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Here's the challenge: commit to reading 50 books and watching 50 movies in the next year! (Find out more...)

The good news is, there are no real rules. We do have a few suggestion though! (Find out more...)

Doing things together is the best isn't it? Come sign up with us and then we can cheer each other on! (Find out more...)

You can win the power of self edification. You can win bragging rights. You can win over your soul mate! Or you could just not win anything. (Find out more...)

Kick the challenge up a notch by picking a themed major and minor for your movies and books. Can we suggest a few? (Find out more...)

The 50/50 Challenge The Rules Signing Up What Do I Win? Major/Minors
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So where are you going this year?
What good are books, if not to help us escape?

One theme I'm proposing for fiftyfiftyme is "PASSPORT", where we (or hey, just me) read books from or about various areas of the world. Armchair travel to the fullest. And with this theme the possibilities are literally endless; fiction, nonfiction, foreign authors, or just any book set abroad in some exotic foreign location.

(Reminder: a Theme can be part of your reading; it doesn't have to dictate all 50+ of your books)

Here's a peek at my growing personal list for this theme... (prepare yourself, there are a lot of books on here that I should have already read by now):

Power of One (S. Africa)
Interpreter of Maladies (India)
In the Time of the Butterflies (Dominican Republic)
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (memoir, Sierra Leone)
Old Man and the Sea (Cuba)
The Joke (Czech Republic)
Searching for Hassan (Iran)
Kartography (Pakistan)
The Birth of Venus (Italy)
Killing Pablo (nonfiction, Colombia)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (China)
Maus I (Poland)
The Sea (Ireland)

Now, that's just my list, and all of those are obviously (as per our FAQs!) unread.

Not sure where to start? Well, here is a list of me-approved international literature (meaning I've read them, endorse them, and would hand my beloved copy to you if only the internets were not keeping us apart, dear friend!)

Milan Kundera -- anything he writes!!! (Czech Republic) <-- he is my "desert island book" author btw
Memoirs of a Geisha (Japan)
The House of the Spirits (Chile)
The Penelopiad (Greece)
Persepolis (Iran)
Last Song of Dusk (India)
Iran Awakening (memoir, Iran)
Sky of Red Poppies (disclaimer: related to author -- but it's genuinely fantastic; Iran)
What is the What (pan-Africa, Sudan)
City of Thieves (Russia)
The Archivist's Story (Russia)

Those are just off the top of my head, and granted, but for me most of them were relatively swift reads.

If you really want to step it up (or just get ideas), check out this Around the World in 80 Books challenge on goodreads. Um, yeah. And you thought 50 books was bad ;)

If you need some inspiration and book lists, this is a great website I stumbled upon: Books Around the World, where readers compile book suggestions from around the world:

Or you could pick up a more literal travel memoir (is it time you read Eat, Pray, Love?) If you're in Southern California, pay your respects to Traveler's Bookcase and see what you find!

(note: a post on Passport/Films will be forthcoming!)

We're at 65 participants and going strong on our goal to hit 100 by 2012! Below are a few links to participants who have blogged about Go visit them and say hello! (And if we missed your your post, please tell us so we can link back!

  • Melinda Van: 50/50 Challenge! or How I’ve Lost My Mind
  • Charity (Writing Wrongs) is combining with another challenge, War Through the Generations. This is an amazing idea: combining challenges!
  • Escape to Beer Mountain has some (more) thoughts on the 50/50 challenge.
  • Binit has put up his first movie and book lists for the challenge. We love how prepared he is!
  • Shell (One Journey) is gonna use popcorn and soda to wash down all this culture and adventure.
  • The Lemur educates us about "bad cinema" and we hope there's a guest post coming with some recommendations from him.
  • Jennifer Pooley and Coming Alive are both in, and Lolamaya started a blog just for!

In which Lilly and Jon introduce, discuss some questions people have had, and talk about picking majors and minors for the challenge. [12:02 min]

(direct MP3 download link)

If you really wanted to challenge yourself, you could put yourself out there and take up the cause of reading things other people suggested, watching movies that made their eyes light up. This is the apex of vulnerability; we live our lives increasingly customized. I only watch the tv shows I record when I feel like getting around to it., for example. Since graduating school, none of us have read a book we didn’t pluck off the shelves in complete self-actualization.

So the challenge with the theme "Recommendations" is to ask your parents, your best friends, your coworkers, your neighbors: What’s the one book they can’t live without? What’s the one movie they think you HAVE to see?

This theme is not for the weak of heart. The fact with recommendation is that it’s really hit or miss. If it’s a great recommendation, I like you and feel closer to you.

But what if it’s the opposite? What if you were one of the people who told me to read One Day? Or what if you told me I just HAD to see Miami Vice, the only movies I have ever walked out of? (The line “if you do the crime, you do the time” was just too much for me) What happens is: I judge you. Your recommendation may tell me things about you that it’s better I not know!

I can’t count the number of times someone has told me to read something. Sometimes people suggest or go ahead and give me a book and I genuinely just don’t get around to it, which is my bad. My habit is to read it 5 years later, then write a completely untimely (but heartfelt) apology, detailing why I loved it. Other times they will recommend, and I will point and laugh.

This happened with the friend who told me to read The Hunger Games. I told her “I hate reality tv. Why would you possibly READ A BOOK about it?” And then I ate my words. Every time I passed the book forward, mentioned it to another person, I cringed at how wrong I was to have such disdain for a well-meaning (and on point) recommendation.

But let’s be honest -- other times they’re dead wrong. You read the book and wonder “How am I close to someone who thinks this is 'the best writing ever'?" (see also: my dad, The Da Vinci Code, 2004) If one more of you suggest Tuesdays With Morrie, we’re gonna have words (just kidding- that’s in the “haven’t read yet” pile).

On the flipside, maybe you will be pleasantly surprised. You may find out that some of the books and movies that fall into your hands change your life, change your perspective on things, or at least change how you view the person who lent them to you -- for the better.

Edit: Actually it's 2017 and we're not doing sign-ups anymore (we're just on social media now), but you can sign up for our mailing list to keep on top of how fiftyfifty is going this year!

Here's what it's all about, here are the rules, and sign up below! Link to your blog or site for us to blogroll you and visit, and leave us a comment if you want to add anything! (Oh and here are stickers.)

Here’s the challenge: commit to reading 50 books and watching 50 movies in the next calendar year.

(Don’t worry, we fear commitment too.)

You don’t need to know what you are going to read or watch right now (but feel free to start a list). All we ask is that you commit to giving yourself a wild year, full of new characters, storylines, and inspiration. is a community of people just like you, who want to challenge themselves over the next year and discover new adventures.

Go ahead, read Kardashian Konfidential, we won’t tell.

  • Consider setting up a blog so that we can follow and include you in our blog roll. We recommend Blogger or Tumblr or even a Pinterest.
  • Post your reviews of what you read and watch, so others can link up with you to find movies and books they will enjoy.
Linking Up:

If you’re Tweeting about doing the challenge, please use these hashtags so we can all find each other! Keep up with us on Twitter @fiftyfiftyme.
  • #fiftyfiftyme — general news, suggestions, updates, the book and movies you’re reading/watching
  • Sign up for our mailing list to keep updated on fiftyfifty stuff!

Once upon a time there was a girl who read everything she said she wanted to read and watched every movie that had been recommended to her. And she lived happily ever after, or something like that.

See, it's really all about setting intentions.

Whenever people walk into my home for the first time, they say "Wow, you have so many books."  There are books stacked on my kitchen counter, in stacks in my bedroom, laying by the fireplace, exploding from 2 bookshelves.  There is barely enough room for everything I want to read in my life - literally (oh, the puns!). So this is the year I'm going to do it.

One day when I was being a snob and talking about how I always prefer to read, a friend stopped me and pointed out that books and films are important counterparts.  The bookworm in me was horrified, but quickly realized she's right; you probably don't have a completely fulfilled cultural life if you're engaging in one and not the other.  It's about finding the right movies to watch; just like it's about the books that keep you up at night.

I'm looking forward to using this challenge to inspire myself to knock things off my list that have been there forever.  To finish my favorite author Milan Kundera's bibliography.  To lie around and take in classic films I'm ashamed not to have seen yet (Auntie Mame and Sunset Blvd come to mind). To blow through celeb bios that I have yet to prioritize the time to read (David Hasselhoff, I'm on my way!)  To read some of the classics I have never touched.  To watch Gladiator and Braveheart so I can stop giving blank looks to men who refer to them constantly. 

More than the challenge to myself, I'm looking forward to hearing and learning about what other people (you!) are reading and watching, 50 times over, rinse and repeat.  Basically I'm in it to see what happens when we devote a year to driving ourselves absolutely berzerk trying to get it done.  Let the intellectual experiments begin...

Start stretching!

Did you know who we were before we challenged you and threw your 2012 cultural life into a frenzy? I mean, there you were, all relaxed going into the holidays and then, next thing you knew it, you’d signed on to read 50 new books and watch 50 movies. You need to know exactly where to point the finger. Allow us to help:

Fifty percent of us is Lilly, a former literary agent gone communications executive. Her hobbies are squinting to make out the titles of what other people are reading, buying people books they will never read, and making lists of what she will read next. The movie part is gonna be hard for her. Lilly does her best reading with a black cup of coffee at 5am when you people aren’t even up yet.

The other fifty percent is Jon, itinerant, writer of young adult and blogging books. When he’s not writing himself, Jon is communing with his computer and trying to find the best ramen around. Jon tends to read in the middle of the night, because that's when he's awake.

We've decided that it would be fun to do some packages, say, committing to watching ten movies from a certain director, or reading ten books from a particular genre. Maybe you'll decide to go with "revolutions" as a theme and design your Fifty Fifty around that. It's up to you!

If you come up with a cool theme idea, comment away, and leave suggestions and playlists for others. Personally I'm going to do a major in Pedro Almodovar movies and a minor in Gabriel García Márquez books!

  • Major as defined by either "all of one creator's works" or "more than ten."
  • Minor defined as "at least half of a creator's works" or "five or more."

This is like studying in college, but you know, actually fun. Also, I just want to go around saying stuff like, "I'm majoring in The Hunger Games series, with a minor in David Fincher."

This is a call to action. I read a pathetic amount last year. Looking over my "books opened" (not even "books read") spreadsheet on Google Docs, I only tabulate twenty books read in 2011. Between the months of March through July, I didn't read one book! That is definitely unacceptable.

The thing is, I'm a pretty fast reader. Like I'll crank out a novel in a few hours. Crack open the spine in New York, hit "The End" by the time the plane lands in San Francisco. Yet somehow all my reading energy has gone to perusing long form articles online, or snippets of news from my iPhone.

I could say that traveling back and forth across the country limited my book carrying options -- I had one book, Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, lugged around with me from coast to coast -- but that's not the reason I read so few books. The real reason is because I stopped making time for reading. The classic "It's not you, it's me." But it really is me!  I needed to make a change because reading is one of the best things on Earth. Next to Tim Tebow and Snapple.

With the Fifty Fifty Challenge, I'm going for gold and getting back to my book devouring ways. Armed with my trusty new eReader, I'm ready to get my groove back. Cue dance party.

Okay, they aren't stickers, but they will stick on your web page!  Or your Facebook profile, or your wallpaper?!  Just right click and "save."  Feel free to make your own buttons too, the two hex colors are #FDD838 and #88D6C7. The font we used was Alte Haas Grotesk Bold.

Clearly we aren't designers -- we're readers and couch potatoes -- so if you come up with something cool, send it along and we'll post it for everyone to share!

[All stickers -- and site images -- courtesy of Susie from Boygirlparty!]

Um, you win reading books and watching films. Self edification? If there are enough people, we could win some medals too? We're also open to donations and sponsors.  And cookies. Always the cookies.


Keep track of your books using Goodreads to mark books you’ve read, and those you want to read.

Support indie bookstores with!

NY Times Bestseller List

National Book Awards

Pulitzer Prize Awards

Other literary awards

ALA Young Adult book awards

Book Lust: Librarian Nancy Pearl makes recommendations for every person and every mood

The Millions Top Ten

Check out the Twitter tag #fridayreads to see what people around the world are reading and recommending on any given Friday


Movie Awards Lists

AMC’s 100 Best Movies

Academy Awards

Sundance Film Festival

Festival de Cannes


So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
Sara Nelson is the go-to woman on reading and publishing; when I read this book she was the editor of Publishers Weekly magazine, and she has since moved on to various posts including book editing for Oprah Magazine. Her book is about what happens when you set the intention of reading a huge stack of books, and how life takes you different ways.

Nick Hornby, The Polysyllabic Spree and his Believer column
In this column he would chronicle what he bought vs what he actually read. Great writer, fun column.

Got something to add? Email us at fiftyfiftymeATgmail or find us on Twitter @fiftyfiftyme.

The good news is, there are no real rules. Just commit to reading fifty books and watching fifty movies for one calendar year! But if you're looking for some structure and guidelines, keep reading. If you have any suggestions, feel free to contact us or leave a comment below!

