a first update on my #YARC2019 progress

At the start of the year I announced I was participating in YARC 2019, which is the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. The whole point of the challenge is to read books by Asian authors, no matter the format, length, etc. You can read more about my intentions for this challenge in my sign up post, where I’ve also linked all the creators and hosts of the challenge.

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I set my goal as Philippine tarsier in January, which is to read 1-10 books by Asian authors in 2019. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but I “only” read around 70 books last year and I had no idea how much I’d be able to read this year.

So I thought it would be easier to aim for the lowest level, which is this cute little animal, and possibly end up achieving more than expected in the end!

As it stands, it’s the end of March and I think I’ll have no problem reaching this goal. Why? I’ve recently fallen in love with manga and starting ordering and reading more and more of it. They’re (obviously) all by Japanese authors, and so do count for this challenge.

so what have I read so far?

Naoko by Keigo Higashino – ★★★★ – really liked it
> author is Japanese, novel is translated
I picked this novel up in my local library, and had no idea what it was about. I’d never heard anyone talk about Naoko, but the cover and synopsis seemed pretty interesting so I decided to give it a try. I ended up really enjoying it! I wouldn’t necessarily call this a mystery novel, which is what it’s marketed to be, but it’s for sure one of the most fascinating fiction novels I’ve read in a while. If you want to know more of my thoughts in detail, you can find my review here.

An everyman, Heisuke works hard at a factory job to provide for his wife, Naoko, and young daughter, Monami. He takes pleasure from the small things, like breakfast with both of them after a night shift. His placid life is rocked when, looking up from his microwave dinner one evening, he realizes the TV news that he wasn’t paying attention to is reporting a catastrophic bus accident and the names of his loved ones. When Monami finally wakes from a coma, she seems to think she’s Naoko, who has died protecting her daughter. More disturbingly, the girl knows things only Naoko could know.

A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Japanese-Korean, book is translated
A nonfiction read! I had owned a Kindle copy of this book for a long time, and never read it. Honestly, that happens to me so often… This will be a lesson in reading the books I own! A River in Darkness is the author’s biography of his life in Japan and North Korea, until his eventual escape from the country. His family moved to North Korea when he was a teenager because all of the promises made through propaganda. When they arrived, they discovered it was nothing like they images they’d been sold but it was already too late. They were stuck. This is a heartbreaking read. Seriously, it’s hard to read at times. I can’t even imagine having lived through it. Would highly recommend! I haven’t written a full review yet, but I’m hoping to do so soon.

Come Drink With Me by Michelle Kan – ★★★★ – really liked it
author is Asian, book is inspired by Chinese mythology and Cantonese opera
This is a novella, and I wish Michelle Kan would make it into a whole novel. Or write a book with these characters. It’s an #ownvoices aroace fairytale, inspired by Chinese mythology and Cantonese opera. Come Drink With Me is brilliant, and I need everyone to read it. I’ll write a full review soon!

A Dragon, a Phoenix, and an Opera House. Bonds that transcend time, loyalties that defy hardship, and the magic of the places we call Home. An Aromantic Chinese Fairytale.

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Chinese-American
This seemed like the perfect book for the YARC challenge, because I had owned this novel for months already. It’s an adorable YA contemporary novel about a girl called Jordan Sun, who has been denied a spot in all the Musical Theater productions in her school because she’s an Alto 2. She has a beautiful voice, but most leading roles for women are sopranos. So she dresses and acts like a guy to become part of the all-male a cappella group in her school, the Sharpshooters. I absolutely loved this book! I especially appreciated how Jordan often thinks about how she’s taking up space in the queer community she doesn’t really belong to. For example, she feels like she’s invading a safe space for trans teens because even though she doesn’t identify as male, she is pretending to be.

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight. But then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped . . . revered . . . all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Japanese
I bought this volume last year from better world books, because it was quite cheap if you chose a used copy. If you know me, you may know that I love to buy secondhand books. I’m not someone who needs their books to be in pristine condition – no shade if you are though. Fullmetal Alchemist is such a famous manga and anime series but I had never read or watched it. I decided to give the manga a try first, and am so glad I did! I really loved it, and immediately purchased volumes 2-7. They’re on their way to me now.

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world; something between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders…even to kill.

I Hear the Sunspot Vol. 1 by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
> author is Japanese
This was such a random pick, to be honest. I saw it on MangaRock, and thought the synopsis sounded pretty good. I started it after I finished a book that made me feel so gross and disgusted, and left me wanting something cute and wholesome. What did I get myself into with this? I want to scream about this manga to everyone in the entire universe!! When I found out the first three volumes were recently translated into English, I immediately purchased them all. PLEASE READ THIS. The manga volumes on MangaRock are translated by fans, by the way. The app is free. I’ve written a full spoiler-free review on the first three volumes, which you can read here.

Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever.

I Hear the Sunspot: Theory of Happiness by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
author is Japanese
Like I mentioned earlier, once I started reading the first volume I immediately searched for official translations and discovered there were three volumes published in English. I bought all of them, and read them as soon as they were delivered to my house. Volume 2, Theory of Happiness, was so long – and I loved every single page. Seriously, this manga is so good. Once again, you can find my review on the series here. Don’t worry, I don’t go into any spoilers!

I Hear the Sunspot: Limit 1 by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
author is Japanese
This is the third volume, and while I did still love it, I do think it was a tad too short. I don’t know why they didn’t include the next chapters published in the Limit volume in one? I still ended up loving it, though. I also read the chapters after this one that were published in Japanese, and translated by fans on MangaRock. Now I have to wait for news on the sequels, and I CAN’T DEAL. I need to know what happens to my babies! You can find my review on the first three volumes here.

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Bye Bye Liberty Volume 1 by Ayuko Hatta – ★★★.₅ – liked it
> author is Japanese
This was another random MangaRock pick, albeit not such a successful one as I hear the sunspot. I did enjoy this volume, which follows a girl who has never had a crush, and an extremely popular boy at her school. I did enjoy this, but it bothered me somewhat how easily she threw the word love around. I might continue with the manga, but I’m not in a rush to do so.


I think I’m definitely going to achieve my Philippine tarsier level! I do realize that I managed to pick up books only by Chinese and Japanese authors, so that’s something I want to broaden during the rest of the year. However, I’m already happy to have read some amazing books! I think there’s an obvious trend here too… I enjoyed all of them!

How is your #YARC2019 going? Do you have any recommendations for me? Some I’ll definitely pick up soon are sequels to the manga I mentioned, and The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco. That one is my second most anticipated novel of the year, and I just got it in the mail. 

I’m participating in #YARC2019!

Sometime in the past week, I discovered the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge 2019, which is hosted by Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea, CW @ The Quiet Pond, Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams, and Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads. It’s a reading challenge dedicated to reading books by Asian authors in 2019.

THE GUIDELINES

You can pick a reading level depending on the amount of books by Asian authors you wish to read. Only books you started and finished in 2019 count and as for genre and format, anything goes.

For example, I finished reading Attack on Titan vol. 1 in 2019, but started reading it on the last day 2018 so it doesn’t count.

You create a sign up post where you keep track of the books you’ve read for the challenge as well. Don’t forget to follow the reading challenge updates on Twitter: @YearOfTheAsian

MY GOAL

I am aiming for the Philippine tarsier, which means I’ll read 1 to 10 books by Asian authors. I’m certainly not limiting my reading to 10 books! I’m just not good with stressing myself out over reading so I’m aiming for the lowest level and hoping I’ll end up reading more.

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READING TRACKER

I’ll use this space to update you all on the books I’ve read by Asian authors. I’ll add them once I’ve read the book, and link to my review once I’ve written and posted that. If there’s a book on this list without a link, I simply haven’t written a review yet (you can always visit me on Goodreads to see my thoughts on the books I read though).

  1. Naoko by Keigo Higashino

Are you participating in #YARC2019? Do you have any recommendations for me? I still have quite a few books by Asian authors on my bookshelf and Kindle that I’m really excited to get to. I’m looking forward to reading more books by Asian authors this year!

Reading the world | my quest to read a book from every country in the world

I’ve mentioned this on Twitter before, so if you follow me on there you might have already seen this. I’ve been trying to make an effort to read more translated works or works by foreign authors in the past years, but I still feel like it’s not enough.

I want to broaden my reading horizons, and support more authors that aren’t from the U.S./U.K./Canada etc. So on September 1st, I decided to start my quest of reading a book from every country in the world. Saying this, I stuck to the following rules: 193 member states of the UN and 2 non-member observer states. I will also do my best to include the 39 dependencies. It might be very hard to find authors from some of these dependencies, but I’m going to try my very best.

So what are my criteria? 

My main focus is the author. I want to read a book from an author from that country, no matter the genre. It could be set in a new fantasy world or in space, for all I care. As long as it’s written by an author from that country.

For example, I could read The Witcher for Poland because it is written by Andrzej Sapkowski. It is a fantasy series, but the author is Polish.

