It’s the start of a new month and we’re officially into the second half of 2020. Let’s hope that we don’t have any new surprises or disasters popping up. Hope y’all have a great July!
Okay onto book updates.
The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently still reading 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think by Brianna West. I’m reading it very slowly, about one essay a day speed so.. I’ll take a while to finish it.
The second book I’m reading is Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds which I’m listening to on audiobook.
What did you recently finish reading?
I finished 3 books in the last week.
First one was Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto. It was an eye-opening read for me. The book follows the life of a boy who’s mother battles with mental illness and we see all the facets that come with the illness.
It was a very raw and honest point of view with zero sugar-coating. I really liked it and definitely recommend it.
The next book that I finished was Must Love Jogs by Xavier Neal. I got this book on the Kindle store someday last year when a bunch of romance books were free. I got about 9 of the books and only read 1 of them, so I picked up another in order to try new books.
This book was not great but not too bad as well. It was okay. Not very enjoyable and there are definitely better books out there.
The last book I finished was Release by Patrick Ness. I’ve had this book for quite a while now and it also has a queer main character so I pushed myself to pick it up since it was Pride month.
I have mixed feelings about the book. One half was good and the other half was confusing and had no point to it. Here’s the review that I wrote on Instagram:
What do you think you’ll read next?
This month, I have at least a couple buddy reads. So hopefully I’ll pick up at least one of the books soon.
But, to be honest, I’ve had a hectic few days (if you follow me on Instagram, I posted all about it) and am not in the headspace to actually pick up new books. I’m not sure. Let’s see what I end up reading. No set picks, though.
I’m not someone who picks up non-fiction often even though I want to. That changed with this book.
While this book was on my TBR for a long time, I didn’t pick it up until recently when it was highly recommended by multiple people online because of current scenarios. I’ll be honest, I only know things about what’s happening in US and UK because of what trends and from books.
That’s still a lot, but also not that much because I’ve been mostly reading romance, which don’t touch on current events or heavy topics often.
Not to mention, I know more about racism in USA than UK because UK racism doesn’t rise on social media often.
Hence, this book was my first introduction to racism in the UK. And it was my first book where the racism was broken down into different sections and explained just how they all come together to oppress people.
Until now, I’ve only read non-fiction books which were memoirs and autobiographies. So this was also my first non-fiction book about a specific topic which talks in-depth, places facts on the table, and provides explanations and arguments for everything. And I realized that I like this kind of non-fiction more.
I thought I’ll probably read it slowly but I flew through it. It was addicting. The rush of new information, in-depth analysis, history recounts etc. was very interesting.
This book also has REALLY GOOD LINES. I could not stop highlighting things. If I could, I’d probably tab whole sections in places. There were also times when I wanted to tab a few lines but I couldn’t decide which lines to highlight exactly. The section overall conveyed the meaning which can’t be properly captured in a few lines.
So yeah, this book was brilliant.
And since I highlighted so much, I wanted to share the quotes and let them convince you to pick up this book instead of just reviewing myself with my meager words compared to the book’s.
[…] how often history would have to repeat itself before we choose to tackle the underlying problems.
[…] until I went actively digging for black British histories, I didn’t know them.
While black British story is starved of oxygen, the US struggle against racism is globalised into the story of the struggle against racism that we should look to for inspiration – eclipsing the black British story so much that we convince ourselves that British has never had a problem with race.
[…] racism does not erupt from nothing, rather it is embedded in British society. It’s in the very core of how the state is set up. It’s not external. It’s in the system.
Structural racism is an impenetrably white workplace culture set by those people, where anyone who falls outside of the culture must conform or face failure.
Colour-blindness is a childish, stunted analysis of racism. It starts and ends at ‘discriminating against a person because of the colour of the skin is bad’, without any accounting for the ways in which structural power manifests in these exchanges.
When people of colour point this out, they’re accused of being racist against white people, and the accountability avoidance continues.
It’s a social construct that was created to continue racial dominance and injustice.
In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race.
Blackness, however, is considered the ‘other’ and therefore to be suspected. Those who are coded as a threat in our collective representation of humanity are white.
How can I define white privilege? It’s so difficult to describe an absence. And white privilege is an absence of the negative consequences of racism.
[…] white privilege is the fact that it you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.
‘Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
White privilege is never more pronounced than in our intimate relationships, our close friendships and our families.
[…] for white people who are in interracial relationships, or have mixed-race children, or who adopt transracially, the only way that it will work is if they’re actually committed to being anti-racist.
That’s nothing to suggest that a black child with a white parent, or who is adopted into a white family, won’t be on the receiving end of immeasurable love and support. But, having never experienced it, the parents might not be well equipped to deal with the racism their child receive.
There is a worry the ever-disappearing essence of Britishness is being slowly eroded by immigrants whose sole interest is not to flee from war or poverty, but to destroy the social fabric of the country.
At the core of the fear is the belief that anything that doesn’t represent white homogeneity exists only to erase it.
Another incarnation of the fear reveals a deep-seated discomfort with anti-racist talk and protest. Couched in the pernicious frame of ‘freedom of speech’, it materialises when a person with anti-racist values voices their disgust at something racist. They will then be told that their sheer objection to it actually inhibits freedom of speech.
It seems there is a belief among some white people that being accused of racism is far worse than actual racism.
I think that there is a fear among many white people that accepting Britain’s difficult history with race means somehow admitting defeat.
It’s about time that critiques of racism were subject to the same passionate free speech defence as racist statements themselves.
A character simply cannot be black without a pre-warning for an assumed white audience.
We are told that black actors and actresses cast as central characters in works of fiction are unrealistic. We are told that they are historically inaccurate, or that they are too far a stretch of the imagination.
