Everything you need to know about #YMERC2020


2018 and 2019 were great years for Asian-influenced book releases. Books like Descendant of the CraneConvenience Store Woman, and I love you so Mochi swept in on an arc of Asian authors. This has led to reading challenges like the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge (YARC).

For 2020, I want to see something different. I’m of Middle-Eastern heritage, and as much as there’s been some surge in Arab-themed books, there’s hardly enough. I’ve scoured titles looking for telltale sands, and genies, and gollums, and jinns, but there just isn’t enough out there.

I’m writing a book inspired by the stories my father told me growing up, of jinns and efrits, but I’m hardly a published author, and one book won’t make a dent in Arab-inspired literature.

But to celebrate the books that are published and that are MidEast-inspired, I’m crowning 2020 the Year of the Middle East Reading Challenge (YMERC).


Word Wonders said it best when she said “Where are books which represent me and not just something written based on stereotypes or third-hand experiences?

I want to see more books by Middle Eastern authors popularized in the media. And I want to see books that don’t propagate stereotypes, prejudices, and other negative behaviors.

Word Wonders has a great post about diversity in literature and why it’s important.


At the beginning of every month, there will be a blog post that includes:

  1. A book or two by a Middle Eastern author
  2. A graphic novel by a Middle Eastern author and/or Middle Eastern illustrator
  3. A new Arabic song

At the end of every month, there will be a blog post that includes:

  1. My reviews on the books and graphic novels of the month
  2. A Middle Eastern movie or TV show that I enjoyed that month


Complete this 2-minute signup form. Then,

  1. Announce your intention to participate in YMERC in any online platform (e.g. blog, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads).
    1. If you’re a blogger, announce your participation via blog post. Please link back to this sign-up post so that other people can join in, too!
    2. If you’re a reader without a blog, you can either create a Goodreads shelf that’s dedicated to the books for this challenge, or create a Twitter thread for tracking. Use the hashtag (#YMERC2020)! Please make sure to link back to this sign-up post so that other people can join in, too!
  2. Start reading and keep track of your progress! I’ll be posting 1-2 book titles, 1 graphic novel title, and a new Arabic song at the beginning of each month. At the end of each month, I’ll post an Arabic show or movie I watched that I enjoyed, and reviews of the titles for that month.
  3. Share your updates on social media using the official hashtag: #YMERC2020.


Look out for the first official #YMERC2020 post in January! There you’ll find the titles and song of the month.

23 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about #YMERC2020

  1. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    What a great initiative, thank you so much, I really look forward to reading the reviews and will share when I read what I have left on my shelf that fits the criteria. I’m happy to hear you are writing a book inspired by the stories you heard growing up, that reminds me of reading the wonderful book The Honey Thief, and I remember thinking why don’t we see more books like this, instead of the too often depicted so-called ‘harsh reality’ type of books that promulgate negative stereotypes.

    I love Elif Shafak’s books and the influence of the stories of her grandmother, I also find this aspect in Caribbean women’s literature. And even though it was sad, Shahad Al Rawi’s The Baghdad Clock also was a very beautiful depiction of a neighbourhood and a culture, that sadly now is lost but wonderful that it can be remembered in a beautiful novel as she has written.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Neriman K. says:

    Hi Rania, I hope you’re doing well as can be! I am getting ready to publish my first post in regards to this challenge! I’m excited : ) -Neri


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