Weird and Wonderful: Books I Wouldn’t Have Read Without #ReadHarder

*Featuring links to some of my early blog posts *cringe*

I’m sure that by now you know I loves me a reading challenge! I’ve been doing Book Riot’s #ReadHarder for a few years now and it really has helped me to broaden my literary horizons. As I’ve just found yet another brilliant book that I’d never have expected to enjoy, I thought I’d share with you some of the great discoveries that I’ve made over the years…

1.The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Category: Read a book of true crime.

Who would have thought that a book about Victorian salmon fishing flies could be interesting? I certainly didn’t but right from the first page I was captivated by the bizzare world of modern day salmon fly tiers and the unbelievable story of the theft of hundred of thousands of pounds worth of incredibly rare birds from the Museum of Natural History in Tring purely so their feathers could be used in this arcane hobby. I loved everything about the book – the eccentric characters, the mystery and the sheer weirdness of the whole situation led to a brilliant story that had me hooked (see what I did there?😉)

2. Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster Burton

Category: Read a food memoir.

“What the hell is a food memoir?” was my initial reaction to this category but since discovering the slightly odd genre I’ve found some real gems (shout out to Nigel Slater’s Toast which is also brilliant). There’s something about learning about a culture through their food that’s utterly compelling and it’s surprising what you can learn. I loved the way this book was written, how adventurous the family were in trying even the weirdest Japanese food (frozen octopus cubes anyone?) and the sheer level of excitement and enthusiasm that Matthew Amster Burton had for the topic.

Side note: apologies for this review – it’s very old!

3. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Category: Read a book about books.

I would never, ever have picked this book up (despite it being in pretty much every Top 100 Books chart) because the title made it sound like something I might have appreciated if I was nine but not if I was in my thirties. I’m not a fan of Disney or princess stories and I really thought this would be some schmaltzy crap about a princess getting married and living happily ever after. Ha! How wrong I was! This book is just brilliant and one of my absolute favourites. If you haven’t read it, think Neil Gaiman’s Stardust but with an incredibly original self deprecating twist. An absolute classic.

4. Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Category: Read a book about sports



This book made me take up running – a minor miracle in itself – and whilst that hobby was short lived (almost killed me) it did inspire me to do more exercise; two years on and I’m still going strong (even though I deviated to yoga – it still counts!) I loved Hemmo’s humour, her attitude and her honesty and how she talked as much about the emotional side of exercise as much as the physical impact. Instead of being some preachy novel written by a super fit twenty year old this was an honest reflection of what it’s like to try a new sport when you’re a bit older, a bit heavier and a bit more worried about getting mugged/laughed at/embarrassingly injured. A great read, even if you’re exercise-phobic.

5. Women by Chloe Caldwell

Category: Read a one-sitting book

I loved everything about this tiny little novel, even though it felt like the kind of niche read that only a handful of people would ever enjoy. It was written with such honesty and emotion that it felt like I was illicitly reading someone else’s diary and, being incredibly nosy, I guilty consumed it all in one go. A really brave book that felt totally authentic, I loved every second.

Have you ever completed a reading challenge? What books have you discovered as a result? Have you read any of my top picks? Let me know in the comments!


4 thoughts on “Weird and Wonderful: Books I Wouldn’t Have Read Without #ReadHarder

  1. Wow feather thief sounds different but cool. I’m so looking forward to the princess bride! (cos I love the movie- I actually watched it when I was in my teens and was absolutely determined to hate it… but couldn’t cos it’s awesome 😉 ) I feel like I need to read running like a girl just to get over my exercise phobia 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Feather Thief is literally amazing and gives you loads of info about a crazy small niche subject – just enough for you to bore your friends with 😊. I was determined to hate The Princess Bride too but totally loved it. And yeah, Running Like a Girl is brilliant even if you intend to never leave the sofa!

      Liked by 1 person

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