2020 Popsugar reading challenge

First and foremost, I look at challenges as a gateway to new reading paths, a way to nudge me in a new direction with my reading. It's not a competition and if I don't finish, I don't care; but, I'm going to give it a shot! Are you inspired to join me?


The Popsugar reading challenge has been around for a while and I've never participated. I thought I'd see what it's all about this year. They offer 40 categories with a bonus 10 for those who want the extra challenge and the bonus categories all relate to the 2020 Olympics in Japan in some way.

Here's where I'll track my efforts to complete the challenge in 2020. I'll be double dipping some of the books that will also fit categories in other challenges. I started by taking the lists and perusing my own bookshelves to see what I already own that will fit the challenge. Then, as I search the forums for ideas, I watch for books I know are already on my TBR list. Finally, I fill in with books totally new-to-me. Completed books will be in bold with a cover image and links (in blue) to the reviews.  (AOC, author of color) 

1 - book published in 2020:

The Finders #1 by Jeffrey B. Burton  (ARC)

a man who trains cadaver dogs finds himself and his newest dog caught up in a mystery

2 - a book by trans or non-binary author:

 I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver (nonbinary author)

a teenage boy comes out to his parents as nonbinary and gets kicked out of the house so goes to live with his sister; a revealing story of the emotions and dilemmas of a teen trying to find his way in the world and for himself

3 - a book that has a great first line: 

Nightingale (The)by Kristin Hannah

The line is: "If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are."

4 - a book about a book club:

End of Your Life Book Club (The) by Will Schwalbe (own)  

5 - a book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics:

Little Paris Bookshop (The) by Nina George (own, Kindle)  

6 - a bildsungroman: (yeah, I had to look that up - story focuses on formative years and moral growth)

Ten Thousand Doors of January (The) by Alix Harrow   

a coming-of-age story about a girl who finds the magical doors between worlds as she searches for her family and her identity

7 - first book touched on shelves with eyes closed:

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

8 - book with upside down image on cover:

Red Queen #1 by Victoria Aveyard  

this YA fantasy is a fairly standard plot of a rebellion of the underprivileged against the upper class who also happen to have special 'super' powers. When one young girl discovers she also has powers, she takes an active role in the underground rebellion.

9 - book with a map:

7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (The) by Stuart Turton

a mystery within a mystery as a man tries to solve a murder but each day is in a new host body

10 - book recommended by favorite blogger or podcast:

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos

the stories of Edith and Clare and how they converge in surprising ways; a small mystery, a gentle love story, a compelling tale

11 - an anthology:

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women by Lisa Charleyboy

excellent collection of essays and poetry by indigenous women

12 - book that passes Bechdel test: (had to look this one up too - 2 or more females talking about something other than a man)

Fifth Season (The) #1 by N. K. Jemison 

a book about people so connected to the earth that they can 'reach' under the earth's crust and quell quakes or pull rocks up from the bottom of the ocean; the story follows a couple of these trained people and how they survive the approaching 'season' of destruction

13 - has the same title as a movie or TV show but is unrelated:

Water Dancer (The) by Ta-Nehisi Coates

a powerful story about slavery, family, self-belief, and the underground railroad with a splash of magic

14 - by an author with flora or fauna in their name

There, There by Tommy Orange  

a sometimes disturbing look at the lives of a handful of urban Cheyenne as they prepare to attend a local Powwow 

15 - about or involving social media:

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

16 - book with a book on the cover:

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan 

a compelling mystery develops when an employee at the bookstore discovers an apparent suicide - or is it?

17 - a medical thriller:

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

18 - book with a made up language:

Native Tongue #1 by Suzette Hadin Elgin

future when women are slaves/breeders & placed in solitude when past breeding age where they develop secret language to overthrow men

19 - set in a country beginning with C:

Cinder (#1 Lunar Chronicles)  by Marissa Meyer  (Beijing, China) 

a very creative sci fi retelling of Cinderella in which she is a cyborg 

20 - book picked up because title caught my attention:

She Has a Broken Thing Where Her Heart Should Be by J.D. Barker

slight horror story of 3 young people who have unusual abilities and their friendships, love, and tragedies

21 - published month of my birthday (Dec):

If You Tell: A True Story of Murder by Gregg Olsen (TBR list)

22 - book about or written by a woman in STEM:

Wesley the Owl by Gregg Olsen (TBR list)

23 - 2019 award winner:

Calculating Stars (The) #1 by Mary Robinette Kowal (Hugo & Nebula awards)

24 - book on subject I know nothing about:

Meeting Faith:The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun by Faith Adiele

interesting and eye-opening memoir of a woman's journey to become a Buddhist nun in Thailand

25 - book with only words on cover, no art or photo

Don't Tell A Soul by David Rosenfelt 

strong mystery centering around man accused of killing his wife and as evidence mounts, he has to find a way to prove his innocence

26 - book with a pun in title:

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

27 - featuring one of the seven deadly sins:

Bride Test (The) by Helen Hoang

A Korean single mom is asked to come to America and meet a man who needs a wife and she agrees so that she can provide a better life for her daughter. The man is autistic and not interested in marriage. Misunderstandings, making up, jealousy - the usual dramas.

