January Reading Challenge

Happy New Year everyone! I had a great year of reading in 2017 and I’m looking forward to starting my monthly challenges and reading lots more great books in 2018.

At first I thought this exercise might help me reduce my TBR, but after picking my first monthly challenge I quickly realized it’s actually going to result in the discovery of a lot more books to add to my TBR. Oh well, you can never have too many books right?

I am super excited to announce my first monthly challenge for January! After doing a quick brainstorm I think I have enough challenge ideas to last me for the next 3 years, and I’m really happy with my choice for next month. I’ve decided my first challenge will be:

Read 3 books about immigration

I don’t want to pigeonhole myself on the first challenge, so I’m leaving it very broad. But oh my goodness, picking just 3 books was so hard!! I tried to find books representing a good variety of experiences, the three I settled on are:

  1. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
  2. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  3. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Girl in Translation showed up on almost every list of books I looked at about immigration stories (along with Breath, Eyes, Memory, which I’ll have to make time for in the future as well). It’s about a Chinese-American girl and “the countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires”. It was published in 2010 and has been on my TBR for ages, so at least I’m making a little progress!

Pachinko was nominated for the National Book Award in the fiction category this year and lost to Sing, Unburied, Sing (which I read earlier this year and was quite good!). I’m really excited for this one because so many immigration stories are about immigration to America, but Pachinko is a historical novel about a Korean family who is forced to move to Japan in the early 1900’s in search of jobs. Added bonus because I’ve been wanting to read this one as well.

American Street is a new book that I added to the list at the last minute. When I realized Pachinko had been nominated for the National Book Award, I took a look at the other nominees and saw American Street had been nominated for the young adult category ( side note: Far From the Tree won this one, which I LOVED). American Street tells the story of a young Haitian girl whose mother is detained by US immigration when they try to enter America and her challenges adapting to life in Detroit. I’m happy to include this one as it’s a YA contemporary novel.

I think it’s a pretty good mix of books – I’m a little disappointed I don’t have any African immigration stories, but I read both Americanah and Behold the Dreamers last year, so I’ll keep those in mind as I read these. I also wanted to include a Canadian immigration story, but I just finished listening to One Day We’ll All be Dead and None of This Will Matter, which is a series of essays written by Buzzfeed’s Scaachi Koul about what it’s like growing up in Canada with immigrant Indian parents. I really liked this one and would definitely recommend!

So evidently this isn’t my first foray into books about immigration, but I’m looking forward to reading these 3 acclaimed novels. Wish me luck and feel free to join in by reading any of these books. I’ll check back in with reviews in a month!

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