2022 Challenges

What is everyone planning to do for reading challenges in 2022?

Last year was my first year attempting any reading challenges, and I seem to like making the plan more than following through with the plan. I know this about myself…so let’s plan out a few challenges and see where it goes!

  1. PopSugar Reading 2022 – my list
  2. Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2022 – my list
  3. The Shelfie Chronicles 2022 – my list
  4. Reading Rivalry – monthly challenges

I am also working on some ongoing, longer challenges…or at least, challenges I have no intention of completing in just one year.

  • Boxall’s 1001 Books to Read Before You Die | Amazon | – one day I may make a blog post…but that’s a lot of books to type up or copy/paste.
  • Read the states challenge – this wouldn’t be so hard except that I read A LOT of fantasy, most of which takes place in not the US.

Follow me on instagram at @janaandbooks to see all of the books that I read and how they fit with my challenges!

Homicide and Halo-Halo Review

Amazon | Bookshop

Arsenic and Adobo introduced me to the world of cozy mysteries when I got it from Book of the Month last year. Homicide and Halo-Halo has a very similar tone – but this time takes place during a teen beauty pageant! 

I’ve taken up crochet during my new long Covid lifestyle, and this was the perfect book to put on while I was crocheting! 

My least favorite part of mystery series in general is that the lovers never get together. I read way too much romance to be strung along like this for multiple books. The romance plot line in this one felt very CW teen series circa 2004 – who will she choose? 

I actually guessed part of the who dunnit this time around – I’m very proud of myself!

I read this for the PopSugar Reading Challenge – a book by a Pacific Islander author. Check out my complete list of PopSugar recommendations! And stay tuned to see if I can finish my last 9 prompts by the end of the year…as of today that just means I need to finish a book every 5 days. Easy peasy. 😅

October Favorites

This month started very promising – I read 10 books by October 16th. After finishing my 100th book of the year, I lost my momentum with binge reading all day and have only finished two books since then. Which makes it sound like I quit reading, which I haven’t, I’ve just been reading Kingdom of Ash at a reasonable person’s pace of 50 pages a day. Unfortunately that book is almost 1,000 pages long, so at this rate it’ll take me until well into November to finish it.

I earn a small commission if you buy using my links – thank you for supporting my reviews!

Fantasy

Tower of Dawn

Amazon | Bookshop

Tower of Dawn is the second to last book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. If you’re new to Throne of Glass, you’ll want to start with either Assassin’s Blade (novella prequel set) or Throne of Glass (the first book). Right now is a great time to buy if you want the original covers – the new covers come out in February 2023.

Paranormal fiction

Sign Here

Amazon | Bookshop

Sign Here is maybe the best debut novel I’ve read all year. Chapters alternate between Pey – who works for Hell – and the family he is trying to make a deal with. Sign Here is completely different from anything I’ve read all year, and I was riveted until the very end! If you love dark humor, this is for you.

I would check trigger warnings if you have any sensitivities – there are pretty vivid depictions of torture and self harm. There were two pages I barely skimmed and mostly skipped.

For the Bridgerton Fans

A Reckless Match

Amazon | Bookshop

A Reckless Match was my first Kate Bateman book, and I immediately read the second in this series. I would have read the third too, but it doesn’t come out until December!

This series follows rival families the Davies and the Montgomerys (Montgomeries?). No one remembers quite how the rivalry started – was it over a stolen pig or a stolen woman? – but they are committed to continuing the rivalry.

If you like childhood rivals to lovers, you’ll love this one.

Devil in Winter

Amazon | Bookshop

Devil in Winter is the third book in the Wallflowers series, but is everyone’s favorite. If you cannot handle reading books out of order, you can start with the first book – but it’s everyone’s least favorite. I would recommend reading the second – It Happened One Autumn – before Devil in Winter, because it does set this book up nicely.

