I hardly take part in reading challenges in general, but as I was creating The Ultimate Tour Experience for Storytellers on Tour at the beginning of the year, I had way too much fun with coming up with prompts. So much so, that I kept thinking into the night about songs and bands that would make awesome prompts. The next day The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge came to life. Titled after an also great song by Shinedown.
I had a good time with the Armed with a Bingo challenge last year which fitted my relaxed reading mode and also was manageable. I didn’t really plan to do anything like that this year, but I just couldn’t say no to my overexcited brain when it started throwing song titles and band names at me which would make awesome reading prompts. I think what really kicked off my brain was “Another One Bites the Pixie Dust” which was among the first prompts I came up with for The Ultimate Tour Experience. There was no stopping from there and it was one I definitely wanted to use for my own purposes as well. I mean… come on, that one is fucking genius.
I overall collected about 52 possible prompts – some came from the top of my head, some after I did a quick browse of my player and I didn’t even dig too deep. But that was a way too big number, especially for a relaxed reading challenge where I only wanted to have 25 slots. I thought it would be hard to wet it down, but except one or two hard decisions it turned out to be pretty easy. And anyway, I just have another set waiting to be used if I ran out of the challenge ahead of time. *shrug*
All that being said, look at my glorious The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge card for 2021:
Let’s get a closer look at them, shall we? Songs are linked with the titles where it applies.
- Another One Bites the (Pixie) Dust: The slightly modified title of one of Queen‘s songs. For this one anything fits that have a pixie or fae in it. If one dies, well, all the better – for the prompt, that is.
- Highway to Hell: AC/DC‘s classic which I really don’t have to introduce to anyone. For this, I was thinking of a book that has a journey, or road trip, or even one taking place in Hell.
- Living After Midnight: Another classic, this time from Judas Priest (I’ve known it from Disturbed‘s cover). A book that mostly takes place at night, or a book that has an MC who mostly works at night such as an assassin, or a musician.
- Red Cold River: I hope you didn’t think I would miss inserting a song or two from my favorite band, Breaking Benjamin. I can kinda see a thriller or murder mystery for this one. But it can also be a book with a lot of blood spilling, a war, something grimdark.
- Queen: The only band on the list. Though I linked to the title a video in which Freddie sings the first verse of a Hungarian folk song. It gives me goosebumps every time. Also, his pronouncement is almost perfect! Anyway, we can’t have a reading challenge card without some royalty, can we? For this, I’ll be seeking out a book with a queen having a prominent role. Beheadings are optional.
- The Devil in Our Wake: This is a song from Shaman’s Harvest‘s latest album. This one is pretty self-explanatory. A book in which a character is running from enemies, their past. Or a great evil taking a come back after lying dormant for a long period of time.
- Get the Party Started: There is no party without P!nk! This one is open to quite a few interpretations: a book featuring a musician, a book featuring some kind of party or event where dancing takes place.
- Juke Box Hero: I’ve been taking up all the classics. This one is from Foreigner. I think for this one a book would fit in which a young protagonist would want to become a hero or the best at their profession. Or become a hero by circumstances.
- Bad Company: One of my favorite Five Finger Death Punch songs. A book with either a villain as the protagonist or at least a morally grey one. A band of misfits could work as well.
- Secrets: This song by OneRepublic had been on my players since forever. I just love it. But as a prompt, it’s probably not an easy one. I think I’ll pick a book for this that has at least one thread involving a secret, or a book that has “secret” in its title.
- Say You’ll Haunt Me: I think this is among my favorite prompts, taken from the Stone Sour song title. This one also can be interpreted in a few ways: an MC haunted by the past (either literally or by memories), or it can be a ghost story, or the MC could be driven by someone’s memory to do what they have to do.
- Illusion and Dream: Another band I couldn’t miss including, Poets of the Fall. They have atmospheric songs. I just love them. I had quite a few options, but I went with Illusion and Dream. I was thinking that for this a book that has something to do with illusion or dreams would be good. Or a book that has either in its title. Or a book with a naive MC whose head is in the clouds. I think there are quite a few possibilities. But it can also be applied to a book that has a dreamlike setting. It’s pretty wide open for interpretation if you wish to play around.
- Free: This is a joker card, but of course I have a song for this too. Does anyone remember Lighthouse Family? I remember their songs from when I was a kid. Their videos were aired a LOT. It gives me nostalgic feelings.
- Rise Above This: What can I say, there is really no The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge without Seether. Come on! They also give a great selection of titles to choose from. Misunderstood was just scratched in the last minute. But Rise Above This is not only a fucking awesome song but also a great prompt. For this, I’d pick a book where the MC has to come over a hurdle, or a tragic past experience, or a loss of someone since this song was written in the memory of Shaun’s brother, who committed suicide.
- Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Okay, so I love this Green Day song, but now that I’m actually thinking over things, I realize that this one will be probably the hardest prompt to fulfill. I admit I picked it for the catchy title. So for this one, I’m going to need a book that deals with the topic of loneliness, of having to chase your dream without reaching it. I suspect this won’t be a happy book whatever I choose.
- I Will Not Bow: Yet another Breaking Benjamin song, my most favorite, in fact. I envision a book with a headstrong protagonist who won’t give in, who will be hard to break, who won’t bend down before anyone not without a good reason anyway.
- Spellbinder: See? All the classics. Another Foreigner song made the list. This is a pretty great one (song and prompt alike). It could be used for anything magical, especially if it involves spells. Or it can be a spellbinding cover.
- Cruel to Be Kind: I really did not make this easy on myself, did I? So I know this song from the movie, Ten Things I Hate About You, performed by Letters to Cleo, but apparently it’s originally a Nick Lowe song. For this, the right book would be one in which the MC does something against their wishes in order to save/spare their loved ones. This requires a hard choice. Or a side character who does this to the MC.
- Bad Girl’s World: This prompt was brought to you by Halestorm. Because we need a bit of girl power here. A book with a kick-ass heroine or even a female villain (MC or otherwise) would be a good fit.
- Riot: Three Days Grace is another band with awesome prompt-worthy song titles. I picked one of my favorite songs, Riot. Anything that has to do with a rebellion can go on this slot.
- You Give Love a Bad Name: Let’s welcome Bon Jovi in the house. I think I’ll allow myself to go free with interpretation and go with anything that has romance involved, be it a HEA or about a bad relationship.
- Animal I Have Become: What did I say about Three Days Grace and awesome titles? This one can be a fun one to play with. It can be a book with shapeshifters, or where the MC is a literal or figurative monster.
- Somewhere I Belong: While this Linkin Park song is not a happy one, as a prompt it can be used in a positive way. I’m thinking found family, an MC who finds his/her place in life.
- Who We Are: I originally wanted to go with Go to War from Nothing More, but then I decided to switch to Who We Are. I have quite a few prompts here already that could work with a book that has a war setting, and honestly, I needed prompts with more positivity. For which Who We Are can be perfect. It can mean all kinds of things. It can be LGBTQ+ related, it can be a book with which you can identify or a character in that book. Or it can be about an MC who discovers themselves.
- Paradise City: We close the line with yet another classic, from Guns ‘n’ Roses this time. I’m leaving this one open as well. Probably something about heaven, angels, or a place you’d like to live in if you could.
It’s December now, and instead of creating another post, I decided to update the already existing one so everything is in one place. As I expected, filling out these prompts was fun, if sometimes a giant pain in the ass. Some were an easy choice, some not so much. Some books on my card I enjoyed, some not so much, but that’s just life for you. I tried to review as much as I could, but I tend not to review a lot of the audiobooks I listen to for reasons. Also, this year really kicked my ass, but more on that later perhaps. There are two on my list that I will review next year, however – She Dreams in Blood and The Hungry Dreaming, so you should keep an eye open for those to come!
As I planned – or didn’t plan, more like – I filled up the prompts as I went, so I wasn’t seeking out books for the purpose to fit one of the prompts. Although, toward the end of the year, as I still had a couple of empty ones, the urge became real. I tried to make regular updates on my Twitter feed, but as I was unclear about several books where they would fit, half of the card got filled up this December. In some cases, there were several books fitting one prompt, or I was waiting for something better fitting to come along, and in some cases, I had to bend my way of interpretation to fit books to them. I expected Cruel to Be Kind to be the hardest to fill, but thanks to RJ that one got its book pretty early on. And so, the harder proved to be Riot and Boulevard of Broken Dreams. I did not expect myself laying off of dark readings in the second half of the year or epic fantasy in general with wars and stuff.
All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with my results, which you can see for yourselves below. The review buttons will take you to my review and the book covers will take you to their respective GR pages so you can check them out if you wish! As this proved to be fun, I’m planning to do this challenge next year too, with 25 (well, okay, 24 as Free will remain) new music-related prompts! I hope you’ll join me and we can have fun together!
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE (PIXIE) DUST
HIGHWAY TO HELL
LIVING AFTER MIDNIGHT
RED COLD RIVER
THE DEVIL IN OUR WAKE
GET THE PARTY STARTED
JUKE BOX HERO
SAY YOU'LL HAUNT ME
ILLUSION AND DREAM
RISE ABOVE THIS
BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS
I WILL NOT BOW
CRUEL TO BE KIND
BAD GIRL'S WORLD
YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME
ANIMAL I HAVE BECOME
SOMEWHERE I BELONG
WHO WE ARE