White people are so used to seeing a reflection of themselves in all representations of humanity at all times, that they only notice it when it’s taken away from them.
There is an old saying about the straight man’s homophobia being rooted in a fear that gay men will treat him as he treats women. This is no different.
Regardless, that isn’t the kind of world anti-racists are envisioning when they agitate for justice. It has always been about the redistribution of power rather than the inverting of it.
This wasn’t the place [when discussing feminism] to be discussing racism, they insisted. There are other places you can go to for that. But that wasn’t a choice I could make. My blackness was as much a part of me as my womanhood, and I couldn’t separate them.
‘That work started when I realised that African American women . . . not recognised as having experienced discrimination that reflected both their race and their gender. The courts would say if you don’t experience racism in the same was as a [black] man does, or sexism in the same way as a white woman does, then you haven’t been discriminated against.
When black feminists started to push for an intersectional analysis in British feminism, the widespread response from feminists who were white was not one support. Instead, they began to make the case that the word ‘intersectional’ was utter jargon – too difficult for anyone without a degree to understand – and therefore useless.
The white feminist distaste for intersectionality quickly evolved into a hatred of the idea of white privilege – perhaps because to recognise structural racism would have to mean recognizing their own whiteness. They were backed up by their men.
The trouble is, it has become faddish among people who don’t read books or essays but merely tweets and Internet comments, and thus don’t know what they are talking about.
If feminism can understand the patriarchy, it’s important to question why so many feminists struggle to understand whiteness as political structure in the very same way.
Whiteness is a political position, and challenging it in feminist spaces is not a tit-for-tat disagreement because prejudice needs power to be effective.
The politics of whiteness transcends the colour of anyone’s skin. It is an occupying force in the mind. It is a political ideology that is concerned with maintaining power through domination and exclusion.
After a lifetime of embodying difference, I have no desire to be equal. I want to deconstruct the structural power of a system that marked me out as different.
The ‘angry black woman’ phrase says more about maleness and whiteness than it does about black women.
This information suggests that it’s not as simple or binary as choosing between race and class when thinking about structural inequalities.
I don’t think that any amount of class privilege, money or education can shield you from racism.
The book is told in 7 chapters, each talking about one face of racism. The author has researched what she wrote, thought over everything in detail, and added her own experiences to give examples of every situation being spoken about.
It is an incredible book, and I hope everyone picks it up. It has a lot to teach.
We’re halfway through the year, and that means it’s time for the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag!
I don’t need another reason to freak out and talk about books, but it’s always welcome haha.
This tag is a good way to take account of the books we’ve read so far and share some highlights. There are multiple versions of this tag at this point. I’m just going to do one that I found and liked.
Anyway, onto the tag!
 How much have you read?
As I’m writing this post, I’ve completed 78 out of 100 books. My initial goal was 150 books but I reduced back in March as I realized my reading cut down a lot due to life things.
But now I read about 3 books a week so if I continue at this pace, I should be able to hit my original goal. I will wait until hitting the current goal before raising to 150, though.
P. S. I recently made a spreadsheet of all the books I read this year along with fun details like author tags (POC, own voices, debut etc.) and book tags (diverse, LGBTQ, POC, mental illness etc.). I started making it only a few days back so it might be a little incomplete but its a good source to find a summary of my opinions in one place!
P. P. S. I am on Storygraph as well (my imports finally finished yesterday and I’m having fun exploring the new site!) I highly recommend it as a Goodreads alternative because it has cool new features and its still only in beta. So I’m sure if there are any issues, they’ll be taken care of soon. But the site is showing a lot of potential. Be my friend on Storygraph!
 What have you been reading?
I’ve been reading a ton of romance books, mostly short and easy to read ones. But romance books are also a comfort zone for me because they usually manage to make me happy. But I have tried harder to pick up other books, especially non-fiction and old ones from my TBR.
All the details can be seen in the spreadsheet. I am going to make pie charts for most of the columns (mostly so I can geek over stats and share them at the end of the year) so that should be fun haha.
 Best Book of 2020
It’s so hard to pick one! And that is why I’m going to pick 2.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I read this only recently even though it had been on my TBR for a while. The book talks about topics in an informative fashion. There are tons of references and examples for every scenario spoken about. It was really good. Definitely recommend it.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender is another book that I read only recently. I listened to it as an audiobook actually and it was SO DARN GOOD. I wrote a full review on it but long story short: it’s amazing and you should read it too.
 Best sequel you’ve read in 2020
This year, I mostly read standalone books. I picked up only a couple sequels and they weren’t that good either. So I’m going to say none for this question.
 New release that you haven’t read yet but want to
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon which I’ve heard quite some praise for. It sounds right up my alley as well so I’m looking forward to read it.
Here’s a very convincing review of this book:
 Most anticipated release for second half
Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram. The first book Darius the Great is Not Okay was highly praised by a friend of mine so I picked it up and LOVED IT. I’m glad that I don’t have to wait too long for the sequel.
 Biggest disappointment
I HAVE TWO.
Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi which was my most anticipated book of 2020. It’s the last book of the series (for real this time) and I had expectations. But it was.. a hot mess. And I hated the epilogue.
The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee was on my TBR for over a year. I added it because Aditi @ a thousand words a million books highly praised it but I was never in the mood to pick it up. Thankfully the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge got me to pick it up and it BLEW ME AWAY. Highly recommend it.
Frankly in Love by David Yoon was a “maybe” book for me. My Secret Santa from last Christmas gifted it to me and I’m SO GLAD because I don’t know if I would have picked it up otherwise. It was too good. Click here to read my review.
 Favourite new author
I read her book Circe, which my book club gifted to me for my birthday. I was completely enthralled by the story, and I can’t wait to read A Song of Achilles which has received even more praise. Check out my review of Circe here.
