Spring 2021 Reading Round Up
I can't explain how excited I was for Spring. Allergies and all!
With what felt like the longest winter ever, not being able to go for walks on top of being in quarantine made everything so much more difficult. I didn't realize how I had just barely been holding on to my sanity during the pandemic, until we inched closer to one year of quarantine.
This spring also came with a lot of big plans!
With so much going on I probably didn't read as much as I could have but reading isn't meant to be homework, and for a while it was starting to feel that way.
As you can tell, by the fact that I am posting this Spring Reading Round Up towards the end of the year, life has been crazy. But better late than never! So here's what I did read, and I hope that if anything catches your eye, you are able to leisurely pick it up and enjoy it!
Oh my god. Where do I even start? Jasmin Kaur is an amazing story teller. The story has so many layers, but it's all woven together with so much care. The pacing, the prose, the details. Just everything! There were moments that had me very emotional but I held it together and then on the last page, I found big fat tears streaming down my face. This is honestly, such a beautiful book. There is a list of content warnings in the beginning to definitely take your time with this one.
Jasmin Kaur was also a featured author during Sikh Readathon and I was blessed to get to speak to her! An absolutely beautiful soul!
I received an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and wow! I am really enjoying novels in prose, and I was expecting that in Home is Not a Country. I was not prepared for what a touching story this would be. I really feel for Nima. Her feelings come across as really authentic. Nothing was over done or overly dramatized. It was just told really beautifully. And then the supernatural element in the book was not something I was expecting when I picked up this book, but it was awesome! I really was not expecting to enjoy that part of the story, especially since I haven't really enjoyed magical realism in the past. But I loved it! Highly recommend.
I picked this book up for a book club and I enjoyed it! I was worried for a minute that it would thoroughly break my heart, but I think I’m okay. Stories like these are a great reminder of how mental illnesses are treated poorly and how the stigma persists even today. This is the first book by Paulo Coelho I’ve read and will definitely be reading more, especially the others in this series.
With April being Sikh Heritage Month, I kicked off the first ever Sikh Readathon, partnering with Sikh Heritage Manitoba. The month was filled with author Q&As, giveaways, and chill virtual events like a writing workshop, and a story time for kids called Books & Brunch! The intent was to support and celebrate Sikh authors, and I think we did a pretty good job!
I can't wait to do it again next year, but in the meantime, here's what I read this Sikh Readathon!
This is such a fun book! It’s a quick read but it’s a small and simple way to connect deeper with Punjabi culture. I’ve had family across generations find joy and quite a few laughs in this book. One of the best books on my shelf. Perfect for a coffee table as well. People can skim through leisurely and spark conversations.
Trigger warnings: sexual assault, violence, and graphic imagery. The book does not come with these trigger warnings but I really think it should. Overall this was a good collection though at times the themes and words can feel repetitive. The sense of longing for a different time or different home was really powerful. If you have chek out the novel in verse Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo, recommended above, I imagine that this collection of poems would be something the main character of that book would have written.
While some of the imagery in these poems might seem cliche, like stars, the moon, fire, etc, Gill brings breathes new life into them with beautiful prose. This collection touches on some heavy topics but overall feels light hearted. You finish the collection feeling strong, peaceful, and empowered. Brace yourself, because I pretty much binge read every book by Nikita Gill I could get my hands on during Sikh Readathon!
If you love fairytale retelling this is a book for you! The collection reimagines a number of fairytales in interesting ways. And with each retelling a poem or short story it’s a lot of fun without a ton of investment on the part of the reader if they end up not liking the twist.
This is a great book about perseverance. My nieces and nephews love this book and they absolutely adore Fauja Singh. Would highly recommend! And the artwork is so beautiful! I'm so glad we picked this book for our Sikh Readathon Books & Brunch. So many of the kids loved the story about how Fauja Singh didn't give up.
