I’m doing the Read Harder Challenge again this year, as well as trying to read more new releases. I’ll indicate the category (or publication date) in parentheses.
Once again, a lot of random library holds came in all at once.
- The Maze at Windermere, Gregory Blake Smith (January 2018)
- A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby
- Uprooted, Naomi Novik
- The Wanderers, Meg Howry
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Notorious RBG, Irin Carmon
- The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden
- Super Extra Grande, Yoss (A book of genre fiction in translation)
- Schroder, Amity Gage
- The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (An Oprah Book Club selection)
- Yes Please, Amy Poehler (A celebrity memoir)
- Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (A classic of genre fiction)
- The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
I’m doing the Read Harder Challenge again this year, and will indicate the categories in parentheses. I’m also trying to read more new releases – hoping for about one a month – rather than forever being the voracious reader who hasn’t read, say, Lincoln in the Bardo or The Underground Railroad yet.
That said, I’ve had a run on library holds coming in over the last few weeks, so it’s been tough to work on the Read Harder books and new releases.
- Men Explain Things To Me, Rebecca Solnit
- Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (a comic written & illustrated by the same person)
- The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin
- A Separation, Katie Kitamura
- The Biographies of Ordinary People, Vol. 1, Nicole Dieker
- Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
- The Portable Veblen, Elizabeth Mckenzie
- Elmet, Fiona Mosley (December 2017)
- The Perfume Collector, Kathleen Tessaro
- The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
- The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 6: Who Run the World? Squirrels, Ryan North and Erica Henderson (illustrator)
- Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Vol. 2, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Sprouse, Rich Buckler, Brian Stelfreeze (illustrators)
- Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Michael Dietsch
- Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
- The Strange Bird: A Borne Story, Jeff VanderMeer
- Borne, Jeff VanderMeer
Lots of good stuff in the last couple of months. Of particular note: Borne and The Stone Sky, if you like sci-fi (the latter is the third in a trilogy); A Separation; and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
I read, or attempted, 97 books this year. Subtracting the 6 I didn’t finish, that’s about a book and 3/4 a week, though of course it’s not evenly distributed in reality. This is 30 more books than last year. About a third of the increase can be chalked up to reading more volumes of comics, but the rest I think can be put down to a combination of long flights, trips to see family where I wind up reading a lot, and a concerted effort to get off the internet on evenings when I find myself refreshing Facebook and Twitter so much they have no new content for me.
37(!) books got five-star reviews this year, which has got to be a record for me. Ten were comics (mostly Squirrel Girl and Lumberjanes). Of the rest, I’d most recommend Every Anxious Wave, Mo Daviau; The Color Purple, Alice Walker; and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, Dinaw Mengestu.
In 2017, I participated in the Read Harder Challenge, which was a great way of finding new things to read. There were two categories I didn’t manage to find something for – a book published by a micropress and a book of translated poetry on a theme other than love. I found that the best way to make sure I was reading books that fit the challenge was to spend some time every couple of months identifying books that fit different themes, and queueing them up at the library. (I kept track of which theme each book fit.) This way I had a pretty steady stream of books for the challenge interspersed throughout my other reading. I’m planning to participate again in 2018.
Stats (excluding unfinished books):
- 86 ebooks, 42 from DCPL
- 80 works of fiction, 10 nonfiction
- 50 books by female authors
- 14 volumes of comics
- 6 books for book club
- 6 books of short stories, including the wonderful Apocalypse Triptych
- 2 re-read books
- 1 audiobook
I haven’t done a “number of books read” challenge in a couple of years, mostly because my numbers have dropped. But this year I’m participating in the Read Harder Challenge, which encourages people to read more broadly. This doesn’t provide a list of books, but a list of types of books and stories, and leaves it to you to figure out what counts for any given category. There are 24 tasks, so to speak, on the list. I’ll indicate here when I’ve counted a book towards the challenge.
- Rare Objects, Kathleen Tessaro
- At the Edge of the Orchard, Tracy Chevalier
- The Vegetarian, Han Kang
- A Fine Imitation, Amber Brock
- In the Woods, Tana French (Read a book you’ve read before)
- The Dog Stars, Peter Heller
- The New Persian Kitchen, Louisa Shafia
- A Land More Kind Than Home, Wiley Cash
- The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016, John Joseph Adams & Karen Joy Fowler, Eds.
- What My Body Remembers, Agnete Friis
- Happier At Home, Gretchen Rubin
- Get In Trouble, Kelly Link (Read a collection of stories by a woman)
- All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
- Girl Waits With Gun, Amy Stewart
I read, or attempted, 67 books this year. Subtracting the six I didn’t finish, that’s a little more than a book and a quarter a week, though of course it’s not evenly distributed in reality.
Eight books got five-star reviews this year: All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr; The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters; A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara; Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Matthew Desmond; The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman; Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro and Robert Wilson IV; Welcome to Nightvale, Joseph Fink; Kitchens of the Great Midwest, Ryan J. Stradal. There are some very different books on that list! I think The Paying Guests and All the Light We Cannot See are the most widely appealing, though I cannnot recommend A Little Life enough, if you think you can handle both the length and the fact that this book is heartbreaking – it made me cry more than once. I do still intend to re-read it, though.
After we moved in the fall, I started reading more on my iPad, in addition to my Kindle. This came about initially because I had a couple of library ebooks in a row that turned out to not have a kindle edition available, so I decided to read them in the Overdrive app. I then started doing the same thing with kindle books sometimes, mainly when my kindle wasn’t handy (read: because it was up two flights of stairs). I don’t mind reading on my iPad, but I definitely prefer the kindle, especially for reading in bed.
Stats (excluding the six unfinished books):
- 53 ebooks, 39 from DCPL
- 52 works of fiction, 5 nonfiction
- 30 books by female authors
- 3 volumes of comics
- 7 books for book club
- 2 books of short stories
- 1 re-read book
- 1 audiobook