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2020 Plans > Hannah's Absolutely Absurd Idea

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message 1: by Hannah (last edited Feb 15, 2021 09:30AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments So. Here's the whole story. Earlier this year, I stumbled across the 2019 ATY Challenge on Pinterest of all places. Someone had made a cute little graphic with all the prompts and I thought "hey, that looks fun" and I copied the whole thing down in my notebook and started reading. Then, a couple weeks later, I was poking around on the internet for clarification on what the top 5 money making genres even are and it led me here. Goodreads! The site I've been a member of for years and somehow had no idea this challenge existed.

And then I realized the problem. Because I had come across and started the 2019 challenge, not the 2020 challenge. And sure, I was only about a month and five books into it, but I already felt very committed. I couldn't just switch over to the 2020 challenge! So I decided that I would complete the 2019 challenge on my own and then join in next year on the 2021 challenge, no problem.

Except it turns out that there is a problem. And the problem is that I feel SO LEFT OUT. I pop in here all the time, I browse the old weekly discussions for 2019, I want to contribute, but everyone's already moved on...the whole thing is very sad. But I had pretty much resigned myself to my lonely journey when suddenly I had an absolutely absurd idea: what if I did do the 2020 challenge? Not like start all over from the beginning or anything, I'm not that crazy. But like...what if the books I've already read for the 2019 challenge could fit into the 2020 challenge? And what if I fully accepted that there would be as much double dipping as possible and I just did both? I'd carry on with my (extremely loose, crazy spreadsheet) plan for 2019 and just see if I could fit things in for 2020? And if I don't finish 2020, that's okay? And then I could post in the 2020 discussion threads about all the fun books I'm reading?

So yeah. That's what I'm going to do. I'm not super keen on the idea of planning out a perfect list for the year anyway (I've been doing the 2019 plan in a very loose way anyway, where I have options for future reads and I continually update the plan and move things around and add new things in). So let's just see how it goes!

Current Count
Total Books Read: 52
ATY 2020: 52
ATY 2019: 52
New Reads/Rereads: 49/3
Fiction/Nonfiction: 45/7
From the TBR/Newly Discovered: 24/28


message 2: by Hannah (last edited Feb 15, 2021 09:31AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments 1. A book with a title that doesn't contain the letters A, T or Y
Circe by Madeline Miller ✭✭✭✭✭

2. A book by an author whose last name is one syllable
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn ✭

3. A book that you are prompted to read because of something you read in 2019
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green ✭✭✭✭

4. A book set in a place or time that you wouldn't want to live
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish ✭✭✭✭✭

5. The first book in a series that you have not started
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal ✭✭

6. A book with a mode of transportation on the cover
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg ✭✭✭

7. A book set in the southern hemisphere
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert ✭✭✭

8. A book with a two-word title where the first word is "The"
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee ✭✭✭✭

9. A book that can be read in a day
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter ✭✭✭

10. A book that is between 400-600 pages
Watership Down by Richard Adams ✭✭✭✭✭

11. A book originally published in a year that is a prime number
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green ✭✭✭✭

12. A book that is a collaboration between 2 or more people
To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu ✭✭✭✭

13. A prompt from a previous Around the Year in 52 Books challenge
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez ✭✭✭✭

14. A book by an author on the Abe List of 100 Essential Female Writers
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ✭✭

15. A book set in a global city
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ✭✭✭✭

16. A book set in a rural or sparsely populated area
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens ✭✭✭✭

17. A book with a neurodiverse character
Rewind Replay Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Jeff Bell ✭✭✭

18. A book by an author you've only read once before
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn ✭✭

19. A fantasy book
The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett ✭✭✭

20. The 20th book [on your TBR, in a series, by an author, on a list, etc.]
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery ✭✭✭✭✭

21. A book related to Maximilian Hell, the noted astronomer and Jesuit Priest who was born in 1720
Hellspark by Janet Kagan ✭✭✭✭✭

22. A book with the major theme of survival
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury ✭✭✭✭

23. A book featuring an LGBTQIA+ character or by an LGBTQIA+ author
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers ✭✭✭✭✭

24. A book with an emotion in the title
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas ✭✭✭✭

25. A book related to the arts
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio ✭✭✭✭✭

26. A book from the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern ✭✭✭

27. A history or historical fiction
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee ✭✭✭

28. A book by an Australian, Canadian or New Zealand author
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks ✭✭✭

29. An underrated book, a hidden gem or a lesser known book
And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould ✭✭

30. A book from the New York Times '100 Notable Books' list for any year
Normal People by Sally Rooney ✭✭✭✭✭

31. A book inspired by a leading news story
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore ✭✭

32. A book related to the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Japan
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden ✭✭✭

