Thursday, December 29, 2016

Resolve to "Read Harder" in 2017

Did you accept Book Riot's challenge to Read harder (with a vengeance, hopefully) in 2017? We're here to help you get to your goal. We have some hand-picked, librarian-endorsed, recommendations to help you achieve your New Year's Resolution. Many of these books satisfy multiple tasks in the challenge--bonus points for figuring out which ones!

All 24 tasks of the challenge posed by the fine folks at Book Riot are listed in bold below. The recommendations are ours. Happy New Year, and happy reading! 

1. Read a book about sports.
Gah! The challenge leads with sports? Dang. Well, even if sports aren't your thing, check out Major Taylor : the inspiring story of a black cyclist and the men who helped him achieve worldwide fame by Conrad Kerber, Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas, You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. We just got a copy of Black Gods of the Asphalt by Onaje X.O. Woodbine so I'll add that one to my "read harder" pile.
2. Read a debut novel.
The Nix by Nathan Hill has all the acclaim you're looking for, also check out The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob, The Bees by Laline Paull, The Turner House by Angela Flournoy, We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I am looking forward to the Charlotte Holmes series, the first of which is A Study in Charlotte, Brittany Cavallaro's debut novel.

3. Read a book about books.
Did somebody say "BOOKS"?
Check out Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler, Disclaimer by Renée Knight, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino, The Novel: A biography by Michael Schmidt, and, if you just saw Nocturnal Animals and also want to read the novel behind the (OMG gorgeous and intense) movie about a novel, check out Tony & Susan by Austin Wright--I know I will be.

4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman, and Ways of Going Home and My Documents, both by Alejandro Zambra. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende has been on my "to read" list for a long time--maybe this is the year.

5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
Check out Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar. To my great shame I never finished reading The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart, but I promise I will.

6. Read an all-ages comic.
First I would kindly ask the list-makers here to define "all ages" as I don't see comics serving alcohol but OK, challenges are meant to be...challenging? The March series by John Lewis, Sisters and Smile by Raina Telgemeier, El Deafo by Cece Bell, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang are a few I would recommend to pretty much  everyone regardless of age. I also don't differentiate between "graphic novel" and "comic" but perhaps the challenge authors do? IDK, but I'm looking forward to reading March #3 soon.

7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
Just read all of the Evelyn Waugh (Scoop, Vile Bodies, etc.) and be amazed by how well the humor holds up. I like to read all the new books so my "old books to read still" list grows longer every year. This year I check off the Raymond Chandler box with The Big Sleep (1939).

8. Read a travel memoir.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran by Hooman Majd, and check out the audio book version of The Sick Bag Song by Nick Cave. He reads it and it's marrrvelous. I'll be reading Butter Chicken In Ludhiana: Travels In Small Town India by Pankaj Mishra this year.

9. Read a book you’ve read before.
This one depends on what you've read before, but if I were to recommend "read it twice" books, hmmm. The Women's Room by Marilyn French and The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber are some of the very few books I've read twice. With so much to read I typically don't revisit books no matter how beloved. I do want to re-read The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk because I love it so much, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle to see if it is still the book I remember reading as a child.

10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
Some places are very author-dense and Richmond is fortunate to be one of those. As a result, loads of books feature Richmond and the surrounding area. Readers will find Richmond in a lot of popular urban fiction like Carl Weber's and Nikki Turner's books, in the books of Patricia Cornwell, and in a whole bunch of Civil War stuff. If you're from around these parts, check out The Shore by Sara Taylor. It's a chilling multi-generational tale set on the islands of the Eastern Shore (sure, sure, I think it's a little more than 100 miles to the eastern shore from Richmond but I want you to read this book so, shhh.) The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero is set in a fictional Virginia town supposedly near Richmond, and Mislaid by Nell Zink is set in or near Richmond.

11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo, (Booker Prize-winning) The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Hotel Iris and all of the other books byYoko Ogawa, Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien and The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood are on my to-read pile.

12. Read a fantasy novel.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson, The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. Everfair, a steampunk strory set in the Belgian Congo written by Nisi Shawl, is on my list.

13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
Dataclysm by Christian Rudder, So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. A free copy of Whiplash: How to survive our faster future by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe just landed on my desk. I hope I can read it in time!

14. Read a book about war.
Add The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Girl at War by Sara Novic, War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut to your list. I'll finally be reading The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers this year.

15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
Check out 'Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out' by Susan Kuklin, and Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, and For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu. I'm checking out The Summer Prince by Nebula award winner Alaya Dawn Johnson, and We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. Check out this handy list on the BN Teen Blog for more.

16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country. 
So, so many books to choose from on this list. Read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou for starters. I think I'll check out Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane.

17. Read a classic by an author of color.
Check out Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Sport of the Gods by Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko to name just a few. I'll be reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison this year.

18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
Bitch Planet, Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman, Princeless, and Nimona to name a few, I'm going to read Rat Queens this year.

19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.
The Mortifications by Derek Palacio, Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan, The Seventh Day by Yu Hua and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I think I will finally get around to reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel.
Ugh, romance? My least favorite genre and my readers advisory kryptonite. These might not be strictly romance novels as much as they are novels containing romance but even this cold-hearted, Nicholas Sparks eschewing reader can recommend books with some touchy-feelies: Try Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, and Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx (a cinematic list for sure). I'll be reading Guapa by Saleem Hadad this year.

21. Read a book published by a micropress.
How small is micro? I will be reading Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Leger and The Ugly by Alexander Boldizar, and Grief is the thing with feathers by Max Porter, a tiny novel written in short essays, has popped up on all kinds of lists, including my "to read" list.

22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.
Check out Intimations: Stories by Alexandra Kleeman, Get in Trouble by Kelly Link, and Gutshot by Amelia Gray for the best creepy little stories, and of course, Shirley Jackson's short stories are unrivaled. I'm looking forward to reading Exposure by Richmond author Katy Resch George.

23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
Tough one...I don't read a lot of poetry. Challenge, accepted! Check out The Collected Poems, 1952-1990 by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam.  I am adding Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems, 1962 - 1972 by Alejandra Pizarnik to my read harder list.

24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, The Mothers by Brit Bennett, The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, and The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I've got a copy of Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey here on my desk that I'm pretty excited about reviewing for book club.

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