Good morning everyone! Haley here, I’m taking a break from writing papers and studying for finals to provide all of you with a handful of recommendations for some of the POPSUGAR 2020 Reading Challenge prompts. As always, if there is a challenge you want us to discuss or some prompts you need recommendations for, comment below or email us at stuckingthestacks123 (at) gmail (dot) com.
Prompt - A Book Written by a Trans / Non Binary Author
Quick Take: This is a diverse historical tale which reworks the life and story of Jack Sheppard, who was born as P but wants nothing more than to live as “Jack”. Confessions of the Fox is an amazing, queer retelling of Brecht’s Thereepenny Opera and is a must read for any historical fiction lover.
Quick Take: In this book of short stories Ortberg takes classic fairytales and gives them a darkly, mischievous spin. This book is for all the Grimm’s fairytale lovers out there and might not be for those who prefer the Disney versions. Ortberg’s collection is at once hilarious and bleak with a dash of feminism and diverse casts of characters.
Quick Take: Emezi identifies as nonbinary and Freshwater draws on Igbo mythology. It is a fantastic story about finding one’s sense of self a world that is so insistent on putting everyone in boxes which one doesn’t quite fit into said boxes.
Quick Take: This is a fantastic novel for anyone trying to do better (which, I hope, is all of us). Essentially, this novel reimagines the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade in Space. It is definitely one that I plan on reading next year because I don’t read enough sci-fi period, let alone sci-fi that addresses black identity and the culture of oppression.
Prompt - A Book About a Book Club
Quick Take: A story about men who secretly get together to talk about popular romance novels? Yes please! A story about men who secretly get together to talk about popular romance novels and than use the books they discuss as guides to save their marriages and woo their love interests? Yeah I need this. It sounds amazing!
A nonfiction story about Nafisi’ own experience living in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For two years, she secretly gathered seven female students every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden western classics. Their own life stories become intertwined in the books they are reading. Nafisi’s memoir is at once a tale of resilience as it is an ode to the power of the written word.
In central valley California, four women and one man gather to read and discuss Jane Austen novels. Unsurprisingly, the experiences of the characters they are reading spill over and act as guides in their own friendships and romantic escapades. Witty and hilarious this is a perfect addition to any Austenite’s library.
Prompt - A Bildungsroman
A bildungsroman is a novel that deals with an individual’s formative years - particularly their spiritual education.
Quick Take: This is a fantastic novel about being unafraid to stand up and speak your truth. Miriam is our independent, but devoted protagonist who has lived in New Jerusalem- a desert haven separated from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Miriam knows that their little commune is better than any other worldly alternative and so, when God and their prophet Michael call for a Matrimony, Miriam is thrilled. She knows her beloved Caleb will choose. After all, God told her so. But then, the marriage ceremony goes awry and Mariam is paired with someone else it launches Miriam on a path of self discovery and awakening that will change everything.
Quick Take: Joe Kavalier is a Jewish artist who manages to smuggle himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague and travel to New York City. There he teams up with his cousin Clay, who needs an artist to bring the heroes of the latest media craze to life in the form of comic books. In this heartwarming tale, Chabon weaves a beautiful story about the American dream and the hope of possibility.
Quick Takes; This book needs no introduction, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. Part literary fiction, part mystery, and part love story it is a critique of human arrogance and a searing social commentary on how we treat those who are different from us. Follow Kathy and Ruth and they grow up in the Hailsham boarding school and then leave it, realizing as they enter the real world the reality of their upbringing as they remember and move on from their past.
What About You?
What do you think of our recommendations? Are there any books that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments!