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Queering the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

Who else is doing the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder challenge? It’s super fun, 24 book categories to check off, and I’m actually halfway through as I should be. I thought about doing an update post on the books I’d read and still planned to read — and I can totes still do that if y’all want it — but instead I thought, “Hey, a lot of people are trying to diversify their reading. Why not do a list of queer books fitting each challenge?” So that’s what I’ve done. Links go to Goodreads because I tried to minimize chitchat for length. Leave your own recommendations in the comments!

Link to the challenge, checklist, and end-of-year discount reward info!

  1. Read a horror book – Silk by Caitlin R. Kiernan, an openly trans lesbian author, because I wanted to stay far away from “queer people are terrifying” and or “cross-dressing crazy person” horror.
  2. Read a nonfiction book about science – NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America by Constance Penley. The first half is about public perception of NASA, particularly of female astronauts and their own perspectives on that. The second half is about gay Star Trek fanfiction, so there’s that. (Of course, you could always try something more straightforward like Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why by Simon LeVay. But keep in mind you could be reading about gay fanfic. Just saying.)
  3. Read a collection of essays – Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. Humor.
  4. Read a book out loud to someone else – Great excuse for a picture book! I love Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman or Donovan’s Big Day by Leslea Newman. (I read a book to my cat, but he didn’t enjoy it.)
  5. Read a middle grade novel – The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell.
  6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography) – I loved Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves, but really pick any LGBT person you wanna know more about and there’s probably a biography of some kind!
  7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel – Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Reading this one for post-apocalyptic book myself.
  8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born – This will vary, obviously. Try a “must-read” or “classics” list!
  9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award – Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming, which won two in 2015, for memoir and for narration by author. (I don’t know if it’s in the book, but he’s bi. CN for abuse.)
  10. Read a book over 500 pages long – The Other Side of Silence: Men’s Lives and Gay Identities by John Loughery. If you only wanna read one history book, this one is totes suitable.
  11. Read a book under 100 pages – Either of the picture books above, or The Name of Love: Classic Gay Love Poems.
  12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender – I read Queer Pulp by Susan Stryker and it’s great if you want to know about queer pulp in the 60s or so. She also has a book of general trans history.
  13. Read a book that is set in the Middle East – If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan, a YA set in Iran.
  14. Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia – So I came up completely blank on this one. Help! I did find The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia by Tom Boellstorff, which is at least about Southeast Asia.
  15. Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900 – Actually loads here to choose from. I’ll be reading The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles, an m/m romance in the Victorian era. To go back further, try something by Mary Renault in ancient times, they’re classics.
  16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color – Adaptation by Malindo Lo.
  17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years – The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen.
  18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood and the movie starring Colin Firth. Is best movie, the movie is better!
  19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes – Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith. She was a presumably-lesbian Georgian writer, one of the few white folks to openly fight segregation as early as 1949, the original publication of this book. The book talks a lot about the power structures in the south and how they hurt women, as well as race issues.
  20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction) – Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire by Jennifer Wright Knust. Or for something less academic, you might like God Believes in Love by the world’s cuddliest bishop Gene Robinson, although I haven’t read it yet.
  21. Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction) – Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance by Jakobsen & Pellegrini. I reviewed it here. It’s actually all about structuring political arguments in the US.
  22. Read a food memoir – Cooking as Fast as I Can by Cat Cora.
  23. Read a play – Wit by Margaret Edson. She is openly lesbian, and a lot of the discourse around the play concerns whether or not lesbianism is a theme, but mostly it’s a really intense play about the process of dying. Of course you could also read anything by Oscar Wilde or Tennessee Williams that’s been on your list!
  24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness – A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan, or so I’m told. It’s on my TBR list, although not for this.


8 thoughts on “Queering the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

  1. I love this idea! Curated reading lists are so helpful, and they drum up attention for books that might be overlooked. I think you should do this every year for the Read Harder Challenge, it’s that good of an idea. But maybe you should run the list in January, that would help the most people find a great new book to read.

    I’m so far behind the Challenge, but I am reading the biography right now. And as long as I make good progress in the Fall I should still finish on time.


      1. Woot! I’m looking forward to seeing more of your book picks. I’m also tempted to join you next January. It’s such a great idea and I could do up a list of Latinx authors and characters that fit the challenge categories.



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