Knowing (and reading) your genre

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For a really long time, I just basically read whatever came my way. You give me a title, I’ll check it out. I never considered any genre to be my go-to genre and felt the bookish world to be my oyster. I wanted to read all the books.

However, you find out at one point or another that not all books are made for you. I think it’s at some point in every reader’s life they discover the genres that they enjoy the most. Sometimes it’s a gradual pull towards it. Other times, it just finds you. It’s always good to know what genres you like because then of course, you’ll never get bored.

But what if you don’t know what genre you’re interested in? How do you discover it for yourself? This I learned recently while trying to get into thrillers and mysteries.

I kind of shied away from mysteries and thrillers because I have some pretty bad anxiety when it comes to those reads. I think the last book I read was Gone Girl and that not only scared the crap out of me, but I think I remember throwing the book across the room. Thrillers have been a mystery to me, so I decided I wanted to take a deep dive into the genre.

I picked out a few books from my Book of the Month Club and I agreed to review a few mystery novels. I wanted to get a sense of the genre and see if perhaps this is for me. Sadly, it wasn’t. I didn’t find the thriller genre to be as fun and interesting as what I normally gravitate towards.

Now I know that thrillers and mysteries don’t really get me reading more, but I don’t know what I like to read.

I took a deep dive into my Goodreads account to see. I’ve been keeping a record of my books since 2011, so I knew I would find some good stuff there. There were a few patterns I can easily find and I think that this quickly decided what my favorite genres were.

It appeared that my favorite genres were Literary Fiction, YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and a little Romance. Of course I’ve also been reading a ton of diverse reads over the past few years as well.

It didn’t really shock me that I read these genres specifically. I guess I didn’t see this pattern before because I’m so used to reading whatever came my way. Perhaps there were more of these genres that came my way than others. It’s kind of funny when you dive into something like this and figure out that you’ve been running patterns you’re entire life.

Oddly, I felt empowered. I knew exactly what genres I loved reading, but the new challenge I came across was understanding what the basics are of these genres. No one wants to be the guy that announces their favorite genres and hasn’t read the “staple” novels. Would other genre-readers be able to identify with you or are you just a “poseur” pretending to like something you have no understanding about?

I’ve finally come to terms with the genres that I love, so now I’m on the quest to find the books that make up these genres. I’m pretty sure I’d get the proverbial shit kicked out of me for not reading the definitive works that defined the genre. I mean, I might have tried to read Lord of the Rings, but those movies came out and were so conveniently easier to watch than read.

I’m looking to expand my own universe by reading books in genres I actually like. I’m going to start with some staples and then work my way through other books. It’s so great to find something that you’re interested in. It’s like pulling from an endless library where every book is something your heart would desire. 

I’ll be updating you on the progress I’m making and creating some definitive guides to the genres in the future. For now, I’m happy knowing my genre and now I get to read from it.

My First Amazon Books Experience

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I was walking to the train the other day from a bridal shower my sister threw for me. The shower was a great time and we walked around and looked at expensive clothes I can never be able to afford.

And as I was making my way down to the train station, I walked across the Amazon Bookstore that recently opened. Oh whoa, this thing is already open? I asked myself as I moseyed to the front door. A security guard open the door for me and I entered the space. Of course I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to check out a major brand’s bookstore. I’ve been buying books with Amazon since Amazon was only about books, but now that Amazon is about everything it just seems a little short sighted to open just a book store.

Nevertheless, I continued into the brightly lit space. I felt like one of the new customers walking into Joe Fox’s “Fox Books.” Everything was beautifully displayed, clean, and covered in books. The coffee from the cafe connected to the store wafted through the air providing the atmosphere with some sort of sensory trigger. Paper and coffee; a deadly combination to any good-willed reader.

The entire experience made me think of You’ve Got Mail and the battle for bookish territory between an independent bookstore and a major corporate book outlet. However, there were some obvious differences between Fox Books and Amazon Books.

I didn’t get the vibe that Fox Books was trying to set up. Yes, there was coffee and books but the store was a little bit cramped. Given the fact that they’re right in front of the Empire State Building, they’re getting way more foot traffic than Joe Fox was getting at his store in the Upper West Side.

I was a little squished against some other book browsers. Moms and dads just watching their kids playing on the Kindle Fires. The aisles were a little cramped and not even two people can pass casually without a few “excuse me”s and “i’m sorry”s. There weren’t floors of books where you can hide out and read for hours without anyone interrupting you. There wasn’t a huge selection of novels from every genre here. I didn’t even see an Amazon Books mug! I would have been all over that.

