2021 Reading Challenges and Last Year’s Recap

I’ve decided to do several reading challenges each year and part of that is announcing to the world that I’m doing them, as well as reporting on the success of the prior year’s.

First, the Recap of 2020

Last year I signed up for three: Goodreads, King County Library System’s 10 to Try, and BookRiot’s Read Harder Challenge. I succeeded in completing the first two (though I had to fudge a little on the Goodreads one), but I did not make on on the Read Harder one. 

On Goodreads, you set your own goal of a number of books to read. Last year my goal was 110, which I met partially by reading about 20 picture books.

For the KCLS 10 to Try challenge, I read the following:

  • Retelling of a fairytale or myth - Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  • Teaches you a new skill - TED Talks by Chris Anderson
  • About a journey - The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
  • With a friend - Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • About a person you’d like to meet - Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton (I’m aware she’s dead)
  • About nature - Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick
  • About music or a musician - Total F*cking Godhead; The Biography of Chris Cornell by Corbin Reiff
  • About current events - The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark
  • Recommended by KCLS staff - On Writing by Stephen King
  • By an author whose gender is different from yours - Fables: The Dark Ages (Vol. 12) by Bill Willingham

For the Read Harder Challenge (which is a lot harder than the others) I managed to complete only 17 books of the 24 on the list:

  • A YA nonfiction book - The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater
  • A retelling of a classic of the canon, fairytale, or myth by an author of color - Pride by Ibi Zoboi
  • A mystery where the victim(s) is not a woman - Fake ID by Lamar Giles
  • A graphic memoir - Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney
  • A book about a natural disaster - Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
  • A play by an author of color and/or queer author - How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel
  • An audiobook of poetry - SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The LAST book in a series - The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
  • A debut novel by a queer author - Texts from Jane Eyre by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
  • A memoir by someone from a religious tradition (or lack of religious tradition) that is not your own - Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman
  • A romance starring a single parent - Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
  • A sci-fi/fantasy novella (under 120 pages) - “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
  • A picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community - The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan and Tom Knight
  • A middle grade book that doesn’t take place in the U.S. or the UK - The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  • A book with a main character or protagonist with a disability (fiction or non) - Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
  • A book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous author - #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
  • A book that takes place in a rural setting - Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

These were the seven categories I failed in:

  • A historical fiction novel not set in WWII 
  • A food book about a cuisine you’ve never tried before
  • A book about climate change 
  • A doorstopper (over 500 pages) published after 1950, written by a woman
  • A book by or about a refugee 
  • A horror book published by an indie press 
  • An edition of a literary magazine (digital or physical) 

Now, The 2021 Plan

For Goodreads, I’m going to account for the fact that I know I’m going to be reading a lot of picture books this year but have otherwise slowed down, so I upped it only to 120.

For the KCLS 10 to Try, here is the list and my planned book:

  • Makes you laugh - Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia
  • Non-human characters - Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • About the future - The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
  • Epistolary novel (Written in letters, emails, etc.) - Dear Rachel Maddow: A Novel by Adrienne Kisner
  • By a Black author - Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Published this year - TBD (I’m sure I’ll manage something…)
  • About pop culture - The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
  • Re-read an old favorite - The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
  • Set where you were born - Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
  • Recommended by staff - You Should See Me in A Crown by Leah Johnson

For all of these I managed to choose YA books, which helps me make sure I can get them done, since I have limited time and an obligation to my blogs…

For the Read Harder Challenge, here are the 24 categories and my planned books:

  1. Read a book you’ve been intimidated to read - Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel 
  2. Read a nonfiction book about anti-racism - White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  3. Read a non-European novel in translation - The Disaster Tourist: A Novel by Yun Ko-eun and Lizzie Buehler
  4. Read an LGBTQ+ history book - Queer: A Graphic History by Dr. Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele
  5. Read a genre novel by an Indigenous, First Nations, or Native American author - Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger and Rovina Cai
  6. Read a fanfic - A Wattpad story based on Rainbow Rowell’s book Fangirl (https://www.wattpad.com/story/61458965-coffee-kisses-a-cather-and-levi-fanfic)
  7. Read a fat-positive romance - Take a Hint, Dani Brown: A Novel by Talia Hibbert
  8. Read a romance by a trans or nonbinary author - Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
  9. Read a middle grade mystery - From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  10. Read an SFF anthology edited by a person of color - Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite edited by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker
  11. Read a food memoir by an author of color - Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen
  12. Read a work of investigative nonfiction by an author of color - Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias by Pragya Agarwal
  13. Read a book with a cover you don’t like - Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
  14. Read a realistic YA book not set in the U.S., UK, or Canada - Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
  15. Read a memoir by a Latinx author - Children of the Land: A Memoir by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
  16. Read an own voices book about disability - Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens edited by Mariene Nijkamp
  17. Read an own voices YA book with a Black main character that isn’t about Black pain - Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
  18. Read a book by/about a non-Western world leader - Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff 
  19. Read a historical fiction with a POC or LGBTQ+ protagonist - The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  20. Read a book of nature poems - The Radiant Lives of Animals by Linda Hogan
  21. Read a children’s book that centers a disabled character but not their disability - Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls
  22. Read a book set in the Midwest - The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan
  23. Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness - Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  24. Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die - Vicarious by Paula Stokes

I managed to make 12 of them YA, plus one middle grade and one picture book. I feel much more confident about finishing this year’s than I did last year. Now I'm off to my indie book store to start buying them!