Diverse Nonfiction Book Recommendations

diverse nonfiction book recommendations

Hi everyone! Today I have a post that’s a bit different for me. I don’t read that much nonfiction, I mainly read YA fantasy and Sci-fi, YA Contemporary, Romance and Mystery. Nonetheless, from time to time, I’ll pick up a nonfiction book and more times than not, I’ll love it. So, I was thinking the other day that maybe some of you also like to read nonfiction from time to time and if that nonfiction is diverse that’s even better and that’s why I decided to share with you some of my favorite diverse nonfiction books.

Without further ado, here they are:

In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park & Maryanne Vollers

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be “completely free,” she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister. 

Why I recommend it?: I think this is a perfect book for YA readers that want to try nonfiction, especially for readers who like hard hitting contemporaries, because it tells the story of a girl that goes through many heartbreaking things and it focuses on a relatevely small period of time, not like other nonfiction books that tell the story of someone’s entire life. This book is hard to read, because the whole time you know this actually happend to a girl, you know it happens to a lot of girls all over the world. This is heartbreaking, horrific and honest. I’ll admit that the writing isn’t the best and that made it a bit harder to connect to the story, but I still found it an impactful and touching book.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock 

redefining realness

In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those twenty-three hundred words were life-altering for the People.com editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and inspiring perspective on being young, multicultural, economically challenged, and transgender in America.

Why I recommend it?: This book is incredibly thought-provoking, because Mock doesn’t hold back, she is achingly honest and that makes her story and what she has to say so compelling.  Mock talks about being biracial, trans and poor, she talks about poverty and prostitution, about her priviliges for “passing” as a cis woman, about what’s consider to be the ‘right’ kind of trans women and why that needs to end.  This book is insighful and moving, as well as beautifully written and I feel like everyone should pick it up. (Full review)

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay 

hunger

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

Why I recommend it?: This book unlike the two that I have already mentioned, it’s made up of essays, so there’s no linear story. There are extremely personal essays, including a incredibly heartbreaking essay about rape (huge trigger warning!), but then there’s also essays about various subjects like how harmful tv shows about losing weight can be. Still, this is mainly a book about Roxane Gay’s relationship with her body, with her weight, with food and it’s personal, raw and honest. This is a very hard book to read, but it is so powerful because it’s talks about her experience as a fat women in a world not built for her in a way that makes you empathize, that makes you see things as common as chairs in a new way because you see them through her eyes.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy

In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”

Why I recommend it?: Out of all these books, this is the less heartbreaking and the one that has the most humor, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a very important and touching book. This book focuses on living with a mental illness, on how that looks like in the day to day and on the good and bad that comes with it, and it handles those topics in such a brilliant way. At some points while I was reading, I couldn’t believe someone had the words necessary to explain certain feelings and experiences, that’s how good Jenny Lawson is at translating her experience with depression into words. I would recommend this book to anyone, but particulary, to people that struggle with mental illnesses, I found this to be – as strange as that may seem- a very reassuring book.

Do you have any diverse nonfiction books to recommend? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? is any of them on your tbr? 

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Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Title: The Astonishing Color of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan

Published by:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publishing date:  March 20th 2018

Genre: YA, Magical-contemporary

Pages: 462

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Goodreads | Amazon 

Trigger Warnings: suicide, depression, suicidal thoughts

Representation: Taiwanese-American main character, Puerto Rican/Filipino love interest,  lots of  Taiwanese characters and a character with depression.

The Astonishing Color of After is a beautifully written bookthe writing style is lyrical and poetic. I’ll admit that I usually have trouble connecting to characters and situations when books have that writing style, but that was not the case with this book, I wasn’t even 10% into it and it had already made me tear up. Later in the book, I did feel the writing distracted me a little from the story, but it was still beautiful.

This is a story about grief and mental illness, especifically depression, and it addresses both of these things in such an amazing and heartbreaking way. This talks about the stigma surrounding depression and how it makes it hard to discuss it with family and friends; it also deals with the feelings and thought process of the loved ones of someone with depression; it portraits how hard depression is and how there’s no easy fix, and it also explores in depth what grief can do to someone. Honestly, this book deals with so many important subjects and it does it so well.

The story is told from Leigh’s point of view, which is interesting, because she is an unreliable narrator and it’s impossible to know which of the things she is seeing and hearing are real. Another reason why Leigh is a compelling narrator is the fact that she is an artist and because of that, she has a particular way of seeing the world, which is really well described and it works well with Emily X.R Pan’s writing.

The development of the relationship between Leigh and her father is one of the most intricate and interesting parts of the story. I wish we had seen more of him in the present and not only in the past, because I feel like at the end so many things between the two of them were resolved in the blink of an eye, with one short conversation between them.

