Challenge Accepted: Read Harder 2017
2017 is here and a new year means new year resolutions and challenges. One reading challenge that I love to do is Book Riot’s 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. Today we will address the 17th challenge, to read a classic by an author of color. A complete list of challenges can be found here.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
A story about love, sex, repression, and desperation, Giovanni’s Room packs a punch in under 300 pages. We follow an expat American as he contemplates his relationship with his lover Giovanni, and the woman he was supposed to marry. Published in the 1950’s and set in Paris, Baldwin explores sexuality, romance, and desire with prose that is so well written that you cannot help but feel tied to the protagonist, even though we never find out his name.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelTita De La Garza lives on a ranch in Mexico with her older sisters, her mother and Nacha, who teaches her everything she knows and is a caretaker and cook. As the youngest De La Garza, Tita is bound to stay at home and can only marry when her mother dies. Which is a problem, because Tita meets Pedro, and they fall in love after Tita seduces him with her cooking. Filled with great characters, romance, magical realism, and recipes this book will satisfy your need for drama and possibly make you hungry.
Invisible Man by Ralph EllisonCelebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Ellison’s book has not lost any of its importance or power. We follow a nameless protagonist as he travels from the deep south to Harlem, and the different kinds of bigotry that follow. From fights that prize black bodies only as animals to be pitted against each other, to a rally where black Americans are prized but not engaged with, Ellison is tackling the alienation that comes with the African American male experience in a system of white supremacy. Ellison’s prose makes this book required reading for any reader.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
You may not have heard of Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese-American poet and author, but you may have heard of his work. Originally published in 1923, this book of poems and poetic essays touch on love, spirituality, and passion are only part of the reason why it’s so popular at weddings and commitment ceremonies. The other part? Gibran’s prose is so beautiful and at only 127 pages each word carries significant weight.
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister SouljahPublished in 1999, this book is the most recently published on this list, but there’s no contesting the fact that is a modern classic. Winter is young, hot, and living off the status she gets as the daughter to one of the toughest dealers in Brooklyn. But then when the winter winds push her life into a place she doesn’t want to go, Winter needs to step up and put her street smarts to the test to stay on top.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Set in San Francisco after the end of the World War II, four Chinese immigrants find each other and begin a weekly ritual in which they play mahjong and discuss lives in their new country, which they call the Joy Luck Club. As they age, have children, and experience the highs and lows of life, they become more entwined in each other’s lives. Amy Tan’s family saga is just 28 years old, but the themes of family, new beginnings, and connections are timeless.Did you read something else for this challenge? Share it with us on twitter by using #readharderdcpl!