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Popsugar 2020

  1. A book that’s published in 2020 – A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet
  2. A book by a trans or nonbinary author – Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard 
  3. A book with a great first linen – Verity by Colleen Hoover
  4. A book about a book club – The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison
  5. A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics – Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather ‘Neill
  6. A bildungsroman – Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro
  7. The first book you touch on a shelf with your eyes closed – My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates
  8. A book with an upside-down image on the cover – The Key/Tone Clusters by Joyce Carol Oates
  9. A book with a map – The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
  10. A book recommended by your favorite blog, vlog, podcast, or online book club – Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
  11. An anthology – Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers edited by Joyce Carol Oates 
  12. A book that passes the Bechdel test – Women by Chloe Caldwell
  13. A book with the same title as a movie or TV show but is unrelated to it – Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong by Joyce Carol Oates 
  14. A book by an author with flora or fauna in their name – Brave by Rose McGowen
  15. A book about or involving social media – I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi
  16. A book that has a book on the cover – Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler 
  17. A medical thriller – Oxygen by Carol Cassella
  18. A book with a made-up language – The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine
  19. A book set in a country beginning with “C” – The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  20. A book you picked because the title caught your attention – Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  21. A book published the month of your birthday – Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  22. A book about or by a woman in STEM – All That Remains: A Life in Death by Sue Black
  23. A book that won an award in 2019 – FIVE: The Untold Lives of The Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
  24. A book on a subject you know nothing about – The Lost King of France by Deborah Cadbury
  25. A book with only words on the cover, no images or graphics – A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
  26. A book with a pun in the title – Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
  27. A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins – The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter
  28. A book with a robot, cyborg, or AI character – Artificial Condition by Martha Wells 
  29. A book with a bird on the cover – Chickenfeed by Minette Walters
  30. A fiction or nonfiction book about a world leader – Team of Five by Kate Andersen Brower
  31. A book with “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze” in the title – Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child
  32. A book by a WOC – Self-Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler
  33. A book with at least a four-star rating on Goodreads – The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter 
  34. A book you meant to read in 2019 – The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  35. A book with a three-word title – Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
  36. A book with a pink cover – Gross Anatomy by Mara Altman
  37. A Western – Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
  38. A book by or about a journalist – Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury
  39. Read a banned book during Banned Books Week – I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  40. Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – Oh Dear Sylvia by Dawn French (2019 – 6. A book with a plant in the title or on the cover)

Advanced, 2020 Edition

  1. A book written by an author in their 20s – Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen by Amrou Al-Kadhi
  2. A book with “20” or “twenty” in the title – Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
  3. A book with a character with a vision impairment or enhancement (a nod to 20/20 vision) – The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  4. A book set in the 1920s – Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
  5. A book set in Japan, host of the 2020 Olympics – A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  6. A book by an author who has written more than 20 books – Last Breath by Karin Slaughter
  7. A book with more than 20 letters in its title – No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club by Virginia Ironside
  8. A book published in the 20th century – Gender Outlaw: ON Men, Women and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein
  9. A book from a series with more than 20 books – A New Lease of Death by Ruth Rendell
  10. A book with a main character in their 20s – The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abi Waxman

A Promised Land

Barack Obama

popsugar #15

I really enjoyed this book. I am a fan of Obama and this book just consolidated that.
But he can go on – I can see why he is teased for waffling. Why say it in three words when you can use 12?
That being said, I experienced this book as an audio book and I would pick to listen to his 12 words over pretty much any one else’s 3 any day of the week.

I really liked how he, as he promised he would, pulled back the curtain a little on this very public job. I liked the processes he explained; I liked being able to see even a smidgen of how decisions were made.

I am not American and so my interest is one step further than many other reviewer’s may be but I am fascinated nevertheless.

And he and his family continue to be flawed but likeable – real people.

