Read Harder

Read Harder 2023 Task #24: Pick A Challenge from Any of the Previous Years to Repeat

We’ve made it to the final task of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge for 2023. It’s my favorite challenge of the whole bunch. If you’re anything like me, it might be your favorite too.

Why is it my favorite? Here’s the deal. Every year I throw my hat into the Read Harder challenge ring. Every year, I start off strong, knocking out quite a few in the first couple of months of the year.

Then the second half of the year comes around and momentum dies down a bit. Maybe it’s because I get interested in other reading goals. Maybe it’s because I knock out my favorite of the challenges first, and then I’m left with some books I’m admittedly less excited about reading. For whatever reason, there are just some challenges at the end of the year that may not get done. Even when I have the best intentions and really, really commit myself to doing them. What can I say? I’m human.

Enter Challenge #24: the challenge that lets you “repeat” one of the challenges from a previous year. There are a few ways you can play this. You could always repeat one of your favorite challenges from another Read Harder year. Orrrr… you could be like me and give yourself a second chance to finish one you missed out on.

Whatever your preferred method, here are a few of the year’s previous challenges, and books that would fit for each one.

the true love bookshop book cover

Read A Book Set in A Bookstore: The True Love Bookshop by Annie Rains

The True Love Bookshop is a feel-good story filled with romance and books. Tess Lane is working her dream job running Lakeside Books and hosting the weekly book club. The bookstore has been her safe haven ever since her husband died three years earlier. She has tried to move on with her life and get past the mysterious circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. But then River Harrison shows up on her doorstep. River is her husband’s best friend and a private investigator, and with his help and the support of her friends, Tess might finally get answers to what happened to her husband. But will this mean she’ll finally be able to move on? And will she be able to forgive herself for past mistakes?

from scratch book

Read A Food Memoir by an Author of Color: From Scratch by Tembi Locke

Tembi Locke’s memoir From Scratch was recently adapted into a Netflix limited series starring Zoe Saldaña. But whether you’ve seen the show or not, this book is worth a read. This memoir is part love story, part food memoir, and part reflection on grief. When Tembi went to art school in Italy, she didn’t know that she would fall in love with Sicilian chef Saro. Unfortunately, Saro’s hyper-traditional family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman. Despite family disapprovals and culture clashes, the couple marries and moves to Los Angeles together. There, they build their careers, adopt a child, and fall deeper in love. But it isn’t until their lives are torn apart by a cancer diagnosis that they are able to finally reconnect with Saro’s family.

the black god's drums book cover

Read a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novella: The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

Clark’s debut novella is a steampunk historical reimagining of New Orleans during the Civil War. Creeper is a girl who longs to escape the city by earning a spot aboard the airship Midnight Robber. How does she plan to do this? By giving Captain Ann-Marie information about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums. There is a small complication: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside Creeper’s head. And she has different plans for our protagonist.

Cover of We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

Read a Book by an Author of Color Set in Space: We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen

Dr. Grace Park has been appointed to the survey ship The Deucalion to observe the thirteen crew members aboard. They’re all headed to an icy planet called Eos in an unexplored galaxy. But before they even get there, tensions are building between Park and the rest of the crew. She finds herself befriending the androids on the ship, preferring their company to that of the human crew members. When they land, things only get worse. The crew gets trapped by a storm with no means of communication or escape, and the androids start behaving strangely.

the graybar hotel book cover

Read a Book Written in Prison: The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins

Author Curtis Dawkins is a convicted murderer, serving a life sentence without parole. The Graybar Hotel is his debut collection of short stories, all told in first person from an unnamed narrator reflecting on life in prison. Dawkins’ share of the proceeds from this book are going to an education fund for his children.

A graphic of the cover of I'm Glad My Mom Died

A Celebrity Memoir: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

This one is probably obvious, since this book has been on every bestseller list recently, but there’s a reason for it. This book is phenomenal, and even if you aren’t a fan of Jennette McCurdy or iCarly, this book is a must-read, IMHO. If you’ve somehow been living under a rock and missed what this one is about, I’m Glad My Mom Died is Jennette McCurdy’s reflection of her time as a child star, the pressures her mom put on her to be famous and successful (and thin), and how she’s coming to terms with these past traumas as an adult.

upright women wanted

A Western: Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

I’ll admit Westerns aren’t usually my thing. But a sci-fi Western? Now we’re talking. Esther is a stowaway, attempting to escape from her complicated past. Her father is trying to marry her off to the man who was supposed to marry her best friend. Her best friend whom she was secretly in love with and who was recently executed for possession of resistance propaganda. Intrigued yet? I think you’ll really like this one. Now she finds herself in a book wagon with rogue librarians who make it their job to deliver “unapproved materials” into dangerous territories.

driving while black cover

Read a Travel Memoir: Driving While Black by Gretchen Sorin

Driving While Black reflects on Gretchen Sorin’s own personal family history and experiences with traveling on the road. But she also focuses on traveling by car and how this mode of transportation has been liberating for Black people in America. Sorin looks at how travel guides, Black-only businesses, and informal communications networks have helped keep Black people safe on the roads in the 20th century. At the same time, despite the freedoms that cars offered, driving also created new challenges for Black people: segregated ambulance services, unwarranted traffic stops, and racist violence.

These are just a few of my favorites from the past several years of Read Harder challenges. Which ones did you love so much you want to do again? Or which ones did you miss out on the first time? It’s okay, you can tell me. I won’t tell anyone.

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, here’s the list of Read Harder Challenges from 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015. Have fun!

