After successfully finishing both major reading challenges last year, I was feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by my ever-growing library pile. Most of the books I had checked out weren’t applicable to the challenges and they just kept building up, so I decided this year I would take a break from challenges and focus on purging the backlog first.
That plan…it didn’t last long. Especially after my sister told me she was going to try to finish both Read Harder and PopSugar Ultimate as quickly as possible. I wanted to see if I could reasonably keep pace with her (I’m not cocky enough to attempt racing her – the woman is a reading machine), so here we are.
Fortunately, a lot of the books I had out DID fulfill this year’s challenge tasks – I’m over halfway through Book Riot’s Read Harder and only a few books shy of halfway on PopSugar Ultimate. It’s been a good year so far too – lots of amazing books already. Here are some of my favorites from Read Harder:
How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis – after experiencing a personal epiphany while visiting the farmhouse that inspired Wuthering Heights, Samantha Ellis decided to re-read some of her favorite books featuring influential heroines. The result is a funny, fascinating, and often poignant analysis of several classic and popular works (most I’ve read, some I haven’t) that perfectly captures how it feels when we internalize and attempt to emulate beloved characters and narratives.
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older – this book is awesome. A teenage girl living in Brooklyn discovers she’s part of a supernatural legacy, the Shadowshapers, people who can connect with spirits through art in all its forms. The imagery is vivid: you really get a feel for the culture, the mythology, and summer in the city. Sierra is thoughtful, creative, and smart, and the characters surrounding her are just as engaging. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Also, Anika Noni Rose’s narration on the audiobook was fantastic.
Armada by Ernest Cline – this was my reread, but this time I went for the audiobook edition. I enjoyed revisiting this story (Ready Player One still wins, though), and Wil Wheaton narrates it perfectly. He brings the characters and the plot to life, using different tones and accents without sounding forced or awkward. Basically, I’ll read anything Ernest Cline writes and listen to anything Wil Wheaton narrates.
2) Debut novel – IQ, Joe Ide
3) Book about books – How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much, Samantha Ellis
8) Travel memoir – Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed
9) Book you’ve read before – Armada, Ernest Cline
12) Fantasy novel – Three Dark Crowns, Kendare Blake
13) Nonfiction about technology – Tetris: the Games People Play, Box Brown
15) LGBTQ+ YA or middle grade novel – George, Alex Gino
17) Classic by author of color – Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin
18) Superhero comic with female lead – Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson
19) Character of color goes on a spiritual journey – Shadowshaper, Daniel Jose Older
22) Collection of stories by a woman – Where Am I Now?, Mara Wilson
23) Collection of poetry in translation, not about love – Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke