Crying on top of a stack of unfinished books

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about Christmas and everything that is merry and cheerful. I am talking about trying to get into reading on a regular basis again. Actually, just reading at all would be great.

Last year, I started The Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge. The challenge consists of 24 categories and you have to choose to read one book in each category. The purpose of it is to go outside of your comfort zone and read books you might not have otherwise read. I had started reading again after a long hiatus of not reading consistently, and I figured this was a good way to ease back into reading again. I did not complete the challenge, and I stopped reading by August, but I am happy with the amount that I’ve read.

I have very particular reading preferences that makes it difficult for me to find books to read. I can read any genre, but I tend to go with modern-day stories of people struggling with internal issues. The problem is that it’s difficult for me to read books that are not in the first person; otherwise, I just lose interest. I haven’t read any books written in the third person outside of required reading for classes and nonfiction. Yes, I know I’ve eliminated many good books in the process. Eventually, I will slowly start reading books written in the third person. I just don’t know when that will be, heh. I know, it’s funny that I was doing this challenge meant for me to go outside of my comfort one when I was still adamant about reading first person narration. I can already hear the subtle sounds of everyone shaking their heads at me.

Because I enjoy reading solely first-person narration, it’s often difficult to find a good fiction book that’s in my wheelhouse. This isn’t trying to find a needle in a haystack. This is more like finding a needle in Iowa. I’ve relied on mostly memoirs and collections of essays. There’s just something personal about reading a story from the perspectve of one person, as opposed to an unknown narrator.

Including the books I read outside of the challenge, I read a total of 21 books this year. Below is the list of categories I completed from the challenges, along with the books I read outside of the challenge. I also included the categories I did not complete, along with any books I had planned to read for that category.

Books I completed for the challenge

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 – It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (Novel)

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65 – The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Memoir)

A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) – Chase Us: Stories by Sean Ennis (Collection of Short Stories)

A book published by an indie press – Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor (Collection of Short Stories)

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ – Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (Novel)

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own – People I Want to Punch In the Throat by Jen Mann (Collection of Essays)

A book by an author from Africa – Daughters Who Walk This Path by Yejide Kilanko (Novel)

A YA novel – Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Novel)

A sci-fi novel – The Martian by Andy Weir (Novel)

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade –  The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Novel)

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (Collection of Essays)

An audiobook – A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir by Lev Golinkin (Memoir)

A book that was originally published in another language – The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir (Novel)

Other books I read

Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (Novel)

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Novel)

Storm Front (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher (Novel in a Series)

How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper (Novel)

Let’s Teach Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (Collection of Essays)

Pipsqueak by Brian Wiprud (Novel in a Series)

Stuffed by Brian Wiprud (Novel in a Series)

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (Novel)

Categories I did not finish

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.) – The Round House by Louise Eldrich (Novel)

A microhistory – The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers, and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever by Alan Sepinwall (Critical Analysis)

A romance novel – The Rosie Project: A Novel by Graeme Simsion (Novel)

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.) – Lamb by Christopher Moore (Novel)

A collection of poetry – TBA

A book that takes place in Asia – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Novel)

A book that someone else has recommended to you  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Novel)

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?) – Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (Graphic Novel)

A book published before 1850 – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Novel)

A book published this year – TBA

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”) – You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler (How To/Instructional)

Despite, ultimately failing the challenge, I’m glad I’ve at least attempted this and made progress for several months. I am planning to do the The Book Riot 2016 Read Harder Challenge next year with the expectation of not completing, but hey, finishing one book is better than not finishing anything at all.