Happy Lunar New Year! (East and Southeast Asian Book Recs)

Originally I was going to post a book haul and wrap-up, but then my mom reminded me over the weekend that Korean New Year (generally known as Lunar New Year) is today! Happy Year of the Pig! 🐷 Growing up, I didn’t celebrate Korean holidays, and only started learning about them as an adult. (My mom thinks it’s funny, but I secretly know she likes it when I remember them!)

The Korean New Year (also known as 설날 — Seol-nal) is one of the most important holidays. Even though they don’t go by the Lunar calendar anymore, it’s still a time to get together with family and eat some great food. Traditionally, you eat rice cake soup (떡국 — dduk-guk) to gain a year, leave food for your ancestors at a memorial-like table, and then bow to your elders (a ritual called 세배 — se-bae) wearing traditional Korean clothing (한복 — han-bok) and maybe they’ll give you some money (hahaha). My mom normally calls her family this time of year since she knows almost everyone will be at my grandmother’s house celebrating.

To celebrate, I thought I’d share some East and Southeast Asian book recommendations. Some I’ve read, some I haven’t, but mostly all of them have glowing reviews!

Maurene Goo’s books feature Korean-American main characters, and are some of my favorite diverse Young Adult books. Although Somewhere Only We Know doesn’t hit shelves until May, I know it’ll be just as cute and romantic as Goo’s previous works.

From what I’ve researched, Japan doesn’t celebrate Lunar New Year, but the writing of this duology, Renee Ahdieh, is half-Korean… So it still fits. 🙂

The main character of this series, Emika Chen, is Chinese. Now whether or not she grew up celebrating the Chinese New Year, we don’t know. 😛

Rebel Seoul and Want both take place in a furturistic version of their respective countries. The Sun Is Also a Star has a Korean-American main character.

There is a specific scene in this series (I think it’s book 2?) where Lara Jean and her younger sister, Kitty, dress in traditional Korean clothing and bow to their grandmother for the (American) new year. I thought that was such a nice scene to include.

I loved both of these books, and I absolutely cannot wait for their sequels!

I haven’t read any of Lee’s books, but I’d be remiss to not include them!

So many amazing Asian books coming out this year! But I also wanted to include 2 books by East Asian authors I’m looking forward to that don’t release until next year:

Seriously, I could keep going and going, and these are just a few! I hope you keep these books on your radar or get the chance to read them.

I imagine I missed some books, so if there are some books written by East or Southeast Asian authors you’re excited for, let me know!

xo nicole signature

2 thoughts on “Happy Lunar New Year! (East and Southeast Asian Book Recs)

  1. Luxe @ Mind of Luxe says:

    Belated happy Lunar New Year, Nicole! I love that you incorporated your traditions during this time of year and I AM IN LOVE. Thank you also for the amazing recommendations, my TBR for Year of the Asian Reading Challenge is very happy. I loved this post! 🧡

    Liked by 1 person

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