Books

What I read in 2021

It was an eclectic mix with a few surprises

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

2021 was the first year that I participated in the GoodReads Reading Challenge, in which I challenged myself to read 20 books. Now that the challenge has (successfully) come to a close, here is my look back over the past year before I set goals for the year ahead.

My reading genres covered four main spheres: graphic novels (mainly Manga), fiction (mainly YA fantasy), Islamic studies, and non-fiction (autobiography, art and curation). The biggest surprise was how little YA fiction I read — I thought I had read more!

Graphic & Illustrated

Manga

I was introduced to Manga in late 2020 through “Sakoto and Nada”: a manga set in the United States about a Japanese exchange student who house-shares with a girl from Saudi. In 2021 I finished off the Sakoto and Nada series, as well as Blank Canvas — an autobiographical manga from Akiko Higashimura of Princess Jellyfish fame.

Bride Story and Witch Hat Atelier are two ongoing series, and two of my favourites purely for the beauty of their artwork. Bridestory takes place across Central Asia and follows an English anthropologist as he travels around the region. It’s slow-paced, slice-of-life, and I read it purely for the illustrations. Witch Hat Atelier is super cute, again with gorgeous drawings.

I didn’t like A Man and His Cat, so will unlikely continue past book 1.

  • Bride Story — Kaoru Mori
  • Sakoto&Nada — Yupechika
  • Blank Canvas: My So-called Artist’s Journey— Akiko Higashimura
  • Witch Hat Atelier — Kamome Shirahama
  • A Man and His Cat — Umi Sakurai

Manhwa

Manhwa published in English are fairly difficult to find, but I’m always on the lookout.

Kim Dong Hwa is a widely revered Korean comic artist, however not a lot of his work is available in English. I managed to find all three of his colour trilogy second-hand, and have the third (The Colour of Heaven) still to read.

  • The Colour of Earth — Kim Dong Hwa
  • The Colour of Water — Kim Dong Hwa

‘Western’

Despite negative reviews, I enjoyed G. Willow Wilson’s ‘Invisible Kingdom’, and ‘They Call Us Enemy’ — the autobiographical graphic novel of George Takei’s childhood — was also interesting.

  • Invisible Kingdom — G. Willow Wilson
  • Grimoire Noir — Vera Greentea & Yana Bogatch
  • MouseGuard — David Petersen
  • Through Life — Tom Haugomat
  • They Call Us Enemy — George Takei, Justin Eisinger & Steve Scott

Fiction

I really thought I’d read more fiction than this. Stand-puts for the year were ‘We Hunt the Flame’ by Hafsah Faisal, and the first two books of the Prison Healer trilogy by Australian author Lynette Noni. The final book of the set is coming out early this year.

Middle Grade

  • The Ickabog — JK Rowling
  • Douha and the Mystery of the Oak Tree — Farah Yaghmour Elsaket
  • Listen Layla — Yassmin Abdel-Magied

YA

  • The Hopes and Triumphs of the Amir Sisters — Nadiya Hussain
  • We Hunt the Flame — Hafsah Faisal
  • The Prison Healer — Lynette Noni
  • The Gilded Cage — Lynette Noni

Non-fiction

‘Emotional Female’ was a really difficult read for me because of its content. The experience of Yumiko Kadota as a junior doctor had some close similarities to mine and so it was quite triggering at times. It was a validating read and it's a story that really needed to be told.

I’ve become increasingly interested in curation this year, and Museums 101 was an entry exploration into the industry.

  • Museums 101 — Mark Walhimer
  • Emotional Female — Yumiko Kadota
  • Show Your Work! — Austin Kleon

Islamic Studies

The majority of the books that I read tend to be on Islamic Studies, purely through the required reading and supplementary reading of my Islamic Studies course. Craig’s ‘The Kalam Cosmological Argument’ blew my mind, Haddad’s ‘The Lives of Man’ is terrifying (in a good way), and Abdul-Matin’s ‘Green Deen’ is useful for self-reflection on how we can all take steps to care for our environment.

Quranic Sciences

  • Discovering the Qur’an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text — Neil Robinson
  • The Great Victory of Qu’ranic Hermeneutics — Shah Wali Allah ad-Dihlawi

Theology

  • The Kalam Cosmological Argument — William Lane Craig
  • Imam Abu Hanifa’s Al-Fiqh al-Akbar Explained— Abu ‘l-Muntaha al-Maghnisawi, compiled and translated by Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf
  • The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection — Jane Smith
  • The Lives of Man — Abdallah ibn Alawi al-Haddad

Seerah

  • When the Moon Split — Safiur-Rahman Mubarakpuri

Motivational

  • Reflections — Gai Eaton
  • Nothing to Summit — Irum Ibrahim

Women

  • A Treatise on Hijab — Muhammad Bin Salih Al-Uthaimeen
  • Fiqh al-Haya: Understanding the Islamic Concept of Modesty — Muhammad Ismail Al-Muqaddim

Eco-Islam

  • Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet — Ibrahim Abdul-Matin

Aims for 2022?

I’m going to set my aim for 20 books again in this year’s reading challenge, but would like to read more YA fiction. I have quite a few Islamic books that I have on my to-be-read shelf, so they will likely have a large presence on next years list too. I also have a few biographies sitting there (such as Malcolm X’s) that I should make time for. Wish me luck!

What are you reading this year?

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Rosalind is an Australia-based doctor and Fellow of the RACGP. She is currently studying for her Masters in Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic.

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Rosalind Noor

Rosalind Noor

Rosalind is an Australia-based doctor and Fellow of the RACGP. She is currently studying for her Masters in Islamic Studies and Classical Arabic.

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