2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge Book Recs

**Edited April 4th to include a few more books**

I’ve been doing the PopSugar Reading Challenge since 2015, which might have been the first year. Usually, I try to have an idea of what I plan to read as soon as the list is posted (I actually have pages of scribbled ideas in my reading/blogging binder right now). This year, I realized I’ve already read a lot of books that would work for the prompts, so I thought I would share a few, for anyone who’s doing this challenge and might want some suggestions.

I can’t suggest things for a lot of the topics, really, because I don’t know what other people have read/seen, favorite colors, birth years, etc., but I’ve got recommendations for some, and I hope someone finds this post helpful. (There will definitely be some books appearing in multiple categories, too.)


Regular Challenge

True Crime: This one is going to be hard for me this year because I don’t read much true crime, but I will suggest The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It has some other historical stuff mixed in, but I would count it.

A novel based on a real person: If you want to stretch “novel” to include “novel in verse,” try Audacity by Melanie Crowder. There’s also Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, possibly the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I want to say these were based on her family, but double check), an argument could be made for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

A book with a time of day in the title: Ok, I’m stretching this one to be more vague, so something like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern would fit for me. It’s harder to find books with a specific time in the title, but something like Twilight by Stephenie Meyer would work. Think “twilight,” “dusk,” “dawn,” “evening,” “morning,” “noon,” “midnight,” etc.

A book about a villain or antihero: I already know exactly what I’m reading for this one (Vicious by V.E. Schwab). Well, probably. Other suggestions: Macbeth by William Shakespeare would work…I think, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (I never finished it, but I think it counts), The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

A book about death or grief: I have to suggest Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (non-fiction) by Mary Roach for this one. I vaguely remember reading Death Be Not Proud (non-fiction) by John Gunther waaaay back in middle school (I liked it then, but that was like 14 years ago, eek :/ ). I want to say The Stoning of Soraya M. (non-fiction) by Freidoune Sahebjam might count, too. For fiction, there’s The Crow by James O’Barr (graphic novel), Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt,  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (I think counts), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and maybe The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

A book with alliteration in the title: Cozy mysteries are probably a great place to look for these. I would count things like Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.

A book about time travel: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is an obvious choice. Ages ago, maybe in high school, I read Time & Again by Nora Roberts (I think it’s two novels in one volume?) and it’s still the only Nora Roberts I’ve ever picked up. But I liked it then. You could probably count A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs, probably any Doctor Who novel, and I want to say maybe Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (but it’s been a long time since I read those books).

A book with a weather element in the title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer-Bradley (does “mist” count as a weather element?), The Tempest by William Shakespeare (another one I’m not 100% sure counts),  Storm Front by Jim Butcher, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen, Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, Soldier of the Mist by Gene Wolfe, Lightning by Dean Koontz, and Frostbite by Richelle Mead.

A book with an animal in the title: The Soul of an Octopus (non-fiction) by Sy Montgomery was a favorite of mine from last year. I also really liked Releasing the Wolf by Dianna Hardy (this is definitely an adult book), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Crow by James O’Barr, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, Blue Horses by Mary Oliver, The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, and Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Oh and of course The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

A book set on a different planet: The Maritan by Andy Weir is an obvious one. I also liked 27 Hours by Tristina Wright (I think they were actually on a moon of a different planet, but whatever), and loved Saga, vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, and I’m pretty sure you could count at least some of the Hitchhiker’s Guide books by Douglas Adams for this one.

A book with song lyrics in the title: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana), Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas), Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something), One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis), Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris (Dead to the World by Nightwish), Wildflower by Drew Barrymore (Wildflower by The JaneDean Girls), Seize the Night by Sherilyn Kenyon (Seize the Night by Meat Loaf), Neverland by Shari Arnold (Lost Boy by Ruth B).

Advanced Challenge

A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman (I haven’t read this one…I’m assuming “berry” counts, and this is what I plan to read), Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (this one is making 3 appearances on this list).

An allegory: Ok, I’m not totally sure about any of these :/ The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood,  Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, and I think Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn would also count for this one (it was suggested several times in the goodreads group for the challenge).

A microhistory: I’m reading Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy by Hallie Lieberman for this one. I would suggest The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, or Hidden Figures by Margo Lee Shetterly. I haven’t read much non-fiction until recently :/

A book about a problem facing society today: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, and I’m planning to read (finally) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: Take your pick from anything I’ve listed 😛 If free-picks count for this (as in, not books that fulfill any other prompts), I’ll recommend a few more: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio, Love and You by Gretchen Gomez, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, The Valiant by Lesley Livingston, and My Invented Country by Isabel Allende.


Happy reading, everyone, and I hope this helps someone 🙂

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T5W: 2018 Reading Resolutions

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

 

January 3rd: 2018 Reading Resolutions
— Self explanatory. Let us know 5 of your reading goals for the year.

I missed T5W in December, and I’m so mad! I mean, I did at least one, but ugh. I kept forgetting until really late, or the next day.

