The Reading Women Challenge TBR


Hello! Another post, another reading challenge. I actually originally didn’t set out to do this one but I saw Jean at Jean Bookishthoughts doing a TBR video for it and thought it sounded like something I would quite like to get on board with. Obviously I was intent on attempting to destroy my procrastinating self with major challenges.

It’s created by Reading Women, who run a book podcast, and runs from January 1 to December 31 even though I’m starting it just under a month late.

There’s 24 prompts, as well as two extra ones if you want to read 26, and has a range of different ideas, which you can either read all of them, or just the ones you want to.

I am unfortunately not going for them all, but almost all, because there was a few that I knew I just wouldn’t be into (sports and science). The only other rule is that the books have to be either written by a female or about a female. I’ve only picked novels that were written by women, just to make my life harder, and I tried where I could to pick ones from my shelves, or ones I could get from the library. I’ll let you know where each comes from in the post.

Here’s a list of the prompts I’ve chosen to undertake, as well as the book I’ll be reading for each and a short synopsis on what it’s about and how it fits the prompt. It’s a long one, so get yourself some tea!




Mystery/Thriller by a Woman of Colour

Choice: Out by Natsuo Kirino

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 400

Publish date: January 2005

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: A young mother working night shift making boxed lunches strangles her husband and then asks her co-workers to get rid of the body to essentially cover up her crime.


Susanna Kaysen

A book about a woman with a mental illness

Choice: Girl, Interrupted

Genre: Susanna Kaysen

Pages: 169

Publish date: April 1994

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: It’s the memoir of Susanna, who spent some time in a psychiatric hospital, and it’s a novel about her stay and the people she met. It’s one of my all time favourite films, and I have no idea why I haven’t read the book yet.



A book by an author from Nigeria or New Zealand

Choice: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 433

Publish date: September 2006

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: The story of three people who are living in the time where an independent republic in Nigeris is being established in the 1960s, and the violence that came afterwards.


A book about or set in Appalachia

Choice: The Dollmaker by Harriette Simpson Arnow

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 624

Publish date: April 2003

Where it came from: Library

Synopsis: The main character is uprooted from her life in Kentucky (Appalachia) and she moves to Detroit during wartime with her family, facing poverty.



A multigenerational family saga

Choice: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Genre: Historical Fiction (sensing a bit of a trend with the past few books!)

Pages: 320

Publish date: June 2016

Where it came from: Library

Synopsis: It follows two half-sisters who are born into different villages in 18th Century Ghana. One is married to an Englishman and lives her days in luxury, while the other is sold into the slave trade, and then follows their families in the generations after.



A play

Choice: Blasted by Sarah Kane

Genre: Drama

Pages: 64

Publish date: March 2001

Where it came from: Purchased

Synopsis: A middle-aged journalist falls obsessively in love with a younger woman who has to resist his advances as they hide in a hotel room in Leeds, while a war is going on outside. It’s meant to be highly controversial, as are all of her plays.



A novella

Choice: The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada

Genre: Science fiction

Pages: 138

Publish date: June 2018

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: An old man tells the story of a Tokyo before it was poisoned. At 100 years old, he doesn’t think he will die, whereas his young grandchild won’t make it to adulthood, as all of the young people are born sick and frail, which prompts him to try and find a cure.



A book featuring a religion other than your own

Choice: Educated by Tara Westover

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 334

Publish date: February 2018

Where it came from: Shelves (in the form of an ebook)

Synopsis: It’s a memoir. Tara tells about the story of her childhood growing up under a survivalist (in the general belief system of Mormons) father. It’s about how she educates herself and eventually ends up at university even though she had no formal schooling.



A Lambda Literary Award winner

Choice: Hunger by Roxanne Gay

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 320

Publish date: June 2017

Where it came from: Purchased

Synopsis: A memoir of her body, her relationship with food and weight and her experiences as a sexual assault victim.



A myth retelling

Choice: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 352

Publish date: September 2011

Where it came from: Library

Synopsis: A retelling of the Trojan War. It explores the relationship between Patroclus, a young prince, who is exiled to the court of King Peleus and his son Achilles, who takes the prince as his friend.



A translated book published before 1945

Choice: Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang

Genre: Short stories

Pages: 320

Publish date: September 1943

Where it came from: Bought

Synopsis: I haven’t read it yet so hard to tell, but this is what Goodreads says: “unsettled, probing, utterly contemporary sensibility, keenly alert to sexual politics and psychological ambiguity, with an intense lyricism that echoes the classics of Chinese literature”



A book written by a South Asian author

Choice: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (she’s from Karachi, Pakistan)

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Pages: 276

Publish date: August 2017

Where it came from: Library

Synopsis: Isma accepts an invitation from a mentor in America, but worries about her sister in London and their brother who has disappeared to appease his jihadist father he’s never known. A man comes on the scene, the son of a powerful political figure, which intertwines the two families and explores the sacrifices that people will make.



A book by an Indigenous woman

Choice: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 323

Publish date: October 2012

Where it came from: Library

Synopsis: It follows a boy who goes on the hunt for justice after his mum is raped on a North Dakota reservation. As you can tell, I know very little about this book!


All the names

A book from the 2018 Reading Women Award shortlist

Choice: All The Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva

Genre: Short stories

Pages: 272

Publish date: February 2018

Where it came from: Bought

Synopsis: A range of nine different short stories, all with a central theme of a character struggling with something. They’re all very different and range from a woman who gets stuck in a cave to a man changed by an explosion at work to a date which takes a dark turn.


Normal People

A romance or love story

Choice: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 266

Publish date: August 2018

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: Two people grow up in the same town and go to study at the same university in Dublin where they form a connection.



A book about nature

Choice: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Genre: Contemporary fiction

Pages: 444

Publish date: October 2001

Where it came from: Library

Synopsis: It’s three stories intertwined about people living in small farms in Appalachia (even though I’m not using this book as my Appalachia book!) The synopsis on Goodreads also says “over the course of one humid summer, these characters find their connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with whom they share a place.” If that doesn’t scream nature then I don’t know what does.



A historical fiction book

Choice: The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

Genre: Historical Fiction (obviously)

Pages: 256

Publish date: May 2017

Where it came from: Shelves – It was my blind date with a book from last year and I still haven’t read it!

Synopsis: It’s about fires that begin in Maine, leaving a pregnant woman without her volunteer firefighting husband. She is with her best friend when all the houses burn to the ground and they are forced to the coast/ocean, with no money, no assets and no idea if their husbands are still alive.


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A book you bought or borrowed in 2019

Choice: Pure by Rose Bretecher

Genre: Non-fiction

Pages: 266

Publish date: September 2015 / Republished January 2019

Where it came from: Bought early on in the month before I realised I was doing this challenge!

Synopsis: It’s a memoir about Rose’s life living with Pure OCD, which results in sexual visions. It follows her dealing with that, and going through therapy and acceptance.



A book you picked up because of the cover

Choice: House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 400

Publish date: June 2018

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: It’s set in Zimbabwe when the family’s son goes missing. The family’s lodger seems to be the last hope to find him, when he begins entangling himself in the family history.



Any book from a series

Choice: Vengeful by V.E Schwab

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 575

Publish date: September 2018

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: I don’t really want to give much away because this is the second book in a series but basically it follows on from the first book, Vicious. It follows the Extraordinary beings (EOs) that we met in the first book, while adding some new badass characters. Not usually the biggest fantasy fan, but I was a big fan of Vicious.



A young adult book by a woman of colour

Choice: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Genre: Young adult

Pages: 444

Publish date: February 2017

Where it came from: Shelves

Synopsis: Everyone seems to have read this before, so it probably needs next to no introduction. A girl called Starr’s childhood best friend is killed by the police in an act of police brutality, which makes the national news. I don’t actually know much more than that, but it’s SUPER popular and really well received.



A book by Jesmyn Ward

Choice: Where The Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward

Genre: Literary fiction

Pages: 230

Publish date: November 2008

Where it came from: Library

Synopsis: It follows twins who graduate from high school and try to find jobs. They go in very different directions when concern fractures their relationship. Their dad, who has long been absent, reappears, forcing them to face up to their situation.


And we’re done! That’s all the books I plan on reading throughout the year for the challenge. I’ll update you as I go along in my wrap ups with what was for the challenge and what wasn’t. I’m trying to get a fair few of them out of the way now, so you should see quite a lot of them in the future!

Let me know if you’re doing the challenge, and any of the books you’ve read from the list and enjoyed!


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