Announcing Book Bingo 2020

Welcome to Book Bingo 2020!

It’s our 6th year of producing a bookish bingo card, and every year the best part is that more people are joining in the fun.  

The Theme

This year’s bingo card has a calendar theme, thanks to my dear friend and bingo collaborator, who suggested it. 

So you’ll find the names of months in ghosted text, and the categories on the card are arranged strategically so they can carry us through the seasons of the year. We start out with Icy (for winter), then move to Longing (for spring), then a Road Trip (for summer), and finally Horror (for fall). Every category on the card is placed in its spot for a seasonal reason. 

I won’t be reading books in category order, but if you’re looking for an added level of challenge, you could attempt to read through the year by category — to fully experience the seasonal tone we’ve built in. If you try this, please let me know how it goes!

The Gratitude

Book Bingo is possible because of two of my most favorite people on earth:

  • My dear friend, who loves bingo category creation every bit as much as I do (so much that she created an amazing spreadsheet this year to help us with the planning process; there are few things more pleasing than a good spreadsheet).
  • The Dear Man, who creates the beautiful design of each year’s book bingo card. I love the work that comes out of our home graphic design office. Every year: happiness.

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 2020. Books started in 2019 but finished in 2020 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.

The Categories

Icy – A book that takes place in snowy winter, a story featuring a cold-hearted character, or a chilling tale

Landscape – A book whose setting is vital to the story 

Novella – Shorter than a novel, but longer than a short story

Harlem Renaissance – A book written by a Harlem Renaissance author 

Longing – A story filled with yearning, desire, or wistfulness 

Lies & Deception – A book with lies, so many lies. Or a book that deceived you.

Expectations – A story of fulfilled or thwarted expectations, or a book that failed to meet your expectations 

Underdog – A book about a character who defies the odds

Personal Growth – Self-improvement: pragmatically or spiritually

Long Haired Author – A book by an author who has (or had) long hair

A Friend’s Suggestion – Ask a friend what you should read next

Podcast – Listen to a serial podcast or read a book written by a podcaster

Carnegie Medal Nominee – A book nominated for the Carnegie Medal

Modern Classic – A contemporary book that will stand the test of time

Road Trip – Wanderlust, restlessness, desperation, quest? A book with a road trip in it

Olympic Sport – A book with a character who participates (at any level) in a sport featured in the Olympics

Checklist – A book you’re checking off your list, or a book containing a checklist for a better life

South America – A book written by a South American author or a book that takes place in South America

Back to School – A story with a school setting

Love – A book that illustrates love 

Native American – A character or an author who is Native American

Horror – A story that inspires a feeling of dread

Political – Election year! Read something political

Memoir – A nonfiction personal account based on the author’s experience

Indulge – The hot fudge of reading: all pleasure, no virtue

To Sign Up...

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

Printable Book Bingo Card

Questions? Answers!

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

Now let’s get out there and Bingo!

What I’ve been reading: November 2019

November’s been a busy month around here: we added shelves to our home library (stay tuned for more on that) and worked on some other projects. And we did some reading.

Here’s a recap of the books I finished this month…  

Bingeworthy British Television: The Best Brit TV You Can’t Stop Watching by Sarah Cords and Jackie Bailey

3 words: enthusiastic, lively, knowledgeable

Give this book a whirl if you like… British television series, lively writing style, finding TV series similar to your favorites, a warm tone

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

3 words: engaging, rollicking, evocative

Give this book a whirl if you like… tales of rambunctious childhood, storytelling, American classics, childhood classics for adults


Coraline by Neil Gaiman

3 words: menacing, clever, pageturner

Give this book a whirl if you like… scary tales of childhood; creepy, dreamlike worlds; the menacing world of one’s own home 


Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

3 words: creative, thought-provoking, sad/funny

Give this book a whirl if you like… memoirs in graphic novel form; smart, sad, funny memoirs; #ownvoices; a look at race and ethnicity through personal experience; stories told through conversations with a child, parents, a spouse, and friends


Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts by Brene Brown

3 words: direct, conversational, empathic

Give this book a whirl if you like… straight talk, the challenge to be one’s best self at work, strategies for becoming a better person and a better leader


Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

3 words: endearing, heartfelt, wise

Give this book a whirl if you like… charming graphic novels, a stranger in a strange land, mysteries of humanity, self-improvement books in disguise


Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

3 words: inspiring, conversational, practical

Give this book a whirl if you like… creativity, where to find inspiration, how to develop one’s own creative style



What books were your favorites this month?

