2020 Reading Challenge: Read a Fantasy, Myth or Fairytale

In 2020, OPL invites patrons to take part in the reading challenge! For each challenge, OPL offers suggestions for titles to read or listen to. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, opens a new window, Instagram, opens a new window or Facebook, opens a new window to let us know which read you picked up this month!

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme, “Imagine Your Story,” is inspired by fairy tales, mythology and fantasy works. 

These genres contain a wide range of stories, so it may be easier to find a book that appeals to you than you think. If you already read these genres, you can either continue reading what you normally do, or try to branch out.

There are a lot of books in series in this genre, so the suggested titles below are either stand-alone or are first in a series that tells a complete story. All the titles from this post can also be found in this list, opens a new window.

There are many classics in the fantasy genre, written for a wide variety of audiences and ages, so these can be a good place to start. "A Wizard of Earthsea, opens a new window" by Ursula K. Le Guin is a coming-of-age story about a boy wizard who learns the power of language and how to face his flaws. 

Another coming-of-age story that transforms into a tragedy is T.H. White’s "The Once and Future King, opens a new window,” a popular title based on the often-adapted life of King Arthur. If you are interested in something more grim and action filled, try reading the classic sword and sorcery tales of Conan and Solomon Kane in "The Best of Robert E. Howard, opens a new window."

If you would prefer something more recent, "All the Birds in the Sky, opens a new window" by Charlie Jane Anders tells of the struggle between nature and technology as a conflict between two old friends as the apocalypse looms. "Perdido Street Station, opens a new window" by China Miéville is a sprawling, gritty steampunk dystopia of oppressive overclasses and the people left behind by society. "The Black Tides of Heaven, opens a new window" by JY Yang is an atmospheric and culturally diverse story of two siblings driven apart by external circumstances.

"Norse Mythology, opens a new window" by Neil Gaiman takes a grand sweeping narrative and makes it approachable. The language evokes the feeling of reading the old stories, making it fun to read aloud. "Gods and Heroes, opens a new window" by Korwin Briggs provides an amusing alphabetical overview of many different mythological figures from around the world for younger readers. "Mythos, opens a new window" by Stephen Fry uses the established British comedian’s dry wit to make the classic Greek myths accessible.

"The Annotated African American Folktales, opens a new window" edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar is a comprehensive look at the folklore, legends and fairy tales of the African diaspora. This is good for both casual readers looking to enjoy the stories, and for people looking to do more in-depth research on how folklore is gathered. 

Retellings of fairy tales are popular for younger audiences, especially ones that provide an alternate perspective for the story’s antagonists. "All the Ever Afters, opens a new window" by Danielle Teller is an engaging and reflective retelling of Cinderella from the stepmother’s perspective for young adults. "Rump, opens a new window" by Liesl Shurtliff is a humorous retelling of Rumplestiltskin from the title character’s perspective that delves into his backstory.

If you would like any more recommendations for this challenge, be sure to visit your local branch. The staff there will be happy to help you find a book from these genres that you can enjoy. Or request a custom reading list online, opens a new window

Starting April 1, 2020, once you complete the 2020 Reading Challenge, enter your reading log online or turn in your completed tracking sheet at your nearest OPL branch and pick up your button prize for completion. All submissions will be entered into a drawing for some fun literary-themed merchandise! All completed tracking sheets or online challenge form entries must be received by December 31, 2020, to be entered into the prize drawing.