I’m not sure how to deal with immigrants for this list. For example, someone who was born in Iran but immigrated to the U.S. I will count them as an Iranian author, but I’m unsure whether to put a time limit on the amount of time someone lived in the country they were born in. For example, if someone emigrated before turning 1, do I still count them? They won’t have many memories from the country, but I don’t want to make their heritage seem unimportant or dismiss it. Let me know what you think of this!

The main challenge for me is that I still want to read books I’m interested in. I don’t just want to read a book because it was written by an author with a certain nationality. So the challenge will be to find books from each country that I actually want to read.

So, once again: the genre does not matter to me. Neither does the format. It could be a collection of poetry, a graphic novel, a non-fiction or a fiction book. It could be set in space, in an entirely different world, or in the country itself. That is not my priority here. My priority is the author.

Sources

I’ve already found quite a few sources.

First, my own to-read list on Goodreads. When I analyzed my own list, I discovered I already had some foreign authors on there. So I added those to my Google sheet.

Second, your recommendations on my Twitter thread. Thank you, to all those who left recommendations for me to check out!

This list by A Year of Reading the World. I am slowly going through this list and seeing whether there are any books on there that catch my interest. I won’t copy their list because I think there’s no point in doing that. I want to do my own research as well, and read according to my own reading tastes.

Reddit.

Book bloggers and vloggers.

Your recommendations

While I am doing my own research and creating my own list, I would really appreciate your recommendations! If you can think of any books that could be added to my list, please let me know.

I can only read books in English and Dutch, so if they were written in other languages I would need for there to be a translated version available.

Do you have any books you can recommend to me? I will be sharing my list in a few weeks, when I have added more to it. You can then make your own copies of it as I will be used it to tick off countries. You can make a copy in Google sheets though and use it for yourself afterwards.

(I’ve discovered that some countries are far easier to find authors/books from in English than others. China, India, Italy, Japan, Germany, Nigeria, Spain and South Korea, for example, were really easy for me. I could immediately add multiple books for those countries to my list. Not that I’m saying that there are too many books from authors from these countries!! Don’t get me wrong. Just that they are easier to find than others). 

2017 Beat the Backlist TBR!

I always want to join 20000000 challenges each year, but I don’t often stick with them. So I kept telling myself to not join too much for 2017. And here I am. Already joining a challenge. NO REGRETS. (Does anyone else always think about that dude in We’re the Millers who had ‘no ragrets’ tattooed on his chest?) But I feel like this challenge is in line with my never-ending hope to read my entire TBR of physical copies. Here’s the thing. I was so happy I’d gotten my hard-copy-tbr below 80, and then I bought 11 books. Yup. I feel like I can’t post this tbr before December, because I don’t have a clue which of my books I’ll end up reading before the year of 2016 is over. Here we go. 

beat-the-backlist

The Beat the Backlist challenge was created by Austine @ Novel Knight! This links you back to the sign up post for the challenge. The challenge is to read those books that have been on your tbr for a while. The only rule is that the book must have been released prior to 2017 -and obviously the challenge runs from January 1st to December 31st, 2017. 

Also, she has created a mini challenge to go along with this one, to battle for the Hogwarts House Cup! I will definitely be participating -Hufflepuff for the win. 

What is my goal?

So what do I want to achieve? I want to get my tbr down to 45, if possible even lower. I’m hoping 45, that would be around half of what I have at the moment. I’m only counting hard copies in my challenge by the way, not ebooks. If I end up with 10 or 20 or 5 books on my tbr, I’ll be elated. But if I get it down to 45, I’ll still be overjoyed. 

What’s on said tbr? 

So here we go, a list of all the hard copies I have. Like I said, I’m not planning on reading all of them -at least I don’t think I’ll be able to. 

A

Alice Oseman – Radio Silence
Alison Croggon – Books of the Pellinor #1 – The Gift
Alma Katsu – The Taker #1 – The Taker
Alma Katsu – The Taker #2 – The Reckoning
Anne Bishop – Black Jewels #1 – Daughter of the Blood
Audrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife

B

Bram Stoker – Dracula
Brandon Sanderson – Stormlight Archive #1 – The Way of Kings
Brandon Sanderson – Mistborn #3 – The Hero of Ages
Brandon Sanderson – Mistborn #4 – The Alloy of Law
Brent Weeks – Night Angel #2 – Shadow’s Edge
Brian McClellan – Powder Mage #1 – Promise of Blood
Brian Staveley – Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1 – The Emperor’s Blades

