Thursday, October 22, 2015

Read Harder Challenge: 3rd Quarter Update

I finished the Read Harder Challenge in the third quarter and I can't say that I am too surprised that I finished early as it's sort of in my nature to attack goals with gusto and finish early.  I'm really glad that I took this challenge on as it was fun to research which books I would read for the various categories and it introduced me to genre and authors that I might not have checked out otherwise.  I would definitely do a challenge like this again in the future!

Tasks Completed in the Third Quarter:
A romance novel:  9 Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean - Before this challenge, I hadn't read a romance novel for well over 10 years. I avoided the genre because I always felt like the books were so over the top and, well, smutty, and the female characters tended to have that "damsel in destress/I'm waiting for a man to save me" feel to them. So I turned to Becky, who is a romance expert, and asked her to recommend a book and she did a great job as the MacLean novel I read was a fun, entertaining read with a strong female character.  If you are like me and have avoided the romance character, I'd recommend checking MacLean's books out!

A book that is a retelling of a classic story:  The Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Schine - This book is a re-telling of Sense and Sensibility, which I hadn't read before reading this novel.  I might have enjoyed it more had I read S&S first.  There were enjoyable aspects of the novel but the women seemed self-centered and a bit whiny and manipulative at times.  I later read S&S and understood that that is just how the characters are...

A book published before 1850:  Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen - Oy vey, this was a struggle for me to get through.  I want to like classics, I really do, but this book reminded me that they just don't appeal to me. I couldn't handle how the authors drew out situations that could be resolved by asking a direct question. I understand that these novels were written in a different period of time when it was not acceptable for women to voice their opinions and concerns, but the drawn out story line (is she engaged? Isn't she? For the love of God, JUST ASK HER!!) drive me crazy. If I not been reading this book for the challenge I definitely would have given up on it.  

A self-improvement book:  10% Happier by Dan Harris - This book ended up being less of a self-help book and more of a memoir but I'm still counting it for this category.  It's about an author who used meditation to combat his trouble with panic attacks.  I liked some aspects of the book but felt like the author did a lot of name dropping. 

Tasks Completed in Prior Quarter:
 A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25: Purple Hibiscus by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65:  Runaway by Alice Munro
A book by a person whose gender is different from your own:  The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
A book by an author from Africa: Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
A YA novel:  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
A sci-fi novel:  The Martian by Andy Weir
An audiobook:  Yes Please by Amy Poehler 
A collection of poetry:  Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A microhistory:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot A book published this year:  Girl on the Train by Paul Hawkins
A book published by an indie press:  The Empathy Exam by Leslie Jamison
A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure:  Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod
A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture:  The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
A collection of short stories:  Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade:  Redeployment by Phil Klay
A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ:  Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 
A book that was originally published in another language:  Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind:  French Milk by Lucy Knisley  
A book that someone else has recommended to you:  Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankel
A book that takes place in Asia:  In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner 

Now that I am done with the challenge, it is nice to have 100% control over what I am reading and to not have to think about what categories I need to fill as besides book club and postal book club books, I can read whatever I please.  I've got a whole lot of suspended book requests at the library that I am looking forward to checking out in the final months of the year!
What book or books are you most looking forward to reading?  I'm excited to read "Fates and Furies," "A Window Opens" and "Kitchens of the Great Midwest."


Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I love your review of Sense and Sensibility, as that is exactly how I feel about some of the classics! It is the same with Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre is not that great either (sorry Mom!) I was talking to a coworker who is a man the other day and he said he loved Jane Eyre and I told him how I didn't really love it and he was aghast! How could I? But seriously, it's about a girl pining over a boy (in the same non direct way of Jane Austin)... It's not my cup of tea.

I love that you did this challenge and I love ticking things off lists, but this year I just had too much going on to feel like I wanted to be stuck in a box for what to read. I wonder if I just looked at what I have read if I would complete a lot of the categories anyway. I know I have not read a short story book unless you count This is The Story of a Happy Marriage, which is a collection of short stories by Ann Patchett, and was quite good!

I am currently reading Dietland, which looked like a fun read, but it's a hardback book so I will probably leave it at home and read something else on my commute to work. I also just finished The Dinner, which was okay but not that great.

missris said...

I also usually attack a goal with gusto and then finish early ;) Good for you for completing this challenge!

Marlys said...

That was quite a list! I haven't read Sense & Sensibilty, but know the language used is hard to understand, too. One of my favorite books is Jane Eyre, so must be my generation!
Have fun reading your own choices now!

Stephany said...

Nice job on not only finishing, but finishing early! I'm not going to end up finishing the challenge, but it was fun to tackle it and I got to read some great books because of it!

Jenny said...

Well done on completing this challenge! I really got out of the habit of reading so set myself an achievable goal of reading 12 books this year to encourage me to read once a month and I was pleased to have completed that in 6 months and I've been continuing to keep reading. I'll definitely be setting a reading goal for next year too, but I don't know what that will be yet.

Jeanie said...

Good grief! I'm really impressed by your sticking with the reading challenge and finishing on the early side. I'm so stacked up on books I honestly can't tell you which I'm looking forward to finishing most!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I deeply dislike classics and I've gotten to the point now where I just feel like most people probably don't really like them and just feel like they SHOULD like them because they are classics. It bums me out that I wasted so much time reading classics and books like them in high school when that was probably my only opportunity to spend a ton of time reading and talking about books haha.

I gave up on this challenge but I did enjoy doing it while I was- I just got to a point where I wasn't excited about the challenges left and I realized- wait a second, no one is making me do this haha. I'm kind of excited for you to be done too because I love getting book recommendations from you!

Amber said...

Awesome job!! I have 7 books left to finish, one that I'm about halfway through right now. Yikes, not sure I will finish by the end of the year but I'm going to try and even if I don't I am happy I did it because I did end up reading a few books I would not have read otherwise. I have requested Fates and Furies at the library and I'm really looking forward to reading it!

Nora said...

Congrats on finishing! Such an accomplishment :)

A book I was dying to read was Adriana's newest, which I was able to do and big surprise- I loved it.

I don't have anything that I'm itching to read right now, so I'm taking it as it comes either via my TBR or books for TLC that I have to review. It's kind of fun to just pick randomly!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I think those reading challenges are so fun, but I've never completed one. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I cannot believe how much you read!! So awesome!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I didn't participate in this because I fail at goals. Even easy goals. It's a problem. I should probably try to do it next year. I'm excited/scared to read the new Girl with a dragon tattoo book ha.

Lauren @ Sassy Molassy said...

The challenge sounds like a great way to read books you're not typically drawn to. I really want to read 10% happier as I've heard it recommended by several podcasters.