Just last night, my husband and I were discussing our reading habits and human nature. Why those two topics together? Because we are both now involved in major reading challenges, mine being to read the Top 100 Children’s Books and his to read a loosely compiled list of the Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. We have found one interesting trend between the two of us in our continued reading through our lists. So often, we don’t allow ourselves to really consider the book we are reading, to think about its themes and how the book is affecting our thoughts and our lives. How many of you could point to one or two (or many) books that changed your life? Or at least a few books that made you think hard about the way you or others were living? The Literary Husband and I surely have. But with our lists we are trying to “conquer,” the books have become simply items to check off, the means to moving on to the next piece.
In our discussion, I realized that with my most recent read, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, this was not the case. About twenty pages in, I was lost in the world of ancient China and the life of Minli in her search for fortune and her family’s happiness. Thank goodness author Grace Lin reacquainted herself with her Asian heritage and chose to write about and appreciate Chinese folktales. Because of this gem of a book, my hope is renewed in my ability to truly regard a book for what it is worth, rather than treating it like an item on a checklist.
I could go on and on about this book, gushing about the simple writing style, but intricate story telling of Grace Lin. I could tell you how important books like these are in our country that continues to melt together cultures from around the world, in our ever-growing population. I could tell you about the important lessons that Minli and her dragon friend learn, and how well Grace weaves in these lessons, in an easy-to-follow manner. But I won’t.
by Grace Lin
Originally published in 2009