Readings of the Year: 2020, Just Half the Year
For many of us who externalize our love for books or art, we seldom have time to read or make art, unless we force the time into our everyday lives. Life is hectic. I love reading, but I hadn’t been reading as much as I claimed to love to do so, or as much as I’d like to. I wanted to create a realistic way to read more.
Somewhere around near the middle of this year, I made a goal for myself to read at least one book a month. It makes it seem like it’s not that much reading when you realize it’s only one book every 30/31 days or 12 book overall within 365 days.
Many people get over two or more books in a single month, and I know that my little idea isn’t impressive at all, but that’s alright. It’s working for me, so that’s what matters.
This method also allowed me to always be reading a book while still having time to tend to my other responsibilities. With everything going on this year I thought it would be better to integrate more educational and global literature into my reading list in order to self-educate as I read. Below are the books I read from June 2020 onwards, as well as some commentary. As I grow older, I’ve gained an appreciation for acknowledging and giving credit to the original people who create content because too often, we overlook, ignore, or misunderstand the people behind what we consume. (I had originally planned on having little paragraphs on the authors, but it became too long. Do take time to look into who’s writing you’re reading!)
In the future, I plan on creating more posts summarizing my reads of the year along with my thoughts and perhaps recommendations, etc.
Each month’s entry was written near the time I was reading the book, so all of it won’t be written in past tense, etc. At the end of the article, you will find any extra readings that I did and how you can look into some of them yourself!
And of course a warning to anyone who doesn’t want spoilers, because they might be ahead! I won’t attempt at hiding anything in my responses.
June: The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley (Black Seeds by Tariq Toure)
This book was read by chance in the moment of the current events taking place this year; COVID-19 and the protests across America after the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by American police. As I read this book, I kept thinking back to today’s world, and how Malcolm X would be with those majority youth who are spending days after days on the streets, expressing their anger towards our corruptly built nation. He would be absolutely for the support of Black restaurants, bookstores, and businesses. He would be for taking action, something that many officials are making clear statements against. I’m disgusted at America, because reading this book made clear a point to me, and I’m sure it can be clear to any sensible person who follows up with America’s moves. Malcolm X was already saying back then, that the Black people of America had had enough, and yet, this year for three months in a row, at least one Black person was murdered by a white person. The U.S. hasn’t changed for the betterment of the Black people for too long.
I think I felt an even closer connection due to my being Muslim. There’s a whole (new) world of difference between the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims, and throughout the many shifts in his life, Malcolm X was able to see that difference and live that difference. From my understanding of the read, I think he truly believed that the solution for the end of racism was the religion of Islam. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of racism in Muslim people’s cultures, but culture is not the religion, and that’s a whole other topic anyways.
It was really a rollercoaster of a book for me personally because I kept thinking back to how different a man Malcolm X would be after encountering a new experience that completely shifted his life. And yet, throughout all of the different versions of himself that he had been, he had kept key parts of him constant, like his love for advocating for Black people and his passion for taking real action.
This book is a 100/10 and I recommend it to not only Black people or Muslims or Black Muslims, but to everyone. Anyone who can get their hands on it!!!
July: Native American Testimony-revised edition by Peter Nabokov (The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings)
It’s a thick book and the pages are thin, but the chapters are short and the stories/ accounts are very interesting, and so the thickness isn’t stressful at all. I’m actually not too surprised after reading these real accounts of the Native peoples’ history (largely in regards to Europeans coming to their land) up until today’s times. What I always found important was stories and realities being told from the mouthes of the people who experienced them themselves. Too often, people’s original truths and histories get twisted and globally accepted. So for the real accounts, I’m so thankful.
I think there were many sentences throughout that I felt the need to jot down. Not the personal accounts, but rather the comments here and there about Western culture and societies and structures. I feel like there should be more education on the Native people and their real history, and so many of us understand that importance as well, but there are no changes in academic facilities. I still need to learn about what I can do to try making a change about this (not only the Natives, but African Americans, and everyone else with twisted histories).
