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POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020 Update: Week Six

Hello everyone! I hope that the first full week of February has been a good one. Most of my week has been spent working on a short story entry for a local writing contest, but I’ve also been able to complete a few more reading prompts for this year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. It’s been good to get back into the challenge, and I feel like I’ve made a decent amount of progress this week.

A book by an author who has written more than 20 books…

My first book of the week, Laughter at the Academy, is a collection of twenty-two of Seanan McGuire’s previously published short stories. From an exploration of a “murder house” told entirely through tweets, to a Norse mythology-inspired football game, the stories cover a wide range of genres and topics.

Prior to each story, the author includes a few paragraphs where she talks about her inspiration for the story and its original publication. I’m not normally a fan of short story introductions, because I feel like they can alter the way in which you experience and interpret the story as a reader. In this case, however, I thought the introductions were helpful. While they did give you a sense of why each story was written, they didn’t tell you what you should get out of reading them.

My favorite story in the collection was “Office Memos.” This particular narrative is conveyed through a series of interoffice memos between a few of the employees working at a company called Polytechnic Engineering and Research. The memos paint a picture of a very unusual (and somewhat dangerous) working environment, where science sometimes goes massively out of control.

A book with only words on the cover, no images or graphics…

The second book I read this week was The Book With No Pictures, by B. J. Novak. The Book With No Pictures is exactly what it sounds like…a book with no pictures. This particular children’s book was not something that I would normally read, since I don’t actually have any kids, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Truth be told, I read it out loud to Darcy (my extremely understanding feline/velociraptor companion), and I found myself laughing most of the way through it.

If you’re a parent of a child who loves picture books, I would recommend checking this one out. While the book is true to its title, it is also very clever, and does a good job of helping readers understand that books don’t need to have illustrations in order to be good. Fair warning though…if you are planning to read this book to a child, you should be prepared to say a lot of nonsense words.

A book with a made-up language…

My last book of the week was George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings. Since this is the second book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (which is the basis for HBO’s Game of Thrones series), I am not going to share any specific information about the plot. I will simply say that the book does pick up after the events of book one, A Game of Thrones, and follows the journeys and experiences of many of the same characters as the previous book.

I found that I enjoyed this book every bit as much as A Game of Thrones. Not only do I really admire George R. R. Martin’s skills when it comes to world building, but I also admire his ability to tell a compelling story. While I will have to take a break from the world of Westeros to fulfill other Reading Challenge prompts, I am looking forward to continuing my reading of the series this year.

With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I know many readers will be turning their attention to more romantic book titles in celebration of the holiday. Since I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (more on this next week), I won’t be doing that. Instead, I will be focusing exclusively on comic book collections and science fiction. It’s going to be an awesome week!

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