Read Harder 2022

TEST Read Harder: A Book With a Beloved Pet Where the Pet Doesn’t Die

[should we have some kind of intro here where we talk about Read Harder more generally?? maybe link back to the list post on-site? JN]]

I will never be “over” Old Yeller. I will never be “over” silently weeping in an elementary school classroom as That Scene played out on the tube TV that had been wheeled in on the cart because we had a substitute teacher.

The only thing that has changed since that time is that I’m old enough to ask, “Why the heck were we watching that movie anyway?”

As a pet owner, I haven’t grown any more emotionally ready to deal with pet death in books. This list of books that avoid the trope of dead pets is, therefore, my public service to all of those like me.

I have endeavored to keep spoilers to a minimum, while reassuring you on this point: In every book included here, the pets survive the final pages. One final pro tip: If you’re picking up something not on this page and want to double-check the fate of a much-loved animal, try a quick search on the crowdsourced Does the Dog Die? database.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Quite frankly, this is one of the most wholesome books ever written, and Calliope the cranky cat thankfully can agree. Calliope’s human, Linus Baker, is a case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. When he’s sent on a mysterious assignment to the Marsyas Island Orphanage, he meets a pod of delightfully unusual children along with their charming and swoonworthy caretaker, Arthur Parnassus.


🎃 Happy Haunted Riot, Everyone! 👻

Welcome back, ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, to the Haunted Riot! Whether you’re looking for full-on spine-tingling reads, just a touch of hair-raising horror, or are a spooky season novice, our writers have been brewing up posts that should suit.

Want some feel-good horror, or perhaps books rated Safe For Scaredy-Cats? Perhaps you need read-alikes for your favorite horror movies, or a travel guide to the most haunted bookish places around the world. Maybe you’ve got your thinking cap on and want to contemplate the popularity of gothic horror, or the enduring appeal of Stephen King to teenagers. Perhaps haunting queer tales are more likely to float your (ghostly pirate) boat. Pick your poison, and enter if you dare!

a photograph of a skull surrounded by lit candles, bathed in orange light, against a black background

It’s Environmental Lit Day!

Calling all nature-lovers, whether you’re a camping pro, always down to get dirty, or prefer to enjoy the view from a distance and ideally indoors, thanks very much! Today we’re exploring everything from ecofiction to sustainability, hopepunk to Indigenous nature-writing, environmental themes for kids to murder in the wild, and beyond. Come along for the ride, won’t you?

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The Goods

It’s The Best Books Of 2021 So Far!

Stumped on summer reading? Never fear, Book Riot is here! We’ve selected the best books of the year so far, and trust us: you need these.

an extremely 80s style graphic that says BEST BOOKS OF 2021 S OFAR in neon purples, blues, and white, against a background of purple mountains and an orange sun


Join Us For Romantic Reads Day! 🥰

Do you love a good love story? Do you hate pining but can’t get enough enemies-to-lovers — or vice versa? Maybe you’re all about unrequited love, or only want happy endings. We’re here for all of it, and we’re talking about all of it today! Come join us: we’ve got romantic queer SF/F, a deep dive into Anna Karenina, poetry, recs for your Enneagram Type, and much, much more. Heart-eyes in 3, 2, 1

a close-up photograph of an open book with central pages bent into a heart shape, against a white background


Welcome To Children’s Book Week, Sponsored By ThriftBooks!

It’s Children’s Book Week, the longest running literacy initiative in the US, and we’re celebrating all week long! We’re talking parents in middle grade fiction, indestructible books (because we know how helpful those are), adaptations, cooking with kids, marginalized main characters, and so much more.

Our coverage begins today and continues through-out the week, so make sure to check back. Here’s to all the kids, and the kids in all of us!

photo credit: Tam Wai. a photo of a young Asian girl in a white dress, seated on a giant wooden swing in a park, reading a book. she's got ttwo backpacks next to her, and there are trees and a brick wall in the background. she's got a smile on her face.
The Goods

Most Anticipated Books Send

New year, new books to get excited about! Please join us as we explode our TBRs, make grabby hands, and preorder Book Riot’s most anticipated books of 2021.

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The Goods

Holiday Gift Guide Affiliate Sprint Send

Need some last-minute ideas for bookish gifts? We’ve got you covered, with these favorite items from our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide!

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider

Book lovers are a wonderful if not slightly judgmental bunch—at least when it comes to other people’s bookshelves. This is a delightful and humorous collection of comics about the joys of being a book lover, from collecting large amounts of books to (sometimes) getting around to reading them. ($16.99)

Let It Snow Bookmark

If you’re looking for a small gift for a gift exchange or just something really cute to slip into a book for someone, this adorable bookmark is just the thing! It depicts a snowy, cozy winter scene and is printed on heavy linen cardstock. It reads, “Let it snow, I’ll be inside reading.” You can buy individual bookmarks, or sets so that you can gift one to all your friends or book club members. ($4.75)

Classic Kindle Cover

If you know someone who has an ereader or is getting one this holiday season, these classic Kindle covers make a fantastic gift. They transform your reading tech into a classic leather-bound look-alike book. You can pick from classic titles or choose something a little more anonymous, and you can even personalize the inside! ($37)

Female Poet Enamel Pin Set

For the person on your list who loves poetry, gift this white and gold enamel pin set featuring lines of poetry from some famous female poets, from Maya Angelou, Sappho, Qiu Jin, Anne Brontë, and Sylvia Plath. These pins make striking accessories for any feminist poetry lover! ($42)

Planter Bookend

For someone on your list with space concerns, this multipurpose bookend/planter is so clever and stylish! It’s made out of ceramic and comes in a variety of colors, and it’s sturdy enough to hold up your books while also containing a plant—or utensils, if you want to use it in the kitchen with cookbooks! Really, it’s so versatile that you might want one for yourself, too. ($46)

The Goods

Best Books 2020

Welcome, readers, to our guide to the best books of 2020. Whether they were buzzy or lost in the shuffle, prize-winners or under the radar, we’ve assembled the books from 2020 you must not miss. Dive on in!

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The Goods

It’s Our Holiday Gift Guide!

Need help figuring out what to get for your family this year, or inspiration to treat yo’self? Never fear, we are here, and we’ve got puzzles and LEGOs and gift books and more. On a budget or going all out? We’ve got lots of price points as well. Happy browsing!

Holiday Gift Guide, sponsored by TBR