Here’s the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge for 2019! There’s 24 prompts to encourage you to read harder (you can combine them, too), and I urge you to check it out if you want to get outside your comfort zone. It’s always great to see the new suggestions, and finding the perfect title is fun.

(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.

  • Read a Collection of Poetry Published since 2014.

When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities; Chen Chen.

Published April 2017, so after 2014.

The thing about poetry is that it’s especially emotional. You connect, or you don’t. This collection of prose (some broken into stanzas, others paragraphs) has themes I can relate to, such as alienation, family arguments, the search for self. Though I found gems of lines scattered throughout, the whole of it left me unmoved. It’s interesting, and well-crafted, however, so worth a try.

  • Read a Book on Nonviolent True Crime.

Kingpin; Kevin Poulsen.

The true crime is this book involves hacking, there is no violence.

The story follows one man (and his associates) as the falls into a life of crime, beginning by working on the right side of the law, making mistakes, and then jail sentences and more mistakes after his release.

You get the sense that the system let him down, with a harsh sentence early on ruining his chances at finding work. Also, there’s a barely touched on bipolar diagnosis. The whole thing is a bit sad, as he often seems to be trying to do the right thing. Deals get made, criminals and law enforcement squabble over who’s an informant, money is stolen, people go to jail, and the cycle continues.

  • Read a Book by a Woman or AOC, that Won a Literary Award in 2018.

The Poet X; Elizabeth Acevedo.

The author is both a woman, and a person of color. The book won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2018), among others.

A story told in poems, but still remarkably detailed. You don’t feel like something is left out, as Xiomara spills her feelings into a journal-like collection. She talks about the way people treat her for her curves, her relationship with her parents and twin brother, worries over school, wanting to share her poetry, her crush on a boy, religion… The book nicely captures the complexities of a teenager trying to figure themselves out. It’s beautifully, lyrically done. Well worth a read.

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.

3 responses »

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m just going to be honest and expose myself as close minded- I really don’t like or understand most poetry. I almost attempted Read Harder this year, then I saw the poetry prompt and just said, Nope! I feel like it’s something so personal to the author, that there are few poems out there that have ever really spoken to me. I feel the same way about abstract art. I just don’t get it! *hides head in shame* anyway- Kudos to you for getting it done!

    • You might want to try poetry like in The Poet X, if you feel up to it. Instead of having a theme, it tells a story–actual events happening, in order.
      But there’s no shame in not liking a thing! If we all liked the same stuff, the world would be pretty boring!

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