2022 was our first year for the Pratchat Reading Challenge! You can find it on the StoryGraph here, and the prompts are below. While you can’t officially join the challenge on StoryGraph now it’s over, if you want to do it anyway and chat about it on social media, use the hashtag #PratchatChallenge2022.
Ben’s added some brief notes about his picks in italics below each prompt.
A book by another author mentioned on the podcast
There have been loads, but those who’ve cropped up more frequently include Diana Wynn Jones, Douglas Adams, Naomi Novik, Ben Aaronovitch and Ursula K Le Guin. This can also include books written by podcast guests, which might include works by Will Kostakis, Stephanie Convery, Garth Nix or Claire G Coleman!
Ben had lots of options for this one, but ended up going with Garth Nix’s Sabriel, which he really loved! Other books from his “to read” pile for this prompt include Stephanie Convery’s After the Count, Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver, and Claire G Coleman’s Lies Damned Lies.
A book by another author who writes without chapters
You might need to do a bit of a search for these, but there are many classic and contemporary authors who don’t use chapters!
Ben wants to acknowledge this one was a bit tricky to do without knowing an author’s work. He managed it, though, by reading Maria Dahvana Headley’s 2021 translation of Beowulf. It was great, keeping the lyricism of the original work while adding in lots of very apt modern words and phrases that made it feel fresh.
A comic novel by another author
Books with humour in them are a dime a dozen, but books that bill themselves as funny have become thin on the ground. Take a punt on someone else! A few names to get you started: Sue Townsend, Jasper Fforde, Stella Gibbons, or any of a host of comedians who’ve turned to writing.
Ben read Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir for this prompt, and loved both it and its first sequel, Harrow the Ninth. (These would fit equally well with the fantasy tropes prompt, and you could probably count them as “witches-as-protagonists”, too, depending on how traditional you want your witches.) See also the fictional city prompt below.
A book by another author that plays with fantasy tropes
Some kind of fantasy novel that twists the standard tropes of fantasy – perhaps the dragon is the hero, or the magic ring is useless, or the chosen one is a fraud. Anything that subverts a common trope of fantasy counts!
For this one Ben read the comic book DIE by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans. (He read the whole 20-issue run, but for the challenge just counted the first collected volume, Fantasy Heartbreaker.) It’s a pretty original take on the “kids sucked into the game they’re playing” trope, and the central conceit also plays pretty directly with the trope of “fantasy as metaphor for real issues”. Gillen and Hans are both known Pratchett fans, too, though DIE only rarely shows that influence. Do note that DIE is pretty intense; maybe check the content warnings on the StoryGraph before you read. But Ben loved it.
A book by another author set in a fictional city
It might not be entirely in the spirit of the challenge, but we want you to go for easy and fun over difficult, so for this one Ben read a book by the same author he used for another prompt: the third Locked Tomb book, Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It’s set almost entirely in an unnamed, war-torn city on another world. Ben really liked it, though maybe not quite as much as the preceding two books, Gideon and Harrow.
A book by another author with witches as protagonists
Witches are traditional wicked, but they don’t have to be – and even the folktale kind can star in their own stories. Read one for this prompt!
Ben picked The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C. M. Waggoner for this prompt, based on nothing more than the StoryGraph suggesting it and “fire witch” being part of the protagonist’s description. He really enjoyed it! It’s a fun ride with mystery, murder, magic and romance. It would also work for the fictional city prompt, and probably a few of the prompts for 2023 too. Waggoner’s first novel, Unnatural Magic, is set in the same world, but – much like the Discworld novels – you don’t need to read it to enjoy this self-contained story.