Hello there! The beginning of the year has been a WHIRLWIND for me. I've been so busy that I haven't been reading much. But I did do SOME reading and ANY reading is better than NO reading at all. Here's what I read from January to March.
Will by Will Smith and Mark Manson
💭: Solid “MID”. Halfway through I got bored with everything being about Will. He came across as selfish in his ambitions to the harm of his loved ones. I didn’t like that. And couldn’t get past it. It was interesting getting to learn more about his career and how he came to be who he is. I especially enjoyed discovering his music with Jazzy Jeff.
#20BooksByBlackMen Challenge | Prompt: Memoir by an Older Man (50+)
#TumasBooksReadingChallenge | Jan: BIPOC Book with Inspiring Title
Once Upon An Eid, edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed (available on Tuma's Books)
💭: This was a JOY to read. The authentic Muslim rep focused on important religious holidays made me feel SO seen. I enjoyed EVERY story, which is super rare in an anthology. Each story warmed my heart. What I deeply appreciated was the true diversity of Muslim identities and experiences, representing Muslims of all nationalities, backgrounds, identities, sects, etc. This collection is important for Muslims and Non-Muslims alike because even Muslims can learn about other muslims who might be different from themselves.
Boundless: Twenty Stories Celebrating Multicultural and Multiracial Identities, edited by Ismee Williams and Rebecca Balcarcel
💭: Got this arc via Netgalley. Guess I’m in an anthology phase, but I enjoy being able to explore a bunch of authors in one shot. So far, this one isn’t bad. There are some really strong stories, alongside some “just okay” stories. However, the representation is priceless! I think folks with multicultural and/or multiracial identities need more authentic representation. It’s a unique experience in how they navigate the world with feet into multiple communities.
So Long a Letter by Mariam Ba, translated by Modupe Bode-Thomas
💭: I expected more. Enjoyed epistolary structure. Makes commentary about feminism and lack of choices for educated women in traditional society. But I couldn't accept/make sense of Ramatoulaye's choice to stay married to a man who essentially abandoned her because she still "loved him. Girl, bye!
#20BooksByAfricanWomen and #12Women12Countries Challenges | West-African (Senegal)
Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
💭: Skim read this simply to get the pertinent information for my business. The system is a useful one, especially for someone like me without a strong finance or math sense; I like that it's very simple and easy to follow. Not a fan of the writer's voice. It's very "bro/dude/dad--jokes" and clearly written for a male audience. Hence why I just skimmed through all the stories and just read the direct information explaining how Profit First works.
The Consequences of Love by Sulaiman Addonia
💭: This one has been on my shelves for years, so I finally grabbed it. It's my first novel by an Eritrean/Ethiopian author. The storyline was interesting to me but the execution was "meh". Felt like the male author doesn't really understand women. "Fiore"'s character just didn't feel believable to me as a woman. I spent most of the book rolling my eyes at her and Naser and the over-the-top dramatics of their "love story." BUT I did enjoy the writing style enough to keep reading until the end; some beautifully written parts stood out. And I learned about how foreigners could be treated in Saudi Arabia, which was eye-opening. Overall, not a memorable read, but I didn't hate it.
Fresh Ink: An Anthology, edited by Lamar Giles of We Need Diverse Books (available on Tuma's Books)
💭: Honestly, anything from We Need Diverse Books is a winner. I previously read their collection, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and enjoyed that one as well. Fresh Ink is a bit better in my opinion. It's rare to love nearly EVERY story in an anthology. Each work in this collection was wonderfully diverse, engaging, and meaningful. There was only one story I didn't enjoy but it was scifi which isn't a genre I read much of, so I think I didn't fully get it enough to like it. Highly highly recommend this series.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (available on Tuma's Books)
💭: I am kicking myself in the BUTT for putting this gem off for so long! I highly recommend this title for EVERY middle school classroom in the country. It teaches such important lessons about acceptance and understanding others who may be different from us. The poetry in this novel-in-verse is absolutely beautiful and Jude is an incredibly inspiring character. #20BooksbyMuslimWomen
Poukahantus by Tayi Tibble (available on Tuma's Books)
💭: I'm currently reading this one and about halfway through. Poukahangatus is poetry not trying to impress. It's real and raw. It's about both the beauty and pain of love, identity, and belonging, especially as a woman of color lacking representative role models. These are themes I can get behind. 🙌🏾
Do I understand every poem in Tibble's collection? Heck no! 🤷🏾♀️ But I don't need to. The poems that DO resonate, resonate so deeply that I have to stop, pause, and breathe.
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What have been your favorite 2023 reads so far?