Book Bingo: A Game for Adventurous Readers

I know what you’re thinking.

I love books and bingo so, so much . . . but how could I possibly combine them?

You, my friend, are in luck, because you’re about to discover how to combine the majestic worlds of books and bingo in a game poetically called “Book Bingo.” It’s a game that book lovers can play from now until the end of the year—or until Labor Day if you’re a speedy reader.

But first, this game is for someone who

  • Loves to read
  • Enjoys trying new types of books they wouldn’t normally try
  • Likes a challenge
  • Is a consistent and dedicated enough reader to complete that challenge

Really, though, if you love books, I highly recommend giving this a shot at least one time through.

How to Play

Book Bingo is heavily influenced by a now-finished podcast called “Books on the Nightstand.” Here’s how it works.

You create a custom-made Bingo board full of interesting categories that describe types of books (we’re listing a bunch of examples below). For example, one space might say, “longer than 500 pages,” meaning your challenge is to read a book of that length. Or it might say to read a book “with only numbers in the title.”

You can create either a 3×3, 4×4, or 5×5 card. The bigger the size, the longer it will take you to complete.

Print off two boards when you’re done creating them. One will be the board you play on, and one you will cut out all the different spaces of and place them into a hat or bucket. Then you reach your hand in, mix the pieces of paper around, and draw one out. The category in your hand will determine the first book you read.

When you read that book, put an X on your board over the corresponding category. Follow the same process for the next book, drawing a piece of paper out of the hat or bucket. Keep going until you have completed an entire line on your board, whether horizontal, vertical, or diagonal.

Potential Categories

You’re welcome to come up with your own categories, but I’ve listed out a full set of categories for a 4×4 game in this article (you can see them in the image above). Feel free to use these or to use them to spark your own category ideas.

Categories can really be anything. You can write genres (e.g., science fiction, romance), eras (e.g., modernism, Gothic), or anything else you can think of. Have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself.

Here are a few ideas you can use, as well as some suggested books for each category.

Slave narrative

This could be any number of autobiographies from former slaves in 18th and 19th century Britain and America. Some great examples are

If the style of those books is a little outdated for you, there are fantastic memoirs written by modern survivors of human trafficking: today’s version of slavery. A fantastic example is

By an author with three names

Some examples of this would include


Longer than 500 pages

This one’s self-explanatory, and there are tons of examples that fit this category. Several of the Harry Potter books extend beyond 500 pages, for example. Others include

  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (which is much, much longer than 500 pages!)

Having a premise you disagree with

No matter who you are, you likely have deep convictions about how the world works, how people should act, and so on. It can be beneficial to intentionally choose a book off a shelf that you immediately think you disagree with, based on the title, subtitle, or synopsis. This is a great way to get inside the minds of people who think very differently than you.

For example, you might read religious Scriptures if you are uninterested in religion, or the memoir of a politician from an opposing political party. It doesn’t have to be that heavy-hitting, though. You could even choose

With a green cover

This is as simple as it sounds: scan some bookshelves and look for a book with a green cover! (Green binding on the side is also acceptable.)

You’ve got lots of options here.

Written before 1700

Oldies are sometimes goodies, so reach far back in the past and check out some of the classics of all classics:


Designated a “classic” by the publisher

You know those books that are labeled classics by their publishers? “Penguin Classics,” “Barnes and Noble Classics,” and so on?

Yeah, they have that label because those books are really good.

With only numbers in the title

Some examples here:

  • 1984 by George Orwell


By an author with your first name

For example, my name is Ryan, so I might read


Currently on the NY Times Bestseller list

Check out several New York Times Bestseller lists and pick a book on it. At the moment, Margaret Atwood’s modern classic The Handmaid’s Tale is on the list after its release as a TV series.

By a first-time author

Pretty simple: pick any author at all, and read their very first book.

Novel with supernatural elements

Magic? Talking animals? Predicting the future? Yes, please.



With an anonymous author

The best-known example of this might be the anti-drug memoir Go Ask Alice. Commentators are fairly certain who actually wrote the book, but the point is that it is labeled (and was originally released) with “Anonymous” in place of the author.

Written by someone you’ve met

This can be anything from your uncle’s crazy comic books to something written by a world-famous author you’ve met at a signing.

Hammett Award winner

The Hammett Award goes to the best mystery novel each year. Check out the list of past winners and choose one that looks good!

Alliteration in the title

Horton Hears a Who! Love’s Labor’s Lost!


You also might want to just add a category that says, “Whatever you want.” It’s a nice way to break up a series of books that may be well outside your comfort zone.

Still, at the end of it all, I’m sure you’ll be happy you didn’t just read all the same things you always read. A little diversity is good for us all.

Enjoy playing, and happy reading!

By: Ryan Drawdy
July 20, 2017

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion or suggestions of CenterState Bank.