Recommendations: Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge Tasks 13-16

I am participating in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge this year (, which encourages you to read more widely and out of your comfort zone. I have seen some great lists of books to fulfill the challenge, so I thought I would do my own since I will be doing research for my own books anyway. I am only including books that look interesting to me and I can tell are good quality based on reviews, inclusion in other lists, and the book description. There are 24 tasks in total, so I plan to make suggestions for four tasks each week.

Task #13: Read a nonfiction book about technology

I rarely read nonfiction, and I don’t think I have ever read a book about technology. If you’re like me, then I think they key to this task is to find a human story about technology that you’re interested in. After doing some research, I think there are many ways you could take this topic. It could be about a historical aspect of STEM, creative work processes, or about the effects of technology.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race – I have been really keen to read this since I saw the move at the start of the year.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull – This is about creativity in business, written by a co-found of Pixar. As a creative person in a sometimes less-creative industry, this really appeals to me. I am always looking for ways to stretch my creativity wings!

This book looks like a similar story to Hidden Figures:

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

Another aspect of technology that interests me is its effect on our brains, personalities, and social lives.

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris – This is a book by a Canadian author that has been on my radar since last year. It’s also an award winner, as it won the 2014 Governor General’s Award.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Task #14: Read a book about war

I think this would be interesting task to take the opportunity to read about a War other than WWI or WWII. I am still trying to read books that I own, so I am choosing between two books about WWII:

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith – Tells the story of the US Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program through the perspective of an African-American woman. It explores issues of racism and sexism.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – This story is told backwards using a third person narrator, starting out in London n 1947 after WWII, ending in 1941 during WWII. It has LGBTQ characters, and won a Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction.

Out of interest of reading more diversely, here are some books NOT about WWI or II:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah, about Beah’s past as a child soldier in Sierra Leone. This book also works for Task #5: Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, set in Nigeria in the late 1960s, about the Biafra War, where Biafra sought an independent republic for Nigeria. It’s got wonderful reviews, and the war is experienced by a fleshed out cast of characters.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole – I don’t typically read romances, but this one set in the Civil War sounds awesome, and the cover is just amazing. Two undercover agents, a former slave turns spy for the Union Army in the South and a detective, infiltrate the Rebels in Virginia. Talk about forbidden love!

Some books about war that I have read and loved:

  • The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schafer
  • Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Task #15: Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+

Book Riot posted a listed of LBTQA+ authors, and remind you that it is still very difficult for authors to come out ( Also, how beautiful are those covers?

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – I ended up selecting this book because the audiobook is read my Lin Manual Miranda. It also works for Task #4: Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. I can’t recommend the audiobook enough!

Wandering Son, Volume 1 by Takako Shimura, translated by Matt Thorn – This is a sweet middle grade manga about two students in grade 5, a boy who wants to be a girl, and a girl who wants to be a boy.

Adaptation & The Huntress by Malinda Lo – This YA sci-fi duology has an interesting fantasy backdrop, and features gay characters falling in love.

I have three Robin Talley Books on my TBR, so she seems like a good option: Our Own Private Universe, What We Left Behind, Lies We Tell Ourselves.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson, Hold Still by Nina LaCour (and many others by these two authors)

Task #16: Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country

I was all set to read I am Jazz, but then I discovered it was frequently challenged in the United States, not Canada. The “challenged in your country” aspect of this task makes it a little more difficult. I am deciding between The Golden Compass and The Handmaid’s Tale. I own copies of both books, and Handmaid’s Tale appeals to me because the new show is starting soon.

The Golden Compass By Phillip Pullman: Banned for atheist themes

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Banned for profane language, anti-Christian overtones, violence, and sexual degradation

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – Banned for scenes of torture and Islamic content

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki – Banned for inappropriate language and being inappropriate for high school students

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Banned for portrayal of racial minorities

Goosebumps and Fear Street series by R. L. Stine – Banned for violence and lack of respect for parental authority

In Canada, we have Freedom to Read Week, which was February 26-March 4, 2017. They have a database of challenged works (, and you can also search the list by author, book, and genre. I think genre is a really handy search tool.  There is also an index of challenged French books.

This is a really interesting list by the Canadian Library Association of reasons why books were challenged in Canadian Public Libraries:

I’ll be back next week with tasks 17-20!

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