Tuesday, May 5, 2015

2015 read harder challenge

I keep track of my books (and drinks!) on Instagram with #booksandbeverages.

I didn't write about my goals for 2015 at the beginning of the year, but one of them was to complete Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. I love book lists and at the end of 2014 I was poring over the end of the year best books lists, vowing to read all the books in 2015 and frantically adding more and more to my library queue.

Here's a sampling in case you're a fellow book nerd:
Washington Posts' Top 50 Fiction Books for 2014
Book Riot Round-Up: The Best Books of 2014
Slate's Best Books 2014
New York Times The Ten Best Books of 2014
Time Top 10 Fiction Books 2014
Time Top 10 Non-Fiction Books 2014
NPR's Best Books of 2014
Wall Street Journal's Best Books of 2014

Oh, and here's a new one: Oyster's 100 Best Books of the Decade So Far

I found that I saw a lot of the same titles mentioned again and again, so I thought Huffington Post's Ultimate List was really helpful - it ranks the top 20 books by the number of other lists that the title has appeared on. There are a couple titles in the top 20 that don't appeal to me, but if I do nothing else, I hope to read most of the others in 2015. I enjoy reading highly acclaimed/recommended books, but if you don't trust other people's opinions and like to choose books on your own, this might not be your thing.

Anyway, the lists were a little overwhelming, but they got me pumped to read a lot in 2015. One thing that the end of the year lists don't help me with, though, is all the books from past years that I still want to read. I like reading current books, but I also like reading everything from classics that I should've read in school to popular books from the last few decades that I missed out on. Book guilt is a whole different topic, but after listening to the Dear Book Nerd podcast, I've realized it's quite a common phenomenon. There are just too many books and not enough time to read them all.

I was pondering how to choose which books I would read in 2015 when I heard about the Read Harder Challenge - 24 different categories to read throughout the year, but you're free to choose whichever books you want (and to interpret the challenge as you wish). This seemed like a great way to read some of the highly touted books of 2014 along with knocking off some of the titles that have been lingering on my To Read List (and cluttering up my nightstand) for years. And of course it's a good way to challenge myself to read genres that I don't usually pick up. For example, sci-fi and romance are not my thing. Poetry makes me think (not fondly) of seventh grade English class. And reading a book published before 1850 might be torture.

Anyway, now that we're a third of the way though the year (and I've completed nine books for the challenge - which conveniently fits into a nice little graphic collage), I thought it would be a good time to check in.

Here are the categories I've completed so far:

AUTHOR OF A DIFFERENT GENDER | A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
TAKES PLACE IN ASIA | Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
AUTHOR FROM AFRICA | Things Falls Apart by Chinua Achebe
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL | The Giver by Lois Lowry
SCI-FI NOVEL | Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
AWARD WINNER FROM THE LAST DECADE | Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
GRAPHIC NOVEL/MEMOIR | Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
GUILTY PLEASURE | Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
BOOK PUBLISHED WITHIN LAST YEAR | Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

*See the rest of the categories at Book Riot.

(I've also read books that aren't part of the challenge - in fact the best book I've read so far this year is Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True. Multiple friends commented that this was one of their favorite books and they were right!)

So that's 9 down and 15 to go toward the Read Harder Challenge. Several friends on Facebook also committed to completing the challenge, so I'm interested to see how others are doing, and of course get book recommendations. Do you make reading goals? What are the best books you've read this year? What else are you planning to read, or do you decide in the moment like my husband does?


Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying stretching my comfort zone and trying some new things with this book challenge. Here's what I've got so far:
Audio - Police by Jo Nesbo
Guilty pleasure - Frenemies by Megan Crane
Graphic novel - The Accidental Genius of Weasal High by Rick Detorie
Translated - Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
Asia - Peony in Love by Lisa See
LGBTQ - Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill
under 25 - Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
Prize - Redeployment by Phil Klay

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Good stuff, Anne! Several of these are on my to read list, too.

little green field book said...

Sadly, I usually pick books based on how much I like the graphic design on the covers. Designer problems.

Right now I'm reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking and The Quick. Just finished All the Light We Cannot See and Station 11. I like to read current notable books but usually find I'm disappointed. Anything on the Oprah book list is usually a fail for me.

And yeah, I know it's been mentioned before but get on Goodreads already!

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Veronika - I like good covers, too!

Quiet has been on my list forever, since I'm pretty sure it's about me - I just need to find the motivation to commit to non-fiction. I actually just started reading All the Light We Cannot See this morning!

Your Oprah comment cracked me up because Larry's criteria for choosing books is that it MUST NOT BE AN OPRAH BOOK. Doesn't matter if it's been well reviewed by dozens of other sources - if Oprah touched it, Larry won't! A fun game is for me to stick Oprah Book Club stickers to whatever he's reading...