I loved Leigh and Axel together, the evolution of their relationship is told through flashbacks and  I completely fell in love with their dynamic and how sweet Axel is. Also, I really liked the fact that this book didn’t shy away from addressing Leigh’s thoughts and desires about her sexuality. It’s a very sex positive book.

The story did lose me a bit at some point when Leigh was in Taiwan, I hoped that the relationship between her and her grandparents was explored more. There are a few meaningful and sweet moments, but overall, her time in Taiwan felt like it was her going to places and wandering around without getting much out of it. And there was a point where the book started to drag a little. Nonetheless, I did enjoyed the fact that this is set in Taiwan and we get amazing descriptions of food, places, traditions and beliefs. I also want to add that, the way Leigh’s feelings of being out of place with her mother’s family were explored was really interesting, and the way this book portraited- both in flashbacks when Leigh was in the United States and in the present when she was Taiwan- the perception and reactions of other people over her being half-asian and half-white was fascinating.

Lastly, the part of the story that is told through magical memories was great. Those memories are basically where all the big reveals take place and it is a cool and unique way for Leigh to discover the truth about her family and it avoids making the book boring.

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? What other contemporaries with magical elements would you recommend?

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Book Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

What if it's us

Title: What If It’s Us

Author: Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Published by:HarperTeen

Publishing date: October 9th 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 437

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

 Goodreads  | Amazon

I took me some time to get into this book and I think it was mainly because of the characters. First we have Arthur, who annoyed me a little at the beginning. He has zero chill, he talks SO MUCH, he’s jealous and immature. But eventually I started to like him more because he’s also smart, kind and earnest. Then we have Ben, he grew on my as a character and by the end I really liked him. He’s an introvert and a writer and a bit of an asshole at times and I could relate.

For the first half of the book, I felt like Ben and Arthur had no chemistry and honestly, I didn’t know why they kept trying to make things work. But then they had some cute moments and I started to like them together more. I will say that they went from no chemestry, awkward moments, jealousy and miscomunicationcute to a couple that seemed to work pretty well together in the blink of an eye, from one chapter to the next. The pacing of the development of the relationship could have been better.

As I was saying the characters and romance in the first part of the book didn’t seem to be working, but then when Ben and Arthur finally find their footing in their relationship, even if it’s abrupt, the book becomes so much more enjoyable. They just became this adorable couple that wanted to spend all their time together being cute and this became the fluffy book that I imagined when I saw the cover.

I need to mention that the parents in this book are amazing, both Ben’s and Arthur’s, they are understanding, caring and involved in their son’s lives. I also really liked Ben’s best friend, Dylan, he was funny and quirky and nice, and I liked the glimpses we got from his relationship with Samantha.

This book handles some sensitive topics very well, it addresses light-skinned latinx and how while they have certain priviliges for it, there’s pain that comes from having your heritage doubted and erased as well. Also, this is a very sex positive, which I feel is something we need more of in YA.

Finally, I’ll just say that I liked the ending, which I know a lot of people may not, but it was one of the most realistic parts of the book. I would give the first part of this books 3 stars and the second part 4 stars, so that’s why the rating is what it is.

 Rating: 3,6 stars 

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? What diverse contemporaries would you recommend?

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6 Diverse YA Contemporaries That You Should Read: 2018 Edition

diverse contemporaries you shuld read.png

Hi everyone! Today I’m bringing you a list of diverse YA contemporaries that were releases in 2018 and that I read and loved. While these books touch on some serious issues, they all have in common that they aren’t dark and heartbreaking contemporaries. There’s sad things in them, but for the most part they are sweet and funny.

I mention each of the books, what type of representation they have in them and then I tell you why I think you should read them:

the way you make me feel

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Representation: Korean-american main character, Chinese love interest and a Latinx character.

I always say this, this book is a beautiful love letter to L.A. and to food, and with that as a background, we get an amazing father/daughter relationship, a wonderful female friendship and a cute love story. The love interest was so sweet and respectful and it was lovely! We also get so much character development and a really funny book. (Full review).

 

Analee in Real Life

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Representation: Plus Size Cuban-american main character with social anxiety.  

Analee is dealing with her mother’s death by playing an online game all the time, but then in real life, a popular boy asks her to be his fake girlfriend and he starts to coax her out of her comfort zone and it’s such a sweet and fun dynamic. They had so much chemestry! BUT the real focus of the book is family, Analee’s relationship with her father, stepmother and stepsister develop in such a beautiful way.

 

Americna panda

American Panda by Gloria Chao

Representation: Taiwanese-American main character and Japanese love interest.

