Here’s my reading list and why

BOOK RIOT’S 2017 READ HARDER CHALLENGE

My most important criteria is it has to be good on audio, as I’ll be doing my “functional” reading in print, and my “curiosity” reading (this list!) on Audible.

Here we go.

  1. Read a book about sports.

I started taking weekly tennis lessons three months ago. Also, it’s a bestseller on Audible, with lots of people saying it’s the best audiobook they’ve listened to, ever. It’s comforting to learn how crazy Agassi feels all the time and how, in spite of that, he’s managed to become a master in his sport.

2. Read a debut novel.

Well, it’s been on my to-read list forever.

3. Read a book about books.

My friend Liz Froment described it as, “The book itself was really a love letter to reading” in her Monthly Reads for December 2016.

4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.

This was required reading my freshman year in high school. I loved it. I just don’t remember why. Would love to revisit. I had no “Central or South American” lens then, so reading with this in mind will an interesting experience too.

5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.

I loved the Serial podcast and have been wanting an excuse to read the rest of Adnan’s, a Pakistani-American, story. This reddit non-AMA, “I am Hae’s brother” was an interesting read. (Hae is Adnan’s Korean ex-girlfriend he was convicted of murdering, the story around which the Serial podcast explores.)

6. Read an all-ages comic.

I guess an audiobook defeats the purpose for this category. Will have to check with my local bookstore for this one.

7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.

I browsed Books That Shaped America: 1900 to 1950 and recognized Upton Sinclair’s name. Ryan Holiday constantly recommends another Sinclair book, The Brass Check, because “Sinclair deeply understood the economic incentives of early 20th century journalism and thus could predict and analyze the manipulative effect it had on The Truth.”

As for The Jungle, an Audible reviewer wrote,

Even though Upton Sinclair wrote this book primarily to improve the poor man’s working conditions, it mostly changed the food industry of America, and bills were passed after its publication to regulate cleaner practices of preparing food in mass quantities.

I’d love to write a book that fundamentally makes the Philippines a better country someday.

8. Read a travel memoir.

It was a close match between this and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. In the end, this Audible review got me:

The detailed account of how people strive so hard to achieve an almost unreachable goal despite the fact that they might die is almost unbelievable. I do not understand why climbers would put themselves through the suffering one must endure to stand atop Everest, nor do I have the desire to climb Everest, but I found this book completely enthralling. It is a testament to the human spirit and what man can and will do once he/she has set their mind to it.

9. Read a book you’ve read before.

A “culture book” or list of personal and business principles from Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. I consider it a handbook for life. Review of my second reading. I learn something new, something important, every time I read it.

My friend Sebastian Marshall recommends it as the best book on learning to be effective.

10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.

I’m a Filipino but I’ve worked with Americans all my professional life. So I’m really interested in the history of America’s relationship with the Philippines. Sad that there’s no Audible version!

11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.

Trevor Noah is a comedian and this is his book of stories from his childhood during “the twilight of apartheid in South Africa.” I discovered Trevor Noah through this clip, which I must have watched and force-watched others at least 5x!, while on a standup comedy kick.

12. Read a fantasy novel.

I searched for the bestsellers under Science Fiction & Fantasy on Audible. The reviewers are ecstatic.

13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.

I have this on hardcover. Good timing as I’m planning to apply for a PhD (maybe in bioinformatics, or something data science-related) soon. I love Tim Ferriss’s interview with Kevin Kelly on his podcast.

14. Read a book about war.

Dan Carlin introduced me to Genghis Khan in his Hardcore History podcast. I want to learn more. Also, “Genghis Khan considered wrestling to be an important way to keep his army in good physical shape and combat ready.” Would be amazing to hear about Mongolian wrestling in the book, if ever.

15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.


This list
says it’s a classic in the lesbian young adult genre.

16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.

The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos by Primitivo Mijares.

A book about life during martial law in the Philippines.

This article says, the book was

systematically plundered from every book store and public institution in the US, including the Library of Congress. Eight months after his book vanished Mijares himself disappeared.

It’s now available as a free PDF in Ateneo’s online library. About time I deep-dived into this topic.

17. Read a classic by an author of color.

It’s not a classic, but everyone’s been raving about it.

18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

This one’s gotta wait for a trip to the bookstore too.

19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey.


Recommended as one of the most-gifted books
in Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans. It’s a novel set in India.

Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life — the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.

I’m so familiar with this (Buddha’s) narrative I’m not even sure if it’s fiction, or is it the story of the Buddha sitting under a tree until he reaches enlightenment?

20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel

I browsed Audible’s LGBT bestsellers for this one. Since my other LGBT book in #15 is lesbian, thought this one should be gay. I’m a freestyle wrestler, and wrestling is a solid base for MMA, thought this might be interesting.

21. Read a book published by a micropress.

What is a micropress? I am not sure. But I think a story studio by three guyswould qualify as one. I am a big fan of one of the founders, Johnny B. Truant, back when he blogged on personal development. I watched him transition to his real dream of being a fiction writer. Glad to get the opportunity to finally read his fiction!

22. Read a collection of stories by a woman.

From an Audible reviewer:

I have never lived these lives, which are pulled mostly from the lower echelon of American society. I promise you will see our country differently through this author’s skillful narrative and characters whom you feel you are living with in just the first few words.

23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.

I have to admit, this is the category I feel most apprehensive towards. I never understood the deal with poems, but I guess this is what makes the category one of the most important for me. It’s a blind spot.

I have never heard of Rumi before Kevin Kelly mentioned him in Tim Ferriss’s podcast. A little research shows his work is mostly translated from Persian, and he is America’s most popular poet.

24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.

Um. Before resarching this category, I thought people of color = black. Apparently, the term encompasses all non-white people… Anyway, this one’s about Indians.

Beautiful review on Audible,

The English certainly left an indelible mark in India and post-independent India never recovered. In one sense, this is the story of moving-on and yet it is also the story of longing for the old ways.


Well that’s my list. I’ve never stretched my reading so much. I’m so excited to #ReadHarder in 2017. I look forward to sharing what I read with you.