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Read Harder 2023 Task #23: Read A Social Horror, Mystery, or Thriller Novel

Welcome to the 23rd challenge in the 2023 Read Harder Challenge. This is one of the best because Social Horror, Mystery, and Thrillers are some of my favorite books to read. You get all of the page-turning excitement and chilling storylines, but the stories carry a bigger message that will leave you thinking long after you finish.

Social horror, thriller, and mysteries are really popular right now, which is exciting because there are tons of titles to choose from to fulfill this prompt. This genre has been around a while, but the boom of social horror really started with Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Since its release in 2017, publishers have been clamoring to find a novel that reads like Get Out.

But social horror/thrillers are more than just “the next Get Out.” Social thriller novels use elements of suspense, horror, and mystery genres to explore and point out issues of oppression and societal inequities. This genre gives authors an outlet to express their anxieties about the world in a way that a wide range of readers from different backgrounds can understand.

Looking for suggestions for what to read in this category? These are some of my personal favorites.

the getaway book cover

The Getaway by Lamar Giles

I’m starting this list with my #1 recommendation: The Getaway by Lamar Giles. This book is the perfect social commentary about classism and capitalism in the face of (yes I’m going to say it) “unprecedented times.” Which means it’s the perfect book to read right now. It’s set in Karloff Country, one of the world’s most famous resorts (this book is clearly talking about Disney World, let’s be real). Jay lives in Karloff Country and loves his life there. He’s got good friends, a great family, and a job he loves, working after school at the property’s main theme park. Outside, the world might be falling apart, but inside the resort, people can escape from their problems. However, behind this perfect community are dark secrets. When the richest and most powerful families arrive and don’t leave, employees discover that the resort has been selling shares in an end-of-the-world oasis. The world may be ending, but the most powerful people will remain safe. Now Jay and the rest of the resort’s employees will be the ones to care for them, whether they like it or not.

cherish farrah book cover

Cherish Farrah by Bethany C. Morrow

This social thriller is deeply unsettling, but you’ll just have to read it to find out why. Farrah Turner is the only Black girl at her country club that also has Black parents. The other Black girl is her best friend Cherish Whitman, but Cherish was adopted by white parents. Farrah calls her WGS–White Girl Spoiled. When Farrah’s family is hit with money problems, she sees this as her opportunity to get an inside look at how Cherish’s family lives. And so she goes to stay with the Whitmans. The longer she stays there, the more she becomes obsessed with their way of life. And despite her parents’ warnings that something is off about the Whitmans, Farrah feels compelled to stay with them as long as possible. Cherish Farrah is a social thriller novel that explores many topics, including race, class, friendship, and family.

the weight of blood book cover

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

A lot of Tiffany D. Jackson’s books could fit for this prompt, so I figured why not go for her latest? Especially since this is an awesome social horror retelling of Carrie. The Weight of Blood follows high school student Madison Washington. Springville High is a tiny high school in small-town Georgia where Madison has always been the target of bullying. But Madison has a secret: she’s biracial and has been passing as white, at the behest of her white father Thomas Washington. When Madison’s secret is revealed and a video highlighting the racism at Springville goes viral, the students know they have to rehabilitate their image. Their solution? Hosting the school’s first integrated prom. But the students still have a few surprises for Maddy. And when Maddy reveals another one of her well-kept secrets, she’ll have a big surprise of her own.

cover The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

You’ve probably heard of this one, because I’m pretty sure everyone I know who’s read it is totally blown away by it. Myself included. This novel follows four Blackfoot Indian men who, at a young age, go on a hunting trip that goes very, very wrong. Now, years later, there’s an evil spirit hellbent on revenge, and she’s hunting the men down one by one.

cover image for Reprieve

Reprieve by James Han Mattson

This social thriller novel takes place in a full-contact haunted escape room called the Quigley House. If you can make it to the last room of the house without shouting the safe word “Reprieve,” you stand to win a large sum of money. But here’s the thing: no one ever makes it that far. But on April 27, 1997, four contestants do. Only they don’t all make it out alive. This book follows the journey of those contestants during their time in the escape room, but it also goes back to look at how each of them ended up there in the first place. And the truth behind what actually happened in that escape room slowly starts to reveal itself.

ace of spades book cover

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

This one is the perfect social thriller for fans of dark academia. Ace of Spades is a YA thriller that explores what happens when Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, the only two Black students at Niveus Private Academy, are faced with the threats of an anonymous bully who goes by the name “Aces.” Will Devon and Chiamaka be able to stop Aces before things get deadly?  

The Other Black Girl book cove

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Set against the starkly white backdrop of the New York City publishing industry, The Other Black Girl is a novel about two young Black women. Nella is an editorial assistant who is initially thrilled when Hazel is hired at Wagner books. Now she’s no longer the only Black woman in the office. But soon Hazel becomes the office darling, and Nella is left in the dust. Then threatening notes start appearing, and Nella can’t help but wonder if Hazel is behind them. This book is the perfect mixture of of edge-of-your-seat thrills and biting social commentary that will get readers talking.

tender is the flesh by augustina bazterrica cover

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Tender is the Flesh is a social horror novel in translation from Argentina. Marco’s marriage has fallen apart and his father is suffering from dementia. Meanwhile, the world around him is changing rapidly. An infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous, and so the government has sanctioned the consumption of human meat — or “special meat.” Personal contact with those who have been raised to be eaten is strictly forbidden. But when Marcos comes into contact with a live specimen, he feels drawn to her, and he can’t help but start treating her like a human being.

Looking for even more suggestions? Here are 14 social thrillers that will change the way you see the world. Or check out these social horror books perfect for fans of Get Out.

