Read Harder 2015: Looking Back

Since it is the New Year, it only seems appropriate to reflect on what I’ve read in the past year and make resolutions for the coming one. Last December I took on Book Riot’s first Read Harder challenge. I love the idea of diversifying reading choices and found their list to be a thorough guide to creating new reading experiences. Although I only completed 15 out of the 24 categories, I really enjoyed myself and found books from genres and authors I would not have read otherwise which is the whole point of the exercise really. Besides what is a New Year’s resolution without falling shy of completion in the end?

Which is why I am all in for the Read Harder Challenge 2016 list. My goal is to also backtrack and try to cover those 9 missing categories for 2015 if possible, but the most important thing is to think deeply about how and what I read and explore voices new to me.

I think the greatest takeaway from my Read Harder experience is the depth of the effect marketing by book publishers and bookstores have on my reading choices. Looking for books that match a list of pre-selected categories rather than following what books are on the New York Times Bestsellers list or being recommended to me revealed beautiful pieces of writing I would never have heard of otherwise. New books during the year are obviously promoted the most but what is put on tables and lists more often appear in my to-read pile than in previous years when I would peruse shelves from end to end in the library.

I suppose this is a side problem of the general attitude that “there is no time to read” since if there is hardly any time to read it seems highly unlikely to have time to go through shelves of books. The Read Harder challenge woke me up to this problematic habit of reading mostly what I’ve been told to read and missing out on fantastic perspectives much different to my own because of it. It’s a little disturbing to know how many writers’ voices I’ve been missing out on. So, here’s to another year of reading harder (or trying to at the very least)!

Read Harder 2015 Results


Complete

      1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
      2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65: Lila by Marilynne Robinson
      3. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ: My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart
      4. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own: Master of the Ghostdreaming by Mudrooroo
      5. A book by an author from Africa: Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
      6. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.): The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
      7. A YA novel: Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington/Nugi Garimara
  1. A sci-fi novel: Station Eleven by Emily St. John
  2. A romance novel: Far From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  3. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade: Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee
  4. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.): Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
  5. A collection of poetry: Asbestos Heights by David McGimpsey
  6. A book that someone else has recommended to you: Truth & Bright Water by Thomas King
  7. A book that was originally published in another language: And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier (translated by Rhonda Mullins)
  8. A book published before 1850: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  9. A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”): Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Incomplete
  1. A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)
  2. A book published by an indie press
  3. A book that takes place in Asia
  4. A microhistory
  5. An audiobook
  6. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind
  7. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)
  8. A book published this year

1 Comment

  1. Just remembered this after I saw someone post about your blog on Facebook!

    Complete:
    1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25: Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh
    2. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
    3. A sci-fi novel: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    4. A collection of poetry: Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake
    5. A book that someone else has recommended to you: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
    6. A book that was originally published in another language: Zadig, or The Book of Fate by Voltaire
    7. A book published before 1850: The Prince by Machiavelli
    8. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind: Sandman (Vol. 1 and 2) by Neil Gaiman

    This is as far as I got before going on an epic fantasy binge and reading nothing else 😛

    Incomplete:
    1. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
    2. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ
    3. A book by an author from Africa
    4. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
    5. A YA novel
    6. A romance novel
    7. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
    8. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)
    9. A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)
    10. A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)
    11. A book published by an indie press
    12. A book that takes place in Asia
    13. A microhistory
    14. An audiobook
    15. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)
    16. A book published this year

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