“It’s the Most Wonderful Day of the Year!” Announcing the 9th Annual Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge!

Short stories “saved my reading life” way back when I was about 30 years old. Though I’d read a lot in high school and college, somehow my reading habits had atrophied from a lack of exercise. At some point, I eased my way back into reading when I picked up a few books of short stories and thought, “Well, certainly I can find the time to regularly read short stories!” so I started doing just that. One thing led to another, and they proved a useful “gateway drug” that guided me back to being the voracious reader I’ve been ever since.

Then, once I started blogging, it only took me a year ( 🙂 ) to invent the Deal Me In Challenge and I’m very proud in the knowledge that literally THOUSANDS of short stories have been read ALL OVER THE WORLD as a result of this challenge. So I guess all that’s left to ask is….

Will YOU become part of this great tradition in 2019?  The rules of the challenge are not difficult:


Deal Me In logo above designed by Mannomoi at https://dilettanteartiste.wordpress.com/ follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/callmemanno

What is the goal of the challenge?

To read 52 short stories in 2019 (that’s only one per week – versions with a lesser story requirement are noted below)

What is the purpose?

To have FUN and to be exposed to new authors and stories and maybe get in the habit of reading a short story a week. Isn’t that enough?

What do I need?

1) Access to at least fifty-two short stories (don’t own any short story collections or anthologies? See links to online resources below)
2) A deck of cards
3) An average of perhaps as little as just thirty minutes of reading time each week

Where do I post* about my stories?

(*You don’t have to post about every single story, of course, – or even ANY story – but if you have something to say about the story you read any given week, your fellow participants would love to hear it.)

1) On your own blog or website if you have one.

2) If you don’t have a blog or website you may comment on any of my Deal Me In posts, sharing thoughts on your own story. Better yet, you can tweet about short stories you read using the hashtag #DealMeIn2019. In fact, I encourage everyone who does blog about the stories they read to use the hashtag (which I will link to in my sidebar in 2019) when you publish a post. Fellow DMI’ers can find them more easily and, hopefully, retweet them too.

How do I pick which stories to read?

The 52 stories themselves are totally up to you. Before you get started reading, come up with a roster of fifty-two stories (you can use any source) and assign each one to a playing card in a standard deck of cards. It can be fun to use different suits for different types of stories, but that is optional. I’ve often included one wild card for each suit too, so I can maybe read a story I’ve heard about during the year, or read another by an author I’ve discovered through this challenge. Each “week,” (if you’re like me, you may occasionally fall a story or two behind – that’s okay) you draw a card at random from your deck and that is the story you will read. There are links to many participants lists in last year’s sign up post if you want to see some examples. I’ve already posted my own 2019 roster.

What if I don’t have time to read a story every single week?

You don’t have to read your stories on a regular schedule (I almost always fall behind at least once during the year) and can catch up once a month if your prefer – OR try one of the challenge variations noted below, the Fortnight (or “payday” if you prefer) version is one story every two weeks or the “Full Moon Fever” version with just thirteen stories read or selected on seeing each full moon…

How do I sign up?

Leave a comment below with your URL, and I will link you on my home page, where I’ll eventually have a section in my sidebar for “2019 Deal Me In Participants.” I hope to occasionally publish some kind of wrap-up post, linking to other Deal Me In participants’ posts I’ve seen recently, or just giving an update on how things are going.

Late sign-ups (we always get a few) are allowed and encouraged too. If you can, I’d love you to add where in the world you’re blogging from and where or how you heard about the Deal Me In! challenge.

Some short story resources:

Classic Horror Stories:
AmericanLiterature.com short story of the day
EastoftheWeb’s short story of the day:
The Library of America’s short story of the week archive:

Free online novels.com has a wide selection; or check here for a few more. Heck just google “free short stories on line” and you’ll have enough to last a lifetime of Deal Me In Challenges!  Check out The New Yorker too. Last I checked you could access a limited number of their published stories per month. If your local library is like mine, they’ll likely have a good collection of annual O’Henry Prize-winning volumes, or the yearly Best American Short Stories anthologies.
Looking for some really short stories? Try here If you have recommendations for other free sources of short stories, feel free to share in the comments.

Deal Me In Variations:

The Deal Me In “Fortnight Version” – just use two suits from your deck and assign a story to each card, drawing a card every two weeks. If you get paid bi-weekly, you can use that as a reminder to draw a new card (I guess this makes the fortnight variation a.k.a. The “payday version.”)

The Deal Me In “Euchre Deck Version”If you work for “one of those companies” where you only get paid twice a month on the 15th and 30th, e.g., use a euchre deck!  Note: I’ve experimented with an accelerated euchre deck version for a couple readathons, especially the 24 in 48 readathon, where, instead of trying to read 24 hours out of 48, I try to read 24 short stories in 48 hours. Also pretty challenging!

The Deal Me In “Full Moon Fever Version” – this would be the baby steps way to ease into the Deal Me In routine, basically reading just one story a month (who doesn’t have time for that?). Just use one suit or face cards only and you’re set. Seeing the full moon in the sky can also serve as a reminder – “hey, I need to read my next short story!” 🙂

Not sure when the full moons occur? Not surprisingly, that information is available in many places on line, one of which is HERE.

You could also try using the new moons, as well, or BOTH new and full moons. In the past, we’ve had a couple Deal Me In’ers have a full moon add-on in addition to their 52 stories.