The Wallflowers series follows four friends – Annabelle, Lillian, Evie, & Daisy – who band together to help fight their wallflower tendencies so that they can get husbands.

All of the books I read in October

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Well Met (reread)
The Hating Game (reread)
Pride and Prejudice (reread)
Tower of Dawn
Devil in Winter
The Four Winds

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
It Happened One Autumn

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Reckless Match
A Daring Pursuit
Sign Here
Northanger Abbey


2021 Reading Reflection & 2022 Goals

2021 has been a really interesting year of reading for me. While I have always been a reader, this year had some new twists and turns.

40 books has been pretty standard for me. And this year I more than doubled that! As I’m writing this on December 27th, I’ve read 91 books. That’s so many books! My reading goal changed a lot over the year, as I joined Bookstagram + Netgalley, and then got approved for some influencer positions. I fully believe that goals should be flexible, and should change as your lifestyle changes. But I also like to reflect on why those changes happen, and if they are for the right reasons.

2021 Successes:
– Passed my goal of 60 books and read 91 books
– Reached 5,000 followers on instagram
– On track to finish the PopSugar 2021 Challenge (2 prompts to go – 75% through the nonfiction and 50% through the fiction)
– Was approved for 31 books on Netgalley
– Was asked to help review (in exchange for more ARCs) at my favorite local indie shop
– Became a rep/influencer for: The Shelfie Chronicles, Berkley Besties, & SAL Super Fans

Now, I’ve seen a lot of people who really up their goals as they go through this process. Here is why I’m lowering my goal for next year to 50 books:
– I want to give myself the option to read longer books.
– I want to give myself the option to read less romance novels and more dense literature (Hear me out!)

I have binge read some romance novels this year and I have absolutely loved them. I have also had some romance audiobooks playing while I sort of listened and sometimes let my mind wander and didn’t totally pay attention…I absolutely love to this option. There was a time in spring where I absolutely could not get the energy to do chores without a Julia Quinn novel in my ears. And if I space out, I do miss out on plot points and character development…but I can still enjoy and appreciate the story. But romance novels are so delightful and homey and wonderful…and I don’t have to plan or push myself to read them. These are books that I am going to read and enjoy and maybe even re-read. I just don’t want to set myself up for failure if I read fewer romances and therefor fewer books in total. (All love to romance novels. All love to people who exclusively read romance novels. All love to me when I read 60 books next year and 30 of them are romance novels.)

I have also *almost* completed the PopSugar Reading Challenge (just two to go!)….but I am not going to be as committed to finishing the 2022 challenge this year.
– I forced myself to read some books that I was not in the mood for just to finish the challenge. I really need the option to DNF something and/or come back to it later when I’m interested in it. I read a lot of different genres, but mostly because I’m a mood reader and at different times I am interested in different genres.
– I am super over committed to ARCs and need to prioritize those this year! (Again – mood reader! I can only plan so many reads per month.)

Intention: I want my reading life to stay fun, and I want my reading list to be diverse.
– read at least 5 books written by Indigenous/Native American authors
– collect at least 5 books written by Latinx authors
– collect at least 5 books written by disabled authors
– read at least 6 books from the ALA’s 52 Diverse Books Journal

My reading life is always like 6 months behind my book purchasing life. It’s chaotic, but it’s fun, and I’m not changing it any time soon! As I was doing bookstagram stack challenges during different months, I realized that I owned a fair number of Indigenous authors – but I haven’t read many of them! I also realized I owned very few books by Latinx or disabled authors, so I want to prioritize finding more authors who identify with those labels, and will work to read more of those in later 2022 or 2023.

ARC goals: (fortunately, some of these overlap!)
– 1 review/month for The Neverending Bookshop
– Get my Netgalley percentage up to 50%, then don’t let it fall below 40% again.
– 1 review/month for SAL Super Fans
– stretch goal: at least 1 book / month for Berkley Besties?

