Sunday, January 31, 2021

Books Read January 2021: 1-32

This year I'll continue posting a monthly roundup of the books I've read, but I'm trying to simplify somewhat, so I am not going to add the format or links to reviews after each item. That information can still be seen on my Goodreads profile (the review will be with the book; the format will be specified unless it's in print.) I always enjoy a new year with reading because even if it could be considered arbitrary, I use that time to start new reading goals, which always invigorates me. I also read a lot of the Tournament of Books long and shortlisted books in January, along with finally finishing my eARCs from 2020. I know there are a lot of books here but the rest of my year will be a lot busier and it might be the last time I hit 30.

Grid of books matches list below.
Five-star books in green rectangles
  1. Network Effect by Martha Wells, narrated by Kevin R. Free ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  2. An Onion in My Pocket by Deborah Madison ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  3. Catherine the Great and the Small by Olja Knezevic, translated by Sharon Gordon and Ellen Elias-Bursać ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  4. Mind the Gap, Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, narrated by Ryan Gesell and Tara Sands ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  5. Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Ann Sherif ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  6. Chlorine Sky written and narrated by Mahogany L. Browne ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  7. The Story So Far by Jane Eklund ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  8. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  9. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  10. Include Me Out by María Sonia Cristoff, translated by Katherine Silver ⭐️⭐️ 
  11. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  12. Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  13. Well-Read Black Girl Glory Edim, ed. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  14. Blonde Indian by Ernestine Hayes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  15. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  16. Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  17. This Telling by Cheryl Strayed, read by Kristen Bell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  18. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  19. Ring Shout  by P. Djèlí Clark ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  20. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deeshaw Philyaw, read by Janina Edwards ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  21. Deacon King Kong by James McBride ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  22. Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  23. How to Carry Water by Lucille Clifton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  24. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  25. Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  26. Echo on the Bay by Masatsugu Ono, translated by Angus Turvill ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  27. Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  28. A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet, read by Xe Sands ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  29. White Ivy by Susie Yang ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  30. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  31. The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
  32. 32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (quite amazing this was my 32nd read!)

Total: 32

Tournament of Books - 9
(Shortlist - 5)


Readtheworld21 - 3

Around the World - 7
Europe 2021 - 2

Audiobook - 8
eBook - 16
Print - 8

Borrowed not from library - 1
Library - 15
Review Copy - 11
TBR - Purchased 2021 - 1
TBR - Already owned - 3
TBR - Subscriptions - 1

Apocalypse and Dystopia - 3(!)
Fantasy - 5
Memoir - 1
Mystery - 1
Romance - 3
Science Fiction - 1
Thriller - 1

Translated - 5
Women in Translation - 4

Children’s - 1

YA - 5
Adult - 27

Review: 32 Yolks

32 Yolks 32 Yolks by Eric Ripert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was going to skip this chef memoir but then someone in my Around the World group pointed out that he spent a hefty chunk of his childhood and young adult years in Andorra. Books from Andorra translated into English are very hard to come by so this may be as close as I can get.

I know of Eric Ripert of course, first from his friendship with Tony Bourdain and second from Jen-on-Top-Chef who worked for him at Le Bernadin, a restaurant that has consistently been given top awards and reviews, but closed early in the COVID wave and has remained closed since (I hope they are able to reopen someday.) I knew he was a long-practicing Buddhist and that he started around the time he arrived in New York. I knew the same year Tony died, Le Bernadin was awarded the top restaurant in the world! So I realize I know more than I thought, but I didn't know about his childhood. I had the impression that he grew up in the Alps, skiing and eating cheese.

This memoir is only the years up until he leaves for New York, from his idyllic childhood until his father dies. He confronts some challenges with a bullying stepfather and a year in boarding school, but he also has a mother who taught him about quality and perfection (and great food), knew good chefs and farmers as friends, could walk out the door and go hiking (and did), and wore designer clothing because of his mother's boutique. His family connections get him into a school that trains chefs/cooks but also waiters, a much more respected career in France than other places, and also get him a cush job when his military service comes up (where he worked as the officer's waiter after rejecting his cook job due to low quality ingredients.) I feel his privilege should be recognized because although it is indisputable that he has worked incredibly hard and endured incredible challenges, many of the opportunities that feel like "right place right time" really weren't, even if he took advantage of them to their finest. Kudos to him for sticking through the challenges; that is fortitude few of us would have.