28 - book with a robot, cyborg, or AI character:

Cinder (#1 Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer   

a very creative sci fi retelling of Cinderella in which she is a cyborg 

29 - book with bird on cover:

Night Bird (The) by Brian Freeman (own Kindle)

30 - book about a world leader (fiction or non)

A Darker Shade of Magic #1 by VE Schwab

an intriguing fantasy tale of 4 parallel Londons and the magical being who can travel between them (world leader is the King/Queen in each London)

31 - with 'gold', silver', or 'bronze' in title:

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

a mother poisons her daughter her whole life until she's caught and sent to prison; when she's released, she moves back to the daughter's home as the daughter exacts her revenge

32 - by a WOC (woman of color)

Purple Hisbiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  

a little boy and girl from a wealthy Nigerian family suffer from an abusive father but when political strife comes to their town, they are sent to their aunt's poor home and learn a different way to live

33 - has at least a 4 star rating on GR:

Ten Thousand Doors of January (The) by Alix E. Harrow  (4.16 rating) 

coming-of-age story of girl who finds magical doors between worlds

34 - book I meant to read in 2019:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson 

nonfiction by an attorney who works to gain release for prisoners wrongly convicted and sentenced to death row in the south (primarily black people)

35 - book with 3-word title:

Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka 

an epic story of Japan in the waning era of Samurai and Genji, the Great Lord that sees the beginning of the end; action and philosophy combine in this tale

36 - book with a pink cover:

Ghostland  by Duncan Ralston

a horror story set in a new amusement park where visitors can "see" ghosts - as "the guests are dying to get in, the ghosts will kill to get out"

37 - a western:

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry  -

our Buddy Read for Feb'20; the classic western epic novel about Texas Rangers, their friendship, and a daunting cattle drive

38 - by or about a journalist:

It's What I Do by Lynsey Addario

a memoir by a photojournalist and how she ended up being a war correspondent and the challenges she deals with in blending a "normal" life with her work

39 - banned book read during banned book week:

Hate U Give (The) by Angie Thomas

a timely story about a teenage girl who's trying to figure out who she is as she straddles living in her black neighborhood but attending a white high school and then dealing with the police shooting of a good friend during a traffic stop - sound familiar?

40 - fave prompt from previous Popsugar challenge (rec. by celebrity):

Night Tiger (The) by Yangsze Choo ( own; Reese bookclub)

bonus categories - all relating to 2020 or olympics

41 - book written by an author in their 20s:

Notes From a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwauchi

a memoir that doesn't shrink from telling the truth of his upbringing and what led him to follow his passion

42 - book with 20 or twenty in title:

Twentieth Wife (The) #1 by Indu Sundaresan  - our Buddy Read for Jan'20

historical fiction set in India and based on an actual Emperor and his long time love who eventually became his 20th wife 

43 - character with visual impairment or enhancement (20/20 vision):

Planet of the Blind by Stephen Kuusisto   

memoir of a man coming to terms with his blindness and its difficult limitations and opportunities

44 - set in Japan (host of 2020 Olympics):

Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka 

an epic story of Japan in the waning era of Samurai and Genji, the Great Lord that sees the beginning of the end; action and philosophy combine in this tale

45 - set in 1920s:

Tilted World (The) by Tom Franklin 

the story of the 1927 Mississippi River flood, peopled by bootleggers and revenuers; a little mystery and a little romance

46 - by author that's written more than 20 books:

Different Seasons by Stephen King 

four stories, none of which are horror, but are all intriguing

47 - with more than 20 letters in title:

Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (The) by Robert Dugoni

the life story of a little boy born with red irises and the bullying of his childhood and how that affects his life choices

48 - published in twentieth century:

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

a 1966 Nebula winner, a mentally challenged man gets surgery to become a genius; good commentary on societal reactions and self awareness

49 - from a series with more than 20 books:

Wee Free Men (The) by Terry Pratchett (part of Disc World Series) 

50 - main character is in their 20s:

Giver of Stars (The) by Jojo Moyes 

a British woman in her mid-twenties marries and moves to Kentucky and eventually becomes a horse pack librarian

Copyright Information

© Bookshelf Journeys, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terrie Purkey and Bookshelf Journeys with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.   2019

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