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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

10 / 30 books. 33% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (3)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii
- Idaho (2)
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- Tennessee (1)
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- Utah
- Vermont (1)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (1)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.*

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (7)
- France (1)
- Ireland (1)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

18 / 51 states. 35% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

20 / 50 books. 40% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 50 books. 76% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

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33 / 52 books. 63% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

23 / 40 books. 57% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

13 / 40 books. 33% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

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5 / 25 books. 20% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

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24 / 26.2 miles. 92% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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19 / 100 books. 19% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

49 / 104 books. 47% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

39 / 52 books. 75% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

44 / 165 books. 27% done!
Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Prompts and Pioneers

I was sad to miss last week's TTT, but it couldn't be helped. My husband and I drove up to Utah last Tuesday for RootsTech, a big genealogy conference in Salt Lake City. It hasn't been held in person since 2020 so it was good to be back. There were many fewer people in attendance than in earlier years, largely because there's been a big push to get the conference online so it can be enjoyed by a larger, more global audience. It was nice for those of us in the Salt Palace not to have to fight for seats in popular classes, stand in long lines for the bathroom, push through crowds in the hallways, etc. Even though it was cold and snowy in Utah, we Zonies had a great time honing our genealogy skills, visiting family, catching up with old friends, and learning more about our own stories. It's always a surreal experience to sit at Tesla super chargers in places like Nephi and Beaver, Utah, where our ancestors settled nearly 200 years ago. While we wait for our bougie car to charge, we always marvel that our not-so-distant kin traveled this same ground on foot and in wagons while they farmed, raised their families, and went about their daily lives. Wild!

Selfies are not my favorite (I always look like an idiot), but this one isn't terrible if you ignore my crazy eyes. I was really tired...

We actually left RootsTech early so my husband could attend a one-day conference at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The hubs and I met at the Y when we were freshmen, so it's a nostalgic place for us. While he conferenced, I visited one of my favorite venues in Provo:

Pioneer Book is a great little used bookstore. Every year, it hosts a fun reading challenge. You read one book for each of 40 prompts, 8 of which need to be purchased from Pioneer Book. When you finish, you get a $50 gift certificate to be used in the store. Since my husband and/or I generally visit Provo several times a year, I always take on the challenge (although I've yet to actually ever finish it). I'm off to an excellent start this time around and I'm hoping to complete all the prompts by July when I'll be back in town for the 4th. 

This might sound like a long-winded travel report (which it kind of is), but it's actually an introduction to my TTT list for this week. The actual topic is Top Ten Bookish People I'd Like to Meet (authors, illustrators, fictional characters, etc.). I'm not much for fangirling, so I decided to spin the topic so I can talk about some of the titles I picked up at Pioneer Book last week instead. 

If you want to participate in TTT (and you totally do), click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the deets.

Top Ten Books I Need to Read for the Pioneer Book Reading Challenge 
- in no particular order - *asterisks denote titles purchased at Pioneer Book*

1. What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha*—I'd never heard of this book before, but it sounds super interesting. It tells the true story of the doctor who discovered that kids in Flint, Michigan, were getting sick from lead in their drinking water. In order to exact change, she exposed the shocking truth to the world and battled the government to get justice and clean water for her patients. 

Prompt: Best Seller Non-Fiction Display

2. Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies*—At 544 pages, this is the epic tale of three French women and their travails during World War II. It's the first volume in an ongoing series.

Prompt: Wildcard Upstairs (500+ pages)

3. The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden*—Set in 1852 Alabama, this hist-fic title is about a Southern belle who receives a valuable wedding gift: a slave, who also happens to be her half-sister. Both women are more than they appear to be, which will make their new life together surprising, tumultous, and transformative.

Prompt: New Arrivals Display Upstairs

4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding—Despite having a degree in English, I'm not big on classics. Thus, I've never actually read this book. I was going to go easy on myself for this prompt and just re-read To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite novel ever), but I decided to challenge myself a little. The book's short, at least, and I'll be able to finally cross it off my "Books I Should Have Read Already" list. I'm definitely going to look for the pictured edition, too. Stephen King is sure to have some interesting insights into what this book is all about!

