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Read Harder

7 Short Books You Can Squeeze In Before the End of the Year

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

Hello, everyone! First, a quick introduction. My name is Danika, and I’ll be helming the Read Harder ship this year. I’ve been writing for Book Riot since 2015, and I’ve been working here full-time as an Associate Editor for just shy of three years. I am a co-host on All the Books, and I also write the LGBTQ books newsletter Our Queerest Shelves.

I’ve watched Read Harder grow and change over the years — can you believe this is the TENTH YEAR of the challenge?? — but a couple of things always stay the same. One is that the challenge pushes us to diversify our reading in all senses of the word, helping us to discover our new favorite books that we never would have picked up otherwise. The other is the community of passionate, well-read, compassionate readers that has sprung up around Read Harder. That’s why I’m so excited to have a central place for this community, so we can have our own cozy, supportive, moderated corner of the internet to ourselves.

But it’s not time for Read Harder 2024 yet! We still have a little bit left of 2023 to go! Have you finished your Read Harder 2023 tasks? Are there any you’re hoping to squeeze into the last week or so of the year? Or are there other reading goals you’re hoping to reach by the end of December 31st? Let’s chat in the comments!

Obviously, numbers aren’t everything in our reading lives, but the Goodreads Challenge is popular for a reason. It’s fun to try to reach that goal you set at the beginning of the year. And if it’s looking like you’re just shy of meeting it, then this post is for you: here are some of my favorite short reads that you can squeeze in before the end of 2023. These are all under 200 pages, ordered from longest to shortest.

the cover of The Truth About Stories

The Truth About Stories by Thomas King (184 pages)

This is one of my favorite books of all time; I think about it frequently. It’s also a quick read, and you can even listen to King’s original lectures instead. This collection of essays/lectures explores the nature of storytelling, specifically looking at the kinds of stories told about Indigenous people in North America. If you’re reading this, you’re passionate about books and stories. This book will leave you thinking about the power and importance that the kinds of stories we listen to and tell have.

cover of Spear by Nicola Griffith, showing a red silhouette of a person on horseback emerging from a cluster of white trees emerging from a stone chalice

Spear by Nicola Griffith (184 pages)

This is a gorgeous, queer, Welsh take on King Arthur. Getting used to the Welsh names might take a little while, but after that, this is a precisely plotted novella that packs an expansive story into a small page count. It follows a main character who grows up isolated, with a deep connection to nature. Then, she disguises herself as a man and decides to head to King Arthur’s court to try to become a knight. There are also a few illustrations included! Be sure to read the author’s note at the end for an exploration of the nature of Arthuriana.

Let’s chat in the comments: Did you set a Goodreads Challenge this year? Do you think you’ll be completing it? How many books are you hoping to read in 2024?

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