Challenge Accepted: Read Harder 2017
A new year means new year resolutions and challenges. One reading challenge that I love to do is Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder challenge. Instead of having people focus on a specific number of books, Read Harder challenges people to read different genres or authors that they may overlook. This year, there are 24 prompts for readers, and a complete list may be found here on the Book Riot Goodreads page. Today, I will address eleventh challenge, to read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location- so we’ll be using DC as our home base yet again.
Chile: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
An epic family drama with touches of magical realism, Allende's first novel blends drama with melodrama with ease. The Trueba family, led by the stoic patriarch Esteban and his wife Clara, who happens to be connected with some sort of mystical powers, are dealing with interpersonal family dynamics and the growing unease of Chile's political situation. As the Trueba family grows, the lives of the Trueba women are impacted by the decisions made by Clara and Esteban. Growing up in Chile with her grandfather and a relative of Chile’s first democratically elected president, Allende brings her characters to life with her unique perspective.
India/ Indian Ocean: Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
The Ibis is making a voyage from Calcutta to Cape Town, a perilous journey across the Indian Ocean. On board, the Ibis is a mix of Indians and Westerners - a bankrupt raja, a widowed tribeswoman, an American freedmen and French orphan. As their voyage begins, these passengers begin to separate from their structured roles and start to form a unique bond as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. Full of descriptions of lush scenery of the poppy fields along the Ganges river, the rolling high seas of the Indian Ocean, and the streetlife of Canton, you'll feel as though you're another passenger on the Ibis.
Nigeria: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (YA)
To others, Kambili and her family are living a blessed life. Her father is wealthy, successful, and well respected within the city of Enugu and they all live in a compound surrounded by high walls and frangipani trees. However, there is a darkness in her father that only Kambili and her family known about. Extremely strict, her father controls her life with authoritarian cruelty. When the country starts to fray under a military coup, her father sends Kambili and her brother away to stay with their Aunt, who runs her house almost the exact opposite way as their father, and they begin to open up to new opportunities and new experiences.
Seoul: The Vegetarian by Han King
Yeong-hye and her husband live an ordinary life in Seoul, which gets disrupted when she decides to stop eating meat after experiencing nightmares night after night. Her husband, who prided himself on his ordinary life and his ordinary wife, is not pleased. A society where observing social niceties is of utmost importance, Yeong-hye's decision is treated as an act of resistance. Told in three parts and from three perspectives, this short book (only 192 pages!) will fly right on by and leave you with a creeping unease of what will happen next.
Tokyo: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Like many great mysteries, it all started with a cat. His wife's cat. As Toru Okada mounts a search for the missing feline, his wife also goes missing and Toru finds himself immersed in the criminal underbelly of Tokyo. Murakami blends together magical realism, a realistic portrait of a disintegrating marriage, and an examination of Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria during World War II.
Did you read something else for this challenge? Share it with us on Twitter by using #readharderdcpl!