But I think the biggest and most interesting thing about this store was the selection. I read somewhere that Amazon Books would only stock novels that have been rated and reviewed the most on Amazon and Goodreads. If you’re the social reader that reads a good book every six months, then this will be the store for you. You get to see a great compilation of best-reviewed novels throughout all the genres.

However, if you’re an avid reader getting in about 25-50 books a year you might find this store to be a little underwhelming. All the books I saw on display were novels I’ve already heard of and seen. Some I’ve already read. And as attractive as that is to the average consumer, it’s not that attractive for a daily reader.

The other downside of having only best-rated or best-reviewed is that you’re not going to get those hidden gem novels. You’re not going to find the mid-list novel here. This is really a drawback especially since my mission in life is to share great diverse reads and some of those reads aren’t being read by the hundreds of thousands.

And of course, you can buy any of the Amazon products right at the store. That is if you can get an opportunity to pry a kid off the Kindle Fires to see how they work.

There was definitely one plus, though. You can pay with your Amazon account and if you’re a Prime member, you can get a discounted price. You know when you’re shopping for books on Amazon and you see the retail price  with a strikethrough and a discounted price? Well, that’s what you can get to pay here. To pay with your Amazon account, all you have to do is scan a QR code with your phone and then the cashier just scans your phone. I didn’t even take my wallet out once and contemplate the remorse I would feel from buying six books.

Overall, I think this might be a good hangout for me while I wait for the train. There’s coffee and books for me to browse, but it’s not going to be my go-to spot for books. It was fun and I’ll probably go in there again, but I’m not going to hold my breath that this will replace any other bookstore in the world.


The importance of sharing diverse novels

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This world is huge.

There are so many cultures of people represented on this speck in the sky and all of them have their traditions and heritages and lifestyle. They also struggle. They all struggle. And struggle for some reason brings us a host of stories. There’s this famous quote that writers all around the world know which is “write what you know.”

People are extremely fascinated by the know. What do you know? What can you share?

And for a long time, the knowers wrote novels about their strife. Jane Austen wrote about the complications of love and being an ambitious woman in the 19th century. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the jazz era and partying and sometimes how those parties were a little too decadent. Hemingway wrote…well, he pretty much “suffered” all his life if you’ve ever read anything by him.

People draw from their realities. It may not be the whole truth, but it’s enough truth to give you an idea of how that experience really was.

This is where diverse books comes in. You’ve got this whole world of experience and suffering and stories. You’ve got writers writing what they know. So why aren’t readers interested?

Recently I met someone who was interested in knowing how I found diverse books. I tried to recall the very moment that it happened but I think in my reality I’ve been looking for diverse reads since I was a kid. I’ve always had an eye out for these books and always tried to get my hands on them. I’ve always wanted a way to connect to my two halves and I sometimes feel that will be a search I’ll be doing my entire life.

So I tried to think about how other people find diverse reads and I was kind of clueless. Granted I could go pretty negatively into this thought, but I like to believe that people don’t read diverse reads because it’s just not available to them. They don’t know how to find it and they don’t know what to look for.

You go to Barnes and Noble and the novels on the shelves right when you walk in are representing the “best sellers” but not the “not a best seller, but it’s important so please check it out.” If it isn’t coming from a hometown Book Club or making the New York Times Best Seller List, then perhaps you may not see it. And this isn’t anyone’s fault at all!

What I’m glad to see is that this is slowly changing and it’s a great thing to behold. I’m starting to see some great novels I’ve read show up on the bestseller lists and on the shelves right when you walk into a bookstore. But our work isn’t done. What we need are for people to seek out diverse reads and advocate for them to the masses. We need to share these reads and not only preach about how important it is to read but how it affected you. Did it shed some light on a topic you knew little about? If so then I think you can say it’s doing its job.

One of the many hobbies readers like to do is share what they’ve read. “OMG I just finished reading this great book…” We love to share the stories we loved. Whether it’s a hard-hitting thriller or a soft and cuddly romance story, I always tell myself that someone took the time to write this “truth” and you are taking the time to read it and share it so why not do the same for a diverse novel?

And I know that I’m preaching to the choir here because we all read diverse books, but it’s time for us to share them. Scribble your name out of a copy of Beloved and leave it on a park bench. Tell someone how a diverse read changed the way you understood African culture and the slave trade. Share with your parents how you recently read a book about gender identity. Join a book club focused on diverse reads. All these efforts can help to shed a little bit more light to diversity in books and really help to teach everyone a little bit more about the other cultures out there.

