19 Dec 2018, 15:37

Book Riot's 2019 Read Harder Challenge


I did BookRiot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge, and it got me out of my usual genres and connected me with books I really loved that weren’t ones I would have picked up.

After our Tinyhuman was born, I had a really challenging time focusing on books for the first year or two, but in 2018, I managed to read over 40 books, at least in part as a result of the ReadHarderChallenge, but also just because my focus came back.

I don’t plan on getting too intense about checking off boxes that don’t excite me, but the newest challenge has been released, and I am getting into it again.

To get organized for next year, I’ve to started collecting some suggestions here, if you’ve any recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!

You can see the post from bookriot here.

You can see my collection of 2019 ReadHarder books on GoodReads, arranged in no particular order right here.

I am lucky that most of these are available from the Toronto Public Library, and even luckier that many of them are available as e-books which has been my favourite and most effective way to get some read done. (And certainly makes it easier to read anywhere - when a selection of books is available right on my cellphone.)

(p.s. this list is still a work in progress)

Read Harder 2019

  1. An epistolary novel or collection of letters

    • I capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    • Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
    • ✔ Where did you go Bernadette by Maria Semple
    • ✔ Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  2. An alternate history novel

    • ✔ Naughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
      • I’ve gotten really excited about this genre and there is not nearly enough out there. Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society. Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought – a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses.
      • I read this book and have a mixed feeling about it. The story was so interesting and compelling in the beginning, and then it felt like it sort of fizzled out by the end.
  3. A book by a woman and/or AOC (Authour of Colour) that won a literary award in 2018

    • ✔ Decent into the Night by Edem Awumey (Winner of the Governor Generals Literary Award, written in French by a male authour of colour and translated by a woman.)
    • ✔ Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (winner of the 2018 Giller Prize, Esi is also a woman authour of colour.)
  4. A humour book

    • ✔ This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
      • I laughed a lot reading this book - even when some of her topics weren’t ha ha funny. It’s a fun and interesting read about life as Gabourey Sidibe!
  5. A book by a journalist or about journalism

    • ✔ They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery a journalist with the Washington Post
    • ✔ Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
    • ✔ We regret to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch
  6. A book by an Authour of Colour set in or about space

    • Dawn by Octavia Butler
    • ✔ An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
  7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America

    • Umami - Laia Jufresa
  8. An #ownvoices book set in Oceania

    • Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel
    • Pounamu, Pounamu by Witi Ihimaera (Maori New Zealand)
    • The Bone People by Keri Hulme (New Zealand)
    • ✔ Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman (Western Australia. She identifies with the South Coast Noongar people.)
  9. A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads

    • Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk, translated Bernard Saladin d’Anglure
    • Worldwalk by Steven Newman
    • ✔ Darkness by Bharati Mukherjee
  10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman

    • ✔ Decent into the Night by Edem Awumey (Winner of the Governor Generals Literary Award, written in French and translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott.)
    • Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk (written in inuktitut, translated Bernard Saladin d’Anglure)
    • ✔ The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story. by Marie Kondo and Yuka Uramoto, trans. from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano
  11. A book of manga

    • ✔ The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story. by Marie Kondo and Yuka Uramoto, trans. from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano
    • ✔ Library Wars by Hiro Arikawa
    • ✔ Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
  12. A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character

    • The Overstory by Richard Powers
    • Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (Translator)
  13. A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse

    • ✔ The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain by James H. Fallon
    • Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World by Sharon Heller
    • ✔ The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (fiction about a neurodiverse character by a neurodiverse woman authour.)
    • ✔ Heartberries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  14. A cozy mystery

    • ✔ Murder is Binding (Booktown Mystery Series, Book #1) by Lorraine Bartlett
      • really enjoyed this one, super cozy mystery. I was a bit surprised at a few instances of casual ablism. It was written in 2008, and I don’t think the r-word was okay back then either. I’d probably read more from the Booktown series though.
    • Still Life by Louise Penny
    • ✔ Study in Scarlet Women part of The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas
  15. A book of mythology or folklore

    • ✔ A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh
  16. An historical romance by an AOC

    • ✔ An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
      • this book is something special. I just couldn’t put it down, and it was fun and sexy, while set in civil war times. Really well written and engaging characters I cared about. (and care about, and as a result, I’m interested in reading more of her work)
    • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  17. A business book

    • It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy at Work by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
  18. A novel by a trans or non-binary author

    • I’ve Got a Time Bomb by Sybil lamb
    • All the birds in the sky by Charlie Jane Anders
    • Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang
    • ✔ An Unkindness of Ghosts - Rivers Solomon
  19. A book of nonviolent true crime

    • ✔ Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  20. A book written in prison

    • The House of the Dead by Dostoevsky
    • Life After Death By Damien Echolss
  21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator

    • ✔ Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  22. A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009

    • ✔ This category is basically where most of our son’s books fit in.
    •  George by Kate Pavao
  23. A self-published book

    •  The Summer We Got Free
  24. A collection of poetry published since 2014

    • ✔ Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
    • ✔ Blackbird Song by Randy Lundy
    • ✔ The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
    • ✔ a place called No Homeland by Kai Cheng Thom
    • ✔ Good Bones