C

Carlos Ruiz Zafón – Cemetary of Forgotten Books #2 – The Angel’s Game
Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre
Cheryl Strayed – Wild
China Miéville – Kraken
Cinda Williams Chima – Seven Realms #1 – The Demon King
Conn Iggulden – Wars of the Roses #1 – Stombird
Conn Iggulden – Wars of the Roses #2 – Trinity
Conn Iggulden – Emperor #1 – The Gates of Rome
Courtney Summers – All the Rage

D

Dave Eggers – The Circle
David Gibbins – Jack Howard #5 – The Mask of Troy
Den Patrick – Erebus Sequence #1 – The Boy With the Porcelain Blade
Diana Gabaldon – Outlander #7 – An Echo in the Bone
Django Wexler – The Shadow Campaigns #1 – The Thousand Names
Dora Levy Mossanen – The Last Romanov

E

Elizabeth Kostova – The Swan Thieves
Ellen Hopkins – Triangles

F

Fiona McIntosh – Valisar #2 – Tyrant’s Blood

G

Gail Z. Martin – Fallen Kings #1 – The Sworn
Geoff Ryman – The King’s Last Song
Glen Cook – Chronicles of the Black Company #1 – The Black Company
Guy Gavriel Kay – Tigana

H

Hanna Rosin – The End of Men 

I

J

J.R.R. Tolkien – The Silmarillion
J.M. Barrie – Peter Pan
Jandy Nelson – I’ll Give You the Sun
Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey
Jane Green – The Love Verb
Jeff Vandermeer – Southern Reach #1 – Annihilation
Jennifer Weiner – Best Friends Forever
Jessie Burton – The Miniaturist
Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer – Between the Lines #1 – Between the Lines
John Scalzi – Lock In
Jonathan Maberry – Rot & Ruin #1 – Rot & Ruin
Joy Preble – Dreaming Anastasia #1 – Dreaming Anastasia
Joy Preble – Dreaming Anastasia #2 – Haunted

K

Karen Marie Moning – Fever #1 – Darkfever
Kate Mosse – Languedoc #2 – Sepulchre
Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor
Katherine Howe – The House of Velvet and Glass
Katherine Neville – The Eight #2 – The Fire
Kathryn Stockett – The Help
Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns 

L

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3 – Dreams of Gods and Monsters
Linda Howard – Cry No More
Louise Bagshawe – Desire

M

M.C. Scott – Rome #2 – The Coming of the King
Marie Rutkoski – The Winner’s Trilogy #2 – The Winner’s Crime
Mark Lawrence – The Broken Empire #1 – Prince of Thorns
Martha Brockenbrough – The Game of Love and Death
Mazarkis Williams – Tower & Knife #2 – Knife Sworn
Meg Gardiner – Jo Beckett #4 – The Nightmare Thief
Michael Crichton – Jurassic Park #1 – Jurassic Park
Miles Cameron – Traitor Son Cycle #2 – The Fell Sword

N

Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter

O

P

Patrick Rothfuss – Kingkiller Chronicles #2 – The Wise Man’s Fear
Philip Carter – Altar of Bones
Philippa Gregory – Cousin’s War #4 – The Kingmaker’s Daughter
Philippa Gregory – Order of Darkness #1 – Changeling
Philippa Gregory – Tudor Court #1 – The Constant Princess

Q

R

Ralph McInerny – Rosary Chronicles #1 – The Third Revelation
Raymond E. Feist – Riftwar Saga #1-2 – Magician
Robin Hobb – Farseer #3 – Assassin’s Quest
Robin Hobb – Liveship Traders #1 – Ship of Magic
Robyn Young – Insurrection #1 – Insurrection
Robyn Young – Insurrection #2 – Renegade

S

Scarlett Thomas – Our Tragic Universe
Sherrilyn Kenyon – Chronicles of Nick #2 – Invincible
Soman Chainani – The School for Good and Evil #1 – The School for Good and Evil
Sophie Hannah – Spilling CID #7 – Kind of Cruel
Stephen R. Lawhead – Dragon King #1 – In the Hall of the Dragon King

T

Tess Gerritsen – Tavistock Family #2 – Stolen
Thomas Steinbeck – In the Shadow of the Cypress

U

V

W

X

Y

Z


Like I said, I’m not planning on reading all of these. These are just the unread books I have on my shelf, and I want to read them. I want to read at least 45 to 50 of these, that’s my goal for this challenge. When I acquire more backlist books next year, I’ll add them to the list. When I have read and reviewed one, I’ll strike it through and add a link to my review. Or if I end up reading one of my books before 2017I’ll remove them from the list.