This is an amazing story about a Taiwanese-American girl that has to straddle two cultures. Mei is a interesting and relatable main character, the female friendship is lovely, the love interest is really undertanding and caring and there is a really good romance that doesn’t take over the story.  One of the most wonderful things about this is the development of the mother/daughter relationship.

 

the summer of jordi perez

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Representation:  Plus Size lesbian main character and mexican-american lesbian love interest

This is such a fun book, the main character is a pink-haired girl who loves fashion and blogs about it and wears colorful clothes. While the love interest is a girl who loves photography and dresses all in black. Abby and Jordi are incredibly cute together and there’s so many sweet moments between them. Also, this book has complex family dynamics, a lovely female friendship and cool guy/ girl platonic friendship. (Full review)

 

pride

Pride by Ibi Zoboi 

Representation: Haitian-Dominican main character and black love interest.

A Pride and Prejudice retelling! Zuri and Darius are always bantering and bickering and it is a fun dynamic to read. But the main reason this book is good is the way it dicusses gentrification and class, including these subjects adds to the original story and make it more relevant to our time. Also, the representation of a Haitian-Dominican family, in terms of the religion, the food and the family dynamics is so fascinating to read.

 

The Poet X

 The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Representation: Dominican-american main character

This is a story told in verse, it’s touching and powerful, and it explores a Dominican-american girl’s struggle with inhabiting her body, a body that attracs attention and because of it, it’s unwillingly subjected to the male gaze; it also deals with growing up in a conservative latinx family that it’s extremely religious and that imposes faith and leaves no room for questions. It’s a book about trying to figure who you are in an enviroment that doesn’t leave much room to do so and it’s fantastic. (full review)

What are some diverse contemporaries that you would recommend? Have you read any of these books? Are you interested on reading any of them? 

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Mini Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Americna panda

Book: American Panda

Author: Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: February 6th 2018

Pages: 311

Genre: YA Contemporary

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels? 

Goodreads | Amazon

American Panda is an amazing story about Mei, a Taiwanese-American girl that has to straddle two cultures. Mei is an interesting and relatable main character and I think this book does a very good job of showing her struggle trying to live up to her parents expectations, but also wanting to follow her own dreams and desires.

The focus of this book is definitely Mei’s relationship with her family.  Mei’s parents are so strict that in order to not dissapoint them or make them angry, Mei stops thinking for herself. So, it was amazing to witness her character devolpment as she finds the strenght to make her own decisions in the course of the book. It was also wonderful to see how that change in Mei impacted her mother and how it affected their mother/daughter relationship. I understand that this is not everyones experience, but I still think that this book manages to address in a very insightful way what it means to be a first generation immigrant for some young people.

Another great things about this, it’s the way in which the siblings relationship is handled and how reconnecting with her borther helps Mei realize that she needs to decide what is valuable and important to her, in terms of relationships and dreams.

This book also has a very cute romance that doesn’t take over the story, but it still a nice addition to it. The love interest, a Japanese-American guy,  is really understanding and caring.  Also, there’s a lovely female friendship, that it’s not exactly a central part of the story, but that adds an amazing elemento to it.

Overall, I found American Panda to be insightful and captivating, and I would recommend it if you like contemporaries focused on family dynamics and relationships.

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? What diverse contemporaries would you recommend?

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9 Books with Anxiety Representation

9 books with anxiety representation.png

9 Books Monday is a feature here on Bookish Wanderess, where I talk about 9 books that have positive representation of diverse experiences including the experiences of people of the LGBTQIA community, Native people, people of color, people with physical and cognitive disabilities or mental illnesses, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

In the past, I have done posts about 9 book with: Bisexual female mcLatinx mcBlack mcMuslim mc, Lesbian mcAsian mc and  Trans mc. (mc=main characters).

This time I’m doing 9 books with Anxiety Representation:

3 Books I Read and Loved

queens of geeks

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

I loved this book; this not only has a ton of references to books, tv shows and movies, it also has so much diversity. One of the main characters, Taylor, is on the autism spectrum and has severe anxiety,  and the other, Charlie, is bisexual and chinese. This  has some amazing quotes about anxiety that literally describe things that I feel on a daily basis and I felt so understood while reading this. 

 

under rose-tainted skies

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

This is an #ownvoices book about a girl that has agoraphobia, anxiety and OCD. Some of the quotes about anxiety on this book resonated with me so deeply, it was like it was talking about me. Also, this book doesn’t treats love as a cure for a mental illness and it has a positive view of therapy and meds and that’s amazing and so needed!

