Just under the wire, I’ve finished my fifth Read Harder Challenge. I’ll be doing the 2020 challenge (I spent awhile today sorting out which books I’ll be reading for half of the tasks. But first: my Read Harder Challenge 2019 completed tasks
- An epistolary novel or collection of letters
- An alternate history novel
- A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018
- We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature)
- Normal People by Sally Rooney (Costa Book Award – Novel)
- Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (NAIBA Book of the Year for Fiction, Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction)
- A humor book
- A book by a journalist or about journalism
- A book by an AOC set in or about space
- An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America
- An #ownvoices book set in Oceania
- A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads
- A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman
- A book of manga
- A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character
- A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
- A cozy mystery
- A book of mythology or folklore
- An historical romance by an AOC
- A business book
- A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
- A book of nonviolent true crime
- A book written in prison
- A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
- A children’s or middle grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
- A self-published book
- A collection of poetry published since 2014
I’ve missed the cutoff for CBR11, but I did read one more book which fulfills task 7: read an #ownvoices book for Mexico or Central America for Read Harder 2019. I revisited Like Water for Chocolate and while it is both better than I remembered, it is also less satisfying.
I read this in high school, closer to its publication 25 years ago. It was my first foray into magical realism and I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time. In the intervening two decades I’ve expanded my reading (looking at you, Allende) and now my brain knows how to process the story more easily.
I don’t know how I feel about the resolution here. I never felt any connection to Pedro and Tita as a couple, or really to Pedro at all. So as much as I was invested in Tita, I never really sunk into the entirety of Esquivel’s narrative, even though it is so much more than just these two. The descriptions of life, and food, and home in this book are worth the reading – as are the recipes spread across the chapters which are broken up to match the months of the year.
This year I actually managed to complete this challenge. I’ve peaked at the 2020 list and it looks a bit intimidating but once more into the breach!
Here we go:
All books read for this challenge must be by or about women.
- A mystery or thriller written by a woman of color
- A book about a woman with a mental illness
- A book by an author from Nigeria or New Zealand
- A book about or set in Appalachia
- A children’s book
- A multigenerational family saga
- A book featuring a woman in science
- A play
- A novella (A novella is a text of fictional, narrative prose between 17,500 and 40,000 words)
- . A book about a woman athlete
- A book featuring a religion other than your own
- A Lambda Literary Award winner
- A myth retelling
- A translated book published before 1945
- A book written by a South Asian author
- A book by an Indigenous woman
- A book from the 2018 Reading Women Award shortlist
- A romance or love story
- A book about nature
- A historical fiction book
- A book you bought or borrowed in 2019
- A book you picked up because of the cover
- Any book from a series
- A young adult book by a woman of color
One of the weird things about me is that I *enjoy* attending
graduation ceremonies. I can understand why others don’t like attending them –
they can be very long and require us to sit in uncomfortable locations but
there’s something about watching people I love accomplish something and be
recognized for it that makes my heart happy. Because I’m a human full of
contradictions I hated attending my own graduations. All of them were pure
One of the quintessential parts of graduations is the
commencement addresses. I’ve
read one before but I wasn’t expecting to read another. Abby Wambach’s Wolfpack:
How to Come Together, Unleash Our
Power, and Change the Game isn’t
itself an address, but it is based on her inspiring viral 2018 commencement speech to Barnard
College’s graduates. It was a unique audience for Wambach to address –
Barnard is a women’s college. Wambach chose to focus her speech to these fellow
women around one important point: we are
not the little red riding hoods of fairy tales, we are wolves who must
be present to keep the environment balanced.
Wambach lays out in this short work her eight-point plan, her rules, for empowering women and engaging in team behavior (don’t fall for being the token at the table, don’t fall for the false competition we are put into with each other). Each point is couched in a story from Wambach’s life and experience on and off the soccer field. The rules are simple and forward facing, and the entire tone is positive and inspiring, and easy to start incorporating into daily practice.
- Create your own path
- Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.
- Lead now–from wherever you are.
- Failure means you’re finally IN the game.
- Be FOR each other.
- Believe in yourself. Demand the ball.
- Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders.
- You’re not alone. You’ve got your Pack.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.