 Newest fictional crush
Okay so I’ve actually kind of moved on from crushes? I don’t think about that anymore when I read books haha. And I feel weird even thinking about crushing on characters who are younger than me (considering YA books) so… yeah.
But if I had to pick, I’d say Zach Davis from That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert. He is fun and a total sweetheart.
 Newest favourite characters
This, I have!
Darius from Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. I absolutely loved him and his journey throughout the book. It’s why the sequel is my most anticipated now because I really want to see more of him.
 Book that made you cry
Frankly in Love by David Yoon. I teared up more than once when reading this book. The relationships just broke me. Especially the family dynamics and one of the friendships.
I had a lot of feelings.
 Book that made you happy
I HAVE TWO LOVELY BOOKS.
Love from A to Z by S. K. Ali which I “read” as an audiobook. It was on my TBR for a long time and I didn’t even consider reading it soon. But I saw that it was available as an audiobook and thought why not. And it was SO NICE. It made me happy slowly throughout the book because it was very wholesome. Here’s my review on it.
100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Simmons is another book that really made me happy. It’s not of a happy topic but the ending just.. made me happy and gave me hope. It was inspiring and lovely. I wrote all about it in my review.
 Favourite book-to-movie adaptation seen this year
I watched only one adaptation this year which was Becoming but it was really good, so yeah.
 Favourite review that you’ve written in 2020 yet
My review of Frankly in Love was really fun to write. I also had a ton of thoughts to share. Because the book was so good, I put in extra effort in the review and that’s why I like it.
 Most beautiful book you bought/received
On January first, my friends gifted me the Six of Crows collectors edition for my birthday (which was a couple days prior). It was the best way to start the year, and it is the most beautiful book on my shelf.
 Book you need to read by end of the year
I have many but one that I’m really targeting is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. I’ve had it for several months and I should really get to it.
One is Em & the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto which I started a while back. While it’s interesting, it’s not addicting so I’m reading it slowly.
The other book is 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna West which I picked up after seeing it on some Instagram post. The title intrigued me so I got it and I’ve been reading a couple chapters every day. Every essay takes only a few minutes to read but has very valuable information. Several essays really made me think.
The first book, which I was reading when the last update went up, is An American Marriage by Tayari Jones which I was “reading” as an audiobook. It was really good. I liked the raw emotions that were so evident through the story, and the author shows just how difficult that situation is. It’s no one’s fault but it’s messed up.
The next book, which was also an audiobook for me, is Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. IT. WAS. SO GOOD. I absolutely loved it. All of it. You can bet that I completely flailed over it in my review.
The next book was one that I picked up to cross of a 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman is quite popular in bookstagram because it features a bookish lead who resembles most of us.
It might be just me but I’ve read tons of romance books where the lead is like this and I’m just bored of that narrative. My complete thoughts are on this Instagram post below:
The Fix Up by Kendall Ryan was a random audiobook pick. I hadn’t tried to read an adult romance through audiobook yet so I gave this a go, especially since it’s short.
And it was SO FUNNY. I couldn’t help but snort or laugh out loud during the “sexy talk” or when the characters said explicit words. This is the first time I’m hearing them so it was very funny. I don’t think romance books as audiobooks are my thing because what I can skim over when reading as an ebook/physical copy is something I can’t properly skip in an audiobook. That makes me focus on everything and hence notice all the parts that I don’t like.
The book’s story was fine, though. The narration ruined it for me.
That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert was the next book I picked up because it was recommended by someone on Instagram. I read that it has a male demisexual representation and that was all I needed.
While it has a romance which has quite an age-gap, which I generally don’t like, this book did it well. And I really liked it. I also loved the demisexual representation.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson was recommended by a ton of people because it’s an own voices, Black and queer book. I picked it up without reading what it’s about and was surprised that it’s a memoir since I expected it to be fiction. But I didn’t mind.
It was really good and I highly recommended.
The next book I read is also a queer book. Running With Lions by Julian Winters was highly recommended by my friend Sai on Instagram so I picked it up. And IT WAS SO ADORABLE. The characters are precious. I want to hug them and shield them from everything. The book is too good.
The last book (!!) that I read in the last two weeks was You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson which is an own voices, Black and queer book. I heard it on audiobook and LOVED it. It’s also quite short so I was able to finish it fast (on 2x speed).
I absolutely stan this book.
What are you planning on reading next?
Hopefully, Release by Patrick Ness which I’ve had for a LONG time. One of my book club friends was unhauling books and offered us books if we wanted them. I picked this one because the author has been on my to-read list for long. I recently found out that it is also queer and since I’m trying to pick up more queer books right now because it’s Pride month, I should pick it up now.
Other than that, I’m unsure. I seem to be reading a TON lately, especially since I started audiobooks. Hopefully I don’t go into a slump haha.
Considering that this is the first year that I’m properly attempting reading challenges, I’m doing pretty good. I’m actually really happy with my progress.
Goodreads Reading Challenge
I started the year with a goal to read 150 books, same as 2019’s goal. But with a busy life and schedule, I wasn’t able to read at that pace and I reduced my goal to 100 books.
As of now, my progress is at 71/100 books!!
If I kept up with this pace, I’ll be on track to read about 125 books by the end of the year. I can try to hit 150 but that would take a lot of effort and would put too pressure on me. Especially since I don’t know how things will be when we gradually stop social distancing.
For now, I’m keeping it at 100. Once I hit that, I think I’ll raise it to 120 and so on (if possible) in small increments.
SOUTH-ASIAN READING CHALLENGE 2020
Primarily hosted by Fanna, this challenge encourages us to read more South Asian books.
I read 2 South-Asian books since my last update. They are Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal and The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar. I also just realized that I forgot to include one book under this category last month which is The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.