 

TTurtles_All_the_Way_Down_-_John_Greenurtles All the Way Down by John Green

This books means so much to me, it has #ownvoices OCD and anxiety rep and while I only struggle with anxiety and not with OCD, the depictions of intrusive thoughts were SO RELATABLE.  I loved that this book addresses the fact that mental illnesses are a life long struggle and that sometimes even the people that try to understand what someone with a mental illness is going through, they have moments were they just don’t. Also, this books hasa positive view of therapy and shows that love is not a cure for mental illness.

4 Books on my TBR 

10 Things I Can See from Here10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

This books is a bit scary for me because I have read some review by other people with anxiety that mention that this was very hard to read for them because the depiction of anxiety is very accurate and detailed. BUT I still want to read it, because I’m always looking for the books that make me feel less alone in terms of my anxiety.  Beside the anxiety rep, this has an f/f romance and it’s #ownvoices queer rep.

 

A Quiet Kind of Thunder 

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard 

I have heard this books is really, really cute and that it will put a smile on my face, so I want to read it and see, because that’s not usually what people say about books that have a character with anxiety.  I know this is heavy on the romance, but it’s not one of those stories where romance cures mental illness, so YAY! 🎉 This has selective mutism, deafness, poc and social anxiety rep.

 

Learning Curves

 

Learning Curves by Ceille Simkiss

This is a romance novella and I have heard it does a very good job of exploring the experience of having anxiety and being in a relationship. There’s fat, Puerto Rican, panromantic, lesbian and asexual rep. f/f romance.

 

Beneath the Citadel 

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

I don’t know of that many fantasy books with anxiety rep, so as soon as found out one of the main characters in this book has severe anxiety I knew I had to get my hands on it. This book not only has anxiety rep, it has fat, poc and queer rep as well. It keeps getting better and better! Also, all my friends on Goodreads that have read this have giving it 5 stars, which is really impresive!

2 Books Releasing Soon  

I Wish You All the Best

 

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

For what I have heard this book will break our hearts but it will be lovely while doing it, so…that sounds fun! Right? This not only has anxiety rep, but also #ownvoices non-binary rep.

 

You Asked for Perfect

 

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman 

This book touches on anxiety and panic attacks and it’s all about how sometimes people put too much pressure on themeselves. It has an m/m romance, but I have heard that it’s not the main focus of the story.

 

What books with anxiety rep have you read and loves? Which ones are on your tbr? DO you know of any fantasy or scifi books with anxiety rep? 

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Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone

Book: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Release date: 2018

Pages: 525

Genre: YA Fantasy

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Goodreads| Amazon

Children of Blood and Bone is a captivating read. The world and magic system are so well crafted. The descriptions and hystory of this world, as well as the myths surrounding the magic, the Orishas and the Divîners make this story fascinating and unique. This is definitely an action packed book, the characters go in a long and dangerous journey where so many things happen and thanks to that we get to see so much of this world and understand it so much better.

The characters  are so richly constructed and developed and they quickly became my favorite thing about the book. I love the fact that we get a book with a all black cast of characters set in a West African inspired world.

  • Amari is now one of my new favorite characters, she starts like this naive princess but her character development was incredible. She is defenitely the most compelling character in the story to me, she is the voice of reason and that makes her relatable.
  • Zélie is a really complex main character, her anger and her sadness and the way those feelings motivated her actions and decisions make her feel so real.
  • It took me a little time to like Inan, but there’s so many layers to him that made him a really interesting and intriguing character that by the end I couldn’t help but to appreciate him as a character.
  • The one character that could have used a bit more development, even if I still liked him, was Tzain. We don’t get to know much about who he is beyond the fact  that he is his sister’s protector.

I loved the fact that the story focuses on the sibling relationships: Amari & Inan and Zélie & Tzain. Each one of them loves their ssibling, but there’s things that took place in the past that complicate those relationships and add an intricate element to the story. This book is angsty, dramatic and emotional and it basically gave me all the feelings. Zélie and Inan relationship while a bit insta-love-y grows to be deep, complex, and full of longing, betrayal, sadness, anger and love.

An aspect of this book that I found very fascinating was the way in which the characters, especially Zélie and Inan, constantly doubted what was best for their people: should magic come back or not, who should have power, who should have magic, how to make sure magic was misused and how to bring peace to Orisha instead of war. It is refreshing to see characters in a fantasy book that aren’t always sure of what to do and that don’t think they are right all the time. And as a reader, it was interesting to find myself understanding some of the fears of both Zélie and Inan, even if they were in different sides.    

Overall, I think Children of Blood and Bone was definitely worth the hype and if you are a fan of YA Fantasy, I totally recommend you give this one a chance.

Rating: 5 stars

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? What African inspired fantasy book would you recommend? 

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