It’s a new year which means a lot of people are posting tbr’s. I was reading blog posts this morning and was thinking oh yeah, reading challenges, they’re not my thing….and then I remembered that I’m actually hosting the chillest, coolest reading challenge for the first two months of the year, aka Setting in Stone, and if you participate, I would be delighted (and surprised but I’m trying not to betray my low expectations). Anyway, I thought I’d share some books that I want to read for this challenge–and if you add recommendations in the comments, I’ll add them to the post!
(If you want to know more about Setting in Stone, it’s basically a challenge to read books set outside of the US/Canada/UK/Australia, or discuss settings in book, or just think a little more about settings we take for granted).
1. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi (Afganistan)
This book was at my aunt’s house, where I was staying recently. It’s about two woman in Afganistan, woven through time, who dress up as boys to have more freedom. Both of my parents have been to Afganistan, and my mother says that this book is really interesting, so I’m eager to read it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Afganistan before, and the author is Afgan-American, so it’s quite exciting.
2. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (Nigeria)
Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie is mega famous, and this is one of the most well known of her books. It sounds totally fascinating. It’s about the violence in Nigeria in the 60’s when Biafra tried to establish an independent state. I know essentially nothing about this conflict, and the book is super well known (again, my mother read it), so I hope that I can learn a bit more as well as enjoying the story.
3. Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje (Sri Lanka)
This was on a reading list for a literature class I took a few years ago. It’s set in Sri Lanka, with a emigrant who has returned to study her country when weird murders are taking place. I am kind of sick of immigrant stories, or at the very least I find that they are published disproportionally compared to actual percentages of emigrants, so this sounds interesting. The title and synopsis sound eerie, which is not very me, but the spirit of setting in stone is trying new things, so. (like all the other books on this list, it is also fairly literary and fairly depressing).
4. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh (India)
Taking an Indian Literature class last year made me realise how meany amazing, well known, Indian authors there are who don’t write decent YA (they write literary fiction). The Hungry Tide is set in the Sunderbans, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It’s a part of the country I’ve barely been to, and the book sounds like a twisty family saga. I quite like Kate Atkinson’s twisty family saga’s so I’m *hoping* that this is as enjoyable of those. It’s quite weird to emerge out of YA land and realise that there are all of thse books you’ve been ignoring which sound quite good. I’m hoping that I can still enjoy them even if they are heavier. *cue small panic*. Amitav Ghosh is mega famous, and he’s written a bunch of other books which I’d like to read too so hopefully this will motivate me.
5. Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones (Papua New Guinea)
Halfway through writing this post, I found ‘Planet YA’ on the Epic Reads website which was somewhat helpful, and gave me some ideas for other books to read. It’s very incomplete though, which tells you a lot about the settings of YA books. They also don’t know some things (e.g. Indonesia is usually thought to be part of Asia not the South Pacific/Oceania) but points for trying. anyway, Mr. Pip is set in Papua New Guinea after the war (an unspecified war, but books only ever seem to be about one war so I’m gonna assume wwii) and it’s written by a New Zealand author which is cool! Reading the synopsis, it seems like this book might be a bad combination of white saviour and books solve all your problems tropes but there’s only one way to find out.
6. Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okarafor
I’ve like Nnedi Okarafor’s scifi novellas about Binti, and so this seemed like a fitting end to my list. It’s a kids book so it should be quick and it’s set in Africa, I’m not sure where. Anyway hopefully I can get to this later in January. We’ll see!
I’m so glad I wrote this post, because along the way I discovered all sorts of other books which I didn’t include on the list and had one or two somewhat profound realisations, which is always fun. I’d love to hear your recommendations for books in the comments! and if you’ve read any of these, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.