Hello everyone! Woven In Books is finally back this Saturday to bring you some amazing diverse recommendations for you”ll to add to your TBR and read! Today’s post is by one of my favourites and a dear friend Nandini @ Novels and Nebulas. She is one of the best bloggers out there who is always hyping up diverse books so I am so glad to have her on the blog today and sharing some of her favourite books!
You can read the previous Woven In Books posts HERE for more amazing diverse recommendations, blogger and author interviews.
I have loved reading ever since I was taught to and it’s developed into more than just a hobby now. Even though I’ve read more books than I can count since then, the stories that have stayed with me are the ones I listened to growing up, the ones from my own culture. In 2017, I read When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, which introduced me to #OwnVoices stories about characters who looked like me, sounded like me and had problems that I was facing too. As a member of the book blogging community, I quickly became aware of how little exposure books by marginalized authors get and made it my mission to hype up as many as I could. Today I want to focus on diverse retellings that are a joy to read because these are a diverse spin on familiar stories that I think anybody can relate to. I hope that through this post, readers will feel encouraged to pick these and other books by marginalized authors in the future.
This list won’t be complete without having a Sandhya Menon book on it, obviously. I had the privilege of reading an early copy of this book and it’s my favourite book of hers thus far. The magical elements sprinkled into a heart-warming contemporary romance was perfection! Jaya, the protagonist, goes through a journey of unlearning her prejudices and figuring out what she wants instead of going along with the expectations society has for her, which I found very relatable. Beauty and the Beast is a very popular fairytale, so I hope that people will enjoy this diverse spin on it as much as I did.
Gloria Chao is one of my favourite contemporary YA authors and her debut, American Panda, introduced me to her wonderful work. The Butterfly Lovers is a tragic Chinese folktale about a pair of lovers and has inspired a lot of works of art from music to literature. While it may not be as famous as Western fairytales, I really wanted to shed light on famous Asian folktales as well. However, this book is more light-hearted and focuses on the romance between the main characters, Ali and Chase. I love how it starts a conversation about racial microaggressions, the Asian-American identity and the immigrant experience.
Roshani is another favourite of mine whose books I constantly recommend. This is her most underrated book and it deserves so much more praise than it has gotten. Some elements of this story are inspired by the Vikram and Betal folktale popular across India and it’s not exactly a retelling. The gender dynamics are flipped on their head and it’s a dual POV narrative with a swoony romantic storyline. I’m also a huge fan of Roshani’s beautiful prose and all the different elements of Hindu mythology that enrich the world-building.
This is an Asian speculative fiction short story collection that I think will appeal to readers of all ages. Each story is inspired from the mythology and folktales of the author’s culture. My favourite stories are Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi, Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar and The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon. Every piece is accompanied by a note from the author discussing the origins of the story, which made me appreciate them more. I must caution that not every story will appeal to everybody, which was true for me as well, but overall it was an amazing reading experience.
Nandini is the passionate book blogger behind Novels and Nebulas. She has been reaching for books since her childhood and often reads speculative fiction to escape reality. Born and brought up in Bangalore, India, she loves to see Asian representation in English fiction and goes hard for South-Asian stories. She also runs the Stars and Sorcery book club, which focuses on reading sci-fi and fantasy written by authors of colour every month. Her dream is to inspire everyone around her to experience the life-changing magic of literature. You can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads as well.
Have you read any of these books?
Which are your favourite diverse retellings? Tell me about it!!