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POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2023: Book Recommendations

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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.

reading challenges for adults

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.)

Table of Contents

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2023

What is the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge?

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.

Prompts

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:


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.

Get 2 audiobooks for the price of 1 with a new Libro.fm monthly membership with code LitLife.


A book about a vacation

Vacation-themed books make for such a great escape! The first one that popped into my mind was the best-selling Emily Henry book, People We Meet on 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:


A book with mythical creatures

I don’t read too many books with mythical creatures, but I definitely think you can dive into fan-favorite series like A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter.

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

If you have yet to read Romeo & Juliet, now is your chance! You can also dive into Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence and watch the Netflix adaptation.

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:


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):


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.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid also works well for this prompt, as it’s about an old Hollywood actress.

The Comeback by Ella Berman, a Read with Jenna Book Club pick about a former child star struggling as an adult, is also excellent.


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:


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!

For me (1982), both The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende are both on my list.


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:

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!)

Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, is also such a popular pick.

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.

Personally, I’m going to try to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Emma by Jame Austen is another great classic you can tackle.

And again, there’s always The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.


A book with a love triangle

Steamy!

If you haven’t read (and watched) the Young Adult saga The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han yet, it totally fits the bill, as does her other book series, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

One Day in December by Josie Silver, as Reese’s Book Club pick, is also a great bestseller for around the holidays. It’s a mix of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Serendipity, and Love Actually.

Want a thriller? Verity is a really twisted love triangle, as is The Last Mrs. Parrish, which has been a bestseller on this blog (and worldwide) for many years.

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:


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:


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 80s: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (a GMA book club pick and my favorite book of 2020)

Books Set in the 90s: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (a Reese’s Book Club pick) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Noam Chomsky (two of my personal favorite books)

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.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is a great title from Reese’s Young Adult book club.

Another incredible Reese’s book club book about parenting a trans child is This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel. It’s truly remarkable and universally beloved.

Lastly, a prior Book of the Month Club’s Book of the Year is The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I know so many people who have said this is their favorite book of all time. I loved it too.


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.

I also hear that two books I loved on audio have maps in the hard copies: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (an all-time favorite) and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (a mega bestseller).


A book with a rabbit on the cover

For a book with a rabbit on the cover, look no further than the children’s classics, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.

I have also heard that Watership Down by Richard Adams and Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett are good.


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.

Grief-themed books also often fit, including Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline are also popular titles.


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:

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:


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:


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:


A book about a family

Family dramas just so happen to be my favorite genre. I just adore the complicated dynamics.

Along with The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, which is my personal favorite, I think you will also love The Most Fun We Ever Had by Clare Lombardo and Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane.

For something lighter, take a look at Elin Hilderbrand’s books, which so often involve rich family drama on some level (along with romance), including the Winter series and the Paradise series.

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:

Want something juicy? These Jackie O books made my jaw drop.


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:


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.

On my own list are Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


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:


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:


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!


Advanced Prompts

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:


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.

I really enjoyed Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson, which was about Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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.

And I few I haven’t read but know to be popular are They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn, and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.


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?

See also Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James, The Shack by William P. Young, and Still Alice by Lisa Genova. All became movies!

Rory Gilmore loved Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust so much that she spoke about it in her Chilton graduation speech.


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:


A book with a pet character

Pets can truly be the center of our lives, so why not the center of books, too?!

The first books that sprang to my mind are Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley and Marley and Me by John Grogan.

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 longest book on MY TBR list is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is also massive.

I recently finished The Winners by Fredrik Backman, which was over 700 pages. (A must if you’re into the Beartown series.)

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.

This year, I plan on reading Freaky Friday by Mary Rogers and Peyton Place by Grace Metalious.


Those are the best book recommendations for all the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompts for 2023.

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Wiktoria

Wednesday 28th of December 2022

From what I've heard, the body positivity community is trying to make the word "fat" neutral so I'm pretty sure the popsugar team is using it correctly:)

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