“The Magic Fish” by Trung Le Nguyen
A collection of riveting fairy tales combined with the experiences of a young gay boy, “The Magic Fish” mixes the magical sentiment of storytelling with the refugee struggle.
It’s a story of a tried and true Vietnamese American experience; parents who don’t speak English with the realistic and unfortunate stigma of being queer and Asian in America. The main character Tien tells his parents stories that convey what he’s feeling and who he is every night.
Nguyen authentically portrays the experiences of queer Asian children and their relationship with immigrant parents with beautiful illustrations and entrancing dialogue.
You can buy a physical copy of “The Magic Fish” here!
“Heartstopper” by Alice Oseman
Content warnings: eating disorders and homophobia
This graphic novel is sure to heat up the cockles of your heart during the season. “Heartstopper” features Nick and Charlie and their triumphs with homophobia and mental health. Oseman combines the very real world of eating disorders with an idealistic budding relationship between the two main characters.
The series has five in-print books that are available to purchase at your local retail booksellers. The illustrations and real, down-to-earth first-person point of view of Charlie won’t stop your heart but melt it instead.
You can buy a physical copy of “Heartstopper” here or read it on the Webtoon app.
“Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wayne Jones
Written in 1986, this book is nothing but timeless. Wayne brings her wizarding world to life with stunning grace and eloquence. Something about a wizard, a girl and a curse makes the holidays.
Eighteen-year-old Sophie alongside her family runs a hat shop, but she’s different. She possesses the power to talk to objects when a crone turns her into an old woman and she meets Howl to cure her of this curse.
There’s nothing better than reading about wizards and curses in the warm embrace of your bedsheets. This novel combined with the dreamlike soundtrack of Japan’s “Studio Ghibli” movie adaptation will make for the most magical winter-break experience.
“A Winter’s Promise” by Christelle Dabos
The title in itself should prove to be a must-read this break. “A Winter’s Promise” takes place in a world so similar yet so incredibly different from our own. An event called the “Rupture” leaves the book equivalent of Pangea in “arks.”
Ophelia has recently been betrothed to a man named Thorn and almost immediately moves to the pole he lives in. After staying at his floating estate for a while, she realizes that her future marriage doesn’t make sense; “Why her?” is the impending question throughout the entire book.
Readers who’ve read and enjoyed “Howl’s Moving Castle” might also find themselves fixated on this book series. Like the aforementioned “Howl’s Moving Castle,” objects in the novel also talk, but don’t play a role as important in the story as Howl’s.
Dabos is dramatic yet careful in her words; every adjective is so meticulously chosen and every paragraph more addicting than the next. This is the perfect read to amp up the Spotify “winter ball” playlists.
You can buy a physical or digital copy of “A Winter’s Promise,” here.