All of the three books were really good reads (rated them all 4 stars). I have posted reviews for The Henna Wars and The Joy Luck Club so you can check those out.
I admit, this challenge has slightly slipped from my mind in the last month. There wasn’t much effort from my side to pick up books that I already own over newly introduced-to-me books.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal is the only book from my existing physical shelf that I picked up.
I did read a couple overdue ebooks which were The Color Purple by Alice Walker and I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver.
This month, being Pride Month and also one where I’m trying to pick up books that I normally wouldn’t go for, I’m not sure if I will be prioritizing this particular challenge. I will try though.
2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge
And finally, the one challenge that I am taking most seriously. It’s only because I’ve never attempted a year-long challenge based on prompts that I’m giving it extra attention with proper planning and tracking.
I barely do short-term (lasting a weekend/week/month) challenges with prompts so this is actually a big commitment for me.
And I am super happy to report that all that planning has worked out well. I’ve completed 31/50 prompts. Which means I ticked off 5 prompts in the last month.
One thing I’m trying to do is not overlap prompts with the same books so dedicating 50 out of (around) 100 books this year to the challenge is a lot. But it has helped me get to some TBR books as well as broaden my reading categories.
The prompts that I finished are:
A book with a great first line:The Color Purple by Alice Walker.
A book by a trans/non-binary author:I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver.
A book with the same name/title of a movie/TV show but is unrelated to it:Pride by Ibi Zoboi.
A book by/about a woman in STEM:Truth or Beard by Penny Reid.
A book with a robot/cybord/AI character:The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee.
I know that I still have 19 prompts left but they’re mostly ones that I’ve been putting off so.. it’s time to get to them.
Since lockdown began and I’ve been reading more, these weekly reading updates are really useful. They give me a chance to talk about multiple books that may not review and they also let y’all hear about many books within one post with short and concise opinions.
I didn’t do this last week because of Black Lives Matter movement and I didn’t want to take away any attention from it. There’s still a lot to be done. Here’s a link on what you can do to support (it is regularly updated).
I’m currently listening to An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. It’s been on my TBR for a long time, ever since a book club member praised it during one of our meets. I finally picked it up now because I saw it available as an audiobook.
I’m about 35% through. It’s going good so far, I’m liking the complexities of the story and characters.
I’m part of a romance book club on Instagram and the book club pick for this month is Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan. I’ve read the author’s books before and I’ve liked and disliked multiple of them. So I had no expectations that I will like or dislike this book.
Sadly, I did not like it. While it has a really good main character, I simply did not like the convoluted story and the main characters acted based on body not mind. It was stupid considering they’re in their 30s and are supposed to be matured.
The next book I read was The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee. This book has also been on my TBR for a long time (especially because it sounds cool af). I was able to bring it further up my TBR because it fits a 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt.
This was available as an audiobook as well and I have to say, listening to the audiobook was really good. The narration just drew me into the world and got me addicted. This was the fastest (average-length) audiobook that I’ve listened to so far. I was not able to stay away.
The third book was The Color Purple by Alice Walker. If you’ve been following my updates for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been reading this book for over a month. It’s a hard book to read.
But once I got through half the book, it suddenly became so easy to read and gripped me. It’s a damn good book and I don’t know how to talk about it properly. Definitely recommend it!
The last book that I read was Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I’ve seen this book around a lot and its been on my “maybe” TBR because all non-fictions are “maybe” to me. It’s not my genre.
I started reading it because of Black Lives Matter and I figured that it would educate me. It definitely did that, and it was so good.
This is the BEST NON-FICTION book I’ve read so far. I read it in just 5 days! That’s huge for me. It’s also my first non-fiction which is about recounting history and facts (with citations and references). I realized while reading this that it’s my favourite type of non-fiction (yet).
I wrote a brief review on my Instagram post (shown below) so you can just read that to know my opinions.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?
I’m in the mood for the following:
YA light-hearted book (preferable queer because it’s Pride month, after all!)
A rom-com (maybe new adult?)
Since reading Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race I’m super intrigued to pick up more non-fiction.
I have my sights set on one book which I want as a paperback (and will buy from my local bookstore sometime soon). There are a few other books that I want to read as well, which I’m going to buy on Kindle.
I’m super excited to read non-fiction haha. Let’s hope this lasts!
It’s advice everyone’s heard at some point. Covers, people seem to think, represent only the surface level appearance of a book, which is why it’s bad to judge books for their appearance instead of their substance. And while it’s true that the content of a book is the most important thing, readers should also remember that professionally designed book covers are expertly codified items of information, ripe for interpreting!
Indeed, if you approach book covers with a sharp eye, they can tell you a lot: the genre, the intended audience, what mood the story evokes, and even which plot elements were important enough to be selected for the cover art. (In fact, designers need to be careful not to spoil the book, as cover art can act as both content warning and spoiler).
This means a book cover, like the book itself, is subject to analysis. So put on your analytical hat and let’s see which clues you can look out for on covers, Sherlock-style. To do that, we’ll examine some recently published books from four distinct genres: YA, Romance, Thrillers, and Memoirs.
YA: Think Exclamation-Mark Energy!
YA is a joyful place in the world of book design, even if the books deal with heavier topics. As you can tell from just three examples, this genre’s covers radiate energy and enthusiasm. They use bright colors, often going for one color that really makes the entire cover pop with activity, like Holly Bourne’s It Only Happens in the Movies.
Now let’s talk fonts: the typography on a book’s cover is one of the most crucial aspects of book design. It’s a choice that reflects the spirit of a book, and paying attention to it can help you identify genre and mood—here, all three covers have lettering done by hand, a choice common in YA as it gives the covers a youthful, doodly, informal look. As YA is so broad, these covers also indicate sub-genres: they all fall under YA Romance, but communicate this information in different ways.
It Only Happens in the Movies clearly identifies romance as central to the story (notice the little heart inside the ‘O’ in ‘movies’), but the choice of popcorn suggests a humorous side. The Gravity of Us signals LGBT Romance with its beautiful illustration of two boys looking out toward the sky, whereas All the Bright Places chooses to remain more ambiguous, though the sticky notes nod toward a school setting. (If you take a look at Wilder Girls by Rory Power—The Wordy Habitat review here—you’ll see that this book defies YA’s preference for bright colors, choosing dark shadows to show it’s a mystery, but demonstrating it’s still within YA through the playful lettering.)
Romance: Titles Taking Center Stage
When an author is in the process of publishing their book, they are sometimes advised to revise their title to make sure it appeals to the right readers (famously the case with Toni Morrison’s Paradise). This is especially important in romance books, as the trend here is to feature the title as the central element of the cover. (Note that I’m talking about the rom-com type here—this doesn’t apply to more dramatic romance books, as those tend to feature photos of chiseled bodies.)
Here, delicate illustrations accompany the title lettering, standing in for an element of the plot, and the palette of the genre is generally limited to pinks, whites, blues, reds, purples, and various shades in between. There are exceptions, of course, but generally romance covers are chromatically muted—you aren’t likely to read any bright green or electric blue romances (unless they’re paranormal romances about zombies, radioactivity, or aliens)!
Thrillers/Crime: Bold in Every Way
Thriller covers are notoriously loud. It’s understandable — they’re meant to thrill you, and designers are doing their best to help authors market their books, so a strong cover is a must. Thriller covers generally use sans serif fonts (in other words, straight and clean lines, no decorative flourishes or squiggles). A no-BS genre demands a no-BS font!
Fonts aside, thrillers are unafraid to choose confident colors (looking at that neon green on My Sister the Serial Killer) and brave contrasts: in this small selection, we’ve got a combination of orange-white-black, neon green-black, blue-white-yellow, and black-white-red. These palettes are not fooling around. They demand your attention, and they demand it now.
A final note on thrillers: they’re more likely to feature photographs or illustrations as a larger element of their covers than, say, rom-com books, as they provide an intriguing way into the story. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, for example, displays the front of a building with an eerily lit window to hook a potential reader’s curiosity.
Memoir: Keeping It Personal
Memoir is a deeply personal subgenre of nonfiction, and memoir covers vary widely. These are truly an accomplishment of multi-tasking, as designers need to carefully balance authority with openness. To do that, they often go down two avenues: one is the use of personal photographs, sometimes edited to achieve an ‘aged’ look for a nostalgic feel (as you can see above, four of these covers use photos).
The other is choosing to emphasize the deeply personal nature of telling a story about yourself, so some designers will use hand-drawn lettering to convey the playfulness, intimacy, or sincerity of a diary (see The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton, and The Prosecutor by Nazir Afzal respectively). Either way, the cover functions as a paratextual confirmation of the content’s veracity.
There are no hard-and-fast rules in book design—there are only patterns (see what I did there?), so exceptions are inevitable. Still, being aware of common tropes can really help you understand what a designer is trying to communicate.
Now that you’ve learned the basics, why not put your knowledge to the test by turning to your bookshelf or Reedsy’s book design gallery, and judging some more books by their covers? Look at examples from similar genres and see if you can detect the unspoken principles guiding the designers—this is especially entertaining when you know nothing about a book, as you can then test yourself by reading the synopsis at the back. Have fun!
This post was written for The Wordy Habitat by Desiree Villena.
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories.
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Are there any other patterns or trends that you have noticed in book covers?
I’m currently reading two books right now. The first one is The Color Purple by Alice Walker which I started over a week back. I’m about 35% through it. It’s a hard read and I’m not able to pick it up very easily. I’ve decided that I will read a part of it every few days. It’ll take a while to finish it but that’s okay.
The second one is Emma by Jane Austen which I’m only 6 chapters through. I should read a few more by this weekend because we have another discussion then.
WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?
The first book I finished in the last week was Pride by Ibi Zoboi which I had read as an audiobook. It was quite nice. I enjoyed the new setting for P&P and while it doesn’t exactly follow another version of the same plot, it was close enough. Some things felt rushed and off but overall I liked it.
The other book that I finished was Beach Read by Emily Henry. It’s a popular book receiving a lot of talk recently and I wanted a romance to breeze through so I picked it up. While I don’t agree with the hype, it was quite nice. Some things about the story are things that have been done a lot in romance books and I wasn’t interested in another spin on them. It was okay but wouldn’t recommend it over several other great romance books.
Another book that I finished is The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar which is this month’s new release pick for the South Asian Reading Challenge. I was supposed to finish it yesterday but wasn’t able to read all day due to work and college work. But I did get some time to read before work this morning and I finished it!
I really liked it and will probably write a review soon.
Okay this book is not a “finished read” but I’m technically done with it so I’ll talk about it here.
I was really looking forward to The Betrothed by Kiera Cass because I enjoyed the first three books of The Selection. I started it on audiobook but it was not great. At about 45% in, I spoke about it on Instagram and my friend commented like “NO STOP READING IT DON’T READ IT”. I asked him why and read reviews on Goodreads, all of which said that it is super disappointing.
Because of them, I decided to read a spoiler-y review and that cemented the decision to abandon the book for me. It’s a stupid story and its a good thing my friend warned me about it.
Did Not Finish.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?
No clue at all. Hopefully something nice though. At least 4 stars.
I’m reading MANY books currently. And that’s why I haven’t finished more.
