A Lively Reading Life: The Read Harder Challenge Update

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Since I have joined Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge I had rediscovered the joy of reading. Now, having read and fulfilled 15 of the 24 tasks I find myself surprisingly inspired by the challenge. Since my last update I had found myself arguing with a book, reading books I won’t normally read, and learning new things. Not everything I read for the challenge were necessarily fantastic. Some were ok, some were a dud, but some made me think that diving into unfamiliar territory isn’t so bad. If anything, I guess, the goal of this challenge has been met in my reading experience. So far, the challenge has made my reading experience very lively. I had moments of anger and fury towards a book, surprise and excitement, and thoughtful silence.

At some point in May I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the challenge. I was having a bad month. My reading motivation was down and I was too tired to pick up any book. Then June came in with its rain and I was once again ready to cozy up with a book.

What have I read since my last challenge update? Here’s a run down.

Task 8: A book by an author from Africa: The Stranger by Albert Camus
I wrote a separate post on my experience here: I Met Camus and Threw Him out the Window.

Task 11: A YA Novel: How to Love by Katie Cotugno
This was an easy read. It had teen pregnancy, substance abuse, second chances. There were good moments in the book. I wouldn’t say it was exceptionally good, but it would be unfair to just call it bad. My reading diet has a good amount of YA in it. It’s not my go-to genre and often requires a lot of convincing before I pick up a YA book, but this was not a bad experience. Strangely enough a lot of the book I stumbled upon for this challenge are considered YA.

Task 15:A book that is a retelling of a classic story: Beauty by Robin McKinley
What a revelation this was. First and foremost I am more familiar with the Disney version of the fairy tale. When I read this there was definite a lot of difference from what I knew. It lead me to read the original French Version which was by far more interesting than the Disney version. The tension every evening after dinner as the beast asks beauty to marry him was heart wrenching. There’s something painful to deny someone you care about what s/he asks for. Yet, I also like that Beauty was truthful, as pained as she was to deny the Beast.

Task 18: A Book that someone else has recommended to you: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Originally, I planned to read Counting by 7s. I tried. It didn’t grab me. I had to put that down and wait for the next book. The Thief was one book a lot of people have been raving about. I had received recommendations for this books and the series itself from a lot of book blogger friends. It took me awhile to read it because it is YA. I gave in. Read it and I am a fan. The journey, the intrigue, the mythology was just wonderful.

Task 19: A book that was originally published in another language: The Old Man of the Moon by Shen Fu

Every culture has a way of narrating their stories. I have always struggled with Chinese literature. My attempts always fail. The only one I ever got to finish was Soul Mountain. It tried to read again with a shorter book. While this was approximately 80 pages long it still took me some time to finish. Expect a separate post on this book though.

Task 20: A graphic novel: Who is AC? by Hope Larson
This was bleh. I wanted to like it, but the narrative wasn’t just strong enough.

Task 23: A book published this year – Department of Speculation
This was wonderful and powerful. My parents separated when I was 7, and this was close to home.

Task 24: A Self-Improvement Book: Mindfulness and the Art of Anger Management by Mike Fisch

This was a book I decided reading for two reason: 1) I am clinically depressed so Mindfulness exercises are part of my daily routine, and 2) As a psychologist I am working with clients with Anger issues. This book was good. It covers a lot of ground in terms of the sources of anger. It has practical exercises in practicing mindfulness and dealing with anger.

Ongoing tasks:
Task 10: A Microhistory – Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage
This was a happy discovery. Wonderful so far. It’s definitely challenging all of my preconceived notion about marriage and its tradition.

Abandoned task:

Task 14 A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

I started reading The Road. I think I’m halfway into the book and I’m just not interested. In no way am I curious how they will survive the journey. So, I am debating whether to pull teeth and just finish it or choose another book.

I’m definitely also learning which books I don’t like and which authors no matter the popularity I do not enjoy. Have you joined a reading challenge this year? How’s that going? Any books you just finished that you love? Hate?

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6 Comments

  1. The Thief (wait till you get to the second book in the series!) is awesome! Beauty is also awesome! The Road is tough! Okay I am just going to type in exclamations. Haha! Anyway, speaking of The Road, I haven’t touched another Cormac McCarthy since then. So far, I have covered 15 items in the riot challenge and the lowest rating I gave was 3 stars. So I guess nothing yet to really qualify for a hatchet job. Haha. I did Sandman Vol 1 for my graphic novel item and I loved it. For the friend recommendation, I read Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and I loved that one too. 🙂

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    1. The Road IS tough!!!! (Returning exclamations) It’s such a short novel to plod through. I thought I could do it, but its just not my type. The completist in me just wants to read it, but nothing about it is encouraging.
      I love sandman! I read them years and years ago. Remains of the Day is the only Ishiguro I have read and enjoyed. It’s a very quiet novel and the film captured it very much.
      Yey to both of us having covered 15 items!

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  2. Is this your first update on the challenge? I haven’t checked your old posts so I wasn’t sure. I need to find my original book list and find out how I’m doing with mine. I think I’ve only accomplished 1/3 of the total number of tasks! So behind! Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up with my reading!

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  3. […] in to my fancies.  One can say, my reading personality has been in odds with itself. On one hand, I am goal-oriented and in dire need to finish the challenge, while on the other I would rather follow my craving. As a result, a sort of compromise has been […]

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