I would have to say that the vast majority of you know about my love of books. Its true. I love books. We have a "library" in our house. And I've decided, while there are thousands upon thousands of books that I love, I have noticed a trend. Every year I select a few (because I don't want to suffer from burn out) Asian culture themed books. And I find that 99.9% of the time, I love them. I think its all of the honor and respect, quiet tenderness that the characters display. The drama or action in these books are slow and seep into your soul in ways that you didn't even know about until the end and you are madly in love with the characters and feel a connection to them that is unexplainable. You think about them for days - the characters with the gentle souls.
I read one last week that was recommended by my dear friend, Crystal B, and it did not disappoint. The Samurai's Garden was a lovely journey through a year with Stephen, a Chinese character recuperating from an illness in Japan in the late 1930's. The friends he makes are invaluable in shaping his character. And in turn, I have found that they have also helped shape my character. The story will stick with me.
I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan during my favorite Chicago vacation. I finished it on the ride home and sobbed. I sobbed both for the girls/women in the book and for my father, whom I was leaving 800 miles behind me. And when we arrived home I knew that I was a better person than I was when I left. This book turned me on to the works of Lisa See and I have been chomping at the bit every time she has a new one come out.
I read to learn and to experience the world outside of my little home in the country, the south, the United States and North America. I read to learn about the past and what the world might be like in the future. I read to understand people. I read to escape and I read to immerse.
I have very few Asian friends. Reading books set in this land, in this culture, help me to understand a world that I would not understand otherwise. I could go on about how I feel about these books and this sub genre in particular, but it would be a stumbling and rambling post and really I think we've had enough of that. I could go on and tell you why I love each and every one of these books, but I won't (good grief, that would be a loooooooong post!).
My friends, I highly recommend trying out some of these books for your spring and summer reading pleasure:
- The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
- Peony In Love by Lisa See
- Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
- Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang