Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Popsugar Reading Challenge - 2016 Edition!

So, 2016 is upon us, and with it a new Popsugar Reading Challenge.  This challenge clocks in at forty books, more than the required 52 from last year; last year there were 50 categories, but one category was a trilogy, which tacked on an additional two books.  That's a book a week, and my guess is that some of Popsugar's readers found it a little grueling, and so reduced the number of categories for this year.  Some of the categories I'm looking forward to more; a book based on a fairy tale, a YA bestseller, a book becoming a movie this year, and a book guaranteed to bring you joy all sound like great categories.  On the other hand, I'm less than thrilled about the self-improvement book, book of poetry, and political memoir categories, none of which are exactly on my "favorite subjects" list.  But I guess the point of all of this is to broaden my reading horizons, so I'll go through with it.  Below I've listed all of the categories for this challenge, some of which I have planned titles for and some of which I don't.  As always, if you have a suggestion for a category (even if there's already something listed for it!) let me know and I'll look into your suggested title!

-A book based on a fairy tale.  I adore fairy tales, so this category had a whole bunch of possibilities for me!  I settled on Gregory Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, which is quite clearly an adaptation of Cinderella from the stepsister's point of view.  I read Wicked in high school and found it good but weird, so I'm interested in seeing how this one plays out.

-A National Book Award winner.  I don't really know much about book awards, as I tend to ignore them in favor of reading whatever interests me at the time.  So I had to pull up the list of National Book Award winners to have something to go off for this one.  Most of them didn't really intrigue me (who decides what makes a book award-worthy, anyway?) but I eventually picked The Shipping News off the list as looking at least mildly interesting.

-A YA bestseller.  Cassandra Clare has made mega-bucks (I'm sure) with her Mortal Instruments series, which was originally Harry Potter fanfiction.  I read the original trilogy and found it okay, but I'm very interested in the prequel series, which starts with Clockwork Angel, because it seems like it has a total steampunk vibe going on!  So intriguing.  I hope it's as good as its sales would suggest.

-A book you haven't read since high school.  This is hard.  I tend to re-read books that I like on a fairly regular basis; hardly a year goes by when I don't re-read most of Tamora Pierce's works in a one-week binge.  That said, I think I was in high school the last (and only) time I read Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, which I quite liked but didn't get around to re-reading because I was so busy devouring other stuff.

-A book set in your home state.

-A book translated to English.  I'm thinking Toilers of the Sea for this one.  Les Miserables, which is probably about on par with The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Victor Hugo's most famous book, is one of my favorites, so this should be a good one while adding in another classic for this list.  However, I also got Becoming Marta for free through the Kindle First program, so I might end up reading that instead.

-A romance set in the future.  I'm going to finish off the Starbound trilogy for this one and read Their Fractured Light.  It's a young adult romance, and I hope it can live up to the first book in the series; the second was somewhat of a letdown.  Fingers crossed for a strong finish! 

-A book set in Europe.  I read Elizabeth Bard's memoir Picnic in Provence this year and was charmed by her writing and intrigued by her recipes, so the first book she wrote, Lunch in Paris, seems like a good candidate for this European category.  And maybe I'll get a good recipe out of it!

-A book that's under 150 pages.  I've picked out Goldenhood by Jessica L. Randall for this one.  It clocks in at 98 pages according to Goodreads, and I really liked her book The Obituary Society, so I'm looking forward to reading something fantasy- and fairytale-based from her.

-A New York Times bestseller.  I haven't read The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling) yet, and this seems like an excellent time to do so, wouldn't you say?

-A book that's becoming a movie this year.  I saw the movie Sisters over winter break, and attached to it was a preview for the movie Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which stars Tina Fey just like Sisters did.  The trailer intrigued me, so I looked it up, and guess what?!  The movie is based on a book!  The book is The Taliban Shuffle by Kim Barker, a longtime news correspondent posted to Afghanistan and Pakistan who wrote this book as a memoir of her time overseas.  I'm also reading The Girl on the Train which is being adapted into a movie staring Emily Blunt.

-A book recommended by someone you just met.

-A self-improvement book.  I don't really know what a self-improvement book is, other than a self-help book, and I don't really think I need a lot of help from books, so this one was a bit challenging.  So I went to Google and pulled up a list of best self improvement books!  An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth jumped out at me because one of my friends from college read it recently and rated it quite highly, so this one it is!

-A book you can finish in a day.

-A book written by a celebrity.  Okay, so I saw Elixir by Hilary Duff ages ago, probably when it first came out, but I didn't read it because I was skeptical.  I mean, celebrities writing?  Who does that?  And I'm always convinced it's really a ghostwriter doing the real work.  But now it seems like it's a good time to try this one out.  I was going to read Tina Fey's Bossypants for this, but I'm already reading a comedian's book for another category, so I didn't want to double-dip.

-A political memoir.

-A book at least 100 years older than you.  I'm actually going to get around to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for this one, because I want to read one of the steampunk novels that started it all as research for my own writing.

-A book that's more than 600 pages.  I'm going to continue on with the Outlander series and tackle Voyager for this one.  I've been picking away at Dragonfly in Amber ever since I finished Outlander, and I'll finish it in time to take on Voyager for 2016.  I won't have Dragonfly finished by the new year, but it seemed a bit unfair to consider it as counting for the challenge when I started it in 2015.

-A book from Oprah's Book Club.

-A science-fiction novel.

-A book recommended by a family member.

-A graphic novel.  I love Neil Gaiman but am not a huge fan of graphic novels, so I've avoided his Sandman series up until this point, despite buying my boyfriend the entire series for various occasions.  Now seems like a pretty good time to give them a go and start in Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes.

-A book that is published in 2016.

-A book with a protagonist who has your occupation.

-A book that takes place during summer.

-A book and its prequel.

-A murder mystery.  For this, I plan to read R. R. Virdi's Grave Beginnings.  Virdi is a member of the 20,000-person NaNoWriMo group I'm in on Facebook, and this book has gotten great reviews from other group members, so I'm going to give it a shot!

-A book written by a comedian.  I haven't read Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? yet, and so I plan to read that for this category.  Everyone I know who's read it has said they wish Mindy was their best friend, so that sounds like a nice, light, entertaining read for the year.

-A dystopian novel. I read Hugh Howey's Sand this year, and I'm going to carry on with Wool for 2016.  "Dystopian" is a loose term these days, but as far as I can tell Wool fits the bill--and a lot of other people have categorized it that way, too, so I'm going to go with the flow and say it is.

-A book with a blue cover.  I've never managed to get past Storm Glass in Maria V. Snyder's Glass series, so now I think I'll use this as a reason to take on Sea Glass.  There's a really weird relationship at the heart of this series that's always been kind of off-putting to me; it emerges in Storm Glass and must continue on in Sea Glass, but I'm hoping it'll dissipate and we can move past it.  And the cover is very blue!

-A book of poetry.

-The first book you see in a bookstore.

-A classic from the 20th century.  I'm going to do Lolita for this one, because I feel like I need to squish a Russian novel in here somewhere.  What really makes a classic, anyway?  I don't know, but this list that I found says Lolita is one.

-A book from the library.  I recently got my DC Public Library card (I've only lived here for almost six years; it was long past time) and one of the books I checked out was N. K. Jemisin's The Shadowed Sun, the second book in her Dreamblood duo.  Jemisin is an amazing fantasy author, and I can't wait to read this one.

-An autobiography.  I picked up Papillon by Henri Charriere at a used bookstore in New Jersey (Broad Street Books in Branchville, if anyone out there is in the area; it was absolutely lovely and I look forward to going back the next time we're in the area) but put it down in favor of another title.  Now I wish I'd bought it!  Charriere wrote this book about his wrongful conviction for a crime and his subsequent escapes from prison.  Most autobiographies bore me on principal, but this one actually sounds interesting.

-A book about a road trip.

-A book about a culture you're unfamiliar with.

-A satirical book.

-A book that takes place on an island.

-A book that's guaranteed to bring you joy.  This is easy.  A College of Magics is one of my favorite books ever.  The beautiful Ruritanian-romance aspects of it (bodyguard/client!  one of my favorites!) blend so wonderfully with the fantasy elements that I find it pretty much irresistible, and this is a great excuse to re-read it.

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