33. A book about a non-traditional family
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart ✭✭✭✭

34. A book from a genre or sub genre that starts with a letter in your name
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ✭

35. A book with a geometric pattern or element on the cover
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton ✭✭✭

36. A book from your TBR/wishlist that you don't recognize, recall putting there, or put there on a whim
Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg ✭✭✭

37. Two books that are related to each other as a pair of binary opposites: Book #1
Possession by A.S. Byatt ✭✭✭✭✭

38. Two books that are related to each other as a pair of binary opposites: Book #2
The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin ✭✭✭✭✭

39. A book by an author whose real name(s) you're not quite sure how to pronounce
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal ✭✭✭

40. A book with a place name in the title
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ✭✭

41. A mystery
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie ✭✭✭

42. A book that was nominated for one of the ‘10 Most Coveted Literary Prizes in the World’
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman ✭✭✭✭

43. A book related to one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse
The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy ✭✭✭✭

44. A book related to witches
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones ✭✭✭✭

45. A book by the same author who wrote one of your best reads in 2019 or 2018
Sula by Toni Morrison ✭✭✭✭

46. A book about an event or era in history taken from the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire"
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe ✭✭✭

47. A classic book you've always meant to read
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley ✭✭✭✭

48. A book published in 2020
Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller ✭✭✭✭

49. A book that fits a prompt from the list of suggestions that didn't win
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ✭✭✭

50. A book with a silhouette on the cover
To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey ✭✭

51. A book with an "-ing" word in the title
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion ✭✭✭✭

52. A book related to time
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang ✭✭✭✭✭


message 3: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 1: Sharp Objects 01/09/2020
2019 Prompt: #35 A psychological thriller
2020 Prompt: #18 A book by an author you've only read once before
Rating: ✭✭

I read and absolutely hated Gone Girl in 2018, so I wanted to know if the problem was the book or the author. I didn't hate Sharp Objects as much as Gone Girl, but honestly that's a pretty low bar. When I read it, I hadn't yet discovered the ATY challenge, so I slotted it in retroactively as a psychological thriller.


message 4: by Hannah (last edited Jul 14, 2020 02:50AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 2: Dark Places 01/26/2020
2019 Prompt: #46 A book with a (mostly) black cover
2020 Prompt: #2 A book by an author whose last name is one syllable
Rating: ✭

A too-late confirmation that yes, it's definitely the author and I need to stop trying to read books by Gillian Flynn. Easily fits as a book with a mostly black cover, and easy to slot into this challenge as well.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn


message 5: by Hannah (last edited Jul 14, 2020 02:51AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 3: And the Heart Says Whatever 01/27/2020
2019 Prompt: #25 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #3 Something Borrowed
2020 Prompt: #13 A prompt from a previous Around the Year in 52 Books challenge
#29 An underrated book, a hidden gem or a lesser known book
Rating: ✭✭

January was not a great month for me! This book was recommended and loaned to me, but I wasn't super into it. I only really liked one of the essays and in general I found the author kind of annoying. I was glad to have an easy book to fill the Something Borrowed prompt, though, and I'm sort of cheating here by using the same prompt twice to fill 2020 as well.*

*I decided to put this one in for the lesser known book prompt and leave this easier prompt for something later in the year. I had decided I was going to fill #29 by sorting my TBR by number of ratings and choosing the book with the fewest ratings that I could find at my library, but it turned out that this book had even fewer ratings than any I could find, so it seems appropriate. Wouldn't call this one a hidden gem or underrated, as I didn't really like it, but how am I supposed to know if something is a hidden gem before I read it??


message 6: by Dori (new)

Dori (daisydori) | 166 comments That's an excellent idea Hannah! I've only just found this group and the challenge too and I'm very behind. My planning is like yours too, very loose, I'm moving things around all the time and you're right if you don't finish the challenge nothing happens. I find it a really fun way to pick the next book I'm going to read though.

Best of luck! :-)


message 7: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 4: Where'd You Go, Bernadette 02/01/2020
2019 Prompt: #2 A book with one of the 5 W's in the title (Who, What, Where, When, Why)
2020 Prompt: #14 A book by an author on the Abe List of 100 Essential Female Writers
Rating: ✭✭

At this point I had found the ATY Challenge, but I had already planned to read this, as part of a personal ongoing challenge to stay up to date on books that everyone seems to have read (I call it the Pop Culture Literacy Project). Wasn't that into it, but I'm glad I read it, and decided to count it as a "Where" book. It seems to fit best here for prompt 14, but to be honest if I had been choosing an author from the Abe List normally, I would have definitely gone with someone else.


message 8: by Hannah (last edited May 29, 2020 05:44AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 5: The Weight of Ink 02/06/2020
2019 Prompt: #40 A book you stumbled upon
2020 Prompt: #10 A book that is between 400-600 pages
#4 A book set in a place or time that you wouldn't want to live
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

Finally! An excellent book after so many disappointments! I loved The Weight of Ink and I truly stumbled upon it - I was waiting for some holds to come in on Libby and needed something to read on the metro, so decided to just browse the available books section. I had never heard of The Weight of Ink (and honestly, I rarely pick up books that I've never heard of), but liked the brief plot summary and it had good ratings on Goodreads so I gave it a go. And that made the fact that I loved it so much better! It felt like a real discovery.

