Our 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates: Quarantine Edition

Greetings to everyone in quarantine land! All of us at Page Chaser send the good vibes so that you are safe, healthy, and thriving as best as one can be during these strange times.

During this time, we hope the love of reading is staying with you as it is with us. And if you need a reading break, no worries, we totally get it. Sometimes you need a break. And, honestly? A world pandemic is a good of a reason for a break as any.

But we thought we would share our POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates with you all!

This will accomplish two things:

  1. Hopefully create some reading inspiration for all
  2. Keep our booties in gear to complete this challenge!

So, without further ado, here is some of the Page Chaser team’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

Nicole’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

Oh lord. All I’ve done is read.

When the Page Chaser office went to working remotely two weeks ago, I was at around seven books.

I have now have 17 checked off and 6 additional books that don’t really fit anywhere on the challenge (or they might fit some prompts but I’m saving those prompts for other books).

I just got into a reading mood and rather than risk that vanishing, I decided to ride it out. So instead of watching TV (yes, I have put off watching Tiger King and it’s sort of killing me), I am just reading once the work day ends, which tracks since I’ve read like SIXTEEN books in the last 2 weeks. I tend to go through reading phases where all I do is read and then that eventually wears off and I don’t touch a book for months, so I’m just trying to milk this for all it’s worth.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates reading veraciously

And the biggest change is that I’m actually sitting down with the books rather than just relying on audiobooks.

I have desperately missed doing some actual READING but I never feel like I have the time. For some reason reading feels different than watching TV and it makes me feel like I should be doing more with my time than sitting down with a book.

Maybe because it’s ALL you can do is read when you’re reading, but if I’m watching TV I can work on things in the background like cleaning, or catching up on work projects, or personal projects. You can’t edit a podcast at the same time as reading a book. So I’ve relied on audiobooks heavily for the last few years. But for some reason it feels different being in quarantine (like it’s a weird break from the norm and I’m allowed to put other things off).

So yeah, I’ve read like 16 books in the last two weeks. Most of them have just been average in rating. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was probably the highlight. I really liked The Hating Game but I can’t explain why. I finally finished Children of Blood and Bone, also decided to pick up Six of Crows again because it’s one of my favorites and I want to read something good.

Total Read: 17/50

Meaghan’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

Fun fact about me: I have a super strong competitive streak. I don’t like to quit, and I don’t like to lose. Which means that I started 2020 hopping mad that I had failed so spectacularly at the 2019 reading challenge, stalling out at thirty-one titles.

Until early March, I was right on track for the goals I’d sent for not only the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge but also the 2020 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. (Second fun fact about me: I’m a glutton for punishment.)

But it turns out that when I’m stressing about finding disinfectant wipes, scrambling to homeschool my kindergartener while working full time, and worrying about everyone’s health, I have zero brainpower left over for reading.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates so tired

I trudged through the book I was in the middle of, often rereading the same paragraph several times before the words made sense. And once I’d finished that book, I just didn’t have the desire to pick up anything else.

My reading time does usually wax and wane over the course of a year, but this is the first time I’ve seen so clearly that when my mental health is in crisis, I read less. Or rather, I read fewer books and gravitate toward social media and news sites instead—which then makes my mental health even worse, fueling the cycle. In order to get back to the place where reading could be an enjoyable escape, I needed to re-establish my feelings of safety and security—no small task in this environment.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but a few days ago I picked up something that’s been in my TBR pile for a few months, and I’ve actually hit my stride with it. As with everything else in my life, I just have to be gentle with myself and my expectations. And if I come up short again on the 2020 challenge, you have to admit that “the pandemic ate my homework” is a pretty good excuse.  

Favorites:

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (A book about or involving social media)

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid ( A book that passes the Bechdel test)

A graphic memoir: March (three volume series) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Power

Total Read: 14/50

Rach’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

Good morning, quarantine warriors. If it’s not the morning where you are, that’s okay, because we’ve all recently discovered that time is a construct that no longer exists.