I’m still listening to Pride by Ibi Zoboi on audiobook. I did make progress last week and am 65% into the book. Even though I didn’t get a chance to listen to it more than once, I couldn’t help but think about where I left off multiple times.
I started reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker early last week. I didn’t read the blurb and jumped right in so I was surprised about the story. I didn’t know that it dealt with heavy topics and is not easy to read.
I only read it for about a day before I put a pause on it. I will get back to it slowly over time because it’s not a book I can read at once.
The last book that I’m currently reading is Emma by Jane Austen. I started it just last night actually and am less than a chapter in.
I joined a book club through twitter with a few others and we decided to read Emma so that’s why I picked it up. It has been on my TBR for a long time so its good that I finally have the motivation to read it.
What did you recently finish reading?
I managed to finish two books last week.
The first was I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver which I finished last Wednesday.
I’m really glad that I finally read it. It gave me perspective on some things especially since it is my first book with a non-binary main character.
It was really nice. Definitely recommend it.
The second book that I managed to finish was Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. I finished it just last night.
It’s honestly a GREAT book. I like how the author told multiple perspectives of Indians who settle in other countries hoping to provide more for their children. But the best part was obviously ripping apart the stigma around sex and talking about it.
What do you think you’ll read next?
I don’t think I should plan my next reads because I’m currently reading three haha.
That being said, the books I really want to read next are Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar and Beach Read by Emily Henry.
Of course, there’s also The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins which just released. I’m not sure I’ll be reading it very soon though. I haven’t even gotten the book yet.
I’m still in the middle of Pride by Ibi Zoboi on audiobook. I made some progress but not much. Reading has been more my thing.
The ebook I’m currently reading is I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver. This book first caught my eye when I was going through 2019 releases back in end of December 2018. So it’s been over a year!
I’m really enjoying it so far. I think this is the first time I’m reading a book with a non-binary main character. It’s sad that it’s my first, but at least I’m getting to it.
What did you recently finish reading?
I read two books in the last week. It’s half as much as the week before, but oh well. Work has been hectic, and I blogged more and spent time blog hopping as well.
The first book I picked up was Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. I actually meant to pick up Truth or Beard by Penny Reid but I chose Darius the Great is Not Okay on Kindle by mistake. I didn’t realize the mistake until almost a whole chapter in so I just continued.
It was such a nice read! I loved Darius, first of all. The book also introduces us to Iran and their cultures which was super interesting. Darius’s relationship with his family was also interesting to read about. I always love family focus.
The second book was what I initially meant to pick up. Truth or Beard by Penny Reid has been a book I’ve looked forward to for a long time. I remember loving the Knitting in the City series so I had similar expectations for this.
Unfortunately, the book disappointed me. It was nowhere near my expectations and I’m SO SAD.
It definitely had some good parts but it wasn’t much on the whole and there were multiple things that annoyed me. I tried to like it but I couldn’t. I feel sad. Not sure if I’ll continue with the series soon.
What do you think you’ll read next?
Honestly, no clue. I’m not going into the next week with any plan because I know I’ll have a lot of work to do for both college and internship. Let’s hope I have time to read in the first place.
Now, romance books with boss-employee relationships is NOT my comfort zone. In fact, I kind of hate it. I just don’t see a way it would be acceptable, for me. It stands in the bottom of my preferences, only preferred over teacher-student relationships.
But I tried to give the trope a chance in April. Only because the romancetheque book club chose this trope for their April books of the month.
I actually liked the first book so I downloaded the extra reads as well and Tempt the Boss was one of them.
I HATED IT.
Usually I mark abandoned books in my DNF* shelf on Goodreads and not as “read”. But I marked this one as read just so I could write a rant review for it. My review, as I had written on Goodreads:
I’m sorry but putting a laxative into your boss’s drink is going TOO FAR. It’s not just a prank anymore. It’s not professional, especially when it’s your SECOND day at work. I stopped reading right after that. The prank and further (lack of) consequences were unbelievable.
*Did Not Finish
 Happily Ever All-Star by Sosie Star
I picked this up like all my random romance reads. From Goodreads recommendations or lists.
And it was okay in the beginning. It was not bad. But I just couldn’t like it past a certain point??
It was trying too hard to be humourous and the chemistry between the main characters was weird.
The book wasn’t for me.
 The Upside of Falling by Alex Light
This book is actually quite popular in the YA community! I’ve heard some praises for it. And since it is a fake dating trope story, I was looking forward to it.
But the beginning was so rushed. Everything happened in a short time. And there wasn’t a proper reasoning or story arc to START fake dating.
It was as if the author took parts of other fake dating YA books and mixed them all together here. It was weird and if the beginning of such an iconic trope can’t interest me, the rest of the book definitely won’t. Hence, I abandoned it.
 Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennet
This is another sort-of popular book in the YA community. Some of the people I follow on bookstagram really liked it. And it has an interesting synopsis so I picked it up.
I actually have nothing against this book. I just was not interested in it, personally. The story was fine, the characters were fine, and the writing was okay too. But my interest in the book was zero. And that’s why I abandoned it.
 Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
I read and abandoned this book back in December 2019. I cannot remember why I didn’t like it.
Now that I look at it again, the premise sounds good enough. It has the fake-dating trope. I think I DNFed it because it was not delivering like I expected from the synopsis. Pretty sure it was boring and that’s why I gave it up.
Who really knows. Not me for sure.
 Until Fools Find Gold by Mary B. Moore
I have good patience with bad romances. Not sure if you know that but I do. Proof is the fact that I barely DNF books. I abandoned only 4 this year and I’ve read 57 books. So either I have patience or I just have really good luck at picking books. I’ll claim the former.
There was this point where I was picking random books set in the same world as Aurora Rose Reynold’s Until series. I have no clue why but some of them were free on Kindle so I tried them. And I read previews for some others, just to see if they were nice.
