Ellie Codes

Read Harder 2018 Progress Report, May

I chose to do the Book Riot 2018 Read Harder Challenge because I liked the variety of the categories and thought it would be a good challenge to my reading "status quo" in which I just kept reading more science fiction, mystery novels and technical books related to my work. This is my first time participating in such a challenge. I've finally chosen all of my books and I read through two of them by the beginning of March. I know that reading through two books by March is not great and the fact that I haven't continued isn't promising. I've also kind of been preoccupied with work and planning my son's first birthday party (exciting!).

My choice for the posthumously published category was When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Honestly, This was a pretty easy read. I was able to read it within the rental period (a few days?), which says something about me. (It says that I usually don't read that quickly.) I felt incredibly sad when I got to the afterword—written by Paul's wife, Lucy—and she explained that he had passed away while writing the book. The primary reason why I've unintentionally put my participation in the Read Harder challenge on hiatus is because Columbine was really long and difficult to get through. (It was my choice for the true crime category.) It was written almost too well; what I mean by that is that the descriptions of what happened to some of those kids were so haunting that I realized my heart was racing while trying to get through part 1 in the wee hours of the morning. The events described in this book will likely not leave my memory for a long time.

Reading both of these books as a new parent was unsettling. Paul and Lucy had a very young daughter when he died and the Columbine massacre was the biggest school shooting to happen in my childhood where 15 lives were cut short on what should have been a completely normal school day. They both reminded me that we have limited time on this Earth with our loved ones and we should make the best of the time we have. They also made me want to go pull my son out of his crib in the middle of the night to cuddle him, which I didn't do because I knew I wouldn't hear the end of it if I had. I expect to come to many more realizations as I work through my list of books.

Because Columbine was so heavy and I've already read 2 books about death, I've been slogging through my choice for the classic of genre fiction category, Murder on the Orient Express. I'm hoping to finish it soon though, and I'll have some opportunity to read on my train rides into and back out of Manhattan this weekend. Though I did just get to the point where the murder happens, so it'll probably go quickly from here. It's purely fiction, so it should be easier for me to read knowing that the murder victim is not a real person.

My next couple of books after Murder on the Orient Express are The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage (a comic written and illustrated by the same person) and A Woman is a Woman Until She is a Mother (a book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries). All things considered, I'm looking forward to resuming the challenge.

Ellie Strejlau

Ellie is a programmer, wife and mother from New York. She currently works as a Senior Developer at Phase2 Technology and has a bachelors and a masters degree in Information Systems.