Subscription goals:
– at least 1 BotM book each month
– read my Signature book (from Third Place Books) within 3 months of receiving it

Bookstagram goals:
– Don’t make it stressful, keep it fun
– 3 posts / week
– Stretch: 1 reel / month? / week? – y’all I’m real lazy and do not want to learn how to do reels. I just want to read books.
– Super stretch goal: hit 10k followers

Is that kind of a lot?
I like setting goals. I buy too many books and need to organize them somehow! So, let’s add it up (assuming no crossover):
5 Indigenous books
+ 6 Diverse books
+ 12 Neverending
+ 4 Netgalley (to get my percentage up – obviously I’ll have to read more or get no more to keep up!)
+ 12 BotM
+ 5 Signature reads
= 44 books!
Which is…basically most of my year’s reading goal. That checks out. I predict that I will be successful keeping up with my Neverending bookshop commitment, and will make progress with the rest of them. I think if I am successful with other goals, I will not do as well keeping up with my Netgalley percentage, and I will have to be ok with that.

I would love to hear about other reader’s goals!

Looking for reading challenge recommendations? Check out my list!

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2022

Book Riot puts together an annual challenge to help break us diversify our reading lists.

Here is my list for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2022. Books in bold are books that I’ve read.

All books are available to purchase from my Bookshop store! If you buy from this link, I will receive a small commission, and part of the proceeds will go to independent bookstores.

1. Read a biography of an author you admire

2. Read a book set in a bookstore

3. Read any book from the Women’s Prize shortlist/longlist/winner list

4. Read a book in any genre by a POC that’s about joy and not trauma

5. Read an anthology featuring diverse voices

6. Read a nonfiction YA comic

7. Read a romance where at least one of the protagonists is over 40

8. Read a classic written by a POC

9. Read the book that’s been on your TBR the longest

10. Read a political thriller by a marginalized author BIPOC or LGBTQIA+

11. Read a book with an asexual and/or aromantic main character

12. Read an entire poetry collection

13. Read an adventure story by a BIPOC author

14. Read a book whose movie or TV adaption you’ve seen (but haven’t read the book)

15. Read a new-to-you literary magazine (print or digital)

16. Read a book recommended by a friend with different reading tastes

17. Read a memoir written by someone who is trans or nonbinary

18. Read a “Best __ Writing of the year” book for a topic and year of your choice

19. Read a horror novel by a BIPOC author

20. Read an award-winning book from the year you were born

21. Read a queer retelling of a classic of the canon, fairytale, folklore, or myth

22. Read a history about a period you know little about

23. Read a book by a disabled author

24. Pick a challenge from any of the previous years’ challenges to repeat!

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2022

Who’s in for the 2022 PopSugar Reading Challenge?

Here is my list for the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge. Books in bold are books that I’ve read.

All books are available to purchase from my Bookshop store! If you buy from this link, I will receive a small commission, and part of the proceeds will go to independent bookstores.

Regular prompts

1. A book published in 2022
Read: Hook, Line, & Sinker (Romance) Amazon | Bookshop
Recommendations:
– The School for Good Mothers (dystopia, literary) Amazon | Bookshop
– Edgewood (YA fantasy) Amazon | Bookshop
– The Golden Couple (thriller) Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
Weather Girl Amazon | Bookshop
– Book Lovers Amazon | Bookshop

2. A book set on a plane, train, or cruise ship
– Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships Amazon | Bookshop
Read: The Other Miss. Bridgerton (romance) Amazon | Bookshop

3. A book about or set in a nonpatriarchal society
Read: Curfew (dystopian) Amazon | Bookshop
Recommendations:
– The Priory of the Orange Tree Amazon | Bookshop
– Black Sun Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– Fevered Star (Feb 2022) Amazon | Bookshop

4. A book with a tiger on the cover or “tiger” in the title
Possibilities:
– Tigers, Not Daughters Amazon | Bookshop
– When You Trap a Tiger Amazon | Bookshop
– The Night Tiger Amazon | Bookshop

