Every year, The 52 Book Club offers a reading challenge, which I like to think of as a scavenger hunt for readers. Since this is, after all, the launch of our new book blog, we at Page and Prose decided to challenge ourselves with this year’s list, with the goal of completing all items before December 31, 2021.


Here’s the thing, though — it is already mid-year of 2021, and we have already read quite a few books!


So here’s how we are going to proceed:

  • Hailey and I will include the full list of 52 prompts below.
  • We will add our answers for the items that we’ve already checked off between January 1, 2021 and the present date.
  • As the year unfolds, we will keep adding our answers to this blog post.
  • BOTH of us will be doing this, mind you – Hailey’s listed books will not be the same as my listed books, because where is the fun in that?


Additional ground rules:

  • We are not counting any of the books we reread within this calendar year. Hailey and I reread books a lot, so it would be an unfair advantage on our part.
  • We are also not counting books that we end up DNFing, because obviously.
  • On the other hand, we are both allowed to interpret questions as creatively as we like. If we can defend how a book fits one of the prompts, it counts!
  • If either of us fails to complete the challenge…hmm…I will have to come up with a Dire Consequence. Stay tuned!

Lastly, be aware that these are not necessarily books we loved, or even books that we would recommend. We may not be posting a full review for each of the books below, but we’ll try to steer readers away from any truly egregious books.


Now, without further ado, these are our responses for the 2021 Reading Challenge:


