I’ve always loved to read. It’s one reason I became a writer. When I was two, my parents and I lived in Scotland for three months. We actually had to join the local library over there to get books for me.
So I was psyched to be gifted a subscription to Book of the Month last fall. It was a very generous gift from the Newswomen’s Club of New York for serving on the Front Page Awards committee. I wanted to jump on here to tell you about two selections I have really enjoyed.
The Library of Legends, by Janie Chang. This novel takes place in China during the Sino-Japanese War in the late 30s. During the war, Chinese universities had to evacuate, and students and faculty walked thousands of miles inland to avoid Japanese bombs.
Chang’s novel follows nineteen-year-old student Hu Lian on such a journey. As they try to elude the Japanese, Lian and her fellow refugees also have to protect a five-hundred-year-old collection of Chinese folklore called the Library of Legends. The Library awakens mysterious, immortal spirits as it travels across China. These spirits change the country’s fate, and Lian’s, forever.
The characters had an intriguing air of mystery about them, which kept me reading to find out more. And I’m fascinated by the fact Asian folk tales have survived for thousands of years. Plus, Chang kept mentioning Chinese dumplings, which are my favorite food and the quickest way to my heart.
My litmus test for if I really enjoyed a book is whether or not I would read other books by the same author. In this case, the answer is yes! Chang also wrote Dragon Springs Road and Three Souls, which I look forward to reading.
The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd. Kidd is best known for her novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, both of which l loved. This story is a little different. It imagines what it would have been like if Jesus was married, in this case to a woman named Ana.
As someone who went to Catholic school for 13 years, I thought that premise was a little weird. Jesus was defintiely not married! But the book is very well researched, and Kidd is a good storyteller.
As you read her novels, it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire, and she’s telling you a tale. Her prose flows that easily. I am currently reading her book The Invention of Wings, which is the story of the relationship between a white girl and her black slave in early nineteenth-century Charleston, South Carolina. It gets you thinking about how deeply-rooted racism is in this country.
Tell me. Have you been reading more during COVID-19? Do you have any recommendations for me? If so, please drop them in the comments!
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