In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!
It’s been a tough year, hasn’t it friend? Sometimes when things are hard and there’s just so much building inside you, there are few things more liberating and cathartic than a really good cry. Unfortunately, I don’t possess the extraordinary ability to cry on command, but whenever I need a good cry, I pull up YouTube and masochistically re-watch the first five minutes of Pixar’s Up. But sometimes, you want something that not only makes you cry, you also want something that puts you back together again.
Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening friends! What do you think of Varian’s costume of San from Princess Mononoke? Princess Mononoke is perhaps my favourite Ghibli film of all time; it’s a beautiful story with powerful themes and compelling characters, especially San, the human girl raised by wolves.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.
Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.
Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay might have made me weep openly on the bus, but it was also an effortless favourite. I adored this book; adored it for its wonderful and genuine explorations of biracial identity, our bonds with people, and living with mental illness. This character-driven story tells of Darius; a Persian-American teen who follows his family to Iran to visit family that he has only ever met through Skype. There, he navigates unfamiliar familial landscapes, meets the enigmatic and charming Sohrab, and discovers what it means to be Darius and Dariush.
Happy New Year, my dear friends! I wish you all a wonderful year, one where you will find what you are looking for, one that is fulfilling, and, of course, one filled with wonderful books. To kick-start the new year, I have a fun feature prepared for you all:
Welcome to our very first Pond Awards!
In addition to my favourite books of 2018, I thought I would also include a more fun post where I share with you a summary of the best (these should not be too much of a surprise!), the worst, and the most’s.
With the year drawing to a close, you’re feeling a little anxious but excited about what the new year will bring. You remember Xiaolong asking you to visit her near the year’s end. And so that’s where you are off to today.
“Hi friend!” greets Xiaolong, when you enter the Pond. “It’s always good to see you. Today I have some books to share with you today – my favourite books of this year!” She holds up the stack of books in her hands up to you, showing you their shiny spines. “I read so many good books this year, but I think these ones are my top eight books.”
You sit down next to her, and ask her what her favourites are. “I’ll tell you, but after you have to tell me what your favourites are too, okay?”
She takes a seat too, picks up the first book, and begins: “So, one of my favourite books was…”