BMS Ep 1: Books that work for The 2023 #SomethingBookishReadingChallenge

Hola, how are you doing? If you’re here looking for more titles concerning the 2023 #SomethingBookishReadingChallenge then I’ve got you covered!

In the first-ever episode of the Blame My Shelf Podcast, Naija Book Bae aka Lara T. Kareem shares the list of books she will be reading based on the prompts for the Something Bookish Reading Challenge, and she definitely went off tangent in a couple of places.

1. A Book By A North African Author

The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami

In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés.

But from the moment the Narváez expedition landed in Florida, it faced peril—navigational errors, disease, starvation, as well as resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer named Andrés Dorantes de Carranza; and Dorantes’s Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the three Spaniards called Estebanico. These four survivors would go on to make a journey across America that would transform them from proud conquistadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers.

2. A Book With A Long Title

The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

A conversation starter like Three Women but centring the experiences of women of colour: a mellifluous chorus celebrating the liberation, individuality, and joy of African women’s multifaceted sexuality

Thanks to her blog, Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah has spent decades talking openly and intimately to African women around the world about sex. For this book, she spoke to over thirty African women across the globe while chronicling her own journey toward sexual freedom.

In these confessional pages, women control their own bodies and pleasure and assert their sexual power. Capturing the rich tapestry of sex positivity, The Sex Lives of African Women is a singular and subversive book that celebrates the liberation, individuality, and joy of African women’s multifaceted sexuality.

3. A Book With An Ensemble Cast Of Characters & 4. A Book Set In The Caribbean/By Caribbean Author

Pleasantview by Celeste Mohammed

Written in a combination of English and Trinidad Creole, Pleasantview reveals the dark side of the Caribbean dream. In this novel-in-stories about a fictional town in Trinidad, we meet a political candidate who sets out to slaughter endangered turtles for fun, while his rival candidate beats his “outside woman,” so badly that she ends up losing their baby. On the night of a political rally, the abused woman exacts a very public revenge, the trajectory of which echoes through Pleasantview, ending with one boy introducing another boy to a gun and to an ideology which will help him aim the weapon.

Merging the beauty and brutality of Trinidadian culture evoked by writers such as Ingrid Persaud and Claire Adam with the linguistic experimentation of Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, Pleasantview is a landmark work from an important new voice in international literary fiction

5. Any Of The Monthly Picks From The Indulgent Bibliophile Bookclub

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

“A powerful feminist rendition of Ugandan origin tales, The First Woman tells the story of Kirabo, the equivalent of Eve in Ugandan mythology.”

“Smart, headstrong, and flawed, Kirabo is raised by doting grandparents in idyllic Natteria in rural Uganda. But as she enters her teens, she starts to feel overshadowed by the absence of the mother she has never known. At once epic and deeply personal, it tells the story of one young girl’s search for her mother, her discovery of what it means to be a woman throughout history and the implications of her future.”

The book is billed as the companion to her acclaimed debut, Kintu.

6. A Book Inspired By Mythology, Folklore, or Legend

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark

Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper keeps another secret close to heart—Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, who speaks inside her head and grants her divine powers. And Oya has her own priorities concerning Creeper and Ann-Marie…

7. A Book By A West African Author – Tomorrow I Become a Woman

Tomorrow I Become a Woman by Aiwanose Odafen

When Gozie and Obianuju meet in August 1978, it is nothing short of fate. He is the perfect man: charismatic, handsome, Christian, and – most importantly – Igbo. He reminds her of her beloved Uncle Ikenna, her mother’s brother who disappeared fighting in the Civil War that devastated Nigeria less than a decade before. It is why, when Gozie asks her to marry him within months of meeting, she says yes, despite her lingering and uncertain feelings for Akin – a man her mother would never accept, as his tribe fought on the other side of the war. Akin makes her feel heard, understood, and intelligent; Gozie makes her heart flutter.

For Uju, the daughter her mother never wanted, marriage would mean the attainment of that long-elusive state of womanhood, and something else she has desired all her life – her mother’s approval. All will be well; he is the perfect match, the country will soon be democratic again and the economy is growing, or so she thinks…

8. An Audiobook Narrated By Its Author

Finding Me by Viola Davis

9 hours, 15 minutes

Narrated by Viola Davis

In my book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.

This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.

Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.

9. A Romance Novel By A Non-Caucasian Author

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it’s a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.

As CEO of the FitMe app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.

As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.

Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.

10. A Book Set In Central Africa/By A Central African Author

La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono

The first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English, La Bastarda is the story of the orphaned teen Okomo, who lives under the watchful eye of her grandmother and dreams of finding her father.