5. A sapphic book
Read: In the Event of Love (Christmas romance) Amazon | Bookshop
Recommend:
– Malice Amazon | Bookshop
– An Absolutely Remarkable Thing Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– Misrule Amazon | Bookshop
– This Poisoned Heart Amazon | Bookshop
– The Perks of Loving a Wallflower Amazon | Bookshop

6. A book by a Latinx author
Read: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris Amazon | Bookshop
Recommend:
– Cemetery Boys Amazon | Bookshop
– Infinite Country Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– Gods of Jade and Shadow Amazon | Bookshop
– The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina Amazon | Bookshop
– Lost in the Never Woods Amazon | Bookshop

7. A book with an onomatopoeia in its title
Read: Love, Hate & Clickbait (romance) Amazon | Bookshop

8. A book with a protagonist who uses a mobility aid
Read: A Lady for a Duke (historical romance) Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities: (looking for some own voices)
– Six of Crows Amazon | Bookshop

9. A book about a “found family”
Read: Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– Crooked Kingdom Amazon | Bookshop

10. An Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winner
Recommendations:
– Sing, Unburied, Sing Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– There, There Amazon | Bookshop
– A Brief History of Seven Killings Amazon | Bookshop
– Half of a Yellow Sun Amazon | Bookshop

11. A #BookTok recommendation
Read: The Love Hypothesis Amazon | Bookshop
Recommendations:
– A Court of Thorns and Roses Amazon | Bookshop
– The Spanish Love Deception Amazon | Bookshop

12. A book about the afterlife
Read: House of Sky and Breath Amazon | Bookshop
Recommendations:
– Under the Whispering Door Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– The Graveyard Book Amazon | Bookshop

13. A book set in the 1980s
Recommendations:
Possibilities:
– Malibu Rising Amazon | Bookshop

14. A book with cutlery on the cover or in the title
Recommendations:
Possibilities:
– In My Dreams I Hold A Knife Amazon | Bookshop
– Pride and Premeditation Amazon | Bookshop

15. A book by a Pacific Islander author
Read: Homicide and Halo-Halo Amazon | Bookshop | My Review

16. A book about witches
Read: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches Amazon | Bookshop
Recommendations:
The Once and Future Witches Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– Witches Steeped in Gold Amazon | Bookshop
– Magic Lessons Amazon | Bookshop

17. A book becoming a TV series or movie in 2022
Read: Persuasion Amazon | Bookshop
Recommendations:
– The Viscount Who Loved Me Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– The Storied Life of A. J. Fikrey Amazon | Bookshop
– Fire & Blood Amazon | Bookshop
– Kindred Amazon | Bookshop

18. A romance novel by a BIPOC author
Read: Dating Dr. Dil Amazon | Bookshop
Possibilities:
– anything by Jasmine Guillory
– Get a Life, Chloe Brown Amazon | Bookshop

19. A book that takes place during your favorite season
Read: (Summer) Well Met Amazon | Bookshop

20. A book whose title begins with the last letter of your previous read
Read: The Younger Wife Amazon | Bookshop

21. A book about a band or musical group
Read: The Final Revival of Opal and Nev Amazon | Bookshop

22. A book with a character on the ace spectrum
Read: The Love Hypothesis Amazon | Bookshop
(Yes I read it twice so I can count it twice!)

23. A book with a recipe in it
Read: Chasing Cassandra (historical romance) Amazon | Bookshop

24. A book you can read in one sitting
Read: Under One Roof (romance novella) Amazon
This is currently only available as an audiobook!

