Hello and Happy May! Lots of exciting things are happening this month in both my personal life and my reading life.
As I’m sure you know, May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I’m Japanese-American and have lived in Hawaii my whole life so Asian and Pacific Islander representation is very important to me. However, when I started tracking more detailed reading stats in the past few years, I realized that although I read a high percentage of Asian books year round, most of them are Japanese or US-centric narratives, with a few Hawaii-based books sprinkled in. Obviously, this is not representative of the immense diversity of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities worldwide, so this month especially I’m making a conscious effort to truly read diversely within the API diaspora.
May Book Club Reads, Challenges, and Readathons
The Subtle Asian Book Club (run by Tiffany from readwithtiffany and Alexandra from twirlingpages) is reading The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, which I’m excited for. I’ve loved every selection for SABC so far and I’m sure this will be no exception!
The Late Night Book Club and Tea Time Reads are both reading The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, which was one of my favorite books of 2020. If I’m being honest, I probably won’t have time to re-read, but I’m excited for the conversations about it!
I’m hoping to check off a couple more categories from the Book Riot’s 2021 Read Harder Challenge. The way I approach this challenge is to just read what I want, then at the end of each month I go back and see if any of the books I completed can fulfill any of the challenges. With 8/24 challenges completed so far, it seems like I’m on schedule.
Now for the readathons. Yes, that is plural. I’m participating in two readathons this month for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I’ll share the details of both readathons first, then share what I’m hoping to read in my full TBR.
I’m pretty sure that Cindy from @withcindy was one of the first people I followed when I started watching booktube and I’m excited that she is once again hosting the Asian Readathon! This readathon takes place online during the month of May and is dedicated to reading books by Asian authors.
- Read any book written by an Asian author.
- Read any book featuring an Asian protagonist.
- Read any book written by an Asian author in your favorite genre.
- Read any nonfiction book written by an Asian author.
- Read any book written by an Asian author that’s not US-centric.
You are allowed to combine challenges but each book counted toward this challenge must be by or about a different Asian ethnicity.
More info on the readathon can be found in Cindy’s announcement video on YouTube and on the 2021 Asian Readathon Google Doc. There is also a great collaborative directory of Asian books on Storygraph.
Even in lists for API/AAPI Heritage Month, Pacific Islanders are often overlooked, so I’m really excited that I came across this readathon hosted by Mara @thisislanderreads. For this readathon there are specific challenges to encourage readers to read a variety of books by and about Pacific Islanders.
- A book about the ocean
- A book by a Melanesian author
- A book by a Micronesian author
- A book by a Polynesian author
- Pasifika poetry
- Stories passed down
- Pasifika romance
- Pasifika speculative fiction
- Pasifika children and middle grade
If you’re not sure what books count toward these challenges, Mara’s account and the hashtag #PasifikaReadathonChallenge on instagram and twitter have some great recommendations. I’ll also share my personal picks in my TBR below.
My May TBR
As usual, this list is more of a guideline since I read based on mood and availability. This month I also have a longer than usual list of possibilities because of all the amazing Asian and Pacific Islander books I want to read. I know I won’t get to them all in May, but I will eventually. Click on the title for a link to the Goodreads synopsis.
Sources and Format Key:
- 🌻 = ARC
- 📚 = Available from Library (Print)
- 🎧 = Audiobook available on Scribd
- 🏠 = Owned
- 📱 = Ebook Available (Scribd or Libby)
- 🌻The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
Release date: May 4, 2021
YA, Fantasy, East Asian-inspired setting and characters
- 🌻Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
Release date: May 11, 2021
YA, Urban Fantasy, Malaysia
- 🌻Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Release date: May 18, 2021
YA, Contemporary, Japan
I was lucky enough to get approved for these May releases on NetGalley and I am so excited! I meant to read these sooner but there was way too much going on in April. Keep an eye out for my blog tour posts for The Ones We’re Meant to Find and Tokyo Ever After!
- 📚The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
Adult, Contemporary/Romance, set in Tehran
- 📚Minor Feelings: an Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
Adult, Nonfiction, Korean-American Author
- 📚Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
YA, Historical Fiction, Chinese-American characters
- 📚Jade War (Green Bone Saga #2) by Fonda Lee
Adult, Fantasy, East Asian-inspired setting
These are my top priority Asian books to read for May and I’m pretty sure I can get to them. As I mentioned, The Stationery Shop is the Subtle Asian Book Club’s pick for this month and I’m also doing a buddy read of Minor Feelings with a few people from the discord. I’m also hoping to finish Last Night at the Telegraph Club before my hold expires next week. Then I’ll be able to move on to Jade War because after reading Jade City, I am completely obsessed with that universe and I’ll finally have the mental capacity to devote to reading it this month.
