Library life

2016 Reading Challenge, Part 2

Today we’re continuing our in-depth look at PopSugar’s 2016 reading challenge, finding two suggestions for each of their 40 categories.

[Update: Eager for more suggestions? Here are parts 1, 3, and 4 of the reaching challenge.]


  • A book that’s becoming a movie this year
    • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Newt Scamander): Written as a Comic Relief fundraiser, Fantastic Beasts is an encyclopedia of J.K. Rowling’s many strange creatures, from fuzzy Puffskeins to the menacing Lethifold. If you’re bored by the thought of reading an encyclopedia, don’t worry — it’s only 128 pages long, and sure to keep you engaged. The movie adaptation, starring Eddie Redmayne, is slated for release on November 18, 2016.
    • The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins): Every day, Rachel Watson takes the train to her job in London. Every day, she travels past the backyard of a seemingly happy couple. But when she spots the wife kissing another man, and then disappearing entirely, she wonders if she’s accidentally become part of a murder mystery. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to read it before the movie comes out — starring Emily Blunt, it’s due on October 7, 2016.


  • A book recommended by someone you just met
    • Hello there! I’m Ms. Brothers, a librarian at the Eva B. Dykes Library, and I recommend Kelly Brown Williams’ book Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps. From cleaning to cooking, dating to networking, this book is a great crash course for everything you wish you’d been taught in school.
    • Another Oakwood librarian, Heather Rodriguez-James, recommends Terri L. Fivash’s Dahveed series, a fictionalized version of King David’s life. Written by an Andrews University alumna and filled with rich historical detail, the Dahveed books are a sure way to enrich a Sabbath afternoon. There are five books out right now, with #6 in the works.


  • A self-improvement book
    • These two introduce themselves: Eat That Frog! 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (Brian Tracy), and Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Brené Brown).


  • A book you can finish in a day
    • Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House caused an uproar when it was first staged in 1879 — to the extent that the lead actress refused to perform unless Ibsen changed the ending. (He did.) Read it yourself and see if you agree with his observations about marriage and gender equality.
    • You may have already read Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen in high school. In any case, give it a fresh look — it’s the story of two teenage Hasidic boys in New York City in the 1930s and 1940s, coming to terms with the religious and social borders of their friendship.


  • A book written by a celebrity
    • Whether you know Indian-American actress/writer/comedian Mindy Kaling from The OfficeThe Mindy Project, Inside Out, or her pithy remarks on race and appearance, her memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is sure to delight you.
    • It’s hard to say what Grammy-nominated comedian Jim Gaffigan is most famous for: his bacon jokes, his Hot Pocket jokes, or the fact that he and his wife shared a two-bedroom apartment with their five children. His book Dad is Fat relates some of those adventures in parenting.


  • A political memoir
    • Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang relates the stories of a senior Chinese politician who advocated for free-market reforms and sympathized with the Tiananmen Square protesters, counter to official Chinese po
    • Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, chronicles the statesman’s harrowing journey, from 27 years in prison to his role as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.


  • A book at least 100 years older than you
    • Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre might have been published all the way back in 1847, but it’s aged very well (thanks in part to numerous TV and movie adaptations). The elements of the story are probably so familiar you could recite them along with me: a smart, determined, poor heroine arrives at a shadowy mansion to work as a governess, only to discover that the house holds more secrets than she counted on.
    • “Tiger, tiger, burning bright / In the forests of the night …” With this and other classics, William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience (published in 1789) takes its place among the longest-lived English poetry. Try to find an edition with Blake’s original illustrations, if you can.


  • A book that’s more than 600 pages
    • It’s the largest democracy in the world, containing one-sixth of the world’s people, who speak 1,652 languages. Its movies and music and art are unmistakable … but what could you tell me about its history, apart from British colonialism and Gandhi? In India: A History, John Keay pulls back the curtain on the world’s second-most populous country, revealing the ins and outs of five thousand years of Indian history.
    • From art to politics to poetry to drama, New York City’s Greenwich Village has long been known as a crucible of creativity. In Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910–1960, Ross Wetzsteon weaves the stories that formed the neighborhood for half a century, with a star-studded cast that includes Marlon Brando, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jackson Pollock, Upton Sinclair, and e.e. cummings.


  • A book from Oprah’s Book Club
    • From author Edwidge Danticat comes Breath, Eyes, Memory, with this summary from Amazon: “At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti–to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.”
    • Say You’re One of Them is a collection of five short stories by Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest from Nigeria. Here’s the snapshot from Amazon: “A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.”


  • A science-fiction novel
    • Due to become a movie this year, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One takes readers to 2044, where “reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape” (Amazon summary).
    • As with any genre, in science fiction, it’s always a good idea to start with the classics. Published in 1895, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine — the story of a man who travels hundreds of thousands of years forward and visits an England populated by the gentle, free-living Eloi and the menacing, subterranean Morlocks.

Watch this space for part III of our reading challenge!


Image credits: Train by Unsplash, David statue by ruediger, frog by zdenet, dollhouse by stux, playground by kittyflake, Chinese landscape by McLac2000, tiger by skeeze, henna by Unsplash, Haiti by tpsdave, and gears by wolter_tom on Pixabay.


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