Well folks, this is it.
We’re in the last 20% of the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, and I hope everyone has had a great time so far–whether or not you’re on track to meet your goal.
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! (There’s still time! The year isn’t over yet!)
It’s been extremely fulfilling to see all of your progress in #YARC2019 so far, no matter how many books by an Asian authors you’ve picked up. The fact that people are actively trying to read books by Asian authors–whether you liked reading or not–is so meaningful, and we’re all so grateful for your support over the past year.
Keep an eye out for the November link-up on shutupshealea.com, but for now, let’s talk about November’s challenge theme! Each month, the #YARC2019 team chooses three books to feature for the month’s theme (which is optional, in case you want a harder challenge!), and this month, the theme is
This month, our theme is “leaving home,” something that a lot of Asian folks experience–whether it’s temporary or generational. We challenge you to read books by Asian authors that explore leaving home in its many forms–whether it’s just for a vacation, or as a result of unrest.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Other Words for Home features the protagonist, Jude, and her mother leaving home & Syria to live in Cincinnati with their relatives after the situation in her hometown becomes volatile. Jude has to adjust to her new home, with the stark differences in American culture, as well as new labels, new school activities (a school play?!), and new family.
Other Words for Home is really high up on my middle grade novel TBR, and I’m really quite excited to read it. I have high hopes for it to be heartwarming and sweet and ultimately hopeful! I’m definitely going to turn to it when I need something light!
Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao
Curses, magic, and more, Song of the Crimson Flower features all of this and more as Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, travels across the continent with Bao, a poor physician’s apprentice trapped in a flute, seeking a way to break the spell after she cruelly rejected Bao.
I’m really excited to see the travel in this novel because it’s set in the same world as Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix–even though you definitely do not have to read those to read Song of the Crimson Flower! I can’t wait to visit this lush world again with new characters and a super intriguing premise.
Prophecy by Ellen Oh
Kira is a demon slayer and outcast, the only female in the king’s army but the greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms, and she is on the run, away from her home city of Hansong. The signs of a demon invasion lead Kira and the young prince on a journey away from home.
Can you believe that this came out in 2013 and I still haven’t read it? I know. I’m a disgrace. But it sounds sweeping and magical and full of tropes I love so I’m really excited to pick up some of Ellen Oh’s backlist! She’s such an amazing figure and I love what she’s done for the YA book community.
My Suggestions for This Month’s YARC Prompt . . .
Besides our YARC-chosen recommended reads, here are five books you should also check out for this prompt, courtesy of me!
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
Kiranmala’s parents vanish on her twelfth birthday when a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen and tries to eat her alive. Kiranmala discovers that there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories & Kiran is swept into another dimension of magic, two crush-worth princes, and demons.
I was definitely one of those kids that wished I would discover I had magic powers, or was a lost princess, or something else cool and very different from my normal life. Alas, I was not. But Kiranmala is, and this sounds like such an exciting story where she goes to another DIMENSION with MAGIC. Twelve year old me is quaking right now. Kiran not only leaves her home, but she’s also away from her parents, which is another important element to this story.
Girls of Storm & Shadow by Natasha Ngan
(Book 1 Spoilers! Beware!)
Lei and her warrior love Wren, after slaying the cruel Demon King, must travel the kingdom to gain support for the rebellion. They’ve been away for home for a while, and will be away for a while longer with the heavy bounty on Lei’s head for leading the rebel army.
Obviously I had to add Girls of Storm & Shadow to this list, because who doesn’t love mesmerizing Asian fantasies about our favorite ship (Lei & Wren) and the next installment of their escape and revolution. (Overthrow the monarchy, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.) SO excited to see where this series goes, and I swoon every single time I see the cover. Eep!
American Panda by Gloria Chao
Seventeen and a freshman at MIT, Mei is on track to be a doctor, as her parents wish. Except . . . Mei hates germs. And college away from home comes with a lot more complications than she expected. Especially when she reconnects with her brother Xing, who became estranged for dating the wrong woman, and Mei has to think hard about home and family.
American Panda has definitely been on my mind a lot as I go through my first semester in college. It is definitely one of my favorite college YA novels, and being away from home for college is such a big experience (and one unfrequently talked about in literature), and I think this is a really perfect read for this month, especially because you can pick up Chao’s next book (Our Wayward Fate) since it just came out!
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
Reza is a gay Iranian boy who just moved to New York City (1989) with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. Reza becomes close with Judy and Art, two teens in his high school, but complications arise when he dates Judy, but begins to get closer with Art, all miles away from home.
I’m really interested to see how the romance dynamic works out, and to read about Reza’s experiences in this book. This was a really significant time for queer people, and I’m really excited to read this intersectional perspective & Reza’s story!
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Esme, a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City gets the opportunity to come to America and meet a potential husband, and she can’t turn it down. Seducing Khai, however, is a difficult business. Especially because her seduction techniques are making herself fall in love, and not Khai.
If you’re looking for some adult romance (spicy but full of heart!), please. Just read everything Helen Hoang has written, and then cry with me as we wait for her next six books. (Quan, and then Michael’s five sisters.) Highly recommend The Bride Test and its delicious story and swoon-worthy romance.