New Year’s Resolution Part II (Read Harder)

Hey, remember that time I made a non-resolution New Year’s resolution to read more? And how it was sort of a vague “I’m going to try to read 40 books” kind of thing? Well, thanks to one of my favourite book-ish websites, BookRiot*, I can move my non-resolution resolution solidly into the realm of specificity.

BookRiot has issued a reading challenge to its community and I intend on participating. The  challenge is to “Read Harder” which basically means reading with the intention of expanding one’s reading horizons. I doubt I’m the only one who tends to read a lot of similar stuff and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I’m sure there is a ton of other, great stuff out there that I’m missing.  Like the Read Harder challenge says, “we like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective” and reading a diversity of books opens us up to a diversity of perspectives.

One of the reasons I like BookRiot so much is that they are very mindful of the lack of racial, cultural, and gender diversity in mainstream literature. I very much like the idea of breaking out of that box and quite frankly I could use it. I always thought of myself as a person who values diversity and yet I recently went through the list of books I read in 2014 and noticed that they were almost exclusively written by white, American/British women. Sounds like my reading habits are due for a shake-up. Which is why I hope to spend 2015 “Reading Harder.”

Here is the BookRiot’s reading challenge as posted on their website. I couldn’t resist adding my first impressions. I’m not sure how much I’ll blog about the actual challenge but it may be fun to look back at this post a year from now and see which of my initial impressions were accurate vs. inaccurate.

  • A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 [First thing that comes to mind is “Divergent” which I have been meaning to read…]
  • A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 [Shouldn’t be too difficult.]
  • A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) [Fits with my vow to read more Alice Munroe like a proper Canadian woman.]
  • A book published by an indie press [Will have to start by Googling “list of indie presses.”]
  • A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ [Yes, please. For someone who is such an avid supporter of gay rights it is shameful that so much of my reading of heteronormative. Looking forward to changing that this year.]
  • A book by a person whose gender is different from your own [Easy peasy.]
  • A book that takes place in Asia [Also easy peasy.]
  • A book by an author from Africa [See comment above re: LGBTQ literature. I have read a decent amount of African literature but not nearly enough.]
  • A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.) [An excellent excuse to finally read some Sherman Alexei.]
  • A microhistory [I don’t even know what this is but it sounds intriguing.]
  • A YA novel [Have already decided I will read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” because it’s just odd that I didn’t read that when I was a YA.]
  • A sci-fi novel [This will be tricky. Other than “Ender’s Game” – which I liked very much – I have read virtually no science-fiction. Unless you count Margaret Atwood but I don’t because Margaret Atwood doesn’t consider her stuff sci-fi and we should listen to her because she is the boss.]
  • A romance novel [I actually don’t even know where to start with the genre of romance so this will be a a bit new. Sure, I read plenty of stuff with romantic plots but nothing that I think falls squarely into the category of “romance novel” so this will be fun.]
  • A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade [The difficulty with this one will be deciding which to read as I’m sure many of the titles on my TBR pile are previous award-winners.]
  • A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.) [I’m excited about this one! When I was a kid I LOVED fairy-tale re-tellings so I would love to get back into this genre. Maybe I’ll start with some Gregory McGuire. I read “Wicked” in high school but forget most of it.]
  • An audiobook [I’m already addicted to audiobooks so this will be another easy one.]
  • A collection of poetry [Oof. Poetry. I want so badly to love poetry but so much of it goes over my head. I’ll have to seek out recommendations for this one.]
  • A book that someone else has recommended to you [This will be fun. I just have to figure out who to ask. All I know is that it won’t be a certain PhD student who recently read “War and Peace” FOR FUN.]
  • A book that was originally published in another language [An excellent excuse to FINALLY read Gabriel Garcia Marquez.]
  • A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind [Another completely new genre for me but I know my local library has a graphic novel section so I’m looking forward to checking the genre out.]
  • A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure [I tend to subscribe to the idea that you shouldn’t feel guilty for reading something so it will be interesting to see how I decide a book fits this category.]
  • A book published before 1850 [The only thing that springs to mind is Dickens and only some of his books will fit into this category. I have no aversion to Dickens but maybe I can come up with something more creative.]
  • A book published this year [Ok!]
  • A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”) [Hmm… no idea where to start with this one but I think it’s safe to assume that I am not perfect and can probably find something useful to read that fits this category.]

And there you have it! My plan to spend 2015 Reading Harder. Now you’ll have to excuse me. I need to finish reading all the books I have out from the library because none of the fit any of these categories and I want to get going.

*I have no affiliation to BookRiot. Just a fan. Go check them out.