Happy Hump Day! (whop whop) Today’s topic is books that aren’t set in or inspired by western influence. So nothing set in the US, nothing inspired by medieval Europe (so… a lot of fantasy with traditional monarchies, etc). Looking for Eastern, African or completely original social structures for this one. Lucky me, I’m a manga fanatic. 😛
If you would like to participate in T5W, here is the link to do so.
5 – Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara
This is one of the most mellow series that I’ve ever read. It follows man as he aids various people in dealing with Mushi, creatures that have been around since the dawn of time. Not quite plant, not quite animal, not quite living, not quite dead, these creatures live among us, in our ears, in our pillows, among battles and bloodshed, by newborns and toddlers. Mushi are everywhere and most of the time are completely unnoticeable and harmless. Occassionally though, they wreak a bit of havoc, and the Mushishi, the main character, comes in to handle it.
This series is very slow-paced. It’s definitely more of a thinker series than an action-y one. The first volume is divided into two or three ‘cases’ of Mushi acting out of the norm and I’m assuming the remaining volumes follow the same structure. It’s definitely interesting though, and I recommend it if you’re wanting something with a bit of a surreal feeling to it.
4 – Saiyuki by Kazuya Minkura
This is the second time I’ve mentioned this series rather recently, and I’m really happy about that. Any excuse to make this one relevant is okay by me – I feel like there’s a recent push in the online book community for those who usually just stick to books to get into manga too. I’ve been reading manga for more than a decade and now I’m all excited to be able to point out series that might not occur to someone new to manga to read, whether they be finished and out of print or ‘classics’ or just enjoyable but without the big buzz behind them.
This is one of those series. It’s definitely considered a classic and when it was being written, was definitely rather popular. I haven’t heard much about it from anyone else though, so I’m always looking for a chance to recommend it to new manga readers.
Saiyuki, drawing its influences from China, India and various other Asian countries, follows four characters as they trek across China towards India to solve the origins of the Minus Wave, a blast of energy that spread out across the land, driving all youkai to become frothing, uncontrollable creatures. The four characters are some of my favorite characters ever. A priest who is by no means preisty, a half demon, the legendary Monkey King and a demon whom I believe has one of the most heart-breaking and disturbing backsotries I’ve ever come across. This series. Is. SO. GOOD.
READ IT. AHHH.
3 – Stars Between the Sun and the Moon: One Woman’s Life in North Korea and Escape to Freedom by Lucia Jang
I feel like memoirs from North Korean defectors are very important to read. The most well known one In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park, is also definitely worth the read, but I feel this one has just as much to say as any other. Each experience is unique but at the same time, paints a picture of North Korea that is becoming all too familiar.
This is the second North Korean Memoir I’ve read and it’s made me want to read more, it’s made me pay more attention to the news anytime I hear anything about North Korea. It’s definitely made me more aware of the world, and I recommend it.
2 – Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi
This is the series that really got me into anime and manga. It wasn’t my first series, but it was pretty close to it. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for this one and will always return to it when feeling nostalgic for my teenage years.
This series follows Kagome, a young girl who falls down her family’s ancient well and is transported 500 years back in time to Feudal Japan, where all the youkai and spirits of Japanese myth are alive and thriving. She comes across Inuyasha, a half demon who is in a deep sleep, pinned to a tree. He awakens and the two find themselves stuck on a quest that will change their lives.
This series has comedy, action, romance, heart-break, horror aspects… it’s just so lovely. I adore this series. The anime as well as the manga is pretty great.
1 – The Good Women of China by Xinran
This is another memoir of sorts, but I feel like it’s a lot more unique than your typical one. In the 1980s, Xinran, a woman in China, was given the opportunity to host a radio show. She decided to use it to allow Chinese women who would otherwise remain silent to call in and anonymously tell their stories to the world. This book is a collection of those stories. Some are happy, some are sad, some are heart-breaking, all are powerful in their own way.
I actually read this as assigned reading in one of my college classes back in 2010, but I buzzed through the whole thing in one sitting and now, 7 years later, the stories still stick with me. If you pick up any of the books on this list, make it this one.
And that’s it! I’m going on a honeymoon in a bit over two weeks, so during that time, I’m hoping to pre-schedule posts to pop up while I’m gone. My goal is to write them all before I leave. So if you see a lull in my posting, it means I didn’t write as many as I had wanted to. 😛 Wish me luck!
Happy reading :”D