I haven’t made much progress yet on this year’s Read Harder Challenge, but I’ve read quite a few books in other years that meet the categories. If you’re new to Read Harder, Book Riot makes suggestions for each category, and there’s a discussion group on Goodreads that’s really helpful. I thought I’d post some recommendations, in case they spark an interest in anyone else who’s doing the challenge. I didn’t include every category, and these are just a few ideas — for most of these categories I could think of more recommendations if you want them.
Read a YA nonfiction book: How Dare the Sun Rise — also a great fit for the category “a book by or about a refugee”.
Read a retelling of a classic of the canon, fairytale, or myth by an author of color: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is based on Mayan mythology. Also, Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie is a retelling of Antigone.
Read a mystery where the victim(s) is not a woman: I loved After Atlas, a science fiction mystery.
Read a graphic memoir: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi or Relish by Lucy Knisley. I’ll be reading George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy.
Read a book about a natural disaster: I loved The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough (though it’s technically a man-made disaster because it was the breakdown of a dam), or for a fictionalized version, read In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden.
Read a play by an author of color and/or queer author: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Read a book that takes place in a rural setting: I highly recommend Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, or Dopesick. The Things She’s Seen also works for this category, as well as for the book by an indigenous author.
Read a debut novel by a queer author: An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, or On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Read a food book about a cuisine you’ve never tried before: Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer is about a specific Iraqi dish and a beautiful novel.
Read a book about climate change: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.
Read a doorstopper (over 500 pages) published after 1950, written by a woman: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The later Harry Potter books also fall in this category, as does The Secret History and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
Read a sci-fi/fantasy novella (under 120 pages): I recommend the novellas by Martha Wells (beginning with All Systems Red). I read one of The Expanse novellas by James S. A. Corey, The Churn.
Read a book by or about a refugee: How Dare the Sun Rise
Read a middle grade book that doesn’t take place in the U.S. or the UK: Heidi, or Number the Stars.
Read a book with a main character or protagonist with a disability (fiction or non): There are quite a few good books about people on the spectrum, although many don’t consider that a disability. One recommendation is The World’s Strongest Librarian, a memoir about a librarian/bodybuilder with Tourette’s Syndrome.
Read a book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous author: I loved The Things She’s Seen. Also anything by Louise Erdrich.
Any recommendations in these categories? If you’re doing the challenge, what have you read so far?