#SurvivalStories2021 Award-Winning Books Features International Literary Fiction Nonfiction Reading Themes Saturday Reads

[Saturday Reads] #SurvivalStories2021 – Decolonizing Our Bookshelves: A Reading Plan – Part 1 of 2

Decolonize your bookshelves!


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.

We are celebrating Survival Stories this 2021: #SurvivalStories2021.

2020 has been cruel to most. Hence, we wanted to celebrate the fact that we are still here, standing firmly, surviving – despite 2020.

Apart from this joy (more like relief, really) in triumphing over 2020 and all that it brought, I realized that over the past year, I have been gravitating more towards narratives of peoples who have been silenced, vanquished, oppressed. Yet they remain standing and rooted firmly to the earth that nourishes them whole, in spite of and maybe even because of subjugation. My own research has also led me to surfacing voices of the “Others” and I resolve to educate myself more about this in 2021.

Wikipedia defines postcolonial literature as follows:

Postcolonial literature often addresses the problems and consequences of the decolonization of a country, especially questions relating to the political and cultural independence of formerly subjugated people, and themes such as racialism and colonialism. 

Publishers Weekly also had a recent a recent article on what it means to decolonize one’s library:

Decolonizing is not meant to exclude. When we talk about decolonizing a syllabus, or our libraries, publishing houses, or our professions, what we are talking about is decentering whiteness, and being more inclusive to voices of color and to voices that represent diverse perspectives.

Decolonizing is not a simple process. You can’t flip a switch and be done. Rather, it’s a process you will likely need to revisit frequently to make sure that you’re keeping up with changes in your field or profession as well as keeping up with the broader changes in the world.

Hence, we are featuring stories of marginalized and indigenous communities whose existence were/are nearly wiped out by colonizers, tyrants, oppressors. The reading challenge is meant to decolonize our libraries, and we hope that you will join us this year. Since we always provide a measure of flexibility in our reading themes to give space to books that manage to find us at serendipitous moments, and also to account for the lack of access to some reading materials, we are expanding it to include the following:

  1. Postcolonial literature, pre/post revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been oppressed, marginalized, subjugated

#SurvivalStories2021 [Decolonizing Our Bookshelves] Reading List – Part 1 of 2

As I was exploring titles that could fit our annual theme, I found this list from the University of Waterloo in Canada and I tried to find as many titles as possible from my shelves. The others are simply books that I feel would be a good fit for our theme. Please watch out for Part 2 to be shared next week.

While this helps me “plan” my reading list, I also know that I would probably not get to some of these books at all – some of them I have been meaning to read over the past several years and have likewise been included as part of my reading plans previously. There are also books that will come out in 2021 that might take precedence over the ones listed here. We also have our quarterly reading themes to think about. While I think of myself as an ‘organized’ or ‘themed’ reader, I also have bouts of spontaneity, allowing a book to find me when they will. But it’s still good to have a plan, just in case.

(01) The Color of Water by James McBride (Amazon | Book Depository)

(02) The Autobiography Of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid (Amazon | Book Depository)

(03) I, Tituba: Black Witch Of Salem by Maryse Conde and Translated by Richard Philcox (Amazon | Book Depository)

(04) Weep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Amazon | Book Depository)

(05) Anthills Of The Savannah by Chinua Achebe (Amazon | Book Depository)

(06) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Amazon | Book Depository)

(07) July’s People by Nadine Gordimer (Amazon | Book Depository)

(08) Running In The Family by Michael Ondaatje (Amazon | Book Depository)

(09) Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (Amazon | Book Depository)

(10) Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Amazon | Book Depository)

(11) Peel My Love Like An Onion by Ana Castillo (Amazon | Book Depository)

(12) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Amazon | Book Depository)

(13) The Bridge Of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart (Amazon | Book Depository)

(14) Family Lexicon by Natalia Ginzburg (Amazon | Book Depository)

(15) A General Theory Of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa (Amazon | Book Depository)

(16) Alamut by Vladimir Bartol (Amazon | Book Depository)

(17) In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Amazon | Book Depository)

(18) First They Killed My Father: A Daughter Of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung (Amazon | Book Depository)

(19) Suddenly, A Knock On The Door by Etgar Keret (Amazon | Book Depository)

(20) All That’s Left To You by Ghassan Kanafani (Amazon | Book Depository)

(21) When Light Of The World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through edited by Joy Harjo (Amazon | Book Depository)

(22) Gotita De Dragon And Other Stories by Nick Joaquin (Amazon)

(23) The Jupiter Effect by Katrina Tuvera

(24) Beauty Is A Wound by Eka Kurniawan (Amazon | Book Depository)

(25) Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap (Amazon | Book Depository)

(26) Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata (Amazon | Book Depository)

(27) The Resident Tourist Part 1 by Troy Chin

(28) The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Amazon | Book Depository)

I already feel smart just looking at this reading stack. How about you?

What’s your must-read for 2021?

1 comment on “[Saturday Reads] #SurvivalStories2021 – Decolonizing Our Bookshelves: A Reading Plan – Part 1 of 2

  1. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] #SurvivalStories2021 – Decolonizing Our Bookshelves: A Reading Plan – Part 2 of 2 – Gathering Books

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