Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic was made for me! I’m attempting to read a book from every country in the world before I’m 30, this is the Read the World Project, so I’ve read some great books that take place outside of the UK. Here are ten of my favourites I’ve read for that challenge and just generally.
Frangipani by Célestine Hitiura Vaite
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this book a lot now but it’s just so nice. Set in Tahiti, it’s about the relationship between a mother and daughter and their lives spanning about thirty years. It’s like an insight to a normal family’s life, it’s got the highs and lows but it’s also funny and never overly dramatic.
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Riley
This book was like an action film playing in my head. Set in China, it’s revealed that scientists have actually created dragons, but of course, things don’t go to plan, nature can’t be controlled and the special guest have to survive when the dragons go on the rampage. It’s like Jurassic Park but with dragons and is a lot of fun.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Set in South Korea and Japan, Pachinko follows one family through the generations and you get to see how their lives change, for the good and the bad, and time moves on and they are affected by some major historical events. (more…)
Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. As 2016 is coming to a close, this week’s theme is all about our favourite books of the year. I didn’t really get much reading done in the last few months of the year, I started a new job and couldn’t really get into any of the books I was picking up but I did read some good books in 2016. So below, in no particular order, are my ten favourite books I read this year – the links in the book titles go to their reviews where you can find out more about why I liked them so much.
The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet
This book was unlike anything I’d read before. It’s the perfect commentary on the fantasy genre and it’s a very funny read as well.
Asking for It by Louise O’Neill
This was such a tough read but it was still a really good and important book. It is often a frustrating book with a frustrating and unlikable protagonist but that makes it all the more interesting and memorable. (more…)
This is the story of two half-sisters from eighteenth century Ghana and their decedents. Effia was married to a white Englishman while Esi was sold into slavery and was forced onto a ship to America. Their stories and their children’s and grandchildren’s stories couldn’t be more different but there are always connections to the past.
Homegoing is a phenomenal book. Through following two sisters and their families, it covers three hundred years of history. Each chapter follows a different character, alternating between Effia’s family and Esi’s family. Each chapter is like a snapshot at a certain point in history and while you only get one chapter with a character you still learn more about the previous generations that you’ve already read about through that chapter. This means while you’re always meeting new characters or getting their story from their point of view for the first time, the past and the characters you’ve already encountered are not forgotten about. This is really interesting because you as the reader tend to know more about these characters’ families and their history than the characters do. It’s interesting to see if stories from the past are passed down through the generations and what is remembered or what is forgotten. All these characters you encounter are flawed and interesting and you want them to do well and not make the same mistakes their parents did or to do better for themselves like their parents wanted. The writing in Homegoing is great because you do become invested in these characters even if you don’t spend much time with them and there is some beautiful writing in this book.
By following a family through multiple generations, from the 1700’s to the start of the twenty-first century, you can also see how things changed both in Ghana and in America. There’s how Ghana came to be a country called Ghana and the slave trade on the Gold Coast and colonial rule. While in America there’s slaves working on cotton plantations, the Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to pinpoint where exactly in history you are but the events unfolding around these characters helps give you an idea where the story is set.
Homegoing is such a compelling read. I read it in two days and I haven’t done that with a book, especially a “literary book”, in forever. This family and how traits and personalities are passed down or how one mistake or action can not only effect the next generation but future generations was fascinating.
Homegoing does tackle some tough subjects such as rape and violence and drug use and it never shies away from it but it is never overly judgemental either. Homegoing is a truly enlightening read because it unapologetically shows you what life was like for black people in America over the years, and how white people (mostly the British) colonising Africa affected generations.
I cannot recommend Homegoing enough. It has beautiful writing, a compelling and clever story and it’s an eye-opening and important book. 5/5.
The #DiverseAThon is a week-long readathon where really the only goal is to read diversely. That could mean reading books about LGBTQ+ characters, books about or by people of colour or books featuring topics such as mental health or physical disabilities. Basically, any books where the protagonist is different to you. As I am a white British, cis-gendered twenty-something from a single-parent family that means there’s a lot of books I could choose from.
There is a group book you can read for the readathon (though it isn’t compulsory to read it) which is Homegoing by Ya’a Gy’asi. I actually bought this book a few months ago but have yet to read it so this is the perfect chance to read it. Homegoing follows a family over 300 years, so you see how history and society changes (or doesn’t) and how racism affects them all.
I’m being realistic with my TBR for the #DiverseAThon because this readathon isn’t about reading as many books as possible (though you can try and do that if you wish) it’s about reading diversely and paying attention to what the books are talking about. I have four books on my TBR including Homegoing. There’s Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi which I am currently reading and will probably finish before the readathon kicks off tomorrow but thought I’d mention it anyway. It’s a memoir-graphic novel about a girl growing up in Iran during the 1979 revolution and how life changes for her and her family. I’m almost half way through and really enjoying it at the moment because Iran’s history is something I know very little about. Also on my TBR is Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin which is about Max who was born intersex meaning he is neither fully boy nor fully girl. I’ve never read a book about an intersex character and I’ve heard good things about Golden Boy though it may make me cry. And finally I have another recent purchase, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng which is about a Chinese-American family in the 1970s dealing with the grief of losing a family member.
The readathon is from Monday 12th September at 12am to Monday 19th September at 11:59pm and is hosted by WhittyNovels, She Might Be Monica, Christina Marie and SquibblesReads. The best way to chat to the hosts and to everyone else taking part in the readathon is to use #DiverseAThon on Twitter and Instagram.
Are you going to take part in #DiverseAThon? Do you generally read diversely or is it something you have to put an effort into? I do try to read diversely whether that’s reading more books from authors who are people of colour or books about characters that are nothing like me. Sometimes it doesn’t work and sometimes it does but that’s just the way life works sometimes.
Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature created by GingerReadsLainey and hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. So this week as we are nearing the end of summer, it’s time to have a look and see what books I really want to read before the end of 2016.
Zorro by Isabel Allende
I love The Mask of Zorro staring Antonia Banderas so I really want to read an actual book about Zorro. This is kind of a biography and origin story for the legendary character and that sounds super interesting.
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
This is a classic and a short one at that. I got it from a firend who was getting rid of a lot of his books as he was moving abroad so I nabbed this one as it’s one of those books I’d been meaning to read for ages. Plus, everyone I know who has read it loved it so that just makes me want to read it more.
Fractured by Terri Terry
I read Slated earlier this year and really enjoyed it so straight away went and bought the two other books in the trilogy but I still haven’t read them. I want to at least read the second book Fractured by the end of the year and hopefully I’ll love it as much as Slated so I’ll just end up marathoning the rest of the trilogy.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This is one of my more recent purchases. I’m trying to read more diversely and Homegoing has had a lot of good reviews. Plus, it’s got a pretty cover and it’s relatively short.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This book has been on my shelves for over a year and it’s a graphic novel so it should be a quick read. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Persepolis and it’s a couple of my friends favourite books.
What books do you definitely want to try and read before the end of the year?