Other Asian Books on my TBR
- 🏠 Anshū: Dark Sorrow by Juliet Kono
Adult, Historical Fiction, Hawaii-Japanese-American
- 🏠 Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
YA, Magical Realism, Pakistan
- 📚A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Middle Grade, Fantasy, Thai-inspired setting
- 🏠The Broken Circle by Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller
Adult, Memoir, Afghan author
At the beginning of the year I decided I wanted to read the books that had been sitting on my physical TBR but I kept getting side tracked with the new releases I was borrowing from the library. Hopefully this will be the month that I start reading my own books. In particular, I’ve wanted to read Anshū for a long time because I’ve love Juliet Kono’s writing and the main character is from my hometown.
🌴Pacific Islander Books
Magical Realism and Fantasy
- 🏠Sharks in the time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
Adult, Magical Realism, Hawaii
- 📚The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Adult, Magical Realism, Maori
- 📚Telesā by Lani Wendt Young
YA, Urban Fantasy, Samoa
- 🏠The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
Middle Grade, Magical Realism, Maori
I love magical realism and urban fantasy so I’m really excited to read these. Sharks in the Time of Saviors is at the top of my list because I already have a copy and it’s a Hawaii book. Hopefully I’ll have time to read some, if not all of the others as well.
- 📚Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me by Lurline Wailana McGregor
Adult, Realistic Fiction, Hawaii
- 📚Black Marks on the White Page by Witi Ihimaera and Tina Makereti
Adult, Short Stories, Maori & Pasifika
- 📚The Girl in the Moon Circle by Sia Figiel
Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Samoa
I mainly added these books as suggestions for the extra prompts for the Pasifika Readathon Challenge. I do want to read them eventually and they are available at my library but in reality I probably won’t get to them this month.
- 📚Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner
Adult, Poetry, Marshallese
- The Properties of Perpetual Light by Julian Aguon
Adult, Nonfiction, Filipino-Chamorro Author
- 📱A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
YA, Historical Fiction, Chamarro Author (set in the Oregon)
Trigger Warning: pandemic (1918 Spanish Flu)
My choice for Micronesian books might end up being Iep Jāltok by default since it’s the one that I know for sure I have access to. I’m really interested in The Properties of Perpetual Light, which was released in March and I’m hoping that my library will bring it in at some point, but if not I might end up buying it later in the year. A Death Struck Year would normally be something I’d be interested in reading but I need some escapism so maybe not. Makiia Lucier does have several other books including the Tower of Winds fantasy series but I don’t feel like starting another new series at the moment.
- 📱Black Ice Matter by Gina Cole
Adult, Short Stories, General Fiction, Fiji
- Gutsini Posa (Rough Seas) by Regis N Stella
Adult, Historical Fiction, Papua New Guinea/Melanesia
- 📚Moments in Melanesia anthology compiled by Regis N Stella
Middle Grade, Fiction, Melanesia
This was the hardest Pacific Islander subgroup to find books that I have access to. I’ll probably end up reading Black Ice Matter because it’s available on Scribd or Moments in Melanesia since I think my library has a copy. But I tend to take forever and a day to read short story collections so we’ll see. I do want to read Gutsini Posa which is why I left it on the list even though I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a copy.
Other goals for this month
Animal Crossing – I’m still working on my island and I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish all the major spaces and start working on the interior of my house.
Fire Emblem – We are going back to the beginning of my favorite game series of all time! I got the 30th anniversary edition of Shadow Dragon for my birthday in January but things were just too crazy so I didn’t pick it up at all. Once the semester is officially over I’m going to start my playthrough of the entire series.
My dog has kept me decently active since I walk her for about 20-30 minutes every day and we’ve been going to the park or beach on the weekends. Still, it’s a far cry from this time 2 years ago when I was dancing an average of 2-3 hours a day (not counting the classes I was teaching).
I know I’m in a different season of my life now so my priorities have shifted, but I definitely want to get more movement back into my daily life. I’m hoping I can take some online dance workshops again and get back to my regular yoga practice this month. To make sure that I’m staying active every day though, I’m going to do the workouts on the Blogilates May calendar on days I don’t have anything else planned so I can keep myself accountable.
I have a few more revisions to finish up for my Master’s before graduation on May 15, then I’ll officially be done! Commencement is virtual of course but our cohort is doing an online hooding ceremony and might be doing a small socially distanced gathering since we’ll all be vaccinated by then.
Now that I’m fully vaccinated, and travel restrictions are adapting, I’ll be flying back to visit my parents for the first time since I moved last summer. I also want to make a conscious effort of keeping in touch with friends. I basically went into hibernation mode toward the end of last year when I hit a low point mental health-wise and even though this semester was better, I still felt like I was too busy to focus on anything except what was right in front of me, which I know is not the best thing. So hopefully I’ll be spending more time making memories, even if it still has to be done virtually.
So, there’s a lot to look forward to in May. If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around! I hope you have a great month!
What are your goals for May? Have you read any of the books on my (unrealistically long) TBR? Which one should I read first?