read harder

Reading resolutions

I can’t possibly resolve to read more. I will have to either quit my job or stop sleeping. But while that option is out, I can resolve to read differently.

I don’t want to make resolutions like ‘I will only read women authors’. Instead, I think my resolutions should be more like ‘I will read fewer/none white straight cis dudes’. Because I can resolve to read only women authors, but should I not also read gender-nonconfirming/non-binary/trans folks? Let us not make our reading resolutions binary.

I want to read more POC authors. I read a bunch in 2015, but not nearly enough (especially given how much I read).

I want to read more speculative fiction. It’s my original love, and it’s been somewhat neglected in 2015.

I want to read more short stories.

And yes, I will be doing Read Harder challenge 2016.

We’ll see how this works. We’ll also see how this works with whatever ARCs and galleys publishers throw at me.

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On reading challenges (or lack thereof)

Reading challenges are not my jam. They normally don’t pack enough actual ‘challenge’ for me. I read too much (#bookbrag). Or I forget about them. It’s occasionally fun to do a themed month (hello, vintage sci-fi month in January), but mostly I get distracted by yet another shiny galley or cover and wander off to read for hours without any requirements or readathons.

IMG_0655I did, however, pick up the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge list at the Read Harder book group in my city (there might be one in yours!). The purpose of this list is to make you read more widely, to pick up books you normally would not pick up. There are obviously a few categories where I would like to put down ‘see attached spreadsheet’ (graphic novels, LGBTQ lit, sci-fi), but there are four that I am missing completely (I feel rather guilty about missing an author from Africa; I can name at least five off the top of my head, yet I read exactly zero books by African authors this year). And while you can use the same book for multiple categories, I am a reading overachiever and aim to avoid this. Audiobooks are hard for me because I don’t have a commute and also forget to pay attention when listening, at least with fiction. I might try non-fiction and pretend it’s a long podcast. Romance novels aren’t particularly difficult, I just don’t read them, which is basically the exact situation this reading challenge is supposed to rectify.

I also don’t read self-help books. Not because I think I don’t need help (or that I am beyond it), I just can’t stand most of self-help literature. So I am sort of cheating and listing Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson as a self-help book. It technically is. It’s helping me right this moment by saying that having irrational fears and depression most of the time is not weird. Plus, there is this amazing chapter titled ‘Things My Father Taught Me’ that is chock-full of useful life advice such as ‘Always shoot first. Because bears don’t shoot. They just eat you. You’ll never win if you wait for the bear to get the first shot. This is all basic hunting 101.’ I am Canadian, I feel like this is advice I can use.

Alternatively, I might listen to Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed on audio. Because that’s also good advice.