SAL/ON

A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

A Winter Reading Challenge

On what otherwise might be a gloomy December day, we are delighted to share this winter reading challenge, with text by WITS Writer-in-Residence Shelby Handler and art by Beck Gross.

Inspired by SAL and The Seattle Public Library’s Summer Book Bingo program, Shelby and Beck created their own Winter Book Bingo board to get them through the dark season—they’ve included great categories like “a book your ancestors would disapprove of,” “queer history,” and “a friend just read” that might help you out of your reading rut.

When we reached out to the pair to see if they would create a guest post about their bingo project, they designed this comic to reveal more about their winter reading experiences. Download a PDF version of their board, and tag them with your progress on social media if you’re playing along with them this winter!


Text by Shelby Handler and Art by Beck Gross

Inspired by SAL and SPL’s Summer Book Bingo, we created our own board of 25 categories to help inspire and energize our winter reading.

Here’s how we are doing this with our friends:

  • We invited a bunch of friends to participate!
  • Each of our participants pitches in some amount, between $5-54 (giving what they can!).
  • We are donating half our pot to Books to Prisoners, and the other half we are using to buy some fun literary prizes for our winners.
  • All books read between December 1st and the Spring Equinox on March 19 qualify.
  • To be in the running for prizes, our participants have to get a row (diagonal counts, too!) or a black-out (filling the whole board!).
  • We will be declaring our winners sweepstakes style: if participants get a row or blackout, they will be entered into a drawing.

But it’s not just about the competition: we will celebrate the joys of reading with a final celebration where all our participants will be invited to creatively share-back on something they read during the winter.

This includes, but is not limited to, writing a poem based on an inspiring line or idea, drawing a picture of a character, collaging or word-clouding a favorite passage, doing a book report, creating a video response, doing a skit, making a dance, singing a song, or even just reading a favorite part out loud to us.

We hope our Winter Book Bingo quest is inspiring to your winter reading! And here is the backstory behind our process:

That last panel has some book recommendations hidden in it! Here’s where I’m kicking off my board:

Queer History: The End of San Francisco by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Themes of Migration or Diaspora: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Poetry: Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl by Diane Seuss

Book Your Ancestors Would Disapprove Of: Odes to Lithium by Shira Erlichman

Translated into English: Flash Cards by Yu Jian


Beck Gross is a trans, Jewish, sober bookworm who is looking forward to hibernating this winter. He works in healthcare and lives on unceded Duwamish territory. B writes and draws to explore themes of mental health, recovery, and connection. Follow B on Instagram @begross.

Shelby Handler is a queer Jewish writer, educator, and organizer living on Duwamish territory/Seattle, WA. A WITS Writer-in-Residence, Shelby is also a master teaching artist for Arts Corps, Youth Speaks Seattle, and Kadima Reconstructionist Synagogue. A 2019-20 Hugo House Fellow, Shelby’s work has also received support from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Asylum Arts, the Yiddish Book Center, Artist Trust, Gay City Arts and Winter Tangerine. Follow Shelby on Twitter @shelbeleh.

Posted in CreativitySummer Book BingoWriters in the Schools