As an achievement-oriented human, I definitely thought entering a state of near-permanent homebound-ness meant I would read a thousand books. WRONG, JOKERS. The problem is, in terms of book collectors, I am far more of a Sensible Shopper than anything else. Maybe an Uncool Minimalist. I feel about books the pretty much the way Phoebe in Friends felt about that bicycle – if they aren’t being used, they aren’t fulfilling their purpose. So, in the single five-shelf bookshelf we have in our home, my books take up two shelves. If those shelves are full, I sell a book to our local used bookshop and use the credit to get a different book, like my own personal library.

All that to say, now with no local used bookshop and no libraries, I have very little access to physical books. And in a world where my job is on a screen and most of my after-work activities also involve screens, the last thing I want to do is pick up my Kindle and look at a screen some more. Thus, my main book outlet is audiobooks. But I need something for my eyeballs (and something to accomplish, duh). That leads me to my new obsession: CROSS-STITCHING.

The funny thing about cross-stitching while listening to audiobooks is that I can look at certain stitches and remember what was happening in the audiobook:

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates cross stich

For this one, the big twist in The Silent Patient fumbled its landing while I was stitching the little dark orange speckles inside the orange slices.

The Great Pretenders was just starting to get really good when I was working on that long bridge between the ‘S’ and the ‘L’. (Also, this one will be a Mother’s Day gift for my mom once we’re out of quarantine, so don’t tell y’all).

I stabbed myself out of frustration a bunch working on these little cacti and listening to Children of Virtue and Vengeance– Tomi, what happened to your characters’ developments?!

With that in mind, there’s a lot of incredible literary cross-stitch patterns out there. How meta would it be to read Jane Austen while stitching her quotes? I am open to suggestions.

Favorites:

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (A book with Bronze, Gold, or Silver in the title)

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (A book with a bird on the cover)

This Too Shall Last by K.J. Ramsey (A book you picked because the title caught your attention)

Total Read: 23/50

Lydia’S POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

Not gonna lie, I expected to do a whole lot more reading during quarantine than I actually have! I mainly blame my commute, which, although it wasn’t actually very long, it did give me the chance to listen to an audiobook everytime I got into the car, and I often would continue to listen as I got home and started making dinner. Not having that in my routine basically made me forget about my audiobook for a while until one Saturday morning I told my husband that I was putting on my headphones to listen to my audiobook and do crafts, and thus established some time to jump back into it.

Other than the audiobook, I’ve been reading physical/ebooks as well. The main hindrance to making progress there? Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I’m not sorry, but I am falling behind on my reading challenge while I plant fruit trees and design a virtual library in my adorable little virtual house.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates videogames

Genre-wise, my reading is still on brand. I made a list of books to read for the POPSUGAR 2020 challenge, so I’m still tackling those before jumping to other books on my radar. For my next book, I’m planning to dive into something fast-paced that I will really want to binge, so here’s to hoping there’s a chance of catching up with at least some of my competitors!

Favorites so far:

Educated by Tara Westover – though I am typically skeptical of books that get so famous that they’re famous for being famous, I am happy to admit that I absolutely devoured this book. It wasn’t an easy read, not for the writing, which was exquisite, but because it made me so frustrated that I wanted to scream. However, Tara’s story was told so tactfully and so much time and attention was given to accurately recounting events and giving light to how her memories differed from those of her siblings, I was very moved. 100% recommend, and I’ll be buying my own copy of this to keep forever ASAP. (A book with at least a 4-star rating on Goodreads)

