How I Unexpectedly Found New Books to Read

I always wonder how people meet their book-of-life. For me, I like to stroll around the bookstores and let serendipity guide me to the right books. Sometimes a miracle happens, and I get some life-changing books; yet, sometimes it is not that magical.


Well, some books came to me this morning on my way to work. As usual, I took the 7 train where I can still get internet signal because of high-line tram. When I opened my Instagram page, an Amazon ad popped up like this:




Image via my Instagram


I was surprised. Though for Instagram users, it is not surprising when sponsored ads pop up, for me, this is the first time I have seen any regarding book culture. So, with curiosity, I checked these books out and found that they are appealing.



Pachinko by Min Jee Lee (2017)



Image via Amazon


Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then Isak, a Christian minister, offers her a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife.


Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country in which she has no friends, no home, and whose language she cannot speak, Sunja’s salvation is just the beginning of her story (Goodreads).


Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (2013)



Image via Amazon

An enchanting child, Claire, was born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life. 

But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself (Goodreads).


The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (2007)



Image via Amazon


At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter…

Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his relationship with Erica shifting. And Changez’s own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love (Amazon).


The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh (2014)



Image via Amazon


The Hungry Tide is a very contemporary story of adventure and unlikely love, identity, and history, set in one of the most fascinating regions on the earth. Off the easternmost coast of India, in the Bay of Bengal, lies the immense labyrinth of tiny islands known as the Sundarbans. For settlers here, life is extremely precarious. Attacks by deadly tigers are common. Unrest and eviction are constant threats. Without warning, at any time, tidal floods rise and surge over the land, leaving devastation in their wake.

In this place of vengeful beauty, the lives of three people from different worlds collide. Piya Roy is a young marine biologist, of Indian descent but stubbornly American, in search of a rare, endangered river dolphin. Her journey begins with a disaster, when she is thrown from a boat into crocodile-infested waters. Rescue comes in the form of a young, illiterate fisherman, Fokir. Although they have no language between them, Piya and Fokir are powerfully drawn to each other, sharing an uncanny instinct for the ways of the sea. Piya engages Fokir to help with her research and finds a translator in Kanai Dutt, a businessman from Delhi whose idealistic aunt and uncle are longtime settlers in the Sundarbans. As the three of them launch into the elaborate backwaters, they are drawn unawares into the hidden undercurrents of this isolated world, where political turmoil exacts a personal toll that is every bit as powerful as the ravaging tide (Amazon).


A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013)



Image via Amazon


In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future (Amazon).




I’ve been reading Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being for weeks and I am enjoying the novel a lot. For one thing, Ozeki is one of my favorite authors; for another, the book explores the possibilities and openness among authors, readers, and characters. Though the other four books are written by authors who are new to me, after my research, I found out that they are all telling stories happening outside of America. That echoes my recent reading taste: stories of and by immigrants, people of color, minority, and feminists. Awww, I’m excited for the journey ahead. 


If you have the same experiences about “finding something good without looking for it,” please don’t hesitate to share with us!



Featured Image via Richtopia