Scribd’s October reading challenge

Scribd’s October reading challenge, completed

In Community, Reading Challenges by Ashley McDonnell

Scribd’s October reading challenge

Welcome, witches and warlocks, to our monthly reading challenge. Whether you’re as pumped for the spooky season as we are, or you hate ghosts, goblins, and ghouls, we’ve got stories to satisfy every fright level this fall. For our October reading challenge, we encourage you to pick up a Halloween classic, read an uplifting novel, learn the techniques of top entrepreneurs, and much more. Prepare for the challenge by brewing yourself a nice cup of hot tea (a timeless beverage that's always on-trend), putting on your fuzziest socks, and seating yourself in a mildly chilly corner of the house with a cozy blanket.

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 reading challenges are a mix of timely prompts and random, fun ideas.

Here are October’s prompts:

Have a thrilling Halloween

Every day in October is Halloween when you’re a horror fan. Or a lover of a good paranormal romance. Or perhaps you’ve been curious to branch out into more frightful tales, but you’ve been too scared to start. Whether you’re a voracious reader of thrillers or more into spoopy, we encourage you to pick a festive read to restore your spirits.

Suggested reading lists:
Addicting Thrillers, True Crime, and Suspense Stories
Halloween Classics
Haunted YA Tales for a Happy Halloween

Embrace change

Reenergize your mind, body, and spirit with inspirational reads for uncertain times. Since everything’s been particularly frightful for the past year and a half — the pandemic, the weather, politics — we understand October needs to be about more than just putting on a gory face to join in Halloween festivities.

Suggested reading list:

Embracing Change During Scary Times

Think like a CEO

Many CEOs and top executives extol reading as a habit and sing the praises of particular books that changed their lives. If you have dreams of being an entrepreneur, it’s best to read the most recommended business and psychology books, according to people calling the biggest shots.

Suggested reading list:

Insightful Recommendations From Top Business Leaders

Play ball

October is perhaps one of the greatest months for sports, with all five major leagues in America in full swing. As the baseball playoffs start, leading to the World Series in late October, now’s the best time to relive some of the greatest moments of past ball games.

Suggested reading list:

All-Star Baseball Books Worthy of the World Series

Enjoy a story with an upbeat ending

Because the world has been so much since March 2020, and we all deserve to remember what joy feels like.

Suggested reading list:

Entertaining Books with Upbeat Endings



What we fed our minds in October


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

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Have a thrilling Halloween

Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This Halloween I finally made time to cozy up with a spooky classic. Since Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is a novella, it wasn’t hard to carve out time to read it. This old-timey ghost story (written in 1898) starts off like all the best spine-tinglers: friends gather around a campfire and share scary stories in the dark. From there it launches into one of the most enduring Gothic horror tales in the Western canon. While there are no phantom hitchhikers or “bloody” names chanted three times, James masterfully conjures up the quintessential creepy kids. When a governess accepts a position looking after two young children on an isolated estate, she begins to suspect supernatural shenanigans and evil afoot.

Katie W. (Editorial)


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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

As a very dedicated Neil Gaiman fan, I’ve read nearly every book and comic that he’s written. All are filled with unique characters and odd ideas, and they tend to trend more toward surreal than fantasy fiction. 

The Graveyard Book is another of Gaiman’s unique visions. When Nobody Owens (or Bod, as he’s called) toddles into a graveyard after his parents are murdered, the ghostly inhabitants decide to care for him. What follows is a story of growth, learning, and suspense designed with a supernatural aspect. Of course, the central mystery of who killed Bod’s earthly family and why takes center stage by the end, but the strength of a surrogate family is what really stands out. 

The audiobook narrated by Gaiman himself is an amazing take on the story. I’ve always loved his narrations: He has a knack for bringing his characters to life in his own voice and paces his cadence in a way that brings you through the story easily.

Bob F. (Marketing)


Start LISTENING

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Embrace change

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle 

I have to admit, I first listened to this piece as an audiobook on Scribd earlier this year, but I was excited to revisit it as an ebook this month for deeper learning. Some of the concepts are a little out there and harder to grasp. I find myself reading slower than my normal reading pace in order to take it all in. Much of the book takes the shape of a question and answer format, and it also encourages you to actively take breaks to think about ideas that were previously shared. 

