2021 PopSugar Challenge reading list

One of my goals for 2021 is to join more community-based reading challenges and read-a-thons to connect with the wider book world and what better than the year-long PopSugar Reading Challenge?

I checked out some wonderful GoodReads lists to get ideas for books to read for each challenge as well as my own divine inspiration.

For me, as completing this isn’t a total priority rather just a way to guide my reading, I will only complete one prompt per book. Although I listed certain books a few times, it’s just for flexibility purposes. I listed books in order from more likely to less likely to read and marked ones I already own or are likely pubic domain with an asterisks.

Let’s do it!

PopSugar reading prompts

✔️ 01. A book that’s published in 2021: I don’t really keep up with new releases, meaning it’s not often that I buy a book as soon as it comes out. For this prompt, I will probably wait until the reviews come in before deciding, but some books by authors I’ve read before that are coming out this year are Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert (I have a signed copy of The Sixth Extinction!), Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Surviving the Night by Riley Sager and The Project by Courtney Summers. I’ll likely choose between one of those based on availability, reviews and price. Edit: I read The Wife Upstairs.

✔️ 02. An Afrofuturist book: I’m not going to lie, I’ve never even heard of this genre. But hey, that’s what this challenge is for! I’m going to trust the voters and either read The Fifth Season or The Unkindliness of Ghosts. Edit: I read An Unkindness of Ghosts.

✔️ 03. A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the cover: I’ve already read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for this.

✔️ 04. A book by an author who shares your zodiac sign: I’m a Taurus and so is Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita*), Daphne de Maurier (Rebecca), Charlette Bronte (Jane Eyre*), JM Barrie (Peter Pan*) and Shakespeare. Edit: I read The House in the Cerulean Sea

✔️ 05. A dark academia book: Bunny*, The Secret History, Picture of Dorian Gray, Ninth House. Edit: I read Bunny.

✔️ 06. A book with a gem, mineral, or rock in the title: Brighton Rock*, The Golden Compass

✔️ 07. A book where the main character works at your current or dream job: My dream job is pop-science writing. I don’t think there are a lot of fiction books out there about science writers, so I’m hoping to perhaps find a popular science book that also has a personal narrative… but I won’t likely know until I read it. Sigh. Edit: I read A Life on Our Planet.

✔️ 08. A book that has won the Women’s Prize For Fiction: We Need to Talk About Kevin*, An American Marriage, Half of a Yellow Sun. Edit: I read The Song of Achilles

✔️ 09. A book with a family tree: Commonwealth*, One Hundred Years of Solitude*, The Red Tent Edit: I readHomegoing

✔️ 10. A bestseller from the 1990s: Man, so many to choose from! I’m resisting the urge to re-read one of my all-time favorite book Into Thin Air and choose between Memoirs of a Geisha*, A Secret History, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Tuesdays with Morrie. Edit: I read Bridget Jones’s Diary.  

✔️ 11. A book about forgetting: Recursion*, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue*, The Time Traveler’s Wife* Edit: I read Recursion.

✔️ 12. A book you have seen on someone’s bookshelf (in real life, on a Zoom call, in a TV show, etc.): Right now, I have a few books that I took of my grandma’s and my dad’s shelves to read, so I’ll probably pick one of those! Or raid my new roommates’ books. Edit: I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

✔️ 13. A locked-room mystery: Anxious People, Nine Perfect Strangers, The Guest List. Edit: I read The Guest List

✔️ 14. A book set in a restaurant: Tweet Cute, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe Edit: I read Before the Coffee Gets Cold

✔️ 15. A book with a black-and-white cover: I’ve already read My Dark Vanessa for this prompt!

✔️ 16. A book by an Indigenous author: Braiding Sweetgrass, Elatsoe, Code Talker. Edit: I read Braiding Sweetgrass

✔️ 17. A book that has the same title as a song: I’ve already read One by One by Ruth Ware for this prompt.

✔️ 18. A book about a subject you are passionate about: I’m probably most passionate about the natural world, sustainability and animals, especially ocean-dwelling ones. That gives me a lot to play with. Edit: I read The Story of More.

✔️ 19. A book that discusses body positivity: Anything by Talia Hibbert, One to Watch, Dumplin’ Edit: I read Getting It.

✔️ 20. A book found on a Black Lives Matter reading list: Citizen, White Rage Edit: I read Just Mercy.

✔️ 21. A genre hybrid: Kindred, Slaughterhouse Five, Mexican Gothic Edit: I read Kindred. 

✔️ 22. A book set mostly or entirely outdoors: The Poisonwood Bible, Station Eleven, A Walk in the Woods, Into the Wild, The Little Prince, Into Thin Air* Edit: I read Into the Wild.

