In 2017, I tried my first Read Harder Challenge. This is a reading challenge compiled by Bookriot. For those of you not aware of Bookriot it “is a community dedicated to the idea that writing about books and reading should be just as diverse as books and readers are. The keyword there is diverse because the whole point of a reading challenge is to diversify your reading. Sample challenges include reading colored LGBTQ+ authors, micropress publications and poetry. I got more than halfway through the list but admittedly I could not bring myself to read a sports book or a book about technology. I love the challenge of diversifying my reading because I strongly see the value in that. I never want to be someone who reads the same thing over and over again. I love the variety and I love discovering new things. However I have my limits and this year they are including a western and I just can’t go there. There are too many good books out there waiting for Jamie to read them. I am not knocking the reading challenge. I encourage you to give it a try if you find yourself reading the same thing over and over and over again. If you are wanting to add some new blood to your reading repertoire but don’t know where to start….your should try the Read Harder Challenge. If you are curious take a look at the 2018 Read Harder Challenge.
I decided to develop my own reading challenge for 2018. I spoke in a previous post about my reading goals about reading powerful female writers; specifically Roxane Gay and Joan Didion. I have decided to expand on that goal. I have created the Female Voices Reading Challenge! The idea of this is to read a variety of female writers. In the coming year I wish to immerse myself in the female voice, empower myself, gleam their knowledge and champion my fellow women. The Female Voices Challenge includes ten female writers. These women write literary fiction, are feminist champions, journalists and rock stars (in more ways than one). Some of these women have written books that I have always meant to read, encouraged others to read but not myself (oh the shame) and have been recommended by other women. I am very excited for my reading challenge and sharing my progress.
Let me break down the details of the amazing women I will be reading in 2018!
I am a thirty something female and I really need to educate myself on what it really means to be a feminist. Who better to do that with than Roxane Gay and Gloria Steinem? Steinem is a legendary activist and feminist. Gay is the feminist voice for the women of today. I am really excited to dive in and explore with the tremendous female writers. I plan to read Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body and Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay. Depending on how it goes I may feel inspired to read her short story collection released in 2017 Difficult Women.
Gloria Steinem has lived such an epic and inspiring life. She has accomplished so much in her lifetime and been such an inspirational life. She has written alot and I really wondered where to even start in my reading. However, I realized that her latest book My Life on the Road covers her own personal growth in the equality movement. That is exactly what I am interested in so that pretty much selected itself.
I have impressed myself immensely with the volume of fiction that I have read in the past few years. I really believed myself to be partial to nonfiction but I think I may have switched sides! There have been some ladies that I have really wanted to read so it is going to happen in 2018!
From left to right we have Zadie Smith, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler. Everyone talks about Zadie Smith and I really need to know what everyone is talking about. I will be reading her first novel White Teeth. I just really need to find out for myself how great a writer she is. I have checked out two Louise Erdrich books from the library in the last month. Numerous bookish resources have raved about her latest publication Future Home of the Living God. Then they proceed to talk about her earlier publications and how great they are. To be frank, I just feel embarrassed that I cannot agree with them because I have never read her. So I have Future Home of the Living God in my library book hoarding pile. My apprehension with just picking it up now is that I know that it is going to be a stretch. So including her in my Females Voices Reading Challenge is the only way it is going to happen. Diversify your comfort zone Jamie!
The final two are legendary African American authors. I am fully ashamed that I have not read Toni Morrison so I plan to remedy that with The Bluest Eye. Octavia Butler is one of the few African American science fiction authors in the genre. I knew her name but never connected her ground-breaking achievements. Now I am hell-bent on reading her. However, those who know me are fully aware of my trepidation of the sci-fi genre. It is going to be a challenge but I have gone with a safe choice with Fledgling. It’s got vampires. I can handle vampires.
I mentioned already that I want to read Joan Didion. That reading goal was inspired by bookish celebrity Emma Roberts and her Belletrist crew. I plan to read The White Album. This is one of her earlier writings so I really want to get a feel for her earlier work. I also plan to read her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking.
Truthfully, I have no idea how I have not yet read I Am Malala. I have told countless others to read it yet I have not read it myself. I know the story and the tremendous impact that Malala has had on our world. I will read her story for myself.
I have never heard of Carrie Brownstein. She is a punk rock star of a feminist punk rock band. The only reason I know of her memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is because of another bookish celebrity Emma Watson and her feminist book club Our Shared Shelf. I am looking forward to exploring a unique sort of feminist icon and having another reason to read a memoir.
So that is my specially created reading challenge. I am very excited to embark on this challenge and surrounding myself with female voices in 2018!