Some chapters resonated more with me than others, but I particularly liked the passages about worries and anxieties as being akin to our past and our future. Eckhart writes, “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.” I took a lot away from this part of the book and the importance of being present. 

At the end of the day, it's a nice refresher to slow down, practice mindfulness, and stay present — something I think we could all use more of these days. I’m looking forward to putting the concepts into action in my day-to-day life. 

Janelle G. (Marketing)


Start reading


Yoga Girl: Conversations from the Heart [Podcast]

It's difficult to find a wellness podcast that’s not borderline deranged (in my opinion, anyway). In a sea of yoga gurus evangelizing green juices, meditation to get smarter, “biohacking,” and other fads, the cynic in me finds the podcast Yoga Girl: Conversations From The Heart just the right amount of self-care preaching.

Like many internet celebrities, Yoga Girl (as she’s known on Instagram) makes a product of her life story, which she has masterfully crafted over nine years of social media presence. While growing up in Sweden, Brathen was deprived of secure family attachments. In her 20s, she was going through life stuck in a loop until she made a trip to Costa Rica and decided to stay there indefinitely and leave her toxic relationships behind. Flashforward to 2020 and Brathen lives happily in Aruba with her husband and baby daughter, plus she owns multiple businesses and published two books. Then a series of misfortunes (including a cancelation) make her question her sense of belonging. She decides to pack her bags again and go back to Sweden where she encounters, in a cabin in the woods, a newfound connection with her motherland.

I appreciate an uplifting story as long as it’s told with a certain degree of self-awareness. In her podcast, as well as her books and posts, Brathen constantly calls herself out on her need to change the setting when she actually wants to change inside, and the obvious lingering privilege of the whole enterprise. If you take her content for what it is (a story), there’s this overarching narrative of embracing change in difficult times that can be inspiring. It has beautiful, somewhat nuanced moments that keep me listening through the years in spite — or perhaps because — of the narrator’s missteps.

Andrea B. (Editorial)


Start LISTENING

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Think like a CEO

Contagious by Jonah Berger

What makes a video go viral? Why do certain great products succeed while others struggle? Marketing professor Jonah Berger analyzed thousands of widely shared, popular pieces of content to distill the anatomy of viral hits, and the results provide a fascinating foray into our psyches.

Contagious is must-read material for anyone with a podcast, blog, or brand looking to spread the word far and wide. Content can be engineered to go viral if you properly learn to harness Berger’s findings around social currency, emotion, and other components of share-worthy works. I spent most of the book wondering how I could apply these learnings to my podcast and my work here at Scribd. I wondered how often my own brain fell for engineered pieces of content (most recently: the “Who is the Bad Art Friend?” New York Times article took up way too much space on my Twitter timeline and in my brain). Berger clearly took his own principles to heart when writing Contagious, now considered one of the best marketing books of all time.

Ashley M. (Editorial)


Start READING


CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Enjoy a story with an upbeat ending

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Personally, I try to limit my entertainment to comedies and anything that makes me smile or laugh, so it only made sense that my reading selection this month would be from the list about entertaining books with happy endings. Also, I enjoyed A Man Called Ove way more than I expected, so it was another Backman book for me. Anxious People didn’t disappoint.

My partner made the mistake of asking me what the book was about, and as I told him, I realized how random the plot sounds if you’re not immersed in it. Backman’s character development and light prose make anything seem possible and realistic (even when it really isn’t). Basically a failed bank robber ends up holding prospective condo buyers hostage — fireworks, pizza, balconies, father-son cops, and a bridge all play prominent roles, too. This light read covers heavy topics around family, loss, love, grief, and ultimately hope. When things feel hard, this is the type of book that helps put things in perspective, or at least offer an entertaining escape.

Sarah S. (Editorial)


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The reading challenge was originally published on October 11, 2021; updated with Scribd staff choices.

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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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