So the #DivBookRec hashtag led to some really great recommendations being shared around Twitter today!
I thought I’d add to this and use it as an opportunity to talk about some diverse books I’ve read recently that I really enjoyed, but haven’t reviewed (yet). The books in this post all happen to be by Asian authors (though note it’s only the first that has Asian rep) and they all happen to have been part of my experience of exploring books outside of YA – I may try different themes for future posts 🙂
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Summary: The book involves two parallel storylines: one is the story of 16-year-old Japanese girl Nao, struggling with family issues and bullying, and seeking to write the story of her great-grandmother. The other involves an author, Ruth, who picks up Nao’s notebook after it washed up on her shore and suspects it may be debris from the 2011 tsunami. Along with her, the reader progressively discovers Nao’s story.
Why I recommend it: A Tale for the Time Being really fulfilled my need for more books that go beyond the YA I’ve mostly been reading up until now, but with a coming-of-age element. Nao’s voice was captivating with a strong sense of realism, and there were incredible, meaningful explorations of time, family, sacrifice, the writer-reader relationship and experience, with multiple gut-wrenching moments and an ending that left me thinking after I’d finished. Thanks to Aentee @ Read at Midnight who put this on my radar!
I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you. A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Summary: Covering many years, the story starts with four young friends making their way in New York City. One of them, Jude, struggles with his heavy past and the way it haunts him throughout his life and his relationships with others.
Why I recommend it: I was really hesitant to read A Little Life in the beginning – multiple people said things along the lines of ‘it will destroy you’ in terms of being a heavy emotional experience. That’s certainly true and even months later, I feel like I’m still processing everything within it, but it does a disservice to some of the most touching parts of the book – the friendships, the father-son relationship between Harold and Jude, the beautifully empathetic way it explores Jude’s character, the way it made me appreciate so many aspects of life in a new way. Powerful, resonant, and has definitely stayed with me. Thanks to my friends Sean and Wai for recommending it!
You won’t understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Summary: Kathy is a 31-year-old carer, reflecting on her time at Hailsham school in the English countryside and the friendships she had then. Secrets about her and her friends’ fate, and their school, are slowly alluded to and revealed.
Why I recommend it: Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing was powerful in its simplicity, and although the book explores confronting themes (it’s better to go into it not knowing much), it does so in a subtle way that leaves all the larger an impact for it. I liked the blend of literary fiction and social commentary. Also, Kazuo Ishiguro just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, so now’s a great time to pick up one of his books 🙂
It had never occurred to me that our lives, which had been so closely interwoven, could unravel with such speed. If I’d known, maybe I’d have kept tighter hold of them, and not let unseen tides pull us apart.
Have you read any of the books here? What were your thoughts? Do you have any recommendations for someone like me who’s interested in (preferably diverse) books that go beyond the scope of YA but have crossover/coming-of-age themes?