Asian Readathon 2021 Reading List

Asian Readathon 2021 TBR

May is Asian Heritage month, and I’m so excited to be part of a movement that highlights the diversity and beauty of Asian literature! For the first time, I will be joining the Asian Readathon hosted by Cindy, and I can’t wait to start!

I really appreciate that the prompts for this readathon are pretty lax and broad, which gives me more freedom to rein in my ever-expanding TBR and to explore what I already have in my physical and digital libraries.

In addition to the required mechanic of reading from authors of different ethnicities, I’ve also challenged myself to pick books from non-East Asian authors. I love their works, but I’ve noticed that many book lists for Asian books are dominated by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean authors. Asia is such a wide continent, and I think that it would be a disservice to just read from one region.

Here are the prompts and my picks for each one!

Read any book by an Asian Author

Want by Cindy Pon (Taiwanese)

About the book

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

I’ve had this book on my TBR since last year, and I’ve heard so many great things about it! I have not read science fiction in quite a long time because honestly, the genre intimidates someone like me who is afraid of seeing so many technical terms. Despite that, this synopsis draws me in with the promise of destroying corporations and taking down oppressive structures. There is nothing more satisfying and hopeful than to read protagonists who have the bravery to do so.

I hope that this will be a great reading experience for me!

Read any book with an Asian protagonist

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta (Indian)

About the book

(Only she doesn’t know it yet.)
On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories-like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world.
To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’ve come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

I always have a soft spot for MG books, especially those that involve magical realism or mythology! I don’t know much about Indian mythology, and I would love to explore its richness and depth through fun-filled adventures that make regular human cities much more interesting and magical.

This particular title is one of the audiobooks made fully available on Spotify! I’m so excited to explore another reading format because I don’t have much experience with audiobooks. In addition, I highly appreciate that it is on a platform that is super accessible to many people! It makes me so happy not to download s new app and fumble with more subscriptions. For other audiobooks available on Spotify, check out this list.

Read any book in your favorite genre

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by KS Villoso (Filipino)

About the book

The stunning finale to the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy where the queen of a divided land must unite her people against the enemies who threaten to tear her country apart. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley)
Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father’s castle.
War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.
Worse yet, her father’s ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.
Bearing the brunt of the past and uncertain about her future, Talyien will need to decide between fleeing her shadows or embracing them before the whole world becomes an inferno.

This book is my most anticipated read this year because the first two books are my absolute favorites. Everything that I can ask for in a book is all here: strong female protagonists, Filipino-inspired worldbuilding, complex politics, anti-colonialism, diaspora stories, DRAGONS. Why wouldn’t anyone love this series? The first two books are masterpieces in the craft of storytelling, and even though I’ve reread them several times, I still find something fresh to ponder and love.

I’m so fortunate to be part of the #BleedForTheDragonthrone tour organized by Caffeine Book Tours, so join us as we cry rivers of blood for this book! At this time of writing, I am still too scared to open my ARC, but we have to be brave, don’t we?

Read a nonfiction book by an Asian author

The Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan by Enjeela Ahmadi-Miller (Afghan)

About the book

An emotional and sweeping memoir of love and survival—and of a committed and desperate family uprooted and divided by the violent, changing landscape of Afghanistan in the early 1980s.
Before the Soviet invasion of 1980, Enjeela Ahmadi remembers her home—Kabul, Afghanistan—as peaceful, prosperous, and filled with people from all walks of life. But after her mother, unsettled by growing political unrest, leaves for medical treatment in India, the civil war intensifies, changing young Enjeela’s life forever. Amid the rumble of invading Soviet tanks, Enjeela and her family are thrust into chaos and fear when it becomes clear that her mother will not be coming home.
Thus begins an epic, reckless, and terrifying five-year journey of escape for Enjeela, her siblings, and their father to reconnect with her mother. In navigating the dangers ahead of them, and in looking back at the wilderness of her homeland, Enjeela discovers the spiritual and physical strength to find hope in the most desperate of circumstances.
A heart-stopping memoir of a girl shaken by the brutalities of war and empowered by the will to survive, The Broken Circle brilliantly illustrates that family is not defined by the borders of a country but by the bonds of the heart.

Kindle released a list of ten free books for World Book Day, and The Broken Circle is one of them! I’m excited to learn more about a country that has long been maligned on media and in many conversations in my own spheres. I think that much of the fear and dislike is rooted in ignorance of what Afghanistan is, and I hope that by reading this, I unlearn my own prejudices.

The cover reminds me of the art style in The Breadwinner, an animated film about the Soviet-Afghan war. It is one of the best movies I watched last year, and it is available on Netflix (at least here in the Philippines).

Read a non-US centric book

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (Iranian)

About the book

Roya, a dreamy, idealistic teenager living amid the political upheaval of 1953 Tehran, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood stationery shop, stocked with books and pens and bottles of jewel-colored ink.
Then Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—and she loses her heart at once. Their romance blossoms, and the little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.
A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square when violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she moves on—to college in California, to another man, to a life in New England—until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did you leave? Where did you go? How is it that you were able to forget me?
A poignant, heartfelt new novel by the award-nominated author of Together Tea that explores loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.

This title is the May book of the month with Subtle Asian Book Club! Most of the Asian books I have read recently are diaspora stories set in the US, so it is refreshing to see a recommendation that takes place elsewhere on the planet. I’m also grateful to have a community whom I can turn to while reading this book, and there’s nothing like screaming together on Discord and feeling ~everything~.

Those are my picks for Asian Readathon! I had a surprisingly difficult time putting this list together because my first consideration is my mood. If I have too many heavy books in my TBR, I might not make it to the end of the month and give up reading entirely hahahaha. I think that this current list is well-balanced with different genres, themes, and moods, so I’m excited to complete all prompts! If not, at least I’ve acquainted myself with so many great titles that will definitely fill my TBR for the next months. After all, Asians don’t exist for just one month a year.

I encourage everyone to accomplish even just one or two of these prompts this month, and of course, to support Asian authors all year round!

If you like to have more specific prompts for your TBR, check out ARMYdathon, a BTS-inspired Readathon hosted by Kat and earn cool badges with the faces of your biases.

Let’s chat:

  • Are you joining the Asian Readathon this year? What’s your most anticipated read in your TBR?
  • Have you read any of the books I’ve picked? Please let me know your thoughts!

9 thoughts on “Asian Readathon 2021 TBR”

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