Since 2012 I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, which is simply about numbers. They don’t care what kinds of books you read, they’re just interested in the quantity. I have always set my goal number on the low end of what I think I can read in a given year. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself! You may be thinking, so what’s the challenge in that? Well, I do tend to add at least one number to the previous year’s total! (Ha.)
I like to participate in the challenge mainly as a way of seeing what I’ve read in a calendar year. I like seeing those bright, shiny book covers so beautifully arrayed. It also makes my Quarterly Report tracking much easier. It also gives you a percentage total along the way and tells you if you’re on track to complete the challenge or not.
This year my goal number was 65, and I hit that last week with Firoozeh Dumas’s Laughing Without An Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, At Home and Abroad. It was a slim, amusing book of essays about cultural miscommunication and anecdotes about her life in California with her French husband, her kids, and her (hilarious) Iranian immigrant parents. It was a sweet, touching read, especially when she describes the ugly aftermath of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and how it made her feel as a young girl in California. She writes about being able to meet one of the former hostages, quite by chance, and becoming friendly with her. It’s a beautiful story of forgiveness and shared values across cultures. Dumas writes,
For Katherine, it was the words of the Bible that had helped her endure 444 days of captivity and let go of justifiable anger. The Bible is foreign to me, but its concepts are not. My father always said that hatred is a waste and never an option. He learned this growing up in Ahwaz, Iran, in a Muslim household. I have tried my best to pass the same message to my children, born and raised in America. Ultimately it doesn’t matter where we learn that lesson. It’s just important that we do.
This was a very enjoyable memoir. I’m glad I hit my Goodreads goal with two months left in the year. Do you participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge? Why or why not?