As of right now, the best I can do is reading and recommending reads like these, making people more aware through literature.
August: No-No Boy by John Okada
No-No Boy belonged to my eldest sister from her college days, and it took time for me to get into it once I picked it up. The first chapter was confusing and I guess I wasn’t in the right mindset to comprehend anything. I put it down for like…a week and some days, and then remembered that I wish to read all of the books I own (hoarding books without genuinely intending on reading them is not what I want to do). So I picked it up again, and it was like a slippery slide! I mean, I really fell right into it as if I’d understood everything I was confused about before.
I felt the most connection to this book when I’d gotten to chapter five. There was the relatable family dynamic that people with brown families/ backgrounds can just relate to; that terrible and uncomfortable comfort, and the stubbornness. It made me feel something in my chest, those moments Ichiro spent with his parents and sibling.
I don’t know if this is odd or not, but I felt myself relating to a character who showed up REAL close to the end. His name was Gary and he was the painter, very short roll, but also very impactful. The story overall was too painfully real for him to be a character of great importance though. Anyways, I think I quoted his large paragraph when I posted about finishing this read.
I’m afraid things will start getting shaky from here on out, because (online) school is starting again, and I get stressed too easily with trying to do my best. Naturally, if I feel that I need to focus more on school life, then I’ll sacrifice this reading goal for my last semester of my current college.
September: It’s All In Your Head: get out of your way by RUSS and The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (I AM ARMY: It’s Time To Begin *Advanced Readers Copy* by Wallea Eaglehawk)
My cousin motivated me with a song by Russ called Throne Talks. This cousin and I, we share music often, and it’s pretty awesome. Also, my eldest sister showed me a song by him earlier too, and when I came across this book it caught my eye for those reasons, bright yellow as it was haha. I kept thinking about these two people in my life, and the motivation they bring me, along with the song Throne Talks. I hope I can ship this book to that cousin of mine so he can have a read too!
On to the book itself, it’s one that you could possibly finish within two days, maybe one. However, I don’t think it’s size is supposed to be a sign for readers to finish it quickly. This book is one to take time with, and to learn with. Understand what advice Russ is giving out. That’s how most advice books go, and the same is with this one.
I was getting the wrong vibes from it initially. Because Russ is a musician, the advice, tips, and motivation given was largely towards people with a similar goal or dream. That’s how I understood it at first. As I continued on reading, I started understanding the information as general life tips, and not just those for aspiring rappers, singers, and musicians. He expresses a lot of confidence, and the book actually constantly made me think about a person in my life, let’s call her W.E.H. It reminded me of her so much that I had to message her! Have you ever felt that way when you come across something? It’s a beautiful moment. So I told her how it was so chill + boss behavior at the same time, also recommending to her the song. (if you’re reading this, I hope you enjoyed).
Also, in terms of my second read of this month, I wrote a review on it on Goodreads! Find it under Aiman Khan and show some love to the book please!
The Beekeeper of Aleppo will feel like the book I actually read this month. I cried so many times, and in many of those moments, I felt I shouldn’t cry at all, but get up and do something. How could I feel this way when this book described what was and still is a very real life for millions of human beings.
I discussed the book with my mother when I was about 3/4 into it. We talked about our many Arab and African loved ones who deal with a similar lifestyle in their home countries. These countries are open wounds to the face of the earth, and they’re bleeding and letting out this cry for help that is somehow heard of and yet so unheard. We must learn how to do more for our fellow human beings for the sake of humanity. Definitely recommend this one!
October: Franken…no Angels & Dem…no…All The Lives We Never Liv…no no, nothing really (花樣年華 HYYH The Notes 2)
I switched books a million times this month…at least that’s what it felt like. It started with an attempt to get into the spooky season mood with Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, and then I thought, “Forget it. I won’t force myself to read something that I can’t get along with smoothly.” So I moved on to Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Look, it was smooth when I started, but I started losing interest around chapter 26 and by 39 I had stopped.
Instead of August, October was the month that was going to get shaky for me. And it has been so far as I type this out (16th).