*I decided it was silly to use this for such an open prompt, since I read a lot of books between 400 and 600 pages and I should keep that open for the future. Instead, I'm going to put it in for #4, a book set in a time or place I wouldn't want to live. For The Weight of Ink, it's about this particular combination of place and time: London in 1665 was the site of the Great Plague, the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague in England.


message 9: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 6: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You 02/10/2020
2019 Prompt: #37 A book set in a school or university
2020 Prompt: #9 A book that can be read in a day
Rating: ✭✭✭

I reread this book that I had enjoyed in Middle School because a friend and I were reminiscing about it. We ended up forming an impromptu private bookclub to read the whole series, but I only counted the first one for the challenge. I decided to use it for the school prompt, mostly because this is when I started to make my tentative plan spreadsheet and there was nothing else I was particularly interested in using to fill the spot. It works perfectly for prompt #9 because I did actually read it in a day, so that my friend and I could have brunch and talk about it as soon as possible.


message 10: by Hannah (last edited May 20, 2020 02:23PM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 7: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine 02/14/2020
2019 Prompt: #34 A book with a person's name in the title
2020 Prompt: #42 A book that was nominated for one of the ‘10 Most Coveted Literary Prizes in the World’
Rating: ✭✭✭✭

Another one that I had been wanting to read for the Pop Culture Literacy Project. I found this book to be much more enjoyable than I expected and I easily slotted it in for a person's name in the title. Was happy to find that the Costa Awards are one of the 10 most coveted literary prizes, so it can fit in there.


message 11: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Dori wrote: "That's an excellent idea Hannah! I've only just found this group and the challenge too and I'm very behind. My planning is like yours too, very loose, I'm moving things around all the time and you'..."
Thanks, Dori! I feel exactly the same way - I'm really enjoying it as a way to pick my next book. It's encouraging me to have a long list of library holds at all times, which means that I always have an available book, which means that I read much more frequently. Good luck on the challenge!


message 12: by Hannah (last edited May 21, 2020 02:15AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 8: Rewind Replay Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 03/03/2020
2019 Prompt: #7 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #1
2020 Prompt: #17 A book with a neurodiverse character
Rating: ✭✭✭

This is another one that was recommended to me so I had to fit it into the available prompts. As a memoir, it was a little trickier, so I finally settled on putting in in the "two books on the same topic" slot and decided I would read a fictional book about a character with OCD (likely Turtles All the Way Down) later in the year. It fits much more easily in this year, as a book with a neurodiverse character. Good memoir, and recommended to me by someone with OCD who felt like it resonated, so that's a point in its favor.


message 13: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 9: Memoirs of a Geisha 03/11/2020
2019 Prompt: #27 A book off of the 1001 books to read before you die list
2020 Prompt: #32 A book related to the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Japan
Rating: ✭✭✭

Pop Culture Literacy Project. I had been planning to read this for awhile, but I reeeally didn't want to use it for prompt 49, because I wanted to save that one for a book written by a Far East Asian author (ideally one also set in a Far East Asian country as well). Luckily, I discovered Memoirs of a Geisha is on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list, and I felt like that fit the spirit in which I read it much better. Here I had to slot it into prompt 32, although again, I'd rather use it to read something by a Japanese author and increase the author nationality diversity of my list. Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of options for this one, since I'm pretty sure I'll need the historical fiction/history slot open for later in the year.


message 14: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7222 comments Mod
Welcome, Hannah, to our cozy little spot on Goodreads! We welcome any and all perspectives on the challenge, so you're right at home here haha!

I joined in June a few years ago when they started making the list and managed to finish book #52 on New Years Eve night, when I was supposed to be hosting a NYE party... I was not a great host, but I got my challenge completed! Double dip as much as you'd like, and welcome to the threads!


message 15: by Tracy, Constellation Mod (new)

Tracy (tracyisreading) | 2475 comments Mod
I love this!! Have fun and welcome to the group!


message 16: by Robin P, Orbicular Mod (new)

Robin P | 1832 comments Mod
It's great that you found a way to do both years at once. It's amazing how many books fit in multiple categories! I lurked on this site for a while around the beginning of the year and started somewhere in January. I am reading more than ever, and I had just decided to do the challenge twice this year, but maybe I should take your lead and do 2019 which I missed out on!

