Welcome to The Rita Reads!
Over the past few years, I was finally able to find my love of reading again. In the process, I realized two things: 1) I am terrible at remembering what I read and why I reacted to it the way I did and 2) I really love young adult and middle grade books and apparently so do a lot of other adults but it is sometimes hard to find reviews that see me as the reader (as opposed to a parent looking for insight for their kids or age-intended readers). This site is a way to try to tackle both. At the very least, this is a book log for myself. But I hoping these reviews will also be helpful to other adults who like YA/MG books and want to know what a fellow adult thinks of them before diving in.
Meet The Rita
Rita Shah is an Associate Professor of Criminology at Eastern Michigan University. She is an avid reader who also loves photography, rock climbing, and traveling. You can learn more about her professional and photographic side here.
About the Reviews
What kinds of books will you review?
The focus of these reviews will be on young adult and middle grade books written by diverse authors. The majority will likely be by Indian diaspora authors (for what I hope are obvious reasons), but I do want to expand my author lists to include South Asian and Asian broadly, other authors of Color, and authors with minoritized identities in general. While I will mostly review YA/MG books, I may also review adult books and other media (tv shows; movies; podcasts) that I think are particularly interesting.
What kinds of books won’t you review?
Books I didn’t like. Negative reviews can be really harmful to an author, particularly systematically excluded authors. Besides, just because I didn’t like a book doesn’t mean you won’t and I don’t want to spoil a potentially good read for you. So, unless there is something deeply problematic that needs to be discussed, I won’t cover a book I didn’t like.
Also, this is not going to be focused on books released in the current year. I will obviously cover some new releases (mostly the ones I am anxiously awaiting), but there are simply too many to keep up with, so I will be focusing on my much too tall To Be Read (TBR) pile. I’m also using my library a lot, which makes it hard to keep up with books the second they’re released. If I do review a new release, it’s likely because either I bought the book, I was gifted it, or I randomly happened to see it on a featured shelf at the library. Or if you suggested it!
Sadly, I am also limited to English-language books or books translated into English. As much as I wish I was able to read another language fluently, that’s just not the case right now.
Why (mostly) YA/MG books?
I have always loved to read, but when I think about the books I consider favorites from my childhood, but I was originally reading young adult and middle grades books, they mostly centered on a very particular type of character and were written by a specific type of author. I rarely saw myself or anyone who even remotely resembled me in the stories. Thankfully, young adult and middle grade books have come a long way since then. Also, when I think back to my favorites from that time, a lot of them focus on or include characters of a variety of backgrounds or cover topics/historical events that are often overlooked (think Year of Impossible Goodbyes, The Ancient One, Letters from Rifka, and December Stillness). As an adult, I am still drawn to these types of books. These characters and stories were and still are often told by minoritized authors. While English-language and translated-into-English adult books are making some strides, young adult and middle grade books have been rocking it for some time now. And the number of fantastic books is only growing.
There is also a trend in YA/MG books where a lot of authors are writing the books they wish they had as a kid (I’ve noticed this a lot with South Asian authors). Similarly, I am drawn to reading these books that I wish existed as a kid.
How often will you post a review?
I’m hoping for at least once a month if not more often. Unfortunately, life as a professor means my schedule can change week-to-week and some weeks will lend themselves to free reading time more than others. I’ll also add reviews of books I’ve already read periodically to keep things lively.
Can we keep up with your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile?
Yes! Follow me on The Storygraph, a fantastic independent book tracker. Search for “theritareads” and you should find me. From there, you should be able to see my TBR pile, what I’ve read recently, what I tend to read, and how I’m doing on my reading challenges.
Do you take suggestions?
Absolutely! There are so many amazing books published that it is hard to keep up. If you have a book you think I would like or that I should read or a book from my TBR pile I should move to the top, please let me know! I will do my best to read/review the ones recommended, but I can’t promise I will get to all of them immediately and, as I mention above, if I don’t like the book, I likely won’t post a review. If you have recommended a book, but don’t see a review after a few months, feel free to reach out and I’ll let you know if I’m behind or chose not to review it (and why, if you’re curious).