Everything you need to know about #YMERC2021


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 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.


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 (#YMERC2021)! 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: #YMERC2021.


Look out for the first official #YMERC2021 post in January! There you’ll find the titles and song of the month.

25 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about #YMERC2021

  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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