TTT: Books I Read Because of a Reading Challenge

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to us by the Broke and Bookish, here is today’s topic:

All About Books You Read Because of Recommendation — Ten Books I’ve Read Because Of Another  Blogger (Or Book Person) or Ten Books I Read On Recommendation From People Outside Of This Community or you could talk about recommendations of books you read from other sources — a magazine, a podcast, a “because you read this” algorithm.

It was a littly trying to remember which books came to me by which way, so I decided on a slight change. These are books that I only decided to read or found on account of a reading challenge. My reading challenges this year have been Read Harder 2016, Year of Reading Women of Color, and I’m counting WIT Month as a challenge because it also prompted me to go outside my comfort zone and find books I would not normally find. Any book in these categories that were on my list prior to deciding on the challenge but happened to fit were not included in this top ten.

Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson


A memoir told in poetry? It never would have occurred to me. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is brilliant in so many ways. Here’s my review. I had picked this one up when looking for books that would fit Year of Reading Women of Color.


This Place Holds No Fear - Anne Posten,Monika HeldThere is a difference between going through something and living through something and this book has a way of showing exactly that difference when it comes to a small band of Auschwitz survivors. It has a magical way of showing the PTSD of some survivors in a way that feels authentic without feeling like it dwells. It shows the effect that such an experience has on a life, not while it is is happening, but in the long term that can come after. It ends on a strangely beautiful note. I just can’t get over it. I’ll be gushing about this one for a long time.

Here’s my review. This was one of my WIT Month books and I feel like it’s my reward for taking on the challenge.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Ana Juan,Catherynne M. Valente

I had so much fun with this one. It’s not very often that you get to have an experience like this where everything is new and crazy. I thought it was all over when I grew up having already read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a child and watched Alice in Wonderland and then this came along. Here’s my review. I had read this one for Read Harder, task 5: Read a middle grade novel.


The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath,Maggie Gyllenhaal,HarperAudio

I know, I should have read this a while ago. What kind of feminist am I? Not the kind that was raised knowing that wasn’t a bad word, but the kind that still had all the ideals exemplified by my family. We’re one of those weird families. Anyway, even when I realized I was a full blown feminist a few years ago, it took a while to prioritize this. It actually took the Read Harder challenge to finally do it. This was for task 24: Read a book with a main character that has mental illness. Here’s my review.

I think what I found most incredible was that she was pretty far down the rabbit hole before I realized anything was wrong. Not sure if that’s the great writing or I’m closer to it than I think….

The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine Hedges

Yeah, pretty much everything about The Bell Jar counts here too. Oh, except that I didn’t know about this stunning feminist classic until I was doing research for a good book to read for Read Harder task 11: Read a book under 100 pages. This is a stunning look at the inner world of a woman with post-partum depression in a time before they knew how to actually treat it and were doing things that were bad for this illness. Here’s my review.


The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog - Jen Lancaster


Again, this one came to me because of Read Harder. This is task 22: Read a food memoir. This is about more than food, so I do wonder about it’s fit a little but it’s a great memoir and definitely includes food. Here’s my review.


The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness: A Novel - Shin Kyung-sook,Jung Ha-YunThis is another reward for WIT Month. I finished it on the very last day of the month, so it counted. I still would have put it on this month because of the way I came by it though. This is a beautiful and haunting tale that was written about life in North Korea. The story is interesting but it’s really the writing that gets digs in and makes the story unforgettable. Here’s my review.


The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories - Marina Keegan,Anne Fadiman

This was my pick for Read Harder task 3: Read a collection of essays.  There are also some short stories, but the one that makes the book is near the end. It’s about having Celiac Disease. The image of her mother crying while watching her first birthday party and saying that she was poisoning her daughter with the birthday cake is just haunting. As a parent, I can’t even imagine finding out later in life that something that was such an expected and normal part of life was actually horribly bad for my child’s health. It gives me chills.

Here’s my review of  the collection as a whole.


Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok,Grayce Wey,Penguin AudioOkay, I may have read this one anyway but I prioritized it on account of the Year of Reading Women of Color. It’s a lot of fun and there were some masterful writing choices, such as softening the accent slowly, over time. Here’s my review.


Monstress Volume 1: Awakening - Marjorie M. Liu  I’m pretty sure I’ve gushed about this one a lot already. I’ve read and reviewed as much of the series as is out, but here’s the review for the first one. Just everything about it is amazing and gorgeous. I had picked this one up for Read Harder after I realized that Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol didn’t actually fit for the task. It’s task 17: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years.


Check out the other posts for this TTT at the Broke and Bookish!

8 thoughts on “TTT: Books I Read Because of a Reading Challenge

Add yours

  1. Brown Girl Dreaming is just incredible. I love reading challenges, they just push me out of my comfort zone and encourage me to broaden my reading horizons. I’m prone to getting stuck in a bit of a reading rut, so I sometimes need a bit of a nudge to try something new!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read the girl who navigated fairyland in a ship of her own making purely because that’s such an awesome title for a book! In fact, all of the titles in that series are amazing.
    I find it more difficult to read nonsense types of books though as I have to concentrate more to understand what’s going on as apposed to just falling into a book.

    Liked by 1 person

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