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162: Unabridged Podcast’s 2021 Reading Challenges

Episode graphic: Episode 162: Reading Goals and Reading Challenges

In this episode of Unabridged, we talk about our reading challenge choices for 2021, including the Unabridged Reading Challenge that we're doing together and our personal choices for an additional reading challenge. We'd love for you to join us for the #unabridgedpodreadingchallenge this year—check out this page for everything you need to dive right in!

Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Randi Pink’s Angel of Greenwood (from Netgalley; check out her review here)

Jen - Ashley Schumacher’s Amelia Unabridged (thanks to NetGalley; check out her review here)

Sara - Colin Jost’s A Very Punchable Face

2021 Unabridged Reading Challenge

Want to get involved with our challenge? Check out this page for everything you need to know to get started with us!

Our Individual Reading Challenge Selections

Mentioned in Episode

Aiden Thomas's Cemetery Boys

Christopher Paolini's Eragon

Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give

Nicola Yoon's The Sun Is Also a Star

Fredrik Backman's Beartown and Anxious People

Rumaan Alam's Leave the World Behind

Give Me One - A Favorite Audiobook Narrator

Listen in to hear some of our favorite narrators, and be sure to let us know yours!

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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Bookish Check-in

book cover of Colin Jost's A Very Punchable Face

Sara said, "So I'm cheating a bit today because actually, I had a very good start to the year with my readings. I read several books, and I am reading a couple right now. But I just finished Collin Jost's A Very Punchable Face, and I just wanted to cheat and talk about it because I loved it so much. I listened to it on audio. So he reads it, and if you don't even follow Colin Jost, he is a head writer on SNL. And he also co hosts "Weekend Update" every week on Saturday Night Live (I realized that I should probably have not used that acronym). But he co hosts "Weekend Update," which is an iconic sketch on Saturday Night Live. The book is about his growing up on Staten Island. It's about his education and how he became a writer and what he did, and it is hilarious at times. But he has a chapter dedicated to his mom who works for the fire department in in in government as a doctor in New York City and about her involvement in helping during 9/11. And I mean, he has so much respect and love for his mom, and that story and what he said about her, I was sobbing. So I mean, there are all these highs and lows, and it is just a great book.

"I definitely think that you miss out on something if you don't listen to him read it and tell it in his own words, and I mean, he is very funny—I think you see that on Saturday Night Live—but him getting to put into words his story and then read it to the listener was a great experience. So that is Colin Jost's A Very Punchable Face, and I highly recommend it.

book cover of Ashley Schumacher's Amelia Unabridged

Jen said, "So it's funny that you cheated because I was almost going to cheat because I just finished a fairly mediocre book that I didn't want to talk about. And so I was going to go back—I'm going to say it anyway and say Aiden Thomas's Cemetery Boys is amazing. Both of you should read it because you will love it. But the book I'm actually going to talk about—I'm deciding not to cheat technically because I started this last night and almost couldn't go to bed because it was so compelling. So this is one I have thanks to NetGalley. It is Ashley Schumacher's Amelia Unabridged, which I did not pick because of the title, even though I think it's great.

"This is a YA novel. It opens when Amelia's father leaves with this really much younger woman who's basically Amelia's age, and she's really desolate and so she goes to the bookstore, and she's just hanging outside looking in, and this girl from her school who she doesn't know very well pops her head out and was like, "You need to come in here," and she does. They become best friends, and it flashes forward several years later, and they've been best friends. So Amelia's mom does not have a lot of money, but her friend Jenna's parents are wealthy. They really take Amelia under their wing: they pay for her to have a lot of opportunities that she wouldn't otherwise have. They're getting ready to start the summer before college, and Jenna's parents pay for them to go to this book festival.

"So other than Jenna, the thing that has gotten Amelia through not having a very involved mom and not having her dad around has been books, in particular, this series written by a guy who is around their age—it reminds me a lot of Eragon in the way it's described that it's this really young guy, and he's he's pretty reclusive. He doesn't go out into the public a lot, but he's supposed to be in this book festival. So they go to the book festival. (This is a little spoilery, but I've double checked and it's in the description. So I'm just going to say it.) They go to the book festival, and it turns out that while Amelia is in the bathroom, Jenna meets the author. He has an anxiety attack, and he leaves, and so Amelia does not get to see him. So Amelia and Jenna have this conflict. And then Jenna leaves on a trip, and while she is gone, Jenna dies in a car accident."

Check out Jen's full review here.

Book Cover of Randi Pink's Angel of Greenwood

Ashley shared, "Well, I just finished this one last night, and I still want to talk about it. I finished this one last night, and I am reading some other ones, but I absolutely loved this, and it's just coming out in January, so I wanted to take a chance to share about it because I think I haven't seen a whole lot of buzz about it yet. I just thought it was phenomenal. So for that reason, even though I finished last night, I do want to talk about it: Randi Pink's Angel of Greenwood. I got it thanks to NetGalley. This is a historical fiction young adult novel, and it centers on the Greenwood Massacre in 1921. outside of Tulsa. Greenwood is part of Tulsa, so it's often referred to as the Tulsa Massacre, but Greenwood is the part that burned. It is two young people, two teenagers. You get both of their perspectives. . . . I requested it because it's historical fiction, and I thought this was so important to talk about. I did not know about that massacre until well into my adult life. . . . Then I was appalled that I had not known, so I was excited to see that there is a young adult writer who's writing about this for teens, and doing it through historical fiction, which I think is a great way to educate about things that have happened, and so all of that was really appealing to me.

"But what I loved once I was reading the story is it in a lot of ways the story is about two young people who are coming of age and are falling in love, and that is what the story is about. But at the same time there is this, there's a sense of dread for the reader because you know that this is coming, not just because I knew that it was referring to that, but also because in the chapters, it's counting down to the event. So you know that this event is coming. So I thought that all of that was just masterfully handled that they did not know, and yet we did. So there's that feeling of foreboding, yet for them, their lives are blossoming, and these interesting things are happening, and they don't know that this atrocity is coming."

Check out Ashley's full review here.

Main Segment - Reading Challenges

graphic for Unabridged's 2021 Reading Challenge

Next, we shared information about the 2021 Unabridged Reading Challenge. You can find out more here.

Then, we each shared our individual reading challenges that we're setting as goals for ourselves.

Finally, we ended with our Give Me One segment and each shared a favorite audiobook narrator.


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