Yes, yes, I have a monstrous stack of English books I most likely won’t finish in my lifetime (the thought makes me cry a little). Yet, I am a greedy book monster, I want to read stuff I don’t have access to due to language barriers. Here’s a small list of things I wish I could read, and most likely never will unless Google Translate becomes crazy efficient in the future.
Translated as Tale Of The Kingdom of Coloured Clouds, I was originally drawn to this due to the gorgeous cover (seriously, look at all the beautiful details!). The story follows the beautiful and intelligent Shurei. She’s the daughter of a scholar and absolutely determined to become the country’s first female official in the Imperial Court. There’s only one problem: girls aren’t allowed to take the Imperial Examinations!
Although Shurei meets many gorgeous men in the tale, she is steadfast in her goal to enter the Court and make a positive change to her nation. A story with a female at the forefront, talking of politics instead of romance? Yes, please! It also helps that she has a male harem rivaling Celaena’s.
Luckily, though we are not able to read the original light novels – we can see some of her story through the manga and anime, both licensed in English.
Journey Of A Flower
This particular title probably won’t translate too well into English, being a Chinese fantasy, but I still wish I could read it! I have to admit half my motivation is due to the beautiful TV drama posters I’ve seen around the internet. This is a tragic dark fantasy, following a girl destined for chaos and darkness – and her apprenticeship with an age old immortal who represents all that is light and good. Sounds familiar? Yes, it does sound like every young adult book ever . Yet, the MC and her pining for the hero is poisonous to both their lives, as well as the spiritual world at large. and there’s no happy ending here.
I actually own the Vietnamese edition of these books, if only I didn’t read so slowly in my mother tongue *cries*
The Condor Heroes Series
OK, this is cheating a little since I have read the book when I was younger. While kids in the Western world grew up to Tolkien and Narnia – I grew up to watching adaptation of Jin Yong’s works and Journey to the West. I can say I know Chinese mythology quite intimately, even the made up one in Jin Yong’s novels. Spanning decades, with detailed worldbuilding and a thousand different martial arts sects and skillsets (this world’s equivalent of magic, I guess), these were the first fantasy novels I fell in love with. Although there’s a lot of focus on the heroics of men in these works, there’s also an army of kick-ass ladies. From Huang Rong: beautiful and cunning, to Xiao Long Nu: delicate yet resolute, each have their own agency and story apart from their leading men.
One of the tropes I will never tire of is the girl-as-boy crossdressing, especially in stories like Mulan or Leviathan – where it enables our heroine to mix with the men and upstage them at their own game. Sungkyunkwan Scandal has the same appeal, featuring an intelligent noble woman who dons her disguise to join a prestigious male-only university. What unravels promise to be fun hijinks, plenty of eligible men and a cute romance. I’ve watched the Korean drama adaptation of this book and immensely enjoyed it!
As someone who yearns for diversity, especially from East Asian culture, I sometimes content myself with dreaming about the above books rather than face the sad under-representation in Western books and media. It’s also interesting to read things from another culture and point of view – and nothing beats consuming foreign materials.
Do you have any foreign books you would love to get your hands on? Or do you enjoy foreign entertainment? Let me know!
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