Nonfiction November Week 4: Stranger than Fiction

It’s Week 4 of Nonfiction November, and here is our prompt:

Week 4 header

Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.

Continue reading

Challenge Completed! 2021


I was pleased to have finished the Read Harder Challenge in the middle of September this year, which left me plenty of time to catch up on some classic science fiction and some new buzzy reads of the year. As always, I kind of wane toward the end of the year, wanting to get it finished, but I’m glad that I pushed through and forced myself to read some of the books that have been on my To-Be-Read list for ages. And, as always, this year was a bit of a mixed bag, but with some surprising wins right along with the unfortunate flops. Here’s the breakdown for each task:

Continue reading

Nonfiction November Week 3: Be the Expert / Ask the Expert / Become the Expert

Week 3 header

I’m happy to be your host for Week 3 of Nonfiction November! Here is today’s prompt:

Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be The Expert/ Ask the Expert/ Become the Expert with Veronica (me!) at The Thousand Book Project): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

Continue reading

421 How to Be an Antiracist

howtobeanantiracistby Ibram X. Kendi, 2019

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a nonfiction book about anti-racism.

I’ve wanted to read Ibram X. Kendi’s followup to his phenomenal Stamped from the Beginning since it was published. His first work really changed the way I thought about racism in America (I argue that the book’s subtitle should be “Everything is Racist and So Are You”), particularly the theory that racism doesn’t spring from hate, but from economic greed that needed an oppressed class to thrive. We usually think of racism as an individual failing, but it’s much more of a top-down process, whereby the culture in which we live is steeped in racism and individuals have little choice but to have racist ideas implanted in their brains. Kendi’s sophomore effort tackles the work needed to liberate ourselves from these racist bonds. According to Kendi, there is no “not racist.” Either a person is a racist or an antiracist; no space exists in between.

Continue reading

Nonfiction November Week 2: Book Pairing

Week 2 header

Week 2 of Nonfiction November is here, and today’s prompt is:

Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing  with Katie at Doing Dewey: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story. 

I have three fiction/nonfiction book pairings to offer you.

Continue reading

Nonfiction November Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction

Week 1 header

Nonfiction November is upon us, and we’re kicking off the month by talking about the nonfiction we’ve read throughout the year! Here’s this week’s prompt:

Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?  

Continue reading

420 Hollow Kingdom

hollowkingdomby Kira Jane Buxton, 2019

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die.

The apocalypse is nigh and it’s up to the crow S.T. (full name “Shit Turd”) and his faithful, if dimwitted, bloodhound companion Dennis to set the world right again. In this uproarious take on the apocalyptic zombie genre, we’re given a literal bird’s eye view on what would happen if all of the humans suddenly turned into lumbering monsters and the animals of the world had to take matters into their own hands…or paws…or beaks. With S.T. as our narrator, we’re taken on an adventure across Seattle to find a way to save all of the domestics (S.T.’s name for pets).

Continue reading

419 The Lightning Thief

atthelightningthiefby Rick Riordan, 2005

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a children’s book that centers a disabled character but not their disability.

Ahhh…it’s so nice to pick up a book that everyone says is really good and find out that it actually is really good. The Percy Jackson series has been on my radar for quite some time, but because I don’t often read young adult literature, it hadn’t sprung to the top of my to-read list. Thanks to this Read Harder task, I suddenly had the perfect reason to pick it up. Percy is a 12-year-old sixth grader doing his best at his boarding school in upstate New York. He’s a “troubled kid,” having had to change schools multiple times throughout his short life. Things just keep happening around him, and he always seems to be involved somehow. Most recently, a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art turns chaotic when Percy suddenly finds himself alone with Mrs. Dodds, the school’s new math teacher, and she turns into a large winged creature and tries to kill him. It’s not your everyday middle school encounter, that’s for sure.

Continue reading

418 Buttermilk Graffiti

buttermilkgraffitiby Edward Lee, 2018

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read a food memoir by an author of color.

I’ll admit that I knew nothing of Edward Lee before hearing about Buttermilk Graffiti on All the Books. The idea of a chef tracing American culture through immigrant food was an intriguing one. As anti-immigrant as the country can be, most of our beloved foods came from different countries and we’ve made them our own. You can’t get much more American than hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza, yet we wouldn’t have any of those if it weren’t for immigration. I was interested to learn more about how cultures evolve and how immigration necessitates deviation from tradition. No longer having access to certain ingredients means new ones will be incorporated, and an entirely new dish will be born, no less part of a tradition than the original concoction. Had Lee actually pursued that line of investigation, I think this book would have been quite interesting. Alas, he doesn’t, and it kind of isn’t.

Continue reading

417 Sweet Tooth Book Three

sweettoothbook3by Jeff Lemire, 2016

Finally, we get to learn the origin of the virus that has taken over the world and resulted in the birth of a new type of human-animal hybrid. Alas, as we’ll probably find out with our own pandemic, that reveal is less satisfying than we might have wished.

Continue reading