April 19, 2017 5 min read

February is almost coming to an end and if you’re thinking of taking up a reading challenge, we have one for you! We’ve treated January and this month as trial months (teehee!) and it’s time to get serious on those resolutions in March. There’s already a whole lot of reading dares out there, but we’re pleased to announce the first ever #ZaharaReads2016! We’re focusing only on women writers and listed below are 10 different book categories for you to try. That’s an average of one book a month. Doable right? 

For our inaugural #ZaharaReads2016, we’ve given one suggestion for each category. Please share the books you’ve chosen with your loved ones and on your social media with the hashtag #ZaharaReads2016. It’ll be great to see what books you’ve chosen for each category and if you want to recommend a particular book (or books) to us, please do! It doesn’t matter the order that you read these books as diversity is the key word and we want to help you expand your reading list. And insya Allah, once you’ve found an author that you like, you can read other books by her and grow your reading repertoire! So have fun on your journey of #ZaharaReads2016!

1. Read a book written by an author who’s under 25.


Zadie Smith, who was only 22 when she wrote this book, wowed critics with her debut novel about two unlikely friends who were veterans of World War II. White Teeth is an authentic commentary on life in London, with its hodgepodge of races and culture and comedic life moments.
BONUS INFO: White Teeth made TIME’s 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005 list!

2. Read a book before you see the movie.


If you’re planning to see Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which hits cinemas next month, read the book that it’s based on first. Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a memoir about the author’s time in these two countries as a war correspondent. She soon develops an outrageous relationship with a Scottish journalist.
BONUS INFO: The film boasts Tina Fey, Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman as part of its stellar cast! Need we say more?

3. Read a horror book.


The story of Dr Victor Frankenstein and his terrible monster has captivated generations of readers and continues to do so, especially with 2015’s film adaptation starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. The story deftly grapples with universal themes like life, death, love and ethics. Mary Shelly wanted to create a story that “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” And boy did she succeed!
BONUS INFO: The story was a dare set by Lord Byron in 1816, who was a friend of the author.

4. Reread your favourite childhood book.


This story always brings a bittersweet smile to our faces whenever we remember it. Set in the era of World War I, the story introduces us to the four March sisters who face a difficult life with a father at war and a working mother. Pretty and mature Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid and shy Beth and clever Amy made us fall in love with them as they show us the importance of sisterhood and family ties.
BONUS INFO: There are three film adaptations of this book: one in 1933, another in 1949 and one more in 1994 (with Kirsten Dunst and Susan Sarandon)!

5. Read a book of poetry.


You don’t need to be a literature student to enjoy poetry. If you’ve always hesitated picking up a book of poetry, then Lang Leav’s book is a perfect introduction. Beautifully illustrated and simply written, her poems express the complexities of love and loss. Her ability to translate complicated human emotions with such sincere simplicity has made her a name to look out for in the literary world!
BONUS INFO: She has released two sequels to this book; Lullabies and Memories which you can also pick up!

6. Read a graphic novel.


With the tagline ‘Friendship to the max!”, there’s really nothing we can find fault with with Noelle Stevenson’s graphic novel. Combining the sass of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the weirdness of Gravity Falls, the story revolves around 5 best friends determined to have an awesome summer at Lumberjane Scout Camp. Throw in some yetis, mutated wolves and gigantic falcons and you got yourself a thoroughly enjoyable read!
BONUS INFO: Lumberjanes is nominated for Outstanding Comic Book in this year’s GLAAD Media Award!

7. Read a book out loud to someone.


While searching for different versions of this classic tale online, we came across Fawzia Gilani’s book and we’re so glad we did. Alhamdulilah! Cinderella is one of the oldest, most beloved stories with hundreds of retellings and versions from all over the world. This version is an Islamic take on the classic tale where sweet and gentle Zahra (we know!) is victorious due to her peaceful nature and goodness rather than a beautiful dress and glass slippers. Read this story to your loved ones and fall in love with its fresh interpretation that will leave you feeling peaceful.
BONUS INFO: Fawzia has also written an Islamic version of Snow White!

8. Read a children’s book.


Harry Potter needs no introduction so we’re not even going to bother! Much like Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling has made us fall in love with her characters as they live out their lives in both the magical and Muggle world. Funny, moving and unforgettable, we cried at the end of the 7th novel and the last of the film series.
BONUS INFO: The author is releasing the 8th story in the series (set 19 years later where Harry is a father of 3!) on July 31!*flails*

9. Read a translated book.


The acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor (another wonderful translated novel) shines in this anthology of creepy stories that are reminiscent of the king of macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Filled with mother and murderers, singers and surgeons, their fates all intertwined in some ways to reveal a beautifully haunting ending.
BONUS INFO: Ogawa won the NPR Best Book of 2013 award for this book!

9. Read the first book in a series you’ve never read.


Soulless is the first book of the Parasol Protectorate series; a story set in Victorian London with its protagonist, Alexia Tarabotti, facing misfortunes in terms of her family relations and social life. If you’re thinking this sounds like any other romance set during that era, you are sorely mistaken! There’s handsome werewolves, wily vampires, steampunk weapons and lots and lots of tea-drinking which makes for a comedic supernatural romp!
BONUS INFO: Yen Press has adapted the first three books into graphic novels and it is on the New York Times Manga Best Seller List!

(All images retrieved from www.amazon.com)

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