5 Books To Read During Chinese New Year Festival 2018

Taiwan Centenary

Hi Guys and happy Chinese New Year to you! Hope you are excited that it is Friday and the weekend is just around the corner. For some reason I woke up really early this morning. I think I am still upset like the rest of the country about what happened in Parkland, Florida. Honestly, at times I do not like to focus on how I am feeling inside, but instead think of ways I can make a difference. This is one of those times. I am so happy when I see my work being referenced in any sort of way and knowing that there are other girls out there with big dreams that can promulgate their words, ideas, and unique perspectives without judgment and really be the best form of themselves.

And the teacher in me will always tell these young girls to read, read, and read. I can say this confidently that I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my voracious reading habit. There is nothing a girl can’t achieve with a little imagination and a whole lot of education. So today to celebrate Chinese New Year 2018 (It’s the Year of the Dog BTW), I thought to recommend some books that deal with Chinese culture. These books have been selected by me not only because I think they are well-written and wildly recognized as such, but because of the stories they tell. I think we can all learn from them.

The Joy Luck Club: The Chinese culture and history is so fascinating to me and it is all because of a little book called “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan (See HERE). It was part of my high school curriculum and I learned so much more than the teacher set out to do. That’s the beauty of a good book and this is a good book. I learned writing techniques like interweaving stories taking place in different times and reading different perspectives all in one emotional book. For those of you who don’t know about this book, “The Joy Luck Club” tells a story about a group of women composed of Chinese immigrants and first generation Chinese-Americans living in San Francisco.  Through reading stories told by these women, I learned the deep connection and complexity between mothers and daughters, pain and loss, etc. I bet you will examine your own relationship with your mother or daughter after reading this novel. I know I did at the time.

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The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson: This is a great book meant for children, but totally appropriate and entertaining for adults as well. “The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson” by Bette Bao Lord and Marc Simont (See HERE) tells a story about a young girl named Shirley Temple Wong who migrates from China to America. The beautifully written book is filled with humor, curiosity and wonderment, similes and metaphors, etc. which makes it a sweet read for those wanting to know more about Chinese immigrants’ experiences in America. 

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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane: This book I have to admit I haven’t read, but it looks fascinating and tells a story about a different human experience. “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Lisa See (See HERE) explores the lives of a Chinese mother, Li-yan and her daughter, Haley who has been adopted by an American couple. After the mother and daughter have gone their separate ways due to strenuous circumstances, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. A New York Time’s Best Seller, “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” paints a powerful story about a family from a little known region in China, separated by circumstances, culture, and distance and ultimately explores the bond of mothers and daughters.

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The Kitchen’s God’s Wife: The sophomore book by Amy Tan (See HERE), “The Kitchen’s God Wife” tells a story of a Chinese mother, Winnie and her American-born daughter, Pearl. Similar to “The Joy Luck Club” the story line deals with secrets from the past and generational and cultural differences between Chinese immigrants and their first-generation children. Pressured to reveal to her daughter her secret past in war-torn China in the 1940s, Winnie weaves an unbelievable account of a childhood of loneliness and abandonment and a young adulthood marred by a nightmarish arranged marriage. Winnie survives her many ordeals because of the friendship and strength of her female friends, the love of her second husband, and her own steadfast courage and endurance. If you love Amy Tan, then you need to read this book as well.

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Imperial Woman: This wonderful book by Pearl S. Buck (See HERE) is a biography of Tzu Hsi, the last Empress in China during a highly turbulent time. You may have to search for this one on Amazon because it is out of print.  Tzu Hsi, born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines. But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation quickly moved her into the position of Second Consort. Tzu Hsi was feared and hated by many in the court, but adored by the people. Pearl S. Buck’s knowledge of and fascination with the Empress’s life are contagious. She reveals the essence of this self-involved and infamous last Empress and at the same time takes the listener through China’s struggle for freedom and democracy. A different glimpse of a strong and determined Chinese woman; in this case a woman in power.

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Well ladies and gentlemen, here are 5 fictional novels I recommend reading during Chinese New Year 2018. May the festivities be celebratory and The Year of the Dog be prosperous for you and your family. Happy Reading!