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #22: Read Any Book from the Ignyte Awards Shortlist/Longlist/Winners List

Every year, the Ignyte Awards honor the best in science fiction, fantasy, and horror literature from the previous year. Reading from the Ignyte Awards nominees, whether they ended up being winners, shortlisted, or longlisted, is sure to be a treat. After all, these books represent the best of the best in a wide variety of categories.

The Ignyte Awards were established in 2020 by writers L. D. Lewis and Suzan Palumbo. With the goal of celebrating diversity and inclusion in the speculative fiction genre, the annual awards honor works in fifteen different categories; the categories include Best Novel (Adult), Best Novel (YA), Best in Middle Grade, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, Best in Speculative Poetry, Best Anthology, Best in Creative Nonfiction, and Best Comics Team, just to name a few. So yes, even though the awards have only been around for a few years, there are still so many works to choose from for this Read Harder Challenge.

So how to narrow it down? Here are a couple of Ignyte Award nominees/winners I personally recommend. But if you want to check out the full list of past nominees/winners, you can find it here!

root magic book cover

Root Magic by Eden Royce

Root Magic won the award for Best in Middle Grade in 2022. The novel is set in 1963. Jezebel Turner’s grandmother just passed away, and and school integration is coming to South Carolina. But the biggest change for Jez and her twin brother Jay? Their uncle begins to train them in rootwork. Suddenly, a whole world of magic opens up to Jez. And just in time, too, because a dark, supernatural force has come to town. Jez will need every bit of her magic to fight against the evil — both natural and supernatural — that’s all around her.

gods of jade and shadow

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Siliva Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow was chosen as Best Novel in 2020. In this fairy tale-like novel inspired by Mexican folklore, the Mayan god of death meets Casiopea Tun, a young woman living in a small town Mexico during the Jazz Age. Casiopea longs for an adventurous life, and that’s what she gets when the god of death sends her on a journey deep into the darkness of the underworld.

Book cover of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

In 2021, Legendborn won the award for Best YA novel. This book, based on Arthurian legend, tells the story of Bree Matthews, a teen who joins a residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill and stumbles upon something extraordinary. When a flying demon attacks the campus, a secret society of “Legendborn” students hunts the creature down. Because Bree wasn’t meant to see any of this, a mage called “Merlin” attempts to wipe Bree’s memory. But in doing so, he instead unlocks dormant powers within her.

Elatsoe Book Cover

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

While it’s Darcie Little Badger’s second novel A Snake Falls to Earth that won the Ignyte Award in 2022, Elatsoe is my personal favorite, and it was a finalist in 2021. Elatsoe is set in an America that is similar to the one that exists today. The only difference is that this America is shaped in no small part by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of all its people, Indigenous and not. This is the world in which young Elatsoe lives. Through the lineage of her Lipan Apache family, she has learned how to raise the ghosts of dead animals. Elatsoe’s cousin has been murdered, and she will stop at nothing to find out the truth of what happened. And she will use her smarts and her special skills to get the answers she needs.

Cover of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

In 2021, Black Sun won for best novel. In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice usually signifies renewal, but this year the winter solstice also coincides with a solar eclipse, which the Sun Priest warns signifies an unbalancing of the world. Xiala is a disgraced Teek who is sailing a ship towards Tova, set to arrive on the solstice. With her is a young man named Serapio. He seems harmless enough, but his need to arrive in Tova before the eclipse suggests there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Cover of Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Riot Baby won for Best Novella in 2021. Ella has a gift of premonition, and her brother Kev is sworn to protect her. The dystopian America they live in, however, is cruel. And perhaps not that different than the America we live in now. In this novella, Onyebuchi’s world reflects the issues that affect contemporary America, namely racism and prejudice and the systems that work against minorities.

and this is how to stay alive book cover

And This is How to Stay Alive by Shingai Njeri Kagunda

This book was the winner for Best Novella in 2022. After her brother Baraka’s death by suicide, Nyokabi’s world is falling apart. So when her aunt gives her a potion that can send Nyokabi back in time, she comes up with a plan. She will go back to when her brother was still alive, and she will do everything in her power to keep him that way.

Cover of A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

This final book was the winner for Best Novel in 2022. This book is set in an alternate version of Cairo in 1912. Fatma el-Sha’arawi may be the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, but she’s no novice. When someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to al-Jahiz, one of the most famous men in history, it’s Fatma they call upon to solve the case. Al-Jahiz disappeared 40 years ago, but now the murderer claims to be the al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age.

Looking to learn more about the Ignyte Awards and/or about Fantasy and Science Fiction Awards in general? Check out this very helpful guide, and good luck with your Read Harder Challenge, friends!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #21: Read a Book of Short Stories

Short stories are marvelous things because they’re so easily consumed in between busy days and schedules. I also love short story collections (by a single author) because they often showcase the range and breadth of a writer’s talent, and I think it’s fun to see how various short stories can weave together to create a cohesive whole. Some themes are more obvious while others may take a while to emerge, but no matter what I think, short story collections are fascinating because they’re more than just the sum of their parts. I love revisiting short stories when I’m in the mood for a comfort read but don’t feel like committing to a full book, and I’m constantly on the look out for great new short stories to add to my favorites list.

Short story collections are oftentimes not given as much attention as full novels, which is in part why we’ve chosen “read a book of short stories” as one of the challenges for this year’s Read Harder challenge. Whether you’re a YA reader, a lover of literary fiction, or a sci-fi and speculative fiction fan, this is a short round up of great short story collections that will help you dip your toes into the form…or maybe just offer an intriguing new option to your TBR! I’ve tried to showcase a mix of backlist and newer reads, but you can’t go wrong with any on this list!

