My 2017 Reading Year-in-Review

 Ugh. I know.

I fell on the blogger bandwagon yet again. Yes, I am ashamed of myself, and yes I have made a pledge to myself to do better next year. I have identified many of the reasons I just lapsed away, and I do have systems in place to combat it. The same old story again, right? I hope I can manage to keep this promise going at least! But, that is a topic for another blog post.

So let’s talk about my year’s readings.

On January 8th, I set myself an Intercontinental Reading Challenge to add some more diversity to my year’s reading. I felt like I was reading way too many books from the US/hardly reading books by authors of colour. So, inspired by Ann Morgan’s 2012 journey to Read the World, I decided on something a bit less ambitious but still challenging.

In that original blog post, I set myself a few parameters. Admittedly, after a few months, I failed on the blogging side of it, but I did manage to read at least one book from all of the main regions I laid out for myself.

So, here is my year’s breakdown, in no particular order:

Regions/Countries # of books Book Titles
North America

(USA Only)

15 Queen Sugar

The Things They Carried

The Sun is Also A Star

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

Letter to my Daughter

Sleep Donation

The Lost Continent

The Underground Railroad

We Were Eight Years in Power

Difficult Women

Bad Feminist

Everything, Everything

The Valley of Amazement

Memoirs of a Geisha

Kindred

Asia

(Afghanistan, China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, North Korea)

5 The Valley of Amazement

Memoirs of a Geisha

And the Mountains Echoed

The Things They Carried

The Girl With Seven Names

Africa (Namibia, South Africa, Senegal) 3 Binti

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

Cry the Beloved Country

British Isles (England, Ireland) 3 Me Before You

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Toward the Sea of Freedom

Caribbean (Haiti, Trinidad) 7 The Sun is Also a Star

Everything Everything

The Guyana Story

Bad Feminist

Difficult Women

‘Til the Well Runs Dry

South America (Guyana, Colombia) 2 Love in the Time of Cholera

The Guyana Story

Oceania (Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand) 2 Euphoria

Toward the Sea of Freedom

Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria) 2 Neither Here, Nor There

All the Light We Cannot See

It might seem strange that some of these books fall into multiple categories, but I do have a reason for this. Earlier this year, and even in my 2016 readings, I realized that some of the authors I encountered were either immigrants or the children of immigrants writing about their ancestral lands. For example, Amy Tan was born in America, but her parents migrated from China. Roxane Gay’s parents migrated from Haiti, but she too was born in America. Khaled Hosseini migrated to the US from Afghanistan with his parents. Thus, there were many regional overlaps with the books I read, which made my reading even more diverse than I expected it to be.

On the other hand, some authors had no ancestral connections to their books’ settings. For example, Arthur Golden who wrote Memoirs of a Geisha and Sarah Lark, the author of Toward the Sea of Freedom. Golden’s book was based on the Geisha in Gion while Lark’s book was based on Irish protagonists, even though she herself is German. This wasn’t a problem, of course. In fact, I think it made these stories a little more interesting.

Once again, my readings were mostly based in the US  some shape or form. However, my reading experience was more diverse than both my 2015 and 2016 readings. Of the 27 books I read – exclusive of The Legend of Drizzt series, which is not based on the Forgotten Realms Universe –  19 of them were written by people of colour, had protagonists of colour or both. Of those 19 books, only two had white authors.

I have learned so much from this year’s readings and, just like last year, I collected a few more heroes. My readings lead me to feel a sort of kinship with authors like Issa Rae and Roxane Gay, both of whom have been making waves in their genres and inspiring young black women like myself to take up the pen for good. I also learned a lot about the situations in 18th century Ireland from Toward the Sea of Freedom and the lives of the “unwanted” in the UK society as they were deported to Australia for various reasons. I learned about just how dangerous and strange life in North Korea could be from Heyonseo Lee’s The Girl with Seven Names and came to truly empathize with both North Korean Defectors and those who are still in the country. Lastly, I learned to love my own native land of Guyana through Odeen Ishmael’s historical book The Guyana Story. Even though the book has been criticized for not being as accurate as it could be, it really opened my eyes and made me realize that Guyana HAS amazing history. I just missed it for most of my life.

I could go on for a long time about what each of these books has taught me, but that would require an in-depth review of each. Maybe I will eventually write them, but for now, I am happy to say that I am quite proud of my 2017 readings. I may not have hit all of my markers nor kept all of my promises, but I still managed to have a very diverse, open year of reading.

Next year, I hope to reuse my 2017 model for 2018 reading, though I will be making a few changes that will hopefully help me to stay on track a bit more.

I hope you all have a great year of reading ahead of you. For now, Happy New Year and happy reading!

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