May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. As such, individuals in the book community have created readathons to acknowledge and celebrate the voices of these identities.
As someone who deals with mental illness, it’s important to me for resources to be available to the public for whenever they may need them. However, it’s equally as important for those suffering to know that they’re not alone, and that’s what books give us (as well as this online book community).
Let me preface this by saying, I’m white and am therefore privileged. Privileged in ways that I was unaware of until a few years ago, and it’s because of that privilege that I believe it’s important to read about experiences that are different from your own. Those stories may be written by or have a main character whose race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity/expression, religion, or disability differs from you; however, you should always choose to read broadly.
Asian Readathon Challenges + TBR
The first challenge of the Asian Readathon is to read a book by an Asian author, very simple. For this challenge I’ll be reading The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I’m also reading this as a part of the Ramadan Readathon.
Challenge two is to read a book featuring an Asian character, or written by an Asian author, who you can relate to. I’ll be reading Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan for this challenge. There are many elements of the first book that I can relate to: sexual assault survivors, queer women, etc. So this is the perfect read for this challenge; also, I’ve been putting this book off because I loved the first one, and I’m scared for my babies.
The book I’ve chosen for the third challenge is the one I’m most nervous about. For this you’ll read a book featuring an Asian character, or written by an Asian author, who is different from you. This book has been translated, which is what makes me nervous because translations aren’t always exact. I’ll be reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang, which has a vegetarian character. I’m an omnivore, so diet is how the character and myself differ. Kang’s book also discusses mental health, so I may be able to use it for a challenge in the Mental Health-athon.
The next book on my list is The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This will cover the challenge of reading a book recommended by an Asian. Cindy is also reading this book during the readathon… so that counts, right? On a side note, there is autistic representation in this book, so if you’re looking for that – here you go.
For the Asian Readathon, the Group Book pick is Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. There’s going to be a read-a-long and watch-a-long with live-shows for each as well. So it’s definitely going to be a community affair.
After you’ve read the book, why not watch the adaptation? Join the watch-a-long running from May the 15th to the 29th, then the live-show on Saturday, May the 30th @ 7pm EST on Ali’s channel to discuss it. Use #littlefireswatchalong on Twitter to update as you watch.
That being said, I won’t be able to read the group book because my library is closed (COVID-19) and the current wait time for the e-book and audio-book editions is six months.
Some Notes About the Readathon
- Challenges CAN be combined.
- Try to vary the Asian ethnicity in each book you choose so that your books have more cultural diversity. Ex: one book may focus on an Indian character, while another book focuses on a South Korean character.
Mental Health-athon Challenges + TBR
I will be using Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for two prompts, read a host pick and the oldest mental health book on your TBR. Published in 2013, I’ve been putting this book off for a while because of its size. There’s no time like the present though, right? Especially since Tome Topple #11 will be taking place during the May as well, so many readathons y’all!
For the learn more about challenge I’ll be reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang. The main character becomes vegetarian after some gruesome dreams she has. I don’t know how much factual information is in this novel, but maybe I’ll learn something?
The newest mental health book on my TBR is The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, which was published in 2018. This book in particular is going to be difficult to get through, and it’s one reason that I’ve put it off for so long – the main subject of the story is suicide.
Many members of my family have struggled with depression, and some have made attempts at taking their life. One has succeeded. So I’m going into this with the mindset that if it gets to be too much I can put it down. I can revisit it whenever I’m ready and in a good head space.
Though most of the books I’ve chosen are YA, the one that I’ve selected for the young adult mental health category is All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I could’ve just doubled up for this challenge, but I’ve seen such mixed reviews for it that I want to form my own opinion on it; then watch the adaption that is coming out.
Green is the color of the Mental Health Awareness Month ribbon, so we are to choose a book with green on the cover. For this challenge I’ll be reading Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. I figured that I would give this one a go, I just found it hiding on my shelves. I’m sorry, I’ll see my way out.
Lastly, there are 2 challenges that I won’t be participating in: the group book (The Million Pieces of Neena Gill) and a non-fiction mental health book. My library doesn’t have the group book on OverDrive, and don’t feel like reading any non-fiction currently. I’ve been in a reading slump, so I don’t want to weigh myself down with heavy material.