25. A book about a secret
Read: Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood Amazon | Bookshop

26. A book with a misleading title
Read: Neon Gods Amazon | Bookshop

27. A Hugo Award winner
Possibilities:
– The Dispossessed Amazon | Bookshop

28. A book set during a holiday
Read: Weather Girl Amazon | Bookshop

29. A different book by an author you read in 2021
Read: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor Amazon | Bookshop

30. A book with the name of a board game in the title
Read: Get A Life, Chloe Brown Amazon | Bookshop

31. A book featuring a man-made disaster
Read: The Four Winds Amazon | Bookshop

32. A book with a quote from your favorite author on the cover or Amazon page
Read: Book Lovers Amazon | Bookshop

33. A social-horror book
Possibilities:
– Upgrade Amazon | Bookshop
– Ace of Spades Amazon | Bookshop

34. A book set in Victorian times
Read: Marrying Winterbourne Amazon | Bookshop
(Any book in this series will work! This is my favorite historical romance series.)

35. A book with a constellation on the cover or in the title
Possibilities:
– Where the Forest Meets the Stars Amazon | Bookshop

36. A book you know nothing about
Read: Jane and the Year Without a Summer Amazon | Bookshop

37. A book about gender identity
Read: Love & Other Disasters Amazon | Bookshop

38. A book featuring a party
Read: It Happened One Summer Amazon | Bookshop

39. An #ownvoices SFF book
Read: Fevered Star Amazon | Bookshop
(First book: Black Sun Amazon | Bookshop)

40. A book that fulfills your favorite prompt from a past PopSugar reading challenge
Read: If the Shoe Fits Amazon | Bookshop
(Author you’ve never read before…prompt 41 from 2021 I think)

Advanced prompts

41. A book with a reflected image on the cover or “mirror” in the title
Read: A Mirror Mended Amazon | Bookshop

42. A book that features two languages
Read: Project Hail Mary Amazon | Bookshop
Possibility: Legendborn Amazon | Bookshop

43. A book with a palindromic title
Possibilities:
– Bob Amazon | Bookshop

44. A duology (1)
Read: Legendborn Amazon | Bookshop
(Ok I thought this was a duology but it turns out…it’s a trilogy!!)
Recommended:
All of Us Villains Amazon | Bookshop

45. A duology (2)
Read: A Psalm of Storms and Silence Amazon | Bookshop
(Book 1: A Song of Wrath and Ruin Amazon | Bookshop )

46. A book about someone leading a double life
Possibility:
– Little Thieves Amazon | Bookshop

47. A book featuring a parallel reality
Read: Elsewhere Amazon | Bookshop

48. A book with two POVs
Read: Cold-Hearted Rake Amazon | Bookshop
(Any from this series works, but this one was my favorite)

49. Two books set in twin towns, aka “sister cities” (1)
Read: The Christie Affair (London) Amazon | Bookshop

50. Two books set in twin towns, aka “sister cities” (2)
Read: The Soulmate Equation (New York) Amazon | Bookshop

The Shelfie Chronicles – 2022 Challenge

Alex and Taylor over at The Shelfie Chronicles have put together an epic 52 “Read your shelf” book challenge. You’re challenged to not only read 52 books – but to read them from your shelves or the library! Join the facebook group to get the printable and updates.

Books and prompts in bold are finished, others are books I’m planning to read.

Following the bookshop & amazon links can earn me a small commission, especially if you choose to buy a book! Thank you for supporting my book obsession.

