It's time for the Read Harder Challenge, 2019 edition!
Every December, our friends at Book Riot come up with a list of 24 brand-new reading tasks for the brand-new year. Staring down that list of categories—and matching them to your existing TBR pile—can be daunting, so we're offering up some ideas for a convenient place to start. Handpicked by your friendly neighborhood librarians, these books stood out as especially interesting, thought-provoking, and boundary-pushing.
So, what do you think: Are you going to take on the challenge this year? And do you have more books you're looking forward to checking out? Let us know in the comments.
1. An epistolary novel or collection of letters
Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, art by Jonny Sun
You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky
5. A book by a journalist or about journalism
Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour Hersh
No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria by Rania Abouzeid
6. A book by an AOC set in or about space
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, translated from Hebrew by Sondra Silverton
Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye, translated from French by Jordan Stump
Human Acts by Han Kang, translated from Korean by Deborah Smith
11. A book of manga
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Autism Adulthood: Strategies and Insight for a Fulfilling Life by Susan Senator
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas
14. A cozy mystery
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Norse Mythologyby Neil Gaiman
16. An historical romance by an AOC
The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker
Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever by Jason Fried and David Hansson
Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
18. A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
20. A book written in prison
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (Rainbow Book List, 2017)
The Three Lucys by Hayan Charara (Arab American Book Award, 2017)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Dolly Gray Award, 2016)
How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle (American Indian Youth Literature Award, 2014)
23. A self-published book
Different libraries have different policies about including self-published books in their collections, but Book Riot suggested a great place to start!
24. A collection of poetry published since 2014
Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey
Cenzontle by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith
Thanks to fellow librarian Amanda Pagan for her expert help with this list, and Helena Escalante and Anne Rouyer for suggestions via earlier blog posts! To check out more of NYPL’s staff picks and book recommendations—including many that could help you find more books for the Read Harder Challenge!—visit our frequently updated blogs.
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!