I also HATED Gone Girl. I kept reading because I wanted to see how the author was going to get out of the mess she had created but it was just all too ridiculous.


message 17: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Thanks for such a warm welcome, everyone! I've been having a great time lurking, so I'm really excited to be participating now. Trying not to get carried away, considering I do have actual life things to do...


message 18: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Robin wrote: "It's great that you found a way to do both years at once. It's amazing how many books fit in multiple categories! I lurked on this site for a while around the beginning of the year and started some..."

Gone Girl was one of my least favorite reads EVER. I have to give Gillian Flynn some credit, because I did read the whole thing very quickly, so it's clearly compelling. I just found the characters to be so repulsive and yes, the plot too ridiculous to enjoy it at all. Interesting that that didn't stop me from reading two more books by her, ha.


message 19: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 10: And Then There Were None 03/29/2020
2019 Prompt: #4 A book with a criminal character (i.e. assassin, pirate, thief, robber, scoundrel etc)
2020 Prompt: #41 A mystery
Rating: ✭✭✭

My first Agatha Christie was Murder on the Orient Express, which I absolutely loved. And Then There Were None didn't quite give me the same feeling, but I still enjoyed it. Certainly an excellent book to fill the criminal character prompt and a mystery seems like the obvious one to choose here.


message 20: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 11: The Calculating Stars 04/13/2020
2019 Prompt: #14 A book with a title, subtitle or cover relating to an astronomical term
2020 Prompt: #5 The first book in a series that you have not started
Rating: ✭✭

I was really looking forward to reading this one, as it seemed right up my alley. Unfortunately, it's not really science fiction, in my opinion (it's more like alternate history Hidden Figures, focusing much more on social issues than the apocalypse). I'm very much willing to believe that a large part of my disappointment and low rating was due to just expecting something different and if I had read it thinking it was going to be what it was I would have liked it better. I added it here as the first book in a series I hadn't yet started, but I think I probably won't continue the series.

I did, however, read the novella/short story The Lady Astronaut of Mars, which the author wrote years before and inspired her to write The Calculating Stars as a prequel. I actually liked the short story a lot more (probably because it was more science fiction-y) and you can read it for free on Tor.com.


message 21: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 12: Frankenstein 04/30/2020
2019 Prompt: #42 A book with a monster or "monstrous" character
2020 Prompt: #47 A classic book you've always meant to read
Rating: ✭✭✭✭

I love how perfectly Frankenstein fits into both these categories (particularly the 2019 one, as it has both a monster and a monstrous character)! I have a continuous personal project to read classics and Frankenstein is one that I still hadn't gotten around to. I was inspired this year because a friend is writing her thesis on Mary Shelley, so I decided to give it a go. And really enjoyed it! I've had the experience multiple times of finally reading classics that I had put off because I felt like I already knew the story and being pleasantly surprised by the characters/writing style/themes that I was unaware of from my cultural osmosis understanding of the plot.


message 22: by Hannah (last edited Aug 21, 2020 01:39AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 13: Where the Crawdads Sing 05/04/2020
2019 Prompt: #13 A book that is included on a New York Public Library Staff Picks list
2020 Prompt: #16 A book set in a rural or sparsely populated area
Rating: ✭✭✭✭ (but actually 3.5 stars)

I waffled a bit about the rating for this one, but I ultimately decided to just lean into the fact that my ratings are wildly subjective and that's just fine. I thought this book had a number of pretty serious flaws that would usually relegate it to three stars, but I honestly just loved the nature writing enough that it was worth four stars for me. I had been meaning to read it for the Pop Culture Literacy Project (as a prime example of a book that it seems like everyone I know has read), so was happy to discover that it's on the New York Public Library Staff Picks, so I could use it for that. I rather like it better for the Rural Area prompt, though, because the absolute best thing about this book was the scenery and atmosphere.


message 23: by Hannah (last edited Aug 21, 2020 01:38AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 14: The Mysterious Benedict Society 05/07/2020
2019 Prompt: #23 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #1 Something Old
2020 Prompt: #33 A book about a non-traditional family
Rating: ✭✭✭✭

I knew immediately that I wanted to interpret the "Something Old" prompt as "Something old to me" (i.e. a book I read in childhood). I used to reread books constantly as a kid and teenager and fell out of the habit as an adult, I guess because there are so many books I want to read now and I have easier access to them. So I want to encourage myself to reread at least a few books per year, because it's enjoyable and because it lets you see books in a new light. I also kind of love thinking about this book as a book about a nontraditional family - it jumped out at me as a prompt that I could use for this and the more I thought about it, the more perfect it is. It really is a book about found family and embracing non-traditional arrangements. I think nearly every character in the book is part of a non-traditional family. Definitely not the book I would have thought of had I been planning ahead for the prompts, but I sort of like it better this way.