1. A book over 22 years old

2. A book by an author who has written at least 22 books

3. A book with 22 letters in the title

4. A book with 22 or more chapters

5. Read during the 22nd week of the year (May 30-June 5)

6. A book that is being made into a movie in 2022
great list of 2022 adaptions

7. An author with two initials

8. An autho who’s name begins with 2 initials

9. Book 1 of a duology

10. Book 2 of a duology – Misrule

11. A book written in 2002

12. A book that starts with the letter “V” (22nd letter of the alphabet)

13. A book that has a version of the word “two” in the title e.g. twice, second, etc.

14. A book with 2 people on the cover

15. A book with 2 reviews on the cover

16. A book with 2 perspectives

17. A book that is set in 2 different states

18. A book that is set in 2 different time periods

19. A book with 2 words in the title

20. A book that spans more than 22 years

21. A novel set in the 22nd century

22. A book that starts with the letter “b”

23. A book you’re reading for the 2nd time

24. An author’s 2nd published book

25. The second book in a series

26. A book that was published the year you turned 2

27. A book published in February

28. A book with a main character in their 20’s – House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)

29. A second chance

30. A book published 2 years ago

31. A book by an author who writes under 2 different names
A list of authors with multiple pen names

32. A book about a character living 2 different lives

33. An author whose first and last initials are the same

34. A book with 2 different covers

35. A book with a character with a 2 letter name

36. A book that takes place in 2 days or less

37. A book involving a same sex couple

38. A book about 2 generations

39. A book that includes twins

40. A book with 2 love interests

41. A book with a character over 2,000 years old

42. A book under 200 pages

43. A book over 200,000 words

44. An author published in two different genres

45. A book recommended by 2 people

46. A book that could fit 2 different prompts

47. A book that includes at least 2 seasons

48. A book you read in February

49. A book with 2 opposing sides

50. Published in 2022

51. An author who has 2 or more bestsellers

52. A book that’s been on your TBR for at least 2 years

PopSugar 2021 Challenge

Have you heard of the PopSugar Reading Challenge? It’s an annual challenge with a list of prompts – you pick the book to fit each one!

Here is my list for the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge. Books in bold are books that I’ve read.

All books are available to purchase from my Bookshop store! If you buy from this link, I will receive a small commission, and part of the proceeds will go to independent bookstores.

REGULAR
1. A book that published in 2021 – Black Buck – | Bookshop | Amazon |
2. An Afrofuturist book
3. A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the cover – The Dating Plan | Bookshop | Amazon |
4. A book by an author who shares your zodiac sign – Becoming, by Michelle Obama | Bookshop | Amazon |
5. A dark academia book – A Deadly Education | Bookshop | Amazon |
6. A book with a gem, mineral, or rock in the title – The Nickel Boys
| Bookshop | Amazon |
7. A book where the main character works at your current or dream job – The Prime of Miss. Jean Brodie
8. A book that has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction – Piranesi
9. A book with a family tree – Romancing Mister Bridgerton
10. A bestseller from the 1990s – Holes
11. A book about forgetting – Wintersong
12. A book you have seen on someone’s bookshelf (in real life, on a Zoom call, in a TV show, etc.) – From Blood and Ash

13. A locked-room mystery – Shiver
14. A book set in a restaurant – Arsenic & Adobo
15. A book with a black-and-white cover – Luminous
16. A book by an indigenous author – Firekeeper’s Daughter
17. A book that has the same title as a song – It’s In His Kiss (Bridgerton #7)
18. A book about a subject you are passionate about – The House in the Cerulean Sea
19. A book that discusses body positivity – Spoiler Alert
20. A book on a Black Lives Matter reading list – The Poet X
21. A genre hybrid – The Viscount Who Loved Me
22. A book set mostly or entirely outdoors – King and the Dragonflies

23. A book with something broken on the cover –
24. A book by a Muslim American / Muslim British author
25. A book that was published anonymously – Pride and Prejudice
26. A book with an oxymoron in the title
27. A book about do-overs or fresh starts – The Lost Apothecary
28. A magical realism book – Instant Karma
29. A book set in multiple countries – Infinite Country

30. A book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021 – The Exiles
31. A book by a blogger, vlogger, YouTube video creator, or other online personality – An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

32. A book whose title starts with “Q,” “X,” or “Z”
33. A book featuring three generations (grandparent, parent, child) – The School for Good Mothers
34. A book about a social justice issue – This Promise of Change
35. A book in a different format than what you normally read (audiobooks, ebooks, graphic novels) – They Call me Guero: A Border Kid’s poems
36. A book that has fewer than 1,000 reviews on Amazon or Goodreads – Between Perfect and Real
37. A book you think your best friend would like – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

38. A book about art or an artist – An Offer From a Gentleman
39. A book everyone seems to have read but you – The Duke & I
40. Your favorite prompt from a past POPSUGAR Reading Challenge – Cinderella is Dead

ADVANCED
41. The longest book (by pages) on your TBR list – A Court of Silver Flames
42. The shortest book (by pages) on your TBR list – The Prince and the Troll
43. The book on your TBR list with the prettiest cover – The Undocumented Americans
44. The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover – Mediocre
45. The book that’s been on your TBR list for the longest amount of time – The Once and Future King
46. A book from your TBR list you meant to read last year but didn’t – Cemetery Boys
47. A book from your TBR list you associate with a favorite person, place, or thing – Alanna
48. A book from your TBR list chosen at random – An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

49. A DNF book from your TBR list – Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology
50. A free book from your TBR list (gifted, borrowed, library) – Truly Devious

Last Standing Woman, Winona LaDuke

last standing woman cover

“Wazhaskoons eyes still looked past the priest; it was disrespectful to look directly at an individual.

The priest froze. Why would Wazhaskoons not look at him; was he being contentious or rebellious?”

Last Standing Woman, Winona LaDuke, p. 52

Last Standing Woman, by Winona LaDuke, spans seven generations of the Anishinaabeg – from 1862 to 2018. It spans generations of Anishinaabeg trying to live their lives, and white people getting in their way. From treaties, to conflicts with settlers and raiding parties, missionaries and boarding schools, to loan sharks who steal land, and finally the generation who works for justice, to take back their traditional lands, homes, and the artifacts and ancestors that were taken to museums.  It is one thing to read in history books about the effect of colonization on Native Americans, and it is quite another to watch in unfurl before your eyes, and to watch the effect colonization has on families and communities. To watch, for example, two young girls in a sanitarium, the older sister falling asleep and waking up to find her younger sister has died in her arms overnight. It is much easier to read in history books.

The book started out a little slow for me. The names were long, and the shifts between characters, as well as the steady march of time, made it hard for me to connect to the story at first. However, the last half of the book took on a more traditional Western narrative structure, following the occupation of White Earth reservation, and sticking to a few main characters that you got to know for more than a few pages at a time. But this is when the beginning of the book also pays off – because you know so much of their history, you understand the characters’ motivations more deeply.

While reading Last Standing Woman, I was also reading White Fragility, and the parallels between what Robin DiAngelo explains and the actions the white characters were taking in Last Standing Woman were both depressing and fascinating.

“There is a peculiar kind of hatred in the northwoods, a hatred born of living with with three generations of complicity in the theft of lives and land. What is worse is that each day, those who hold this position of privilege must come face to face with those whom they have dispossessed. To others who rightfully should share in the complicity and the guilt, Indians are far away and long ago. But in reservation border towns, Indians are ever-present.”

Last Standing Woman, Winona LaDuke. p 125

Honestly, it made me feel like a bit of an idiot that a book written in 1997 could clearly show the racism that a book published in 2018 has to lay out for us self-proclaimed well-meaning whites. It reinforced that so much of the “study” of racism is just white people opening our eyes to the oppression people of color have felt for generations. You don’t need to explain the nuances of racism to everyone. (Just white people.)

“The idea of racial inferiority was created to justify unequal treatment; belief in racial inferiority is not what triggered unequal treatment. Nor was fear of difference. As Ta-Nehisi Coates states*, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.” He means that first we exploited people for their resources, not according to how they looked. Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed.”

White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo. 

*The Case for Reparations, Ta Nehisi-Coates.

 

 

All this rambling is not to say that reading Last Standing Woman was the hard work of allyship or activism in some way. I genuinely enjoyed the experience, and will hold Winona LaDuke’s characters in my heart for a long time.