Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants by Anna Hui (Non-Fiction)
This was one of my favorite reads this year. What starts out as an effort to discover the roots of Canadian-Chinese cuisine, turns out to be both a story about the author’s family and a celebration of immigrant resilience.
I will never turn my nose at the thought of anything being inauthentic again. Americanized Chinese food is it’s own thing, and so many of the dishes in the book are a part the comfort food I still eat. Going on road trips and stopping at the one Chinese restaurant in the tiny towns we drove through them was also something my family used to do all the way up and down the West Coast and I always wondered about how those places survived. Even if you are American I think the stories here would still apply.
Now… I really have a craving for ginger beef…
Circe by Madeline Miller (Historical Fantasy/Mythological)
It lives up to the buzz. This story was both beautiful and devastating.
The story is centered around Circe, a nymph and witch. She slowly discovers her powers, and comes to understand humanity over the millennia, while facing crippling loneliness, and being treated terribly by almost everyone she cares for. It’s a beautifully written survivor story. If it were a movie, it would have golden dappled light, white sand beaches, and wide frame shots like you’d see in an Ang Lee film.
It’s also a refresher in Greek mythology, that makes the mythology feel so painfully relevant. The ending was spectacular.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (Contemporary Romance)
It’s a foodie romance! The love interest is a chef and oh my God I wish I could just eat everything that was described. There’s even a recipe in the back!
But it wasn’t an easy book to read. The train wreck begins right from the start, and I wasn’t sure how either Trisha or DJ could ever redeem themselves. Trisha takes a long journey to change and unpack the privilege she had growing up. There were times I didn’t sympathize with her and I didn’t think she could ever turn around her life, yet she did. By the end I was rooting for her happy ending. It’s testament to brilliant writing craft.
Yes it’s another pride and prejudice retelling, but Austen is more inspiration than a beat for beat guide in this story. It deals with class, and privilege, and family drama along with standing up for yourself and what you want.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (YA Fantasy)
This is a silk road story about a young tailor who has to create three magical dresses after winning a competition against the best tailors in the country. There’s a slow burning central romance which I also really enjoyed, and there’s a cool quest to find the most impossible materials: thread of sunlight, moonlight, and starlight. This whole book is a sewist’s dream and I would love to see fan art of the dresses that the main character created. I’m looking forward to the sequel!
Like a Mother – A feminist journey through the science and culture of pregnancy by Angela Garbes (Non-Fiction)
I wish this book existed when I was pregnant with my first child. I had so many questions about the science behind what was going on with my body, and very confused about what was normal and what was not.
This book is part autobiography, part anthropology text, and part science journal. I appreciated the perspectives, as well the information about what to expect both physically and emotionally not only during pregnancy but aftewards.
The emotional fallout, body changes, and relationship challenges post baby were things I did not expect, did not handle well, and I haven’t seen covered in depth in other pregnancy books. If you have a friend going through their first pregnancy, or you’re thinking about having children, I highly recommend this one.