Prompt: Time Magazine 100 Best Novels List

5. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China* by Jung Chang—It's no secret that I love family history. Family sagas are my favorite, fictional or otherwise. This book is the latter. It's Chang's exploration of three generations of her family living in 20th Century China. 

Prompt: Wildcard Downstairs (500+ Pages)

6. Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez—I haven't loved any of the books I've read by this Argentine-American author, but this YA novel is supposed to be her best. It's about an Argentine teenager who is living a double life. At home, she is meek and mild, always careful not to ignite her father's hot temper. On the soccer field, however, she's an unstoppable force. The problem? Her parents—who would be horrified at the idea of their daughter playing fútbol—don't know about her athletic skill. In order to go any further with the sport, she needs their support. Is playing soccer really worth angering her family?

Prompt: Employee Pick Shelf

7. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict*—This novel has been on my TBR list ever since it came out. It concerns Mitza Maric, a talented German physicist whose brilliance was outshone by that of her famous husband, Albert Einstein. Is there room for two geniuses in one marriage? 

Prompt: Best Seller Fiction Display

8. Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah*—As a lifelong member of a religion that many see as extreme and even cultish, I know to take religious memoirs/tell-alls with a very large grain of salt. Still, I find them utterly fascinating. Scorah is a third-generation Jehovah's Witness who experienced a life-altering faith crisis while serving as a clandestine missionary for the faith in China. Being away from home and in a foreign country opened her eyes and widened her worldview, leading her to apostasize from her religion and start life anew.

Prompt: New Arrivals Display Downstairs

9. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles—I've heard nothing but good things about this historical novel. The titular gentleman is Count Alexander Rostov who is sentenced by a Russian tribunal to house arrest at an elegant hotel across the street from the Kremlin. As his physical world shrinks, Rostov's emotional life grows, changing him in surprising ways. 

Prompt: Kirkus Prize Winner/Nominee

10. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill—I love me a spine-tingling Gothic ghost story, so I'm all in for this one. It's about a man who travels to the English moors in order to settle the affairs of the recently departed Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. He finds much more than he bargains for, including spooky sounds, a haunted rocking chair, and, of course, the dreaded Woman in Black.

Prompt: Popular book Published in 1983

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Who are the bookish people you'd like to meet? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!


  1. I hope you enjoy all of these books! I’m glad you had a good time at your conference.

    My post:

    1. It was a fun trip. I'm glad I fit in a stop at the bookstore as well. That always makes trips more fun!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  2. i've read 2 on your list: Gentleman in Moscow and Other Einstein. Some of the others you picked looked really good as well - hope you finish the challenge this year. :)
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    1. The Pioneer Book challenge is one that includes more difficult prompts (prize winners and such), so I always struggle to complete it. I'm feeling good about my chances this year, though!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Terrie!

  3. You picked up a lot of books and will fulfill a lot of prompts, Susan. I hope you enjoy them all and get them all read.

    1. I'm hoping to get them all read by the time I go back to Provo in July, but we'll see how it goes...

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carla!

  4. Awesome choices! I can't believe I haven't read "The Woman in Black" yet. I love Gothic horror/ghost stories. :)

    1. Same! I'm all about Gothic and ghost stories as well. Hopefully, we both like Hill when we get to her.

      Thanks for popping in, Holley!

  5. What a cute selfie of you two! I love it! It sounds like you had a great time. It's always fun to visit a favorite bookstore on vacation.

    1. For sure! I love finding fun new bookstores, but I also enjoy visiting old favorites.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deanna!

  6. A genealogy conference sounds like lots of fun!

    1. I mean, they're totally nerdy, but also very enjoyable! It's fun to learn more about topics that interest you and to be surrounded people who love genealogy as much as you do. Many of the RootsTech classes are online and free to watch, so you can check those out if you're interested!

      Thanks for stopping in, Sam!

  7. What a great list, Susan. The first one sounds extremely interesting, I read a similar novel by JCO.

    I have read Lord of the Flies, Wild Swans and A Gentleman in Moscow. The first was not my favourite even though I love classics. But I loved the other two.

    Oh, and I always look awful on pictures, selfie or not. Yours is cute.

