Announcing Book Bingo 2019

Welcome to Book Bingo 2019!

It’s our fifth annual Book Bingo event, and we’re so glad you’re here.

Once again, my collaborators and I have pondered categories and themes for the annual bingo card, and we realized we have several categories relating to fire and rebirth… so we’ve got a fiery theme and a hidden Phoenix this year.

Big thanks to the two people who make this possible:

My dear friend, who conspires with me all year long to develop this list of categories. So much fun.

The Dear Man, who goes into his office and then says, “Do you have a minute?” and shows me the most gorgeous design that captures every aspect we wanted (and then a little bit more). I love this.

How to Play

  • Read a book that fits the category. Each book can qualify for only one category.
  • Complete just one row or column, or go for blackout by reading a book in every category.
  • All books must be finished in 2019. Books started in 2018 but finished in 2019 count.
  • We’ve provided some definitions, but you can free-style it if you like—as long as you can make a case that the book fits the category.
  • All categories can be fiction or nonfiction (your choice), unless otherwise specified.

About the Categories

Edgar Award: First Novel – A mystery that was nominated for — or won — the Edgar Allan Poe Award for First Novel

Heroine –Strong female voice: author, character, or subject

Palate cleanser – A book that refreshes and balances out what you’ve read lately     

Genre-bending – A book that plays with genre — it might break the rules or be categorized in more than one genre

Gen X author – A book written by an author born between 1961 and 1981

Odd couple – A book about an unusual pairing

Classic I’ve never read –A book that’s stood the test of time

Pushing boundaries  –A book that challenges your worldview or awareness. Or a book whose pioneering character or author breaks new ground.

Explore  – A book that takes you or the character to a new place

Place Name – A book with a place name in its title (examples: Looking for Alaska. Or Alaska by Michener)

Life hack –A book with a shortcut that makes makes your life (or a character’s life) easier

Unbelievable – Nonfiction that’s stranger than fiction, or a novel whose premise you’re not buying

Green – A book with a green cover, or a book about nature, money, envy, or any other green thing

Fire –Literal fire, passion, or something burning within

Birth– The beginning or a fresh start

Romantic –Idealistic or passionate

Language –A book with a distinctive voice or a book in translation

LGBTQ –A book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ

Novelty Book –A book structured in an unorthodox way

South Pacific – A book set in, or written by, an author from the South Pacific

Folktale –A story incorporating elements of a myth, legend, or fable

Map –A book about a journey, a guide to self-discovery, or simply a book with a map in it

Deep Dive – An investigative, immersive reading experience

Unruly Woman –A book about a woman who breaks out of the mold

Lost & Found – A story of rebirth or redefining a sense of self

To Sign Up…

Add your blog name & URL in the Comments. Easy as that.

Questions? Answers!

If you have any questions about any of the categories, ask your question in the Comments, and I promise to respond.


Printable bingo card

Book bloggers — we keep meeting!*

Book bloggers, y’all are my people. And I’m super lucky to live near some remarkable, creative, quick-witted, and funny bloggers, and sometimes we get together IRL. It’s pretty terrific.

Last weekend, I invited Julie and Katie and Marisa to Casa Unruly for our second reunion.

I simply adore these ladies.

We talked for hours and hours and hours, and we feasted on good things, and the time flew by.

The menu… Sweet peppers and hummus (thanks, Marisa!), followed by the frittata that didn’t want to cook, accompanied by Julz’s amazing fruit salad (balsamic vinegar is the secret ingredient), and then raspberry cake, which Katie brought from The Nice Bakery.

super fancy bakery cake

And Marisa brought tulips, and that made the table look lovely.


The talking… The big news is that our Katie’s expecting!**

I know!!!! Totally exciting news!!! She’s gonna be the best mom.


And then, of course, we discussed Blizzards and genealogy and DNA. And Julie described her typewriter ribbon quest — the woman seriously is taking the typewriter to a whole new level, and I’m in awe. And Katie served as our personal gardening guru.


The books… we all read different things, but there’s some interesting overlap. We talked about The Underground Railroad and Homegoing and Commonwealth.

And Marisa raved about Lincoln in the Bardo on audio (all those narrators!) And she talked about The Mothers by Brit Bennett and I tried to decide where to rank it on my TBR. Still deliberating on that one…  (If you’ve got an opinion, let me know!)



*Hamilton Easter egg!



**this one’s for you, my favorite rapping blogger!


Week 4 of #riotgrams

The February #riotgrams challenge has wrapped up, and I gotta say: it stretched me outside my comfort zone. And that’s always a good thing.


Here’s the unruly Week 4…

Make a Bookface


Funny Books


Rainbow Book Stack


Favorite Quote


Most Badass Heroine




Bookish Confession: my cookbooks are sorely neglected


If you played along at home, which category of #riotgrams was your favorite?

