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Read Harder Archive

Read Harder 2019: A Book With an Animal or Inanimate Object as a Point-of-View Character

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Katie McLain

Contributing Editor

Katie's parents never told her "no" when she asked for a book, which was the start of most of her problems. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Lake Forest College and is working towards a master's degree in library science at U of I. She works full time at a public library reference desk in northern IL, specializing in readers’ advisory and general book enthusiasm, and she has a deep-rooted love of all things disturbing, twisted, and terrifying. (She takes enormous pleasure in creeping out her coworkers.) When she's not spending every waking hour at the library, she's at home watching Cubs baseball with her cats and her cardigan collection, and when she's not at home, she's spending too much money on concert tickets. Her hobbies include debating the finer points of Harry Potter canon, hitting people upside the head who haven’t read The Martian, and convincing her boyfriend that she can, in fact, fit more books onto her shelves. Twitter: @kt_librarylady

The 2019 Read Harder Challenge is sponsored by the Read Harder Journal. Get the full list of tasks here.

Created by Book Riot, this smartly designed reading log consists of entry pages to record stats, impressions, and reviews of each book you read. Evenly interspersed among these entry pages are 12 challenges inspired by Book Riot’s annual Read Harder initiative, which began in 2015 to encourage readers to pick up passed-over books, try out new genres, and choose titles from a wider range of voices and perspectives. Indulge your inner book nerd and read a book about books, get a new perspective on current events by reading a book written by an immigrant, find a hidden gem by reading a book published by an independent press, and so much more. Each challenge includes an inspiring quotation, an explanation of why the challenge will prove to be rewarding, and five book recommendations that fulfill the challenge.

It wasn’t until I started working in a library that I realized that stories that use animal or inanimate narrators can be extremely polarizing. I’ve had several people come to the desk looking for a reading recommendation, but when I ask them if there’s anything they don’t want, they say, “Just don’t give me anything with talking animals.”

To each their own. However, there are some really intriguing novels that use animals or inanimate objects as point-of-view characters, so I’m really excited about this particular Read Harder challenge! If you know of any other books that fit the bill, leave them in the comments!

Pick up a book with an animal or inanimate point of view and change your perspective. book lists | read harder books | read harder challenge books | books with animals | books from an animal's point of view

The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel

Narrator: cat

Nana the cat is on a road trip with his owner, Satoru, visiting old friends and seeing the changing seasons. But what is the purpose of this road trip, and why is everyone so interested in Nana? This is a quirky, heartwarming, and heartbreaking novel, so prepare for a feelings-tornado if you read this one! Kleenex may be necessary.

Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

Narrator: dinosaur

Prehistoric life gets an extraordinary new perspective through the eyes of a female Utahraptor as she experiences loss, migration, and challenges from a deadly new predator. Robert T. Bakker draws on his knowledge as a paleontologist to create a vivid portrait of the world 120 million years ago.

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Narrator: crack cocaine

Darlene turns to crack cocaine to erase the trauma of losing her husband. In her drugged haze, she’s lured to a shady company with the promise of a fantastic job—a decision that will have disastrous consequences for her and her 11-year-old son. But what makes this story truly original is the fact that several of the chapters are narrated by Crack.

My Name is Red By Orhan Pamuk, translated by Erdağ M. Göknar

Narrator: Multiple inanimate objects

The Sultan of 16th century Istanbul has commissioned the best artists to create an illuminated book celebrating the glories of his realm. This art could be considered an affront to Islam, so great care is taken to keep the project hidden from the ruling elite. But when one of the chosen artists disappears, panic erupts, and the only clues to the mystery lies in the artwork itself. The story is told from multiple perspectives, including a coin and the color red, which are personified elements within the artwork itself.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Narrator: bee

Flora 717 is a sanitation bee whose only purpose is to serve and obey the Queen Mother, yet she displays talents unheard of for her kin. Mutant bees are normally destroyed, but Flora finds herself reassigned to different areas, including the Queen’s inner chambers, where she learns of beautiful and dangerous secrets that affect the future of the hive. This beautifully written debut is absolutely mesmerizing, and just as compelling on audio.

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn

Narrator: dog

Chet is a wise and lovable K-9 academy dropout, sitting alongside his master Bernie, who works as a private investigator. Together, the two detectives investigate the disappearance of Madison, a teenage girl with no reason to run away from home. And when Madison turns up unharmed and then disappears again in the span of a week, Chet and Bernie know that something about this case smells fishy.

Fox 8 by George SaundersFox 8 by George Saunders

Narrator: fox

Fox 8 has never had the support of his pack…until he teaches himself how to speak “Yuman” by hiding in the bushes and listening to a family read bedtime stories. It seems that nothing can sate his curiosity about people, even after plans for a new shopping mall cut off his food supply and Fox 8 is sent on a dangerous quest to save his pack.


Are odd narrators your thing? Check out this list for more unusual fictional narrators.