I love books. I am that nerd you spot in a bookstore who lovingly brushes her fingertips over the cover of the book she’s holding. I’ve been known to hug a book to my chest. I did this recently when I purchased Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. When Drummer and I visit New Orleans, I have to visit at least two bookstores. He and our other friends have threatened to leave me in the store while they go off and find other fun stuff to do. He is my enabler. He bought me a new book for Christmas. I didn’t even ask for it. He knows me so well.
Yet despite my love of books, I only read 8 this year! Eight! How can that be? Well, I think I know. Family drama. There has been a lot of challenges within my family this year and my free time was mostly spent dealing with those challenges. There would be times when at the end of the day I’d be so exhausted from life, I just fell asleep. It happens. I know this. I’ve decided to fix my own situation regarding my reading levels and have adopted the Book Riot 2018 Read Harder challenge.
Book Riot is an online subscription for book lovers. There are stories from loving a bookworm to the newest releases you may not know about. It’s one of my favorite online groups to read because I’m always finding something I can relate to in their posts.
The read harder challenge does just that. It challenges you to read books that you haven’t’ thought about. Most of the time, when I am looking for something new to read, I’ll review my list on Goodreads or I’ll just wander the aisles at the local bookstore looking for a cover to catch my eye. There is nothing wrong with choosing books this way. However, since I read so little this year, I needed a deliberate way to find something new to read.
The link to the challenge can be found here: Read Harder You can download the list to a workable .pdf file and go from there. You fill out the form with the books you have read, take a screenshot and send it to them. Sure, you can easily cheat and get the list banged out by June by listing books you’ve read already, but that’s not the point of this challenge. It’s to help guide you to read authors and genres that you may not have thought about before. I had to ask for help for the comic category. I’ve read a couple of the standard comics and graphic novels, but because I want to branch out with this challenge, I texted a friend for advice.
Tackling the list
There are only 24 categories on this list. I like that. Its short compared too many other lists out there. My goal every year is to read at least 25 books. Sadly, the past 2 years I have failed in reaching that goal. 2018, I’m determined to reach it. Maybe even surpass the number I’ve set for myself. I have already made a list of books I want to read for this list to make it easier for me to achieve my goal of finishing it. I have the list written in a Google Docs so I can access the list anytime I’m out at the bookstore or the library.
I haven’t fully decided if I’m going to buy all the books or if I’m going to use the library. I love my local library. They know me there. I have a nickname when I walk in the door they call me “The Washington Irving Lady” (because I work at Washington Irving’s house museum). It’s small library. I like the community feel to it. However, because it’s so small, you’d be surprised that most of the classics, they don’t have on their shelves. Thank goodness for interlibrary loans. I haven’t been up to the library in a few months though. I’m a little shy to walk in the door because I recently lost a book from their collection. I paid the fine but I feel bad I lost the book. I’m hoping all will be forgiven when I do walk through the doors again.
Some books I’ve chosen are classics. They are listed on my “1001 books to read”. These books I think I will buy just to have on my shelves. I will also have to buy the comics my friend listed for me, but that’s okay. I can always give them to my brother who collects and likes to read new titles when he can. I love buying books. I used to hit the bookstore every time I got paid, which was not really a great financial decision. Pesky bills and old college loans to pay caused me to re-think my plan.
The next step in my plan is to go over the titles I have chosen and their page counts. Sure, I could read a bunch of short books to get a leg up on my list. However, I am off work for the next 2 ½ months and winter is the perfect time to tackle big books to read. I have spare time. Most days, I’m home alone and I am able to plan my days and use the alone time to my advantage. I am also planning to go on a trip and I will most definitely have a book (or two!) with me. The Drummer teases me often about bringing books on vacation with me. I usually bring at least one printed book and I have a bunch of books in my queue from Audible.com. You will notice that I’ve left off e-readers as a way to read books. I feel I spend enough screen time reading and writing so I don’t use Kindle or The Nook. I know there are advantages, I just don’t want to read that way.
This is not my complete list. There are a few categories on the list that I am not sure which title I’m going to choose but below is a list of most of my choices (these are subject to change)
Tee’s 2018 Read Harder list:
- A book published posthumously – Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
Why I am choosing this book: There are a few reasons. First, the book was published in 1983 after Toole’s mother shopped the novel around for years. Toole died in 1969. So it definitely fits the category. Plus, I read all the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo titles. Also, Confederacy of Dunces ticks off another category in my reading lists, it’s on my 1001 books to read. Two lists, one book.