Great bookish gift ideas

It’s nearly the most wonderful time of the year, and that means gift-giving.

If you’ve got bookish people on your list, I’ve got you covered.

Here are some of the best book-related gifts I’ve received or craved… 

Comfy cardigan

The gift I never knew I needed… and now I can’t live without it.

A few Christmases ago, the Dear Man gave me this cardigan, and I wear it nearly every night while reading in bed.

It’s big and slouchy and cozy.

Where to buy:

Similar cardigan available at Eddie Bauer

Add Your Heading Text Here


Super snuggly slippers are a must if you live in a cold climate.

Another perfect Christmas gift from the Dear Man.

Where to buy:

Similar slippers available at Pottery Barn


Another essential element to the cozy reading scene… the super soft throw.

I love this one because:

  • buffalo plaid
  • so snuggly soft

Where to buy:

Pottery Barn

Banned books scarf

I love my banned books scarf and wear it way more often than just Banned Books Week.

Where to buy:

Uncommon Goods

Tote bag

My favorite new book bag and all-around tote.

It’s adorable and tough and made of wool.

Where to buy:

The Big Lake

Giant clothes pin

When reading a huge book like Middlemarch, sometimes you need a helping hand to keep the thing open.

Some like the book weight, but I prefer the giant clothes pin.

I made this one in shop class in 7th grade, so it’s a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind item.   : )

Where to buy:

Similar giant clothes pin on Etsy

Sticky arrows

The perfect bookish stocking stuffer.

I carry these in my purse and have them on my bedside table, because you never know when you’ll need to mark the page of a perfect line or quote.

Where to buy:


What’s on your bookish gift-buying (or wish) list this year?

And what’s the best bookish gift you’ve received?

What I’ve been reading: October 2019

October: in with some sunshine, out with a snowstorm. It’s been a beautiful and wildly busy month, and my reading time feels like it’s been diminished. (Real life, you seriously can get in the way of my reading.)

This month has felt fiction-rich, which is somewhat unusual. Also strange: I read a true crime book. This only happens about once a decade, so: notable.

There also was a grim tone to several of the books I read in October, which maybe could be seen as seasonally appropriate.

Favorite of the month: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Her ability to weave a complex and believable story stuns me every time.

Here’s a look at October’s books…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

3 words: lyrical, moving, quietly suspenseful

Give this book a whirl if you like… stories of difficult childhoods, evocative swampy settings, solitude, mysteries that unfold slowly

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

3 words: haunting, investigative, deep dive

Give this book a whirl if you like… true crime blended with memoir, stories of obsessive research, scary true crime stories, author as part of the narrative

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

3 words: lyrical, impressionistic, nuanced

Give this book a whirl if you like… stories told through vignettes, African American family, #ownvoices, subtle character portraits, multiple generations of family dynamics, books that are short but powerful, teenage pregnancy

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

3 words: character-driven, engaging, family 

Give this book a whirl if you like… stories of family drama, house as a character, supportive siblings, evil stepmother, layers of meaning 

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

3 words: forboding, atmospheric, suspenseful

Give this book a whirl if you like… novels that alternate between past and present, family mysteries, sisterhood, small towns, northern Minnesota, family cabins, secrets from the past

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson et al

3 words: practical, encouraging, actionable

Give this book a whirl if you like… specific tactics for discussing difficult topics, ways to reframe stressful conversations

The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert

3 words: practical, insightful, straightforward

Give this book a whirl if you like… learning about copywriting, the psychology of marketing

Cozy White Cottage: 100 Ways to Love the Feeling of Being Home by Liz Marie Galvan

3 words: beautiful, practical, inspiring 

Give this book a whirl if you like… the rustic farmhouse look, tips for flea market buys, beautiful photos and a warm tone


What were your favorite books in October? And what are you looking forward to reading in November?

