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Goodreads Challenge 2021: Completed

Huzzah. What a fun journey this challenge has been. Thanks to the pandemic, I had some time this year to reconnect to my love of reading. When I decided to take on this Goodreads challenge of reading 60 books this year, I was quite sure I would be able to complete it-whenever I had time I could always read pretty fast. And I’ve always been that little girl with her nose in books. Perhaps that is also you.

You can see my challenge on Goodreads. Here I would like to recap some highlights and lowlights.

Let’s start with the low first. Here are 3 titles I had mixed feelings about this year:

  1. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Surprising eh. As much as I enjoyed the whole universe and the following Six of Crows duology and King of Scars duology, the first book which started it all was disappointing. I think it’s all because I watched the Netflix version first and had too high of an expectation!
  2. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Sorry, but I actually had to stop reading this because I was too triggered by some underlying themes which rather bugged me. I might pick it up again sometime in the future, or I might not. I won’t push myself though.
  3. A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J Maas. This was hard to filter, because I couldn’t stop reading it when I was in the middle of it. However, reflecting back, it felt like eating way too many potato chips. You know, that bloated feeling afterwards.

To be fair to myself, I had many many more books that I enjoyed and loved than that I had mixed feelings about. This is good. This means I am better at picking which reads to invest in. So here are my 5 fave reads of from this challenge.

  1. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. Lyrical, poignant, mysterious, and hair-chilling plot twist. Oh my. I get goosebumps remembering it.
  2. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Definitely cried and laughed at the same time. Also has an excellent plot twist.
  3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I have Sherry to thank for this! The Lunar Chronicles is cemented in my heart forever.
  4. Cerita Carissa by Krisan Wijaya. One of very few Indonesian books I read, and this made me cry! Heartwarming, touching, very realistic fiction.
  5. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. Oh goodness. Eugenides and Irene, Attolis and Attolia, I am speechless.

And that’s my overview! I realized I read at a pace of about 6-8 books average per month, and I like this pace, so I will attempt to keep going and reading and enjoying!

How is your reading going this year?

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Book Review: Omoiyari

Omoiyari by Erin Niimi Longhurst is the 12th book I read this year. The 11th book was The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin, which I reviewed on my TikTok account.

I usually buy and read books on my super antique Kindle (I got it way back in 2008!). So I go to bookstores and later buy the Kindle version because it’s often cheaper. This one, however, had such a beautiful cover that I could not resist. My husband Cung was familiar with Ryo Takemasa as an illustrator, so I thought if I’m going to buy a hardcopy, might as well buy a beautifully colored one.

Lovely Illustrations

The photography and illustrations did not disappoint. They were very well chosen with the philosophies of Japanese culture that the author brought up. A delightful book for my eyes.

I always enjoy learning more about different cultures (well this whole book is about another culture) so I was satisfied with learning about concepts such as omoiyari, kintsugi, and senzaburu (a thousand paper cranes) from the author.

The Reader’s Historical Background

Photo from

Looking deeper into myself however, I realized that this book triggered some things inside. Being Indonesian, I am exposed through our history to all the horrors of the Japanese invasion from 1942-1945. There was a lot of horror during those years. When the author talked about forest-bathing as Japanese culture, I think of Taman Hutan Raya Djuanda, the forest in Bandung that I regularly walk at. In this forest, there are caves and tunnels called Dutch Caves and Japanese Caves where Japanese soldiers hid their ammunition.

It also evokes a book I read last year titled The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See about the haenyo (female divers) of Jeju Island. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea, including Jeju. Oh goodness, some of the stories were too painful to read. 

So for me, as much as I enjoyed learning about the compassionate side of Japanese culture, I also remember that there are two sides to everything. Even the most beautiful cultures have committed dark atrocities.

I suppose that is just the reality of this world.

Have you read Omoiyari? What did you think?