Anyway, I’m not a huge resolutions-maker, but, in no particular order…


Get through most or all of my ARCs before requesting more– Pretty self-explanatory. I have a bunch that piled up because last year was really not good. So, I want to get through at least most of those before I request more.

Finish a few series I’ve begun and abandoned– This one was less because I lost interest, and more because I started the series before it was finished, in most cases. I’m actually working on this one now, with the Southern Vampire Mysteries. (I read 12/13 and by the time I got a copy of the 13th, I’d forgotten most of what had happened.)

Continue shamelessly DNF-ing books– It took over 20 years for me to feel ok with abandoning a book I wasn’t enjoying, and it’s so freeing. Sometimes, I still feel slightly guilty (*cough cough* Anna Karenina *cough cough*), but life’s too short to force yourself to read books you don’t like.

Seek out more LGBTQ+ books– This is mostly for f/f relationships, which I rarely find in books I’m interested in, and books with pansexual characters (which I’ve only encountered once, I think), and particularly those that are own-voices. (If you have suggestions, let me know!)

Read my shelves– I have so. many. books. SO MANY. I’m pretty sure I have more unread than read books, and I have 5 bookshelves :/ Plus my Kindle. I don’t even want to think of how many Kindle books I own, and how many of those are unread.


What are some reading goals you have for this year?

Do you set a certain number of pages, or books, you want to read?

Are you participating in any challenges?

August Wrap Up (psst! kitten pictures!)

August was a slow reading month for me, partially because I was still healing from surgery, partially because I’ve been in a weird multi-genre-slump all year, and partially because we found two abandoned kittens and I’ve been caring for them. (I swear these are almost harder to take care of than a newborn baby :/ )

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pic from a few days after we found them; they’re bigger now and harder to photograph because they move too much

These little demons now have names: Timon & Pumbaa. The one in the top pic was the one we found first, and he was bigger than than the second one, and he makes little grunting sounds when he eats. The smaller one would sit up on his hind feet to eat from the bottle, and kinda looked like a meerkat, so, Pumbaa and Timon seemed fitting. I tried out some other names, but they actually started responding to Timon & Pumbaa, so it stuck.


As far as books are concerned, I read 4, plus a Buzz Books sampler (which I did count for my reading goal because that was several hundred pages).

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Escapism: Words + Photos by Candice Lee (review here), a poetry/photographs books, which I gave 3/5 stars.

Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck (review here), which I gave 3.5/5 stars.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh, which I gave 5/5 stars.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, which I gave 4/5 stars.


The Awakening counted for the #RockMyTBR Challenge (my goal was just to read at least one book that’s been on my shelf/Kindle for a year or more).

Back when I did the New Year’s Resolution Book Tag, I selected Anna Karenina as a big book I’d like to read, and my goal for it is to finish it by the end of the year. I made decent progress this month, but I’m still only about 250 pages into it. I’m not sure if it’s me or what, but I’m not loving it 😦


On the writing side of things, I finally worked more on my poetry collection. I’ve typed up everything I’ve written and edited, did more editing, and I think I’m close to having everything arranged the way I want it. I still want to write a little more for it, do a bit more editing, and (the big thing) find a title.

But, I made progress and I feel pretty good about it. I’m terrified of finishing it, though, because that means I might actually have to do something with it, like try to get it published traditionally, or take the plunge with self-publishing :O Scary stuff for someone who’s always been terrified of sharing their writing.


How was your August? Did you read anything really great?

Why I count (pretty much) everything I read on Goodreads

I felt inspired to write this because I’ve seen a few discussions online recently about what people do and do not count, and I realized how much my own choices have changed over the last few years.

For the first few years I used Goodreads, I only added “real books” I read. Then, I considered “real books” to be novels, entire collections of poetry or short stories, novellas, plays, and that was it. If something had a low page count, I felt too guilty to add it. An example would be The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This story is, depending on your edition, pretty short. I think my two copies are both under 100 pages, which lands them in that hazy place where short stories and novellas meet. I think a novella is typically considered a short novel of 30,000 words, but maybe less than 50,000 words, and short stories are typically anything under about 30,000 words. I could be wrong about that, and maybe there are different classifications depending on where you look for the information.

I didn’t read many comics or graphic novels back then, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t add any I did read. I also didn’t add any long short stories, and I was too ashamed to admit I read erotica, so I didn’t include those for a long time, even the full-length novels. (This was before it was a popular genre that it seemed like everyone was reading without always being judged for reading.)

While I do focus a bit on the number of books I read in a year, my primary goal is to increase the number of pages I read. I don’t know why, it just is. So, eventually, I grew tired of A) not being able to remember what I’d already read, and B) missing out on hundreds–if not thousands–of pages counted each year because I wasn’t including everything I read on Goodreads.

