Book Riot’s 2021 Read Harder Challenge

Run by Rook Riot

“Just as in years past, there are 24 tasks, averaging two per month over the course of the next 12 months. You may count one book for multiple tasks or read one book per task. The point of the challenge is to push yourself to expand your horizons and break out of set reading habits; the hope is that you’ll discover voices, settings, characters, formats, and more you may not have encountered without that nudge. Be accountable to yourself, share what you learned along the way, and enjoy the experience!”

Click here for a downloadable and editable PDF of the 2021 Read Harder Challenge tasks.


  • Read a book you’ve been intimidated to read
    • Mistress of Magic by Marion Zimmer Bradley (Completed June 19th)
  • Read a nonfiction book about anti-racism
    • Stamped from the Beginning?
    • How to be Anti-Racist
  • Read a non-European novel in translation
    • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Completed July 13th)
  • Read an LGBTQ+ history book
    • A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski (partially read a few years ago, will continue from where I left off – not complete yet, currently ‘reading’)
  • Read a genre novel by an Indigenous, First Nations, or Native American author
    • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (not read yet)
  • Read a fanfic
  • Read a fat-positive romance
    • Tales of Inthya #1: The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin (Completed January 22nd)
  • Read a romance by a trans or nonbinary author
    • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (not read yet)
    • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (not read yet)
  • Read a middle grade mystery
    • Nancy Drew #1: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (not (re-)read yet)
    • Princeless, Vol. 1: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley (Completed July 14th)
      • Is that a mystery?
    • Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2: The Sea of Monsters (maybe, if need be?)
  • Read an SFF anthology edited by a person of color
    • New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color by Nisi Shawl (Completed July 15th)
  • Read a food memoir by an author of color
    • Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (not read yet)
    • Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses by Isabel Allende (not read yet)
  • Read a work of investigative nonfiction by an author of color
    • Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga (not read yet)
  • Read a book with a cover you don’t like
    • Sprawl #1: Neuromancer (Completed June 14th)
  • Read a realistic YA book not set in the U.S., UK, or Canada
    • The Silence of Bones by June Hur
    • City of Thieves and Saints by Natalie C. Anderson
    • The First Third, or The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis
    • Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
    • On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (not read yet)
  • Read a memoir by a Latinx author
  • Read an own voices book about disability
  • Read an own voices YA book with a Black main character that isn’t about Black pain
    • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (not read yet)
  • Read a book by/about a non-Western world leader
    • The Art of War by Sun Tzu (He was a general, even if not necessarily a political leader, but they all sort of doubled up on roles back then, and military generals in China were leaders in their own right.)(not read yet)
  • Read a historical fiction with a POC or LGBTQ+ protagonist
    • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Completed June 28th)
  • Read a book of nature poems
    • Devotions by Mary Oliver (not read yet)
  • Read a children’s book that centers on a disabled character but not their disability
  • Read a book set in the Midwest
    • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Completed July 2nd)
  • Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness
    • Calming the Emotional Storm (not read yet)
  • Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die
    • Misty of Chincoteague
    • Black Beauty
    • Spirit
    • Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton — very unconventional ‘survival’ (not read yet)
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