Seeking book suggestions for Read Harder 2018 challenge.
December 27, 2017 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Bookriot has an annual "Read Harder" challenge, suggesting 24 categories of books to read. I need good recommendations for 10 of them.

The challenge is linked here: https://bookriot.com/2017/12/15/book-riots-2018-read-harder-challenge/

I'm actually using the 2018 challenge to structure reading of books I'm already sitting on, and then filling in the blank spots with categories from the 2017 list, which I prefer to the 2018 one. I'm particularly interested in books that were not written by straight, white American cis men, though of course am interested in anything good, in general.

My missing categories:

* A comic written or illustrated by a person of color

* A book of colonial or postcolonial literature

* A romance novel by or about a person of color

* A celebrity memoir

* A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country

* A classic by an author of color (I have several of these in the hopper but will get to them either way, so happy to hear suggestions)

* A superhero comic with a female lead

* A book of genre fiction in translation

* A book published by a micropress

* A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
posted by kensington314 to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
Celebrity Memoir: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.
A classic by an author of color: Kindred by Octavia Butler (also now a Graphic Novel)
posted by momochan at 1:02 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


* A comic written or illustrated by a person of color

Ta-Nehisi Coates did a run writing Black Panther for Marvel.

* A book of colonial or postcolonial literature

You could hardly do better than Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

* A celebrity memoir

Aly Raisman's memoir, Fierce, is much better than most ghost-written sports memoirs.

I read Marilyn Monroe's My Story over 30 years ago, but parts of it have really stayed with me.

* A superhero comic with a female lead

I'm fond of Ms. Marvel, in which the latest incarnation of Captain Marvel is a teenage Muslim girl.
posted by Orlop at 1:17 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Classic by an author of color: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
posted by vunder at 1:22 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


A book of genre fiction in translation

Stanislaw Lem, perhaps. Solaris is probably his most well-known book, but I had to read Return from the Stars in college and enjoyed it.
posted by hoyland at 1:23 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Love these suggestions so far - I'll be favoriting suggestions that I haven't read yet.
posted by kensington314 at 1:23 PM on December 27, 2017


A comic written/illustrated by a person of color—
I just read the 3-volume “March” set by civil rights icon John Lewis. I highly recommend it—volume 1 will fulfill your list requirement but I bet you’ll want to go ahead and read all three.
posted by bookmammal at 1:24 PM on December 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


I can't remember the main character's exact age, but M.K. Wren's A Gift Upon the Shore is about an elderly woman. It's a post-apocalyptic story about a woman who's worked to preserve scientific knowledge living uneasily with a religious group. The story is told in two timelines--in one she's remembering her youth, but the current timeline is just as key to the story.
posted by gideonfrog at 1:35 PM on December 27, 2017


Ooh—just thought of another one:
Female protagonist over the age of 60–
I really liked the novel Florence Gordon by Brian Norton—the title character is a very fiesty, smart, flawed 75 year old woman.
posted by bookmammal at 1:38 PM on December 27, 2017


Oh, and genre fiction in translation, I cannot recommend the book Maresi, by Maria Turtschaninoff, highly enough. It's a fantasy novel about a sisterhood of women who live on an island and protect each other from the dangers and oppression of the world.
posted by gideonfrog at 1:38 PM on December 27, 2017


* A book of colonial or postcolonial literature Try Weep Not, Child set during the Mau Mau wars in Kenya.

* A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country There is a list of challenged books in Canada. My personal favourite is Bear by Marian Engel, because it is so well-written.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:55 PM on December 27, 2017


Comic: Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis!

Over 60: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.

Translated genre: anything in Europa Editions's world noir imprint (many proofread by me!)
posted by ferret branca at 2:02 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Romance novels: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books was pretty rapturous about An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole. The podcast Call Your Girlfriend recommended The Wedding Date, which is forthcoming early in 2018.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:10 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Celebrity memoir: Ronda Rousey's My Fight/Your Fight is excellent, no doubt partly because her coauthor, Maria Burns Ortiz, is both a sports journalist and her sister.

Enthusiastically seconding Persepolis!!
posted by hollyholly at 2:12 PM on December 27, 2017


I actually had the same restrictions as you for BookRiot 2017! Here's what I did for the ones from that list that I see:

A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country: Eleanor and Park

A classic by an author of color : Kindred

A superhero comic with a female lead: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Note: has straight, white, male American writer, but female illustrator).
posted by damayanti at 2:14 PM on December 27, 2017


* A book of colonial or postcolonial literature

Andrea Levy's books, such as Small Island.
Monica Ali's Brick Lane.
Brian Friel's play Translations.

* A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor (book word review).

Book Snob has done quite a few reviews of novels about older women.