All because of this, by his mid-20s he had worked both at La Tour d'Argent AND at almost every station in Joël Robuchon's restaurant, during the time it was given three Michelin stars. The descriptions of the precision and demanding atmosphere of that time are worth the entire book, and honestly I've worked in restaurants and can't fathom what you have to put yourself through to get to that level of speed and accuracy (and keep your sanity.) (Check out this Eater article that shows a few pictures of the perfect dishes, it's the one with the dots that is narrated in detail in the book.)

As for Andorra, it would be impossible to read this book and not understand how important that place is to Chef Ripert's internal strength and integrity, a hearty place full of real people to keep him grounded.

"It would take time for me to see that my mother had given me a gift by bringing me to Andorra. Growing up in a small town, with a mother whose business was central to the city, meant that I was surrounded by characters like Jacques and Madame Amparo. They knew me, and what’s more, they watched out for me, and dreamed for me of a life beyond the mountain range. Ask me now what I own and I can tell you with confidence that among my richest possessions are the memories I have of the people of Andorra, people like Madame Amparo, who made our village not just a place between France and Spain, but also a bridge between the stark reality of my present and the rich possibility of my future."

"...Each task was a lot like hiking in Andorra. There was only one way to go—up. All of those years of climbing mountains had given me an instinct for the ascent, a sense of how to pace myself, how to structure my approach—not through sprints to the top, but slowly and over time."

"In Andorra in the fall, I also helped my mother put up the wild mushrooms that we harvested in our special spots in the mountains around our home."

"You’re going to America and you will never come back to Andorra in the same way.”

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Review: White Ivy

White Ivy White Ivy by Susie Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My last lingering eARC from 2020 and I saved a great read for last. Ivy struggles to fit in, and this may be her status as the child of immigrants partially raised by her grandmother in China when she was very young, who taught her how to steal. But I also think her classmates are reacting to something else - she's a bit of a sociopath, really.. I kept being reminded of Tom Ripley...

The reader follows Ivy from her childhood to a culminating party where she is mortified in front of her crush, then moves in stages through high school, college, after college.... Her decisions, reinventions, and sharp turns kept me reading!

I had a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. It came out November 3, 2020, and I'm a bit behind.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Reading Envy 212: Subtly Fascinating with Vinny

Vinny is technically a new guest, although his voice may be familiar from a readalong episode. We talk about books strange and weird, translated, and an exciting memoir few have heard of.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 212: Subtly Fascinating.

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
Or listen through Google Podcasts

Books discussed: 

What You Have Heard is True: A Witness of Memoir and Resistance by Carolyn Forché
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
Catherine the Great and the Small by Olja Knezevic, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać and Paula Gordon
The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas; translated by Michael Barnes

Other mentions:

The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald
Claribel Alegría
The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forché
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Weeki Wachee State Park
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

Related episodes:

Episode 137 - Reading Envy Readalong: The Golden Notebook
Episode 198 - Mood Reading with Robin
Episode 203 - Backlist with Marion

Stalk us online:

Vinny is @billypar on Litsy
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

All links to books are through, where I am an affiliate. I wanted more money to go to the actual publishers and authors. I link to Amazon when a book is not listed with Bookshop.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Review: Echo on the Bay

Echo on the Bay Echo on the Bay by Masatsugu Ono
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is probably my last book for January in Japan - the second book I've read by Masatsugu Ono from Two Lines Press, who I subscribe to.

Miki is the narrator and has been reading about anthropology in high school, so when her father's police job moves the family to a fishing village (Oita) and people start dropping by to drink and tell stories, she pays attention and tries to figure out how pieces connect and why some stories seem to contradict. The reader is limited to that same information, so it takes a while to realize that there is an underlying history of violence and corruption in the community, not to mention great harm done to children that uncomfortably sits on the page but is never addressed by the characters in the book.

The characters run the gamut from oozing drunkards to strong silent fishermen to cruel children. I think some of the older characters are supposed to read as funny but I was too disturbed to find them amusing. The cover probably symbolizes the red tide that occurs in the story, destroying much of the fish farm and oyster farm infrastructure. It's funny how sometimes when I end a book feeling unsettled (most recently, books from Argentina and Japan) - it's because there is violence that is used as a metaphor. So I've been asking myself what this book is really about. Is it about corruption and violence? Could it also (I'm stretching) be about environmental destruction and the parallel to human corruption? Or have I read Tender Is the Flesh too recently?