There’s so many stories; so many interesting and compelling stories of battling the odds and finding love and setting your own path. As a reader, I want to share these stories with people. During a time in our country’s history where we’re seeing some pretty harsh things on the news and hearing pretty harsh words everywhere you go, you need this kind of representation to show people that we are just the same as everyone else. That we have stories too and we’re here to share them.

Are you ready to listen?

I’m making an earnest TBR for August because I can’t be trusted

I bought way too many books this month and it’s only day 9! At this rate I’ll be building a fort and living in my books. Also I’ve been pretty lazy with reading and instead have been watching The Bachelorette. I’m still sore about the ending!

In an effort to keep myself in check and read more books, I’m making myself a TBR for August. I don’t normally do this because I feel like I always end up changing my mind or reading something else, but this month I’m determined to read all of these books. Don’t try to stop me, Smee!

It’s a pretty long list and it’s got some great reads. I know I won’t get through everything but at least I’ll get through most. Wish me luck!

You can find out more about the books I’m reading after the jump!

Continue reading “I’m making an earnest TBR for August because I can’t be trusted”

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka


I’ve been hearing a lot of things about this book, so when Simon and Schuster sent over a copy for me to read, I figured why not give it a chance.

Disclaimer: This review is my honest thoughts and not in any way shaped by Simon and Schuster.

I’m not a fan of thriller novels. The last one I read was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and if you’re into reading books, you’ve probably heard about it (shivers).

I think it’s something about that edge-of-your-seat-who-dunnit that I’m not a fan of because it weirdly gives me anxiety. Look at that, I’m a bookish person who has anxiety about life and death.


However, this novel is not your typical thriller. In fact, it’s not thriller enough and for some folks, I’m seeing some low-stars on Goodreads because of it.

Luckily for me, I’m big into literary fiction, so I decided to read it in that lens instead of as a thriller and what I found was a remarkably well-written novel about three characters coming to grips with who they are in the midst of a young girl being murdered.

For me, this is my kind of thriller. I love reading character-driven novels and if you’re looking for more of that and less of the blood and gore and anxiety-driven stuff then this might be Thriller Lite™ just for you.

Danya Kukafka is brilliant as a writer. Being a book editor may be helping her in that department, but she’s definitely got her own voice. It’s interesting and provocative without having to push the envelope on the story. You’re following these characters through the novel and you’re seeing how they cope with death.


There were three intertwining stories throughout. There was the boy who stalked her, the girl who loved her before she hated her, and the police officer set to help on the case amongst the challenges he faced being somewhat involved.

I found myself trying to guess which of the three was the person that killed Lucinda in the beginning of the novel. Obviously, you would think it was the stalker boy because who stalks a freshman in high school? Or it could have been the girl that hates her and was motivated to end her life, but do you think she could do it?

When I read in the end who it really was, I think that was when it snapped into place the truth of the novel; it doesn’t matter. The murder itself was a maguffin to the real story here. It played as the basis for these characters to grow and find themselves, but the murder wasn’t the real plot.

I love it when a novel makes you think more than just on the surface. I love when a novel lulls you in on this great journey only to show you that the journey has been inside yourself the entire time.

It was quite an adventure and a fun one at that. Yeah, there were a few issues with the length of the novel and the dragging, but if you’re a fan of true crime and thriller stories then this might not be the one for you.

You can find out more about this book on

Traveling to South Korea – Life Update


I’m really loving my life updates, so I hope you’ve been loving them too. As you may know, I recently returned from my first trip to Seoul, South Korea. I’m Korean American and I’ve always wanted to travel to Korea to see where my family originally came from. It’s kind of funny that this was my first trip there and that I was there for a wedding for my sister’s friends.

So I went to the land of Psy and “Gangnam Style,” ate authentic Korean BBQ, visited some beautiful temples and palaces, and really felt a sense of belonging. However, I don’t think I would want to live here. It’s a modern city with a lot of technology, but it’s still a little backwards when it comes to things like women’s right to choose and the pollution is awful. But I can see myself visiting a few times in the future.

Maybe it’s because I’m Korean and living in America, but I’ve always struggled with who I am and metaphorically asking myself where my “loyalties lie.” Am I Korean? Am I American? I’ve been so homogenized by American culture and growing up here that I see myself more as American than as Korean. However, I don’t look it. I don’t look like those Baywatch babes with blonde hair, slender body, and classically beautiful features. But I’m American and in this country it’s ok if you don’t. You’re you, but at the same time I’m not me? I wonder if any other race within this diverse nation feels the same way.

