Before I get into the last week of what I read for Asian Readathon, I want to take a moment to share a list of Black-owned independent book stores. I know that a lot of my friends are on a mission to read more books by Black authors, but please consider patronizing these small businesses in lieu of Amazon or whatever big chain book store you’d normally turn to. It’s a small way we can show support & love to our Black bookish community members while also doing all the other actual hard work! And keep those shelves diverse, because lord knows we all can stand to fill our brains with perspectives and experiences that differ from our own. <3
(Credit: Instagram user worn_ware)
This Japanese thriller was a wild ride! Henry and I listened to the audio book and then immediately watched the movie – the book was better. One of the characters is a math teacher and I thought I’d be deterred by the math elements but it made the story even more interesting. This is actually #3 in the “Professor Galileo” series, but the only one that’s been translated to English. From what I read, you don’t have to read them in order, which is good, because I had already started reading it when I found out, lol.
I highly recommend this to my thriller lovers who are looking for something different.
Another psychological thriller, but this time we’re back in Korea, boyyyy. In this one, we’re following a boy in his 20s as he tries to figure out DA FUQ happened after he wakes up and finds his mom dead. It goes back and forth between present day and memories. It’s pretty effing chilling, and also….quiet.
Full disclosure, I picked this up thinking it was going to be some YA fluff and I kind of needed that after two back-to-back thrillers. Um, wow, no. This book is FUCKING HEAVY. Our main character Naila is Pakistani American and gets busted going to prom with her boyfriend Saif and shit really hits the fan because her immigrant parents are TRADITIONAL. So they arrange a family trip back to Pakistani that summer and first it’s just for like, two weeks, then it keeps getting extended, and eventually Naila realizes it’s because her parents and extended family are trying to marry her off.
This book….it gets SO REAL and I was actually terrified. I had no idea it would get as deep and dark as it did and I’m glad it did because this shit is the reality for lots of women and it really makes you have perspective.
Like, her family literally was like, “Marriage is more important than education” when all this poor girl cared about was getting back to the States in time for college orientation. It was crazy. Asian Readathon really took me on a lot of rides.
I wanted to read at least one non-fiction book for this readathon and I knew early on that it would be this one. Yeonmi lived in North Korea until she was 13 so not only does she provide a pretty detailed glimpse into what life was like in under the rule of the Kims, but her mother also helped provide an extensive family history, so you can see the ebb and flow of their living conditions. That’s scary enough as it is, but once it gets into the actual defecting portion of the book, I was biting my nails off. The shit she and her mother went through in China made me cry all of the tears I had inside me.
I’m not a big biography reader, but I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning more about North Korea from the perspective of a young defector, because there was a lot I didn’t know myself. For instance, did you know that in North Korean classrooms, elementary school kids learn math not with apples and oranges, but with propaganda. (From the book: “If you kill one American bastard and your comrade kills two, how many dead American bastards do you have?”)
Park Yeonmi is one brave lady. I wouldn’t have lasted a day in her shoes.
I almost didn’t pick this one up off my Libby shelf but HOO BOY am I glad I did. It’s a retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights and it is LEGIT FIRE. When I read the synopsis, I was full shrug mode, but Renee Ahdieh can WRITE DIALOGUE, you guys. Holy shit, she wrote the most brilliant characters, the banter was edgy and real, and the personalities fucking sparkled.
Shazi infiltrates the palace to avenge the death of her best friend, killed by the young king who kills all of his wives. She is a strong lead, and her handmaiden is SASSY AF. I had a lot of fun reading this which was good since my last several books were so heavy and depressing.
There’s a sequel to this that I haven’t added to my list yet but you better believe I’ll read it this summer!
Yeah, I didn’t like this much at all and I don’t really have much to say about it expect that I learned about some Filipino desserts that I want Henry to make now.
There wasn’t a single likable character in this book and it was just…not great. Unless you like reading about girls who get paid to have babies for super rich people but they have to live in this super strict and Big Brother-y facility. Then this book was made for you.
Another post-apocalyptic novel! This one was about the “Shen Fever” which basically turned people into non-violent zombie-types who performed the same task over and over on a loop, like folding clothes, but they aren’t the focus here. The main character is a 20-something Chinese American living in NYC and working for a company that publishes Bibles, when the fever hits, and it alternates between her on the road with a small group of survivors, and her life preceding the fever. I gave this a 3 on Goodreads, but it’s more of a very solid 3.5 and ONLY because the ending is too….open.
I fell in love with Ling Ma’s writing and this was a different, fresh take on apocalyptic novels and I really needed that. The ending though, ugh.
I finished this one on the very last day of the month and I’m really glad I was able to squeeze it in! It’s like a darker Crazy Rich Asians, following two Indonesian sisters and their, well, crazy rich family. Right away, it starts with one of the sisters mass-murdering 300 of their family and friends—not a spoiler—and the rest of the book follows the other sister, the sole survivor, as she tries to piece together what happened to make her sister do it.
I REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK and didn’t even see the (not too original, but still effective) twist coming.
So that’s it! I ended up reading 28 books, encompassing everything from literary fiction, YA, thrillers, dystopian novels, one graphic novel, and one non-fiction, and I DNFd two books (Guilded Wolves and The Terracotta Bride). I was going to make some graphics breaking down my stats even further, but who has time for that these days.