The Office of Historical Corrections cover

Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

In this collection, Evans looks at history, race, and contemporary life. From a girl who tries to remake herself when a racist photo goes viral to a woman who puts her career and reputation at risk to solve a historical mystery, these stories force readers to reconsider what we’ve accepted as the “truth” about America’s founding.

cover image of Sabrina & Corina- Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Set in Colorado and starring Latina characters with Indigenous heritage, these stories are about the resilience and history. This collection was a National Book Award finalist, and it won the American Book Award.

Scattered Showers cover

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell’s assorted short stories are collected in one book for the first time ever, plus this book contains some brand-new stories that have never been published. They run the range from stories that feature old and beloved characters to new characters and worlds, and many are winter or Christmas-themed!

You Think It I'll Say It cover

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection looks at people, mostly millennial women, dealing with a whole slew of relatable yet unexpected situations. From social media to social justice, these stories look at upending expectations about gender, family, and class.

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

From the same person who dreamed up the story that inspired the movie Arrival, here is a collection of short speculative stories about the bounds of humanity and human technology, and our understanding of the universe.

Friday Black cover

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

In this satirical and sometimes surreal collection of short stories, the author explores what it means to be young and black in the U.S., addressing social issues such as consumerism, justice, and racism.

The Poison Eaters cover

The Poison Eaters by Holly Black

In Holly Black’s short story collection, strange and sinister events unfold, undercut with unexpected dark humor. This collection contains the short story that inspired The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and one of my personal favorite short stories, “Paper Cuts Scissors.”

cover of Night of the Living Rez: Stories by Morgan Talty; pastel letters over image of a star-filled night sky

Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

This new collection of short stories is set in a Penobscot community in present-day Maine, revealing what life is like for contemporary citizens. These stories are about survival, memory, and dealing with the fallout of trauma, as well as perseverance.

Want more short story recommendations? Here are 20 more must-read short story collections!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #20: Read a Book of Poetry by a BIPOC or Queer Author

Hello, readers! We are on the 20th task, and it’s a fun one: read a book of poetry by a BIPOC or queer author. Like many people, I’ve had a mixed relationship to poetry for most of my life. I have always written little poems, but often felt like I couldn’t fully understand reading them, and so spent great swaths of time missing out on the beauty of the language poets use. Even though poems are written using the same words as anything else, there is something in the brevity, in the careful choice of phrasing, and in the imagery that is unmatched in any other format.

I’ve gotten back into reading poetry in the last few years, although I have a long way to go in discovering the many amazing poets out there. But I have found a few! For this task, I’ve selected eight books from the last few years, each of them written by a poet who is BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or a person of color), queer/LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or any other queer identity not listed here), or both. They’re all absolutely gorgeous, and I hope one of them speaks to you!

cover of Black Girl, Call Home: Poems by Jasmine Mans

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

These gorgeous poems follow spoken word poet Jasmine Mans’s path as a queer Black girl in Newark, New Jersey, becoming a woman.

cover of Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones

Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones

In these poems, award-winning memoirist Saeed Jones explores his voice as an unreliable narrator confronting white supremacy and looking at America through cultural icons including Little Richard and Aretha Franklin.

cover of You Better be Lightning by Andrea Gibson

You Better Be Lightning by Andrea Gibson

In these poems, nonbinary poet Andrea Gibson explores the world through self-reflection, looking at everything from their own queerness to climate change.

cover of The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn Walrath

The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn Walrath

Queer poet and editor Holly Lyn Walrath explores the body in these tiny poems, taking the reader on a journey of questioning and acceptance. (Disclosure: I have written for Holly’s magazine.)

cover of The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak by Grace Lau

The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak by Grace Lau

In these poems, queer poet Grace Lau explores Hong Kong history and life as a Canadian immigrant, using reference points in popular culture including boy bands, food, and more.

time is a mother book cover

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

In his second collection, queer Vietnamese American poet, novelist, and MacArthur fellow Ocean Vuong reflects on his life and the experience as a product of war, following his mother’s death.

cover of Can You Sign My Tentacle by Brandon O'Brien

Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O’Brien

In Lovecraft-inspired horror poems, Black poet Brandon O’Brien explores Blackness through monsters in the form of racism, sexism, and violence.

cover of Where Hope Comes From by Nikita Gill

Where Hope Comes From: Poems of Resilience, Healing, and Light by Nikita Gill

In this collection, written during COVID-19 lockdown, Instagram poet Nikita Gill explores loneliness, mental health, and more. Included in the collection is her famous poem “Love in the Time of Coronavirus,” and the collection is illustrated with her own line drawings.

I hope you enjoy whatever book of poetry you choose for your Read Harder challenge!

Happy reading!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #19: Read A Nonfiction Book About Intersectional Feminism

It’s time for Read Harder Task #19, which means we’re deep in the Read Harder challenge list for this year already. How has your challenge planning been going? Are you one of those people who picks all of your books ahead of time or do you sort of make it up as you go?

I’m definitely a “make a TBR list at the beginning of the challenge” type person. So when I was trying to decide what nonfiction book about intersectional feminism I was going to read for this challenge, these are the ones that made the list for me. Some of these books have been on my TBR for years. Some of these are brand new to me. Some older classics, like This Bridge Called My Back, are books that definitely deserve a reread.

But let’s back up for a second. Maybe right now you’re asking, “What is intersectional feminism?” The term “intersectionality” comes from activist and professor Kimberlé Crenshaw and is defined as “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”

So with that in mind, all of the books on this list a confronting the intersectionality between being a woman while also being a part of other disadvantaged groups; for example, people of color, those with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, just to name a few.

