Sign-Up Post for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

I stumbled across this challenge the other day on May’s blog and my excitement grew the longer I read her post. A challenge that had you reading as many books by Asian authors as you could? That the entire book community could participate in? AND YOU CAN GET BADGES?! Sign me up!

Honestly though, I was a goner by the time I read that the challenge was to read books by Asian authors. I’ve only recently begun to understand the importance of representation in books. Again, I’m going to mention Aru Shah. (You guys are probably sick of hearing about this book, sorry!) I knew it existed for the longest time, but I never picked it up, even though the fact that Aru was Indian intrigued me. That wasn’t enough to get me to pick up the book though. I’d read other books with Indian protagonists – The Star-Touched Queen, When Dimple Met Rishi, and From Twinkle, With Love – but I flat-out- to borderline-hated the characters and plots in them.

Then I saw Aru Shah at my local library and I thought, Why the hell not? So I checked it out and started reading it.

I was not prepared. Seeing aspects of Indian culture represented so clearly and beautifully in a book, and reading about the gods and goddesses I grew up listening to stories about – it was like getting slammed in the face. I was engrossed immediately and I couldn’t read it fast enough. I think I finished it in a morning or something like that, which, just so you know, is a record for me. And when it was over, I stared up at the ceiling, really close to crying.

I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me to see Indian culture, the part of myself I’d never seen represented before in a book, actually in a book that I connected with. I’ve always had a weird relationship with my Indian heritage – I find myself struggling to reconcile myself with it more times than not. It’s not even that I don’t love it or don’t feel proud of it, because I do. I love my family and our culture. It’s just my family always says that I’m too “American” and not “Indian” enough. There’s actually a term for it, according to my parents. ABCD. American-Born Confused Desi. (For those of you that don’t know, Desi can mean Indian.)

So I’ve always felt a little small when I’m around them, and I never felt confident in my Indian DNA. But Aru Shah and the End of Time restored some of my confidence in that part of myself just by showing me an Indian girl running around, making mistakes, trying to fix her mistakes, and succeeding. And as I said, I’ve read other books with Indian protagonists. But – this was a huge thing for me – I saw elements of my culture reflected (which was extremely gratifying) in those books, but not myself. I couldn’t see me in any of the Indian characters I read about, and that frustrated me to no end.

So Aru Shah was the first book I ever really, truly saw myself in. And seeing those parts of me reflected back hurt – in the best way possible. But it hurt so much that I got so close to crying, even though I didn’t understand why at the time.

So – wow, I got off on a long tangent, sorry about that – what I’m trying to say is that rep is important, which is something I now realize. And supporting marginalized authors is also important, which is why I’m joining this challenge.

You all can sign up to join this challenge too! (Please do.) Just go to this post of Lily’s, read through the rules, and sign up. Before you sign up though, you have to figure out how you’ll be tracking all the books you’re going to be reading. Since I have a blog, I’m going to be tracking my progress through this post actually (so every time I read a book by an Asian author, I’ll be adding it here) and I’m also going to be creating a YARC bookshelf on Goodreads.

Also, you know the badges I mentioned? Hehe, well…they’re all so adorable. Depending on how many books you read, you get certain badges. These are the levels:

  • Philippine tarsier: 1-10 books
  • Indian cobra: 11-20 books
  • Malayan tapir: 21-30 books
  • Giant panda: 31-40 books
  • Asian elephant: 41-50 books
  • Bengali tiger: 50+ books

Frankly, I kind of want the Indian cobra (I love snakes), but the giant panda is also so cute, as is the elephant.

…But I’ve always had a soft spot for tigers (they are so ADORABLE FIGHT ME), so.

badge_tiger

This is the badge I’m aiming for! The Bengali Tiger! (Seriously, none of you can look me in the eye and tell me you don’t find this little baby adorable.)

I’m probably biting off a bit more than I can chew, but I really want to do this.

…And I really want this badge.

So I’m off! Here is the…right now very empty list, but hopefully it’ll be much more full by the end of the year!

The List:

  1. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
  2. Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu
  3. The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chokshi
  4. The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R. F. Kuang
  5. Want (Want #1) by Cindy Pon
  6. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo #1) by F.C. Yee
  7. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
  8. A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy #1) by Sangu Mandanna
  9. Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad #1) by C.B. Lee
  10. Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1) by Tara Sim
  11. Book Love by Debbie Tung
  12. An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

Thank you to Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams, CW @ The Quiet PondShealea @ Shut Up, Shealea, and Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads putting all of this together! I’m really excited to get started!

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27 thoughts on “Sign-Up Post for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

  1. I’m glad that you found a book that really made you feel represented… 😊😊😊 it’s always awesome when desi culture is done well in a book… Good luck for the challenge..

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We have (around) 11 months left! We have plenty of time!

        …Is along the lines of what I say before procrastinating and doing everything the night before it’s due.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really want to read Aru Shah! I read Gilded Wolves recently and loved it! I am also aiming for the Bengali tiger and hoping I can make it. At first, I was a little worried that I might not be able to get my hands on enough books, but a quick perusal of my shelves means that I have quite a few to get started with. I just read Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho today, which was also great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aru Shah is amazing! (But I’m also kind of biased, so.) And you read Sorcer to the Crown today? That’s so funny, I put it on my TBR for YARC today! What a coincidence. 😁 I’m glad you liked it. And good luck with getting the Bengali Tiger badge! Hopefully both of us will make our goals!

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  3. It is so, so, so amazing and important when you finally see yourself represented in a book, I’m so happy this happened to you 🧡 I’m glad you are doing this challenge, I hope you’ll discover some fantastic reads! I am also participating and both Wildcard and A Very Large Expanse of Sea are on my TBR, can’t wait to read them 🙂 Happy reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Serena! I’m so happy that you’ve decided to participate in our challenge, especially since Asian literature is important to you. I haven’t read Aru Shah myself but after reading your post — I would absolutely love to read and support this book a little more, in the hopes that someone else will find themselves in this book!
    I love that you’ve decided to go for the Bengali Tiger – I haven’t seen a lot of people aim for the Bengali Tiger, so best of luck with the challenge and I hope you have fun! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy that I have the opportunity to participate, which wouldn’t be possible without you!Thank you for being one of the challenge’ s co-hosts. ♥️♥️ None of this would be happening without you and the other hosts.

      And I hope if you do read Aru Shah that you enjoy it!! (Its such an adorable book. 😊) Good luck with your goals for the challenge too! Happy reading!

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  5. Ah, I am so so happy that you’ve chosen to sign for YARC! ❤ I'm so so glad that you felt represented by Aru Shah and reading your experience honestly made me feel so HAPPY AND EMOTIONAL FOR YOU. ❤ ❤ I hope you have an amazing reading year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I signed up too! I’m so EXCITED for the rest of the year and it’s literally only the first month ahdjdjdne.

      And thank you! ♥️♥️ YOU’RE SO SWEET OMG. I hope you read a lot of good books too! AND ENJOY YARC!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, so glad you could come across this challenge on my blog! I loved the little thing you wrote about how Indian rep helped you with your Indian identity — I feel the same way whenever I read a book that represents me and I’m thankful that there’s more and more rep in books nowadays! Best of luck with the challenge for the rest of the year ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh, thank you for posting about it!! I don’t think I would’ve come across YARC if I hadn’t followed your blog. And I’m so glad you’ve experienced the same feeling with books that have rep that applies to you – it’s a feeling I hope everyone gets to experience because wow, it’s so wonderful and comforting. 😊

      Anyway, happy reading May and I hope your day treats you wonderfully.❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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