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – I stand by my obsession with Flynn and her writing. This book was sick and twisted, just like me. (j/k, j/k!) Not for the faint of heart, but an amazing thriller if you’re up for it. *Triggers for mental health and self-harm, so please be aware of that before you pick this one up. (A book by or about a journalist)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – it took me for freaking ever to get through the 21+ hour audiobook with having to wait for it from the library twice, but I really enjoyed the experience of learning about early-1900s Japanese culture through the eyes of a young girl who ends up sold into slavery and trained to be a Geisha. There was so much tragedy in this story, but the language was so beautiful and the culture so well-researched, I was convinced that I’d made up the fact that this is a novel and that the narrator, a present-day, elderly Sayuri (our protagonist), was real. 10/10 recommend. (A book set in Japan, host of the 2020 Olympics)

Total read: 18/50

Jolene’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

This quarantine season has been an odd one: on one hand, it should be prime reading time for me. But it hasn’t been.

I feel like I’ve been squeezed so tight with anxiety that I feel small. Like if I add too much, everything might just slip away and become a jumbled mess. And therefore, it’s hard for me to consume too much reading in one sitting.

Or MAYBE I am lazy (a very strong possibility).

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates reading whoops

But truly, the conditions are ripe for reading: I’m staying at home, keeping still, and yet? I haven’t powered through this list like I thought I might.

The one thing that has helped has been audiobooks. I know, you say: Jolene, literally all you ever read is audiobooks. You’re not wrong. But even now more than ever, I’m feeling the benefits of audiobooks because:

  • I get to hang out with my toddler more now, but that means I also have to make sure he isn’t being 400% destructive. So, with my eyes on him and my arms ready to stop little hands, I can also read an audiobook.
  • Audiobooks also trigger a different part of my brain than a print book does, and that part of my brain doesn’t feel as ocupado with anxiousness, so it seems to work.
  • I’m currently listening to an audiobook narrated by Bahni Turpin, about Southern women and vampires, and it takes place in the weird, amorphous time in history known as the early 90s. Thus, I am a happy camper.

Also, of the books that I have read, here’s a couple favorites:

  • I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segeal (A book with an upside-down image on the cover)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik (A book that has a book on the cover)
  • The June Boys by Court Stevens (A book that’s published in 2020)

Total: 16/50

Taylor’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

After flying through the 2019 challenge, I was determined not to be a one-hit-wonder.  Yet here I am, significantly further behind than I was this time last year. Currently, I’m listening to my 16th book. 

Embarrassed In A Box GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

My real problem is that last year started out as such a better book year than this is turning out to be.  Only one of my reads this year has been on par with just January 2019’s reads and momentum is non-existent.

My reading has actually slackened off since working from home, since I don’t have 2 hours of commuting to dedicate to audiobooks.  I’m listening some throughout the workday, and I’m reading some physical books, but those have largely been non-challenge books, so I am truly the master of my own destruction. 

Jodie Whittaker O GIF by Doctor Who - Find & Share on GIPHY

Seeing that I am far too behind for comfort, I like to think it will spur me onward, but let’s be honest – we’ve all learned not to get too over-confident about what we’ll be doing with our time.

By far the best book I’ve read this year is The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas.  It’s the fourth book in the Lady Sherlock series, and Thomas’s writing and Kate Reading’s narration continue to captivate me.  Do yourself a favor and read them immediately.

Total Read: 16/50

Sydney’s POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates:

Social distancing got rid of my morning commute, my usual lunch break at work, and my time at the gym, so my audiobook time has been drastically cut down. However, I’m also about to finish my first print book of the year, and I expect a couple more print books to sneak their way in to my usual audiobook diet.

popsugar reading updates
The ultimate quarantine mood

Favorites:

  • Where the Crawdads Sing. I know that puts me on a bandwagon, but honestly I really enjoyed this book, and the nature writing was gorgeous.
  • The Dutch House. I’m a huge Ann Patchett fan, and her newest book was wonderful, and Tom Hanks read the audiobook. What’s there not to like?

Total: 7/50

Keep up with our other POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Updates!

Book Suggestions for Your 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Our 2019 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge End of Year Results

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