Loved it

Popsugar 2021

  1. A book that published in 2021
  2. An Afrofuturist book
  3. A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the cover
  4. A book by an author who shares your zodiac sign
  5. A dark academia book
  6. A book with a gem, mineral, or rock in the title
  7. A book where the main character works at your current or dream job
  8. A book that has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction
  9. A book with a family tree
  10. A bestseller from the 1990s
  11. A book about forgetting
  12. A book you have seen on someone’s bookshelf (in real life, on a Zoom call, in a TV show, etc.)
  13. A locked-room mystery
  14. A book set in a restaurant
  15. A book with a black-and-white cover
  16. A book by an indigenous author
  17. A book that has the same title as a song
  18. A book about a subject you are passionate about
  19. A book that discusses body positivity
  20. A book on a Black Lives Matter reading list
  21. A genre hybrid
  22. A book set mostly or entirely outdoors
  23. A book with something broken on the cover
  24. A book by a Muslim American author
  25. A book that was published anonymously
  26. A book with an oxymoron in the title
  27. A book about do-overs or fresh starts
  28. A magical realism book
  29. A book set in multiple countries
  30. A book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021
  31. A book by a blogger, vlogger, YouTube video creator, or other online personality
  32. A book whose title starts with “Q,” “X,” or “Z”
  33. A book featuring three generations (grandparent, parent, child)
  34. A book about a social justice issue
  35. A book in a different format than what you normally read (audiobooks, ebooks, graphic novels)
  36. A book that has fewer than 1,000 reviews on Amazon or Goodreads
  37. A book you think your best friend would like
  38. A book about art or an artist
  39. A book everyone seems to have read but you
  40. Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge


  1. The longest book (by pages) on your TBR list
  2. The shortest book (by pages) on your TBR list
  3. The book on your TBR list with the prettiest cover
  4. The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover
  5. The book that’s been on your TBR list for the longest amount of time
  6. A book from your TBR list you meant to read last year but didn’t
  7. A book from your TBR list you associate with a favorite person, place, or thing
  8. A book from your TBR list chosen at random
  9. A DNF book from your TBR list
  10. A free book from your TBR list (gifted, borrowed, library)

by Hallie Rubenhold

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 23: Won and award in 2019

What a book! Interesting, well-researched, accessible, thought-provoking and attitude-shifting. It is with some shame that I realised that I, along with most people, know nothing of the victims and much of the murderer that was Jack the Ripper.

This book set that right. It is a most interesting, well researched and well written account of the lives of the five women. And what lives they had. The image of ‘olden days’ life always puts the fantasized in a position of wealth – we are all upstairs at Downton Abbey in our imaginings. In actual fact, life for most people in in the 1800s, and especially women and even more especially poor women, was pretty horrible. It was a hard grind with no support either from the government or society. It seems the only support anyone in dire situations had was the meagre offerings of other people in equally as terrible a situation.
And it is from the lofty positions of a sanitised 20th century that we have looked back and judged these murder victims as ‘just prostitutes’. We cannot for one second suppose any right to judge the lives these women live. The problem in the ‘just prostitutes’, as examined by this book, is in the use of both ‘just’ and ‘prostitute’. Only one of the women was a self identified sex worker. For the others, the exchange of sex for survival is more complicated than is allowed by that moniker. But more importantly is the use of ‘just’. Being a sex worker does not mean you deserve to be murdered. These women should not have been written off because of their perceived life style choices (although the word choices here makes me want to cry).

I was angered, saddened, appalled and heartened by the ways these women lived in the hardest of times.
Wonderful book, well narrated and completely absorbing. Just read it/listen to it and I promise you will be astounded at how differently you feel about this case and yourself afterwards.

The Genius of Birds

by Jennifer Ackerman

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 20:A Feel-Good or Happy Book

I love books like this – non-fiction packed full of really interesting information but written in an easy-to-read way that reads like fiction.
This book is wonderful even if birds are not your thing. It is just fascinating to learn what incredibly smart creatures fly around us all the time. I love that this books opens a tiny window into the vastness magic of nature.

I find my conversation peppered with interesting tidbits gained from this book; i may even engineer conversations so I can share the bits I am most fascinated by.

Really worth reading – fascinating and enlightening

by Dawn French

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 40: Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge –2019 – 6. A book with a plant in the title or on the cover.

