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2019 read harder update

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Every year since 2016, I’ve participated in Book Riot’s Read Harder reading challenge. The challenge involves reading a total of 24 books from a set of categories provided by Book Riot. The categories are designed to push you outside of your typical comfort zones when it comes to book genres. They also prioritize reading books that are written by authors of color, authors from marginalized groups, or authors from (or books set in) diverse locations around the world.

This year I finished my challenge just before the end of November. There were some amazing reads, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil Degrasse Tyson being the standouts in my challenge this year. I read 3 graphic novels (Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash; My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame; and Super Late Bloomer by Julia Kaye), 3 illustrated books (Danza! and Undocumented by Duncan Tonatiuh and The Book of Extraordinary Deaths by Cecilia Ruiz), 4 middle grade/young adult books (Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken; We are Ok by Nina LaCour; and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl), 3 books written in or of verse (The Bell and the Blackbird by David Whyte; The Art of War by Sun Tzu; and Sister Heart by Sally Morgan), 5 non-fiction books (Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen; The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine by Thomas Morris; Educated by Tara Westover; The Enormous Room by e.e. cummings; and the Degrasse Tyson), and 6 works of fiction, varying from the absolutely horrible (Agnes Moor’s White Knight by Alyssa Cole) to the mediocre (Paragon Walk by Anne Perry and Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata) to the good (Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn and Dear Jane by Marina DelVecchio) to the excellent (Norse Mythology).

24 books. If I had to do this challenge over, I wouldn’t read the majority of what I read. Was it the categories? An historical romance written by an AOC was definitely not a fun one for me. Neither did I enjoy the cozy mystery category. Was it my choices? I didn’t enjoy The Enormous Room. It was actually awful. I didn’t give a flying fuck about his circumstances in that prison. I read The Art of War once in college but remembered very little of it and after finishing it, I was (ironically) reminded why I forgot about it in the first place. (For the record, that book was what I chose to read for the business book category, as many businesspeople choose to read it as a guide for how to do business. Which I find incredibly fucked up.)

I’m not sure how much of these books I’ll ever think about again. I certainly won’t be recommending many of them. Let’s hope next year’s challenge (already released!) will be a lot more interesting for me.

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2020 read harder reading challenge

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