This is getting quite philosophical, so I want to clearly say that while I’m an American and love being a citizen of this country, I still wonder what my heritage is and what I stand for and who were these people that I call “my people.” Being second generation born in America, I find myself asking that all the time. How do I maintain being the American I am while keeping true to the people I come from?


So the opportunity for me to go to Korea came up and I couldn’t turn it down. It wasn’t the best timing to go with me losing my job and moving and getting married and all that, but I couldn’t say no. And you know what I found there?

I found myself detaching. I found myself as an American traveling to another country. I was being scolded for not being Korean enough. People were expecting me to speak fluently even though I came from a country where the dominant language is English. I found myself awkwardly bowing to everyone just to be polite when all was needed was a quick handshake. And even the opposite where I offered my hand only to be greeted with a bow.

I found myself feeling like a person touring the country of her origin, but not feeling original. I felt it when I saw my friend, an expat, speaking better Korean than me. “I’m still working on the dialect and emotion in my voice,” she said to me. But it wasn’t necessary to understand inflection when you can order coffees for everyone without having to switch to English.

And in its own small way, it was disheartening. I found myself wanting to go home and be in the comfort of a language and a people that I was used to. Korea is beautiful and a place where everyone should visit once, but I don’t identify with it as my country. My country is America and I’m proud of that. My country is also Korea and I’m proud of that too. However, Korea is not my home. It is the place that gave me my identity and I will always cherish that. I will always try to return, but as a tourist.

Identity is tough, folks. I don’t think anyone will ever get a good grasp of it. If you’re struggling through identity, not only ethnic identity but also gender identity and religious identity and all the other parts of you that make up who you are, then I can confidently say that you’re not alone. No one ever is. Everyday is a mad grab at finding who you are and doing what needs to be done in order to preserve that journey. It’s hard and it’s easy. But when you explore it and answer some of those questions you have about yourself, I think the one thing you get out of the whole ordeal is comfort.


Worst Blogger Ever: Life Updates

I know what you’re thinking, “what happened to Simone? I thought she was writing about books or whatever.”

Well, the past month (if not the year so far) has been pretty crazy. Instead of trying to explain everything, I thought I could just give you the highlights reel.

I got married


Yeah, this one was a doozy and for the most part of 2017, I’ve been spending it getting ready to get married. But now I am and things seem to be on the up and up.

As you can see, no books at the wedding because that’d be weird for me to be reading while I’m pacing around waiting for our turn to get married. It wasn’t the most extravagant wedding in the world, but it made me happy to share my life with my new hubby. 🙂 ❤

I’m going to Seoul

While there isn’t much to prepare (and honestly, I feel like I’m throwing this one in here to make the list longer), I’m super excited and nervous about going to Seoul. I’ll keep you all informed on what happens here, but to give you an idea of my anxiety I’m going to the Motherland and I barely speak the language and there’s this veiled threat of a war with North Korea and I don’t want to end up a refugee yelling “I’M AN AMERICAN CITIZEN” as I run to the American Embassy a la the classic 1997 film “The Saint.”

Obviously I’m being melodramatic right now. I’m really excited about visiting the land of my people. I can’t wait!

I’m moving

My new husband and I are planning to move to New Jersey in a couple of weeks and I’ve just been preparing myself for that. But because my husband is in Florida right now and I’m planning on going to Korea in a couple of weeks, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to review properties and decide what part of New Jersey we want to live. So I’ve just been looking at places, asking a lot of questions, and packing everything up because I think my husband is gonna need to move us without me there :/

I am in the worst reading slump of my life

This is probably the top #1 reason why I’ve been a sucky blogger lately– I am in the worst book slump of my life. There was a time when I was not reading books and that was back in college and the reason why I wasn’t reading books because the books I was reading books required for my classes but didn’t really interest me outside of that.


Now I’m in a slump again and I’m trying to defunk-ify myself. To give you an idea of how bad it is, I’ve been reading the same YA novel for the past month. The book is amazing and I have a lot I want to talk about it. However, it doesn’t take me a month to read YA! Usually, they take me a couple of days and it’s mostly because how captivated I am by the story. Here, I’m captivated by the story, but for some reason my brain wants to think about other stuff like marriage and moving and career changes (yes, that’s another one to add to the list of stuff happening to me). Also, I’m on a deadline because the library needs my book back by tomorrow and I don’t want to have to pay fees for borrowing books!

So there you have it. A list of excuses on why I can’t blog on a normal schedule. But today is May 1st and that means a new month for me to try and be better about everything I do. Better dieting. Better exercise. Better adulting. I guess I’ll just add better reading on that as well.