I absolutely loved Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge! It pushed me to read books, authors, and genres that I would not normally gravitate towards. I discovered authors whose other works I want to read (Joseph Boyden and Lauren Beukes), formats I’d never been interested in before (audiobooks), and a new manga series I would have never read otherwise (Skip-Beat). I’m looking forward to what the 2016 challenge will bring.
*Hellhole (challenge 11: YA) – The premise behind Hellhole drew me in – a house-crashing devil camped out on the basement couch playing video games and eating junk food. Sarcasm, snarkiness, and black humor are rampant. I loved how the characters played off of each other. The bickering reminded me of my sister and I when we’re on a roll (seriously, hang out with us sometime and you’ll either fall in with us or stare in abject horror).
*The Orenda (challenge 9: Indigenous culture) – A beautiful and brutal book told from the viewpoints of three main characters during the time when Jesuit missionaries were first arriving in North America. I liked that each character felt true to their background and beliefs. I also liked that none of them were painted to be only good or only bad or only right or only wrong.
*Poisoned Apples (challenge 17: Poetry) – A book of poetry that uses fairy tales and their tropes as jumping off points for poems about women, girls, and body image. None of the poems are terribly long, but they all pack hard punch. This is a book I needed when I was in high school. It still resonates with me in my 30’s.
*Hausfrau (challenge 21: Guilty pleasure) – Favorite isn’t the right word for Hausfrau, but it is a book that hangs around for a while after you finish it. It is definitely a love it or hate it book. I’m on the love it side of the fence, but then I like stories that focus on a person’s psychological downward spiral. Aspects of Anna and her marriage reflect my life – passivity and complacency, feeling trapped, being overwhelmed by where your decisions have led you.
- Author under 25: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
- Author over 65: Emma: A Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
- Short stories: The Woman Who Though She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh
- Indie press: Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr
- LGBTQ: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
- Author a different gender: Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
- Takes place in Asia: Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang
- Author African: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
- Indigenous culture: The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
- Microhistory: If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley
- YA: Hellhole by Gina Damico
- Science fiction: Universal Alien by Gini Koch
- Romance: Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
- Award winner: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan
- Classic retelling: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
- Audiobook: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
- Poetry: Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
- Recommendation: Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura
- Translation: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
- Graphic novel: Beauty by Hubert
- Guilty pleasure: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
- Published before 1850: Cupid and Psyche by Apuleius
- Published in 2015: Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet
- Self-help: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo