This will probably be my last “2019 recap” kind of post, but I couldn’t let go as long as I hadn’t wrapped up my YARC 2019 challenge. My plan, if I remember correctly, was to read between 11 and 20 books, and I ended up reading 16 which is therefore a success!
I kicked off this reading challenge with Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and I completely fell in love with it. It was extremely relatable and beautiful and I can’t shut up about it. We follow Kiko, a Japanese-American teen, through her summer, as she deals with her anxiety and what she wants with her future. She also has to deal with her mother’s degrading comments, which was heartbreaking, but overall this book was incredible ♥ (Full review)
January also had another instant fave: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. It was my first book by this author, and I loved both the concept and the execution, as well as the diverse cast of characters. I might break my book buying ban just to buy the sequel as soon as it gets released! (If you want to see me rave about it, check out my full review!) And while we are talking about Roshani Chokshi I also read later this year both Aru Shah and the End of Time as well as Aru Shah and the Song of Death. And let me tell you, I have become obsessed with this series. It is simply amazing, and I’m forcing it down the hands of all my customers with 9 or 10 year old kids (aka clearly living my best life).
In February/March I also read the two volumes of the manga Manabu by Masako Yoshi. It’s a slice of life kind of story that takes place in the 80s follows the high school life of a teenage girl whose parents have left Japan to work in Germany. It was a very beautiful and sweet story, and it also reminded me of how much I wanted to read more mangas. And then I didn’t. Except for one volume of Living no Matsunaga-San, a newly released series by Iwashita Keiko following a teenage girl (yes I mostly read shojo when it comes to manga) who moves in a boarding house, and the relationships she will develop with her flatmates. Also very cute.
In March I read a Korean graphic novel by Song Aram. The title would be translated as Two Women but I’m actually not sure it has been translated into English. It tells the story of two different women who met several times in their lives, and it’s about their friendship. This book was absolutely beautiful, and I loved how it showed that everybody can be happy with their life in a different way.
After this one, I read The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. It takes place in 1969 in Malaysia during the race riots that took place in Kuala Lumpur. We follow Melati, a teenager who loves music and gets separated from her mother on the night the riots began. Through the book, she will try to find her and also have to deal with the djinn that is constantly in her head (what seems to be OCD). This book really hit me hard regarding how it dealt with anxiety, and overall, it was stunning and although I don’t talk about it enough, I hope everyone reads it! I also just learnt that it got the Freeman Award and I’m delighted about it! (Full review)
Another book I read in the earlier part of the year was Quest and Quandaries by Alda Yuan, which I received courtesy of the author. Now this book is complete fantasy, but I loved the fact that the main character (who is both sarcastic and badass) is described as having Asian-like features AND complains about the fact that in fairytales and such stories the characters always appear Caucasian. This earnt this book a spot on my YARC list hands down. (Full review)
I got I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi in the October Owlcrate box and completely fell in love with it. Through the story, we follow three teenagers dealing with the upcoming end of the world, including a Pakistani-Muslim boy who has decided he must go to the end of the world to find his estranged sister. It’s a book about family, and telling your loved ones that you care about them, and I loved it from beginning to end. (Full review)
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian was also a great discovery! It takes place during the AIDS epidemy of 1989 and features the ACT UP movement, as well as three teens who get entangled with it. It’s about first love, and is an excellent coming of age, dealing with a topic that was dear to the author: growing up a as a gay kid from Iran in the United States. This book was excellent. (Full review)
When it comes to yound adult literature, I also discovered the novel I Want to Eat your Pancreas by Sumino Yoru. Now don’t be scared by the title, it apparently comes from a saying. It’s a very sweet story about friendship ans loss, narrated by a teenage boy who just lost his friend. It deals with grief in such a true and beautiful way, I don’t think I will forget about this book any time soon.
This summer, I ended up reading one of Murakami’s non fiction books, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, in which he talks about his love for long distance running, and compares it to his writing process. This was actually the only book on my mid-year TBR that I managed to read, and I absolutely LOVED it. It was so inspiring, and a quick read as well: I would most definitely recommend it. (Again, if you want to see me rave about this book, check out my full blog post!)
I also read two books in French by Japanese author Akira Mizubayashi, one from 2017, Un Amour de mille ans, and a newly release from the end of August called Ame Brisée. Both deal with his passion for music. He is an excellent writer, who has worked on both the Japanese and French languages, and now writes in French. His books are beautifully crafted, and I’m so glad I finally gave them a try. I would 100% recommend them (and, just saying, the people I recommended it to at workk also loved it and I’m endlessly happy about this!)
And I guess that’s it with my 2019 YARC wrap up! I can’t believe this year is over, and personally feel like I am lost in the great unknown, but anyway. Please feel free to recommend me more books by Asian authors, and about the different Asian culture, and more diverse books in general. I will probably not go around reading them any time soon because I am very badly organised, but I would love to add them to my never ending TBR! Cheers to another wonderful reading year!