WHAT IT IS
2018 and 2019 were great years for Asian-influenced book releases. Books like Descendant of the Crane, Convenience 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 2021, 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 2021 the second Year of the Middle East Reading Challenge (YMERC), continuing on what I started in 2020.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
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.
WHAT TO EXPECT
At the beginning of every month, there will be a blog post that includes:
- A book or two by a Middle Eastern author
- A graphic novel by a Middle Eastern author and/or Middle Eastern illustrator
- A new Arabic song
At the end of every month, there will be a blog post that includes:
- My reviews on the books and graphic novels of the month
- A Middle Eastern movie or TV show that I enjoyed that month
HOW TO JOIN
Complete this 2-minute signup form. Then,
- Announce your intention to participate in YMERC in any online platform (e.g. blog, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads).
- 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!
- 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 (#YMERC2021)! Please make sure to link back to this sign-up post so that other people can join in, too!
- 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.
- Share your updates on social media using the official hashtag: #YMERC2021.
Look out for the first official #YMERC2021 post in January! There you’ll find the titles and song of the month.