Going for #BookBingoNW2022 Blackout? Shoot the moon with these tips

It’s almost mid-August, and maybe you’ve had an especially good summer for reading. Perhaps you’ve been playing Summer Book Bingo (or Bingo de Libros) and you’ve filled in enough squares that the once impossible-seeming goal of Blackout seems actually … attainable.

One of many Blackouts from last year’s Summer Book Bingo.

Except that you’ve left the most challenging squares for last, and you’re not really sure if certain books “count,” and you want to make you’re on the up-and-up (after all, what’s lower than cheating at honor system Book Bingo?), but you also want the satisfaction of seeing all 25 squares filled in.

That’s my situation. Although as a Library staff member, I can’t officially enter Summer Book Bingo (cards due Sept. 6 by the way), I can enter the staff version of the contest. And on my second year of Book Bingo, I’m as obsessed as any Bookstagrammer. So I turned to a few Library experts for their tips on honorably going for blackout. In the process, they answered a few other pressing questions that come up from bingo players.

Yes, audiobooks count — and you will need them: Most of you probably know that audiobooks are, well, books. It’s just a different format. So fill in those squares with as many audiobooks as you complete (matching the category, of course). My personal tip for using this to your bingo advantage: Ditch your podcast habit for the summer and listen to audiobooks. Through the magical Libby app, you can borrow, listen and fill in squares while walking the dog, running errands and doing housework.

YA? It counts, too: I loved YA fiction when I was a young adult and I still love young adult novels – I read them with my tween but on my own, too (I’ve been on a recent John Green kick). But because YA titles tend to be shorter than, say, literary novels, it somehow feels like cheating to fill in a bunch of squares with YA. It’s not, the Library’s David Wright assures me. “When it comes to our love of reading, age is no barrier. Teen books, Children’s books, even Picture books – so long as it fits the category, it counts.” As do sci-fi titles, romance, fantasy, graphic novels, short poetry books and so on.

Choose titles that can fit in several categories. As a relative newbie to Book Bingo it took a conversation with another Library staff member to realize how important the strategy of book flexibility is. If you’re going for Blackout, you need to be able to shift titles around to different categories in the course of the summer, based on what categories you have left. So choose titles that can fit in several. Heartstopper, for example, fits into “LGBTQ+ love story” and “Book to Screen.” The House of Broken Angels (the just-announced 2022 Seattle Reads pick) fits into “SAL Speaker,” “recommended by Library staff” or “Latina/Latino/Latinx author,” and so forth. Pro tip: Write out that Book Bingo card in pencil so you can easily erase. (Or download a fresh one.)

Stumped on a category? Library staff have done your homework for you. Can’t come up with books that fit “Health or healthcare workers” or “Unreliable narrator”? Library staff have done book lists and blog posts on many categories in Book Bingo. The Health or health care workers post, for example, lists everything from a nonfiction book about a hospital to Emma Donoghue’s novel The Pull of the Stars, to Don’t Worry, a collection of tips from a Zen Buddhist priest. Your fellow readers also share plenty of tips on Instagram – just check the BookBingoNW2022 tag.

Don’t forget to “shop” your own bookshelves. The other day I was staring at my Book Bingo card and thinking (not obsessively at all) about the “Blue Cover” square. How would I find a book I wanted to read that had a blue cover just by browsing online? Then I glanced at the bookshelf next to my chair, laden with books that I’ve been “meaning to read” (another category) but always get overlooked because the books not on my bookshelf seem so much more enticing. Bingo! Three separate blue-covered books stared back at me. I grabbed one and got to work on my non-bingo-related goal of reading what’s on my own shelves.

Yes, you can re-read a book, within reason. I’ve had this question for a while so I asked. I’d assume all the books should be fresh reads, and “Reread a childhood favorite” is already a category. But say – especially for us, um, older folks – you read a book 20-odd years ago, with zero memory of it, except that it changed your life. Does it “count” to reread it if it fits a category? “Absolutely,” says librarian David, “to quote Borges: ‘It’s re-reading, not reading, that counts.’ He also said ‘I’ve always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.’ Clearly the man was never wrong.”

Bottom line, the Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures trust you to fill in your bingo card in a way that honors the spirit of Book Bingo – celebrating the joy of reading, exploration and our community’s literary collections and riches.

For my part, chasing a Book Bingo goal over the past two summers has been rewarding well beyond crossing off squares. It’s encouraged me to read new genres and authors, set aside Netflix for books a bit more often, and read joyfully in a way that reminds me of my favorite childhood escape.

What tips do you have for Book Bingo blackout? Share in the comments.

     ~ Posted by Elisa M.

One thought on “Going for #BookBingoNW2022 Blackout? Shoot the moon with these tips”

  1. I definitely recommend strategically picking some short books in the middle to pick up speed!! After 4 ~250-300 page books I went from “there’s no way I can finish this” to “5 books in 4 weeks is totally doable!” Also essay collections and short stories tend to go quick! (as does a healthy dose of YA. Nothing’s better than wide margins and 12 point font when its a race against the clock)

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