And the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge is here again! There’s 24 prompts to encourage you to read harder, and I urge you to check it out if you want to get outside your comfort zone. 🙂

(Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)

book riot

To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try.

  • Book published in 1900-50

Murder of Roger Ackroyd; Agatha Christie.

Originally published in 1926.

Mrs. Ferrars became a widow under slightly suspicious circumstances, and when she dies of an overdose, some see that as support to their suspicions. And then, less than a day later, Roger Ackroyd, who the widow had planned to marry, is killed. But it just so happens that Hercule Poirot has retired to this not so peaceful little village, and he is asked to discover what happened. And so he does, asking questions, posing theories, and dismissing the attempts of others to decipher the truth, until finally revealing the puzzle in one fell swoop.

There’s a twist at the end of this book, and I saw it coming soon enough to make the ending fall flat. It’s also a little dry, and the mystery is drawn out in a way I compared unfavorably to Sherlock Holmes’ mysteries, which follow the same pattern, but more tightly plotted. Still, Christie is a classic writer, and worth a try.

  • Book about a character of color on a spiritual journey

The Sparrow; Maria Doria Russell.

The main character is a Puerto Rican priest, Emilio Sandoz, who travels on a difficult journey to knowing his God.

This is a well written, but very tragic book. It begins with the aftermath of a mission to another planet, and skips back and forth starting at the very beginning of the protagonist’s pathway to the priesthood, passing through meeting the other main characters, the discovery of intelligent life elsewhere, setting up the journey, the trip to another planet, and the events there. Even knowing the end, there are a lot of questions, and they aren’t answered in full until the last few pages. The effect is gripping and sad at the same time, watching Emilio tell his story, and be judged for his actions, without true understanding.

Emilio Sandoz doesn’t really know God at the start. He feels empty, but strives for faith, and hopes to find that certainty–and in the beginning, the miracle of discovery seems like a sign. But when things go terribly wrong, his faith is tested. Though a book about faith, it’s some how not overwhelmingly religious. It is about the connections between people, friendships and romances alike, and language (Emilio is a polyglot and translator.) And mostly it’s about first contact, and the issues that arise from misunderstanding a culture.  Many of the trials stem from just that–fundamental gaps in knowledge, which lead to violence and death.





About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

One response »

  1. I met Mary Doria Russell in April at a book festival and picked up a copy (signed of course) of The Sparrow! It sounds like a very unique read!

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