T5W: Books for My Younger Self

I’ve always been a reader. Well, duh, you might be thinking, but the thing is I never gave much of a thought to what I read. I picked up whatever sounded interesting. Now that I’m older, with the boom of social media and me following more bookish accounts on both Twitter and Instagram, I have become a bit…choosier with what I read. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I often time do follow the bandwagon and read the “popular” books.

But I’ve come across some books that I really wish had been around when I was a teenager. Maybe I would have felt less awkward or…whatever if I had read them. But I’m glad I get the chance to talk about them today.

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly blog meme that started as a group on Goodreads. You can check out the rest of this month’s topics and join the group here.

Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy is one of the only books I’ve read that focuses on a half-white, half-Korean character. Being half-white and half-Korean myself, I was instantly drawn to this book. Some of my favorite parts were how Lara Jean’s dad integrated parts of his daughters’ Korean culture throughout the series. When the movie released a few weeks ago on Netflix, I had a good Friday night in to watch it. I enjoyed it a lot and loved how they included things like Korean face masks and Korean yogurt drinks. 🙂

The Astonishing Color of AfterI was fortunate enough to receive a review copy of Emily X.R. Pan’s debut The Astonishing Color of After, which features a half-white, half-Taiwanese main character. Another biracial character! Hooray! The main character, Leigh, speaks a bit of how people would question her biracial-ness and how she herself struggled with it a bit. I could completely relate to that.

I also enjoyed how open this book was about mental illness, which isn’t something that is discussed enough (or even at all) in Asian culture and community. This was a book that, once I finished, I closed and held close to me. I instantly pre-ordered it and continue to recommend this book to those who need an important, diverse read.

You can read my ARC review here.

I’m a recovered self-harmer, and have been fully recovered for a little over 8 years now. Girl in Pieces is one of the most relatable and raw books that deal with that subject that I’ve ever read. While I couldn’t relate to all of Charlie’s stories, it was the way she felt about self-harming I felt was completely honest. I know I definitely would have gobbled this book up when I was in high school. You can read my review here.

The same can definitely be said of The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. I read this book as an ARC, and I remember falling instantly in love with it. The story centers around a girl who struggles with her faith (Christianity) when her mother’s cancer returns. Normally, I stay away from books with religious tones like this one, but unlike a lot of Christian fiction books, this book doesn’t sugarcoat things, or places heavy emphasis on a lot of clichés (“Turn to God and you’ll be magically better) or something like that). We have a hurting girl who happens to be questioning her faith. It happens, I think, in most if not all religions, and to pretend it doesn’t does a disservice to those who do actually struggle.

Rebel SeoulI was really into anime and manga when I was in middle and high school. So to even think there was a book centered around a futuristic Seoul and involving Gundam Wing-esque mech suits. Um, yes. Hello!

Despite never having visiting Korea (that’ll change next year!), reading Rebel Seoul felt like coming home. There were a lot of instances in the book that reminded me of things my mom described about her home country, and I felt like the book was a lovely homage to that.

There’s a companion novel in the works which focuses on two different characters from the series. It remains untitled, but I look forward to it. You can read my review for the first book here.

I chose books that featured biracial characters like myself, most of them Korean, and those that deal with mental health. I struggled a lot in the latter years during high school (and even a bit in my early college years). I think if I had these books then, I would have felt less alone and maybe would have been more open to share what was going on in my own life. Regardless, I’m glad to be able to read and own them now. 🙂

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