Scribd’s November reading challenge

Scribd’s November reading challenge, completed

In Community, Reading Challenges by Ashley McDonnell

Scribd’s November reading challenge

This month’s Feed Your Mind reading challenge really embraces the name: With the holiday season upon us, we’ve got plenty of books and podcasts on food, and other food for thought. Try going vegan this Thanksgiving and consider cutting back on the sugar without giving up all the sweet tastes of the season. Plus: Give thanks for what you had this year, but start looking ahead to bigger and better career opportunities. (It wouldn’t be a challenge if you just got to rest on your laurels all day!)

Here’s how the Feed Your Mind challenge works:

Each month, we create five prompts to follow; you can challenge yourself to complete one, all five, or any number in between. These prompts are designed to motivate you to:

  • Read more 
  • Explore new content types 
  • Help you find works that are outside of your usual go-to genres 

The challenges are a mix of timely prompts and random, fun ideas. Here are November’s prompts:

Go vegan for the holidays

“But Thanksgiving is for turkey!” you are probably thinking right now. Well, November is also World Vegan Month, and the vegans know exactly what they’re doing here. Not eating meat and other animal products has plenty of benefits, for you and for the planet. But don’t take our word for it: Check out vegan books or podcasts on the subject if you’re curious what vegan folks eat for Thanksgiving.

Suggested reading list:

Persuasive Books for the Vegan Curious 

Learn the benefits of eating less sugar

From now until the end of February, it’s sweets central, with cakes and candy canes and chocolates galore. Oh, and hot chocolate. We need hot chocolate. But maybe we don’t need to drink so many other sugary drinks, or have so many chocolate Santas. In other words, you don’t need to give up sugar completely to reap health benefits.

Tips on Eating Less Sugar

Gain insider career advice

The Great Resignation is real, and there are plenty of titles that will level up any career choice. Prepare for the busy holiday season and the new year with a couple of business classics to take your career to the next level.

Suggested reading list:

Gems of Career Advice No One Ever Tells You

Think different

It’s hard to grasp how much our lives have changed over the past few decades alone. We went from landlines and tapes to minicomputers in our pocket that can do pretty much anything (including play music), and are connected to the rest of the world via the Internet. We may not always be enthused by tech disruptors (we’re looking at you, Facebook; or should we call it Meta?), but that strong desire to change the world, and the will to actually make it happen, is something to be admired. Read a book about your favorite (or most loathed) disrupting company so you can start channeling that energy for good. 

Suggested reading list:

How Tech Disruptors ‘Think Different’

The best Thanksgiving books

Everybody gets excited for Christmas books. We’re here to tell you there’s a healthy Thanksgiving cannon out there full of family-friendly (and okay, maybe not-so-family-friendly) stories. Find a story set during this time of feasting and family.

Suggested reading list:

The Best Thanksgiving Books, Per O, The Oprah Magazine

What we fed our minds in November

Here’s what Scribd employees read for the challenge, and how much they enjoyed diversifying their (digital) bookshelves:

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Go vegan for the holidays


The Plant-Based Athlete by Matt Frazier

This book is for anyone who has ever been vegan-curious but never took the plunge for whatever reason. If you’re concerned about getting enough protein to build muscle and sustain an active lifestyle, this book will definitely address that. (Spoiler: The desirable macronutrient for an active lifestyle is still carbs.) Not only does The Plant-Based Athlete drop testimonial after testimonial about elite athletes seeing significant performance gains after switching their diet, but it also goes into great detail about meal-planning and ways to approach the diet and lifestyle.

Food as fuel and food as medicine are two aspects of going plant-based that Frazier emphasizes. He addresses the anti-inflammatory benefits of a plant-based diet and points to that as evidence of why issues like tendonitis and joint pain, as well as post-workout soreness, are greatly reduced when eating plants.

No doubt this book makes a strong argument to go plant-based and offers useful advice as to how to do it. It also reveals the surprising athletes who you’d never, ever expect in a million years to be vegan (Arnold Schwartzenegger comes to mind) as proof that you can be strong and powerful and only eat plants. 