If non-fiction works, some of Diana Athill's memoirs and essays would fit - she was 100 last week. Somewhere Towards the End or her letter collection, Instead of a Book. Also Jane Miller's book Crazy Age.

* A romance novel by or about a person of color

Smart Bitches Trashy Books has posted and podcasted about ethnic diversity in romance: see Guest Post: The Diversity Thorn – Ethnic Identity, History, and Historical Romance, particularly the recommendations in the comments.
posted by paduasoy at 2:20 PM on December 27, 2017


For celebrity memoirs, I enjoyed both of Mindy Kaling's books, and am planning to read Gabrielle Union's book as I've heard good things about it.

Seconding both Black Panther and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
posted by the primroses were over at 2:33 PM on December 27, 2017


Lem is the obvious no-brained for sci-fi in translation, but I’d recommend the Cyberiad over anything else by him. Full so many clever phrases that have been translated well, a real lesson in what good translation should be, imo.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:37 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


My suggestions would be:

* A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
Seconding Ta-Nehisi Coates' recent run of Black Panther.
Also I am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina is awesome.

* A superhero comic with a female lead
In my book, nothing beats the most recent incarnation of Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson.

* A book of genre fiction in translation
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu)
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:24 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


the amazing comic Bitch Planet is illustrated by a gentleman of color, Valentine de Landro

genre fiction in translation: may I recommend Angelica Gorodischer? Despite Ursula Le Guin boosting her for years, only 3 books so far appear to be translated into English.

colonial/post-colonial fiction: there are many that are more politically relevant, but there are none that are as completely WEIRD as Amos Tutuola's "The Palm-Wine Drinkard and his Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads' Town".

celebrity memoir: Andre Agassi's "Open," Jack Johnson's "Jack Johnson is a dandy" (the black boxer, not the white singer), John Leguizamo's hilarious "Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, and All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends" (all of this depends on your definition of "celebrity" and has interesting results depending on how fame falls away)
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:32 PM on December 27, 2017


Do the Agatha Christie Miss Marple books qualify? She’s the detective, but I don’t know if she’s the protagonist proper.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:51 PM on December 27, 2017


* A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
* A book of colonial or postcolonial literature

Possible double word score for Boxers and Saints, a two volume graphic history of the Boxer Rebellion.
posted by baseballpajamas at 8:53 PM on December 27, 2017


Oh what fun!

* A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
+1 Persepolis and March

* A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
Arundhati Roy's new book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Exit West by Moshin Hamid, for that matter the Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, Omeros by Derek Walcott, Bessie Head short stories, Half of a Yellow Sun.... yah. The professor in me is like "what do you mean by postcolonial literature though?"

* A celebrity memoir

Does My Life in France by Julia Child count? So good. Also Bossypants was pretty good.

* A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country
(Depends on your country! From my vantage, would recommend The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger)

* A classic by an author of color (I have several of these in the hopper but will get to them either way, so happy to hear suggestions)

Passing by Nella Larsen; anything James Baldwin has ever written, Maud Martha, Gwendolyn Brooks; The Weary Blues, Langston Hughes, Blessing the Boats, Lucille Clifton... OK will stop before just listing all these great poetry poetry collections but you get the idea.

* A book of genre fiction in translation
+1 The Three Body Problem

* A book published by a micropress
Oh man it feels like we are in the Golden Age of Small Press Poetry. Maybe Morgan Parker's debut Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night or Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib's They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

* A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
I am so bummed that the only one I can think of is also Miss Marple.
posted by athirstforsalt at 9:48 PM on December 27, 2017


Now I want to see if I can name at least one I've read in each category (that was good).

* A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
InSexts by Marguerite Bennett and artist Ariela Kristantina - about women who partially transform into insects and arachnids and kill men who try to hurt them. It's pretty great.
Krishna: a journey within by Abhishek Singh (maybe more of a graphic novel than a comic)

* A book of colonial or postcolonial literature
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
I second Things Fall Apart, but also the two related novels, No Longer at Ease and Arrow of God.

* A romance novel by or about a person of color
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho was both loads of fun and very moving. It's set in an alternate Regency England; the male protagonist is a Black man who was born a slave and bought, freed and adopted by a white British couple because he has magical ability. The female protagonist is a biracial Indian woman trying to make a home for herself in an inhospitable society - also very magically gifted but in this society women aren't supposed to to have magic.

* A celebrity memoir
Am I Black Enough For You? by Anita Heiss

* A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country
The National Archives of Australia has a blog on banned books; entries include Nabokov's Lolita, Baldwin's Another Country, and Huxley's Brave New World.