Those of you who have been reading my reviews for the past several years know that I have both depression and anxiety, and while I’m taking meds and seeing a therapist it doesn’t always mean that I’m necessarily feeling well. Often, I feel like shit. Like many, many people I use certain rituals to keep my head on straight and one of them when I’m feeling poorly is to go see what Lin-Manuel Miranda had tweeted for his Gmorning/Gnight tweets of the day. Other times I came across them in the wild, lurking in my feed waiting to pick me up, putting a little pep in my step, a little reassurance from my pocket that I was not alone in this big scary thing called life.
When it was announced last year that Miranda and Sun had teamed up to produce a curated collection of the “best” pairs from the past several years (seriously, he’s been tweeting these since at least 2014) I knew I needed to get my hands on it. Then, as life goes, I let it slip my mind vaguely knowing that there was an escape valve of Miranda’s Gmorning/Gnight tweets waiting for me when I needed them.
Well, I needed them.
NTE’s review was perfectly timed for me. Ah, yes, this is what I need right now.
It might feel simplistic, what can possible be conveyed in 140 (or 280) characters that is going to matter this much to people, to me? So much. Miranda writes these for himself as much as for those of us who read them (and Sun does a commendable job catching their essence in his illustrations) and they are little nuggets waiting to reassure, inspire, uplift, and keep you from feeling alone and defeated.
This one is my favorite, the one that makes me cry spontaneously every time:
First, as someone who suggested The Hating Game to literally anyone requesting a romance recommendation in the past two and a half years I feel the need to send an apology out into the universe for Sally Thorne – I never wanted you to feel so much pressure for your next book. That being said, I’m so glad you were able to work through it and produce this, your sophomore outing. It is very worth the reader’s time and another example of the kind of contemporary romance I’m happy to read and extol its virtues.
99 Percent Mine is a friends to lovers romance. Darcy Barrett has travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him as his best friend at age 8. When Darcy and Jamie inherit their grandmother’s tumble-down cottage they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy has no intention of staying to see the project through, she’s working at the local biker bar to make enough money to finance her next trip overseas and away from her family, troubles, and her desire for Tom who remains off-limits – this time due to an engagement ring on another woman’s ring finger. But when Tom shows up to lead the renovation (and with her passport MIA) Darcy’s sticking around.
It may not be apparent from the plot summary, but this is a romance with some built in high stakes. Darcy has a heart condition that she hasn’t been taking care of and it informs her past with her brother and Tom as well as her present. Thorne writes frankly about navigating life with a chronic illness. The other high stakes item is Tom’s personal history that has led him to feeling the need to be perfect at all times to be accepted, to be good enough. Darcy is also struggling with some career issues, feeling as though she peaked at 20 when she won a photography prize and has since shuttered her wedding photography business after a truly terrible wedding shoot. She is carrying around a lingering sense of failure and having to settle for ‘good enough’ in her late 20s. These are themes that resonated for me.
Thorne delivers on characters with real weight and fleshed out backstory. It is also a similarly limited cast of characters, with the grand majority of the narrative taking place with just two characters, although this book does bring in a more side characters who are important to the plot moving forward as well as filling in character details for our main pair. This one isn’t quite The Hating Game, but it is still really quite good, AND FUNNY, even if the last chapter or two felt a little tonally off (but I am a fan of the epilogues!).
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read where we read what we want, review it how we see fit (within a few guidelines), and raise money for the American Cancer Society.
I started this challenge late in the year – a test to myself to see if what I had already read could fill in the categories. I did okay, but could not complete the challenge. I’ve left it open for myself and continued to fill in books that complete the tasks as I read them. Any book read in another year is marked as such.
- A book by a woman in translation
- A fantasy book written by a woman of color
- A book set in the American South
- A short story collection
- A graphic novel or memoir
- A book published by an independent press
- A book set in Russia or with a Russian author
- A book with viewpoint character who is a immigrant or a refugee
- A book by an Australian or Canadian author
- An essay collection
- A book about someone with a chronic illness
- A true crime book
- A book by an African American woman about civil rights
- A classic novel written by a woman
- A poetry collection
- A book where the characters are travelling somewhere
- A book with a food item in the title
- A book written by a female Nobel Prize winner
- Voices from Chernobyl (2015 Nobel Laureate)
- A book from the reading women award 2017 shortlist
- A memoir by someone who lives in a different country than you
- A book inspired by a fairytale
- A book by a local author or recommended at your local bookstore
- Book on your TBR the longest
- A book in a genre you have never read
- A book by Virginia Woolf (bonus)
- A book by Flannery O’Connor (bonus)