Living through books: The reading list

Because everything that is worthwhile can be quantified (ha), last year I set myself the target of reading 56 books before the end of 2016. Enough to challenge myself, but not so many to be impossible.


But, inevitably, I kept choosing books that were less challenging and time-consuming, just so I could hit my target. Goodbye The Goldfinch, hello Agatha Christie. Not that there’s anything wrong with a classic Poirot, but when you’re chowing down books based just on how long it takes to finish them, you’re probably doing it wrong.

So I got to the end of the year, had completed my challenge, and still had barely any books I would recommend to a fellow bookworm. Which is a tragedy; as anyone who reads knows that foisting your latest favourite on your friends is half the joy.

So, for 2017 I decided that it would be quality over quantity, and that ticking books off lists wasn’t the answer.

But – but. The book nerd dies hard, and so when a friend invited me to join a group called “Read Harder”, I couldn’t resist.

The challenge is pretty simple; broaden your reading horizons by ticking off books in the categories below, hopefully discovering new genres and writers along the way:

  1. A book about sports
  2. A debut novel
  3. A book about books
  4. A book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author
  5. A book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative
  6. An all ages comic
  7. A book published between 1900 and 1950
  8. A travel memoir
  9. A book you’ve read before
  10. A book set within 100 miles of your location
  11. A book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location
  12. A fantasy novel
  13. A nonfiction book about technology
  14. A book about war
  15. A YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+
  16. A Book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country
  17. A classic by an author of colour
  18. A superhero comic with a female lead
  19. A book in which a character of colour goes on a spiritual journey
  20. A LGBTQ+ romance novel
  21. A book published by a micropress
  22. A Collection of Stories by a woman
  23. A collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love
  24. A book wherein all point of view characters are people of colour

I had a quick look back through my 2016 reading list and my literary horizons are horribly narrow. In the last year, the only 4 authors I covered who weren’t white, Western and alive were white, Western and dead.

So this year, instead of racing through books for the sake of it, I’m going to take the time to discover new favourites, savour great writing, and to learn and challenge myself. Because in these times in particular, we need to break out of our bubbles and listen to other people’s voices.


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