A conversation on page 71 makes me think maybe it is just more directly about violence in families and how dangerous it is when it isn't dealt with. I know countries are all on different stages of dealing with domestic violence and the trauma passed down between generations. I did find an article that domestic violence cases had reached an all time high in 2019, and then in 2020, many articles about how pandemic situations have made these situations even worse, as they have everywhere people are stuck together for too long. The first significant study I could find was in 1999 and this book was published in Japan in 2002, so I kind of think I'm on to something.
"'Violence passes from person to person,' Iwaya said, tickling Shiro's neck. 'And it builds up.'"
I haven't yet found many articles or reviews who discuss the book from this angle - so many reviewers want to compare the author to Murakami and interpret the events as weird, as if they are not really happening. But to me the true power of the novel is the idea that they really are, that people choose not to see the dead bodies and the rotten fish and the child chained up in the yard. And they are suffering the consequences.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember going to an author talk with V.E. Schwab before her book came out, early on in the pandemic where author talks were just starting to move online. I was intrigued by her passion for the novel and how much of herself she had poured into it. And now I finally read it!

There are two books that feel similar to me - the concepts and storyline are not the same but something about the tone and feeling I get as a reader are a good match. One is The Time Traveler's Wife and the other is The Ten Thousand Doors of January. You have a woman navigating the world in an unusual way, never being fully understood, trading off mundane life for this other way....

In Addie LaRue, she flees her wedding in the early 1700s and strikes up a bargain not to live a normal life. Everything that comes after is really something to experience as a reader.

True to form, I had a copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley but it came out back on October 6th and I'm just reading it now!

View all my reviews

Monday, January 18, 2021

Review: The Marrow Thieves

The Marrow Thieves The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally read this YA dystopian novel where people perceived as being indigenous are kidnapped in hopes their bodies will help everyone else regain the ability to dream. The novel is more about the groups of people living on the run and the ways they connect and build community - very little is about the mad scientist component (this is okay but was a bit surprising based on how much it is included in most summaries of the book.) Also in the background are the history of the "residential schools," climate change, and human-directed environmental destruction. It's set in the future so California is gone, the Great Lakes are toast, etc.

If you waffle on YA, there is much less angst than in the Hunger Games or Divergent. The majority of the novel features characters from a broader range of ages.

I had a strange experience (twice!) where I fell asleep while reading it and sank into deep dreams, so beware!

This was the January 2021 pick for Sword and Laser with guest co-host Mallory O'Meara. It was also discussed on Episode 202 of the Reading Envy Podcast with the Book Cougars.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Review: Earthlings

Earthlings Earthlings by Sayaka Murata
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read the last ten percent of this book with my hands over my eyes - it just gets weirder and weirder. It starts with a 9 year old girl who is berated by her family, assaulted by a teacher, and she seeks comfort with her cousin, believing they are probably both aliens. As an adult she finds a spouse who will commit to an unusual relationship but things come to a head when the families start insisting they comply with social expectations.

The author is intentional about subverting expectations for women, in her own life and in her writing.

Translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori, I read this because it is on the Tournament of Books long but not shortlist, and counts for January in Japan.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Reading Envy 211: Rereads and Romance with Kim

The first regular episode of 2021 kicks off with a new guest - Kim. She talks about how she made it through 2020 by doing a lot of rereading books with disaster magnets, rich brothers, and fire cats. Jenny pitches in with one recent and one deep backlist title. We may fawn over Portland a little as well.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 211: Rereads and Romance.

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
Or listen through Google Podcasts

Books discussed: 

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year by Louise Erdrich
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

Other mentions:

Powell's Books
Annie Bloom's Books
Silvia Moreno-Garcia (the book referenced is Mexican Gothic)
Book Riot - Get Booked Podcast
Currently Reading Podcast
From the Front Porch Podcast
Home Cooking Podcast
Pop Sugar Reading Challenge
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge
Valdemar Series by Mercedes Lackey
Quan Barry makes a powerpoint
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
Willa Cather
Knitting in the City series by Penny Reid
Winston Brothers series by Penny Reid
Truth or Beard by Penny Reid
Winds of Fate
by Mercedes Lackey
Burke's Law by Brian Burke
The City of Brass by S.A. Charkaborty

Related episodes:

Episode 119 - Bread and Butter Writing with Paula
Episode 181
- An Awkward Woman with Yanira Ramirez
Episode 184
- Theme Night at Book Club with Kala
Episode 190 - The Good Life with Alex

Stalk us online:

Kim at Goodreads
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

All links to books are through, where I am an affiliate. I wanted more money to go to the actual publishers and authors.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Review: Pet

Pet Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of my shadow goals is to read more middle grade books because it's been 30 years since I left that category behind. Pet seems to be solidly on the border between middle grade and YA, with a memorable protagonist, a close friendship, and a town that claims they got rid of all the monsters....

