I had such a fun time discovering new books and authors last year, that I could not wait to participate in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge again this year. Three of my four favorite books are ones I never would have read otherwise (Written in the Stars being the only one on my TBR list beforehand).
Two categories proved to be hard for me to find suitably interesting books to read: #8 – Published in birth decade and #21 – Politics, fiction / nonfiction. The former was challenging because I really wanted to find a book published in my exact birth year. The latter because politics is not a subject I’m overly interested in. I enjoy political intrigues from hundreds of years ago, but to make it “fun”, I fixated on the modern era.
*Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
(task 2: Science, nonfiction)
Sapiens blew my mind. It’s definitely a book that needs to be read with an open mind as it goes against much of what is taught regarding humans, what sets us apart from other living creatures, and how we interact with our world both concretely and abstractly. We are the only living beings that live in the abstract, and much of what dictates our lives is based upon the intangible.
*Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
(task 13: Set in the Middle East)
Beautiful and frightening at the same time. The fact that various characters justified their actions and behaviors towards Naila made the reality of her forced marriage even worse. Gaslighting in the extreme. I could not put the book down, and ended up finishing it in one sitting (bedtime at 2am).
*Dawn by Octavia Butler
(task 16: First book in series by minority author)
Dawn was an amazing book. There is enough going on that it takes a while to realize it’s actually all happening. Yes, the Oankali have come to save humans from themselves, but the cost is tremendous – both in what humans lose and how the aliens accomplish their “trade”. The Oankali justify the wholesale destruction of species and planets because they feel their trade makes the receiving species better. Their trade essentially strips away everything that makes humans human, with the belief that humans should be happy and grateful for the interference.
*All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
(task 19: Nonfiction feminist / feminist theme)
All the Single Ladies looks at the history of single American women, how early feminists laid the groundwork for today’s single women, and that it is okay to not follow the historically traditional path. Repeating myself from a previous posts about this book (again), but I wish it existed when I was in my early 20’s. I needed the knowledge and validation that finding a husband didn’t have to be a top priority – and believe me, the fear that I would be alone forever was very strong when I was younger. Marriage does not have to be a straight shot out of high school or college, and it certainly isn’t the only path available.
- Horror: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
- Science, nonfiction: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- Essay collection: I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
- Read aloud to someone else: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein
- Middle grade novel: The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
- Biography: A Great and Terrible King by Marc Morris
- Dystopian / post-apocalyptic: Citrus Gold Fame by Claire Vaye Watkins
- Published in birth decade: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Audie award winner: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
- More than 500 pages: The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
- Less than 100 pages: We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Transgender author / main character: Orlando by Virginia Woolf
- Set in the Middle East: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
- Author from SE Asia: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
- Historical fiction set before 1900: The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman
- First book in series by minority author: Dawn by Octavia Butler
- Non-superhero comic published within last 3 years: Velvet, Vol 1: Before the Living End by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
- Book adapted into a movie: The Martian by Andy Weir
- Nonfiction feminist / feminist theme: All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
- Religion, fiction / nonfiction: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
- Politics, fiction / nonfiction: March: Book Two by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
- Food memoir: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
- Play: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
- Main character has mental illness: Made You Up by Francesa Zappia