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Favorite Reads from Ashley's 2021 Reading Challenge Picks So Far

Image of Books with Words 2021 Reading Challenge Favorite Reads for Ashley So Far

by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)

On this week's episode, we all share mid-year updates on our reading challenges for 2021. I'm happy to report that things are going a lot better for me this year! We talk about where we are with the Unabridged 2021 Reading Challenge (which you can still join if you're interested!), and then we share about where we are with our individual reading challenges. I personally chose the Uncorked Reading Challenge with the Uncorked Librarian, and that one has been a great pick for me!

Today, I'm featuring a few of my favorite reads that I've read so far this year for the reading challenges. Be sure to check out our 2021 Reading Challenge Check-In episode on Wednesday, and be on the lookout for our upcoming posts sharing our overall favorites from the year at this halfway point!

Yaa Gyasi's Transcendent Kingdom (Amazon | - I loved Homegoing and couldn't wait to dive into this one. I ultimately listened to it on audio, and Bahni Turpin narrates; she is one of my favorites, and I loved the listening experience. (This was my Uncorked Reading Challenge selection for February, a book by a modern Black author.) I shared my thoughts about this phenomenal book in this review.

Sumi Hahn's The Mermaid from Jeju (Amazon | - This powerful story about wartime on Jeju Island in Korea was a perfect pick for the Uncorked March selection, a book featuring strong women. (Check out my full review here.) I absolutely love books exploring the haenyeo tradition of female divers in Jeju, and this historical fiction novel looks closely at that community and the ways that everyone must bend and adapt in unthinkable ways during wartime.

Talia Hibbert's Act Your Age, Eve Brown (Amazon | - Oh my goodness, this series is one of my favorite series ever, and Eve was my favorite of the three! I loved her character, her story, and her journey with Jacob and with the bed and breakfast where she finds work. (This one was perfect for a romance by an author of color for the Unabridged Challenge!) I also love the way that Hibbert explores being on the spectrum with her characters. If you're looking for laugh-out-loud humor, plenty of steam, and classy characters with occasionally foul mouths, don't miss this series. It is the perfect combination for me.

Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies (Amazon | - I've been meaning to read this one for years. Ironically, I have had it on my unread shelf since I first started keeping track of my unread shelf books, but I am now in Morocco with no physical books and wound up listening to it on audio. So the print book continues to sit, but I did absolutely love this one! This series of short stories depicts a series of encounters between people, weaving together a close examination of dynamics between family and community members with a larger exploration of the way that culture and privilege can impact people's views of one another.

Shonda Rhimes's Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person (Amazon | - This was my pick for a behavioral science book for the Unabridged Reading Challenge. (We shared some other recommendations for this category on episode 161 when we talked about our recommendations for books that will help you reach your goals in 2021 if you're looking for ideas!) I loved the way that Rhimes shared her journey about learning to say yes to things instead of letting her fears hold her back, and I found the book and her thoughts to be encouraging and empowering.

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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