Read Harder, the return of the list

At the beginning of the year, I looked back at the stats on the books I’d read last year and thought about the “Read Harder” challenge. I never particularly wanted to determinedly complete the challenge – I don’t enjoy choosing books that way at all and will end up not reading if I do: but I did say I’d use it as a prompt, and I think it’s a fairly good yardstick for how widely I’m reading.

Over the past year I’ve read 73 books. 34 were by women, and one was co-written by a woman (though, I admit I bought it because of the man, Neal Stephenson). 18 were not by white authors, and a further 8 translations of various white european authors. Of those 18, 9 were by women, and of the 8, 5 were by women (admittedly, 3 of those by one author – Jenny Erpenbeck).

Of the Read Harder list, these are the ones I had a pile of candidates for:

  • Read a debut novel.
  • Read a fantasy novel.
  • Read a book about war.
  • Read a book you’ve read before.
  • Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of colour.

My highlights are all in this review of the year

and theses are the ones I totally failed in:

  • Read a book about books.
  • Read a nonfiction book about technology (bought one, didn’t read it yet…).
  • Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country (The Handmaid’s Tale has not been challenged in my country.
  • Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey (I find the definition of this hard though, and it’s possible others might put some of what I read into this category).
  • Read a collection of stories by a woman (I own at least two, but I’m really bad at reading short stories).
  • Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love (I did buy Baudrillard, and read about half a dozen stanzas…).

I’m open to a new challenge to use as a yardstick for next year. Suggestions, please.

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