Okay, now that we’re on the same page, here’s a list of intersectional feminist nonfiction reads for your consideration.

this will be my undoing book cover

This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins

If you haven’t read This Will Be My Undoing yet, make this the one. Just saying. Jerkins’ collection of linked essays explore what it’s like to be a Black woman in contemporary culture. These essays give insightful commentary on pop culture, black history, misogyny, racism, the the problems with the predominantly white, mainstream version of feminism that marginalizes women of color.

trans memoir book cover

Trans by Juliet Jacques

In July 2012, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery at the age of 30. This memoir chronicles her journey to define herself and find her true identity in a world where gender politics is ever changing. Trans interweaves the personal with the political, exploring how liberal and feminist media reactions and responses to trans politics all while also tracing Jacques’ own road to self-discovery.

cover image of Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

As the subtitle suggests, Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism directly confronts mainstream feminism and points out all of the people and issues that the movement has traditionally left out. Kendall argues that food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. And yet the focus of the feminist movement is hardly ever about the basic survival of the many. Rather, it focuses on furthering the privileges of a few. How, Kendall asks, can everyone stand in solidarity with the feminist movement when women are being oppressed by other women?

Against White Feminism Cover

Against White Feminism by Rafia Zakaria

The face of feminism has long been upper middle class white women, who are seen as the “experts” of the feminist movement. In Against White Feminism, author Rafia Zakaria, an American Muslim woman, attorney, and political philosopher, calls for a reconstruction of feminism that focuses on women of color. In the face of white feminism’s long-standing connection to colonial, patriarchal, and white supremacist ideals, this book offers a counter-manifesto.

can we all be feminists book cover

Can We All Be Feminists? edited by June Eric-Udorie

Can We All Be Feminists? is an anthology of intersectional feminist essays by 17 writers from diverse backgrounds: Soofiya Andry, Gabrielle Bellot, Caitlin Cruz, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Brit Bennett, Evette Dionne, Aisha Gani, Afua Hirsch, Juliet Jacques, Wei Ming Kam, Mariya Karimjee, Eishar Kaur, Emer O’Toole, Frances Ryan, Zoé Samudzi, Charlotte Shane, and Selina Thompson. Despite each of these authors commitment to gender equality, they all struggle with feminism and the way it ignores other aspects of their identities, such as race, religion, sexuality, gender. Each essay seeks to answer the question: Can we all be feminists?

this bridge called my back book cover

This Bridge Called My Back edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

If you’re looking to read a classic book about intersectional feminism, This Bridge Called My Back is not to be missed. Originally released in 1981, this book is an anthology featuring several different perspectives from women of color through personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art. Each work reflects on evolving definitions of feminism that are adapting to include the issues important to women of color in the United States and throughout the world.

Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis book cover

Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis

Women, Race, & Class is another must-read classic for anyone looking to read more intersectional feminist works. Here, Civil Rights icon Angela Davis provides a thought-provoking history of how whiteness and privilege has influenced the social and political landscape of traditional feminism. Ultimately Davis argues that racist and classist biases continue to undermine the ambitions of the feminist movement, from the abolitionist movement to present day.

cover of The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Activist Sonya Renee Taylor believes that radical self-love has the power to change the world, and she’s showing readers how to find that self-love in her bestselling book The Body is Not an Apology. When we are able to set aside indoctrinated body shame, we are free to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies, such as racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia. 

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the intersectional feminist nonfiction out there, hopefully this will get you started on the path to finding the book that will work for your personal Read Harder Challenge! And if you want more ideas, here’s even more intersectional feminist nonfiction for your reading list. Good luck in the challenge this year, friends!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #18: Read a Comic or Graphic Novel that Features Disability Representation

Graphic and comic formats work so well for stories featuring disabled characters as both a visual manifestation of what it means to be disabled and a metaphor for how disability can affect mental and cognitive function. I am disabled; I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and a host of other chronic health conditions. While there are no graphic representations of POTS (which I am here for publishers and illustrators!), I love finding and reading comics featuring disability representation.

I’ve chosen nine of my favorites, but it was hard to narrow it down! I decided to choose a variety of disabilities, so no two books on this list have protagonists with the same disability. Some of these are graphic novels, some graphic memoirs, and I’ve even included a sexy nonfiction centering disability. All of these are accessible and enjoyable whether you read comics all the time or if this is your foray into the genre. Though more books with disability representation are being published, it’s still rare, and often depictions lean into ableism and stereotypes about what it means to be disabled. These books present a nuanced glimpse into disabled life, each one as different as can be from the last. I hope you find one you love!

Cover of Lighter Than My Shadow by Green

Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green

*content warning: SA*

In this searing graphic memoir, illustrator Katie Green describes her relationship with food and how she developed an eating disorder. From childhood, Green became fixated on routine and order, needing to keep her food separated and counting to ensure she chewed food evenly on both sides of her mouth. In her teen years, this fixation turned into a need to control all aspects of her eating and body weight. Her combination of depression and anxiety led her to descend ever deeper into anorexia and later into binging after a trusted therapist sexually assaults her.

Cover of The Oracle Code by Nijkamp

The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp, illustrated by Manuel Preitano

Despite my love for graphic and comic formats, I struggle to get into the superhero genre. The Oracle Code is a rare exception. It’s a really clever YA mystery. When Barbara Gordon, or Babs, is paralyzed after a gunshot wound, she enters the Arkham Center for Independence for rehabilitation. Babs initially pushes all friendship overtures away, but soon befriends another patient, Jana, who tells her sinister stories at night. When Jana disappears, Babs realizes something wrong is happening at the Arkham Center.

