Read Harder (I Mean It This Time)

Read Harder (I Mean It This Time)

I look forward more to the announcement of the annual Book Riot Read Harder Challenge than the Oscar nominations. I’ve seen four eligible films this year, and with a near empty bank account and our one television always tuned in to football it leaves me with no resources for me to pursue my third-tier dream of becoming a film critic. Anyway, I prefer books these days, and while I have yet to complete a Book Riot challenge I want to make 2019 the year.

I’ve come close before. I was 23/24 in the inaugural year, and I’ve averaged 20 books in the successive challenges. I allowed the excuse of family illnesses and related issues for this year and last, but I’ve wallowed enough. I’m a collector of bucket lists and I believe this one has the potential to fill up before I’m finished with this life.

I like that each Book Riot list presents the opportunity to read a diverse collection of books and to discover new authors. What I don’t like about this list is that I’ve read a number of books this year and last that qualify for several 2019 categories. I know I should spin this into a positive – enjoy the hunt of alternative qualifying titles – but part of me wishes the 2019 list counts for now. I’d be done.

The 2019 list is below. I usually list what I intend to read, but this time I’ll recommend books I’ve read in case you’re interested in trying this, too. Maybe if I don’t plan ahead, I’ll finish.

  • An epistolary novel or collection of letters – This year I read The Groucho Letters, which I enjoyed. You could also try The Color Purple, Stephen King’s Carrie, or John Updike (I DNF’d that one, though, but that was 30 years ago. Might be worth a retry.)
  • An alternate history novel – Earlier this year I read Once There Was a Way by Bryce Zabel, an alternate history of The Beatles had they not split. My review is here. I bought a copy of The Man in the High Castle a few years ago, so I may read that one for this category.
  • A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018 – The Hate U Give racked up a number of lit awards in 2018, highly recommended.
  • A humor book – I’m reluctant to recommend anything here. Humor is personal, and what I find funny others find strange.
  • A book by a journalist or about journalism – I have read every book Lewis Grizzard wrote. I’d say Elvis is Dead and I Don’t Feel So Good Myself and If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Going to Nail My Feet to the Ground are his best.
  • A book by an AOC set in or about space – My friend Bridget Midway has a duology set in space, called Original Sin. However, it’s not for the faint of heart (read: 51+ shades), so if the kinky isn’t your thing…I got nothing. I don’t read much space opera, sorry.
  • An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America – Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel stands out in my memory. I read a few of her books, and think this is her best.
  • An #ownvoices book set in Oceania – I’ve not read anything that qualifies here. Colleen McCullough doesn’t count, and while I’ve read a romance set in Tahiti years ago, I don’t know if the author is #ownvoices.
  • A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads – Any of mine. I know none of my books have 100 reviews on Goodreads.
  • A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman – Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto is short and engaging.
  • A book of manga – I can’t recommend anything, but I know my daughter could.
  • A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character – The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan is okay. There’s also The Call of the Wild by Jack London.
  • A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse – Fannie Flagg identifies as such. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is her best, but if you read Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man you can also knock the epistolary category off your list.
  • A cozy mystery – Lord, I’ve read hundreds. I’ve also written one, called Pithed. It’s on the Zon.
  • A book of mythology or folklore – The standby, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. Maybe I’ll read an obscure Tolkien for this one.
  • An historical romance by an AOC – Anything by Jeannie Lin.
  • A business book – I don’t read much in business. I tried Lee Iacocca’s memoir in the eighth grade once, though.
  • A novel by a trans or nonbinary author – Natasha Troop is one author I would recommend.
  • A book of nonviolent true crime – I haven’t read such a book. This will be new to me.
  • A book written in prison – Same here.
  • A comic by an LGBTQIA creator – Anything by Alison Bechdel.
  • A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009 – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • A self-published book – I have a few. Have a look. Seriously. We’re paying rent and a mortgage now. Long story.


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