Read Harder Challenge 2023

This column, part of the monthly Heavy Metal Librarian series, originally ran in the Get Out! section of the Green Valley News on January 29, 2023. The series is authored by Charlie Touseull, Tween/Teen Librarian at Joyner-Green Valley Library. 

I recently celebrated my birthday, and to mark that milestone I hung out with friends and family. We commemorated the occasion with good food and drink while sharing stories of the fun things that we have done and experienced together. It is always nice to do that, and as usual I was gifted a few more books that I will add to my ever growing "to be read" stack. In my humble opinion, books and/or vinyl always make the best gifts.

One of the things that comes with being an avid reader is that I often find myself reading similar types of books for long stretches. It’s a habit that comes from doing something that is pleasurable and stimulating. It’s something akin to why some radio stations play the same five AC/DC songs even though the band has recorded 17 studio albums. Indulgence in familiarity is pleasurable.


In order to help break that cycle when it comes to reading, Pima County Public Library staff encourage readers to participate in Book Riot’s 2023 Read Harder Challenge, opens a new window. In this challenge, readers are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and read books from genres and authors they may not be familiar with as a way to become more aware of the diverse communities, voices, and pressing topics that make up the complex society that we all live in.

In the last several years, our society has been exposed to multiple upheavals. There’s no shortage for things some deem controversial these days, and there’s always a book available on our shelves that addresses these subjects.

One of the really important things about exploring new writers and new subjects is that it broadens your perspective on the complexities of what it means to be human. The voices from within the pages of a book can sing to you in a multitude of ways. Whether reading Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, readers can gain insight into the struggles and experiences of another while reflecting upon how those issues are applicable to their own lives.

By reading a wider variety of literature, new worlds can be revealed and hopefully a new perspective can be achieved. That is one of the goals of the Read Harder Challenge. It is also a way to have fun and discover something new that resonates with you.

Some of the categories in the Read Harder Challenge are: Read one of your favorite author’s favorite books; Read a Young Adult book by an Indigenous author; and read a nonfiction book about intersectional feminism. You can find multiple librarian-curated book lists associated with this challenge on our website, opens a new window.

This will be my first time participating in the challenge, and I’m looking forward to it. I have already checked a few items off the list by reading The Overstory by Richard Powers, a book about activism; and Provecho: 100 Vegan Mexican Recipes to Celebrate Culture and Community by Edgar Castrejon. If you haven't yet, try reading a cookbook from cover to cover!

While the book that I got for my birthday will not meet the criteria of this challenge, I still plan on reading it. The list of books to read is never ending. The Read Harder Challenge just makes that list a bit more exciting and will definitely broaden my perspective on life a bit more. Happy reading!

The Bluest Eye

The Hate U Give

The Overstory