Winter 2021 Reading Round Up
While winter can really suck, and social distancing has put a damper on the usual holiday festivities that make winter bearable, this was our first holiday with our beloved Juniper. So obviously all efforts were made to make it extra special for her.
This meant our Christmas tree went up a little slower, to make sure Juniper was comfortable with this new item in our space. It also meant a trip to my parents' house where we quarantined for a few weeks with them, seeing as how we were both working from home. For all of our efforts, I don't think anything topped Juniper having access to a fenced backyard. Junie was hard pressed to come in, once she was out. Despite the cold, I don't think we've seen her happier than when she was bolting back and forth from one side of the backyard to the other.
Those few weeks were magical for all of us! It gave me time to lounge around, doing nothing but cooking, baking, and reading. And wow did I get lots of reading done! I actually passed my Goodreads Challenge for the year. Although some of the books were definitely short, but it still counts!
I really enjoyed the Unadjusted and was excited to get a copy of Rise of the Altereds. I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. These books are so easy to get wrapped up in and I’m not someone who usually reaches for sci-fi stories but they’re great! I‘m a little sad that there’s a cliffhanger again but luckily the third and final installment will be available soon. Can’t wait to see how this ends! You can read my review for the Unadjusteds here!
I received an advanced reader's copy of Sabreet Kang Rajeev's debut book, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I really loved Generation Zero. I think many of us can connect with Rajeev's experience growing up as a first generation American. Her reflections on her family life and relationships with her parents are so heartfelt.
I think it takes a lot of strength to show the good and the bad, and that's what makes a memoir stand out. And her vulnerability in sharing her family's financial situation is a conversation I think the South Asian community as a whole needs to have. We are so excited for representation, and to see shows about big Indian weddings, but we are not all living the lush lifestyle portrayed in movies. 3. A Christmas Carol: And Other Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens Picked this up for a book club! A Christmas Carol is a lovely story to read around Christmas time. I think most people are pretty familiar with the story, even if they haven't read the book. I gave four stars to this particular edition because the introduction, though long, was really nice and informative. The additional stories weren't great, but it was nice to be able to read some of Dicken's other Christmas stories, especially since they are referenced in the introduction. 4. Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne
If I wasn't so tired, I would have finished this book in one sitting. My brain was fighting between wanting to gobble up this book, and wanting to come back to it when my body wasn't so tired and I could really take it all in. This is the second book I've read in this style, novel in prose, and I think it's my new favorite. It being such a fast read, I thought I would just speed through it, and in some ways I did, but the story was still captivating, and I felt so much for the main character. Forever in awe of Mahogany L. Browne, and this book is no exception to the amazing work she creates.
Also, because it is my favorite, here is Browne performing The Ritual.
5. We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice by Adrienne Maree Brown A really quick read. I think this is a great, hopeful, and uplifting introduction to transformative justice. I appreciate that the author is open and honest about their background/expertise. It’s not easy to write a book and own that you don’t know everything. But the author paints a beautiful picture of the world we could live in. And while I wish there were more actionable items that we could take to get there, the prompts and questions are a great way to start to shift our thinking. And even the definitions in the introduction as well as addressing the critiques around the original post are helpful. 6. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
I can not describe how lovely this book is. The stories of each woman are special on their own but they are woven together so beautifully! The way they are connected is so well done. I was enjoying reading it, and I didn’t even realize how emotional and attached to these woman’s stories I had become until I was on the last page of the epilogue and tears started to roll down my cheeks. This is the first book I’ve read by the author and I cannot wait to read all the rest. Highly recommend!