I bought the hardcover last year in a bundle from Sistah Scifi but as I read this I discovered the paperback comes out on the 19th (of January 2021, not a paid advertisement.)

"It was no small thing to try to restructure a society, to find the pus boiling away under the scabs, to peel back the hardened flesh to let it out."

I found it a bit preachy and a bit heavy handed on metaphor but maybe that works for middle readers?

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Review: Lizard

Lizard Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"This town breathes in all the universes that people in this city have in their heads." - Newlywed

My first read for the January in Japan challenge is a book I've had on my shelf since I first started collecting books from allover the world in 2012. I read Kitchen by the same author and must have let this one linger. It is a story collection, always an unnamed narrator and generally one other person who they are in relationship with, confronting a big life decision or dealing with residue from the past (the author calls it fate and karma.) The narrator voice is male as often as it is female, and sometimes I'm almost but not 100% sure. The characters are willingly thoughtful, philosophical, internal. Most stories take place in Tokyo. The author dedicated them to Kurt Cobain if that tells you about the era in which she wrote them.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Review: Catherine the Great and the Small

Catherine the Great and the Small Catherine the Great and the Small by Olja Knezevic
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This year in my Around the World reading I'm tackling Europe - the countries I've never read anything from and deepening my knowledge of others. I posted a list to Twitter and got great suggestions so I jumped into this book from Montenegro author, Olja Knežević. It is translated by Paula Gordon & Ellen Elias-Bursac and came out in 2020 from Istros Books (who seem to be a good resource for translated literature from the Balkans.)

Catherine is coming of age in Titograd in the 1980s (which becomes Podgorica by the end of the novel,) and the book follows her life before and after the Balkan Wars. A lot of the political conflict and economic crises take place in the background of her life and her family and community. It looks at isolation and separation from home more than it tries to look at history and war.

"We each sit on the clean soft grass of our new countries, alone. Alone in a crowd, alone even when we’re with our new friends, who don’t hear the roar of the wild mounting inside us. Always at the start of summer we pine for the pungent smell of home."

View all my reviews

Reading Envy 210: 2021 Reading Goals

Jenny reports back on how she did on her 2020 reading goals in the midst of challenging circumstances, then sets goals for 2021. Then a handful of podcast and reading friends share their reading goals for 2021.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 210: 2021 Reading Goals

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
Or listen through Google Podcasts

Jenny’s Goals 

  1. Focus on reading Europe 
  2. Catch up on books with music as a central theme 
  3. Authors to try list 
  4. Keep up with subscriptions 
  5. Participate in challenges

Audrey (@dreesreads in Instagram) 

  1. Be more relaxed
  2. One big non-fiction read
  3. Booker International long/shortlist
  4. National Book Award Poetry Longlist
  5. Continue listening to audiobooks


  1. Pop Sugar 2021 Reading Challenge 
  2. Back to the Classics 2021 Challenge (Books and Chocolate blog) 
Ellie (@shatterlings in Instagram)
  1. Russian classics
  2. Vassily Grossman buddy reads 


  1. Emphasis on reading, continue checking off TBR 
  2. Shakespeare plays 
  3. Presidential biographies 


  1. Read 40 books
  2. Read 20 books she already owns 


  1. Be consistent about journaling about books read 
  2. Slow down and be more reflective after finishing 
  3. More classics, more Willa Cather, maybe Proust 
  4. Authors around the world 
  5. Read more from physical TBR 

Karen Naughton (@BarkerForBooks in Instagram)

  1. Complete reading Thomas Hardy, hopefully 1 book a month


  1. This year's theme will be nature books

Books discussed: 

The Ensemble by Aja Gabal
Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel
The Student Conductor by Robert Ford
Music and Silence by Rose Tremain
Songbook by Nick Hornby
Grace Notes by Bernard MacLaverty
The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita
Compass by Mathias Enard
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Devils by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Neverness by David Zindell
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Wilson by A. Scott Berg
A Full Life by Jimmy Carter
Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively
At Hawthorne Time by Melissa Harrison
Station Life in New Zealand by Lady Barker
Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui 

Other mentions:

Two Lines Press
Restless Books
Graywolf Galley Club
ND New Classics
Erin and Dani's Book Club on Instagram
ReadtheWorld21 in Instagram
Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club
The Free Black Women's Library on Instagram
The Free Black Women's Library

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
If you want to hear more from one of the guests who appeared on this episode, go to the episode guide and do a search.

