Looking for help with the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge in 2023? Get book recommendations for each of the fifty prompts from a full-time book blogger to help you crush your reading goals with the BEST books.
While perusing the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompts myself, I realized that SO many books were coming to mind that I should help others struggling to find not just ANY book that matches the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompts, but the BEST books for each category.
As someone who reads 100+ books every year, writes about books every day, and follows the publishing industry regularly, below are all my top picks for the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge in 2023.
(Remember to bookmark them, share them with others, etc.! This is meant to be a great resource for you.)
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2023
The POPSUGAR Reading Challenge is a reading challenge hosted by the popular digital media outlet of the same name each year. It contains a list of 40 prompts and 10 advanced prompts, for which readers select a themed book to read throughout the year. Readers can get support on Twitter and in their Facebook group.
A book you meant to read in 2022
This is a subjective prompt, but I thought I would share the books of 2022 that I meant to read and remain on my early 2023 TBR:
- Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
- Solito by Javier Zamora
- The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz
- A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella
- Rivals by Katharine McGee
A book you bought from an independent bookstore
And, this prompt is also subjective, so I will just use this space to remind you to support Bookshop.org, an online book retailer that supports independent bookstores.
If you prefer listening to audiobooks, you can support independent bookstores at Libro.fm, which is where I buy most of my audiobooks.
A book about a vacation
I also love the idea of reading about a place where you have vacationed or where you plan to vacation. For me, Italy is probably my favorite vacation setting in a book (and real life!), and you can find many books that fit this prompt on my list of books set in Italy.
A book by a first-time author
I love a good debut. Some authors just NAIL it on their first shot. This prompt is such a great opportunity to dive into a renowned classic or modern author. Below are a few great picks:
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt (a Read with Jenna book club pick — one of her favorite books and one of mine)
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (the first book from one of the most classic authors of several generations)
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Need I say more?)
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (GoodReads Best Debut of 2022 winner and one of my favorite books of the year)
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (GoodReads Best Debut of 2020 winner, a Reese’s Book Club pick and a book I also thought was a fantastic debut)
A book with mythical creatures
I also think the popular, very Shrek-like book The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune can work well for this prompt, and I did enjoy it as much as everyone else.
A book about a forbidden romance
And if you haven’t read the ever-popular The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, just trust me (and really, everyone else) on this one, but don’t read too much about it beforehand because there’s a good twist.
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, about a relationship between the American President’s son and the Prince of England is on my own TBR list after hearing so many rave reviews about it.
Lastly, if you are a Colleen Hoover fan, you may want to pick up Slammed.
A book with “Girl” in the title
There is no shortage of books with “girl” in the title! Of course, there are great psychological thrillers like Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Girl on the Train. Here are a few more popular picks:
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
- The Other Boelyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
- Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
A celebrity memoir
If you’re going to tackle any of these prompts on audiobook, make it a celebrity memoir read by the author. It’s such an immersive experience! My personal favorite was Jessica Simpson’s Open Book, as she feels like a friend reading her story to you.
In 2022, I also loved the popular I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy.
Becoming by Michelle Obama is also fantastic and so well-loved.
Food lover? Indulge in Stanley Tucci’s Taste: My Life Through Food (and make the recipes — I did!)
In 2023, I will be reading Spare by Prince Henry to match this prompt.
A book with a color in the title
Colors make for great book titles because they convey so much meaning. Here are a few I personally thought were great (and are well-received):
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (one of my all-time favorite books)
- Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
- Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
A romance with a fat lead
First, I have to note the wording of this POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt strikes me as offensive and I wish a more inclusive term was used. Regardless, I really enjoyed One to Watch, which is based on The Bachelorette, as well as Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner.
Dumplin’ also comes to mind. I didn’t read it, but I adored the Netflix adaptation. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert is another popular title.
A book about or set in Hollywood
Hollywood-themed books are always so juicy! I was fully invested in Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, the story behind the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
A book published in Spring 2023
I love this prompt because I love planning ahead! Here are the Spring book releases (April and May) on my own most anticipated books of 2023 list:
- The Soulmate by Sally Hepworth
- Before We Were Innocent by Ella Berman
- Happy Place by Emily Henry
- Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune
- The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane
A book published the year you were born
To avoid recommending hundreds of books from decades of years for this POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt, I will simply recommend you Google this one!
A modern retelling of a classic
Here’s another fun one. Modern re-tellings are GREAT ways to tackle the classics. Personally, I really enjoyed Anna K by Jenny Lee, which was a re-telling of Anna Karenina in the vein of Crazy Rich Asians and/or Gossip Girl.
