Reading Challenge: Read Harder 2021

Book Riot's Read Harder challenge rocked my world when I did it in 2019, and it lead to some of the most interesting reads for my 2020 (although I didn't come close to completing). Really excited to try to crush the challenge this year!

Read Harder 2021

Read a book you’ve been intimidated to read

  •  The Sword Went Out to Sea by H.D.
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Read a nonfiction book about anti-racism 

  • Me and White Supremacy : Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad

Read a non-European novel in translation 

  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
  • The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin 
  • The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
  • The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun
  • The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino 
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor 
  • Confessions by Kanae Minato

Read an LGBTQ+ history book 

  •  Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves 

Read a genre novel by an Indigenous, First Nations, or Native American author

  • Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Read a fanfic
  • a murder-free Hannigram???

Read a fat-positive romance

  • Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Read a romance by a trans or nonbinary author

  • Bring Her On by Chelsea M. Cameron
  • The Craft of Love by EE Ottoman

Read a middle grade mystery

  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg 
  • Pepper's Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald 
  • Chirp by Kate Messner
  • Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

Read an SFF anthology edited by a person of color

  • She Walks in Shadows by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, ed.
  • A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers by Victor LaValle (Editor)

Read a food memoir by an author of color

  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir by Padma Lakshmi
  • From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke 
  • Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey

Read a work of investigative nonfiction by an author of color

  •  Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga
  • Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias by Pragya Agarwal
  • The Golden Thread: The Cold War Mystery Surrounding the Death of Dag Hammarskjöld by Ravi Somaiya
  • The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-lynching Crusader by Ida B. Wells-Barnett
  • Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston

Read a book with a cover you don’t like

  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  • The Gift by H.D.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys

Read a realistic YA book not set in the U.S., UK, or Canada

  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  • Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins
  • The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  • The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf 
  • The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf 
  • Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
  • If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
  • A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

Read a memoir by a Latinx author

  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Read an own voices book about disability

  • Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc 
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann

Read an own voices YA book with a Black main character that isn’t about Black pain

  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi 
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon 
  • Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Read a book by/about a non-Western world leader

  • Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Helene Cooper

Read a historical fiction with a POC or LGBTQ+ protagonist

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
  • She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore

Read a book of nature poems

  • Bestiary: Poems by Donika Kelly
  • Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon
  • The Wild Iris by Louise Glück
  • Passing Through Humansville by Karen Craigo
  • Follow by Amy Wright Vollmar

Read a children’s book that centers a disabled character but not their disability

  • Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman 
  • Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari 
  • Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green 
  • The Collectors by Jacqueline West

Read a book set in the Midwest

  •  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley 
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness

  •  Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
  • A Biography of Mrs Marty Mann: The First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous by Sally Brown
  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die 

  • Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams 


  1. Under "A Book of Nature Poems," may I suggest "Passing Through Humansville" by Karen Craigo and "Follow" by Amy Wright Vollmar? Both are excellent....."Follow" probably more the traditional nature poem type of book, full of close observation and passionate description. "Humansville" is rich in observation as well, but also contains a lot of human interaction and is often quite witty.

    1. Oh, perfect -- thank you! I was not feeling strongly about the ideas I found, so thank you for these!


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