Blog, this was the worst / most disappointing Asian Read-a-Thon I’ve had since I started in 2020. I only read 12 books and a lot of those didn’t do it for me. I will make this quick.
Right off the bat, the readathon was off on the wrong foot. I had run out of time in April to read this book and didn’t want to return it to the library so I flipped through the pages and saw that one of the characters was South Asian. Boom, Asian rep. A stretch, but I allowed it. (He was also pretty much the best character too, in a book full of cardboard cutouts.) The premise of this book sounded awesome (a thriller that starts off at a Blockbuster in the 90s) but the execution was just sloppy. Characters were flat, and I barely remember it at this point. I gave it a 3 on Goodreads but more like 2.5.
Blockbuster deserved better than that.
SO DID THE ASIAN CHARACTER.
2. Grass – Keum Suk Gendry-Kim
Growing up American with a shitty history curriculum, I didn’t learn about Korean comfort women until I developed my own interest in Korea as an adult and saw firsthand all of the memorials and statues around Korea when I visited. This graphic novel details the true experience of a woman who was sold into Japanese enslavement during the Japanese occupation of Korea and it is, needless to day, harrowing, graphic, infuriating, and nightmarish. The stories of these women need to be heard and this is a good starting point.
This is one of the comfort women memorials we saw in Paju, South Korea.
3. Fiona and Jane – Jean Chen Ho
A series of vignettes about two Taiwanese American friends. I liked some stories better than others but I’m always here for a coming-of-age tale. I loved the cover a lot and of course was happy any time there were Korean references which is pretty much every book nowadays it seems.
4. Tokyo Ever AFter – Emiko Jean
Look, I needed a YA palate cleanser, OK? This book was a delight. Princess Diaries but make it Japanese. I LOVE books that are set in other countries, especially east Asia, and this delivered interesting cultural references and made me want to revisit Japan in a big way.
5. Arsenic and Adobo – Mia P. Manansala
|This was cute but too many characters that I couldn’t keep up with. Best part was the FOOD DESCRIPTIONS and recipes included in the back which I screenshot for Henry lol. I am a big fan of pandesal and it is referenced about a billion times in this book and I am currently craving it.
Also – too many love interests!!
6. An Emotion of Great Delight – Tahereh Mafi
|I wish this had been written in chronological order and that we were in the main character’s head a bit less. I loved this author’s last book but this one was kind of a snooze (sorry!!).|
7. Popular Hits of the Showa Era – Ryu Murakami
YES BITCH. Japanese horror is my jam and this was one of the best books I read in May, and the whole year. It was so gross and violent and HILARIOUS, the characters were wild, the whole book was a dumpster fire in the very best possible way. It was a fucking RIDE. I loved this so much, screamed, “OMFG” numerous times throughout, and then laughed like a maniac when I finished it, like I had just gotten done hanging out with the funniest friend I have. I really felt like I was in this book.
It is very graphic though and there were a few moments when I had to put it down because I was feeling it.
I’ve also read In the Miso Soup by this author which I really liked, and also one of the sickest horror movies I’ve ever seen was based off his book “Audition,” so I have a good track record with this guy and should really try to read more from him.
8. Dava Shastri’s Last Day – Kirthana Ramisetti
OMFG die already. That’s all, that’s the review. One star, hated everyone.
9. Ayesha At Last – Uzma Jalaluddin
Billed as a modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice and it’s exactly that. I really enjoyed. Main characters that you really felt good about rooting for, eye-opening cultural lessons, and just a GOOD love story. I needed this after that Dava shit show up there. (Also this cover is gorge.)
10. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning – Cathy Park Hong
Solid five stars. This is a must-read. Part memoir, part history lesson, it’s a beautifully-written collection of essays that every American should read, regardless of race, to have a better understanding of the minor feelings that come with growing up Asian in America.
This was a weird, quirky little book. It’s weird to read books that are already referencing COVID, but I thought that this one did it well when that time came. I thought the writing was excellent and definitely need to read “Chemistry” soon.
12. Dial “A” for Aunties – Jesse Q. Sutanto
A bunch of high-strung Chinese-Indonesian aunties trying to cover up a murder, solve an un-related crime, and work a wedding all at once? This book was so slapstick, well-paced, with fleshed-out characters that pop off the pages. It’s so over-the-top and completely implausible, but that was the intent and it works. I will definitely continue on with this series because I need more aunties! (Highly recommend this as an audiobook – the narrator is excellent and brought the aunties to life!)