TGIF, book lovers! Who here is just as glad as I am that it’s the weekend? Having come back from an (almost) week-long break from work last week, it was a hella struggle to get back into the swing of things this week. Definitely going to have to knuckle down next week, but I’m looking forward to relaxing this weekend. My parents bought me two TBR carts/trolleys and a bookshelf from IKEA for my birthday, and I’m so excited to be setting it up this weekend. I’m definitely one of those people who love putting things together! Anyway, it’s time for another Friday Favorites, hosted by Something of the Book. This weekly meme is a chance to share all your book favorites based on the weekly prompts as listed on her page. Today’s prompt is: Diverse Books.
‘Diversity’ has become such a hot word over the last few years, but I’ve really paid it more attention ever since joining the book community last year. I now have more diverse books by diverse authors on my list than ever before. Although I do read a range of diverse books, I know that the majority of my reads are still about caucasian characters, written by caucasian authors. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I’d like to put more effort into consciously reading more diverse books, and not just adding them to my shelves where they remain untouched for years. Here’s a list of some of my favorites so far (although by no means is this all of them)!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This is hands down one of the most powerful and important novels that I’ve read in the last year. It is so relevant to today’s social discourse and Angie Thomas does an incredible job of creating a story that hits hard. This book was worth all the hype that it got and more and is one of the books that I recommend everyone picks up, even if they’re not “into YA books” because it’s a stunning read in every way.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This book (and movie!) completely wrecked me. Set in Afghanistan, this is a story about an unlikely friendship between two young boys, one from a wealthy family and the other the son of their servant. In a way it’s a family saga about betrayal, love, and redemption that spans over years. I remember reading this and feeling a whole array of emotions: heartbreak, righteous anger, happiness and love. This was the book that made Hosseini one of my favorite auto-buy authors and I haven’t regretted it since!
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. It has been so long since I’ve read this book, but I remember it sweeping me off my feet when I read it in middle school. It’s told through the eyes of Esperanza Cordero, a young latina girl growing up in a poor neighbourhood, and we follow her coming-of-age as she tells us about her life, family, neighbours and friends. I remember so clearly that this was the book that made me want to start writing, and soon after I made my own short novel written as a set of vignettes in the way this book was written. I don’t know what happened to it, but I was so, so inspired! I will definitely have to read it again.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I think this was the first science fiction (YA or otherwise) I read where the lead characters were of Asian descent. Did I mention that this kickass series are retellings of famous fairytales (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White)? Starting off with cyborg Cinder, and Prince Khai of New Beijing. Meyer depicts an insane and amazing dystopian world with space, technology, and a slew of diverse characters.
The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. This was a sweet contemporary YA romance that had the hopeless romantic in me swooning. I loved that Yoon drew inspiration from her own story as a woman hailing from Jamaica married to a Korean-American man. I loved learning about Natasha and Daniel as they spent the day in New York city, trying to buy time and find a way for Natasha and her family to not get deported. Their characters seemed like opposites but they had such great chemistry. I thought it was also really unique how Yoon pulled the story together through seemingly insignificant side characters. It’s not just a fun, fluffy read, there’s definitely more depth here!
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan. This was a beautifully written, sad but touching story about grief, love, friendship and family. When Leigh, a Chinese-American girl, loses her mother to suicide, she’s convinced her mother has turned into a bird. In an attempt to understand what happened to her mother, she travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. It’s a very emotionally heavy story as Leigh tries to process her grief. Taiwan is painted as a vibrant city teeming with all sorts of characters, and an endless array of rich and delicious foods. In between bouts of crying, I found myself constantly hungry and craving Chinese food while reading this one!
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This middle grade fiction is a very touching and impactful story about August Pullman, Auggie, who was born with a facial deformity that has kept him from going to school, until now. We follow him as he tries to navigate in a new school and make friends, but with a face that scares other children, makes everyone do a double-take and at worse, gasp in horror when they see him, it’s not easy. Auggie is an amazing, inspiring and wonderful character, and his parents and sister are such good people. This book had me crying with frustration and happiness throughout!
The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. In both these novels, we not only get characters of Asian (Vietnamese) descent, but two of the main characters in both stories fall on the spectrum. The Kiss Quotient was one of my favorite reads last year, and it seems that The Bride Test will be following suit this year! I flat out love that the characters are Asian — you never read about Asians in romances. I love the diversity of the characters and getting to learn more about Vietnamese culture. These are fun, fast and sexy reads that I recommend to all (especially if you don’t mind when things getting a little steamy)!
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan. Undoubtedly my favorite graphic novel series of all time. The artwork is beautiful, the characters are diverse and have rich backstories, and the storyline itself is fast paced and full of endless action. I can’t recommend this graphic novel series enough. Basically, everyone just needs to read it ASAP!
Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu. This is a fairly dark graphic novel set within a dystopian 1900s matriarchal Asian society. Maika Halfwolf, an orphan of war, is magically linked to a powerful monster that makes her a target for both humans and otherworldly beings. It follows her story as she navigates this dangerous steam punk influenced world full of enemies. The artwork is insanely beautiful and the story, although slightly confusing at times, is fascinating.
What are some of your favorite diverse books? If you think I need to read any particular books, leave a comment below! I’m always looking to add more books to my TBR 😃