read harder?

If you’re of a bookish disposition and frequent twitter, you may have come across Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 challenge (and it’s previous iterations). ‘Read Harder’ is basically about challenging yourself to go beyond your default choices to read new or different things. I generally have a mixed response to reading challenges, because I tend to think of myself as fairly wide-ranging AND I already want to read more books than there is time for reading.

But I did a quick survey of my list of the books I read last year, f my 40 books last year:
* 14 were by women.
* 11 were by authors from outside the UK / North America / Antipodes, and four of those were originally written in English anyway.
* If you include UK/North America/Antipodes then I add another 3 authors who aren’t white (four books, because I read two by Colson Whitehead).
* I covered Africa and Asia, but had nothing from Latin America
Only 18 books are by white men, which makes me feel marginally more balanced, but still, I want to keep an eye on my reading. I’m clearly going to read the new Michael Chabon, because I love Michael Chabon, but I want to not read Michael Chabon followed by the most recent Jonathan Lethem followed by Joshua Ferris as my default setting.

So, this is Book Riot’s list, which I think I’m going to use as a prompt. I’m not going to get all competitive and ‘must finish this’ with it, because that is just not me, just keep an eye on what I’m reading through its categories. I’ve included some of the things I’m thinking of reading in some of the categories, many of which I already own or know I’m going to pick up, and there are clearly some gaps for me to think about – and some categories where I could look further afield. Please send tips.

  • Read a book about sports: Selection Day– Aravind Adiga, The Boys of Summer – Roger Kahn; Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan – Peter Oborne
  • Read a debut novel: Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter, The Sympathizer – Viet Thang Nguyen, The Loney – Andrew Michael Hurley, *Homegoing* – Yaa Gyasi
  • Read a book about books
  • Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author: One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene
  • Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.
  • Read an all-ages comic
  • Read a book published between 1900 and 1950: The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene, These Old Shades – Georgette Heyer
  • Read a travel memoir
  • Read a book you’ve read before: I have a pile of re-reading to do, and I’m probably going to pick a Nick Harkaway or a Murakami, or potentially Foucault’s Pendulum
  • Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location: I live in London, so… but Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter is already in my TBR pile.
  • Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location: to do this, I have to go beyond San Francisco in the west, Nicaragua in Latin America, Cameroon in West Africa, Burundi in East Africa, Beijing, Japan, Myanmar, and so on… The Sympathizer fits, and so does Imraan Coovadia’s Tales of the Metric System.
  • Read a fantasy novel: I’ve already run through Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, but I’ll take your non-white-american-men recommendations now.
  • Read a nonfiction book about technology: Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari, The Future of the Professions – Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind
  • Read a book about war: Again, The Sympathizer has me covered, but I also have Another Day of Life by Ryszard Kapuschinski, about Angola.
  • Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+
  • Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country
  • Read a classic by an author of color: I’m going to finally read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and some James Baldwin.
  • Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird and Sydney Padua’s Lovelace and Babbage
  • Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey
  • Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel
  • Read a book published by a micropress
  • Read a collection of stories by a woman: The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love
  • Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of colour

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