As of today, September 28th, I have officially completed the 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge! I’ve had the opportunity to read some great books this year, and I feel very satisfied with my Reading Challenge experience.

While there were a couple of times when I found myself needing to take breaks from the Reading Challenge, I actually ended up pacing myself pretty well, and would have finished the challenge a few weeks ago if there hadn’t been a time restriction placed on one of this year’s prompts (“read a banned book during Banned Books Week”). I know that some readers did choose to read their banned book earlier in the year, and I considered doing so myself, but I am actually glad that I made the decision to wait until this week to complete the challenge.

I started out the year intending to limit my book purchases; something that made the challenge more difficult when the pandemic forced my local library to close. I was able to complete many of this year’s prompts using titles from my TBR shelves, but I did end up buying a few books specifically for the Reading Challenge. Fortunately, most of them were new releases that I had intended to purchase anyway.

Here is the final list of books I read for this year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge…

  • A book that’s published in 2020:
    • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Suzanne Collins)
  • A book by a trans or nonbinary author:
    • Once & Future (Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy)
  • A book with a great first line:
    • Feed (M.T. Anderson)
  • A book about a book club:
    • All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane (Amy Elizabeth Smith)
  • A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics:
    • Rurouni Kenshin, volume 3 (Nobuhiro Watsuki)
  • A bildungsroman:
    • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Marjane Satrapi)
    • Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (Marjane Satrapi)
  • The first book you touch on a shelf with your eyes closed:
    • In The Hall With The Knife (Diana Peterfreund)
  • A book with an upside-down image on the cover:
    • Alien Echo (Mira Grant)
  • A book with a map:
    • The Queen of Nothing (Holly Black)
  • A book recommended by your favorite blog, vlog, podcast, or online book club:
    • Dune (Frank Herbert)
  • An anthology:
    • Star Wars: Tales From Jabba’s Palace (Kevin J. Anderson, editor)
  • A book that passes the Bechdel test:
    • Close Encounters of the Curd Kind (Kirsten Weiss)
  • A book with the same title as a movie or TV show but is unrelated to it:
    • Lost (James Patterson and James O. Born)
  • A book by an author with flora or fauna in their name:
    • A Storm of Swords (George R.R. Martin)
  • A book published the month of your birthday:
    • House of Salt and Sorrows (Erin A. Craig)
  • A book about or by a woman in STEM:
    • Girling Up: How To Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular (Mayim Bialik, PhD)
  • A book that won an award in 2019:
    • The Wicked King (Holly Black – Goodreads Choice Award Winner 2019; Young Adult Fantasy)
  • A book on a subject you know nothing about:
    • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (Randall Munroe)
  • A book with only words on the cover, no images or graphics:
    • The Book With No Pictures (B.J. Novak)
  • A book with a pun in the title:
    • Steeped in Murder (Kirsten Weiss)
  • A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins:
    • Murder on the Ballarat Train (Kerry Greenwood)
  • A book with a robot, cyborg, or AI character:
    • All Systems Red (Martha Wells)
  • A book with a bird on the cover:
    • The Little World of Liz Climo (Liz Climo)
  • A fiction or nonfiction book about a world leader:
    • Sword in the Stars (Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy)
  • A book with “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze” in the title:
    • Spinning Silver (Naomi Novik)
  • A book by a woman of color:
    • Lilith’s Brood (Octavia E. Butler), which includes the following books:
      • Dawn
      • Adulthood Rites
      • Imago
  • A book with at least a four-star rating on Goodreads:
    • Rogue Protocol (Martha Wells)
  • A book you meant to read in 2019:
    • Artificial Condition (Martha Wells)
  • A book about or involving social media:
    • Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less (Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin)
  • A book that has a book on the cover:
    • Uprooted (Naomi Novik)
  • A medical thriller:
    • Contagion (Erin Bowman)
  • A book with a made-up language:
    • A Clash of Kings (George R.R. Martin)
  • A book set in a country beginning with “C”:
    • Fushigi Yûgi: The Mysterious Play (Yû Watase), volumes 1-18
  • A book you picked because the title caught your attention:
    • Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character (Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD)
  • A book with a three-word title:
    • Venom: Lethal Protector (novel adaptation by James R. Tuck; original graphic novel by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley, and Ron Lim)
  • A book with a pink cover:
    • Wives and Daughters (Elizabeth Gaskell)
  • A western:
    • Firefly: Big Damn Hero (James Lovegrove and Nancy Holder)
  • A book by or about a journalist:
    • Feed (Mira Grant)
  • Read a banned book during Banned Books Week:
    • Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi)
  • Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge“a book set in space” (2019):
    • The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)

Advanced

  • A book written by an author in their 20s:
    • Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh)
  • A book with “20” or “twenty” in their title:
    • Twenty-One Truths About Love (Matthew Dicks)
  • A book with a character with a vision impairment or enhancement (a nod to 20/20 vision):
    • Imaginary Friend (Stephen Chbosky)
  • A book set in Japan, host of the 2020 Olympics:
    • Rurouni Kenshin, volume 2 (Nobuhiro Watsuki)
  • A book set in the 1920s:
    • Flying Too High (Kerry Greenwood)
  • A book by an author who has written more than 20 books:
    • Laughter at the Academy (Seanan McGuire)
  • A book with more than 20 letters in its title:
    • My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life (Rachel Cohn)
  • A book published in the 20th Century:
    • A Royal Pain (Ellen Conford)
  • A book from a series with more than 20 books:
    • Rurouni Kenshin, volume 1 (Nobuhiro Watsuki)
  • A book with a main character in their 20s:
    • Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Every year, the moment I announce that I have completed the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, people begin to ask me whether or not I will participate in next year’s challenge. Typically, my answer is “most likely,” with my final decision coming shortly after the release of the next year’s prompt list. This year, however, my answer is “I don’t know.”

While I do enjoy participating in the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge each year, lately I’ve been wondering if it’s time for a change. I’ve been doing some research into some of the other reading challenges that are available online, some of which look very interesting. I’ve also been considering the possibility of creating my own reading challenge for 2021.

Before I make my final decision, I’d really like to get your input. Did you enjoy this year’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge content enough that you’d like to see me participate next year, or would you like to see me take on a new challenge instead? If you’d like share your thoughts with me and the rest of our community, please leave a comment on this post. (I also have a poll up on Twitter if you would prefer to respond there. You can find me @UnapologBkworm.) I’d really love to hear your opinions.

If you’ve been following my Reading Challenge updates since the beginning of the year, you might be wondering what the next couple of months will look like here on The Unapologetic Bookworm. For most of September, my weekly updates have focused on alternative titles for specific Reading Challenge prompts. I am currently planning to continue focusing on this topic throughout the coming weeks, and I would love to know what specific prompts you would like to see me address.

In this Saturday’s update, I will be reviewing my final POPSUGAR Reading Challenge title, Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, and I hope you’ll come back this weekend to check out my review of this fantastic memoir.

I also hope you will stop by frequently throughout the rest of the week for new content focused on Banned Books Week.

Have a great week!

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