Will I convert? Probably not all the way, but I will continue to eat meat-lite and dairy-free for now.

— Sarah S. (Editorial)


CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Learn the benefits of eating less sugar


The Model Health Show 222: The History of Sugar [Podcast]

In preparation for my second Whole30 this January (which means saying sayonara to sugar — among many other things! — for 30 days), I was excited to listen to this podcast episode all about sugar and its adverse effects. The podcast dives into the history of what we refer to as “table sugar,” including its ties with slavery and how it fits within today's entertainment, sports, and even music culture (i.e., Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me”).

Additionally, host Shawn Stevenson walks through different kinds of sugars and sugar alternatives, like monk fruit, stevia, and honey. The most fascinating part to me was that agave isn’t as good as you think with a high amount of high fructose. As someone drinking that agave Kool-Aid, thinking it was a healthier alternative to normal sugar, I'll be keeping a watchful eye on my future intake. 

After taking us through the timeline of sugar and its harmful effects, Shawn asks the question a lot of listeners might be thinking: how do we break up with sugar for good? Sugar is so deeply ingrained in culture, but it's not impossible to sever ties. The first step is all about awareness. It's about waking up to the process and taking control, understanding how we got here, where we are today, and how we can move to the future. 

For those who are curious about that sugar-free lifestyle or just want to eat less sugar, this is a helpful listen. 

Janelle G. (Marketing)


CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Gain insider career advice


Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Having promised earlier this year to read at least one career-development book in 2021, I couldn’t have gone with a better choice. Never Split the Difference is a great book for newcomers to business reading, as it unfolds more like an FBI cop memoir, filled with thrilling hostage stories, bank robberies, and the like. I even caught myself keen to know what would happen at the end of an anecdote more than once. These narrative breaks that tend to be awkward and forced in other advice books are surprisingly entertaining in this one.

Besides offering engaging storytelling, Voss’ negotiation approach is so counterintuitive, it gets your attention from the get-go. His core approach is aiming for an early “no” in the discussion to prompt a later, confident “yes.” Voss offers plenty of other refreshing ideas as well, including giving up plastic niceness as a persuasion tactic, labeling your counterpart’s fears, and not rushing the conversation to an agreement.

As the kind of person who always splits the difference, this month’s challenge really got me considering the benefits of negotiation.

— Andrea B. (Editorial)


CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Read the best Thanksgiving books


Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

This Thanksgiving, instead of participating in the pageantry of football like I normally would, I read this takedown of America’s obsession with sports, war, and other (often violent, usually sexist) spectacle. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” follows the soldiers of Bravo Squad, who are home from the Iraq War for a paltry two weeks on a Victory Tour that culminates in a celebration of their heroism at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game. Destiny’s Child is there for the halftime show, which is great. Fireworks are detonated during the performance, which is less great.

The book only spans a few hours of time — the length of a painfully slow, drawn-out football game, to be exact — but it savagely tackles a wide swath of America’s outsized ego. It was hard to swallow, at first — I had spent the morning watching Capitalism’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then proceeded to stuff my face with turkey while hoping the Cowboys would lose their game that I wasn’t watching (I’m an Eagles fan! America’s real team!) — and here was this cutting book, reminding me of everything that’s gone horribly wrong in our culture in the fallout of September 11. But practically every sentence resonated (“Dude, maybe they don’t hate our freedoms, maybe they hate our fat!”; “Americans are children who must go somewhere else to grow up, and sometimes die”; plus a ton of long-winded pontifications I don’t have space to replicate) and in the end, I felt fulfilled having read it. Because I could dupe myself into thinking, once again, that I could see through the nationalist BS of the holiday.

— Ashley M. (Editorial)


The reading challenge was originally published on November 5, 2021; updated with Scribd staff choices.


About the Author: Ashley McDonnell

Ashley is a Senior Editorial Associate at Scribd who loves Ernest Hemingway, “The Hunger Games,” and ice hockey. When she’s not reading or at the rink, she’s making nerdy podcasts about anime and manga.

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