A few others include Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (which re-tells Pride and Prejudice), Bridget Jones’s Diary (which also re-tells Pride and Prejudice), Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (which re-tells Cinderella), A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (which re-tells Beauty and the Beast), Home Fire by Kamila Shamie (which re-tells Antigone), and Circe by Madeline Miller (which re-tells The Odyssey).
A book with a song lyric as its title
Over the past few years, song lyrics have become so popularly used in book titles. I think it’s because our familiarity with the songs makes the title feel catchy.
There is an especially great usage of song titles in holiday books:
- Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
- Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
- Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer
- All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox
- So, This is Christmas by Tracy Andreen
Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens is another cute modern romance book.
And A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza was a popular recommendation of Sarah Jessica Parker that’s been on my TBR list for years low.
A book where the main character’s name is in the title
Using a character’s name in the title makes them so much more real and memorable, doesn’t it?
I will recommend the massive bestseller A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman to anyone who will listen. (Tom Hanks will star in the adaptation in 2023 too!)
If you love family dramas, I think you will love Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland as much as I did.
Catch up on any Harry Potter books you may have missed.
And again, there’s always The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
A book with a love triangle
I’m hoping to read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
A book that’s been banned or challenged in any state in 2022
I’m SO glad POPSUGAR included this prompt on the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge because it was such a big topic in the news and is SO important. Here are a few popular titles that were widely banned in 2022:
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (truly one of the best AND one of my favorite books)
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A book that fulfills your favorite prompt from a past challenge
This is a completely subjective prompt on the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, but to help you out, here are a few of the prior Challenges:
A book becoming a TV series or movie in 2023
I love a good adaptation! In fact, I keep track of them in my Reading Journal. Here are the ones I’m looking forward to in 2023:
- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
A book set in the decade you were born
I could go on and on with recommendations for this POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt, but to keep it concise, here are a few suggestions from the 1980s and on. If you need more, head to Google for this one!
Books Set in the 00s: The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo (a Reese’s Book Club pick and a bestseller on this blog) and Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue (an Oprah’s Book Club pick and a bestseller on this blog)
A book with a queer lead
For this prompt, I think you will simply adore the fan favorite The Guncle by Steven Rowley, a truly heartwarming tale of family and grief.
A book with a map
I don’t know about you, but I love having maps to help out my very literal brain that struggles with “made up” lands.
On my list is The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd.
You may also like Leigh Bardugo’s #1 bestseller, Six of Crows.
A book with a rabbit on the cover
A book with just text on the cover
A book with just text on the cover is so edgy!
I enjoyed Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Toni Morrison’s novels all (I think) have text on the cover.
The shortest book (by pages) on your TBR list
Again, this is a subjective prompt, but coincidentally, my book club for the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge is reading short books from the Gilmore Girls book list in January, and here are a few of the books I recommended:
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
- Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv (so good on audio!)
- Night by Elie Wiesel
This is also a great way to tackle a children’s book on your list.
A #BookTok recommendation
It’s hard to deny the impact of BookTok. I’ve seen it in book sales on this blog, with Colleen Hoover being the bestselling author both here and on BookTok in 2023.
The best (and bestselling Colleen Hoover books) include:
- It Ends With Us (the undisputed fan favorite)
- Verity (my personal favorite)
- Ugly Love
- Reminders of Him
- November 9
A book you bought secondhand
Since this POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt is personal, I cannot make and BOOK recommendations, but I can recommend that you check your local libraries for book sales. It’s my absolute favorite way to buy books secondhand.
A book your friend recommended
Are we friends yet? If so, then I’ll recommend my top books from the past few years to you here:
- 2022: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
- 2021: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (coming to tv in 2023)
- 2020: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- 2019: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (my top pick from this group; listen on audio as it’s narrated by the incomparable Tom Hanks)
A book that’s on a celebrity book club list
I chuckled when I read this prompt because I’ve already recommended SOOO many celebrity book club picks here. But, here are a few more that I loved and are well-received generally:
- From Scratch by Tembi Locke
- Long Bright River by Liz Moore
- Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
- The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (popular with readers here)
- Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (listen on audio — it’s exquisite; also coming to tv in 2023)
A book about a family
Family dramas just so happen to be my favorite genre. I just adore the complicated dynamics.
For non fiction (memoir), Educated by Tara Westover blew my mind.
A book that comes out in the second half of 2023
Sadly, I don’t yet have any books published in July-December on my most anticipated book list yet.
