out the Bram Stoker Awards, named after the author of Dracula. Presented by the Horror Writers Association, this prize honors a superior achievement in the horror genre for novels, short fiction, collections, and nonfiction. These days, the award also honors graphic novels and young adult novels, among others. Past winners include Mary Shelley by Muriel Spark (1987) and The Green Mile by Stephen King (1997).
Presented by the Mystery Writers of America, this award honors the best mysteries in a variety of formats, from novels to short fiction to young adult and juvenile fiction, as well as movies, dramas, and radio programs and TV episodes throughout the years. Named after Edgar Allan Poe, it was established in 1946. past winners include The Spy Why Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre (1965) and The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton (1969).
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
I hope you have fun exploring the myriad of awards and book options! Good luck picking out your challenge book!