This collection of poems explores a wide range of experiences, many of which I can’t personally speak to. I appreciate the author’s vulnerability in sharing each piece of their identity. The two other things I appreciated most about this collection is that it started with a land acknowledgment. This is the first book I’ve read which includes an acknowledgment in the first poem in the collection. An incredibly mindful start. Lastly I appreciated the insight into the intersection of a Sikh and Queer identity. It’s an identity that really doesn’t get the support it deserves and I’m just really happy to know that there is a voice out there for other Queer Sikhs to connect with and not feel alone.
I meant it when I said I read a bunch of Nikita Gill books! Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this one as much as the others. I really enjoy her retelling and long form prose which I think the other two books had more of. This collection felt more like the style I consider insta poets which I’m not really a fan of. A few really nice poems but overall it didn’t really stand out compared to her other collections.
This is such a sweet collection of poems. I started thinking I would flag my favorites and in the first section I quickly started to flag every other poem, if not every one. Some poems just happened to hit close to home in really unexpected ways. And the idea that this person I had never met before could have a special connection with the same little detail as me felt magical. And the last page of the acknowledgements had my hurt bursting with love. I can't wait to see more from this author!
I loved this book. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The reimagining of some Greek myths and modern day goddesses is wonderfully done. I know poetry and stories about goddesses can be cliche but Gill does a phenomenal job tying it all together, and I appreciate her attention to lesser known goddesses and titans. A really thoughtful collection and probably my favorite of her books. Definitely satisfied the Greek mythology kick I’m on!
Content warning: sexual assault, child abuse, and alcoholism/addiction. I am not familiar with Canadian politics so I really didn’t know much about Jagmeet Singh or his politics when picking up this book. So while many Canadians might know a bit about the contents of this book, I really think it should come with content warnings. This book definitely shares a lot of vulnerabilities.
A lot of what Singh and his family have gone through are things the South Asian community tries to keep quiet or under wraps. But I think many of us will connect with some if not many of Singh’s struggles. I appreciate so much in this book but one thing I wish Singh acknowledged more was how financial privilege played a role in his life. I find that memoirs tend to skim over the that bit in an attempt to sound like the author is ‘just like us.’
I pre ordered this book as soon as I saw it because it reminded me of Circe which I loved. This absolutely did not disappoint. Actually, it absolutely rocked. I was obsessed and couldn’t put it down and my heart is feeling very many things right now and I’m so glad I picked this for book club because I need to talk to people about it! Also if you watched the Loki series, and are feeling a void now, pick up this book and give it a shot! It's closer to Norse Mythology than Marvel but if you love Loki, you'll love his appearances throughout the book!
After a very hectic first Sikh Readathon, my reading slowed as my brain demanded naps more than anything but I did sneak in a few more books!
I picked this up for a book club and it's the first in the Pocket Change Collective I've read. I actually wasn't familiar with the series before. This is a really quick read, bringing together the need for activism and presenting it through a more personal story. For a lot of people, this book might feel like preaching to the choir. But for anyone new to environmental activism I think this book can be really important in understanding how the path forward has to be inclusive. I kind of wish the book had been more in depth in a lot of ways, but I understand that this series is meant to be short books, and a space for reflection. I'm definitely going to follow the author though to stay up to date, as they are incredibly involved in fighting climate change and I'm interested in learning more about their work.
I finished this in a day. I struggled to put it down. Rajurkar does an amazing job telling this story of first love, of othering, of the things we overlook when we're in love. This could have been some typical story of a brown girl falling for a white guy but it was told with so much nuance. I am obsessed. Highly recommend! I was introduced to this book through a series by DesiBookAunty on IG called Pyraful Reads. If you're looking to expand your reads to more South Asian authors, definitely check it out for some amazing recs!
I also participated in blog tours this Spring for some amazing books. You can check out my full reviews for Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices, The Mother's Day Club, and Mr. Right Across the Street.
And if you weren't able to catch Sikh Readathon this year, I hope you'll mark your calendar to join me next year!
If you pick up any of these reads, I'd love to know what you thought!
Please note that wherever possible, books in this list are linked using affiliate links to Bookshop.org which supports independent booksellers. If possible, please consider supporting independent bookstores over Amazon!