Cover of Invisible Differences by Dachez

Invisible Differences: A Story of Asperger’s, Adulting, and Living a Life in Full Color by Julie Dachez, illustrated by Mademoiselle Caroline

This contemporary graphic novel translated from French is based on the author’s experience with Asperger’s, a form of Autism. Marguerite has always struggled with social situations, and it hasn’t gotten any easier in her late twenties. She’s elated to finally receive an Asperger’s diagnosis; she finally has answers! But no one else seems to feel the same way. This fantastic story depicts the daily ableist microaggressions people on the spectrum experience.

Cover of Clementine Book One by Walden

Clementine, Book One by Tillie Walden

This is another graphic novel where I had zero frame of reference for, yet thoroughly enjoyed it. I have never read nor watched The Walking Dead, and I didn’t even realize this was based on the series until after I’d read it! *embarrassed face* Clementine, who is a leg amputee, navigates an apocalyptic future full of zombies in this entertaining YA graphic novel. Though she shuns friends, she nevertheless finds herself one, who leads her to the North, where three teen girls are attempting to rebuild a town and want their help.

Cover of A Quick and Easy Guide to Sex and Disability by A. Andrews

A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability by A. Andrews

At just 72 pages, this really is a quick and easy guide. Did you know disabled people have sex? I mean, this is such an obvious statement, but if you’re in any way shocked to learn this, you need to read this book. In addition to busting some myths about sex and disability, Andrews also gives tips for having sex with disabled folk. It’s queer-inclusive and a fun read.

Cover of Dear Scarlet by Wong

Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression by Teresa Wong

This intense graphic memoir chronicles Teresa Wong’s experience with postpartum depression. I also had PPD, which morphed into anxiety after a year or two, and I connected with Wong’s illustrations even as we had very different experiences with the mental illness. It’s a moving, slim read that I frequently recommend to people considering becoming parents.

Cover of Allergic by Lloyd

Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter

This is one of my favorite 2022 middle grade reads. Maggie loves animals and dreams of becoming a vet. When her parents finally let her have a dog, she discovers she has severe pet allergies. This diagnosis affects so much in her life: her understanding of herself, her budding friendship with a new neighbor, and her experiences in a new classroom. I have severe pet allergies, and I really identified with Maggie.

Living with Viola cover

Living with Viola by Rosena Fung

Fung draws on her own experiences with anxiety and being the daughter of Chinese immigrants in this moving middle grade graphic novel. Livy has an alternate identity — Viola. Viola is a physical manifestation of Livy’s anxiety, and haunts her as Viola starts a new school. Livy is trying to make friends, but Viola undermines her every chance she gets.

Cover of Stargazing by Wang

Stargazing by Jen Wang

This charming middle grade graphic novel is about two Chinese-American friends — Moon and Christine — who could not be more different. Christine is a perfectionist, while Moon is spontaneous. When Moon’s behavior becomes ever more erratic, she winds up in the hospital. Will their friendship survive?

If you’d like to extend your disability reading beyond the Read Harder challenge, check out Rioter Kendra Winchester’s list of introductory books about disability (I love all of these), as well as my list of ableist disability tropes I’m tired of reading.

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #17: Read a YA book by an Indigenous author.

The past couple of years have been great years for Native and Indigenous representation in YA. A novel about an Ojibwa teen won YA’s highest honor in 2022, and a YA speculative novel about a Lipan Apache teen was a National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor book in 2021 and 2022. But despite these amazing awards, YA still has a ways to come in terms of Native representation. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, fewer than 2% of all kidlit and YA published in 2021 was written by Native or Indigenous creators. And when you go searching for these books, it can be difficult to find more than a handful being published in any calendar year. So while we love to see that award hype, we also need to see an increase in actual books published, too,

Luckily, there are people like Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek Nation), who does a lot to uplift Native voices in kidlit and she’s at the helm of a new imprint at HarperCollins called Heartdrum whose mission is to “emphasize the present and future of Indian Country and the strength of young Indigenous heroes.” Heartdrum published its first YA book in 2022, and hopefully it won’t be the last. By incorporating these YA reads into your TBR (beyond Native American Heritage Month in November!) you are showing publishing that these books matter, and that there is a demand for them. We hope that you don’t stop at just one to satisfy the Read Harder challenge, but add a few of these books to your 2023 reading list!

cover image of Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Daunis lives in two worlds: The world of her white mom, and the nearby reservation community where her father’s family resides. When she delays going off to college to help out with her sick grandmother, she finds her world rocked by a shocking murder and an investigation into drug use on the reservation — an investigation that she gets pulled into, despite her misgivings. As she peels back the layers of complicated truth about her community, she finds that not everything is as it seems. Bonus: Keep an eye out for Boulley’s next book, Warrior Girl Unearthed, out in May!

The Things She's Seen cover image

The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Beth died in a car accident not too long ago, but she lingers in this world, haunting her dad, who is the only other person able to see her. When she encourages him to go back to work, they find themselves in a small Australian town, trying to solve the mystery of a building destroyed by arson and a young woman who’s recently appeared with no name and no past, but a haunting story of her own to tell. Bonus: If you enjoy this book, check out Ambelin’s book The Interrogating of Ashala Wolf!

Hearts Unbroken cover image

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Louise has been through too many crushes and boyfriends who have said or done racist things, so starting this school year she’s determined to forego boys and focus on her job at the school newspaper. But when a new guy intrigues her and the town faces racist backlash over the casting of the school play, Louise learns that there’s no guarantees when it comes to guarding your heart. Bonus: Leitich also has a new YA novel out in 2023 called Harvest House, and it’s set in the same world as Hearts Unbroken!

the summer of bitter and sweet book cover

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson

Lou is working at her family’s ice cream shack this summer, trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend and the letter that recently arrived for her from her biological father, who is in prison. When her former best friend King also makes a surprise reappearance, Lou finds herself drawn to him. But she can’t ignore all of the things she’s been avoiding forever.

cover of the marrow thieves

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

In a dystopian future where most of the population have lost the ability to dream, Native people are being hunted for their bone marrow, which restores the ability. Frenchie and his friends are making their way north, where they hope to find safety, but one of them holds the secret for ending their days on the run once and for all. Also look for the sequel, Hunting the Stars!

