Read Harder

Read Harder Task #16: Read A Book Recommended By a Friend With Different Reading Tastes

I am a firm believer that there is nothing more simultaneously exciting and stressful than receiving a book recommendation from someone whose reading tastes don’t exactly line up with your own. If this is someone you care about, then of course you don’t want to disappoint them by hating their recommendation (or worse, not reading this book at all). But part of being a reader is also the thrill of the discovery, and who knows…this recommended book that you’d otherwise never discover on your own could be your new favorite thing. Or a gateway to a new reading obsession. Or…at least be a really enjoyable way to pass a weekend!

The Read Harder challenge is all about stretching yourself, and I personally love it when someone convinces me to read a book not on my radar and I enjoy it. It makes me want to believe in fate, and I get overwhelmed thinking about all the amazing books out in the world that I just don’t know about yet! It’s enough to bring on a small existential crisis!

At the same time, if you’re thinking, This challenge is all well and good, but my friends and I read the same stuff, or, My friends don’t even read, then don’t panic! I’ve got a few ideas to help you approach this challenge. And please remember, no one is policing your picks! Do your best to fulfill the spirit of the challenge, whatever that means for you!

Make sure to get your own Read Harder Book Journal from Book Riot to track your reading for the year!

Just Ask a Friend For Recs

First off, the idea that someone has different reading tastes from you can mean a lot of different things, from you liking completely different genres, or liking the same genres, but different things within genre. That’s totally fine and it counts! For example, I read widely in YA and I enjoy fantasy, but I admit I’m super picky about my YA fantasy reads. I could ask a friend, who reads a lot of YA fantasy, for a recommendation on what book I should pick up next. Because she reads way more in this particular subset than I do, I would count this as a challenge fulfilled. But if I wanted to go wayyyy out on a limb, I might ask my dad, who loves John Grisham books, to recommend his favorite Grisham novel to me. Which leads me to…

Ask Anyone In Your Life to Recommend a Favorite Book

As much as book nerds hate the question, “So what’s your favorite book?” I think that what people’s favorite books are say a lot about them! You can ask your friends, family members, even coworkers what their favorite book is…and then pick what sounds most interesting to you! One thing an acquaintance did once that I think is really cool is ask everyone in their life to gift them with a copy of their favorite book for an upcoming birthday. This acquaintance said the copy could be new or used, but they promised to make an honest effort at reading whateve they received. They ended up with a pile of books they might not otherwise have tried, and many gifts even included a note about why the gifter picked the book they did and the book’s significance, making for a really personal point of connection.

Reading someone’s favorite book or even just a memorable or influential book is a great way of deepening relationships and getting to know the person better. However, it is sometimes fraught, because the better you know the person, the higher the stakes if you don’t like the book. If that happens, chalk it up to experience (and a challenge checked off the list) and check out our guide to talking about the books your friends love, but you hated.

Try a New-to-You Genre

You can use this challenge as an opportunity to try a new-to-you genre by either asking someone in your life who reads a lot in an area you’re not familiar with for a recommendation, or by visiting your local library and chatting with a librarian. You can be as broad or as focused as you want by stipulating that you want to try historical romance, or science fiction in general, or try reading one of the many Civil War history books your dad has on his shelf. Librarians in particular are an excellent resource in this area, because they’re trained in reader advisory and they might be able to help you find a book in a new-to-you genre that still has elements of other books you enjoy reading, to ensure the process us still enjoyable! And if that doesn’t work, check out Book Riot for a myriad of posts on different genres, or our whole stable of podcasts on everything from YA, mysteries, SFF, and more! We will happily be your friends for the purposes of this challenge!

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at with a free trial!

Just remember: Have fun, and don’t overthink it!

Happy reading!
Tirzah Price

Click here for the full Read Harder 2022 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.