lately, two types of posts have been going around the book blogging community.
the first is recommendations of cozy, feel-good novels to lift your spirits in quarantine, and the second is lists of amazing books to read by Asian authors to support Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage month. (definitely check out Chaima’s, Oliva’s, May’s and Chloe’s posts if you’d like to read some of my favorites!)
i’ve been wanting to publish both of these posts on my blog for the longest time, and when i finally realized that i could combine the two, this post was born!
but first: why would i even recommend you MG books by Asian authors?
for one, middle grade books are exactly what we need right now!
as i’ve talked about before, middle grade novels hold a special place in my heart. something about the genre feels very comforting and heartwarming for a variety of reasons…
- probably like most of you, i grew up reading middle grade books and it was what instilled my love for books!
- while middle grade novels definitely tackle important themes and topics, they are meant for younger audiences. this means that they are written in smooth, comforting tones. (the opposite of heavy!!)
- middle grade books are honestly just adorable and reading one is a great way to take a break from the current things going on in the world.
and that is JUST the perfect combination of traits that i’m looking for in a book to read during quarantine!
for another, it’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
since i’m an anonymous blogger (yes, Ash is not my actual name hehe), i don’t really talk a lot about my culture over on my blog… but i’m a very proud indian-american. being represented in media is something that makes me feel so happy & understood, and i really want to encourage diversity in books to help bring that feeling to others!
i know i’ve rarely talked about diversity on my blog before, and this is mainly because i used to want to stay as anonymous as possible. however, i’ve been making a lot of changes on this blog, and those mainly involve talking about diversity and my culture more often!
since i’m just getting into the YA book blogging community and haven’t read as YA many books by Asian authors as i would like to, i feel much more confident giving you diverse MG recommendations.
*wipes brow* that was probably a very long
and boring intro, so without further ado… here are my recommendations!!
9 BOOKS I’VE READ AND LOVED
Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park (Korean)
i love this book so much!!! it was one of the very first books by an Asian author that i read when i was younger, so it will always have a special place in my heart. Project Mulberry follows Julia Song and her best friend, Patrick, as they decide on a project to complete for the State Fair. Julia’s mother recommends that they raise silkworms, as she did many years ago, and doing this helps Julia discover things about her own personal identity. The family and friend relationships are also beautifully written!
The Grand Plan To Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami (Indian)
i read this book for the first time when i was very young, and while i enjoyed the representation of my culture, it was nothing special to me. however, i reread it with my friends a few years later, and my love for it increased tenfold! The Grand Plan to Fix Everything is about Dini, an 11-year-old girl in love with Bollywood movies. when her mother announces that they are moving internationally to India, an adventure filled with lots of twists and turns follows for Dini. i could immensely relate with everything mentioned in this book, and definitely need to reread it soon!
Where The Mountain Meets The Moon, Starry River of Sky, and When The Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (Chinese)
it’s no surprise that Grace Lin’s books are on this list! she was one of my favorite authors growing up, as her luscious prose and well-plotted fantasy novels stole my heart. while these three books aren’t directly part of the same series, they all are set in the same magical world. each follows different characters as they go on special journeys, and the themes are so heartwarming!
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (half-Jordanian)
i rarely read books written in verse, but i was so intrigued by this one! my English teacher even recommended it to our class, so i knew i had to pick it up. and i was right; once i started Other Words for Home, i couldn’t put it down. (i’m not kidding i read it in 2 hours on a plane ok) it’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching story about Jude: a girl who leaves everything she’s ever known to find a new life and hope in America. this novel tackles very heavy themes, but i was left smiling at the end because of the journey Jude goes on and the unexpected friends she finds along the way.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (Pakistani)
can we just take a moment to appreciate this beautiful cover and title?? like asdfghjkl look at it!! it’s so pretty (yes i know i judge books by their covers but don’t we all)!! still, the actual content of this book is gorgeous as well. i read Amina’s voice when i was younger, so i don’t remember too much about the plot, but i do remember that it was comforting, endearing, and so wholesome and heartwarming. Amina goes on a beautiful journey as this novel progresses, and i loved reading about it! i’ve just realized that most of the books i’m recommending today follow main characters going on journeys to find themselves and their voices. but am i complaining? no. 😉
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (Indian)
this is a graphic novel that features an interesting magical-realism plot! again, i read this when i was younger, so finding bits of my culture sprinkled throughout was just so lovely. Pashmina follows Priyanka, a girl who is dying to know more about her roots, as she finds a magical pashmina (scarf) to transport her into what she hopes is really India. if that didn’t convince you enough, the artwork in this graphic novel is. simply. beautiful!!!! i can still remember flipping through the thick, smooth pages in awe of the drawings and colors and just everything coming together.
A Wish In The Dark by Christina Soontornvat (Thai)
alright, i lied… it’s currently Friday night as i’m writing this, and i haven’t finished reading this! however, i’m very close to the end and just know that it’s going to be one of my favorite reads, so i couldn’t help but add it to this list. i’ve read little to no books with Thai rep, so after May @ Forever and Everly recommended this, i knew i had to read it. A Wish In The Dark is a Thai fantasy retelling of Les Misérables, and i just love every single part of it – the world, the characters, the themes, the plot, everything!! i can almost guarantee that the themes explored will leave heartwarming messages to all readers of this novel.
3 BOOKS I HAVEN’T READ YET (but really want to)
See You In The Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Chinese)
i can’t deal with how pretty the cover of this book is. i mean, just look at it!!! 😍😍 not only that, but the premise of See You In The Cosmos sounds very magical and lovely. it seems like this revolves around strong family and friendship themes, which i am so here for. the premise indicates that this follows an 11-year-old boy’s journey to send in iPod into space as he ends up learning more about the importance of family along the way… and i absolutely love that!!
The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly (Filipino)
whatever it is with these stunning covers, i’m not complaining. the artwork on this is adorable, and i can already tell that this will have strong sisterly bonds! sister relationships are so underrated in books, and i was so happy to see that this one revolved around one. the premise indicates that this will be about a girl who resides in the comfort of spinning stories in order to make her life more hopeful, and the themes about hope and change in this one also seem impactful and heartwarming.