5 More Bookish Merit Badges

Jen Sherman

Staff Writer

Jen is an urban and cultural geographer who did a PhD on public libraries and reading. As a researcher, her interests are focused on libraries, reading, book retailing and the book industry more broadly. As a reader, she reads a lot of crime fiction, non-fiction, and chicklit. And board books. All the board books. You can also find her writing about books for children and babies at Instagram: shittyhousewife / babylibrarians Twitter: @jennnigan

A little while back, Rioter Josh Corman invented a few bookish merit badges that he would have been proud to receive—accolades that signal the world your bookish credentials, such as the ability to recommend appropriate books for any occasion, or broad and diverse reading habits. We thought it would be fun to update the list, so I’ve come up with five more literary merit badges that I wouldn’t mind pinning to my book bag.

Reading Ninja Warrior

There are heaps of reading challenges out there. Book Riot has its own Read Harder challenge, and local libraries/bookshops often have similar challenges. There are challenges like read only women, or read only authors of colour. None of these are as physically demanding as the challenges on American Ninja Warrior, but they can still be tricky to complete! You need to figure out titles that fit the criteria, get access to the actual book, and then find the time to read them all without getting distracted by everything else on your TBR pile. I’m currently trying to complete the Read Harder challenge and the one by my local library, and the end of the year seems to be approaching alarming rapidly… I need to pick up my reading game to even have a shot at this badge.

 Literary Nomad

This is for those of us who have the privilege to travel. When you go somewhere new, do you seek out libraries and bookshops? What about other bookish destinations, like the homes of famous authors or the settings of your favourite books? This badge is for you. I’m currently up to 95 libraries visited since I started doing a PhD on public libraries in 2012, and I’m not done yet! Bookish travelling is the best kind of travelling.

The Dewey Award 

Named for Melvil Dewey of the Dewey Decimal Classification system, this is for the readers who have mastered the organisation of their book collections, and who may have even catalogued their own libraries. One of my ex-boyfriends (a software engineer) gave me a barcode scanner a few years ago, and after I scanned all of my books, he wrote me my own personal searchable library catalogue. One of the best birthday presents I’ve received!

Library Lover

This is for all of the library power users out there. The library members who return their books on time, utilise the library’s many resources and services such as holds and inter-library loans, attend events and classes, and support the Friends of the Library group. The people with this badge are the ones who would suggest ‘going to the library’ as a potential date night activity, and are shocked when they discover they know people who don’t have a library card.


Unlike the Niffler who wreaks havoc in his search for treasure, recipients of this merit badge leave treasure. You have probably heard by now of the stories of Emma Watson leaving books on the New York subway and the London Underground for strangers to find, and sometimes publishers do this too. The Not-A-Niffler badge is for the readers who leave books in public places for others to discover and enjoy. There’s a great website, BookCrossing, dedicated to this cause: ‘BookCrossing is the act of releasing your books “into the wild” for a stranger to find, or via “controlled release” to another BookCrossing member, and tracking where they go via journal entries from around the world. Our community of passionate, generous book-lovers is changing the world and touching lives, one traveling book at a time.’

I can claim some of these badges, but not all! What about you? What other bookish merit badges would you like to see, if there was ever such a thing as Book Scouts/Guides?