I felt like May was gone in the blink of an eye. It was a whirlwind of long working days and I had lesser time to read and blog, but I did my best. I was able to take better care of myself, however, which I’m counting as a win. I also created a lot of content centred around Asian Heritage Month for the blog, which got a lot of positive response. It was a month of mixed results, so let’s see how things went in my May 2020 wrap-up!
I finished 9 books as of today and hope to sneak in one more by the actual end of the month. I couldn’t match the number in April but I’m still quite happy because I rated them all 5 stars. I participated in the Asian Readathon and Wyrd and Wonder this month with variable success – I finished all the prompts for Asian Readathon but I couldn’t read all the books I had on my TBR. I wanted to get a headstart on my June ARCs, which I failed to do. However, it was still a very good reading month for me as I read some great books and found new favourites.
May 2020 Reading Stats Wrap-Up
✨Books read: 9
✨Average rating: 5 stars
✨Pages read: 3,993
✨Favourite of the month: The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala
✨SARC 2020: 5
✨YARC 2020: 6
I put up all my blog posts except for one on time this month and that has reflected in my stats. I’m hopeful that my views will cross the 1000 mark by the end of the month. There’s been a slight increase in the other stats as well, which makes me very happy. Not just that, I’ve been making good progress in terms of diversifying where my views and visitors come from. June being my birthday month, I hope that I can push myself more and that it will be another reason to celebrate for me.
May 2020 Novels and Nebulas Wrap-Up
✨Most popular post: Top 10 Exciting SFF Releases of May 2020
✨Underrated post: 5 Tips on How to Read Diversely
May 2020 Favourite Posts Wrap-Up
- Shafiya @ The Djinn Reader – Not Good Enough: A Diverse Books Discussion + #MuslimShelfSpace Tour
- May @ Forever and Everly – 25 Books by Asian Authors to Read, Especially for Asian Heritage Month!!
- Ikram @ Readlogy – Muslim Hours — Interview with Adiba Jaigirdar
- Jayati @ It’s Just a Coffee Addicted Bibliophile – Tweet Cute | My favourite book this year so far
- Charlotte @ Moonraker – Block Editor: Tips & Tricks
For May, we unanimously picked a hyped backlist book, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, which all members enjoyed. SARC collaborated with Ramadan Readathon during most of May and our monthly theme was ‘dua’. Samia and Rumanaah from SARC did an excellent job with the collab along with Nadia, the creator of Ramadan Readathon and the response was heartwarming. We also did our very first Twitter chat with our April backlist BOTM author, Swati Teerdhala.
Stars and Sorcery May 2020 Wrap-Up
✨Read by: 4 members
✨Average rating: 5 stars
✨June 2020 BOTM: Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
SARC May 2020 Wrap-Up
Q&A with SARC Host – Aradhna
1. What compelled you to sign up to become a SARC host?
When I found out Fanna and you were putting together a challenge for South Asian stories, I was so excited! I don’t remember the tweet – I think Fanna had tweeted something about realising she wasn’t reading a lot of South Asian books and wanting to change that? – but it made me look at my own reading habits as well, and while I had increased the number of diverse books I was reading, and the number of Asian stories, South Asian stories were still something I was having a hard time getting my hands on, especially locally. Not a lot of those books reach bookstores here in Malaysia, and if they do, they’re pretty expensive. But I wanted to change that! I have so far loved every South Asian story I have come across – maybe not equally, but just seeing bits and pieces of my culture, written by people who have similar experiences has been such a treat after almost 30 years of barely any stories representing me. So it was a no brainer to sign up. Honestly, I didn’t think I would get chosen because I’ve not been as active on my blog and I don’t have a big following, but I am so glad I did, because I get to help bring to light so many stories, and have made so many good friends.
2. Have you observed any similarities between South Asian and Southeast Asian culture?
Growing up in Southeast Asia – Singapore, to be exact – meant that I still had the Asian culture around me. Family is very important in Southeast Asia, much like in South Asia. Respect for one’s elders, and communities and religion are all very important in Singapore. (Not to say racism does not exist, because it definitely does.) Of course, food is also a huge thing in both cultures, and I got to experience the best of both worlds growing up. But the diaspora is definitely still present. Even though I was born in Singapore, my father was born in Singapore, there was still a lot of other-ing by people. I didn’t know as much about India as I would have like, didn’t visit India (and Amritsar especially) until I was already a teenager. But I feel like I was lucky to grow up still in Asia, because the core of South Asian values, on family, on religion, on community, is still very much present in Southeast Asia as well.
3. What are some South Asian books that you have felt represented by?
The first SA book I felt seen by was Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen. There was one point in the book where Maya was ruminating on a myth she had heard about a man who had prayed for so long that he had been granted a boon by the gods that he would not be killed by a man or a beast, not during day or during night, nor inside a building or outside. I remember reading that bit and going – I know that story. It is a part of Sikh history as well – Hindu mythology paved the way for Sikhism to grow, so a lot of our history intersects – and I put the book down for a second to try and remember where I had heard it, and I remember getting so overwhelmed and taking out my phone to tweet at Roshani to check that I wasn’t reading things wrong. And I teared up when she confirmed that yes, she was referring to the myth about Harnakash. It was such an emotional connection with the book because of that alone.
Another book I really connected with is Phulkari by Harman Kaur. It is a short poetry collection that I stumbled upon on Instagram, and the poet talked about how religion really influenced her poetry. I have not really seen a lot of Sikhi inspired stories or fiction anywhere, or even much poetry, so I wanted to support the poet. And I am so glad that I did. The poems are very much faith-centric, and there were poems where I had tears in my eyes because it was everything I feel about my religion, and somebody had managed to capture it so perfectly in a short stanza. Even if you are not a Sikh, I feel like people would be able to connect to the emotion and the faith behind the poems. I go back to some of the poems every time I need a reminder on what my religion, my life is built on.
Was May 2020 a good reading month for you? What is the best memory you made this month? Do you have any exciting plans for June? Let’s continue to stay safe as things try to limp back to normal in June. Have a stellar weekend, readers from Earth!