Read Harder 2017

::dusts off blog, again::

::coughs as dust fills the air::

It’s been a while, Interwebs! Long story short, my partner and I expanded our family last year (baby, not dog). Six months later, we moved to a new city and I switched jobs–really, switched careers. Reading for pleasure sort of dropped to the bottom of my to-do list. I managed to finish the latest Kate Daniels* novel, but there is a very sad pile of abandoned, expired library loans in my Kindle account.

So I am doing two things to rekindle my love of reading. The first is coming back here. The second is tackling the Read Harder 2017 challenge.

Every year, Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge pushes people to try genres and authors outside their comfort zone by asking people to read books that fulfill 24 challenges. I’ve put this year’s list at the bottom of this post, along with the books I tentatively plan to read to fulfill it. Some categories are still blank. Working on it, I promise.

If anyone wants to join me in Read Harder, or has suggestions for books that might fulfill my empty challenges, let me know in the comments! I will be setting the bar somewhat low–I plan to double-count some books. I will also count a category fulfilled if I pick up a book for the purposes of the challenge but put it down because I hate it. Life is too short to power through another The Goldfinch.

Here’s to more, better, and broader reading in 2017!

Read Harder 2017

  1. Read a book about sports.

The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown

  1. Read a debut novel.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival (which also counts for #4)

  1. Read a book about books.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival (which also counts for #2)

  1. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  1. Read an all-ages comic.

Squirrel Girl or Ms. Marvel

  1. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  1. Read a travel memoir.
  1. Read a book you’ve read before.
  1. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  1. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.

Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones (could also count for #14 and #24)

  1. Read a fantasy novel.

I will read The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin this year. I have been putting it off because it seemed too heavy to pair with new parenthood (you’ll understand if you’ve read the first book in the series, The Fifth Season, which was phenomenal but so, so emotionally wrenching).

  1. Read a nonfiction book about technology.

The Grid by Gretchen Bakke

  1. Read a book about war.

Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones would count here, and I’ll probably double-count this one because war novels feel a bit painful right now.

  1. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  1. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.

Was thinking of Perks of Being a Wallflower

  1. Read a classic by an author of color.

Maybe Octavia Butler here?

  1. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

Squirrel Girl or Ms. Marvel

  1. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.

Ooof, this is going to be tough. Spiritual journey stories are not my thing. Any ideas?

  1. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel.

Hold Me by Courtney Milan

  1. Read a book published by a micropress. 

A micropress prints under 500 books per printing. Yikes. Ideas?

  1. Read a collection of stories by a woman. 

This seems like the perfect time to read that Alice Munro collection that’s been gathering dust on my shelves …

  1. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. 

I’m thinking of trying classical Chinese poetry, maybe The Selected Poems of Li Po.

  1. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.

Hold Me and Night in Shanghai would both count for this category, and I think Obelisk Gate would too, but I welcome other ideas!


* Short-form review of Magic Binds: It was OK, but definitely not my favorite Daniels book. It felt like it was mostly moving pieces into place for the final books in the series.


7 comments on “Read Harder 2017

  1. 19. Totally agree. What about a person of color going on a journey of self-discovery? I’m a huge fan of Lauret Savoy’s “Trace.”
    21. Do you read poetry?

    Also, thank god you’re back! I just finished “Invisible Library” by Genevieve Cogman, and it was amazing. Feminist, well written, bibliophilic, dragons, etc.

  2. 19. Yes!! They steal books from alternate worlds to go into the Library. Tell me you’re not fascinated.

    21. So you like form (meter and rhyme). What about Sandburg do you like? Is it nature? A sense of place? (I only remember a bit about Sandburg, so don’t mind me if I’m way off base.) Also I’m a book yenta and a poetry yenta.

    • I like the sense of place in Sandburg, and the way a lot of his poems focus on family and love. I also like the mixing of mundane and more high-minded imagery. Here’s one of my favorite passages, from his poem “Honey and Salt”:

      Is the key to love in passion, knowledge, affection?
      All three—along with moonlight, roses, groceries,
      givings and forgivings, gettings and forgettings,
      keepsakes and room rent,
      pearls of memory along with ham and eggs.

  3. 21. My bookseller spidey sense just said Naomi Shihab Nye. She writes a lot about family, but also politics. Agha Shahid Ali wrote beautifully about family (in particular his mother) and just was an amazing poet (word on the street was that he was an amazing person too). Maybe Jane Hirscfield or Maxine Kumin.

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