Other participants in the past have added their own wrinkles: Reading a story a week for only half the year, reading two at a time and trying to find a “connection” between them, reading essays, plays, poems, or famous speeches… Feel free to twist, spindle or mutilate this challenge any way you see fit to suit your own plans – the only element that should probably remain is the use of playing cards to determine your reading order.

So, how about it?  Are you UP for a challenge? If so, Deal Me In 9.0 might just be for you!  Shall we “Deal YOU in?”



    • Jay said,

      December 21, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      Good to have you with us again this year, Dale! I’ve read a couple handfuls of stories on your list – probably because we own the same anthologies! Enjoy your 2019 short story reading adventures!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Linda H. Lamb said,

    December 21, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    You finally talked me into it, Jay! Drank the Kool-Aid, found the stories, bought the deck of cards. I always have at least one book going, fiction or nonfiction, but thought I could work in more short stories. Devoted my picks mostly to two well-reviewed collections on my “to read” list, “Honeydew” by Edith Perlman and “A Manual for Cleaning Women” by Lucia Berlin. Both female authors, so I’ll round it out with some by Tolstoy, Gogol, Hemingway, Salinger, Chekhov, Wolff, Vonnegut, Bradbury, London and Murakami. May post some reviews if I can ever make my almost-blog work on WordPress.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jay said,

      December 22, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Glad you’re joining us, Linda! Maybe this will be a good excuse to get that “almost-blog” off the ground! 🙂 I’m not familiar with the two collections you mention, but your “round it out” authors are frequent guests on my nightstand. Enjoy!


  2. December 21, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    I’m in once again! Here’s my list:

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jay said,

      December 24, 2018 at 10:07 am

      One of your stories, “Dune Roller” has been highly recommended to me by my Bradbury Scholar friend and his wife. I wonder if it’s in the same edition of Stories Not for the Nervous I bought. (Now I want to run home and check!) 🙂

      Also- very glad to have you with us again. Reading “a short story a week” has become such a pleasant routine for me in the “blogging era” of my life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. marianallen said,

    December 22, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I’m in! http://MarianAllen.com I don’t have my list yet; I’ve far from exhausted the sources I used in 2018, so I may stick with them. Or, you know, not. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jay said,

      December 24, 2018 at 10:08 am

      Glad you’re joining us again! I have grown accustomed to getting my wordpress “notification chime” every Monday morning on the drive to work that signals to me your post is up and a new week of Deal Me In has started! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. N@ncy said,

    December 26, 2018 at 7:15 am

    List is ready….I bought a new pack of cards.
    Let the games begin!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      December 26, 2018 at 10:36 am

      So glad you’re joining the challenge again this year, Nancy! I look forward to a pic or two of your new deck of cards. 🙂 I got a couple decks for Christmas yesterday myself. They’re not ‘themed’ but they’re pretty and I may use them one week. Happy reading!


  5. December 27, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Woo hoo! Can’t wait to start! Here’s my sign-up post: https://classicalcarousel.com/deal-challenge-2019/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nsenger said,

    December 29, 2018 at 2:07 am

    I’m back for another year, Jay! I’m trying something different this year–I’m using one anthology with 75 stories. I’ll be doubling up some weeks to get them all in, but they’re all pretty short. Here’s my list:


    Liked by 2 people

    • December 30, 2018 at 3:44 am

      I tried to comment on your blog but for some reason neither Google nor WordPress was logging me in. In any case, have fun with this challenge and your DQ read along! Fun!


    • Jay said,

      January 3, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      Thanks for signing up, Beth, and welcome to Deal Me In! I hope you enjoy the challenge as much as I have come to over the years.


  7. vidyatiru said,

    January 4, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Jay, I failed at it last year but I am trying again this year, and I might succeed..as my plan is to work towards a better me after all this year.. My list is up on my shared google sheets and my blog post – https://www.ladyinreadwrites.com/better-me-plan-part-2-by-books/


  8. DebraB said,

    January 9, 2019 at 6:24 pm


    What the heck. Sign me up. Maybe I’ll blog more this year (?). I don’t have a list of stories yet, but I’ll probably rely on all the old _New Yorkers_ that I never got around to reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 10, 2019 at 9:30 am

      The New Yorker is a great source for short fiction. I’ve read a ton from there over the years of Deal Me In. 🙂


  9. Kelly Easton said,

    January 14, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Is it too late to Deal [Myself] In?? Delighted to have just found you, as I was perusing commentary on Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Farmer’s Children” (one article pointed here…). I’ve got Updike’s anthology right next to me and just counted: 54 stories! Excellent, particularly since I’ve read just two so far. I don’t have a blog, but I’m @kiki_reston on Twitter. Hailing from Reston, VA.


    • Jay said,

      January 14, 2019 at 8:06 pm

      No, it’s not too late at all! Late joining is accepted and encouraged for Deal Me In. Happy reading!


  10. Joel said,

    January 25, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Here’s my belated sign-up: https://ishouldbereading.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/deal-me-in-challenge-2019/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      February 6, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      THanks for joining in, Joel! Looking forward to following your progress.


  11. mnmona91 said,

    March 2, 2019 at 11:37 am

    can I still join you? I tried last year but it was very busy year for me so I hope I can this year>
    I finish already 3 stories but I haven’t posted about any of them yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      March 2, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      Absolutely! Latejoining is allowed AND encouraged! Happy reading!


  12. July 14, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    […] Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis What’s Deal Me In? […]


  13. December 15, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    […] Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis What’s Deal Me In? […]

    Liked by 1 person

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