Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge—Update

This year, Book Riot has challenged readers to step out of their comfort zone and read books they might otherwise stay away from (details here). So far, I’ve completed 6 of the challenges. (You can read about my first update here.) 21411936

4. A Short Story Collection: Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Berman—As the title suggests, the stories in this collection deal with women who have been overlooked by popular history. Some I had heard of; others I hadn’t. While the writing was very enjoyable on its own, I had lots of fun looking up and finding out about the subject of each story. The arc that is tying all the stories together is the fact that almost every woman is presented not at the pinnacle of her fame, but later, when the supporters and money have gone and her body is starting to fail her. I recommend it. Thanks to Leah, whose review inspired me to read it. 18079683

5. A Book That Is a Retelling of a Classic Story: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi—The book’s blurb presents this as a retelling of Snow White. While there are obvious elements of the fairy tale, this particular selling point turned out to be rather weak. The story is set in Massachusetts and builds on the shaky race relations of the 1950s. I liked how the book explored how insecurity and protectiveness can turn a woman into an evil stepmother. But several crucial characters never came to life for me, and the transgender twist at the end was unnecessary in my opinion. I picked up the book because of Yasmine Rose, who really liked the book. 22825631

6. A Book Published in 2015: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller—This was a fun book. Inspired by a 2011 news story about a boy who returns after living in the wilderness for years, this book tells the story of 8-year-old Peggy, whose survivalist father takes her away from London to live in a run-down hut, cut off from civilization. Told from Peggy’s point of view, it slowly becomes clear that not all is as it seems. I really liked the delicate buildup of suspense and the questionable reliability of the narrator. Naomi at Consumed by Ink first brought this book to my attention.



  1. Ahhh I’m really torn about whether or not I should read Boy, Snow, Bird. Everyone says something different about it! I loved Oyeyemi’s first book “Icarus Girl” as a kid. It was very creepy and strange. I probably had no idea what was happening in it. But anyway, that’s why I’m tempted to try Boy, Snow, Bird. I’m glad you liked Our Endless Numbered Days, though! I loved that one.

    • Opinions are really divided on Boy, Snow, Bird, so I think it’s a very personal reading experience for everyone. While I didn’t like it that much, I’m still planning to read more of Oyeyemi’s books. I’ll check out Icarus Girl… creepy and strange sounds good!

  2. I’ve heard good things about Helen Oyeyemi, but I’ve yet to read any of her books. It’s good to read your thoughts on Boy, Snow, Bird as it’s always useful to see a range of views. Perhaps Mr Fox will be a winner? I love the title – it reminds me of the film, Fantastic Mr Fox. 🙂

  3. I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed Almost Famous Women. I loved how the stories flowed and I also really enjoyed looking each woman up. I wanted to love Boy, Bird much more than I did. I agree-the fairly tale link was much weaker than promised.

  4. “Almost Famous Women” sounds really interesting. I tend to avoid short story collections, but I might make an exception (a “read harder” challenge is a great idea!).

  5. I would love to read Almost Famous Women – it sounds great!
    When I was writing my review for Our Endless Numbered Days, I was trying to find out more about that 2011 story the book was inspired by, but I was coming up with next to nothing, so I just gave up. Did you find out more about it?
    Your challenge is going so well – I love hearing about it!
    Thanks for the mention! 🙂

    • I remember hearing about the boy in the news when he first came “out of the woods.” I was thinking at the time how odd it sounded, because there are VERY few places left in Germany where you could live in total isolation. The boy’s story turned out to be a hoax, which honestly didn’t surprise me.
      I think you will like Almost Famous Women, if you get a chance to read it.

    • There was a boy in Germany who claimed he had lived in the woods for several years. I remember being surprised by that, because there aren’t very many places left in Germany where you could live without any interaction with civilization. The boy’s story turned out to be a hoax. But Our Endless Numbered Days is definitely worth reading!

  6. I’m sorry you didn’t like ‘Boy, Snow, Bird’!!! I guess you have to try these things for yourself though.

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