7. The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue by W.H. Auden I feel like the words in this book went in one ear and out the other. There was so much alliteration it sometimes felt like I was reading tongue twisters. I honestly can't remember what the story was even about. I remember buying the book because of it's gorgeous woven binding from the library. But, just very meh about this book. But at least it was one more book towards my Goodreads challenge! 8. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
I finished this book in a day. I kept picking it back up every chance I got. This is the second book by Elizabeth Acevedo I have read and I’m quickly becoming a huge fan. Really love her writing and a story that seems so simple, teenager butting heads with her parents, their expectations, etc., still gets you so engaged and invested in the characters. 9. Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl
This was a fun short story. It gave me chills! This was around the time that I was at my parents with days to just do whatever my heart desired. It was another staycation in the year of COVID, and difficult being so close to family, but unable to see them during the holidays. Social distancing while so close to my nieces and nephews made it even harder. Picking up this short story helped me start to crawl out of a bit of a reading slump. I thought to read something short and this was the shortest thing on my To Read list on Goodreads. So I grabbed it! 10. The Henna Artist (The Henna Artist #1) by Alka Joshi
This was a great book! There were a lot of characters I'm mad at, but also characters I loved. The setting, 1950's Jaipur, comes to life and sucks you in. You find yourself completely enthralled by the power dynamics of high society. I love Lakshmi and I can't wait for the sequel. It's easily on my list of most anticipated books for 2021 and you can pre-order it here!
11. Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave This was a lovely read. Usually when I don’t like the main characters I struggle to finish a book and it drags. But in this case, even though Simran annoyed me, a lot, I still enjoyed the story. I love that it is centered around women from different generations. It was done really well but that split perspective, and not caring much for Simran, left me wanting more of Nandini’s story.
12. Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham I picked up this book for Roxanne Gay's book club, the Audacious Book Club and wow! I am so glad that I did. This entire archive is amazing. I want everyone to read the piece on Ocean Justice. The variety of pieces included in this archive is incredible. I learned so much, and I walked away with so much to think about. In some ways I wish I hadn't rushed to finish it in time for the book club discussion, but I also got this from the library so in some ways I had to finish it by a certain time anyways. But I tabbed so many things to go back to and continue to explore even after I'm done reading the book. 13. Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman
This is a great collection of stories, giving insight into a Somali, Muslim, and LGBTQ+ experience in the UK. I especially appreciated the range in LGBTQ+ experiences. Each story is beautifully written as well. The intersection of queer and Muslim is not one you get insight into often, and I have come across very few Somalian stories. This collection gave me a moment to see someone I may not ever personally meet, and also made me realize how difficult it may be for someone Somali or Muslim to be open about their sexuality even if I were to meet them. Many of the stories also made me appreciate some of the commonalities between Somali and Punjabi culture. 14. First Sikh: The Life and Legacy of Guru Nanak by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh
Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh has a way of taking something very academic and making it accessible. She doesn’t just do a great job of telling the reader the story of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. But adds context through historical background to help us really appreciate the revolutionary nature of the first Sikh. I am by no means a religious scholar but the context she adds throughout this book, especially the context related to language and the nuance behind various translations is empowering for anyone who wishes to engage further with Sikhi and directly with gurbani.
15. Home Body by Rupi Kaur I’m not a fan of Rupi Kaur’s work but I heard this one was different. To be honest it didn’t really feel different. I finished the collection in 30 minutes because there were so many quippy one liners. But having read the first two and now this one I will say that some of the poems in home body feel more authentic than the ones in milk & honey or the sun and her flowers. I think the issue is those poems feel few and far in between. So as a whole I wasn't a fan of this collection.
Also while I do feel that a lot of the poems feel kind of forced, I do want to add that I don’t think Rupi Kaur is lying about her experiences with sexual assault, & I wish the book had added that content warning considering her style of writing is pretty blunt. 16. I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan I love stories about women. This wasn't some super scandalous read but it was entertaining and I loved all the characters! And I loved so many of them even though they had their faults. Everything was so well balanced and I just really enjoyed the story. And I was so excited to find out who this person is that Georgia almost forgot about. By the end of the book I felt giddy with her!
In addition to the books above, I participated in blog tours for Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices by Masuma Ahuja and The Mother's Day Club by Rosie Hendry. You can check out my full reviews and recommended pairings for those two.
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If you pick up any of these books, share with me what you thought! And as always, happy reading!