Celebrating the Year of the Tiger: Reading List

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Whether it’s called Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, this day has been the most essential and exciting holiday for me and my family; I remember watching parades lined with red and gold, the sound of fire crackers and drums, and being amazed by the lion costume dancing to each business blessing them for wealth and prosperity. This year, we welcome the tiger, the zodiac representing confidence and ambition.

Despite the bad reputation this animals hold, I have a soft spot for tigers due to their alluring nature as apex predators, but in reality are just really big fluff balls. Also, who doesn’t love the unique striping patterns they display?

I am not born the year of the tiger, but it won’t stop me from admiring this zodiac’s strengths, confidence and reserved nature. Speaking of admiration, I thought what a fun way to bring in the new year than to share my favorite books that involve tigers. Also, POP SUGAR curated a reading challenge (as they do every year), which includes a prompt of a book that either has a tiger on the cover or “tiger” is in the title. I’m going to give my best to recommend some books that are interesting and meaningful to me.

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Life of Pi, Yann Martel

A timeless literary masterpiece about a teenage boy stranded in the ocean on a boat with a bengal tiger. This was a required reading when I was in high school, and I remember being so confused with the plot. I guess I was expecting a survivor’s tale with a tiger, but the story expanded into a deeper and complex visual experience. Pi’s tale of survival marked him as either a great storyteller or someone coping of the trauma endured within the 277 days on the ocean. Overall, this is a great classic of modern literature that every reader should experience at least once.

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, Nghi Vo

A short yet beautiful tale beginning with a cleric named Chih being surrounded by a band of hungry tigers. To keep themself alive, they tell a story of a tiger and her scholar love, while the tigers continuously interrupt them. Although the novella being a standalone, I didn’t know two other books follow Chih’s journey and expands on the lore of the Empire of Ahn. A positive aspect of the novella is the representation of queer love and gender identity, such as Chih being non-binary. The book is short yet one can simply immerse into this folkloric legend flared with twists and turns, which is why I would recommend this as a wonderful tale to read for the new year.

When You Trap a Tiger, Tae Keller

This is just my opinion, but this book is more suited for young adults (and adults young at heart) than elementary school kids. However, the story exemplifies representation of Korean heritage, and discusses difficult topics to the youth such as LGBTQ awareness, ethnic identity, and loss. What drew my attention throughout the reading was the representation of the sunbeam tiger appearing in front of our protagonist Lily . I interpret the tiger as a connection of Lily’s family history and her grandmother’s memories but the tiger might also represent a coping mechanism for Lily to accept her grandmother’s eventual passing. When You Trap a Tiger is easy reading yet magical, and a source that’s great to connect Asian readers with their family and culture.

Beasts of a Little Land, Juhea Kim

My current read, this is my contender for POP SUGAR‘S reading challenge. This epic love story sets in the year 1917, during the Japanese occupation of the Korea. Two characters are intertwined by fate while facing their own tumultuous journey during a time of war and rebellion. Half way done and I’m already enthralled in the story. The storytelling is beautifully reflected in themes of morality and heroism, along with the connection of love and fate. I hope you are also reading this for the POP SUGAR reading challenge. If not, I highly recommend this.

Thank you for reading my first curated reading list! I apologize for recommending only four books, but I believe these four books are profound and meaningful to me, with the addition of representing the tiger for this year. After all, let’s start the new year with new literary adventures, and I wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year!

Chúc mừng năm mới!
행복한 새해되세요

Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov on Pexels.com

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