Can you believe we’re already on our third month of the year, and #YARC2019 is almost 1/4 of the way done?!
I certainly can’t! Either way, if you haven’t heard about it, #YARC2019, or the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, is a year-long reading challenge dedicated to reading more books by Asian authors! You can find out more about the challenge and sign up here, if you haven’t already!
I’ve read 7 books for YARC so far, and am working on a couple more right now! (Jade City, For a Muse of Fire, Ruse, 29 Dates are my current!) And I’m excited to see if anything I’m hoping to read fits this month’s prompt!
Each month we have a prompt about a theme that you could base your books about for the month as a suggestion if you want to up the ante on the challenge, and this month’s prompt is . . .
For March, our recommendations are centered around Asian novels that challenge a topic or idea or society. This month, read a book by an Asian author in which the narrative or main character challenges something and inspires change.
There are so many options to fill this prompt, ranging from contemporary to spec fic, and I’m honestly soooo excited to start on my March reads!
Normally we feature three books as suggestions for what you should check out, but this month we’re diverting from the norm to feature six books by Muslim-Asian authors! You should definitely check out the following 6 featured books, if you haven’t already!
Our Featured Recommendations for March!
I’ve read 1/2 these books and can verify that I’ve given all of these 4+ stars!!! And Interment is one of the books that I am definitely reading this month! The links to the Goodreads page are included in each title!
Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
A contemporary debut about Lulu Saad navigating friendship, family, love, and life in general. Her life is totally under control. Ish. But Lulu’s done a little more damage than she expected, and she has to challenge her own perception of herself in order to get out of this mess. (I actually read a few chapters of this but then I had to return it to the library RIP)
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
One of my favorite reads of all time, a debut about Melati, a Malaysian teen, who must challenge her own ideas about both the conflict between the Chinese and the Malay as well as the djinn she believes is inside her, all taking place in a gripping novel set during the historical race riots in Kuala Lumpur on May 13th, 1969. (One of my favorite books ever, and one I will wholeheartedly recommend over and over and over again!)
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
A middle grade novel about Amina, who challenges her own ideas of fitting in and cultural assimilation as she enters middle school. (I am so so excited to read this! I don’t read a lot of MG anymore, but this one sounds awesome and is at the top of that list!)
Internment by Samira Ahmed
A speculative work about a near-future United States where Muslim-Americans have to live in internment camps, Ahmed creates a story where the main protagonist Layla both challenges her society and their flawed actions, as well as the reader to fight the complicit silence about suffering that exists. (Me = in love with Samira Ahmed and SO EXCITED THAT I HAVE AN ARC!!!)
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
A coming of age story about an Indian-American Muslim teen who must face the horrors of the real world and challenges stereotypes about Muslims after a horrific crime happens, as well as challenges herself to find where she belongs. (I really enjoyed reading this one last year and it was one of my favorite books of 2019!)
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
A romance about a Muslim teen who challenges stereotypes about Muslims through her breakdancing and coming-of-age, all in the aftermath of 9/11. (This was also a great read, but I do want to note some #OwnVoices reviews that have critiqued the portrayal of Islam in the story.)
My Own Suggestions for the March Challenge Prompt!
These are all books that I’ve either read and loved or am extremely excited to shout about that fit this month’s challenge prompt! There are so many good options, I can’t wait to see what everyone picks up! (I apologize that half of these you are unable to read until a future date, but I AM JUST SO EXCITED!!!)
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
One of my favorite books ever, I absolutely adore how Lei and Wren in Girls of Paper and Fire challenge every single notion we have about concubine love stories, as well as the patriarch, and create something fierce and powerful and amazing for readers to enjoy.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
I’m like, one chapter into this book and I love it already! It’s so lush and gorgeous, and the way that the characters challenge the boxes they are supposed to fit in, and take identity into their own hands in a story of discovery and conquering fear. AHHH.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
This book just came out a few months ago, but Rukhsana Ali is such a fierce main character, and the way she challenges her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, as well as what the people she calls friends believe of her, makes her coming of age story so poingant. Plus, I love how it portrays the Bengali community and provides so much perspective to Rukhsana in throughout her journey.
Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
Okay, so I’m really very quite excited to read this, and I am just ready for ALL the enemies-to-lovers vibe. This one might be a little bit of a stretch, but I’m so ready for a novel that challenges classic romantic comedies and their historical track record of straight & white romances! SO READY.
This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
Not only does this book have one of my most favorite premises ever (flower shops! subtle magic in a contemporary setting!), but I am so excited for the way that CJ both challenges her grandparents selling their flower shop and the effect the WWII internment camps had on her family. Also, did I mention–FLOWER SHOPS AND MAGIC AHHHHH.
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
Of course, what is a list if not with the one and only MAURA MILAN on it (AHHH). Ignite the Stars was hands down, my favorite book of 2018. Not only does the book challenge the idea that sci-fi can’t tackle important topics, like rejection of heritage, but it also tackles these topics in such a nuanced way that readers who have experienced these types of things would recognize their effect on the story. It was so subtle and masterful, there’s a reason why this is my favorite book. So read it!!!