Give Me Some Truth cover

Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth

Carson and Maggi both have their own reasons for wanting to get away from their reservation, but both also realize that their best bet is to win the Battle of the Bands. Despite lots of family circumstance and a racist restaurant owner, they’re determined to give it their best shot…and find unexpected love and friendship along the way. Gansworth is also the author of If I Ever Get Out of Here and Apple (Skin to the Core).

Elatsoe Book Cover

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe can raise the spirits of dead animals in an alternate U.S. shaped by magic. When her cousin dies in a car accident, his ghost informs her that it was actually murder, sending Ellie on a harrowing journey to uncover the truth about his death, and shine a light on the secrets of her town. Little Badger is also the author of the award-winning A Snake Falls to the Earth!

Cover of Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew

Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew

Bugz is shy, self-conscious, and feels out of place in her reservation community. But online, she’s a confident gamer who is skilled and respected. When a fellow gamer moves to the reservation, a Chinese teen sent to Canada to live with his aunt, the Rez doctor, the two meet IRL and are drawn to each other. But living online and navigating real-life conflict isn’t so easy, and when Bugz is faced with a huge betrayal, she has to figure out where she stands.

Want more great recommendations? Check out our round up of MG and YA graphic novels by Indigenous creators!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #16: Read a Romance with Bisexual Representation

Hello readers! Task #16 is a fun one: read a romance with bisexual representation. As a bisexual reader with a queer spouse, this is my jam! I am always on the lookout for new bisexual romances, and there have been a lot of good ones in the last few years. Since I am perpetually behind on my reading, I asked my fellow Rioters for suggestions, and narrowed it down to these 10 titles, some of which I’ve already read and the rest of which I want to!

My favorite thing about “bisexual” (or pansexual or queer) books is the variety of gender pairings. As a cis woman married to a cis man, I especially like M/F queer romances, but I absolutely enjoy F/F, M/M, and F/NB or M/NB pairings! (I haven’t read an NB/NB book yet, but I look very much forward to finding a good one!)

I hope you find the perfect book for your TBR in this list. I’ve tried to include not just a variety of pairings, but also in time period (although these are admittedly mostly contemporary), tone, and tropes. Enjoy!

cover of behind these doors by jude lucens

Behind These Doors by Jude Lucens

This is an M/M Edwardian historical romance, with class differences between the two leads. Maurice, based on the novel by E.M. Forester, is one of my favorite movies, and this book sounds like a great comp for it — I can’t wait to read it!

the cover of Delilah Green Doesn't Care

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake 

This F/F hometown romance takes Delilah, a successful New York–based photographer, and throws her back into the small town she grew up in when she agrees to photograph her stepsister Astrid’s wedding. Then she is reintroduced to Astrid’s friend Claire, and things go awry for them both. This one sounds so fun!

cover of A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria

A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria

This one is an M/F second-chance romance about childhood friends and young lovers who haven’t seen each other since he walked out 13 years ago. They reconnect, at first just working together…then sleeping together…and eventually wondering if there’s a chance for more.

cover of The Love Study by Kris Ripper

The Love Study by Kris Ripper

In this M/M romcom, perma-temp Declan is tired of temping, and tired of everyone talking about his fiancé leaving him at the altar. Then he agrees to let popular nonbinary YouTuber Sidney, who hosts an advice show, set him up on a number of dates and discuss them on the show. Unfortunately, the dates are all meh…because Declan only has chemistry with Sidney.

Payback's a Witch cover

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

In this F/F romance, Emmy is a witch who exiled herself from her hometown due to the presence of her crummy ex, Gareth, but she returns for a spellcasting tournament in order to help out her family. Then she meets Talia, who just broke up with Gareth after learning that he was also seeing Linden…and she and Linden both want revenge, so they team up with Emmy, who finds herself drawn to Talia.

Book cover of The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes; illustration of woman in breeches and tails jumping into the arms of a man similarly dressed

The Perfect Crimes of Marion Hayes by Cat Sebastian

In this M/F Georgian era historical (and hilarious) romance, thief Rob blackmails duchess Marian and is surprised to find her utterly charming in the letters they exchange — and shocked when she kidnaps him and ties him up to prevent him from participating in her planned highway robbery of her own husband. When Marian is forced to shoot her husband in the robbery gone wrong, she only has Rob to turn to for help.

cover of The Romance Recipe

The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett

In this steamy F/F romance, Amy is trying to save her restaurant and hires hot new reality TV chef Sophie, who is tired of being a public figure and confused by her attraction to her new boss. I love a book where a main character learns a lot about themself, so this one is going on my teetering TBR!

cover of Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

In this delightful M/F romance, single mum Rosaline wins a spot on a baking competition show, and quickly finds herself hooking up with fellow contestant Alain. But it’s her steady friendship with Harry that she finds herself relying on.

cover image of Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

In this M/F romcom, Dani just wants a friends-with-benefits situation. After she’s rescued from an elevator by hot former rugby player Zaf — and video of the rescue goes viral online — she thinks she’s found one. Unfortunately, he wants more than just sex…and he’s very persuasive.

You Made A Fool of Death with Your Beauty book cover

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

This M/F romance explores grief as much as it does love. Feyi lost the love of her life five years ago and is finally ready to date again. She agrees to a vacation in the tropics with the man she’s casually seeing, but once there, she finds herself drawn to his father, who is also grieving a lover who died.

