The Unread Shelf Project: January/February Update!

Hi All!

I want to jump on and talk about my progress with my Unread Shelf. I set a goal in my first post to read AT LEAST the seven books I photographed, but also hopefully one per month because I have 16 unread books! Here’s a quick recap of the challenges I’ve participated in so far.

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January Challenge: Count up your books and GET READING!

In January, I read Pachinko! (Review here) I absolutely fell in love with it, and my sparked interest in East Asian history lead me to pick up Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick and The Leavers by Lisa Ko. I highly recommend all three!

February Challenge: Consider if you have any/many books on your unread shelf by a person of color and why you’ve let those books stay on your shelf. If you do, read one of those this month!

In February, I read Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo. I received this book through a Christmas book exchange from Chelsey at @hereadsshereads. I really wanted to love it, but honestly, it was a 3 star read for me.

The challenge was explicitly and intentionally not “read a book by a person of color” because that is a short term experience, and not a lesson. Instead the challenge was “consider why that book in particular has been sitting on your shelf”. If you understand your resistance to pick it up, you can try to change that and diversify your reading. After reading Stay with Me and considering this, I would say that I definitely subconsciously stay away (no pun intended) from books written by authors of color, particularly females of color.

In the past few years I’ve read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and now, Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo. My issue with the books, and this is not an insult to the author, but an observation of my own habits, is that a lot of foreign words and expressions are used and the assumption seems to be that the reader either understands them or can pick them up in context. I struggle with this and more often than not end up feeling guilty that I don’t understand the context and that it must be due to my own ignorance. It turns the book in to a less enjoyable experience for me than other books.

To counter this, I think I’ll change my tone/selections. I want to read more authors like Roxanne Gay and memoir/social justice styles than historical fictions. On my list:

Have you been participating? Let me know how you’re meeting your goals!

6 thoughts on “The Unread Shelf Project: January/February Update!

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