This was one of them and it was VERY annoying. The male lead was too much of an alpha-male. The female character was annoying as well. Overall, not a good read and I gave it up pretty quickly.
 Until Merri by Suzanne Halliday
Another one like the previous book I mentioned. I cannot remember why I did not like this one but I guess it annoyed me? In fact I’m pretty sure I only read the preview on Goodreads for this one and gave it up.
 Until Midnight by Gwendolyn Grace
By this point, you must have realized that these spin-off books by other authors just were NOT nice. I think I liked only one of them.
This book also does not exist in my memory. I don’t know why I DNFed it, but I did. That’s all.
 Do Not Disturb by Layla Frost
I marked this as DNF in SEPTEMBER 2019 so forgive me for my lack of memory. It seems that after a while I just push these books out of my brain.
This one is also HIGHLY rated in Goodreads and has many praising reviews. I cannot figure out why I abandoned it lol.
 Deep by Kylie Scott
Now, I actually do really like this series by Kylie Scott. The first book was really good and I liked the next two books as well.
Deep is book 4 in the series and when I realized I hadn’t read it, I picked it up. And.. it was bad. I remember exactly where I stopped reading this book and why.
This romance involves a surprise pregnancy. And when the pregnancy did get revealed, the scene was very cringey and unrealistic and confusing. It was done badly and I couldn’t figure out whether it was meant to be funny or heroic or .. ??? I don’t know!
It turned me off the book so I abandoned it. I was disappointed that the last book of the series was sour for me.
My initial plan was to update y’all on my progress with the reading challenges every month. And I kept it up for two months before forgetting about it.
To be honest, I thought I had missed posting an update only for one month but turns out I missed it for two months. It makes sense, though, since March and April were a haze together and were like one single month.
Anyway, I’m back with some solid updates now!
*side note: I accidentally turned off my keyboard while thinking about how to start this post. I was holding down the right Shift key (ready for capitalization) while thinking and apparently held it for 8 seconds which disabled my keyboard. Thankfully my trackpad still worked and using that and voice search on google, I figured out how to enable it again. But yeah, such are the adventures of my life 🙂
GOODREADS READING CHALLENGE
This time at home has been really good for my reading. The reduction of travel time meant that I could read more. And my reading status shows that.
I’ve finished reading 57/100 books!
And all of these are good reads, not just ones that I pick up as fluff to make myself happy.
Although I am 23 books ahead of schedule (according to Goodreads), I’m still striving to hit 150 books which was my original goal. I had reduced it after realizing that with work and college and blogging I would never hit that goal.
I’m still not on track to hit that goal but I will try my best.
SOUTH-ASIAN READING CHALLENGE 2020
This is a challenge hosted by my friend Fanna and I was super excited to participate. But like many things, it went away to a distant island in my brain in March. I did not read the chosen books for March and April.
But, the ultimate goal is to read as many South-Asian books as possible and I think I’ve done well enough for that? Basically I’m reading books for other reasons and they fortunately fit into this challenge. Hey, I’m trying my best.
But I am planning on reading the book picked by the hosts for May which is Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar. There has been so much praise for it and it sounds super cool. I’ve already read the backlist pick Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali so I won’t be reading that again.
The purpose of this challenge is to prioritize reading books that we already own before picking up/buying new ones. Considering my physical shelf doesn’t have that many unread books anyway, it was never high priority. I pick them up when I feel like it.
My ebook shelf is not too bad either.
In the past two months, books I read that fit this challenge are:
The first 4 are physical books and last two are ebooks. Not bad progress, I think. Especially since 4 were paperbacks.
2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge
This is the one challenge that I’ve been ON TOP of. I even made a list where I matched whatever prompts I could to books already in my TBR or ones that caught my eye.
But yes, it has also got me to try new books. Ones that I wouldn’t look at otherwise. And I welcome it in doses.
My reading plan is mixing comfortable books (that I know I’ll like or am excited to read) with books out of my comfort zone. This way I don’t bring on a book slump by clubbing all the out-of-comfort reads together.
And I’ve definitely made progress on it! I shared how I plan my reads on my latest WWW Wednesday post so you can see that for details.*
I’ve finished 26 out of 50 prompts!
When I last updated, I had finished just 11 prompts so this is REALLY good progress! I’m going to smash this challenge.
I don’t think I’ll share all the prompts that I finished here since this post will become REALLY long. But I’m considering making an entirely separate post with them and mini reviews on each book.
Not sure if I should do this now or only after I (hopefully) finish all. Let me know what you think I should do in the comments.
*P. S. I also post mini reviews and frequent reading updates every week through WWW Wednesday posts so do check them out for all the opinions.
And that’s it for my updates! I think I’ve done pretty well so far.
I’m currently listening to Pride by Ibi Zoboi. This has been on my TBr for a while now but mostly as a “maybe” read. But I saw this while browsing through audiobooks about a month back and wanted to read it.
Fortunately it also works for multiple2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge prompts too. I’ll be checking off “a book with the same name/title as of a movie/TV show but is unrelated to it” with it.
It’s also narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo which I did not realize before. It’s a coincidence, which you’ll realize in the next section of this post.
I’m not reading anything else as of now.
What did you recently finish reading?
It was a good reading week and I have A LIST so settle down for this.
The first book that I read was With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. And yes, this is the coincidence that I was talking about. Reading a book by her and listening to a book narrated by her in the same week without intention? Good coincidence.
I really liked With The Fire On High. It’s kind of a wholesome book. The main character Emoni was really nice to read about. Her growth throughout the book as she goes from a teenager to an adult while also being a mother was wonderful to see. I loved the story.
The next book that I read was What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter. I added this to my TBR before it released and was reminded of it through Tiffany’s recent review.
