≡ Menu

Apparently 2015 is My Year to #ReadHarder

Read Harder Bingo Card

Generally, I am terrible at reading challenges. It seems that as soon as I challenge myself to do something, it turns into work and I automatically don’t want to do it anymore. The best way to ensure that I won’t ever read a book is to put it on a reading challenge list.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I am actually kicking butt at one challenge this year, Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.

The goal of the Read Harder Challenge is to complete 24 tasks (i.e. read 24 books) “that represent experiences and places and cultures that might be different from your own. … We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try out. That’s what this is – a perspective shift – but one for which you’ll only be accountable to yourself.”

I wasn’t planning to “officially” do this challenge this year, but when I reviewed the list of tasks a few weeks ago I realized I’m well on my way to being able to complete this challenge. The bullets in bold are tasks I’ve completed, while those that are plain text are tasks I still need to finish.

2015 Read Harder Challenge List

  • A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
  • A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
  • A collection of short stories Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
  • A book published by an indie press Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean (Graywolf Press)
  • A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ Smash Cut by Brad Gooch
  • A book by a person whose gender is different from your own Eye on the Struggle by James McGrath Morris
  • A book that takes place in Asia Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  • A book by an author from Africa Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture
  • A microhistory – The Monopolists by Mary Pilon
  • A YA novel – The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
  • A sci-fi novel
  • A romance novel
  • A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
  • A book that is a retelling of a classic story
  • An audiobook
  • A collection of poetry
  • A book that someone else has recommended to you
  • A book that was originally published in another language
  • A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
  • A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (reread)
  • A book published before 1850
  • A book published this year – Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin
  • A self-improvement book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Twelve tasks finished and it’s not even half way through the year! I’m amazed. And kind of excited, since I feel like maybe I can actually finish this one. I’d love your suggestions for books to fill some of my incomplete categories.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nupur May 14, 2015, 9:13 am

    What a fun challenge! I have a suggestion for a Pulitzer Prize winner from 2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I never read dystopian novels. This was a very off-beat read for me but one that gripped me and has stayed with me for years. But you’ve probably already read this one.

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:06 am

      I actually haven’t read that one, thanks!

  • Bethany May 14, 2015, 10:30 am

    What a neat challenge! I just had do many ideas (though I’m sure you’ve read some of these) so I immediately had to comment.

    Over 65- Right now, I’m in the middle of Alaska by James Michener. (According to my math he was 81 when he wrote it, so I’m sure there are many other books of his to choose from)
    Romance- The Guersnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows or Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
    Award Winners-Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer, not sure which year) or The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Man Booker 2014)
    Retelling of Classic story- Bridget Jones’s Diary and though I have yet to read them, I’ve heard great things about Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
    Book Originally Published in Another Language- The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman

    Best of luck and happy reading!

    • Julie Eckerle May 17, 2015, 12:51 pm

      I highly recommend _Outlander_ for your romance novel.

      I second the recommendation of _The Road_, although I have to admit that it’s one of the most devastating things I’ve ever read.

      • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:10 am

        Thanks Julie! One of the reasons I’ve avoided The Road is because I feel like I need to be in the right mood for that one.

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:09 am

      Thank you! I’ve read a few — Middlesex, Boy Snow Bird and Wide Sargasso Sea — but none of the others. I have some research to do.

  • Care May 14, 2015, 10:48 am

    Love these kinds of challenges! Best to you. I wonder if I start now and look at what I’ve read already this year, if I would fit many of these categories…

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:10 am

      That’s part of what I think is fun about it — it’s such a wide variety of choices, that it’s easy to fill in a least a few with just “normal” reading.

  • TJ @ MyBookStrings May 14, 2015, 12:20 pm

    Yay, great job with this challenge! I think the trick is that there are categories that are easy to fill, which gives you a good start. I’ve finished 9 tasks so far and feel good about. I am planning to read Brown Girl Dreaming for the award winner challenge, but I have no idea what to do for the self-improvement category.

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:12 am

      Hmm… well, I thought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was great. Maybe Getting Things Done by David Allen? The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? I decided to think about self-help pretty broadly for that one.

  • Amanda May 14, 2015, 1:06 pm

    I love this! For a retelling of a classic I’d recommend Re Jane by Patricia Park. I’m trying to write a review write now- as you can see I’m working hard. But I loved it. The Bone People could be a good one for an indigenous culture? Or The Round House?

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:13 am

      I’ve heard great things about Re Jane — that one was on my mental list to consider.

  • Amelia May 14, 2015, 7:01 pm

    I’m doing this challenge. I can honestly say I’m finding it a bit hard to fill some of the requirements based on my current reading habits. I’m going to have to push hard into the second half of this year.

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:14 am

      Oh yes, some of them will definitely be challenging. I’m not sure I’ll actually finish, but it’ll be fun to try.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End May 14, 2015, 7:29 pm

    I can’t remember, have you read Helen Oyeyemi’s White Is for Witching? I’m pretty sure she was under 25 when she wrote it, and it remains my favorite of her books. For a sci-fi novel, I’ll suggest Daryl Gregory’s Afterparty, which is also just a really terrific, well-put-together, awesome-character-populated book. For romance — argh, how to decide what to recommend — I’m partial to Meredith Duran’s A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal, or also pretty much anything by my girl Rose Lerner. And a collection of poetry — my dear CP Cavafy is always the go-to recommendation, or you might try Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, which is devastating.

    Well done you for succeeding so well at this challenge already!!

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:16 am

      Great suggestions! I was struggling to think of books for the under 25 category. Afterparty sounds awesome too.

  • Christy May 14, 2015, 7:30 pm

    For romance, Courtney Milan is a good bet. Smart, feminist, subverts some expectations of the genre. For sci-fi, I really liked Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. The author’s Vietnam war experience definitely feeds into the story, which adds another layer to the reading experience.

    I think Zadie Smith’s White Teeth falls under the category of written while the author was under 25. I haven’t read it yet – it’s next on my list.

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:17 am

      Thanks for the romance recommendation! I’ve been thinking about going with a Sarah Maclean book for that one, but your description of Courtney Milan sounds wonderful too.

  • Jennine G. May 15, 2015, 8:01 am

    This looks really cool! I might try this unofficially to see how well I do with already planned reads. Would make a good barometer for how diverse my reading is.

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:17 am

      That’s what I like about it, trying to push outside my comfort zone just a little bit to try something new.

  • Shaina May 15, 2015, 3:55 pm

    You’re kicking serious butt with this!

    If you haven’t read Frankenstein before (though I doubt it!), that would check off your under-25 box. For sci-fi, I’d highly recommend He, She and It by Marge Piercy or Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

    Happy reading! 🙂

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:19 am

      I’ve actually read Frankenstein many times (I think five?) for various high school and college classes. But it’s such a good suggestion for that! Thanks for the recs in sci-fi too — that’s one of my genre weak spots.

  • tanya (52 books or bust) May 17, 2015, 5:48 am

    I wasn’t going to participate in this either, for exactly the same reason as you, but when I look at the categories, i can see that I’ve already read 11 of them. Maybe i should get in on this!

    • Kim Ukura May 24, 2015, 9:19 am

      I don’t know if I’ll officially finish, but it’s nice to think about trying 🙂