Read Harder Challenger: Annie M

As you know, some M&Qers are daring themselves to complete the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge in 2017. This month we’re kicking things off by introducing all the challengers. Last week you met Sarah, now meet assistant manager Annie M and her plans for the challenge.


Why are you doing this challenge?

I read a lot, but I go about it in a pretty disorganized way. Sometimes reading 5 things at once, sometimes reading absolutely nothing and just bingeing on TV shows. One of my goals this year is to be more methodical in getting through my gigantic TBR – reading more books in time for Indie Next deadlines,* actually reading some of the stuff I’ve purchased at the store over the years, and so on. I think I can apply this challenge to a good chunk of the books already sitting in my apartment. And for those I don’t already have lined up (“collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love,”  anyone?) I can’t wait to do some digging and get creative!

Which of the tasks will be easiest for you?

Probably “read a debut novel.” As a bookseller we get lots of access to great debuts, and I think the majority of the novels I read and loved last year were the authors’ first. (The Nix, The Wangs vs. The World, Sweetbitter, The Devourers). If history proves anything, this one should be the easiest to complete.

Which will be the furthest from your usual reading list?

Either “a book published between 1900 and 1950” or “a nonfiction book about technology.” I tend to swing between two extremes – super old books, and super new ones. If I’m reading it, it either came out in the past two years, or sometime before 1850. Usually. And as for the book about technology, I just don’t know where to start! I have a little radio crush on Ben Johnson from Marketplace Tech, though, so maybe he can help me out…

Have you already decided which book to read for one (or more) tasks?

I’m really pumped to read The Book by Keith Houston for the “book about books” challenge. I bought it as soon as I saw it because it is gorgeous, but I’ve been a bit intimidated to actually dive in. It’s pretty long.

Which task are you most excited about?

Rereading a book! I’m the kind of person who will rewatch an entire tv show a near-disturbing number of times. I will convince myself I don’t have time to start a new book, but somehow end up spending the day rereading a 500-page mystery I already know the ending of. The only hard thing will be choosing which book to re-read. Something I loved as a kid? Something I remember loving in school but don’t remember why? The possibilities are overwhelming but super exciting.

If you could add one task to the list, what would it be?

Find out your hometown’s “sister city” – you can use this site or check your town’s Wikipedia page – and read a book by an author from that country. If you can find a book that takes place in the city itself, even better! I always thought the concept of sister cities was cool as a kid, and this seems like a way to read globally while easily narrowing down the vast array of options out there.

*The Indie Next list is a monthly list of books specifically recommended by indie booksellers. The catch is that you have to nominate a book two months before it publishes…requiring you to actually read things in time. Not my strong suit.


Let us keep you posted on our #ReadHarder challenge progress, new releases, and so much more! Read the blog, subscribe to the newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!



Magers and Quinn Presents: Jim Lenfestey and Su Smallen


Back in October, we welcomed Jim Lenfestey and Su Smallen to the store to read from the unique anthology If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems.

Jim, who edited the book, and Su, who is a contributor, took turns reading selections, which cover over 2000 years of poetry. From Sappho to Virgil, Emily Dickinson to Pablo Neruda, and Mary Oliver to Sherman Alexie, poets throughout human history have been inspired by our pollinator friends.

Jim and Su also talk about the danger bees face in the current climate, from hive collapse to extinction to simple loss of habitat. Portions of the proceeds from this anthology benefit the scientists and researchers at the Bee Lab at the University of Minnesota, who are working hard to save these essential insects.

Listen to this event below, or subscribe to the podcast by searching “Magers and Quinn Presents” in the iTunes store!

Recorded at Magers and Quinn Booksellers on October 28, 2016.

Read Harder Challenger: Sarah

This year the M&Q crew is going all-in on the Read Harder Challenge from BookRiot. The challenge focuses less on the sheer number of books read and more on widening the scope of your reading. This year’s checklist includes tasks like reading a book on sports, a YA or middle grade novel by an LGBTQ+ author, a collection of short stories by a woman, a travel memoir, and more!

The downloadable checklist is available here, and we’re going to make it easy for our followers and newsletter subscribers to play along with us! Recommendations for specific challenges will be in the newsletter, on social media, and here on the blog. (What? You don’t subscribe to our newsletter yet? Let us help you with that.) You can also follow along with our staff’s progress on the blog throughout the year.

We hope you’ll join us for a year of exciting, outside-the-box reading. Now, let’s meet the first staff challenger: Sarah!


Why are you doing this challenge?

I’m doing this challenge because I’ve never done a reading challenge before. Last year I read dozens more books than I expected I would, but I’m still a whim reader and missed some genres I would have liked to explore. Then of course there are the genres I rarely venture into–sports, technology, war–so I wanted to try to only read books I already own (like many, I have tons of unread books) while also exploring new territory in books that are coming out this year. I’ve already got my eye on so many!

Which of the tasks will be easiest for you?

Probably fantasy, a travel memoir, or a book published by a micropress! I have lots of those, and I know of several great ones soon to be released.

Which assignment will take you the furthest from your usual reading list?

A book about sports! Unless it’s reading as a sport… 😉 Sorry! Old joke. I’ll probably read Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton or Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Jessica Luther since they recently caught my eye.

Have you already decided which book to read for one (or more) tasks?

Yep! I moved all my unread books to a single shelf (double stacked!) and then tried to fill out the list with those books I had. There were only a few I couldn’t fill, so I’ll be gathering more books for those. The list is subject to change when new releases come out though.

Which task are you most excited about?

Definitely the most diverse tasks, such as a book where all POV characters are people or color or a classic by a person of color.

If you could add one task to the list, what would it be?

I’m all about layering the tasks, so I’d add something like “combine reading a book by a person of color with a genre you don’t normally read,” or I’d add a task for a nonfiction book about psychology, health, or women’s/LGBTQ+ studies.