Maybe someone will look at my Goodreads shelves and scoff because I’ve included a single issue of a comic, or a short story, but it works for me to do things that way. The big turning point for me was when I realized that I don’t always like to read an entire collection of short stories in one go, and I don’t want a single volume sitting on my “currently reading” shelf for a decade while I read a piece every few months. (Things like the Grimm brothers fairy tales, or Poe’s complete works, or Bradbury’s complete short stories fall into that category for me.) I was also sick of my yearly page count not being a true reflection of the number of pages I’d read. This was particularly frustrating when I was also reading a lot of fanfic, so not only was I missing out on counting those (which could be quite long), I was also denying myself the inclusion of things that were on Goodreads, if only I would add them.

So, I decided to stop caring what anyone else thought about what I added to my shelves. It is, after all, my account, to use in whatever way works best for me. I joined Goodreads to keep track of every possible thing I read, and I became a Goodreads Librarian to help add things that weren’t already on there (which seemed a particular problem with self-published books for a while, and I read a lot of those back then). So what if someone else laughs because I added “The Raven” as something I’ve read? I read it, so on the “read” shelf it goes.

The point of me writing this is mostly just to say this: If you use Goodreads, and you feel weird about adding shorter things, think about why. Is it because you really don’t care about adding it, or because you’re worried about what someone else will think? Remember that your Goodreads (or whatever book/reading tracking thing you use, if you use something else) is there for you, and it’s up to you how you use it. If you don’t like adding short works, that’s totally fine. But don’t shy away from it because you think someone else will think it’s weird or silly.

I still don’t actually count every single thing I read, but I count almost everything. I prefer doing it this way because it helps me remember what I’ve read and what I thought of it, as well as giving me a more accurate picture of how many pages I read in a year.

As far as the yearly Goodreads challenge is concerned, no matter what my goal is, I still don’t consider it finished until I’ve read that many longer pieces. For example, if my goal was to read 10 books, and I finished it in January by reading 5 novels, 3 collections of poetry, 1 comic, and 1 short story, I wouldn’t actually consider it “complete” by my standards until I’d read 2 more longer things, whether they were novels, novellas, plays, poetry collections, etc.

I’m not going to try to tell anyone how they should use Goodreads, or that they should change what they’re doing. If it’s working for you, and you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters. I just wanted to share this because I think that maybe, if I’d known other people who did add everything a few years ago, I would have started doing it much sooner, and possibly not had as much senseless guilt for so long.


How do you use Goodreads?

Do you also add everything you read, regardless of length/genre/etc., or are you more selective?

New Year’s Resolution Book Tag

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A few of my resolutions that aren’t e-books

I saw this tag on Jenn–Thrice Read’s blog (she got it from The Restless Reader) and I decided I had to do it. Why? Because doing book tags that interest me is one of my New Year’s Resolutions, and this seems like the perfect place to start. I’m trying to use only books I already own for these prompts, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping to get to them all, but I’ll be happy if I get through most of them.

 

 

 

 

An author you’d like to read (that you’ve never read before)

Joyce Carol Oates. I know, I know, I should have read something of hers before now. Hopefully soon, since I found Black Dahlia & White Rose at a discount store recently.

A book you’d like to read

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. How I’ve managed to not read it yet is a mystery because I loved the Grisha trilogy. (It’s really not a mystery. It was reading slumps. Evil, horrible reading slumps.)

A book you’d like to re-read

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. (Actually, I want to re-read the entire “trilogy.”)

A book you’ve had for ages and want to read

Hahahaha! So many! I’m going to go with…The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. I bought this book when it came out in paperback over ten years ago. And I still haven’t read it.

A big book you’d like to read

I want to tackle Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy this year. I’ve wanted to read it since jr. high, and I finally have the edition I wanted, so I think it’s time.

An author you’ve previously read and want to read more of

Jane Austen. I’ve only read Pride & Prejudice and I wasn’t a big fan. But, my perspective has changed, so I’d like to give her books another chance.

A book you got for Christmas and would like to read

We don’t celebrate Christmas, but around that time my husband bought me The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor and I’m dying to read it. It’s so pretty and has been on my wishlist for a couple of years now. Flannery O’Connor will also be a new-to-me author.

A series you want to read (start and finish)

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I have Cinder, but I’ve been putting off reading this series until I knew I could afford to buy the rest of them as soon as I start Cinder. I’m 99% sure I’m going to love them.

A series you want to finish (that you’ve already started)

The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger. I read the first two books a few years ago, fell in love, but couldn’t get my hands on the rest for a long time. Now I finally own them all and can’t wait to read them.

Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2017?

Usually, yes. However, I realized that for two years in a row I struggled to read. I kept putting so much pressure on myself to read more, read outside my comfort zone, review more, etc., and I’ve basically been in a giant slump for two years. This year my goal is 12 books. More than that is wonderful, but I just want reading to be fun again.

 

 

Bloopers from my attempts to get that one almost-ok picture, featuring my husband’s cat

 

Do you set reading resolutions? If you do, tell me about yours for 2017!

If you’ve read some of these, which one do you think I should read first?