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Penn Valley - Read Harder Challenge: Home

This guide contains information about Penn Valley Library's 2021 Read Harder Challenge

2021 Read Harder Challenge

Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge is back to excite you with new ways to read outside the lines, read differently, and read more. We're excited to bring this challenge to the Penn Valley campus again in 2021 with a twist- we've added 2 bonus tasks just for Penn Valley. There are 26 reading tasks designed to get you out of your reading comfort zone and expand your worldview. Read as much or as little as you'd like, and don't forget books can overlap on reading tasks!

This year we're asking participants to sign up using this form. This will help us stay connected to you! 

 

How to Participate

 

Download a List- Keep track of your reading using this PDF or let us know when you finish a book by using this simple form and we'll keep track for you. 

Read Amazing Books- We've created a list of books we have available at Penn Valley Library. There is a bit of everything- E-Books, E-Audio Books, PV Books, and PV Books on CD! This year we've added two Penn Valley specific bonus tasks! Read a book from the PV President's Book Club and Read the Penn Valley Common Read. You'll find them at the bottom of the list of books.

Win Prizes- Read as much or as little as you'd like. Once you're finished, email your list to amy.fortner@mcckc.edu and you'll receive a prize! (Prizes are for Penn Valley participants only.)

Book Picks

Here the whole time by Vitor Martins

Task 7: Read a fat-positive romance & Task 14: Read a realistic YA book not set in the U.S., UK, or Canada

What would you do if you had to spend the next 15 days with your lifelong crush?

Felipe gets it -- he's fat. Not chubby. Not big-boned. Fat. And he doesn't need anyone to remind him, which is, of course, what everyone does. That's why he's been waiting for this moment ever since the school year began: school break. Finally, he'll be able to spend some time far away from school and the classmates who tease him incessantly. His plans include catching up on his favorite TV shows, finishing his to-be-read pile, and watching YouTube tutorials on skills he'll never actually put into practice.

But things get a little out of hand when Felipe's mom informs him that Caio, the neighbor kid from apartment 57, will be spending the next 15 days with them while his parents are on vacation. Felipe is distraught because A) he's had a crush on Caio since, well, forever, and B) Felipe has a list of body image insecurities and absolutely NO idea how he's going to entertain his neighbor for two full weeks.

Suddenly, the days ahead of him that once promised rest and relaxation (not to mention some epic Netflix bingeing) end up bringing a whirlwind of feelings, forcing Felipe to dive head-first into every unresolved issue he has had with himself -- but maybe, just maybe, he'll manage to win over Caio, too.

Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction by Joshua Whitehead

Task 5: Read a genre novel by an Indigenous, First Nations, or Native American author

Love After the End is a new young adult anthology edited by Joshua Whitehead (Lambda Literary Award winner, Jonny Appleseed) featuring short stories by Indigenous authors with Two-Spirit & Queer heroes, in utopian and dystopian settings.

This is a sequel to the popular anthology, Love Beyond Body Space and Time (2019 AILA Youth Honor Book), and features several of the same authors returning, along with new voices!

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Task 8: Read a romance by a trans or nonbinary author

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle....

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

Task 11: Read a food memoir byan author of color

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touchpoints in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes listeners to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine. Twitty travels from the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields to tell of the struggles his family faced and how food enabled his ancestors' survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and visits Civil War battlefields in Virginia, synagogues in Alabama, and black-owned organic farms in Georgia. As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the South's past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep-the power of food to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz

Task 15: Read a memoir by a Latinx author

Ordinary Girls is a fierce, beautiful, and unflinching memoir from a wildly talented debut author. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Jaquira Díaz found herself caught between extremes: as her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was surrounded by the love of her friends; as she longed for a family and home, she found instead a life upended by violence. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz triumphantly maps a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

With a story reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Roxane Gay’s Hunger, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz delivers a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Task 15: Read a memoir by a Latinx author

For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Task 16: Read an own voices book about disability-

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Task 19: Read a historical fiction with a POC or LGBTQ+ protagonist

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

"Lo's writing, restrained yet luscious, shimmers with the thrills of youthful desire. A lovely, memorable novel about listening to the whispers of a wayward heart and claiming a place in the world."—Sarah Waters, bestselling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Task 22: Read a book set in the Midwest

Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.

Perfect Rhythm by Jae

Task 22: Read a book set in the Midwest

Pop star Leontyne Blake might sing about love, but she stopped believing in it a long time ago. What women want is her image, not the real her. When her father has a stroke, she flees the spotlight and returns to her tiny Missouri hometown.
In her childhood home, she meets small-town nurse Holly Drummond, who isn’t impressed by Leo’s fame at all. That isn’t the only thing that makes Holly different from other women. She’s also asexual. For her, dating is a minefield of expectations that she has decided to avoid.
Can the tentative friendship between a burned-out pop star and a woman not interested in sex develop into something more despite their diverse expectations?
A lesbian romance about seeking the perfect rhythm between two very different people—and finding happiness where they least expect it.

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Task 23: Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.

This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo

Task 24: Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die

In the town of Howler's Hollow, conjuring magic is strictly off-limits. Only nothing makes Delpha McGill's skin crawl more than rules. So when she finds her family's secret book of hexes, she's itching to use it to banish her mama's money troubles. She just has to keep it quiet as the grave -- not exactly Delpha's specialty.

Trouble is, Katybird Hearn is hankering to get her hands on the spell book, too. The daughter of a rival witching family, Katy has reasons of her own for wanting to learn forbidden magic, and she's not going to let an age-old feud or Delpha's contrary ways stop her. But their quarrel accidentally unleashes a hex so heinous it resurrects a cemetery full of angry Hearn and McGill ancestors bent on total destruction. If Delpha and Katy want to reverse the spell in time to save everyone in the Hollow from rampaging zombies, they'll need to mend fences and work together.

The Tea Dragon Society (Tea Dragon #1) by Kay O'Neill

Task 24: Read a book featuring a beloved pet where the pet doesn’t die

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

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