Caturday Reads: A Giant Stack o’ Asian Literature + Cranky Kitty Face

Y’all may remember these segments as “Weekend Reads,” but I decided to change ‘em up a tiny bit. I originally created “Caturday Reads” over on The Djinn Reader, and I loved the concept so much that I decided to go ahead and import it over to BiblioNyan as well! What better way to kick off the weekend then with a stack of books and a squishy kitty face?

This weekend has been much better than the last. My parents are both home now—they were discharged last weekend—and have been recovering quite splendidly. My mum is having a slightly tougher bout with it, however, with a little bit of time, they both should be back to normal relatively soon. The relief made me cry my heart out. I feel like all of the stress and fear that I had been holding in in order to support them just exploded. Being able to release all of those pent-up emotions was extremely cathartic. Even so, I never want to experience anything like this ever again.

In an effort to rejuvenate my mind and my spirit, I’m taking the weekend to do absolutely nothing but read, watch anime, and take naps with my cranky cats. I also have a couple short stories to wrap up (writing-wise) that I’m immensely excited for, and some friends that I’d like to reach out to as I have caved myself since my parents got sick, which isn’t the healthiest thing to do, admittedly.

Normally, I am a book monogamist (at least I seem to have become this way in 2020), yet between my ADHD and the fact that I have been so mentally tapped out, I ended up starting about six books in the last two days. So rather than share my typical trio of reads, I have double the titles to get through. If I do somehow manage to finish all six of these books, in addition to being mind-blown, I will be super ecstatic because that shall push my annual reading total into the 180ish range. Given how stressful this year was, I can’t believe I managed to finish fifty books let alone almost 180! Whoa!

Anyhoo, check out the six picks down below. Clicking the titles shall transport you to their respective GoodReads pages.

The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction edited by Michael Emmerich, Jim Hinks, & Masashi Matsuie: This is an own-voices collection of translated Japanese short stories that all take place in the city of Tokyo. The main focus of the anthology is to highlight the diversity and eccentricities of Japan’s hottest, most lively city. A few familiar contributors include Banana Yoshimoto, Hiromi Kawakami, and Shūichi Yoshida. There are ten total tales in this modest collection.

The Cultural Atlas of Japan by Various: This is exactly as it sounds, a cultural atlas that looks at Japan from its origins all the way up to the present time (late 1980s) with succinctly informative bits on Japanese geography, economics, regional cultures, and more. I found this dusty old tome at the local library and it piqued my curiosity, so I brought it home. It’s mostly a coffee table type of book, but I plan on reading it cover-to-cover.

The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao: An own-voices Chinese middle-grade fantasy novel about twelve-year-old Faryn Liu, who is the member of the Jade Society. Faryn dreams of honouring her family and the gods by becoming a badass warrior, but the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex, forcing them to train in secret. One day while running an errand, Faryn tumbles into a battle with a demon—and defeats it. If she can prove her worth and find an island with immortals before the Lunar New Year, Faryn may have a chance at becoming the powerful warrior she’s always dreamt of being.

I’m a huge admirer of the author as a person and her 2021 young adult release is one of my most-anticipated thrillers for the year, so naturally, I wanted to check out her other works while I wait for this new title to drop onto shelves.

China Dolls by Lisa See: An own-voices Chinese historical fiction novel by one of my favourite Chinese-American authors, the story follows three women working in an exclusive nightclub in San Francisco in the 1940s. One is an American born Chinese woman, the other is a Chinese lady with familial roots in Chinatown, and the third is a Japanese girl passing as Chinese. When Japan attacks Pearl Harbour, suspicion and a shocking act of betrayal threaten to destroy all of their lives.

The way that Lisa See writes such incredibly detailed, complex, and moving stories about Chinese culture and history, especially as it relates to Chinese-Americans’ immigrant experiences, always astounds me. Her writing is beautiful, well thought-out, and truly depicts the many shades of being an immigrant in a land that never lets you forget how much of an outsider you are. This is one of the few books she has written that I have yet to read, so I’m excited to finally remedy this.

Jade City by Fonda Lee: An own-voices Chinese adult wuxia fantasy book that is the first in a series. The only thing I really know about it is that it involves Godfather-esque political intrigue, kung-fu laced with awesome magic, and a brilliantly diverse cast of characters. I tend to go into most fantasy books with very little information as it helps to heighten the reading experience for me, so that is why I haven’t included an actual synopsis for it. A book community I’m a part of is group reading this, so I thought I’d join them as they’re taking their time with it. If you’d like more info on this, click the title!

Mrs Claus and the Santaland Slayings by Liz Ireland: This holiday cosy mystery is the only non-Asian book on my reading list, and it was a gift from Madame Gabs as I had told her I was craving a cheesy, holiday murder mystery type story. She somehow discovered this and viola! Into my grasp it came. It follows a semi-newlywedded Mrs Claus who is trying to settle into her new job and role of being the wife and partner to Santa Claus (named Nick, brother of the late Chris), when the body of one of the elves—Giblet Hollyberry—is discovered, sending Christmastown into an uproar. Also, there are talking reindeer. Sassy female reindeer, which is just too amazing for words.

I’m about one to two chapters into this book and it is written rather well, which took me by surprise! It’s very festive in the sense that everything is quite holiday-infused. The cheesiness of the town, the people, the workshop—it’s all relatively toned down, which was another surprise. It is amusing and humorous and absolutely absurd in its own way while also being wildly fascinating and I’m adoring the creativity that went into crafting this… setting? Universe? Snow globe of preposterousness? Whatever you wanna call it. If you’re a cosy mystery sort and wanting something fit for the holidays, bruh, you have to check this one out.

That does it for my possibly-too-ambitious-for-the-weekend-but-I-don’t-mind-because-my-ADHD-is-having-a-holiday-rager TBR stack. I’ll definitely review everything as I wrap them up, although since most of December’s book reviews are already scheduled out, you may not see reviews for half of these until January.

Before I let y’all go do your weekending gigs, here are a couple of pictures of Azizi’s squishy I-hate-everything-because-I’m-old-and-I-can face. Kind and gentle hugs to you all. Happy reading (and napping).

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