message 24: by Hannah (last edited Jun 08, 2020 05:07AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 15: The Color of Magic 05/16/2020
2019 Prompt: #3 A book where the author’s name contains A, T, and Y
2020 Prompt: #19 A fantasy book
Rating: ✭✭✭

The 2019 Prompt immediately made me think of Terry Pratchett, who I've never read before but had always been meaning to get to. I really debated a lot over what to read by him, as it was very unclear to me how necessary it was to read the books in order and a lot of people seem to think the early ones aren't as good. But I ultimately decided to go with my instinct and read the first, which I ended up liking a lot, so it's kind of nice to know that they only get better from here. I like fantasy, but I tend to read more science fiction, so I figured it was safe to put Pratchett in for the fantasy book this year.


message 25: by Emily, Conterminous Mod (new)

Emily Bourque (emilyardoin) | 7222 comments Mod
Frankenstein is one of those books I read in high school and actually enjoyed, then taught it to my high school students and really enjoyed it all over again! It's crazy to think that Mary Shelley was a teenager when she wrote it.

My book club read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein (which I counted for a book connected to something I read in 2019, because I read Frankenstein for 2019), and I LOVED IT. It was such a good take on the classic. You should add it to your TBR if you enjoyed Frankenstein.


message 26: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Emily wrote: "Frankenstein is one of those books I read in high school and actually enjoyed, then taught it to my high school students and really enjoyed it all over again! It's crazy to think that Mary Shelley ..."

Thanks for the recommendation, that looks excellent. Definitely going on my TBR - I love retellings!


message 27: by Hannah (last edited May 25, 2020 03:28AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 16: Slouching Towards Bethlehem 05/25/2020
2019 Prompt: #38 A book not written in traditional novel format (poetry, essay, epistolary, graphic novel, etc)
2020 Prompt: #51 A book with an "-ing" word in the title
Rating: ✭✭✭✭

This is one that had been on my personal "Classics" list for awhile, so I took the 2019 prompt as a reason to get to it this year. I really quite enjoyed it, especially Joan's writing style, though it took me kind of a while to get through. I meandered vaguely about my feelings relating to the book in my review here, which doesn't really explain my rating at all. I had a bit of a debate about whether to use this for the "-ing" ending prompt or the place name prompt and I still feel kind of unsure.


message 28: by Jackie, Solstitial Mod (new)

Jackie | 1306 comments Mod
You should read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or Death on the Nile for your next Agatha Christie. I love And Then There Were None but it's a bit different from most of her work. Death on the Nile in particular I think you'll like if you liked Murder on the Orient Express.


message 29: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Jackie wrote: "You should read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd or Death on the Nile for your next Agatha Christie. I love And Then There Were None but it's a bit different from..."

Thanks for the recommendation, Jackie! I've been wanting to read more Agatha, but I haven't been exactly sure where to go next, so this is very helpful.


message 30: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 17: Anne of Green Gables 05/30/2020
2019 Prompt: #31 A children’s classic you’ve never read
2020 Prompt: #20 The 20th book [on your TBR, in a series, by an author, on a list, etc.]
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

Oh, this was just what I needed! Not only was this an absolutely lovely read, perfect for nightly reading over the course of a stressful quarantine week, but it fit into my prompts with such perfect luck that it must have been fate. I was positive that I wanted to use Anne of Green Gables to fill the children's classic prompt, because I've seriously been meaning to get around to reading this for multiple years. I wasn't sure how I was going to fit it in to the 2020 prompts (though I could have always fallen back on using Montgomery as a Canadian author), when I discovered that this was the 20th book on my TBR, sorted alphabetically by title! So it was clearly meant to be.


message 31: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 18: Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life 06/04/2020
2019 Prompt: #24 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #2 Something New
2020 Prompt: #48 A book published in 2020
Rating: ✭✭✭✭ (But actually 3.5 stars)

I heard about this book from John Green, who recently posted a "Books That Help" video of quarantine book recommendations. He described it as what his podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed "wants to be when it grows up," mentioned that it's simultaneously intensely personal and a history of taxonomy (for some reason I love books about the history of science and especially about taxonomy). This description reminded me of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a book that I absolutely love, so I was hopeful for Why Fish Don't Exist - plus, it was a new release and I almost never read new releases and literally never debut new releases, so I liked the idea of using it for "something new" and a book released in 2020. I ended up not liking it as much as The Sixth Extinction, for several reasons, but still enjoyed it a lot and recommend it for people into quirky nonfiction.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 19: Possession 06/12/2020
2019 Prompt: #12 A book about reading, books or an author/writer
2020 Prompt: #37 Two books that are related to each other as a pair of binary opposites: Book #1
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

