2020 BookRiot Read Harder challenge

I’m a big fan of reading challenges:

For 2020, I went with the 2020 BookRiot Read Harder challenge. I love it because it pushes me way out of my comfort zone. Most reading challenges I can complete by just reading novels, but not this one.

Here are my highlights:

Top 3 books

#1: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

This one hits hard. It’s the kind of book that forces me to lie down after reading it. It’s about everything: people, time, religion, racism, alien life, love, abuse, growth. There’s a sequel but I haven’t gathered up the strength to read it yet.

I couldn’t pick just one favorite quote from it, so here are two:

“He’s the genuine article. He has been all along. He is still held fast in the formless stone, but he’s closer to God right now than I have ever been in my life. And I don’t even have the courage to envy him.”


“I had a dream last night,” he said quietly. “I was on a road and there was no one with me. And in the dream I said, ’I don’t understand but I can learn if you will teach me.’ Do you suppose anyone was listening?”

#2: Beartown by Fredrick Backman

Backman is one of my favorite authors. This was my 3rd book of his and I’ve read 2 more since then. He has has a way of making me care about every single character in different ways. His characters grow on me and by the end of his books I feel like they are my friends.

Plus, hockey is a great sport to read about.

Favorite quote:

Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.

#3: Brother by Ania Ahlborn

Sometimes you need a thrill ride, and this book delivers. No memorable quotes, no higher meaning, nothing but chaos and suspense. It’s one of the hardest books to put down that I’ve ever read.

Bottom 3 books

In no particular order, here are the ones that I hated the most:

  • The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I was bored out of my mind and couldn’t wait for it to end.
  • These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card. It had some touching parts, but it felt scattered and confused and the ending was frustrating.
  • Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. I struggled with my thoughts on this one. It’s the memoir of a woman who lost her entire family in a tidal wave. It’s raw and honest and hopeless and terrible to read. It’s not badly written, but I put it in my bottom 3 because it’s hundreds of pages of mourning and I can’t call that a valuable reading experience.

The full list of books I read for this challenge is here.

See you next year!

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