Still need more options? I found a few books from 2019 (just before my arbitrary cut-off for this list) that are just as great: Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon; Ice Cream Lover by Jackie Lau; and Working Title by Holley Trent. 

Happy reading!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.

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Read Harder 2023 Task #15: Read a Historical Fiction Book Set in an Eastern Country

Ever since a little before middle school, historical fiction has been one of my favorite genres. Back when I was a little one —which wasn’t that long ago *ahem* — I remembered that most of my historical fiction reading was set in Medieval Europe, usually England, and sometimes China.

Even though the libraries I had access to at the time didn’t have much in the way of variety concerning historical fiction, I gobbled the books up nonetheless. I found tales of court intrigue and betrothals, quests for jewels and the occasional dragon gripping and they actually made me more interested in school work — suddenly the chapter we’d covered on whichever Medieval queen became that much more interesting since I’d just read a historical fiction novel that imagined her, immersing me in her life as a teenager.

As much as I had enjoyed these books, I’d always wished there was more variety concerning setting. I wanted to read about what it was like to have lived in places like ancient Egypt and India,1800s Polynesia, and other parts and times of the world I’d never been. As my love for historical fiction has traveled with me into adulthood, I still feel the same way. Luckily, with increased diversity efforts (although they’re not enough, let’s be real), there have been many more books published that are set in different times and in different places all over the world.

This challenge will get you started with some of these historical fiction novels based in the eastern world, and includes everything from historical mystery to historical fantasy.

The Red Palace Book Cover

The Red Palace by June Hur

With lots of hard work and studying, 18-year-old Hyeon has overcome the disadvantages that come with being an illegitimate daughter in 1758 Joseon (Korea). As a palace nurse, she hopes to eke out a living and maybe even gain favor with her estranged father. These hopes are interrupted, though, when four women are killed in the palace in a single night and her mentor and friend stands accused. To prove her friend’s innocence, she starts her own investigation where she meets young inspector Eojin. The two work together to find out the murderer in this YA historical mystery.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel cover

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Here, one of the most loathed queens in Indian mythology, and a character in the epic poem Ramayana, is granted her origin story. While Kaikeyi is raised on tales of the grandeur and omnipotence of the gods, she begins to doubt them as she sees the unfairness of how women are treated. After her mother is banished, she discovers a power particular to her and begins to carve out a space for herself, despite the constricting world around her. But to do so comes at a price.

Bonus points for R.F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War and Babel saying that this is “One of my favorite books of 2022 so far!”

Beasts of a Little Land Book Cover

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

The intricately woven events of this novel are set in motion in 1917 when a starving Korean hunter saves a young Japanese officer from a tiger…

Following that, Jade is sold as a young girl to a courtesan school and eventually meets the orphan JungHo, who begs on the streets of Seoul. Jade goes on to become a well-known performer and JungHo gets entangled in the fight for independence. As battles wage on and Korea modernizes, Jade must decide which is more important to her — a higher social standing or the sincerity of a long-time friend.

The Secret Keeper of Jaipur cover

The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

In 1969, Malik is fresh out of private school and headed to apprentice at the Jaipur Royal Palace. The balcony of the palace’s new cinema collapses on opening night, but the explanation doesn’t make sense to Malik. His intuition, no doubt well-developed from having lived on the streets as a child, is telling him something more sinister is afoot, and he sets out to prove it.

The Mountains Sing cover

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

This follows several generations of the Trần family as Việt Nam struggles through war. When Trần Diệu Lan fled with her six children, it was to escape the Communist Land grab. Then, in Hà Nội, the family she fought so hard to keep together — as well as the country — becomes splintered by the war. This shows the horrors of war, but it also has moments of hope and tenderness.

The Map of Salt and Stars cover

The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar

Once Nour’s father dies of cancer in 2011, her mother, a cartographer, wants to be closer to family. She moves Nour and her sisters from New York City to Syria, but the country feels differently compared to how it was when Nour’s mother lived there as a girl. Soon violence breaks out and Nour’s house is destroyed. Now her and her family must travel across several Middle Eastern and North African countries seeking a new home.

More than 800 years before Nour, Rawiya is a teen girl set on improving living conditions for her and her mother. She disguises herself as a boy and becomes an apprentice to a map maker. While helping to construct the map commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily, she will travel across the Middle East and North Africa, coming across beasts of mythology and historical figures.

As Nour and Rawiya’s paths run parallel to each other hundreds of years apart, we see the young women braving the unknown in search of a new place to belong.

Golden Kamuy cover

Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda

This historical manga would be a great choice if you’re also trying to knock out Read Harder challenge #8 (Read a Manga You Haven’t Before). Following the end of the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900s, veteran Saichi Sugimoto struggles to survive in the Hokkaido wilderness. When he finds a map that leads to a bounty of Ainu gold, he sets off to find it. But he’s not the only one trying to get their hands on the treasure, and to improve his chances against the likes of harsh wilderness, soldiers, and criminals, he’ll need the help of Ainu girl Asirpa.

Note: if you’re unfamiliar, the Ainu are a group of Indigenous people from the northern region of Japan.

cover of Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth

Alharthi was the first female author from Oman to be translated into English, and this book won her the 2019 International Man Booker Prize. In it, we follow three Omani sisters, each with their own idea of marriage. Through them and their families, we see the history and culture of Oman as it shifts from a slave-owning patriarchy to its present-day iteration.

If you want more historical fiction options, which, of course you do, check out our list of Japanese historical fiction or 10 of the best historical fiction books from 2022. For a constant stream of books by and about people of color, sign up for the newsletter In Reading Color.

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.