Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

Favourite Titles Across 2017 Reading Themes

It is our favourite time of the year – when we do our round-up of our reading lives across GatheringBooks’ reading themes. While we do read the books that simply manage to find their way into our hands by accident (because that is what bibliophiles do), we also try to structure our reading lives somewhat through our bimonthly reading themes. In fact, we changed two of our planned reading themes, based on what was going on in the world and our personal lives – showing how fluid this “structure” can be. Here are some of our favourites, based on what we reviewed this year. Do note that this is the first of two parts. Next week, we share our reading stats (because the year ain’t over til it’s over), and our favourite reads across genres.

[January – February 2017] 2016 in [Book] Review: Best of the Best in Books

We thought that it was good to read and review books published in 2016 during the first two months of 2017, and here are a few that stood out for me. Click on the images to be taken to the Book Depository link and the titles for my review:

A Moral Dilemma in Oyvind Torseter’s “The Heartless Troll”

A Meditation on Solitary Existence in “The Uncorker Of Ocean Bottles”

“Nightlights” by Lorena Alvarez

An Odyssey of Billowing White in Argueta and Ruano’s “We Are Like The Clouds”

“Strictly No Elephants” by Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo

Rocks that Breathe Life’s Sufferings in “Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey”

Glorious Typorama-Created Quotes from Annie Dillard’s “The Abundance”

“My Dad Used To Be So Cool” by Keith Negley

“The Day I Became A Bird” by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi

Finding Misuzu Kaneko’s “Stars and Dandelions” in “Are You An Echo?”

“Let Me Finish!” by Minh Le and Isabel Roxas

Finding Glorious Music in Recycled Materials: “Ada’s Violin”

“What Is A Child?” by Beatrice Alemagna

[March – April 2017] Mentally Yours: Portrayal of Mental Illness and Differently-Abled in Literature

All of us here at GatheringBooks have a background in psychology, so this is definitely a reading theme that meant a great deal to us. Here are a few titles based on what I have reviewed that stood out for me. The book images will lead you to the Book Depository link and the titles to my actual review.

The Father Of Psychoanalysis Portrayed in Graphic Novel Format in “Freud”

“Grandpa’s Guardian Angel” by Jutta Bauer

Of Misfits And Different Ways Of Seeing And Being: “Luke’s Way Of Looking” by Nadia Wheatley and Matt Ottley

Unflinching Portrayal of Disability in Balli Kaur Jaswal’s “Sugarbread”

“What Color Is The Wind?” by Anne Herbauts

A Father’s Moving Account of Connecting with A Son Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in “Shtum”

“The Serpent King” by Jeff Zentner

“One Hundred Names For Love” by Diane Ackerman

Iseult’s Stutter and Merik’s Disfigurement in “Windwitch” by Susan Dennard

Depression That Eats Away At You in “Small Things” by Mel Tregonning

[May – June 2017] Myriad Of Middle Eastern Literature

We were originally supposed to do adaptations – or books that have been made into films, but given the rising Islamophobia around the world this year, we quickly shifted gears, and thought it might be better to read Middle Eastern Literature instead – because it’s difficult to hate that which you know. Here are the books that found me:

Kahlil Gibran’s Wisdom in “The Prophet And The Art Of Peace”

Rumi’s Fable/Folktale in “The Parrot And The Merchant” by Marjan Vafaian

What It’s Like to be Gay in the Middle East in Saleem Haddad’s “Guapa”

Seeing “Jerusalem” through Guy Delisle’s Eyes

“Tasting The Sky” by Ibtisam Barakat

The Life of a Great Muslim Scholar in Demi’s “Al-Ghazali”

The Samovar Delights of Iranian Women in Marjane Satrapi’s “Embroideries”

Ibn Battuta’s Amazing Travels Around the World

Graphic Novel Memoir from Turkey in “Dare to Disappoint”

“The Storyteller” by Evan Turk

Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books in “Hands Around The Library”

“The Journey” by Francesca Sanna

International Efforts To Reunite A Cat With His Family in “Lost And Found Cat”

“When I Coloured In The World” by Ahmadreza Ahmadi

[July – August 2017] Literatura Europa

Initially, we intended to do Transitions and The In-Between in Literature during this month. However, since I was doing my  international research fellowship in Munich at the time, I felt that it may be more fitting to feature titles about the region during this period.

Beauty in Times of War in “The Harmonica”

“The Fearsome Five” by Wolf Erlbruch

A Playful Meditation On Poetry’s Meaning in “This Is A Poem That Heals Fish”

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in “The War Within These Walls”

Mastering One’s Past in Miriam Katin’s Graphic Novel Memoir “Letting It Go”

Depression, Domestic Violence, and Despair in Norwegian Picturebooks

Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology”

Save the Story: Umberto Eco’s Adaptation of Alessandro Manzoni’s “The Betrothed”

“Ten Tears And One Embrace” by Marta Sanmamed and Mar Azabal

A Story of a Fierce Mexican Girl Illustrated by Spanish Artist Ana Juan in “Elena’s Serenade” by Campbell Geeslin

A Woman’s Feral Rage that Unhinges in Ferrante’s “The Days of Abandonment”

Europa Editions Picturebooks in Elena Ferrante’s “The Beach At Night”

A Play in Perspective in Norwegian Artist Oyvind Torseter’s “The Hole”

“Little Red Hood” by Marjolaine Leray

[September – October 2017] Meta-Reading: Bibliophilia And All Things Books

We had a books-about-books reading theme a few years back, but we decided to resurrect it once again, because, hey, books!

Migratory Journeys through Laura Miller’s “Literary Wonderlands”

“Parnassus On Wheels” by Christopher Morley

A Library Fit For A President in “Thomas Jefferson Builds A Library”

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” adapted by Tim Hamilton

Something Surreal This Way Comes in Murakami’s “The Strange Library”

Murderous Librarians Who Rule The Universe in “The Library At Mount Char”

Ruminations on Life and Death in Books in Will Schwalbe’s “The End Of Your Life Book Club”

Despair and Deliverance in Art, Literature, and Movement Of The World in Muriel Barbery’s “The Elegance Of The Hedgehog”

“The Book of Mistakes” by Corinna Luyken

[November – December 2017] Writing Home: Hues Of Diaspora In Literature

Our current reading theme is technically not over yet, but so far, here are the ones that stood out for me.

Thi Bui’s Evocative Art in her Graphic Novel Memoir “The Best We Could Do” and Bao Phi’s “A Different Pond”

“Mysterious Traveller” by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham and illustrated by P. J. Lynch

Knowing More About “Refugees and Migrants” by Roberts and Kai

Finding Home in the Clouds with “My Beautiful Birds” and “King of the Sky”

Finding Sanctuary Even In “Stormy Seas”

Journeying Towards Redemption in N. K. Jemisin’s “The Stone Sky”

Journeys Far From Home and Back in Picturebooks “That Neighbor Kid” and “Life Without Nico”

An Uplifting Refugee Story in Anh and Suzanne Do’s “The Little Refugee”

Any particular title that caught your eye? What are some of your favourite reads this year?

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