The 2015 Read Harder Challenge

So, I mentioned in a couple of my recent posts that I plan on taking on Book Riot’s 2015 Read Harder Challenge and in order to get my thoughts together about this challenge and my plans, I thought I’d put together a little introductory post.

The challenge includes the following 24 tasks, some of which I complete every year without trying and others which I’ve never tackled willingly on my own (poetry, graphic novels, etc.).  I’ve tried to put down my current ideas for what I’d like to read in each category, but I am very much a mood reader, so who knows how long this will last.

Task 1: A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25

I am thinking of rereading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for this category.  I read it in college and have always meant to return to it.

Task 2: A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

I struggled to come up with one I was actually interested in here, but then someone in the Goodreads group for this challenge mentioned Agatha Christie had a long writing career and I am interested in reading more by her.  I might try another Miss Marple novel; Sleeping Murder sounds like an interesting possibility.

Task 3: A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)

I like short stories, but they are not regularly featured in my reading.  Top contenders include Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut (which I think my husband might own), and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (which I think I own).

Task 4: A book published by an indie press

I don’t know if I’ve ever actually read a book by an indie press.  But in reading some recommendations, I stumbled upon a short story collection called Dallas Noir and this sounds like something I might give a try because I enjoy mysteries and am invested in the setting since, well, I live in the Dallas burbs.

Task 5: A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

This task has already been completed by my first book of the year– I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which features a main character who identifies as gay.

Task 6: A book by a person whose gender is different from your own

I will complete this task without really trying to, though, I read WAY more books by women than men.  I really liked Matt de la Pena’s story in My True Love Gave to Me, so I might try Mexican WhiteBoy for this task.

Task 7: A book that takes place in Asia

I’m really drawn in by the cover and premise of The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal.

Task 8: A book by an author from Africa

I took a look at some suggestions in the Goodreads group and Half of a Yellow Sun or Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sound like interesting possibilities to me.

Task 9: A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)

I’m currently listening to Sherman Alexie’s War Dances on audiobook.  I love Sherman Alexie and highly recommend his books.  He also narrates some of his audiobooks (including this one) and is an excellent narrator.

Task 10: A microhistory

Bless whoever put together a Medical Microhistory list on Goodreads because that it my jam.  Contenders for this category include The Dirt on Clean by Katherine Ashenburg, Mosquito: A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe by Andrew Spielman, and The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin.  After looking at these I kind of want to start one RIGHT NOW.

Task 11: A YA novel

This will happen easily, no problem.  I’ll probably use my current read, Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, to fill this category, as it will be my first YA of the year that I haven’t already fit somewhere else.

Task 12: A sci-fi novel

I have been meaning to finish Neal Shusterman’s Unwind Dystology for a while.  If I do, UnSouled will count for this category.  If not… I have been looking at Plus One by Elizabeth Fama or The Body Electric by Beth Revis with some curiosity.

Task 13: A romance novel

I read romance novels fairly often.  I am particularly looking forward to Rebound by Noelle August and can probably be counted on to read another Molly O’Keefe, Kristan Higgins, or Cora Carmack book at some point this year.

Task 14: A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

I looked at the lists from the last decade and remembered why I avoid award-winners.  Possibilities for this category include The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee or The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Task 15: A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)

I saw that Juliet Marillier’s Heart’s Blood is a retelling of beauty and the beast, so I’m thinking I will try it out.

Task 16: An audiobook

Another task I’ve already checked off my list!  I recently finished the audiobook of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

Task 17: A collection of poetry

This is the task I’ve complained about the most.  I haven’t read poetry since college, when I was an English major for two semesters.  But I’ve heard only good things about Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and it fits with my general desire to read more diversely, so I think I will go with that.

Task 18: A book that someone else has recommended to you

I just bought If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now by Claire LaZebnik for this category.  I’ve been wanting to read at the recommendation of a blogger friend for a very long time.

Task 19: A book that was originally published in another language

I enjoyed The Dinner quite a bit, so I think I’m going to go with Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch, a Dutch thriller writer.

Task 20: A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind

I would never pick up a graphic novel of my own accord and just looking at the covers in this category is making me cringe a little (I’m not a comic book reader, I’m sorry).  But I think maybe Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh would count and like everyone else on the internet, I loved her blog.  Also under consideration are Blankets by Craig Thompson and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

Task 21: A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure

I think I will reread a book for this task because the only reading that makes me feel guilty is rereading.  Top contenders for this category include Unsticky or It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning, anything by Rainbow Rowell, and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

Task 22: A book published before 1850

Contenders for this include Shirley by Charlotte Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, or maybe some Shakespeare.

Task 23: A book published this year

I tend to read a lot of books in the year of publication these days.  The first 2015 release I read will probably be Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer (January 27) or maybe Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (February 10).

Task 24: A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

This is not a genre I have much interest in at allBut Audible has some good options for this that I might be able to tolerate.  I think I could do Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us as a tongue-in-cheek response to this category.  I am also kind of interested in Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive because it sounds like a bunch of anecdotes about child development research and that is cool and interesting and might teach me something.  (Although, the preview about tummy time made me laugh more than anything.  It was good to know more about why tummy time is encouraged, but it just reminded me of how tummy time was more like 10 minutes of painful protest time for us.  And my child didn’t crawl until 13 months in spite of all the tummy time.)


Phew!  This was quite a lot of work putting this list together.  I’m looking forward to trying some things out of my comfort zone this year.  If you have any suggestions for these categories, I’d love to hear them.  I’m always up for another good book to read!

12 thoughts on “The 2015 Read Harder Challenge

  1. I’ve had “The Things they Carried” on my TBR list for about a year and I didn’t know it was short stories! I had the same reaction to prize winners – nothing sounded good, but I’m leaning towards “Olive Kitteridge”.

    Started “The Cuckoo’s Calling” on audio yesterday. Can’t decide if it will be my audio book or my recommendation:) Probably audio cause I’m still planning to read “Big Little Lies” soon.

    • I bought The Things They Carried years ago and have never been in the mood. I don’t think I realized it was short stories until I found it as a suggestion somewhere. I think I will go with The Emperor of Maladies for prize winner… I found it when browsing microhistories and noticed it said “Pulitzer Winner” on the cover.

      Hope you enjoy my recommendations!

  2. Wow, I like that list! It’s very different from anything I’ve seen before. I kind of want to do it, but at the same time, I don’t want to set any goals…first world problems 🙂

    • Yeah… this is a pretty intense challenge and while I don’t particularly like committing to anything reading-wise, I do benefit from stepping outside my comfort zone now and again and this seemed to offer me a lot of opportunities to do so. But 24 tasks is a lot… we’ll see how this goes.

  3. This looks like a GREAT list. If I hadn’t already signed up for a couple of long-term challenges, I’d definitely be tempted to try this one. Maybe next year!

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