Read Harder 2015, etc.

December 29th, 2015

I generally like my reading to be directed by my whims, so I didn’t fully commit to the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge. But I did think it looked interesting, so I decided that for 2015 I would track my reading against the challenge categories and see what I was (and wasn’t) reading on my own, perhaps with an eye to further diversifying my reading choices in the future. At this point in the year, I might read another book before the start of 2016, but given what I have checked out from the library at the moment, I doubt I’m going to be ticking any new boxes on this list. So, here goes.

Things I didn’t read in 2015:
– A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
– A book that takes place in Asia
– A book by an author from Africa
– A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.)
– A sci-fi novel (the closest was probably Speak by Louisa Hall, but I’m not sure I’d count it).
– A romance novel
– An audiobook
– A collection of poetry
– A book published before 1850

Hm, so: left to my own devices, I’m not that great with geographical diversity or genre diversity, and I skew towards middle-aged (or older) contemporary authors. And I’ve actually never read an audiobook—I generally can’t even manage podcasts, honestly. I really strongly prefer reading things to hearing them.

Things I did read in 2015:
– A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65: I think I read five books that might fit this category, but the most obvious (because it’s explicitly about aging) is Pondlife by Al Alvarez.

– A collection of short stories: The Hollow Land by Jane Gardam.

– A book published by an indie press: I think I read twelve of them over the course of the year, but let’s say Ten Walks/Two Talks by Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch (Ugly Duckling Presse).

– A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ: I think I read six books that fit this category; the most recent (and probably my favorite!) was Dryland by Sara Jaffe.

– A book by a person whose gender is different from your own: I read 27 books by men this year. 10:04 by Ben Lerner was probably my favorite.

– A microhistory: I think three books I read could count for this, but let’s say Photobooth: A Biography by Meags Fitzgerald.

– A YA novel: I read six of them. My favorite this year was definitely Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

– A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2005).

– A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.): can I count Oreo by Fran Ross here, as a retelling of the Theseus myth? I think I can.

– A book that someone else has recommended to you: six that my boyfriend recommended, one that a friend recommended, and one that my mom recommended. Most recent was the recommendation from my mom, which was Shadow Castle by Marian Cockrell.

– A book that was originally published in another language: I read two: An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by Georges Perec, translated by Marc Lowenthal and Of Walking in Ice by Werner Herzog, translated by Martje Herzog and Alan Greenberg.

– A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind: I read six books that could fit this category, my favorite of which was El Deafo by Cece Bell.

– A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over): Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger.

– A book published this year: eighteen of them, most recently The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks.

– A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”): Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, and perhaps also The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer.

And yes, Book Riot has already put together the 2016 Read Harder Challenge, which I may approach in the same spirit as this year’s. (I also kind of feel like maybe I should carry over the 2015 challenge categories for the ones I didn’t do in 2015.) Meanwhile, though it’s not a challenge, I feel I should also mention that I’m signed up for James’s TBR Triple Dog Dare again for 2016, meaning that between January 1 and April 1, I’ll be trying to read exclusively books I already own. Surely some of the books I already own will tick some of the categories on Book Riot’s 2016 list!

3 Responses to “Read Harder 2015, etc.”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End Says:

    I have recommendations for books set in Asia and books by African authors! I can do this! And I could totally recommend romance novels too. If you like spies, read something by Joanna Bourne, and if not, anything by Sarah MacLean.

  2. Heather Says:

    Jenny, thanks – I don’t think I’ve heard of Joanna Bourne, but romance-with-spies sounds like a potentially interesting combination. And I think at some point I heard good things about Sarah MacLean, particularly A Rogue by Any Other Name, though I haven’t ever read anything by her.

  3. james b chester Says:

    I should check out this “Read Harder” challenge. I already own the t-shirt. I buy reading related t-shirt to wear to school when we have major reading activity days.

    I bet we could do most of it just from reading our TBR pile.

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