    1. Oh, good! I'm glad you enjoyed a few of these. LORD OF THE FLIES will definitely be an interesting read. I've heard mixed reviews, naturally.

      I am really, REALLY not photogenic. At least in this selfie, I was wearing makeup and not looking too scary! Ha ha.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Marianne!

    2. Welcome to the club, Susan, I look awful on most pictures.
      I hope you will like Lord of the Flies. As you know, I love classics but this is not one of them.

  8. Nice list! Thanks for including the prompts for each book. I'm always looking for ideas. I'm nervous about the Wild Card prompts. Every time I go in, I don't find anything that grabs me from the New Arrivals table.

    1. At least you live close by, so you can drop in often and hopefully find some books you want to read. I was lucky to find some good ones since I won't be back to Provo until July. I'd really love to do a meet-up with all you Wasatch Front book bloggers sometime...

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Kami!

  9. This is such a cool post! I'm glad you got to attend a genealogy conference, that's such a cool experience. And you've got so many interesting sounding books on your list! I especially loved A Gentleman in Moscow, even though it started off slow, and Lord of the Flies was a good one, if my memories of high school serve me correctly. Enjoy reading, and I hope you finish your challenge this year.

    1. It's good to know A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW is a bit slow but worth the read. I'll keep that in mind. I'm so old that I barely remember high school, but I'm *pretty* sure we didn't read LORD OF THE FLIES. I *think* I would have remembered it if we had!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leah!

  10. I always love seeing the face behind the blog, it makes you feel like you "know" the blogger better! This is a fun post and it's neat that you live near (enough) to a bookstore that does this kind of challenge! I hope you finish it this time :) You can do it!!!

  11. Geoegie McBeth-Brown08 March, 2023 12:11

    What a fantastic twist on this week's prompt. I wish I had a local bookstore that did something like this

  12. I was going to participate this year, but since I've had a hard time starting with anything so far, I decided to bag it. I hope you have fun! I look forward to seeing what you read for and how well you do with the challenge. Good luck!

  13. I'm curious to see what you think of Lord of the Flies. It freaked me out but I couldn't put it down until I knew how it was going to end.

  14. I'm glad you and your husband had fun at your genealogy conference! A bookstore back home has a reading challenge with the chance to win books but they started it after my husband and I started traveling so I haven't been able to participate yet. It looks like you are definitely off to a great start!

    I've only read Lord of the Flies from your list. I truly disliked almost every book my English teachers forced upon me so we'll just leave it at that. Several of your other books are on my TBR. I haven't even heard of The Wedding Gift but it sounds really good.

  15. I'm not much for fangirling either and I skipped this prompt because of it! The only author I could think of would be Agatha Christie but she hated the awkward fan conversations so I think I'd probably do us both a favor and skip it! I read Lord of the Flies in high school and remember little about it and read Gentleman in Moscow a few years ago and loved it! The genealogy conference sounds amazing and how wonderful to have such a connection to the area. Somehow I came from branches from multiple families that just couldn't stay still and somehow all ended up together in just the right time so I don't really have a deep connection to anywhere though I frequently think of how my ancestors traveled when I'm traveling.

  16. Totally off-topic, but I read on your "about me" that you cross stitch! I am an avid stitcher, myself! Do you post your progress/work on Instagram? There's a very large, very supportive stitching network there. Here's my link, if you want to visit; you can see who I follow and look at everyone's amazing work!

  17. Glad you had a good time at RootsTech. I thought about going, but didn't feel like I could miss work. And I went to BYU, too! It's a very small world. :D

  18. I agree that Furia is the author's best; I really enjoyed it. I also liked (but didn't love) Gentleman in Moscow, and I remember loving Wild Swans when I read it years and years ago. Great list and good luck with the bookstore reading challenge.

  19. Thanks so much for visiting my website last week! I really appreciate this and I'm glad you had a fun trip. :)

  20. Very great spin on the topic! Your selfie is not terrible at all! You also don't have crazy eyes in that selfie, despite you being tired. I know how harsh I can be though when I take selfies so I understand that. I hope your trip was great! I still need to read Furia. I was supposed to read it a looooooong time ago.


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