Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I do what I can to fill out my reading categories using books I already have, whether they’re on Kindle or physically on the bookshelves. But there’s always a few categories that don’t readily lend themselves to that approach. PopSugar’s call-out to ghost stories this year is definitely one of those outlier categories, so I did what I usually do to make a selection: crawl the challenge discussion boards on Goodreads to get some ideas.

Between the good reviews (both on the boards and in the press), the National Book Award, and the resonance with my ongoing desire to keep reading more books by African-American authors, this seemed a book well worth the choosing.

And indeed it was.

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Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

(So far as my Around the Year plan goes, this book was read a tiny bit out of sequence: I jumped to it while waiting to get off the libe waitlist for category #6. Considering how sick I was this past week, it’s probably just as well that I had a non-taxing title like this one to be working through.)

Based on my experience with the PopSugar challenges over the past few years, I would postulate that the staffers over there* are kinda obsessed with the notion of literary genre.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say that as a slam in the tiniest bit. After all, I spent all my grad school years being obsessed with literary genres, their categorization schema, their overlaps, and so on. But the notion of genre–especially obscure and unusual genres–has definitely been a recurring theme in their construction of topics. I found it most challenging last year when we were asked to read a book in a genre we’d never heard of before: several google searches on the topic only uncovered genres I had heard of before. Too bad I didn’t know about this year’s list while making my 2018 strategy, because 2019 PopSugar names not 1, but 2, different genres I had never heard of till looking at the categories list.

Including “LitRPG.”

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

It is taking some real self-discipline to post a book review tonight. I skipped last night ‘cos I was binge-watching the end of Season 5 from Game of Thrones, and I’d be quite happy to cuddle in with my iPad to watch another few eps tonight.

But I need to get back on schedule for the reading challenge, so I’m limiting screen time today in order to read and report out on what’s been read.*

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Radical Candor by Kim Scott

This is another “bonus book” that I decided to swap into a category. When I was planning my lists, I chose Freakonomics for a PopSugar category about “inserting a phrase into the common lexicon,* a choice that will also allow me to scratch off one of the squares on my “Bucket List” poster. And, because Freakonomics was written by an economist, I slid it into the “business book” category—even though I knew I was reaching with that. After all, for all I know, Freakonomics is going to be less of a business book and more from a behavioral economics perspective.**

In the meantime, a coworker of mine recommended this book, so I put it on my “hold” list in Libby. A copy was released to me a couple weeks ago, so I set aside my other challenge titles to read this. (Yet another reason why I’m a bit behind schedule for February’s challenge categories.)

Turns out I needn’t have thrown of my schedule this way to accommodate the library timeline, because I liked this book enough to purchase it for my home library.

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Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi

This is another one of those impulse “daily deal” purchases. With advertising copy like this—

The astonishing true story of America’s most accomplished art forger: a kid from New Jersey who became a master, fooling experts and eluding the FBI for thirty years.

—a New Jersey connection*, and a decent string of 4- and 5-star Amazon reviews, what’s not to like?

More than I expected, actually

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Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott

One might guess that I’m feeling better today than yesterday, being as I have been able to read–as indicated by another category completion on the year’s reading tally. That is, indeed, the case. Unlike yesterday’s achiness, it no longer hurts to be up and around. However, I am still finding myself to get tired out very easily.

All of which is to say: lucky for me this is such a wee slip of a book. Both for my capacity to finish reading it today, and for my odds of writing a book review tonight.

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Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Turell Soderberg

  • PopSugar #44: read a book during the season it’s set in

I’m trying to recall when I first learned of the concept of hygge. A couple years ago, I guess. I don’t remember the exact circumstances–it was on the Internet, obviously, but I can’t be more specific than that. Some item somewhere. A link to Facebook? A book review of The Year of Living Danishly?  Gaia knows.

What I do recall is the deep sense of recognition, that aha! moment, when I saw the term and its definition. Hygge–which, roughly speaking, unpacks to an amalgamation of coziness, contentment, enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures–is about the most natural habitat for this homebody duck as I could possibly imagine.

I think I learned the concept a tiny bit ahead of the big hygge craze in 2016-2017, but I did take the opportunity that craze provided to get a couple books about hygge into my home library. (Which, in typical fashion, I never got around to reading.)

But Mr. Mezzo and I have been intentionally doing things this winter to “get our hygge on,” so when I saw this particular category on the PopSugar list, I knew exactly what I wanted to choose for my “season.” And so I pulled out the prettiest of my hygge books and put it on my “challenge shelf.”

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