Books I can’t wait to read: fall 2019

Excited about the weeks and months ahead, because look at this hold list… So many great books I’m anticipating…


  • Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
  • The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  • Indistractable by Nir Eyal
  • Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg


What books are on your library holds list this fall?

What I’ve been reading: September 2019


Woohoo, it’s fall! We’ve pulled out the fall jackets, there are pumpkins adorning the house, and it’s getting pretty cozy around here.


This month’s reading stood out in some interesting ways: 

  • Personal finance reading (because I love it)
  • Rediscovering why some books get on my nerves (Malcolm Gladwell, I’m looking at you; and WWII historical fiction, I think we need a break)
  • A fantastic debut novel that I didn’t want to put down (The Most Fun We Ever Had is one of the best books I’ve read this year)


Here’s what my September reading life looked like…

The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

3 words: creative, riveting, classic

Give this book a whirl if you like… old-fashioned mysteries with a modern twist, first-person narratives from the Watson perspective, British mysteries, outsider’s perspective on crime-solving, layered stories, author as a characters in a novel

Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way by Tanja Hester

3 words: inspiring, practical, honest

Give this book a whirl if you like… Your Money or Your Life, planning for the freedom of financial independence, a roadmap to having the option to work less or retire early

Keeping House: Creating Spaces for Sanctuary and Celebration by Emma Bloomfield

3 words: pretty, browseable, useful

Give this book a whirl if you like… decorating books you can dip into, helpful tips for making a home more comfortable

The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You by Robert L. Leahy

3 words: practical, encouraging, thoughtful

Give this book a whirl if you like… learning how to manage anxiety, practical steps to reduce worry

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

3 words: absorbing, suspenseful, twisty

Give this book a whirl if you like… WWII espionage, women spies, researching a mystery from the past, betrayal 

(Confession: I read it primarily because I absolutely love the cover art)

This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick

3 words: personal, informative, domestic

Give this book a whirl if you like… practical tips for loving where you live, memoir/self-improvement books, author as a participant in the book’s activities

Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood and Renee Nauth

3 words: stark, dystopian, disturbing

Give this book a whirl if you like… dystopian novels, feminist fiction, graphic novel versions of novels

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

3 words: engaging, provocative, smooth

Give this book a whirl if you like… curious anecdotes, societal commentary, bite-sized pieces of information, readable writing

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

3 words: absorbing, character-focused, warm

Give this book a whirl if you like… big-hearted stories of family dysfunction, Chicagoland novels, sisterhood, parenting, stories of long and happy marriages


Anyone else read — or want to read — any of these? What were your favorites of September?

Banned Books Week: September 22-28


In honor of Banned Books Week this year, I’m reading a book that’s often been challenged — The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.


Actually, I’m reading the graphic novel version illustrated by Renee Nault (I’ve read the original novel twice already), in preparation for reading Atwood’s recently released sequel, The Testaments. (Did anyone else flip out with excitement when its pending publication announced?)


And I have to say, reading a book set in a dystopian society where women are prohibited from reading is:

a) Chilling as all heck

b) An ideal way to celebrate our freedom to read


To join me in celebrating our reading freedoms — and recognizing the perils that freedom faces — here are some Banned Books Week resources:


Which banned or challenged books are you reading this year? 

National Read a Book Day

Today is National Read a Book Day, and I’ll be spending it:

  • At the library 
  • At my annual eye appointment (vital maintenance for the reading life)
  • At home this evening, reading a book 

I’ll be picking up one (or a couple) of these beauties, which are all in progress at the moment…

What are your plans for today’s splendid holiday?

Book Bingo: still plenty of time


Book Bingo 2019… even if you haven’t started yet, there’s still plenty of time to finish a row.

We’re talking 5 books here.

We’ve got 4 months left in the year, so that’s just 1.25 books per month. Easy as pie, my friends.

And plus: as Gretchen Rubin says, September is the other January — a great time for starting a new project.

Here’s how to get started…

  1. Check out the Book Bingo card & instructions.
  2. Print the Book Bingo card if you want a copy to carry with you.
  3. If you’re a Facebook person, join our Book Bingo Blackout group & post your latest reads.
  4. Ask in the Comments if you have questions about — or would like suggestions for — any of the categories. I love that stuff.


All right… we’re off & reading!