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POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Update: Week Eleven

Happy Pi Day, everyone! After completely disregarding my reading goals last week in favor of indulging in excessive amounts of Harry Potter fanfiction, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that this week I threw myself back into the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge with a vengeance. My goal for the week was to complete some of the Reading Challenge prompts dealing with specific elements found on book covers, such as “a book that has a book on the cover.” At the beginning of the week, I attempted to read three different books that I had borrowed from the library for the purpose of completing these prompts, only to stop reading them a few chapters in, due to disinterest or dislike for the authors’ writing styles.

Even though this week’s reading started out a bit rocky, I did come across several fantastic prompt-fulfilling books that were an absolute pleasure to read. While some of them were chosen because of what was on their covers, others were books I picked up because they just looked good.

A book about or by a woman in STEM…

The first book I finished this week was Girling Up: How To Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular, by Mayim Bialik, PhD.

If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, then you’re already familiar with Mayim Bialik, the awesome actress/neuroscientist who brought life to the character of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. What you might not know is that Mayim Bialik is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Girling Up.

Girling Up is all about the process of growing up as a female. The book is broken up into six sections, which focus on topics such as: the biological changes that girls undergo during puberty, the importance of proper nutrition, the ways in which we view our bodies, intimacy in relationships, healthy ways to deal with stress, and looking forward to what we can accomplish (both now and in the future). The book is approached from a mostly-scientific point of view, but also includes many of the author’s personal experiences, and is written in a way that is easily accessible and engaging.

Even though I was not the book’s target audience (I’m a few decades past that at this point), I actually did learn a lot from reading it. I particularly appreciated the section about coping with our feelings, which is an area I frequently struggle with even as an adult. There were several times while reading this book that I found myself thinking, “I wish this book had been around when I was growing up.” If you’re a parent of a girl, you might consider checking this book out to see if it’s something that she would benefit from reading. (While I have not read it for myself, Bialik has also written a similar book for boys called Boying Up: How To Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant.)

Having worked in both private and public education, I understand that some parents are reluctant to allow their children to read material that contains information relating to “sex education.” If this is a concern for you, I would recommend reading Girling Up for yourself to determine if the information presented is appropriate for your daughter at her current stage of development. You might find that the book provides you with ideas for how to address these topics with her in the future.

A book with a bird on the cover…

My second book of the week was The Little World of Liz Climo, by cartoonist Liz Climo. This collection of cartoons features a large cast of adorable animal characters, and covers a wide range of subjects, from family to holidays.

The Little World of Liz Climo is a very fun, quick read, which can easily be read in one sitting. There were several times when I found myself laughing out loud at the cartoons. It’s hard to choose a single cartoon as a favorite, because they are all so clever, but I absolutely love the ones that feature sharks and other sea-dwelling animals.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.”

Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (page 3)
A book that has a book on the cover…

The third book I finished this week, Uprooted, by Naomi Novik, follows the story of a young woman named Agnieszka, a “Dragon-born girl” from the village of Dvernik. Every ten years, a wizard called the Dragon selects one young woman from the valley and takes her away with him to his tower; the chosen girl is taken as tribute for his help in keeping back the corruption found in the Wood.

While everyone in the village is convinced that the Dragon will take Agnieszka’s best friend, Kasia (the most beautiful of the Dragon-born girls), it is Agnieszka who is chosen instead. Though initially frightened of the Dragon and his intentions toward her, Agnieszka quickly begins to question why she was chosen, especially since her inability to function without creating a mess clearly irritates the prickly wizard.

This is the second time that I’ve read Uprooted, and I found that I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did the first time. I was very impressed with the world that Naomi Novik created, which included not only elements of fantasy and magic, but also some political intrigue. The story is also very interesting and includes a lot of exciting moments. Even though it was my second time reading the book, I had an extremely hard time putting it down.

A book published in the 20th Century…

My fourth book of the week was a re-read of an old favorite, A Royal Pain, by Ellen Conford. A Royal Pain is about a girl named Abby Adams, a normal American high school student who dreams of someday becoming a vet, and whose biggest worry is all of the studying she has to do for her final exams. That all changes when she arrives home after school and learns that she isn’t really Abby Adams at all. She was accidentally switched at birth and is actually the princess of a small country called Saxony Coburn.

Being a princess seems like a pretty great job at first. But then Abby discovers that on her sixteenth birthday, she is supposed to be married off to Casimir, a wealthy prince whose taxidermy hobby gives her the creeps. She’ll do just about anything to avoid that fate, and her campaign to be “a royal pain” gets very creative.

I’ve loved this book ever since the first time I read it as a kid. A Royal Pain is a fun, fast-paced read that never fails to leave me laughing out loud. Unfortunately, the book does appear to be out of print at this time (not surprising since it was published in 1986), but it is possible to find used copies on both Amazon and Ebay. You may also be able to find a copy at your local used bookstore. If you have a chance to read A Royal Pain, I hope you enjoy it!

I am thrilled that I was able to not only meet my official reading goal for the week, but also my unofficial goal of making it to 50% POPSUGAR Reading Challenge completion! Normally, I’d take a break at this point before jumping into the second half of the challenge, but I’m not going to do that this time around. Instead, I’m going to see how many of the “Advanced” prompts I can complete during the upcoming week. I’ve completed four of these prompts already, and currently have six remaining, including: “a book written by an author in their 20s,” “a book set in Japan, host of the 2020 Olympics,” “a book set in the 1920s,” “a book with more than 20 letters in its title,” “a book from a series with more than 20 books,” and “a book with a main character in their 20s.” I’ll let you know in next Saturday’s update how many of these prompts I manage to complete.

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