All I wanted to figure out was why it’s called Angels and Demons, and I know I’ll get an answer if I read the book, but something isn’t settling with me. I was trudging through the matter, antimatter, and the odd inclusions of “Islamic culture” that I was slightly getting offended from. Maybe I should give it another go sometime later? If you enjoyed the book, let me know in the comments, or better yet, try convincing me to get back to it haha.
For now, I still want to read something, and although I DID finish 花樣年華 HYYH The Notes 2 with no complications, I want to read one of my novels that I’ve planned out (the drive for the BTS book comes from my passion and love for their fictional universe, the BU).
As I am unable to decided anything for now, I figured, why wait until next year to start my next year books? My January 2021 read is planned out to be Words That Moved the World: How to Study The Quran by Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, and if I do read that, I’ll further explain/ put that as my October header. Perhaps reading my religious books will give me some ease. I think my restlessness is coming from having put them on hold. I’m both excited and eager to study Islam.
…So I ended up reading a book recommended by one of my big sisters, and that’s the book I kept for October’s read. I’m only a chapter in, but I know this will be my read for this month. Bless her for giving me something to stick with.
This month has been a little heavy, but only a couple of more months to go!
(30th Oct. update. Nothing worked for me this month. I ended up starting next month’s book. I’m rolling my eyes at myself)
November: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
As you already know from last month’s documentation of reading…I had started this early since nothing was sticking earlier. Reader’s block I guess.
I hadn’t gotten to a fantasy book as such in a while, and honestly, every year when we get closer to the holiday seasons, I start craving the Harry Potter aesthetic. I always think, I’ll just re-read the HP books, but this time, I’ll try focusing on my reading and perhaps just watch the movies (although the books are 100% more of an impactful experience). This book was a dose of the magical world in it’s own way, it being all including of fairy-like creatures and magic, etc.
I got to finish this thick book by the 12th of November, early enough for me to start December’s book. Still, it was a quick read because I enjoyed it so much! A truly lovely and heart-wrenching story.
I didn’t necessarily fall in love with the world or the characters, although Lazlo sounds like quite the man, but it was an immersive world, and I definitely wanted the know what will happen at the end.
It basically ends with a cliffhanger….some form of a cliffhanger.
My favorite aspect of reading this was the fantasy and magical detail and description! Lazlo’s mind is truly filled with brilliant thoughts!
December: Aesop’s Fables translated by V. S. Vernon Jones and Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
Each little story from Aesop’s Fables was enjoyable, but after getting around a little more than halfway through, I realized I was just rushing through since the book is simply a collection of multiple lessons. I didn’t like reading like that so I stopped. I have a hard time with small one-page excerpt or poetry books…
I picked up Assata after a while of reading nothing, almost a week of no reading after the fables. Assata seemed intimidating since my copy is thick. Granted that I started it a bit into December, and it’s large, I flew through that book! Assata’s writing style flows so well and the content was so grasping, if that makes sense. The book is captivating and intensely informative of the reality of America. This is definitely another book I recommend to everyone, only to realize another reality of Black people in America, in Assata’s perspective.
Assata’s Autobiography really got me through a tough time; in December, many unfortunate things took place, but no matter how terrible they were, I didn’t feel that I must put this book down. I was able to read it with some odd sort of peace in mind. The autobiography had a very warm human comfort feeling to it as I read. I appreciate her book very a lot.
I had been able to finish this book before the month ended and got to start my January 2021 read. I’m planning this year to be filled with Religious knowledge, and I’m fiercely looking forward to gaining some.
Thank you for reading my reading list of 2020. I already had my list for next year planned out early in this year since I have too many books and not much storage in my bookshelf. 2021 will be all about religious content. I can’t wait! Please look forward to it by the end of 2021!
Readings in Between:
June → Black Seeds by Tariq Toure
July → The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings
September→ I AM ARMY: It’s Time to Begin by Wallea Eaglehawk
October → 花樣年華 HYYH The Notes 2
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