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6 Recommendations for the What’s in a Name Challenge

For the 2024 What’s in a Name Reading Challenge, we’re tasked with reading at least one book for each of 6 categories. “Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!” Check out the books we’ve personally read and loved that will fit this challenge.

1. Double letters, Titles for this category need to include two of the same letter next to each other (back to back) in at least one word of the title.

Uprooted, Naomi Novik

Uprooted (Book)

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

Author Name

What an amazingly unique, deep, magical, beautifully written book! The World building in Uprooted is so thorough that I wanted to submerse myself in it every chance I got. It has a fairy-tale feel to make it a smart but whimsical story. I loved this through and through.

2. An NFL team. Titles for this category need to include a team name in the title.

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

Team: Chicago Bears (American football).

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind. She spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

The author of The Bear & the Nightingale manages to tell a rich, detailed story with an intricate and fast moving plot, and characters that you will love and despise. The characters feel so real, and I went through all the emotions with them – the heartbreak when Vasilia’s father lost his wife – the gruff way that women were treated – ugh! – the love the family felt for each other – and the mistrust of the villagers and most people for anything “too magical”. I’m looking forward to reading more by the author.

3. A Natural Disaster. Titles for this category need to include a natural disaster.

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Mia Warren is an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

I went back and forth with this book so many times – from starting it as an audiobook and then putting it down … and then picking up the hardcover … reading that for a while, and then switching back to audio. I’m glad I kept going though because I ended up loving the story and familial drama in Little Fires Everywhere – the simple yet complicated lives that could be playing out right now in any town. Little Fires Everywhere has also been made into a TV series streaming on Hulu and this is one case where I think the on screen version is just as good as the book.

4. A virtue. Titles for this category need to include a virtue like the 4 natural virtues, Christianity’s 7 virtues, Ben Franklin’s 13, Aristotle’s 12, Confucian ethics, etc.

Silence for the Dead, Simone St. James

(Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues includes Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation)

In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms.

St. James delivers a creepy, atmospheric setting with Silence for the Dead, by giving us a story that’s just a perfect periodic piece with intrigue, a creepy setting and ghostly vibes. It’s also a story of hope and loss and desperation. I could feel how Kitty longed for better, often times felt boxed into a corner and like she wasn’t good enough.

5. A shape

Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill

Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

Author Name

Heart-Shaped Box is full of tension and mystery and the plot will pull you along – making you want to figure out what the hell is happening – and whats going to happen.

6. Footwear

The Shoemaker’s Wife, Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker’s Wife, Adriana Trigiani is an epic love story. It follows Ciro and Enza from their chance meetings when they were kids growing up in Italy, to when they met again and again as adults who had emigrated to NY, eventually falling in love and building a life together. This a deep, detailed, wonderful journey, rich in history, sometimes sad, but always … always beautiful.

Are you participating in this challenge? Have you read any of the books mentioned?

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