Library life

2016 Reading Challenge, Part 3

Welcome back to the third installment of our reading recommendations! You can find part 1 and part 2 here, if you missed them. And just a reminder — the 40 categories come from PopSugar’s 2016 Reading Challenge. You can get a handy-dandy printable here.

[Update: Part 4 is now ready for you too!]


  • A book recommended by a family member
    • Mileage will vary on this category, but here are two books that my family have loved: Andy Weir’s The Martian, the popular survival story of a NASA botanist stranded on Mars; and Brian Doyle’s The Wet Engine: Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart, which delves into everything the heart does and represents, from anatomical functions to metaphorical roles.


  • A graphic novel
    • Do you ever find yourself listening to the news and realizing, “I don’t know much about the history of that region”? Recently, Iran has frequently been in the news. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, the graphic-novel memoir of Iranian author Marjane Satrapi, is a good introduction to the country’s history. If you enjoy it, you should also try the sequel, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.
    • Recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang wowed critics with his graphic novel American Born Chinese, which follows three plotlines centering on a Chinese-American boy who just wants to fit in.


  • A book that will be published in 2016
    • In Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal (due out on February 2), a young man in 1904 discovers a journal that takes him on a quest for a legendary object. Thirty-five years later, a pathologist accepts the same quest. Fifty years after that, a Canadian senator and his chimpanzee companion continue the search — while the senator struggles to adjust to his wife’s death.
    • Do you feel like you’re in a rat race, chronically unable to get ahead no matter how hard you work? If so, you might find a kindred spirit in Tina Fontana, the protagonist of Camille Perri’s The Assistants, who’s smart, broke, frustrated, and sharp-eyed enough to spot a mistake in her boss’s accounts that could pay off her student loans. We’re guessing she takes the money, but we won’t know for sure until the book comes out on May 3.


  • A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
    • Again, mileage will vary here, depending on your major. But for you pre-med students out there, try Dr. Emily R. Transue’s book On Call: A Doctor’s Days and Nights in Residency. Packed with stories from her internal medicine residency that are heartwarming, chilling, bleak, and funny by turns, this book is sure to prompt questions and discussions that will help you prepare for your own medical careers.
    • For the future teachers among us, try E.R. Braithwaite’s To Sir, With Love. It’s the true story of the author, a black man from South America, who decided to take a job teaching in the predominantly white slums of London’s East End in the 1940s.


  • A book that takes place during summer
    • The four teens at the heart of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars are a tight-knit group, members of an upper-crust New England family that spends its summers on a private island. The summer the Liars were 15, something happened. Nobody is sure exactly what, particularly the narrator, who now spends her days visiting doctors and fighting migraines. Then her memories of that summer begin to come back, and it’s clear that she’s not the only one telling lies.
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is another great summer read. If you didn’t catch the recent movie adaptation (or the book in high school), it’s about a reclusive millionaire whose parties are legendary — but whose motives are mysterious. Along the way, the author weaves in a beautifully haunting commentary on the excesses of the Jazz Age.


  • A book and its prequel
    • In part 2 of this post series, we recommended Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel Jane Eyre. If you enjoyed it — or even if you didn’t — why not take a look at the unofficial prequel, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea? It takes one of Jane Eyre‘s most contentious characters and lets her tell her side of the story, touching on themes of (spoiler alert) colonialism and mental illness.
    • True-blue Firefly fans know about Michael Shaara’s Civil War novel Killer Angels, the book that inspired Joss Whedon to create Captain Mal and the other Browncoats. But did you know that there’s also a prequel? Gods and Generals is a close look at the leaders of the Civil War, written by Michael’s son, Jeff Shaara. If you finish it wanting more, there’s also another installment: The Last Full Measure, again by Jeff Shaara.


  • A murder mystery
    • Dorothy Sayers might be best known in certain circles for her radio plays on Christ’s life, aired in England during World War II, but she also writes great murder mysteries. Try Murder Must Advertise, starring the irrepressible Lord Peter Wimsey, for a breathtaking adventure involving an advertising agency, a desperate smuggler, and an ingenious code.
    • Want a book that will keep you up all night? Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None won’t take long to read, but you’re sure to stay awake thinking about the tale of ten people who gather on a deserted island to salve their guilty consciences, only to get picked off one by one.


  • A book written by a comedian
    • Star of The Talk and Archer, comedian Aisha Tyler garnered glowing reviews for her book Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation.
    • If you’re an SNL fan, don’t miss Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller’s tome, Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, As Told By Its Stars, Writers, and Guests, which was written for the show’s 25th anniversary in 2001.


  • A dystopian novel
    • Hailed as one of the first dystopian novels, Lois Lowry’s The Giver takes place in a society where all social ills have been fixed … at the risk of individuality and free will.
    • If The Giver wasn’t bleak enough for you, try Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, which is set at a highly unusual English boarding school.


  • A book with a blue cover
    • If you haven’t read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars yet, move it to the top of your list. It’d be easy to dismiss it just another “cancer story,” but Green transcends the genre to tell a beautifully crafted story about living life to the fullest.
    • Similarly, it’d be easy to classify Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl as a kids’ book, but don’t give up on it just yet. It’s a delightful, surprisingly deep book about an average high school turning upside-down when the new girl shows she’s not afraid to be herself.

Stay tuned for part 4!


Image credits: heart from condesign, Iran map from McLac2000, NYC woman from love_on, stethoscope from DarkoStojanovicdock from Unsplash, Antietam cannon from tpsdave, misty lake from stefankiss, Gracie Allen & George Burns from skeeze, color burst from PeteLinforth, and pool from Aquilatin on Pixabay.


3 thoughts on “2016 Reading Challenge, Part 3”

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