✔️ 23. A book with something broken on the cover: Floodpath, The Silent Patient, Wilder Girls Edit: I read Wilder Girls

✔️ 24. A book by a Muslim American author: The Kite Runner* Edit: I read A Thousand Splendid Suns

25. A book that was published anonymously: Frankenstein*, Pride and Prejudice*, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre

✔️ 26. A book with an oxymoron in the title: Midnight Sun*, All The Light We Cannot See, Say Nothing Edit: I read Say Nothing 

✔️ 27. A book about do-overs or fresh starts: A Man Called Ove, Siddhartha, Eat Pray Love, Again But Better Edit: I read The Midnight Library

28. A magical realism book: Coraline, One Hundred Years of Solitude*, The Night Circus

✔️ 29. A book set in multiple countries: The Da Vinci Code*, The Glass Hotel, Americanah*, Less* Edit: I read The Da Vinci Code

✔️ 30. A book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021: My biggest travel hope for 2021 is to go back to England, Scotland and Ireland, so somewhere that takes place in any of those counties such as Notes From a Small Island*, Brighton Rock*, The Pull of the Stars* Edit: I read Notes From a Small Island.

✔️ 31. A book by a blogger, vlogger, YouTube video creator, or other online personality: Savannah Brown (as I actively watched her), Doing It!, Again But Better Edit: I read Doing It!

✔️ 32. A book whose title starts with “Q,” “X,” or “Z”: The Queen’s Gambit, Queenie Edit: I read The Queen’s Gambit

✔️ 33. A book featuring three generations (grandparent, parent, child): I’ve already read The Vegetarian for this prompt, review to come.

✔️ 34. A book about a social justice issue: I’m currently reading The End of Policing for this prompt, review to come.

✔️ 35. A book in a different format than what you normally read (audiobooks, e-books, graphic novels): I’ll choose a graphic novel for this like Sapiens: The Graphic Novel, Fun Home, or a graphic novel based on a book I’ve already read. Edit: I read The Crucible

✔️ 36. A book that has fewer than 1,000 reviews on Amazon or Goodreads: As new reviews are pouring in everyday for books, I won’t make anything solid for this prompt and see where my reading takes me Edit: I read Legendary Children

✔️ 37. A book you think your best friend would like: I asked my good friend Lilli (who is one of the few people I know that actively reads) what sounds best to her and she turned up with The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue which is high on my list too! My boyfriend Grant and I also have similar tastes, but that seems like too much of a cop-out Edit: I read Gossip Girl

✔️ 38. A book about art or an artist: The Silent Patient, Get a Life Chloe Brown, A Picture of Dorian Gray Edit: I read Know My Name

✔️ 39. A book everyone seems to have read but you: I’ve actually read most of the suggested list on GoodReads, but some I should get around to are Pride and Prejudice, Becoming, Rebecca and Little Women* Edit: I read Pride and Prejudice

✔️ 40. Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: As this is my first year participating, I had no idea what some past prompts were but after some digging the ones that most interested me were book by/about women in STEM or a book with a book on the cover Edit: I read A Walk in the Woods

Advanced prompts

✔️ The longest book (by pages) on your TBR list: It’s hard to readily sort by page count on GoodReads, but probably a Stephen King book (It, Under the Dome*, 11/22/63*) Edit: I read It

✔️ The shortest book (by pages) on your TBR list: I’ve already read Fantastic Mr. Fox for this prompt.

The book on your TBR list with the prettiest cover: For these two I’ll just use my physical books (~50 books) because I can’t be bothered to scroll through my TBR. Either The Origin of Species, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Little Women

The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover: Hands down Rage with McDonald Trump’s face on it. I can’t bear it

The book that’s been on your TBR list for the longest amount of time: Much to my dismay, it’s It by Stephen King. The next longest is The God Instinct by Jesse Bering, both for over three years now, woof

✔️ A book from your TBR list you meant to read last year but didn’t: All Creatures Great and Small, Cod, The Story of Stuff, Beartown Edit: I read Beartown

✔️ A book from your TBR list you associate with a favorite person, place, or thing: I’ll go the most direct route and pick a book that takes place in my favorite place in the world: Brighton. The obvious choice would be Brighton Rock but other options are The West Pier and Pride and Prejudice. Edit: I read Brighton Rock.

A book from your TBR list chosen at random: I was thinking of doing a special wrap-up where they are all randomly chosen!

A DNF book from your TBR list: I’d love to revisit Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?, The Alienist, 1984 or Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

A free book from your TBR list (gifted, borrowed, library): Easy mode as most of what I read is from the library.

Photo by Sylvia Yang.


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