I put this on my tentative ATY plan because I had read and enjoyedThe Weight of Ink a few months ago, and The Weight of Ink is often compared to Possession, as they're both about scholars studying newly discovered letters that might reveal secrets about the past. I originally had it penciled into the "dual timeline" prompt for 2019, because I had assumed that it would be like The Weight of Ink, jumping back and forth between the present and the past. Actually, although it technically is a dual timeline book, it didn't have nearly as much of that element as I was expecting, so I've decided to put it in as a book about reading and authors, which it fits perfectly. For the 2020 prompt, I was extraordinarily pleased to realize that I could use Possession and The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin (which I had already been planning to read this year) as my binary opposites. It's so satisfying to have books fit prompts perfectly, and so much more satisfying when it's a book I enjoyed as much as Possession!


message 33: by Hannah (last edited Jun 19, 2020 07:06AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 20: The Bear and the Nightingale 06/19/2020
2019 Prompt: #39 A book with a strong sense of place or where the author brings the location/setting to life
2020 Prompt: #34 A book from a genre or sub genre that starts with a letter in your name
Rating: ✭

Ugh, I was so disappointed in this one! I honestly expected to like it, based on what I had read about it and other people's reviews, but it really did almost nothing for me. It fits these prompts quite well, though, as these two qualities are the only reasons that I got through this book at all. The Bear and the Nightingale certainly is atmospheric and I appreciated the new-to-me setting and some of the description, particularly about the weather. I chose this as a representative of the genre Historical Fantasy, which is another thing I liked - I appreciate books that lie in between traditional genres and although this wasn't really the balance that I like best, I do think it was served well by its combination of realistic history and folklore/fantasy. Unfortunately, nothing else about it worked for me, I wasn't drawn in at all, and even though it wasn't long, it took me a full week to get through.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 21: Normal People 06/21/2020
2019 Prompt: #36 A book featured on an NPR Best Books of the Year list
2020 Prompt: #30 A book from the New York Times '100 Notable Books' list for any year
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

I had noticed that although I've read a lot of great 4 and 5 stars books recently, they had mostly been rather slower paced books and I was starting to miss the feeling of just racing through a book that I couldn't put down. Normal People was exactly that for me and I found it extremely captivating. Finishing it honestly left me in a weird mood. I think it's funny that it only fit into my challenge for two "list prompts" - it is certainly a book that everyone's been talking about, though I was urged to read it by friends, not by lists. Definitely not a book that I can see everyone loving, but I really enjoyed it.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 22: Pachinko 06/27/2020
2019 Prompt: #49 A book written by a Far East Asian author or set in a Far East Asian country
2020 Prompt: #27 A history or historical fiction
Rating: ✭✭✭

I very much wanted to choose a book both written by a Far East Asian author and set in a Far East Asian country. Min Jin Lee, although Korean-American, was born in South Korea and spent her childhood there and its clear that her identity as an immigrant and part of the Korean diaspora drew her to the plight of Koreans in Japan. Another reason that I liked Pachinko for this prompt was that it was focused on the intersections between two different Far East Asian countries/cultures: both Japan and Korea. The other prompt I considered for Pachinko was the one about a multiple generation family saga, which it definitely fits, but I'm kind of attached to the idea of reading One Hundred Years of Solitude for that one - I actually think it'll be quite interesting to compare how the two deal with such long time spans and ranges of characters (my qualms about how the time span and characters were handled in Pachinko is part of what brought my rating down).

Pachinko is a prime example of historical fiction, so I chose it for prompt 27. It's clear that Min Jin Lee did an enormous amount of research for this book and the historical detail and atmosphere is masterfully done. I really enjoyed learning about the history of Japanese-Korean relations, a topic I knew very little about. I love historical fiction that encourages me to do further research about a topic, and I enjoyed complementing my reading of this book with academic articles about the zainichi (permanent ethnically Korean residents of Japan) as well as multiple Youtube videos demonstrating the mesmerizing game of Pachinko.


message 36: by Robin P, Orbicular Mod (last edited Jun 27, 2020 06:53AM) (new)

Robin P | 1832 comments Mod
I also loved both Possession and Normal People, maybe because they both star young academics and I spent a lot of time in college & grad school. And they both have unusual takes on romance. But Normal People is rather spare in its telling, while Possession is overstuffed, and both seem right for their books.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Robin wrote: "I also loved both Possession and Normal People, maybe because they both star young academics and I spent a lot of time in college & grad school. And they both have unus..."

I love this comparison between Normal People and Possession! They actually make quite an interesting pair, being interestingly similar in certain ways and opposite in others (and also both seemingly pretty polarizing!). Not to sound stalker-y, but I think you wrote on another thread a couple weeks ago about liking how easy it was to sympathize with and understand both Connell and Marianne in Normal People, despite the messiness of their relationship. I quite agree and I kind of feel the same way about Possession, too - that Ash and Christabel and Maud and Roland are all complicated and sometimes prickly characters who have messy and sometimes hurtful relationships, but I sympathized and understood all of their perspectives.


