I love to read. I love books. I want everyone to read the books I love so that I have people to cry about them with. Not that they’re all sad books, I just have a lot of feelings. So if you’re looking for something new to pick up and read, then please consider one or all of the following 15 books.
1. Once I Was You by Maria Hinojosa
This book doesn’t release until September 15, 2020 but I was lucky enough to win an advanced reader’s copy on Goodreads. I can’t express just how amazing and timely this book is. Once I Was You is a memoir by Maria Hinojosa, she does a phenomenal job of weaving together her personal narrative with the past and current conversations/policies/actions around immigration in the United States. I was absolutely blown away by her writing, and the way that she lays bare her own personal struggles really resonated with me and my experiences. I cannot recommend this book enough!
2. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
I felt a similar resonance when reading Erika L. Sanchez’s I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Until reading this novel I had never come across a story about the struggles that come with being a daughter of Mexican immigrants. Many moments had me thinking “This is me!”. The story follows Julia, the second daughter of immigrant parents in the days following the death of her older sister. She has to navigate two different cultures and ways of thinking while also starting to think about her future and investigating the moments that led to her sister’s death. I was absolutely captivated!
3. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
This was a fun ride! Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen is pure, cute rom-com at its best. I read the entire book in one sitting and am impatiently waiting for the sequel. The book is about is about Ever, a girl sent to Taiwan by her parents for the summer to attend a Mandarin school. For the first time in her life Ever has freedom and, along with the other students, takes advantage of all that freedom has to offer. This of course comes with it its own trials and setbacks, but ultimately Ever comes into her own and it’s so amazing to watch.
4. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elizabeth Acevedo is an amazing writer, her novels are always on my TBR (to-be read) list the moment that they’re announced. With the Fire on High is about teen mom Emoni who has a natural, magical gift for cooking. When she signs up for a cooking class, Emoni is forced to face her dreams and responsibilities, and find a way to fulfill both. I read the entire novel on a plane ride and I was silently SOBBING by the end out of respect for my airplane neighbors.
5. The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee
Avatar the Last Airbender fans rejoice!! This novel FINALLY gives us the history of Avatar Kyoshi, the Avatar before Roku who in turn came before Aang. Starting from her origins in the Earth Kingdom before being found as the Avatar, The Rise of Kyoshi begins to answer all of the questions the show left us about this mysterious Earth Avatar while leaving us with new ones. The sequel, The Shadow of Kyoshi will be released July 21, 2020. I’m a HUGE Avatar fan, so I was so stoked when this series was announced. My copy is actually the San Diego Comic Con Exclusive *humble brag*.
6. Front Desk by Kelly Yang
When I tell you that this book touched my heart, I mean it. Kelly Yang creates such amazing, vivid characters that you feel like they’re real. It’s such a heartwarming story about a girl, Mia, who immigrates to America with her parents, who are hired to run a motel that they also live in. We follow them as they learn to navigate their new home, learn the importance of found family, and cry over a pencil. The book is based in part on Yang’s own experiences in her youth, which makes the story that much more heartwarming. The sequel to Front Desk, Three Keys, is set to come out September 2020.
7. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
I found out about this book on Twitter, when the author Nina Moreno described it as part Gilmore Girls. That was enough to sell me on it because I’m trash (internet for mega fan) for Gilmore Girls and once I read it, I became trash for Don’t Date Rosa Santos. The novel follows Rosa Santos in Port Coral, Florida who wants nothing more than to reconnect with her roots in Cuba, the land her grandmother left behind. As she tries to figure out how to tell her grandmother she wants to study in Cuba, she is also figuring out her feelings for the local baker bad boy Alex. Unfortunately the Santos women are said to be cursed to lose their loves to the sea, so Rosa is reluctant to start anything. I love this book, I want to go to Port Coral so bad and I can’t wait for the companion book, Our Way Back to Always to come out!
8. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Listen. If any serious causes me some MAJOR feelings, it’s R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. You start out thinking it’ll be this classic hero’s journey and that Rin, the book’s heroine, will wisen up and be a true Chosen One that rises to the occasion but hahahahaha. She Chosen Ones alright, but in the way Anakin does instead of Luke. Rin, through sheer, stubborn, all-consuming work ethic passes the qualifying exam to study at Sinegard, the most elite of the academies in the Nikara Empire. Once she gets there she is constantly faced with racism, sexism, and classism to which she’s more inclined to answer with her fists. She’s after power and does whatever she can to find it, but then also isn’t sure what to do with it so she’s always looking for a mentor but one who shares her mindset. Honestly I spent half the series, especially in the sequel The Dragon Republic, internally screaming every time Rin wouldn’t think something through. But also she sets stuff on fire and it’s the best. I can’t wait for the last book, The Burning God, to be released in November but I’m also scared for my fragile heart.
9. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Rae Carson’s Gold Seer trilogy begins with Walk on Earth A Stranger about a girl named Lee in 1849 with the ability to sense gold. After tragedy strikes, she runs away to California hoping that she will be able to hide and start over. The first novel follows her journey across America in a wagon train as she tries to hide her identity and her ability. I love a good historical fiction series, and there’s romance and action to spice it up. This series is very well done, I wish there was just one more book in this series just because I want to see more of the romance that Carson introduced!
10. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted is one of the BEST fantasy books I have read in a long time. It’s told in three acts and they flow into each other so seamlessly that you don’t even realize that you’ve finished the book. Agnieszka lives in a village where every ten years one young woman is sacrificed a wizard named the Dragon that protects their village. Agnieszka isn’t too worried because she is sure she won’t be chosen, so when she is the rug is truly pulled out from under her. As the story progresses she learns that not everything is as it seems, and that maybe Dragons are not the ones to be feared. Uprooted reignited my love for fantasy when I read it, and I can’t wait to devour everything else that Novik has written.
11. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This novel can be a bit hard to follow because of the time skipping, but once you have that down it is an enchanting story. The over-arching story is about two magicians who are in constant competition with each other and start to use their apprentices in their stead. Cecilia and Marco are the apprentices being pitted against one another and who end up falling in love in spite of themselves. It’s an otherworldly story and Morgenstern’s writing is truly magical.
12. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book utterly destroyed me, like huge, hysterical ugly crying. It follows a little girl named Liesel in Germany during World War 2 who sneaks into one of the rich houses to steal books to read in her basement. That’s all I have to say about that, just read it and cry with me.
13. The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison
This is a collection of some of Toni Morrison’s essays, speeches, and thoughts from over the years. It covers a wide variety of topics from the Black Lives Matter movement to literature as well as sharing her thoughts on her own work. It’s a very thought provoking collection that everyone needs to read for themselves. Morrison tells it like it is.
14. The Naming by Alison Croggon
This is an epic fantasy with some amazing worldbuilding. If you’re a fan of Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, or Patrick Rothfuss then you will love this series. The first in The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon, The Naming follows the journey of Maerad, a slave girl discovered by one of the Bards (the magic users in this world) and more than that, her particular power comes from a School and a people thought destroyed. It’s a captivating story, and one I like to re-read every couple of years.
15. Dear Girls by Ali Wong
I DIED laughing while I read this book. If you’re a fan of Ali Wong then her book, Dear Girls, is a must read. Wong has such a unique voice and it comes through in her writing. As I was reading it I could hear her voice in my head telling the story. You won’t regret reading this.