Although I didn’t have high hopes for it, especially after that review, I still wanted to read it. Halle is a book blogger and also a cupcake enthusiast. It was nice to read about the book blogger experiences, especially about all the Twitter drama which I actively avoid in real life.
Overall, not that impressed but it had some good parts. The family focus was lovely.
I finally finished The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainani! The audiobook took me FOREVER i.e. a whole month. I’m sure even y’all got tired of me saying that I’m still reading it every week in these updates.
If only I had the opportunity to read this book back in middle grade. I would have loved it even more. It’s such a good book, with the different take on fairytales that we all wanted. Especially the ending.
4/5 stars. (Would have been 5/5 if I was in middle grade)
My last read of the week was The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I found this book while going through the Goodreads list suggested for the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt “a book set in a country starting with C”.
It caught my eye in the list and the premise sounded interesting too. The book is about 4 sets of mothers and daughters. All the mothers are women who grew up in China and immigrated to America and formed a “Joy Luck Club”. All the daughters are Americans at heart.
The book shows the lives of both generations and the divide between them. How they almost talk different languages and barely know each other.
It was a wonderful read and I liked the stories. I did find it hard to read fast, though. It took me a whole week to read because I took breaks to read other books that caught my attention more.
What do you think you’ll read next?
There’s a subtle plan I’ve been following for the past few weeks. For every three books, I read:
one which is easy to read and will make me happy. (usually romance/YA contemporary)
one random book either from ones I already own or a new one.
I don’t choose the all the books in advance, but it’s how I’ve been keeping my reading consistent. Picking up books that I can read fast and will mostly like regularly helps in keeping book slumps away.
Sometimes I try to combine them too!
So for this coming week, I’d like to read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a while now and I’d like to read it. It’s also praised a lot by some of my bookstagram friends, so I’m excited to see what it is about.
Another book I’d like to read is Truth or Beard by Penny Reid. Although I absolutely love the author’s works, I haven’t tried her Winston Brothers series yet. It is highly praised by many in the romance book world so I’m excited to finally pick it up!
If I read something other than these two, it’ll be a random choice according to mood.
Yes, I am STILL reading The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani on audiobook. But at least I made some progress this week. I listened to it for about an hour.
I’ll probably take another month to finish it at this rate.
The book I’m actually reading is With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s quite interesting, and all the food descriptions make me drool. I’m liking it.
What did you recently finish reading?
I finished reading Verity by Colleen Hoover. I’m used to romances from her so this was quite different, but it was good different. The book was creepy, mysterious, and kept me on the edge.
I took an hour longer to sleep for two nights after finishing the book because I just couldn’t stop thinking about the plot. The ending is one that still leaves some things to ponder upon. It was great.
The next book I read was Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours by Sonali Dev. I was actually unsure on what to pick and remembered that I marked this as something I should finish last week. What do you know, these posts actually keep me responsible!
The book was a long read but it was good. The family aspects and storylines were my favourite. This book portrays a complicated Indian family so well.
What do you think you’ll read next?
Honestly, no clue. I want to read a book for the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge. If not Room by Emma Donoghue (I’m not really in the mood for this book now), something else from my planned reads.
I made a plan with certain books for some of the prompts, so I’ll read one of them. Other than that, I’m in the mood for another romance so I may try Beach Read by Emily Henry which was recommended by someone on Twitter.
I’m still in the middle of the audiobook for The School For Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. I haven’t progressed at all since last week because I just don’t listen to audiobooks much when I’m at home.
I started reading Verity by Colleen Hoover last night. It’s a book that was on my “maybe” TBR. I decided to pick it up because it qualifies for the “upside down image on the book cover” prompt in the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge.
The book is quite good! I’m used to romance books from Colleen Hoover and not mystery so lets see how this goes.
What did you recently finish reading?
My reading this past week was not as good as the week before it. This is because work increased and I also spent some time watching Kdramas instead of reading.
Reading during lockdown is all about getting to the books in my huge TBR and also make progress on reading challenges. To satisfy both of those things, I read 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Simmons.
I wanted to read it since it released, and there are only good reviews on it from my blogger friends. I finally read it and IT’S SO GOOD. Abbie is an awesome writer.
It was hearfelt, motivating, and warm. It was also funny to see the praise of waffles in the book because Abbie is a huge lover of waffles.
My next read was Circe by Madeline Miller. This book ticked off THREE things for me:
My book club’s pick for April.
A prompt for 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge.
A book for #StartOnYourShelfathon because it’s been on my shelf for months now.
I absolutely LOVED Circe. It was so good. I could not stop reading it. Miller’s writing was beautiful and engaging. It also felt wonderful to go back to the Greek myth world.
I have to say, I’m glad I read the Percy Jackson series because I understood so many references in this book because of that.
The last book I finished was Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. I saw this book on Kate’s blog Cover to Cover where she praised this book a lot. The premise sounded good so I gave it a go.
I’m a not really a fan of explicit scenes in MM romance books and this book had a LOT of that. That was the only reason I didn’t enjoy it a lot. The story and the characters were really good. I was super invested in the romance. Really liked it.
But yeah, my rating is lower only because of personal preferences.
What do you think you’ll read next?
I’m not really sure. But I do need to read the books I already have instead of getting new ones as ebooks. So I’ll just choose one from my physical shelf and one from my ebooks.
From my physical shelf I want to read Room by Emma Donoghue. It’s a popular book and it also qualifies for a 2020 Popsugar Reading challenge prompt.
The book I chose from my ebooks is Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavours by Sonali Dev. I’ve had this book for quite sometime and it’s a Pride and Prejudice retelling. I’m looking forward to read it.
Hopefully this post will keep me responsible and get me to read these two books.