2021 Asian Readathon Wrap Up

This Readathon in really the only one I try to participate in every year. While it hasn’t been around for a long time, I still love the fact that it’s a month long (thus not making me feel like it’s a struggle to find time to read for it). I also adore how relaxed the Readathon is – there’s no pressure to read a lot or even hit all the challenges in it. Instead, this Readathon (to me, at least) is a great reminder to diversify your reading tastes and that Asian authors are often brushed to the sidelines.

I didn’t do a phenomenal job at getting books done for the Readathon this year, but I got a couple of things reads. I tried things that I wouldn’t normally pick up, and that’s really all I can ask for. Without further ado, here’s my (very small) wrap up for the 2021 Asian Readathon. (And yes, I know that this Readathon concluded in May and that this post is no longer relevant. I still wanted to get it up, though.)

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Readathon Challenges:

  1. Read any book written by an Asian author.
  2. Read any book featuring an Asian protagonist.
  3. Read any book written by an Asian author in your favourite genre.
  4. Read any non-fiction book written by an Asian Author.
  5. Read any book written by an Asian author that’s not US centric.

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Without further ado, here’s my reading stats for this month:

** For anyone who’s here for the first time, I’ve organized the books by Physical Books, eBooks, Audiobooks, Kindle Unlimited, and Library Books. **

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Total books completed: 3

Total pages read: 1018 pages (avg. 339 pages per book)

Completed Books:

  1. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves, Book 1)[4 stars] 388 pages
  2. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (Goodreads)[3 stars] 256 Pages
  3. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (Goodreads)[4.5 stars] 374 Pages

Dedicated Blog Posts:

  1. Okay, so I haven’t posted reviews for these stories yet…. I swear I will soon! (I think…)

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Wrap Up:

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi:

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive. 

This story was everything I wanted and more. I’ve had this book for long enough that it had dropped off of my radar, more or less. While I know I like heist stories, that hasn’t been what I’ve been reading a lot of recently. I’m so glad that this Readathon brought this story back to my attention. The characters were frustrating and clever, loveable and infuriating – and I loved every second of it. The world was terrifying, yet I couldn’t help but wish I could do more than just read about it. Decisions were made that broke my heart and left me wanting more. So you’d better believe I’m going to jump right back in as soon as I can.

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The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur:

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom 

I’ll be honest, poetry really isn’t my thing. I adore reading and writing. I adore lyrical stories and watching words flow together. Yet there’s something about poetry that’s never really spoken to me.

That’s why I went into this book with an open mind. Not every book is for everyone, and that’s okay. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Kaur’s poetry, so I thought this would be a good read to try and take myself out of my comfort zone. I found some poems that I enjoyed, and some that I didn’t. I tried treating this book like an anthology of short stories (okay, very short stories), and I think for me that helped.

I can’t say that I’m going to go out of my way to read a bunch of poetry after this, but it hasn’t fully turned me off, either. And that’s high praise from me in regards to poetry. (I can see my English teachers shaking their heads in dismay.)

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The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee:

From the founding member of We Need Diverse Books comes a powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family.

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

This may sound awful of me, but I didn’t expect to enjoy this story as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong, this story has a lot of things that draw me into stories – mystery, intrigue, a strong female lead, deception, risk… It’s just that I don’t normally like historical fiction pieces. Occasionally I’ll find a historical fiction piece that I’ve enjoyed, like this one, but I never hold my breath.

I’m glad I picked up this story because it was phenomenal. Not only does it touch on some very serious issues – such as race and gender equality – but it’s got some mighty impactful character based lessons that can be learned, as well. Nobody is perfect and some people are terribly messed up. But that’s what being human is. We’ve got to try to learn how to be our imperfectly perfect selves and that’s heard.

Sure the character relations in this story are messy. And yes, some people make abhorrent decisions. But that’s the beauty of a book like this – it doesn’t sugarcoat life. Instead, it showcases life in all of it’s nitty, gritty awfulness.

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t do very well this go around. I didn’t hit all of the Readathon challenges, and I didn’t read very many books by Asian authors. But an effort was made.

Being so many months ago at this point, I don’t truly remember where my head was during the month of May. I do remember being stressed out a lot and incredibly busy, though that described a lot of the last year. This month was the start of the downfall of my posts, when things finally started to get so hectic that things were giving.

I could sit here and stretch the challenges to fit the three books that I’ve read, but I’m not going to bother. Instead, I’ll admit that I did a shit job at participating in the Readathon in 2021 and aim to do better in 2022.

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