Vacation Reading Challenge

This summer, we are holding our first annual Vacation Reading Challenge. This is a chance to stretch yourself a little, try something new or rekindle an old interest that you don't normally have time for.

100 books are available for borrowing for the Challenge. These are wrapped in brown paper and are all available on the library book display shelves, with only their subject and a few clue words written on them. To take part, you must be returning to college in Michaelmas 2016. 

How it works:

  1. Choose a book from OUTSIDE your degree subject. This is important, as anyone choosing a book from a subject they're studying will be disqualified.
  2. Read it over the summer.
  3. Write or record a review. This should be roughly between 400 and 1000 words (we won't penalise you for going over!) or 2-4 minutes of audio/video. You can post this online, write it as a document, upload it to YouTube, whatever works for you.
  4. Send your review or a link to your review to the library on

That's it! Everyone who enters a review will receive a Farthings Voucher. Yes, everyone! There are also two prizes of £100 each to be won. One will be awarded in a random prize draw, the other will go to the best review, as judged by a panel from the Library, the Fellows and the JCR. The best review will also be published or linked to in the Pink Times.

If you have more questions, see the FAQs below, or email us on Enjoy!





Who can take part in the Vacation Reading Challenge?

Anyone who is returning to Pembroke in Michaelmas 2016, and whose Bodleian card is valid on Friday 0th week MT 2016.


Can Graduates take part?

Yes, if your Bodleian card is valid on Friday 0th week.


If I'm doing a joint honours degree, what subjects can I read?

You must not choose a book whose subject is in your degree name. This applies to both joint honours and PPE.


I really don't want to read about death/war/spiders/eyeballs. How will I avoid them?

As well as the subject term, any books with distressing content will be appropriately labelled. If you have specific topics that you need to avoid for your own wellbeing, please speak to library staff who will be able to indicate suitable books. You are definitely encouraged to read outside your usual comfort zone, but the idea is to enjoy it, not to deliberately distress yourself.


What happens if I come to get a book and there are none outside my subject area?

Sorry, books are allocated on a first come, first served basis only. 100 books across a wide variety of topics will be available, but come early to be sure of taking part. 


What if a book I need for my Vacation work is part of the Challenge?

If you think a book you need might be in the Challenge, please speak to library staff. If it is still available, you will be able to borrow it, and a new book from that subject will be substituted. If it has been borrowed, staff will check whether the borrower needs it for study or the Challenge. If it is for the Challenge, they will be offered a substitute so that the book can be used for study.  No one should lose out on a book for studying because of the Challenge.


How do I submit my review?

You must make the librarian aware of your review by Friday 0th week. This can be as a letter, an email, and attachment or a link. Please use the email address


What format should my review be in?

All formats, both written and recorded, are eligible. Reviews should, in general, be ‘PG’ rated – no excessive swearing or inappropriate images. If you wouldn't submit it to your tutor, please don't send it in to the Challenge.


How long should my review be?

Your review should be at least 400 words, and not much longer than 1000. If recorded, it should be between 2 and 4 minutes.


What do I need to include in my review?

You can include anything, but as approximate guide, try to include your own opinion about the book’s quality and how, if anything, it might change your approach to your own subject.


What are the prizes?

Every entry will automatically win a Farthings voucher for a hot drink (or equivalent). Two prizes of £100 will be awarded. One of these will be in the awarded by a random prize draw. The other will be the best review as judged by a panel including the Library Fellow, the Librarian and a JCR rep. The winning entry will also be published in the Pink Times, editors and space permitting.


Where can I see the full rules of the challenge?

The full rules are here.


Who do I contact if I have a problem?

Email, phone (01865 2)76409, or drop into the library office.