Project Reread Update #2

Over the past few years my book collection has expanded a lot. Because I have a small apartment and as a result, limited shelf space, I decided I wanted to limit the number of books I have on my shelves with no reread value. Initially I thought I’d just unhaul books I’m no longer interested in, and one set of books that almost didn’t make the cut was The Boyfriend List. But then I remembered how much I loved that series growing up, so I gave it another chance, reread it, and absolutely loved it. Since then I started Project Reread, where I reread all the books on my shelves in order to give them a fair chance before potentially unhauling them. Here’s the latest set.

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
First date read: May 23, 2017
First rating: 4/5 stars
Second date read: January 23, 2020
Second rating: 4.25/5 stars

I was a bit wary going into When Dimple Met Rishi because after reading it I hadn’t enjoyed any of Menon’s books nearly as much. Thankfully my worries were unfounded. I’m always going to have a soft spot for When Dimple Met Rishi because it was the first book where I really felt seen as a POC. I was so like Dimple when I was an undergrad and for that reason I get a sense of nostalgia reading it. I’m definitely keeping it on my shelves.

Title: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)
Author: Kristin Cashore
First date read: March 26, 2017
First rating: 4/5 stars
Second date read: January 30, 2020
Second rating: 4.25/5 stars

Title: Fire (Graceling Realm #2)
First date read: April 8, 2017
First rating: 4.5/5 stars
Second date read: March 6, 2020
Second rating: 3/5 stars

Title: Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3)
First date read: May 17, 2017
First rating: 4/5 stars
Second date read: March 31, 2020
Second rating: 3.5/5 stars

I’m not surprised that Graceling holds up so well, even now I see people reading it for the first time and loving it. As for Fire and Bitterblue, well, that’s a different story. The first time I read Fire I loved it and considered it an all-time favourite, but I’ve changed as a reader over the past three years, and there are a lot of elements in Fire that I was willing to overlook three years ago, that drive me crazy now. Now I want to read about characters with more agency, and I hate reading about overly possessive male characters. As for Bitterblue, I didn’t quite like it as much the second time around, again the “romance” annoyed me, the book felt too long, and it read a bit too young for my tastes. I’m definitely keeping Graceling, and can see myself rereading it again in the future, but I’m unhauling both Fire and Bitterblue.

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
First date read: November 27, 2016
First rating: 4.25/5 stars
Second date read: January 30, 2020
Second rating: 4.5/5 stars

Three years ago I made the mistake of marathoning all of Jane Austen’s novels. I’m not a big classics reader, so it didn’t surprise me in the slightest that I got burnt out and I vowed to never pick up another Jane Austen book again. Obviously I haven’t stuck to that vow, and here we are, three years later, with me slowly making my way through Austen’s novels once again. This second time around I read some more in-depth reviews/analyses alongside the novel and I was able to appreciate Pride and Prejudice a lot more. It also helps that I’ve realized I can really max out my enjoyment of her novels by listening to them as audiobooks. I’m keeping Pride and Prejudice on my shelves in all fairness though, I bought a copy after having reread it, as I previously unhealed all my Jane Austen books.

Title: Winnie-the-Pooh
Author: A.A. Milne
First date read: January 4, 2018
First rating: 4.25/5 stars
Second date read: January 31, 2020
Second rating: 4/5 stars

Both my reads of Winnie-the-Pooh have been through audiobook format, and I think it’s safe to say I’m done with the audiobook. I can only take so much of hearing Piglet’s snorts. Listening woes aside, I still think Winnie-the-Pooh is wonderful, hilarious, and adorable. Though, to be completely honest, I do not foresee myself rereading Winnie-the-Pooh again unless I am reading it to a child. I do think that, and the fact that I love my edition is enough to keep it on my shelves though.

Title: Pachinko
Author: Min Jin Lee
First date read: April 3, 2017
First rating: 4.25/5 stars
Second date read: February 4, 2020
Second rating: 4.25/5 stars

It’s books like Pachinko that remind me why I love historical fiction. It’s one of my favourite genres, but not a genre I pick up often. I tend to prefer historical fiction that is not set in the western world, and that does not revolve around WWII, and I always have a hard time finding such titles. If you have recommendations I’d love to hear them! Anyways, I pretty much felt the same way rereading Pachinko as I did the first time I read it. I’m definitely keeping this on my shelves, and even if I hadn’t enjoyed it nearly as much I would have had a hard time giving it up because I love the cover so much.

Final thoughts: This set of books was a bit of a mixed bag. I was a bit hesitant with When Dimple Met Rishi, Pride and Prejudice, and Pachinko, but thankfully I still love all those books. I was expecting to love the Graceling Realm books so was surprised when that wasn’t the fact. And Winnie-the-Pooh held up just like I expected it to. I’m only unhauling two books this time around (Fire and Bitterblue), so overall I think this set of books was a success.

Book Review: Pachinko

Title: Pachinko
Author: Min Jin Lee
Date Published: February 7, 2017
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Date read: February 4, 2020 (reread)

Pachinko is a multi-generational story following a Korean family that eventually migrates to Japan. With this family we see the hardships Koreans face when Japan invades in the late 1800s, and watch the struggles continue with the second world war and its aftermath.

It’s stories like Pachinko that make me love historical fiction and make me wish I read more of the genre (if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them, I’m not a fan of WWII historical fiction, unless it takes place in the non-western world). 

The first time I read Pachinko I really had no background knowledge of the history of Korea from the late 1880s until after WWII, and this story is extremely eye opening into the discrimination and hardships Koreans had to face during that period. It was extremely sad to see the country divided and to follow citizens who, living in Japan, wanted to return home but were unable to. The novel also showcases cultural disassociation, we have a character who wishes to fit in and be Japanese because of the constant discrimination he and his family face, but we also have characters who are proud of their Korean heritage. 

I really feel the highlight of Pachinko is its characters, while they aren’t always likeable they are extremely believable and I always come away from the story feeling like I know them as real people. I think Sunja (arguably the main character) is one of the most persevering and smartest characters, who does what she needs to do to survive; I love a character who makes the most of their situation while still holding true to their convictions.

If you’re looking for a culturally and historically rich story, with a lot of heartbreak, I’d highly recommend Pachinko.

Content warning: racism, suicide, violence, substance abuse, death of a loved one

P.S. This is a great pick if you’re participating in the Asian Readathon!