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Urban Read Harder Challenge: Home

Don't just read--read harder! The Urban Read Harder Challenge is a great way to find new books, expand your reading horizons, and win prizes.

What is it?

In the spirit of Book Riot's annual Read Harder Challenge, the Urban Herbst Library invites you to read books from the following categories over the next few months.

If you read 3 challenge-category books by June 1, you'll be entered in to win a prize! If you read 7 challenge-category books, you'll be entered to win the prize twice. If you read over 10 books in the challenge between now and June 1, you'll be entered to win 5 times.

Urban Read Harder Instructions and Categories

How It Works:  We have 15 categories of books as well as suggestions for each category. All you have to do is pick a book that works for each category (if you can't think of a book that fits and none of the suggestions seem appealing, come to the library and ask Sarah or Katie for a recommendation). Read a book from as many of the categories as you can, join us for monthly check-ins, book talk, book suggestions (optional, but there will be snacks). 

Categories and Suggestions:

1. 1,000 Words: read a graphic novel (fiction or nonfiction)​​

2. The 415: read a book about or set in San Francisco

  • Little Brother & Homeland by Cory Doctorow (F DOC)
  • The girl with ghost eyes by M.H. Boroson (F BOR)
  • The Buddha in the attic by Julie Otsuka (F OTS)
  • Bite me : a love story by Christopher Moore (F MOO)

3. Blue(s) Pride: read a book authored by someone in the Urban Community

  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (F NEL)
  • I Am J by Chris Beam (F BEA)
  • Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile (F BAS)
  • We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For by Alice Walker (808.1 WAL)
  • American Heathen by Colin Kimzey et.al

4. Diverse History: read a historical novel by an author of color

5. Fight for Your Right: read a book about a social justice issue (fiction or nonfiction)

  • The Black Panthers Speak edited by Philip S. Foner (973.046 BLA)
  • Daring To Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975 by Alice Echols (305.42 ECH)
  • Octavia's brood: science fiction stories from social justice movements edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown ; foreword by Sheree Renée Thomas (S/IMA)
  • From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (305.8 TAY)

6. Funny Ha-ha: Humorous essays, a book authored by a comedian, anything that makes you laugh

7. Happy Teachers: read a book for your English class (or elective)

8. Library Goals: read a book recommended to you by a librarian

9. Love is Love: read a book with an LGBTQIA protagonist/narrator

10. Make Beyonce Proud: read a nonfiction book about feminism or a novel with feminist themes

  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (F LOC)
  • Manifesta: young women, feminism, and the future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards (305.42 BAU)

  • Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by Bell Hooks (305.42 BOO)

  • Unslut: a diary and a memoir by Emily Lindin (M LIN)

11. Nostalgia: re-read a favorite book from your youth

12. Passport: read a book primarily set in or about a non-European country

  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F ADI)
  • Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra (F CHA)
  • Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund (F NAS)
  • Women of Sand and Myrrh by Hanan al-Shaykh (F SHA)

13. Robots and Magic: read a book from either the fantasy or sci-fi section of the library

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (F ATW)
  • The Water Knife  Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (C CLI)
  • Graceling by Kristen Cashore (F CAS)

14. True Stories Well Told: read a memoir

  • Long Way Gone by Ishamel Beah (M BEA)        
  • Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos (M GAN)
  • Tomboy: a graphic Memoir by Liz Prince (GN PRI)
  • Forward by Abby Wambach (WAM)

15. Up Late: read a thriller or suspenseful novel

Bonus: Attend a Booksmith Event

  • counts as one book as long as you show a picture of you at the event.

Keeping Track

To keep track of the books you are reading: Save a copy of this spreadsheet to your Google Drive and then follow the instructions below (if you enter the information according to the instructions, you'll have snazzy graphs and whatnots when you click on the "results" tab at the bottom). 

To track publication date: Enter date in either “mm/dd/yyyy” or “Month Day, Year” format.

To track prose vs. comics: Enter “prose” or “comics.”

To track fiction vs. nonfiction: Enter “fiction” or “nonfiction.”

To track format: Enter “audio,” “digital,” or “print.”

To track audiobook length: Enter the length of the book (i.e. 9 hours, 8 mins) in the hh:mm:ss format (in this case, 09:08:00).

To track author gender: Enter M or F. If you have a male/female author/artist team or male/female co-writers, enter “M, F” (separated by commas) and one each will be marked.*

To track authors/artists/main characters of color: Enter “artist,” “author,” or “MC.” When there are multiples (i.e. the author and the main character are both POC), enter their respective roles separated by commas (i.e. “author, MC”).

To track LGBTQ+ authors/artists/main characters: The same rules apply as for POC. Enter “artist,” “author,” or “MC.” When there are multiples, enter their respective roles separated by commas.

For any field where the category doesn’t apply (for example, page count on an audiobook), leave it blank. If there are columns you don’t want to include, you can just delete them, and the formulas will adjust appropriately.