Week 3 of #riotgrams

#riotgrams rages on! We’re in Week 3, my friends.

It’s my first Instagram challenge, and it’s causing me to scurry around my house, rounding up books for photo ops. And then re-shelving them like the good little librarian I am.


Here’s the haul for Week 3…


Books & Treats: Book club snacks!

Bookmark: circa 1980. One of my favorites ever. Maybe my most favorite ever. It’s a READING HAMSTER!!


Freebie! Thanks to Bybee of Blue-Hearted Bookworm for the excellent book mail.


Something Pretty: covers I really like


Great Dedication: from “Rise: How a House Built a Family by Cara Brookins


Favorite Cover: because man I love this book

Cool Spines: cuz photos of the subject at the top of the spine. I LOVE THAT.


Week 2 of #riotgrams

OK, good people… Week 2 of #riotgrams on Instagram!

Here’s what we’ve got goin’ on for February 7-14.

What I learned:

  • I own only one graphic novel, and it’s Maus, which I continue to marvel at.
  • I own only two books with pink covers, and they’re both children’s books.
  • I own only one kissing book.
  • I’m wishing there were a category like “Tragedy” or “War” or “History,” cuz I could rock those categories.
  • (Is there something wrong with me?)


Black History


Author Who Shares My Name




Favorite Children’s Book




Pink Covers


Kissing Book

Week 1 of #riotgrams

Our friends over at Bookriot are hosting a month-long Instagram challenge, and I’m IN.

Here’s the daily #riotgrams challenge list…



And here are my photos for February 1-7…



Where I Read


One Word Title


Favorite Villain


Bookish Goods


Current Read


My Local Library


Anyone else playing along? If so, what’s your Instagram handle, so we can check out your #riotgrams this month?

What’s obsessing me in this week’s book news

(photo credit: JD Lasica, Flickr)
OK, so we’re all compulsively watching the Olympics, right? 
And so… you might’ve seen Anthony Ervin, co-author of the spectacular book Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian (a book I loved so much I could hardly stand it), win the gold medal (the gold medal!!) in the 50m freestyle. 
In case you missed it, here’s the replay

And now his publisher is going back to press with his book. So there’s all kinds of good news there, guys. 

And then, carrying on the Olympics theme… PBS did one of those freaky-good documentaries like they do… and this time it’s about The Boys in the Boat. The documentary’s called The Boys of ’36. I watched it and liked it so much I’m yearning to re-read the book
Meanwhile, the President is doing summer reading, and the White House has released his book list. (I love it when this happens.) And his list is pretty darn good and even includes the amazing new novel by Colson Whitehead.

And then I saw this article about tons of self-improvement books, each described in a single sentence. And so, of course, that had me all blissed out. 

All of which has me thinking: This was one of the best book news weeks in recent history. 

The most bookish cities in America

Their #3 is my #1 city

Who doesn’t like a good list? And if you’re hanging out here, then you also like a good book. 

So when there’s a list of the 20 most well-read cities… I don’t know about you, but I sure get excited. 

My only quarrel: it’s based on Amazon sales, which completely neglects to factor in library use. And some of us are huge library users!

(In Amazon’s calculations, I’m a reading lightweight!)

But anyway. That’s what this list is about, and we’re gonna roll with it. 

So in this Amazon sales contest, Seattle’s the winner, but my all-time favorite city comes in a highly respectable 3rd. 

Then I started thinking of cities that are literary because of their culture, rather than just their online book-buying habits, and I found this article, which lists the top literary cities in America

And this list, I liked even better. It’s even got Iowa on it! The literary cities list looks like a great list of travel destinations. 

What’s your favorite literary city?

My boxcar days

Hello! to my hardcover children’s classics

Anyone else old-school enough in their childhood reading, that they were completely obsessed by The Boxcar Chidren

Yeah, me, too.

I still think about that book sometimes — how the children were so resilient and hardworking and honest and kind and cheerful. 

They made do, with so little! And they liked it!

It feeds that part of me that keeps reading all the self-improvement books

(I know: annoying and sickeningly earnest.)

So when I saw this headline, I got super excited: 
“The Boxcar Children” and the Spirit of Capitalism

It’s an article in the New Yorker by Jia Tolentino, and it explores the Puritanical work ethic stuff in the book. 

And the inevitable happy ending. 

Pretty darn fascinating. 

I was a little afraid the article would rip the book to shreds, which I don’t think it does. It’s a critique, but an intriguing, fair-minded one. 

And it goes gently on the way the book led into a mystery series about the same children. I loved, loved, loved those mysteries, even though I knew they were kind of a strange spin-off from the original book with its old-fashioned notions. Suddenly, the kids are solving crimes

But heck. I’m still a sucker for a good mystery.

Anyone else a Boxcar Children fan? Original book or series… or both?