July TBR and Pop Culture Readathon!

Hi everyone,

We are halfway through the longest year in existence. After a terrible reading month in June, I decided to do a couple of things to whizz up my reading this month.

  1. I asked my partner to look through all the books on my TBR and pick 5 for me to read this month. This was so much fun: he enjoyed himself, less decision fatigue for me, it’s a win win! So much so, we decided do this again in a couple of months because it was great.
  2. Secondly, I decided to join in with the Pop Culture readathon! This readathon looks pretty much the most fun ever. This round is looking at 90s films, there’s bingo boards and lots and lots of nostalgic prompts to get me enthusiastic about reading.

So today I’m going to take you through my fucking excellent TBR for this month. Because seriously, looking at my bingo board with all the covers laid out, I am so excited to get started!

Let’s make my Not A Reader partner pick books for me to read based on their covers

Since he’s an absolute legend, he even wrote me a mini essay on his process, narrowing it down to a top 10, and why he picked the final five!


Look at all unread books, pick a rough set based on their covers. From that set, thin the herd again based on covers, down to 10. (I did also base it on general first impressions as opposed to covers alone.) Finally, read the blurbs of the final 10 and make the choice from there!

The top 10

Docile by K.M Sparza: This one I cheated a little with. I didn’t base it on the cover, I based it on the fact that I know the plot synopsis for this book and it sounds really interesting. I’m into post-apocalyptic-the-future-is-shit stories.

Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen: Very yellow (I imagine you also like it because it’s yellow). I like the art style of the people, as well as the yellow and the boldness of the title.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: The ship caught my eye at first, but the more I look at the cover, the more I find. The people on the deck, the mermaid in the water, the big face below the surface, the face in the sky to the top left of the ship (in that order).

Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry – Very yellow, again. The weirdness of the can caught my eye, as well as the yellow. On top of that, as I said, I’m into doomsday-ish stuff so it ticks all the boxes for first impressions.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim: Dumplings. I really think that’s all I was going for here? We both love dumplings, what could be better?

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling: I really like the deep purple background of the cover. On top of that, the cards give me board games vibes. Finally, the “hot ex” on the cover has the dark, unstable look that I have a bit of a penchant for.

Slay by Brittney Morris: Again, the purple colours got me. I really like the spot gloss for its visual and also for the fact that it’s clearly meant to hint at some kinda techy/cybery/computery thing and that’s my jam.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley: The gold and the lime green go really well on top of the black. I also really like the ‘lil octopus and the fact that the shape of the watch is cut out. This was a purely visual one.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska: Again, shiny gold and black cover got me. The first thing I thought of when I saw the phases of the moon was that they were planets and that therefore this was a space-y book. However, from looking at it now, and reconsidering the title, I reckon it’s instead a nautical theme. Still a good cover though.

The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke: I like spy stuff. The phrase “nuclear arms race” drew me in and now I’m looking again, the combination of magic and the cold war setting (I’m assuming?) sounds really interesting.

And the winners were….

Docile by K.M Sparza: This sounds super dark and really interesting. I enjoy stories about dark possible futures that are perhaps not so far off our current trajectory.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: Pirates are good fun and I know you like pirates. I’m hoping for you that there are lots of people dressed in naval outfits.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling: AS I SUSPECTED from the cover, the hot ex is very my type given that she’s also a witch. The idea of a real witch catering to Wiccans and tourists who’ve come for witch-trial history is amusing and who can resist a “deadly Blood Witch”.

Slay by Brittney Morris: This one sounds awesome. It’s a hidden video game world that starts to crash into reality when someone gets murdered – then people try to destroy the video game world! And the MC is a software developer! Very cool.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska: The regular demand of a sacrifice to the sea makes for a dark, dystopian world where people are willing to kill “for the greater good”. That’s always a good starting point for me. Then there’s the MC getting involved with the queen to save her BF and then falling in love with the queen! Good fun.

Pop Culture Readathon

So if you haven’t heard about this readathon, I totally encourage you to look at their twitter (@PopCReadathon), they have a ton of info and it’s all SO COOL.

To summarise, this round is based on 90s films. There are four bingo boards created, with a prompt in each square linked to a 90s film. The boards are all themed around: Teen Dreams, Thrill Rides, Family Affairs and The Adult Table. You can try to get bingo (four in a row) on any board, all boards, try complete the boards, pretty much whatever you like! So obviously I chose the Thrill Rides board because it has the biconic film The Mummy, aka one of my favourite ever films.

So I took the five books Gavin picked for me and matched them to prompts on my Thrill Ride bingo board. I then also picked a book for all the other prompts because it got me this pretty image (even though I know there’s no chance I’ll read them all!) So here’s my final TBR for the month! There’s a few I have where the link between the prompt is perhaps a little tenuous, or based on guesswork from me, but I’m so excited to read all these books! I think this one of my most exciting TBRs in several months.


Nancy Downs – book with a power hungry character: Docile by K.M Sparza

Jurassic Park – book set on an island/coast/body of water: The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

“What’s your favourite scary movie?” – read a book by one of your favourite authors: The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J Klune

The Faculty – read a dark academia book: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I Know What You Did Last Summer – read a 2019 release: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

“Everybody’s a suspect” – read a mystery or thriller: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – chosen one trope: Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliot

Calling the Corners – read a book with one of the four elements: The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

“It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus” – read a book that includes magic: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

“Light as a feather, stiff as a board” – book with a creepy or haunted feel: Silver in the Woods by Emily Tesh

Candyman – book with supernatural creatures: The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

Scream 2 – read a book in your second favourite genre: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Sidney Prescott – book with a badass main character: Slay by Brittney Morris

The Mummy – book with the undead: The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

Blair Witch Project – book with a black or white cover: Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

Practical Magic – book that involves a curse: The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

So that’s my TBR for this month! Is anyone else doing the Pop Culture readathon (or any other readathons!) this month?

3 thoughts on “July TBR and Pop Culture Readathon!

  1. I’ve also decided to participate in the PopCulture Readathon since it sounds like so much fun! I really hope I will get to some of the books that have been on my TBR forever! Slay, Let’s Call it a Doomsday and These Witches Don’t Brun are all on my TBR! Can’t wait to see what you thought about them! I’ve read My Lovely Wife and I wasn’t a huge fan of it but maybe you’ll like it more than I did! Good luck with the readathon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay!! Good luck to you too! Yess I feel so bad looking at my tbr and seeing the books that have languished on it for so long, I’m so glad Gav managed to actually pick ones that have been there for a while. I’m not usually a big thriller reader so fingers crossed for My Lovely Wife!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! Yeah it’s always a struggle to read the books that have been on my TBR FOREVER (I almost always end up reading new releases…). I don’t read a lot of thrillers either, that’s why I wanted to give My Lovely Wife a try but it just didn’t work for. I still want to read more thrillers though!

        Liked by 1 person

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