A book about an athlete/sport
If you knew me in person, you’d know how much I love a good sports story, especially in real life.
The first one that comes to mind is What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan, about a local (to me) student-athlete who died by suicide as a result of the pressures she faced.
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger is a modern classic, for sure.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman, the fictional hockey book series, is absolutely exceptional.
Lastly, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is the story of Nike, so it gets into sports a lot, and it’s super popular with readers (as well as my husband’s favorite book).
A historical-fiction book
This prompt is a great way to dive into the backlists of some popular historical fiction authors. Here are a few books that I loved and are popular with blog readers and readers worldwide too:
- Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
- Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
- The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
- Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
A book about divorce
This is an interesting prompt on the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. I had to really think about it. I don’t want to share non fiction as I don’t have experience with divorce and related self-help books. So here are a few popular fiction titles about breaking up:
- Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (now on Hulu)
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
- Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
A book you think your best friend would like
What a fun prompt! Since it’s subjective I can’t offer up too much, but I will say it reminds me of the best friend book series Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Would YOUR best friend like that one too?
A book you should have read in high school
This POPSUGAR Reading Challenge made me chuckle because I wonder if we can include books we were SUPPOSED to read, but watched the movie or read the Cliff’s Notes.
Anyway, this prompt is perfect to tackle any of the Jane Austen novels you have yet to read.
Other popular classics with readers of this blog include Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
For more options, check out these easy classic books.
A book you read more than 10 years ago
For this prompt, I’m going to go ahead and guess that, if I read and loved a book more than 10 years ago, maybe you did too. Here are a few early 2000s reads I adored:
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
- Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
A book you wish you could read for the first time again
I feel that most of our favorite books are those we wish we could read again for the first time. A few of those books that felt extra magical for me the first time around were:
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
A book by an author with the same initials as you
This POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt is WAY too specific for me to provide recommendations for. Please visit Google for this one!
A book written during NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo is a November writing challenge. It’s so cool to think it’s produced amazing books! Here are a few:
- Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
- With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (SO good and legitimately everyone likes it)
- Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
- The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
A book based on a popular movie
I’m a bit confused by this prompt. It seems to refer to books written AFTER the movies.
You can also grab a Hollywood memoir, like Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist.
A book that takes place entirely in one day
I’ve got the perfect book for you for this prompt — Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. Set on New Year’s Eve, a woman takes a walk through New York City and reflects on her life. It’s exquisite and so memorable.
I also LOVED Run by Ann Patchett. She really excels at taking unique characters and placing them in specific circumstances.
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is another great one for fans of the classics.
A book that was self-published
I’ve got a few great recommendations for you here too. It really “sticks it to the man” that these books truly made it on their own.
Did you know that the bestseller The Martian by Andy Weir was self-published?
A book that started out as fan fiction
I’m not too familiar with fan fiction, but here are a few popular books that fit this prompt:
- The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (on my list this year!)
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame Smith
- Wicked by Gregory Maguire
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
A book with a pet character
Pets can truly be the center of our lives, so why not the center of books, too?!
I also LOVED the dog in 2022’s Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.
Want something a little…different? How about Cujo by Stephen King?!
I plan on reading Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White this year because I just can’t recall whether I ever fully read it as a child.
A book about a holiday that’s not Christmas
I love that this POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt celebrates the lesser popular holidays. A few holiday books I loved include This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens (and other New Year’s books), as well as The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer, which celebrates Hanukkah.
A book that features two languages
For a book that features two languages, my top pick is True Biz, a Reese’s Book Club pick that features sign language.
Otherwise, this POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt is tough for me because I can’t recall what diverse books actually featured two languages.
I think you will also love Elizabeth Acevedo’s books (they are all fantastic diverse YA books) and Chanel Cleeton’s books (Cuban historical fiction books).
I’m almost positive From Scratch by Tembi Locke features some Italian.
And lastly, I’ve heard that Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir does too.
The longest book (by pages) on your TBR list
The size of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas has also always scared me.
This may also be a good chance for you to dive into Outlander by Dana Gabaldon.
Hamilton fan? The Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow biography is also incredibly long, as are most historical biographies
A book with alliteration in the title
Last but not least is something I love — alliteration (I named this site The Literary Lifestyle after all).
If you love thrillers, Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney was one of my favorite reads of 2022.
If you haven’t read Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt yet, it’s fantastic, especially on audio.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut is one of my all-time favorite novels, and it’s not too hard for a classic.
Want something more modern? Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore.
Those are the best book recommendations for all the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompts for 2023.