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Melissa | 20 comments Hi Hannah,

I have added four books to my to be read list after reading your reviews.
I agree with most of your thoughts on books you mentioned - except I like Gillian Flynn’s books. I liked the books better than the film and miniseries - but they adapted well. I try to keep up popular lit, too. I belong to a few book groups and that helps with this.

I like the idea that you are playing “catch up”. Next year you could do the 2021 and try to make the books work for the 2018, too.

I am going to keep doing the Popsugar and this one - trying to make the books work for both challenges. It has been fun.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Hi Melissa! I'm so pleased that you found some books of interest here - recommending books is one of my deepest joys! I very much hope you enjoy them. (And although Gillian Flynn's books are not to my taste, I can't deny she's a good writer - they're certainly very compelling, and, to be fair, it's a little odd for me to have read three of her books when I didn't enjoy any of them, so she's definitely got some sort of mysterious magic power.)

Doing both 2021 and 2018 together is an AMAZING idea. Seriously, I can't believe I didn't think of that - I've been enjoying the extra challenge of trying to make everything work for two prompts so much and was a little sad to think that that would be over next year. But I can play catch up for three more years!!


message 40: by Hannah (last edited Jul 05, 2020 05:02AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 23: To The Bright Edge of the World 07/05/2020
2019 Prompt: #50 A book that includes a journey (physical, health, or spiritual)
2020 Prompt: #50 A book with a silhouette on the cover
Rating: ✭✭

I'm absurdly pleased to be using this book for prompt number 50 for both years. I was less pleased with the book itself - in this case it was certainly wrong to judge this book by its lovely cover. Or maybe not, considering that perhaps my biggest concern was that it felt kind of shallow to me, more style than substance. Nevertheless, it fits both of these prompts quite well - the cover has a beautiful sillhouetted bird, filled with the Alaskan landscape, and the book follows the journey of a Colonel traveling through Alaska in the late 19th century.
To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey


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Robin P | 1832 comments Mod
As far as doing 2 years at once, I now have a theory that the same books could be used for any year with some creativity. I usually read about 100 books in a year, so I have some leeway. After I finish my 2nd round of 2020, I plan to pull up the 2019 prompts and I bet I will be able to fill all of them without reading anything else. It should be interesting, in any case!


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 24: Circe 07/14/2020
2019 Prompt: #41 A book from the 2018 GR Choice Awards
2020 Prompt: #1 A book with a title that doesn't contain the letters A, T or Y
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

I am so very glad that the Goodreads Choice Awards encouraged me to pick this one up, because I had heard of it and would probably have gotten around to it eventually, but certainly not soon enough. This book was fantastic. I would have read it more quickly, but I was on a busy vacation - even so, reading it slowly only prolonged the lovely experience. I'll definitely be reading The Song of Achilles sometime soon.


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Joan Barnett | 1546 comments I loved reading how you found our group and that you're reading two years at once. I guess it could have been worse. You could have come across the 2018 first and then felt compelled to do 2018, 2019 and 2020!

Have fun with the prompts!


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Joan wrote: "I loved reading how you found our group and that you're reading two years at once. I guess it could have been worse. You could have come across the 2018 first and then felt compelled to do 2018, 20..."

Ha, thanks so much, Joan! I've been having a grand old time - seriously considering doing 2018 and 2021 next year!


message 45: by Hannah (last edited Jul 22, 2020 02:30AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 25: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle 07/22/2020
2019 Prompt: #22 A book with a number in the title or on the cover
2020 Prompt: #35 A book with a geometric pattern or element on the cover
Rating: ✭✭✭

This one caught my attention because a lot of people have been using it over the past two years to fill these two prompts. It sounded like something that I would enjoy, what with the time travel and the Groundhog Day-ness (one of my favorite movies!) and the mystery and everything. And I did like all those things a lot! But on the whole I thought this was a little uneven, I'm not convinced all the plot points tied together in the end, and I'm just generally left at the end with a niggling feeling of doubt and confusion, rather than impressed satisfaction, which is what I was hoping for.