Only a British author could possible write a book in which the only character every other character is connected to is in a coma the entire book.
Sylvia is unconscious in a hospital bed as all the other characters come in and out of the room, slowly revealing their story with her. Misunderstandings are revealed and their repercussions laid bare as this complicated life is unpicked through her experiences with others.

Despite the rather dour setting and circumstances of the book, French still manages to make it wry, funny and poignant.
I like the narrative technique used and was completely absorbed in all the threads of Sylvia’s life.

Worth reading -and I’ll read more of French in the future.

Oleander Girl

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 1: an author from India

This book is about so many things – it takes sweeping to the next level. For me there were too many parallel stories to allow for total engagement with any one of them. I felt a bit bombarded with characters and situations to care about.

The settings are beautifully created though and Divakaruni uses her words so exquisitely to drop the reader in the middle of Kolkata or New York City. I certainly believed in all of the locations if not the characters and relationships.

I struggled a bit with the primary love relationship between Korobi and Rajat at all – she is destined for infidelity and misery. It felt incongruous that she agreed to marry him at all. It jarred with what little of her deeper character we had been exposed to.

The end of this book felt like it was written by another person, or in a hurry. Interesting topics were opened up by the book and then everything was just tied up, shut down and finished quickly and neatly.
In addition to behaviour that seemed not to match what we already knew of the characters it also felt rushed and incomplete. After the sweeping brush strokes of the whole book with almost too much details, the last bit felt like a colouring-in book picture.

The Year of Magical Thinking

by Joan Didion

popsugarreadingchallenge prompt 34 meant to read in 2019

I have been meaning to read Didion for ages actually. I am not sure this was the best to read as my first Didion as it is not a novel and so is probably quite different from her creative work.
That being said, this book is painful and raw and really very moving.

The titular year is truly a terrible year for Didion – her husband dies and her daughter faces massive medical issues. Her grief is palpable and her coping mechanisms are so deeply saddening. She talks in the beginning about how she was waiting for him to come back – the emptiness she felt swept from the page and right into my being.

She shares the details of her life before and after John’s death, and within the detailing of her life after his death, and their life before his death, shares those moments that make life worth living and also inevitably painful. But also so worth it.

Beautiful, meaningful, deep and very moving


by Ali Smith

readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 19: recommended to me

This is just a most beautifully written poignant book that make me smile and sign and even feel a bit sad.
The friendship between Elisabeth and Daniel is so lovely I felt jealous of it, and homesick for something I didn’t even know I was lacking.
There isn’t really much of a plot to this book; there is barely even a time line. And yet it moves so smoothly between lives and times and realities that never once does the reading jar more than the content.
And jar the content does. Smith deals with all sorts of very interesting questions and comments – Brexit, racism, sexism, the ownership of women, societal (and parental) expectations of children, and differently, of sons and daughters, art, love, friendship, life and death.
This book is big and carries so much but is experienced as easy and light and gentle.
Possibly like an autumn leaf.

I am so glad there are three more in the group of seasonal books Smith has written.

by Rachel Herz

#readingwomenreadingchallenge prompt 21: Book about food

Very interesting book this was.
I feel quite foolish and marginally duped for how easily we are conned into taste experiences and emotions.
Herz does well to include so much information in a way that feels accessible and easily consumed (yes, I see what I did).
I’m certainly going to be more aware oh what I eat and why. This is one of those books that I want to have a hardcopy version of to dip back in randomly, and to look specific bits up again.


by Isabel Allende

readingwomenreadingchallenge a book by Isabel Allende

This book is exactly why I do these reading challenges. I have somehow missed Allende for all these years and am so very happy to have found her.
I really liked this book. I loved all of the characters, flaws and all. The book is populated with real people in complicated relationships.
There were so many threads and stories going on, woven around the mysteries Amanda and her group of odd teens are working at solving. This book felt like a mini series and makes me want to read (or possibly fan fiction write) each character’s story outside of the book. They are all too big to be contained in just this book.

As far as the mystery is concerned, I really didn’t think it was the main energy of the book at all. For me, this was a modern fiction book about relationships and life choices, and a mystery happened.
I will certainly be reading more Allende now that I have discovered her.