* A classic by an author of color (I have several of these in the hopper but will get to them either way, so happy to hear suggestions)
The Three Musketeers

* A superhero comic with a female lead
Ms Marvel is great; I also really like the Captain Marvel issues by Kelly Sue Deconnick. Captain Marvel's cat is an important character.

* A book of genre fiction in translation
It turns out I don't read much in translation, but All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka was fun (and the source for Edge of Tomorrow).

* A book published by a micropress
I got nothing for this one.

* A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon. After spending 40 years on a colony planet, the protagonist decides to stay behind after the owner corporation decides to relocate all the colonists. It turns out the planet was inhabited all along.

Fudoki by Kij Johnson. I loved this book so much I gave it to a close friend this Christmas. An elderly royal Japanese woman tells her companion the story of her life interspersed with the story of a cat who is transformed into a woman.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 10:50 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I can't believe I forgot this one! It was the first one I was going to mention: An Unnecesary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (in the 'female protagonist over 60' category). An elderly Lebanese woman reflects on her life, which sounds kind of quiet and slow moving but I couldn't put it down.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 10:53 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


For the colonial/post colonial I’d suggest Shadows of Your Black Memory by Donato Ndongo.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 11:42 PM on December 27, 2017


A lot of what I came here to tell you has been covered by posters above. Comics is my thing, so let me offer a few additional titles to add to the great recs above:

Female-led superhero:
The recent run of Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain
The Greg Rucka run of Wonder Woman
Kim & Kim - fun indie comic about two queer women named Kim who are intergalactic bounty hunters
America - a book with a queer Latina protagonist that is written by a queer Latina
In addition to Black Panther, check out Black Panther: World of Wakanda and The Crew
Slam! Is a comic about women doing roller derby
A-Force is an all-female super team in the Marvel universe that had a sadly short run that I really liked.
posted by oblique red at 12:13 AM on December 28, 2017


Came in to suggest The Three Body Problem (and the rest of the trilogy) for genre in translation, so nthing that! Lem is also a great choice (I agree with Saltysalticid about the Cyberiad). I'd also suggest the Strugatsky brothers, who are amazing and read a little more modern-ly than Lem even though they're pretty close in age (their most famous book is Roadside Picnic).

If you like fantasy romance, I don't think you could do better than NK Jemisin. I've loved all her books, but I think The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms trilogy is the closest to a traditional romance novel.

As for female protagonists over 60, written by a white dude, but Terry Pratchett's Discworld sub-series about witches (starts with Equal Rites) would be a fun option. Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin could also work.
posted by snaw at 6:38 AM on December 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


This one summer by Jillian Tamaki could fit the comic written & illustrated by a POC. And the book has been banned in several places because of its LGBT characters.
posted by Ifite at 10:51 AM on December 28, 2017


Thanks everyone, for the help! Here's my full list. I added ten books from everyone's suggestions, and have kept all the others for future reference. Much appreciated! As noted previously, I'm blending the challenges from 2017 and 2018, hence the "Challenge Year" column.

# Category -- Title by Author Challenge Year

1 A book about sports -- Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen 2018

2 A book of true crime -- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote 2018

3 A classic of genre fiction -- Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler 2018

4 A book set in Central or South America, by a Central or South American author -- Poemas Clandestinos by Roque Dalton 2017

5 A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries -- The Great Divergence
by Kenneth Pomeranz 2018

6 A book about nature -- Rising from the Plains by John McPhee 2018

7 A western -- The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western by Richard Brautigan 2018

8 A comic written or illustrated by a person of color -- March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin 2018

9 A book of colonial or postcolonial literature -- Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o 2017

10 A romance novel by or about a person of color -- An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole 2017

11 A children's class published before 1980 -- The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs 2018

12 An Oprah Book Club selection -- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 2018

13a A celebrity memoir -- My Story by Marilyn Monroe 2018

13b A celebrity memoir -- We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union 2018

14 A book of social science -- Hmong Means Free: Life in Laos and America by Sucheng Chan 2018

15 A one-sitting book -- The Eye by Nabokov 2018

16a A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country -- I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings 2017

16b A book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country -- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 2017

17 A classic by an author of color -- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe 2017

18 A superhero comic with a female lead -- Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) by G Willow Wilson / Adrian Alphona / Sana Amanat 2017

19 A book of genre fiction in translation -- Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff 2017

20 A book with a cover you hate -- Beloved by Toni Morrison 2018

21 A book published by a micropress -- Ram (arrives March 2018) by Ari K. Castaneda 2017

22 An essay anthology -- Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace 2018

23 A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60 -- An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alammedine 2018

24 An assigned book you (never finished) -- Bros K by Dostoevsky 2018
posted by kensington314 at 11:40 AM on December 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


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