- True Crime Book – The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson
Why am I choosing this book: I am a big fan of true crime stories. I watch ID channel constantly. I am also a big fan of late 19th century America. The setting is the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. This book has also topped a lot of “read this book” lists. I’m going to give it a shot. I’m hoping it lives up to the hype.
- Classic genre fiction – Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
Why am I choosing this book: I chose mystery because it’s a genre I haven’t read much of and why not read the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie. Also, there is a new version of the movie out starring quite a few people including Johnny Depp, so I’d like to read the book before I watch the movie. I do that a lot. Most movies that I know are based on a book, I’ll avoid going to see until I’ve read the book.
- Book set in one of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China or South Africa) – The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky
Why am I choosing this book: There are a few reasons why I’m choosing this book. The first, it is yet another title on my 1001 books to read list. It’s Russian, so it is appropriate to the task. Also, I’ve been wanting to read Dostoevsky ever since I started with his fellow Russian writer, Tolstoy. I’ve already read Anna Karenina. I wasn’t sure I wanted to tackle War and Peace yet, so I chose this title. Crime and Punishment seemed like a bummer so I chose The Brothers Karamazov instead. I could have totally made the wrong choice.
- Western – Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
Why am I choosing this book: I read and LOVED No Country for Old Men (and subsequently the movie). McCarthy is also on my 1001 list. I do find his writing style brutal yet I also find a beauty in the harshness of his writing.
- Romance by a person of Color – The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo – Zen Cho
Why am I choosing this book: Romance is my least favorite genre. I had to dig through lists on Goodreads to find a book that appealed to me. What I found appealing about this book is the setting, 1920’s London. The main character is a Malaysian young woman, as is the author. I’ve read a few of the reviews on Goodreads as well. Many of them have mentioned it’s funny. I like smart, funny books as well as the big classic tomes. I think I will save this book after I read a more depressing book.
- Children’s classic before 1980 – The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Gramme
Why am I choosing this book: I honestly thought I read this book as a child. I didn’t which is shocking because I know I had a copy of this book on my little shelf that my mother let me use as my library. Since I’ve read quite a few children’s classics as a child and again as an adult, I had to find something I hadn’t read.
- Celebrity Memoir – Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything In Between – Lauren Graham
Why am I choosing this book: To know me, is to know that I am head over heels, completely obsessed with The Gilmore Girls. Gilmore Girls is my favorite TV show. I still watch the repeats and own the entire series on DVD. I binge watched the Netflix “A Year in the Life” over Thanksgiving weekend, last year, blowing my data because my Dad doesn’t have the internet. Part of why I love GG is because I related so much to Lauren Graham’s portrayal of Lorelai. I enjoyed her acting so much, that I followed her to Parenthood and again, loved her character. I didn’t stick with the show (I know, I need to make that up sometime) because it was just too much for me to deal with emotionally at the time. Fun note, I haven’t watched “This is Us” yet either.
- A book of social science – White Trash The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America – Nancy Isenberg
Why am I choosing this book: Class lines have been in the news all year. This book was published in June 2016. Class lines have not just become part of our social conscience recently, they’ve always been there. We’re all affected by it, whether we notice what’s happening or not. I also chose this book because of my interest in history and working at a museum where the family was considered “upper middle class” and the values and mores they had to live by during that time. I’m definitely looking forward to reading this book.
- A first book in a “new to me” YA series – A Wrinkle In Time – Madeleine L’Engle
Why am I choosing this book: This book ticks off boxes similar to other books I have listed here. First, it’s on my 1001 to read list. Second, it’s another book from growing up I swore I had read, but didn’t. I’m pretty sure I can picture the cheesy cover of the copy we had in our house, but the plot doesn’t sound familiar to me. I’m not really interested the YA genre, though some books I’ve recently read, definitely fell into that category. Finally, I saw the trailer for the movie before The Last Jedi was shown and the movie looks pretty good. I mean it has Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and Oprah, it has to be decent (I hope).
That’s my list. At least part of it. I’m looking forward to my reading adventures for the upcoming year. I’m sure I’ll find other books to read. Who knows, I may find a new (or new to me) book that fits one of the categories I’ve already planned for and change it. It’s always a new adventure, even if I’ve read the book a bunch of times *cough* Lord of the Rings *cough cough*
What about you? Are you ready to challenge yourself? Have you already set up a reading goal? Let me know in the comments.