This year, I managed to complete Read Harder in record time – early April instead of high summer. As with previous years, the prompts were diverse and interesting. Some were easy, such as task 12: Fantasy novel, and some were the bane of my book hunting, such as task 23: Poetry in translation, not about love. All in all though, the tasks promoted a good mix of books, many of which I would never have read otherwise.
*The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
(task 14: About war)
My husband has been after me to read this book since it was first published, and I’m ashamed to say that it took me this long to get around to reading it. The whole book felt surreal. In part because it’s not written on a straight timeline – the narrative moves fluidly though past and present, fractured because Castner was fractured. And in part because I know some of the people mentioned in the book. My husband has worked with people mentioned in the book; he has been to some of their funerals. Castner brings a different perspective, but also reinforces, what I know of my husband’s experiences.
*Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
(task 12: Fantasy novel)
After 27 years of reading fantasy novels, this was the first Mercedes Lackey novel I have ever read. A bit shocking really, given how prolific a writer she is. I loved the intersection of post-apocalypse and magic; how old world technology and terminology have been repurposed and used in conjunction with magic. For all that it’s fantasy, it’s political as well with a huge government conspiracy. Joy is a strong character, and not hot-headed. I had to force myself to not listen to the sequel right away since I want to finish my book challenges first.
*Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown
(task 13: Nonfiction about technology)
I chose this book because it looked to be a fast read and because my sister recommended it. I’ve read another graphic nonfiction by Box Brown, and was unimpressed to say the least with both the writing and illustration style. However, my sister was right, and Tetris was an engrossing book. I ended up reading it in one session because it was fascinating – how Tetris was invented, how it made its way out of the USSR, the legal fight between competing game producers, and how Tetris finally became so ungodly popular. Be aware that the book starts with a history of Nintendo before moving on to focus on Tetris. I’m assuming this was to both set the stage for Tetris domination, and because Nintendo was the company that ended up victorious.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
(task 19: Character of color goes on spiritual journey)
This is a book I heard about, read the description, and then told myself it looked interesting, but it wouldn’t be something I read. Thank you Book Riot for making this category, because without it, I would have never read it. Labyrinth Lost was rich and detailed, and the bruja religion was fully developed. The storytelling was beautiful. The only quibble I had had to do with the romance/love interest. It didn’t feel right, sort of like it was there because there should be a romance. It didn’t develop organically, and would have been better left in the friend zone, with the potential for it to grow in future books.
- About sports: The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life by Travis Macy
- Debut novel: Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmbert
- Book about books: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
- Set in/author from Central/South America: Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco
- Written by immigrant/immigration as central narrative: In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
- All-ages comic: Out from Boneville (Bone #1) by Jeff Smith
- Published between 1900-1950: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Travel memoir: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
- Book you’ve read before: Hellhole by Gina Damico
- Set within 100 miles from your location: City of Light by Laruen Belfer
- Set more than 5000 miles from your location: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
- Fantasy novel: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
- Nonfiction about technology: Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown
- About war: The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
- LGBTQ+ MG/YA author: George by Alex Gino
- Banned/frequently challenged in your country: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Classic by author of color: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- Superhero comic with female lead: Ms. Marvel, Vol 4: Last Days by Willow G. Wilson
- Character of color goes on spiritual journey: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
- LGBTQ+ romance novel: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian
- Micropress publication: The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr
- Story collection by female author: Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller
- Poetry in translation (not about love): View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems by Wistawa Szymborska
- All POV characters are people of color: The Sellout by Paul Beatty