  1. 🏫 Set in a school
    • Wilder Girls, by Rory Power – H
    • The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes. Newbury Award-winning children’s novel about bullying and discrimination among schoolgirls in the mid-1900s. – S
  2. βš– Featuring the legal profession
    • Under the Whispering Door, by T.J. Klune (Wallace was a workaholic lawyer before his death.) – H
    • Boyfriend Material, by Alexis Hall (by virtue of Oliver’s job!). – S
  3. πŸ”€ A dual timeline
    • The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner – H
    • The Dragon and the Pearl, by Jeannie Lin – S
  4. πŸ•― An author that is deceased
    • The Patriotic Murders, by Agatha Christie – H
    • The Golden Rendezvous, by Alistair Maclean – S
  5. 🐧 Published by Penguin
    • The Ordinary Princess, by M. M. Kaye – S
  6. πŸ‘¦πŸΎ A character with the same name as a male family member
    • Wendy, Darling, by A.C. Wise – H
    • Shadow of the Moon, by M. M. Kaye. Side note, but I have to say: this is a very weird category. – S
  7. πŸ₯‡ An author with only 1 published book
    • A Million Things, by Emily Spurr – H
    • Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston. Okay, soooo I will admit that McQuiston has another book set to be published within 2021. HOWEVER, when I read her book earlier this year, she was still technically an author with only one published book. – S
  8. πŸ—Ί A book in the 900’s of the Dewey Decimal System
    • My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor PhD. (920.936219681) – H
  9. β›΅ Set in a Mediterranean country
    • Circe, by Madeline Miller. – H (Hailey and I both found this one egregious, by the way.)
    • Death in Cyprus, by M. M. Kaye. – S
  10. πŸ”₯ Related to the word “fire”
    • Daughters of Smoke and Fire, by Ava Homa – H
    • Aurora Blazing, by Jessie Mihalik. (Book 2 of 3) – S
  11. ❓ Book with discussion questions inside
    • Vox, by Christina Dalcher – H
    • Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, by Alexis Hall. – S
  12. D Title starting with the letter “D”
    • Damsel, by Elana K. Arnold – H
    • Death in Kenya, by M. M. Kaye. – S
  13. πŸ¦„ Includes an exotic animal
    • Crown of Thunder, by Tochi Onyebuchi (I mean they are animals made from peoples sins, but they’re still lions and tigers and bears, oh my!)
    • Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon (aka T. Kingfisher). A dragon-donkey counts, right? Talking bats? Clockwork bees? Then we’re good. – S
  14. πŸ§“ Written by an author over 65 (when published)
    • Turning Point, by Jeffery Deaver (Published when the author was 71 years old) – H
    • The Far Pavilions, by M. M. Kaye. The author was 70(!) when this book was published. – S
  15. πŸ“‘ A book mentioned in another book
    • Fierce Fairytales, by Nikita Gill (Ok so look, the Official 52 Book Club Goodreads group says this prompt is very open to interpretation and if a book is inspired by another book it can count. So yes, I’m stretching it here but this book is based on almost every other fairytale book so I’m counting it.) – H
    • The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. Like all of Shakespeare’s works, it has been referenced in a ton of books. However, just to provide some specific citations: see This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart, and Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie. – S
  16. ⏳ Set before the 17th Century
    • The Language of Fire, by Stephanie Hamphill – H
    • Avalon, by Anya Seton. The novel is set in 10th century England, amid Viking attacks and political upheaval. – S
  17. πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ A character “on the run”
    • Lore, by Alexandra Bracken. – H
    • Polaris Rising, by Jessie Mihalik. (Book 1 of 3) – S
  18. πŸ–‹ Author with a 9-letter last name
    • Beasts Made of Night, by Tochi Onyebuchi – H
    • A Stitch in Time, by Kelley Armstrong – S
  19. πŸ“š Book with a deckled edge
    • Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots
  20. πŸ“Ί Made into a TV series
    • Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo – H
    • The Last Kingdom, by Bernard Cornwell, was made into a TV show of the same name in 2015. – S
  21. πŸ“• Book by Kristin Hannah
    • Comfort and Joy, by Kristen Hannah (duh). Not gonna lie, I specifically chose a shorter novella because I was wary about whether I would like this author. – S
  22. πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘¦ A family saga
    • The House of Broken Angels, by Luis Alberto Urrea – H
    • Meg & Jo, by Virginia Kantra. In fact, it is a modern retelling of Little Women! – S
  23. 😱 An ending that surprises you
    • The Maidens, by Alex Michaelides – H
    • Fortune’s Pawn, by Rachel Bach. In this case, not a compliment! The ending took an abrupt left turn into Where’dthatcomefrom County. – S
  24. πŸ““ A book you think they should read in schools
    • The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune (A beautiful story that also tackles issues like bullying, isolation, anxiety, embracing what makes you special and finding family) – H
    • The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. I mean, all Neil Gaiman books should be read in schools, but this one is so philosophical and also gruesome! I think both the teachers and kids would really enjoy analyzing it. – S
  25.  πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸ€β€πŸ‘©πŸ» A book with multiple character POV[s]
    • Girl, 11, by Amy Suiter Clarke (Told from the perspective of a crime investigator and the murderer she is hunting, with podcast transcripts interspersed throughout.) – H
    • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. The perspective shifts between the members of a a Firefly-esque crew of misfits. – S
  26. πŸ‘An author of colo[u]r
    • Sorrowland, by Rivers Solomon – H
    • Butterfly Swords, by Jeannie Lin – S
  27. πŸ—“ First chapter ends on an odd page number
    • The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, by Dawnie Walton – H
    • Clockwork Boys, by T. Kingfisher – S
  28. πŸ“œ Includes a historical event you know little about
    • Blood, Water, Paint, by Joy McCullough. (This book is written in verse and centres around renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi and the landmark case she brought to court against her rapist, Agostino Tassi.) – H
    • The Mistletoe and the Sword, by Anya Seton. Set during the Roman occupation of Britain, during the 60 BCE uprising led by the Iceni queen Boadicea. – S
  29. 🌏 Featuring the environment
    • Three Bags Full, by Leonie Swann (A flock of sheep try to solve their shepherd’s murder while protecting their pasture. My mom has been telling me to read this book for years and it’s such an adorably quirky read. Thanks Mamma!) – H
    • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik. The book is set in a medieval, magical world in which eternal winter and eternal summer are both active dangers. And I know, I know, I was very late to the party. – S
  30. πŸ‰ Watch out for dragons! (Safiyya’s commentary: there will be no dragon slander under this roof. Dragons are lovely and wise creatures.)
    • Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bargugo (There’s an ice wyrm, it counts. I actually read several other books with dragons but they ended up being used for different prompts.) – H
    • His Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik. TEMERAIRE FOREVER! – S
  31. πŸ“Š Shares a similar title to another book
    • The End of Men, by Christina Sweeney-Baird. (There are two other books with the same title!) – H
    • The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman. Note the deliberate resemblance to Agatha Christie’s The Tuesday Club Murders! – S
  32. 😈 A selfish character
    • The Space Between Two Deaths, by Jamie Yourdon. (It would be challenging to find a character in this book who isn’t selfish!) – H
    • Minor Mage, by T. Kingfisher. Not the main character, mind you, but several of the people around poor Oliver! – S
  33. πŸ‘Ά Featuring adoption
    • Ordeal by Innocence, by Agatha Christie. – H
    • Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright. – S
  34. 🌟 A book you’d rate 5 stars
    • The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother), by David Levithan – H
    • The Witch’s Heart, by Genevieve Gornichec. – S
  35. S Set in a country that starts with the letter “S”
    • The Good Son, by You-Jeong Jeong (Takes place in South Korea) – H
    • Ransom, by Julie Garwood (Takes place in then-independent 13th century Scotland) – S
  36. πŸ—£ A nameless narrator
    • The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast, by Samantha M. Clark – H
    • A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine. There are technically multiple POVs, but parts of the book do feature a nameless narrator. – S
  37. 🀯 An educational read
    • Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen – H
    • Pillars of Light, by Jane Johnson. Set in the city of Acre (modern-day Israel), during the 1189-1191 siege. – S
  38. πŸ‘‰ Recommended on BookBub
    • The Six, by Anni Taylor – H
    • The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullogh. This one IS egregious, so I would not recommend it; between the racism, and the sexism, and the creepy undertones….just no. – S
  39. πŸŒ— An alternate history novel
    • The Lights of Prague, by Nicole Jarvis. (Set in an alternate version of 19th century Prague, where creatures from folklore roam the streets at night.) – H
    • A Song for Arbonne, by Guy Gavriel Kay. Set in an alternate universe that closely parallels our world’s history, specifically regarding the war between northern medieval France and Provence. – S
  40. πŸ” Found via #bookstagram
    • Empire of Wild, by Cherie Dimaline – H
    • Scandal in Babylon, by Barbara Hambly – S
  41. πŸ‘ An endorsement by a famous author on the cover
    • Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. My edition has an endorsement by Philip Pullman – H
    • The Siren Depths, by Martha Wells. One of the later publications has an endorsement by N. K. Jemison. – S
  42. πŸ“ An epistolary
    • The Reincarnationist Papers, by D. Eric Maikranz (Audiobook format) – H
    • Dear Aaron, by Mariana Zapata – S
  43. 😺 A character with a pet cat
    • The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides (It’s a side character, but they have a lot of cats so it balances haha.) – H
    • A Twist of Fate, by Kelley Armstrong. If you’ve read it, you’ll know that the cat gets to have an Important Role! – S
  44. 🌷 Includes a garden
    • The Phone Booth at the End of the World, by Laura Imai Messina. – H
    • A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas. – S
  45. πŸŽ“ A coming of age novel
    • The Bone Houses, by Emily Lloyd Jones – H
    • Chaos Reigning, by Jessie Mihalik. (Book 3 of 3) – S
  46. πŸ† Winner of the National Book Award — any year
    • Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. – S
  47. β™Ώ A character with a disability
    • The Book of Baku, by R.L. Boyle. (The main character, Sean, was born with arthrogryposis.) – H
    • Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbert. The titular Chloe Brown has fibromyalgia, which causes her significant problems including chronic pain. – S
  48. πŸ‘ΈπŸΎ A cover with a woman who is facing away
    • Her Last Breath, by Hilary Davidson – H
    • Tightrope, by Amanda Quick – S
  49. πŸ˜‹ A flavour in the title
    • The Sugared Game, by K. J. Charles. – S
  50. πŸ‘  A shoe on the cover
    • Aster of Pan, by Merwen (There’s a lot going on, however, the main character is standing there in boots… No one said how prominent the shoes had to be!) – H
    • White Boots, by Noel Streatfeild (albeit, there is a girl standing in said shoes). – S
  51. πŸ“… Published in 2021
    • All the Murmuring Bones, by Angela Slatter. – H
    • Winter’s Orbit, by Everina Maxwell. – S
  52. β™» Re-do one of the previous 51 categories from this 2021 challenge
    • (#51: Published in 2021) Skyward Inn, Aliya Whiteley – H
    • (#45: Coming-of-Age) Trading Danger, by Elizabeth Moon. – S


PS: Reader, feel free to play along with this challenge. Let us know what you are reading in the comments, or by email! Let us know of creative ways you would complete one of the prompts, or what you think of some of the books we ended up reading!


3 thoughts on “The 52 Book Club: 2021 Reading Challenge

Leave a Reply