Read Harder 2017: Retrospective

Read Harder 2017: Retrospective

It’s 2018 already! Oh god oh god how did this happen I’m not ready etc. etc.

The fact that I’m not ready should be pretty evident considering the second half of my planned-out 2017 basically evaporated and I spent all the time between September and now clinging on to coping by my fingernails. Things happened: we moved house, my partner’s dad went into hospital, my own dad went into hospital, my day job got super busy, we got a cat (I’m not saying it’s all bad), I got seriously addicted to Dragon Age: Inquisition, and so on.

But I like this time of year, and not only because I get to sit on my arse in my pyjamas and drink prosecco all day. It’s good to stick my head above water and get a bit of perspective. So how about that reading challenge I picked up way back at the beginning of 2017?

  1. Read a book about sports.
  2. Read a debut novel.
  3. Read a book about books.
  4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.
  5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.
  6. Read an all-ages comic.
  7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.
  8. Read a travel memoir.
  9. Read a book you’ve read before.
  10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.
  11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.
  12. Read a fantasy novel.
  13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.
  14. Read a book about war.
  15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
  16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.
  17. Read a classic by an author of color.
  18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.
  19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey (From Daniel José Older, author of Salsa Nocturna, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, and YA novel Shadowshaper)
  20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean, author of ten bestselling historical romance novels)
  21. Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Ayiti, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Marvel’s World of Wakanda, and the forthcoming Hunger and Difficult Women)
  22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng, author Everything I Never Told You and the forthcoming Little Fires Everywhere)
  23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series, including The Unquiet Dead, The Language of Secrets, and the forthcoming Among the Ruins)
  24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of sci-fi novel Ascension)

Read a book about sports: Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Because this was the book I was least likely to pick up of my own accord, I went out of my way to make sure I read this one. I chose Fever Pitch because of course it’s immensely popular, and not just with football fans—there must be something in it, I thought.

While I wouldn’t say I made a mistake in picking it up, and I’m glad to have read it (and I now know marginally more about football than I did as well as being slightly more amicable toward Arsenal than my previous indifference), dear god, I would never recommend this book to anyone else.

While never not self-aware, this book is still just a long, self-indulgent whine from a middle-class straight white man. The moments where it touched honestly on his struggle with depression I could have read more of. Sadly, I found the book little more than a justification of a lifetime’s worth of bad behaviour on his part.

Read a debut novel: The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

I almost forgot about this one, it seems so long since I read it. This debut novel is a fast-paced action pastiche with genuine weird thrown in, and it’s hugely enjoyable. I reviewed it earlier in the year.

Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative/Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey/Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color: The Opposite House, by Helen Oyeyemi

The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

A totally unintentional threefer! This would be an example of strategic reading if I had intended it. Whereas I actually just straight up adore Oyeyemi’s prose and will read all of it as soon as I get my hands on it. I reviewed this in the first quarter.

Read a fantasy novel: The Tiger’s Daughter, by K. Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger's Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera

I do believe this is the only fantasy novel I’ve actually read in 2017, which is shocking. Nevertheless, I loved it. The Tiger’s Daughter is a brand new myth, bloody and urgent and passionate and fantastical. I reviewed it properly back in October.

Read a nonfiction book about technology: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy, by Violet Blue

The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy by Violet Blue

This was a Christmas present which I blazed through way back at the beginning of 2017. While I don’t think it’s the only book about technology I’ve read this year, it’s the first and the most memorable. Basically, I want to gift this to every woman, enby, and young person I know—its straightforward advice is invaluable.

Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Power Up! by Kate Leth and Matt Cummings

Power Up! by Kate Leth and Matt Cummings

Once again, while I’ve read other superhero comics with female leads this year, Power Up! is the one that sticks with me. I loved this comic from its art style down to its inclusiveness.

Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel: Spectred Isle, by KJ Charles

Spectred Isle by KJ Charles

Where do I begin? I freaking adored this book from cover to cover. It’s the first KJ Charles book I’ve read; I heard of her via a romance recommendation post from Xan West and when browsing her back catalogue I noticed the title and it was so damn clever I had to buy it there and then. This book hit all my buttons: inter-war England, magic as ancient and complicated and sensual, found family, straightforward m/m romance. Read this book, I tell you!

Read a collection of stories by a woman: The Emerald Circus, by Jane Yolen

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

Once again, not the only one I read this year, but I remember it well, as I only reviewed it back in November. This well-constructed collection is full of gems, my favourite of which has to be ‘Evian Steel’, an Arthurian prequel focusing on some of the women of the legends. I’m thankful for Netgalley allowing me to find and read this book where I might not otherwise have done.

So I didn’t win, but I’m not unhappy about that. I’m a little disappointed my reading fell off such a cliff at the end of the year, but I’m not going to be hard on myself. Reading is fun, and I do it for fun, and the moment it stops being fun… well, it hasn’t happened yet and I hope it never will.

So do I have a new reading challenge for 2018? Taking it down a level this year, I’m hoping to make a dent in my to-be-read stacks (around 285 books all told) with #killyourtbr.

2 thoughts on “Read Harder 2017: Retrospective

  1. Yesssssssss, let’s tackle the TBR backlist togetherrrrrr <3 You should sign up to Beat the Backlist with me!!

    1. Yes! I almost signed up yesterday but got distracted! I’m going to read over the rules, make a post, and then register. 🙂 I will kill this TBR mountain, if it takes all year!

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