Taking On the 2017 Read Harder Challenge? Start Here.
At the start of each new year, our friends at Book Riot issue a challenge: Read consciously, thoughtfully, and outside your comfort zone.
The 2017 Read Harder Challenge lays out 24 new book tasks. They're more fun and more challenging than ever, with the added bonus of category suggestions from awesome authors like Roxane Gay and Celeste Ng.
To support anyone tackling the challenge, our book experts here at The New York Public Library are suggesting books in each category for readers looking to fulfill the tasks—particularly readers who want to use mostly library books!
Are you taking on the challenge? Have more suggestions for books that fit the tasks? Let us know in the comments.
1. Read a book about sports.
Forward: A Memoir by Abby Wambach
Blacktop: Janae by LJ Alonge
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
2. Read a debut novel.
Girl at War by Sara Nović
Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
3. Read a book about books.
Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich
How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis
Avid Reader: A Life by Robert Gottlieb
4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
Shantytown by César Aira
Custody of the Eyes by Diamela Eltit
Halting Steps: Collected and New Poems by Claribel Alegría
The Country Under My Skin by Gioconda Belli
5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbne
Almost a Woman by Esmerelda Santiago
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
6. Read an all-ages comic.
Goldie Vance, Vol. 1 by Hope Larson & Brittany Williams
Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin (the Babysitter’s Club graphic novel reboot by Raina Telgemeier)
Jellaby, Vol. 1 by Kean Soo
Help Us! Great Warrior by Madeleine Flores
7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
The Dubliners by James Joyce
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
8. Read a travel memoir.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
Around the World in 50 Years by Albert Podell
My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile by Isabel Allende
9. Read a book you’ve read before.
We don’t know what you’ve read before… but here are our picks for the Read Harder Challenge last year!
10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (Queens)
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (Brooklyn)
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (Manhattan)
Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen (Westchester)
11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria; 5,425 mi from NYC)
Sightseeing: Stories by Rattawut Lapcharoensap (Thailand; 8,509 mi from NYC)
I Have a Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim (South Korea; 6,961 mi from NYC)
The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding (Somalia; 7,508 mi from NYC)
12. Read a fantasy novel.
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan
Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende
The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr
How to Make a Spaceship by Julian Guthrie
14. Read a book about war.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
The War: A Memoir by Marguerite Duras
Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Under Threat by Robin Stevenson
16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
Black Boy by Richard Wright
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
17. Read a classic by an author of color.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang
18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
Faith by Jody Houser
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North
Storm by Greg Pak
19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.
for colored girls who have considered suicide, when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel.
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Don’t Let Me Go by J. H. Trumble
21. Read a book published by a micropress.
Tough to find them in the Library, but we want to hear about them! Please leave a comment if you know of a great micropress read in our catalog.
22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.
Know the Mother by Desiree Cooper
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Family Furnishings by Alice Munro
The Unknown Errors of Our Lives by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
Let the Words: Selected Poems by Yona Wallach, translated by Linda Stern Zisquit
Uncollected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow
Bright Scythe: Selected Poems of Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Patricia Crane
The House in the Sand: Prose Poems by Pablo Neruda; translated by Dennis Maloney & Clark M. Zlotchew
24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
The Vagrants by Yiyun Li
Don’t Let Him Know by Sandip Roy
Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.
Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!