All links to books are through, where I am an affiliate.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Review: An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables

An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables An Onion in My Pocket: My Life with Vegetables by Deborah Madison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the first cookbooks I was given when I got married in 2000 was Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. My family was worried that I was marrying a vegetarian and wanted me to be prepared.

Deborah Madison has long been connected to vegetarian cooking although she isn't a vegetarian exactly, she has just found herself in spaces that have a lot of produce to offer and where people don't eat a lot of meat. Her spiritual practice at the SF Zen Center included a long stint running the kitchen which would eventually lead her to open Greens in cooperation with the center, and somehow in between there she also worked at Chez Panisse, a job she just kind of fell into.

All along the way, she's been writing cookbooks that captured several decades of vegetarian cooking in America, from the hippie dippie years of brown breads and lots of cheese to where we are now with our coconut everything and broader access to ingredients.

The memoir chronicles her journey with food, ingredients, cooking, restaurants, cookbooks - and also a deeper exploration of what is enough, what nourishes, and the importance of community.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 2, 2021

2020 Reading by the Numbers

It's the most wonderful time of the year - time to look at the charts and graphs, stats and numbers of last year's reading! (Thanks to Tirzah Price at Book Riot for a great reading log.) Of course a few factors really had an impact on my reading. In January, my husband's Dad got sick and he was traveling between SC and Oregon a few times, and I took that trip once, before his Dad passed away in February. In March both of our jobs went remote and, well, here we are. 

I read 364 books in 2020. I don't know how. I'm slightly sad I couldn't have squeezed one more in to say I'd read one book a day, ugh. I read 83,614 pages (print and electronic) and listened for 12 days, 5 hours, and 31 minutes.

I read 77.7% fiction to 22.3% nonfiction. This is in line with 2019, where I read almost 80% fiction. I definitely noticed that when the pandemic first hit, it was easier to read nonfiction than fiction.

My format percentages also are within 1-2 degrees of where they were in 2019. I would have thought I read more eBooks in 2020 because of the lack of libraries in my life, but these were balanced by an increase in reading books I already owned (for once!) and purchasing new books.

I read almost entirely books for adults. 

My form numbers aren't that interesting, 70% prose, 7%ish for poetry, essay, and short story, and sprinklings of the rest. I'm reading about 50% general fiction.

Just like last year, half my reads are review copies. Some are in print, some are audiobooks, but that isn't broken down in this chart. I used the library 3% less, and I'm surprised that didn't go down more! I guess that goes to show how much I use the libraries' digital content options.

I'm starting to feel disappointed there aren't more obvious changes for 2020, which felt so different. Perhaps reading routines keep me sane. I still gave more books 4 stars than any other rating, still read 14.8% in translation, and still read more women than men, about 25% queer authors/characters and 25% bipoc authors/characters (some of these might intersect).

Next year I'm going to try to track who recommended a book to me, which authors were my first time, and who knows what else!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Reading the Middle East in 2020

I've been slowly traveling around the world in my reading since 2012, trying to read a book from every country, prioritizing books from an author born/living in that country, set in that country, whenever I can. 

I started focusing on specific regions in 2015 and that has been a fulfilling direction. Here's the run down of the past few years:
Asia 2019
Canada and Alaska 2018
Borderlands 2017
Africa 2016
Oceania 2015
Around the World continuing efforts 2014
Turkey 2013
Around the World wrap-up 2012

If you go to my profile, you can look at my books and search by title or view the shelves by location (all of these are under "Location-CountryName.") This has become quite the recommendation spot because I often add TBR books to these shelves as well.

This year I focused on the Middle East, trying to finish all the countries I hadn't yet read while deepening my reading in countries I had read books from. The only country I was not able to cross off my list is Bahrain - there really aren't any novels or good quality books from there translated into English; there is one novel set in Bahrain by an English author - The Meeting Point by Lucy Caldwell. I may read it some day but it's not really fulfilling my plans... perhaps I'll have to give in and use reads like this for some of the places if I'm ever going to "finish" this project. (Spoiler alert: I don't believe I'll ever finish!)

I started out by collecting the books I had on hand, and of course I collected more along the way. Because I had such limited access to libraries this year, I focused on what I had on hand first. Several of the book subscriptions and egalleys I requested fit right in, even if they weren't on my initial list. I used interlibrary loan only once, which is very atypical for me, and read a lot of library eBooks. And I hunted down and purchased a few obscure titles for countries that are hard to find.