Unrelatedly, nearly every time I think about the title of this book, I accidentally call it "Evelyn Hardcastle is Completely Fine" (as you might imagine, Evelyn Hardcastle is very much not fine at all.)
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 26: Howl's Moving Castle 07/27/2020
2019 Prompt: #44 A book related in some way to a tv show/series or movie you enjoyed
2020 Prompt: #44 A book related to witches
Rating: ✭✭✭✭

Look, another book using the same prompt number for both years! I picked this one up entirely because of the 2019 prompt - earlier this year I rewatched the movie adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle, an old favorite, so I thought that reading the original would be a perfect way to fill the "book related to a movie" prompt. Luckily, it also easily fits in as a book related to witches, as the main antagonist of the story is the dreadful Witch of the Waste. I was thoroughly delighted by the book, which is exactly the sort of matter-of-fact but fantastical children's story that I'm a sucker for. And now I think I'll go back and watch the movie again, just to compare!


message 47: by Hannah (last edited Sep 13, 2020 08:23AM) (new)

Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 27: Exhalation: Stories 08/17/2020
2019 Prompt: #16 A book told from multiple perspectives
#17 A speculative fiction (i.e. fantasy, scifi, horror, dystopia)
2020 Prompt: #52 A book related to time
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

August has been a very busy month for me and it's seriously cut into my reading time: I'm finishing up my master's thesis and moving to a different continent, so I'm willing to cut myself some slack. But I did manage to finish Exhalation, which I've been reading out loud for the past several months. Exhalation is a short story collection, so it's been absolutely perfect for this, and I positively adored these stories, which represent my favorite kind of science fiction. Ted Chiang is a masterful writer and I'm glad that I didn't rush through these: they definitely deserve to be savored.

It's a bit of a stretch, I admit, to use a short story collection as a book with "multiple perspectives," but it's technically accurate, so I'm going with it.* Exhalation fits much more neatly as a book about time: although the predominant theme of this collection is the question of free will and how human beings might be able to find meaning in a life without it, Chiang plays with time in order to explore this theme. Only one of the stories is a traditional time travel, but I would say that nearly all of them incorporate some kind of deliberate reflection on time and its role in our lives.

*Decided to use A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor for the multiple perspectives prompt (I didn't know that it was one before I read it.) That means that Exhalation can fit neatly into speculative fiction, which it is without a doubt. Perhaps the most archetypal example of speculative fiction, even - Ted Chiang is a very speculative writer.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 28: The Signature of All Things 08/23/2020
2019 Prompt: #32 A book with more than 500 pages
2020 Prompt: #7 A book set in the southern hemisphere
Rating: ✭✭✭

Reading The Signature of All Things made me think a lot about my rating system. The Signature of All Things is the kind of book that typically ends up being 3 stars for me: not 3 stars out of any lack of opinion, but 3 stars because there were both things I really liked about this book and things that I really didn't and they perfectly canceled each other out.

I had a much harder time deciding the prompts I was going to use this for than the rating. I originally thought I was going to use it for 2020 Prompt #49 A book that fits a prompt from the list of suggestions that didn't win - there was a prompt about flowers or greenery on the cover. But then it turned out that a large part of the latter half of this book was set in Tahiti and I chose to use it instead for #7, because the book that I was thinking of using (One Hundred Years of Solitude) was actually kind of cheating (because only a small part of Colombia is below the equator and not the part that the book is set in). So I went with "part of the book is fully set below the equator" rather than "all of the book is set in a country partly below the equator."

I also considered using this book to fill 2019 prompt #10 A book featuring an historical figure, as I was surprised to discover that Alfred Russel Wallace turned up in person towards the end of this book. Buuuut, I was thinking of using that prompt to get some more nonfiction into my list this year, so I settled for the less interesting #32.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Posting to leave a placeholder just in case:

I just finished reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, which I decided I wanted to reread before reading the sequel, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor. I could squeeze it into my list by ousting Sula, which I definitely want to read but I'm just not in the mood for at the moment. For now, I'm going to leave the spot open for Sula later in the year, but if I'm running out of time later, I'll come back and slot in An Absolutely Remarkable Thing instead.


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Hannah Peterson | 397 comments Book 29: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet 09/07/2020
2019 Prompt: #9 A book from one of the top 5 money making genres (romance/erotica, crime/mystery, religious/inspirational, science fiction/fantasy or horror)
2020 Prompt: #23 A book featuring an LGBTQIA+ character or by an LGBTQIA+ author
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭

August was a big reading slump for me, and when I'm in a reading slump, I try to turn to one of two things: rereads or genre fiction. I started this month with a reread (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing) and the quick-paced science fiction thing was really doing it for me, so I ignored my library books in favor of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which I had just won in a Goodreads giveaway. And my goodness, it was just the perfect thing. I sped through this easy, lighthearted, heartwarming science fiction story and I'm giving it 5 stars for being such a pleasure.

It was easy to choose the money making genre prompt for 2019 because I was always intending on using a science fiction for that one. For 2020 I had a lot of options: I also considered using it for emotion in the title and means of transportation on the cover. I fiddled around for a bit though and decided it fits best as #23. Becky Chambers is married to a woman and the book contains a lot of different sentient alien species who work and live together and have wildly different cultural/biological norms around sex/dating/gender/romance. I always like to try to choose a book that hits both options in these "either/or" style prompts.


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