Ticking off the 2021 PopSugar Challenge

I don’t know about you, but I love a good challenge. Since 2017, I’ve participated in the Popsugar Reading Challenge as well as the GoodReads Challenge since 2013.

Goodreads Challenge

With the GoodReads challenge, I set the number of books I aim to read for the year. I started with 40 books and gradually increased the number over the years to 70 books in 2020. Each year, I met or exceeded the challenge except – you guessed it – 2020. So this year my goal is a more modest 50 books of which I’ve so far read 39.  What I like about this challenge is that it motivates me to make time to read and gives me a buzz when I make the goal.

Tamrin Tales 1

Popsugar Challenge

The Popsugar Reading Challenge gives a list of book categories (40 regular & another 10 on the extended list). The categories change each year and some are trickier than others.  What I like about this challenge as it encourages me to read outside my set reading patterns, it introduces me to new authors and new genres and it gives me a focus to my reading.

Of course, there are other challenges – like the Classics Reading Challenge or Round the World Reading Challenge (reading a book set in or written by an author from every country in the world).


My discoveries

This year (2021), the Popsugar categories I’ve particularly enjoyed are:

An Afrofuturist book – I’m excited to discover a whole genre which combines three my great loves – science fiction, fantasy & Africa.  I read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor for this category but I also went on to read Nisi Shawl’s Everfair and Namwali Serpell’s Old Drift, to my great delight.

A book about forgetting led me to read the brilliant Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, a magical realist tale full of wonder, mystery and danger.

A book set in a restaurant had me stumped for a while until the enticing cover of  Kookaburra Creek Cafe by Sandie Docker caught my eye. And I wasn’t disappointed.

A book whose title starts with “Q,” “X,” or “Z” led me to Kim Wilkin’s Queens of the Seas – which I’m almost ready to read now I’ve read the first two books in the series, Daughters of the Storm and Sisters of the Fire. Not a hard task for well-written epic fantasy with courtly intrigue and strong female characters.

And I love that all 10 of the categories in the extended challenge are drawn from one To-Be-Read-List (TBRL) which gives me the incentive to catch up on books languishing on my book shelves (or in book piles beside my bed or on my desk).

Under the Mountain series by Jeanette O’Hagan epic YA fantasy


My Books fit too.

And each year I do the challenge, I note categories that my own books could fill. In previous years it’s been Books with Libraries or Books with Twins and a number of other cool categories.

Here’s the list in 2021

  • A book that’s published in 2021Rasel’s Song (published in April this year).
  • A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the coverThe Herbalist’s Daughter
  • A book with a gem, mineral, or rock in the title –  Three of the five Under the Mountain series (Blood Crystal, Stone of the Sea, and Shadow Crystals).
  • A book with a family tree – both Akrad’s Children & Rasel’s Song
  • A book that has fewer than 1,000 reviews on Amazon or Goodreads – any one of my books. Heart of the Mountain currently has 54 ratings on Goodreads while Akrad’s Children has 42 global ratings on Amazon.
  • A book set mostly or entirely outdoors – hard to pick between them, but Treasure in the Snow is set almost entirely outdoors, in the middle of a blizzard.
  • A book featuring three generations – again, I could name a few, but Blood Crystal and Stone of the Sea come to mind.

    As for the TBRL – do you have a book of mine patiently waiting to be read? Surely it could fit one the categories in this section 🙂


    I almost forgot – the first two books in the Akrad’s Legacy series are currently 99cUSD – until the 8 Sept. So, if you love fresh, surprising fantasy with courtly intrigue, adventure and romantic elements – now is a great time to start reading.

4 thoughts on “Ticking off the 2021 PopSugar Challenge

  1. I enjoy doing the Goodreads challenge each year, and find it gives me that little extra motivation.
    I’ve never tried one of the challenges that require you to read books based on prompts. I find myself with an ever-growing list of books that I want to read and feel that it would be a distraction from that. It does sound like an interesting way to expand your horizons, though,

    • Hi Adam – I do enjoy the way the Popsugar Challenges prods me to read outside my normal inclinations. It is a stretch each year with 40-50 books – though I do believe there are less challenging ones around. I think the main thing is that we enjoy our reading and that will mean different things to different people 🙂

  2. I’ve been doing the Goodreads Challenge for a while now. It’s a fairly low-pressure one, because you just set the number and can read whatever you want. You can even change your number part way through the year. I find it’s a good way to keep track of books you’ve read too, and I look to look back over the year.

    I’ve also tried the PopSugar one three times. I managed to finish it once (though it took me 15 months) and I got up to about 30/31 books on the other two attempts. The thing I liked about it was that it prompts you to read outside your genre, and I’ve found some gems I wouldn’t have read otherwise. However, lately I’ve been feeling like I need to have a break from challenges because it can also add pressure I don’t need. I’ll probably still do the Goodreads one though.

    • Hi Nola – I think it’s a good idea to step back if the challenge is adding pressure. I find the Popsugar one a stretch each year, but so far I’ve enjoyed the challenge. And I took like the yearly summary of books read with the Good Reads Challenge 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

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