Here are the physical books I still have on hand that I read:

But here are those that I still didn't get to! Some of these aren't ownvoices authors, which I tried to prioritize, and some are countries I'd already read. Still, at some point I'll need to decide if I should keep and read these titles or just let them go. (If you have opinions, I'm open to feedback):

Since so many were eBooks or eARCs, I'm so glad Goodreads has cover images that you can view in a grid, so all I needed to do was take a few screenshots to show you all the great books I read set in or from the Middle East just this year.

For planner people, I also tracked this challenge in my Passion Planner using a technique I borrowed from a user I can no longer locate in Instagram - she used to be called fruitylemonade (let me know if you know this person and they've just changed names!) The items below are supposed to look like books. I didn't have quite enough colors and then read a few books in Egypt and hadn't included it but should have. And I didn't have a plan for books set multiple places, of which there were quite a few! I have another idea for tracking next year, so stay tuned.

Remember that reviews can be found on my Goodreads, linked above.

The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
Home is a Stranger by Parnaz Foroutan
My Part of Her by Javad Djavahery
Then the Fish Swallowed Him by Amir Ahmadi Arian
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari

Children of War by Deborah Ellis
IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Memory Monster by Yishai Sarid

Mother of All Pigs by Malu Halasa

Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Home
The Experiment of West-Kurdistan by Zaher Baher
A Small Key Can Open a Large Door by Strangers in a Wilderness

The Bamboo Stalk by Said Alsanousi

Beirut Won’t Cry by Mazen Kerbaj
Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
The Inheritance by Sahar Khalifeh
Track Changes by Sayed Kashua
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

The Girl who Fell to Earth by Sophia Al-Maria

Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat
The Book Collectors by Delphine Minioui
Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa

United Arab Emirates
Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan

Hurma by Ali Al-Muqri
Yemen: What Everyone Needs to Know by Asher Orkaby

Multiple or Unnamed
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (fantasy)
Guapa by Saleem Haddad
Headscarves and Hymens by Mona Eltahawy
Home edited by Samer Abu Hawwash
How to Feed a Dictator by Witold Szablowski
Our Women on the Ground edited by Zahra Hankir
Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith

Books Read December 2020: 331-364

Before I do all the 2020 wrapups, charts, and graphs, how about a books I read in December! I'm glad I squeezed two more in, because they ended up being the only 5-star reads of the month.

331. Untold Night and Day by Bae Suah; translated by Deborah Smith ⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
332. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
333. The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi; translated by Jonathan Wright ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
334. The Book Collectors by Delphine Minoui; translated by Lara Vergnaud ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
335. Artificial Conditions by Martha Wells, narrated by Kevin Free ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Audible audiobook; my review)
336. Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
337. Frumpy Middle-Aged Mom by Marla Jo Fisher ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
338. Something that may Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Mallory Ortberg ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
339. Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Kindle eBook; my review)
340. How to Be Ace by Rebecca Burgess ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
341. Sunjata by Justine Korman Fontes, illustrated by Sandy Carruthers ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
342. To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
343. Want by Lynn Steger Strong ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (public library; my review)
344. This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
345. Ace by Angela Chen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
346. The Last Confession by Regina Madrigal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
347. Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen, narrated by Nicola Coughlan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Audible audiobook; my review)
348. The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
349. Angry Queer Somali Boy by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
350. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells, narrated by Kevin Free ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby audiobook; my review)
351. How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
352. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, narrated by Kevin Free ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby audiobook; my review)
353. Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (library book; my review)
354. Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
355. Stroke of Luck by Opal Carew ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
356. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, narrated by Bahni Turpin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Volumes app audiobook; my review)
357. If the Fates Allow edited by Annie Harper ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla eBook; my review)
358. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby eBook; my review)
359. Yemen: What Everyone Needs to Know by Asher Orkaby ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
360. The Memory Monster by Yishai Sarid, translated by Yardenne Greenspan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
361. The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year by Louise Erdrich ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
362. Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby eBook; my review)
363. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Libby eBook; my review)
364. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)

Total books read: 34

Audiobook: 5
eBook: 19
Print: 10

Library copy (digital too):10
Personal copy: 8
Review copy: 16

Around the World: 12
Indigenous Authors: 4
Middle East 2020: 6
ReadtheWorld21: 1
Tournament of Books: 9

Apocalypse/Dystopia: 1
Fantasy: 1
Graphic novel/comic: 2
Horror: 2
Memoir: 5
Romance: 4
Science Fiction: 3