Something I’d like to do is to make Read Think Ponder more personal. Sharing details about my life (aside from my Monthly Recaps!) isn’t really my style, so I thought: why not incorporate cultural festivals or holidays that are meaningful to me into my blog and do something bookish to celebrate?
Yesterday, on the 21st of December, was dongzhi (冬至) festival, or else known as the Winter Solstice Festival. To some, dongzhi is regarded as one of the most important festivals of the year. To some (like my family!), it is equally important to Chinese New Year. How dongzhi is celebrated can vary from family to family; some families may make tangyuan, which are balls of glutinous rice (and they’re super yummy!), and some families make dumplings!
In my family, we don’t make tangyuan or dumplings, but all of us will meet to have a big feast together. I don’t have a lot of family in New Zealand, so it’s just my family, my uncle’s family, and my grandma. Even with our small group, being together on the evening of dongzhi is really important, and takes priority over everything else. For us, it’s the idea of coming together, being together, and appreciating the time spent with each other. We don’t do anything particularly special – mostly just stay at grandma’s house until late, watch TV, talk and catch up with each other. 😊
And now for the bookish part! 💖
Because dongzhi, to me, is all about being with family, I want to recommend four books that are about family or explore familial relationships!
1. THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE BY STACEY LEE
I had the honour and privilege of reading this book before its release when I won it in a giveaway! Releases 27th December 2016 – my birthday!
- About a mother-daughter duo who are the last aromateurs in the world, and the shenanigans that ensue when the main character, Mim, gives a love potion to the wrong person!
- Explores all kinds of love – friendship love, familial love, and also romantic love.
- Highlight of the story: the wonderful, complicated, but ultimately loving mother-daughter relationship!
- Lee’s writing is phenomenal – vivid, evocative, and gorgeous.
Find The Secret of a Heart Note on Goodreads.
2. SECOND CHANCE SUMMER BY MORGAN MATSON
Do yourself a favour and bring along your fave box of tissues for this read. The lovely Marie recommended me this book, and I had no regrets!
- About a family, who get along but aren’t close, who come together following devastating news and spend their last summer at their lake house.
- Though it has a romance, the relationships between the protagonist and her family are far more interesting and emotional.
- There is some wonderful dialogue, especially between the protagonist and her father; there’s so much honesty, rawness, and vulnerability.
Find Second Chance Summer on Goodreads.
3. THE JOY LUCK CLUB BY AMY TAN
Let it be known that The Joy Luck Club and Amy Tan in general can be, at times, problematic, but this book is incredibly relatable and such a significant piece of fiction, and has a special place in my heart.
- About four Chinese immigrant mothers and their daughters, their lives, and the complicated, sometimes war-like, but fiercely loving relationships between mothers and daughters.
- Explores the great hardship and struggle immigrants and women endure.
- But also about the hope mothers have for their daughters, and the sense of loss and disconnect that arise when cultures clash.
- Note: The representation of Chinese men in the book/movie is slightly problematic.
Find The Joy Luck Club on Goodreads.
4. SAGA BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & FIONA STAPLES
I haven’t read many graphic novels, but Saga is definitely up there! The hype for this is completely justified – you won’t regret reading it.
- A sci-fi space opera about two soldiers on opposite ends of a bloody war, and the chaos and hope that ensues when they bring a little life into the galaxy.
- Has one of the most memorable, most dysfunctional, and most adorable family – as well as the strays that they pick up along the way.
- Though it explores other themes like justice, war and its consequences, and loss, it is also about hope, the things we do for love and family.
We don’t wish people ‘happy dongzhi!’ or anything like that; I show that I care by being present and being with my family on dongzhi festival. Even if you don’t celebrate dongzhi, I encourage you all to be thankful and show love for your family or the people that you love today. 💖
So friends, tell me:
- Do you celebrate dongzhi? If so, what do you and your family do?
- What are some of your favourite books that were about family and/or familial relationships?