Some Guidelines:
  • Recognize you're doing this for bragging rights (only); although we promise some fun along the way.
  • Join anytime you like, but you only have til the end of the year to finish.
  • Read and watch at your own pace, just get to 50/50 before next year!
  • Finish that stack of half-read books, finally! We'll let you count them.
  • Read/watch in any language. 50/50 is global, yo.

Questions you are asking or should be:

1) Um…What happens if I don’t read 50 books and watch 50 movies this year?
Easy: we send a bounty hunter to your house.

Actually, there is no punishment (not this year, anyhow). It’s your personal challenge, so all we ask is that you try. No matter what, you’ll probably consume more books/movies than you’ve ever done before. This, my friends, is what we call win-win.

2) Do I have to read the books, or can I just skim?
I can see how this would be confusing. Oh wait, no. C’mon people, it’s a reading challenge! Same as fast-forwarding through a movie isn’t the same as really watching one, this is about taking the time to really enjoy. For the avoidance of doubt, please read the book for it count.

3) Do long books count as 2? What about movies?
If your book is over 500 pages, you can count it as two books if you like. We still consider you an Overachiever. However, if the book is 2,000 pages, it’s still just two books — not four! We want to encourage you to read longer pieces. This answer has been posted for the benefit of all you Game of Thrones fanatics out there. Go forth and prosper or whatever it is. No matter the length, a movie is still just a (one, 1, “ONE”) movie. That said, installments in a movie series (example: the individual Godfather movies) would each snag an individual point. Go you.

4) What if I’ve read a few pages or seen a few clips of a movie already?
As long as more than half (50%) of it is new to you, you’re good to go - count it!

5) Do textbooks count?
You poor thing. Let’s see here: A book’s a book, but are you really reading all of it or just a chapter here or there? Be honest with yourself! Books you read for school count as well, if you’ve read them in their entirety.

6) Can I rewatch/reread? 
Of course you can rewatch and reread… it just won’t count towards your 50/50! We hope you will use to inspire you to explore new stuff! Maybe next year we will include a “Reminiscing” theme, but this year around we’re asking you to go fresh.

7) Do I need a blog to do
You do not need a blog in order to do! We suggest it on the website as an easy way to keep track online of what you’re up to (Blogger and Tumblr offer free blog services, for starters)

This year, we’re working on the honor system- just keep a list on your fridge or in a notebook if you aren’t interested in doing it online. The main focus is on participating- your free time is better spent on reading/watching.

8) What should I read/watch?
Anything you like! We have offered a lot of themes on the website, and you may want to borrow from them should you declare a Major/Minor.

For example, one thing we have suggested is that you dive deeper into someone’s work and experience a few in a row (whether it’s an author, director, actor, etc.). What this does is allow you to justify why you stayed home all weekend watching Ryan Gosling’s filmography. It will also allow you to use “oeuvre” correctly in conversation with people… people who rightfully probably won’t want to be your friends for long, but that is neither here nor there.

9) Can kids participate in
Yes, definitely! We encourage families and people of all ages to sign up for this movie and reading challenge, although you should prepare because the kids we know will double up and read more like 100 books in the year.

We just suggest you read age-appropriate(ish) material. If you are under 18, please have the oversight of a parent or guardian- get them to participate too.

10) How do I get my school/library involved?
Tell them about it! We are sure your school or library would encourage this adventure. If your library or school does decide to participate, let us know and we’ll be happy to post about it on our website.

While we do not offer prizes this year (other than our respect, membership in the cool kids club, etc.), schools or libraries may want to support the with local awards for Overachievers, or a ceremony to recognize those who accomplish this huge task.

You might also want to create a club to meet once in a while and discuss what you are reading/watching, and share recommendations in person. Libraries, local independent bookstores, and theaters would be great venues for these - get your local community involved!

11) How can I find people around me doing 50/50?
We do not yet ask people to identify where they are joining from, but we encourage you to set up a local gathering of 50/50 participants either by setting one up on Meetup or creating a club, etc., luring some of your friends.

Or go through profiles and see who you can meet! Participants may volunteer where they are writing from.

12) Are there 50/50 events? is based out of San Diego, but no live events are planned at the moment. We’ll keep you posted when/if those happen, so please be sure to sign up for our mailing list so we can reach out to you about relevant news and information.

Got a question to ask? Email us at fiftyfiftymeATgmail or find us on Twitter @fiftyfiftyme.

You can email us at fiftyfiftymeATgmail or find us on Twitter @fiftyfiftyme.

Or you can just stalk us in person. But that would be weird. I mean, for you.

Copyright 2017