Forbidden from seeking him out, she enlists the help of other village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of “mysterious” girls revelling in their so-called indecency.

Drawn into their illicit trysts, Okomo finds herself falling in love with their leader and rebelling against the rigid norms of Fang culture.

11. A Book Written By Two Authors

The Forgotten Commander by K Webster and Nicole Blanchard

Our planet, Mortuus, is lost and dying.
A desolate place where a few lone survivors dwell.
My men have lost hope. Our future is bleak.
Longevity is a luxury we can’t afford.
The most we can hope for is survival.
We’ve all but given up when an opportunity presents itself.

Five females—a chance at a future.
Procuring these women went against everything I’d been taught, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
They’re ours now.
Asleep and made ready for breeding.
We won’t die out—lost and forgotten.
It’s our destiny to grow and once again inhabit our lonely planet.

I am Breccan Aloisius, the forgotten commander.
My people will have the future they deserve.
I’ll make sure of it.

My mind is made up…until she wakes and nothing goes as planned.

12. A Book With Non-Human Characters (s) or Narrators & 13. A Book Set In East Africa/By An East African Author

The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber

The House of Rust is an enchanting novel about a Hadrami girl in Mombasa. When her fisherman father goes missing, Aisha takes to the sea on a magical boat made of a skeleton to rescue him. She is guided by a talking scholar’s cat (and soon crows, goats, and other animals all have their say, too). On this journey, Aisha meets three terrifying sea monsters. After she survives a final confrontation with Baba wa Papa, the father of all sharks, she rescues her own father and hopes that life will return to normal. But at home, things only grow stranger.

14. Translated Fiction By A Female Author And Female Translator & 15. A Book Under 200 Pages

Magma by Þóra Hjörleifsdóttir & Translated Meg Matich

Twenty-year-old Lilja is in love. As a young university student, she is quickly smitten with the intelligent, beautiful young man from school who quotes Derrida and reads Latin and cooks balanced vegetarian meals. Before she even realizes, she’s moved in with him, living in his cramped apartment, surrounded by sour towels and flat Diet Cokes. As the newfound intimacy of sharing a shower and a bed fuels her desire to please her partner, his quiet and pervasive manipulations start to unravel her.

In an era of pornification, his acts of nearly imperceptible abuse continue to mount as their relationship develops. Lilja wants to hold onto him, take care of him and be the perfect lover. But in order to do so, she gradually lets go of her boundaries and concurrently starts to lose her sense of self.

With astounding clarity and restraint, Hjörleifsdóttir sheds light on the commonplace undercurrents of violence that so often go undetected in romantic relationships. She deftly illustrates the failings of our culture in recognizing symptoms of cruelty, and in powerful, poetic prose depicts the unspooling of a tender-hearted woman desperate to love well.

16. A Book That Has Been Adapted To Film/TV

The Flatshare by Beth O’leary

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

17. Historical Fiction Set In South Asia/East Asia/Southeast Asia

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

18. A Book With A Character Name in the Title

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

the only way to survive is to open your heart.

19. A Book About Siblings

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality: their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

20. A Book With Blue In Its Cover Design

The Beautiful Side of The Moon by Leye Adenle

What would happen if God went on holiday?

Drawing on age-old African story-telling traditions, modern science-fiction and contemporary thriller writing, award-winning Nigerian author Leye Adenle (Easy Motion Tourist, When Trouble Sleeps) conjures up an entirely new way of seeing the world.

The central character, Osaterin, thinks he is just a modest IT guy living in Lagos – but it turns out he is much, much more than that…

A delightful, playful, thoughtful adventure in speculative fiction by one of Nigeria’s most exciting new writers.

21. A Book By A Southern African Author & 22. A Book About Grief/Loss/Death

Ways of Dying by Zakes Mda

In Ways of Dying, Zakes Mda’s acclaimed first novel, Toloki is a “professional mourner” in a vast and violent city of the new South Africa. Day after day he attends funerals in the townships, dressed with dignity in a threadbare suit, cape, and battered top hat, to comfort the grieving families of the victims of the city’s crime, racial hatred, and crippling poverty. At a Christmas day funeral for a young boy, Toloki is reunited with Noria, a woman from his village. Together they help each other to heal the past, and as their story interweaves with those of their acquaintances this elegant short novel provides a magical and painful picture of South Africa today.

23. A Young Adult(YA) Novel By A Non-Caucasian Author

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labelled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

24. A Multigenerational Family Saga – Homegoing by Yah Gyasi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.

Listen now on your favourite Podcast platform!

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