October 2017 Wrap Up

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I’ve decided that I’m going to make my wrap ups way more robust. Yes, I’ll be highlighting my reads, but something else I want to do is also highlight great articles I’ve read around the Internet and maybe a few updates from my life. There are so many other great things that happen over a month and I just want to share that with you!

First, let’s talk about the weather because no small talk doesn’t have some amount of weather conversation. It was really hot in October and when you’re trying to get in the cold weather mood, the last thing you want to do is wear shorts. However, we all persevered and November is already starting off with some nice chill feels.

We start off the month with an article written by Jeremy Lin and his recent hair choices. If you’ve got a moment to read an article written by a basketball player, I would suggest doing so. While Jeremy Lin isn’t the most profound writer, he does speak more about cultural appropriation, being Asian, and always keeping in mind the culture you’re choosing from.

One thing I know for sure was that October reads were on fire with a new one from John Green, a prequel to Practical Magic, and some thrillers. Because what kind of October is it without some spooky reads?

The Ardent Biblio asked me to write up my favorite from the month, so I’m going to skip my review of them here and just point you to what I did read. Check it out!

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Last month, Celeste Ng released her book Little Fires Everywhere and the Internet broke with how many people loved this book. I even loved this book! But I was able to find a dissenting voice amongst all the likes and Owl’s Little Library review of Little Fires Everywhere will switch your perspective just a little bit.

Which brings me to the post I wrote about how not all POC writers need to write about the struggles of being themselves. I spoke with a friend that didn’t want to feel the obligation of writing about being Chinese American and I thought it was a great point. POC writers shouldn’t feel pigeonholed to writing about being themselves. Many of the conversations I had with bookish friends felt it was important to share these stories. Where do you stand on the issue?

However, that post did bring up some issues with my writing. I made an early resolution to write better than I am doing. So, I did what I do best, I did some research.

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I dug up this amazing article from Joan Didion on why she writes. Written in 1976, she discusses her process for writing; how she took the observations she made in reality and answered the rhetorical questions brought up in her mind. It reminded me how I used to write. When I was little, I would be able to write and create beautifully. Now I’m trying to find if it’s as easy to get back on this bicycle. Here’s a great quote:

By which I mean not a “good” writer or a,“bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.

I also just watched the Joan Didion documentary on Netflix. While my post on my thoughts there won’t be up until tomorrow, I did want to mention that it was a deeply moving story and it’s way more substantial than just her losses. I honestly am so enamored by her right now I can’t think straight!

Not to shamelessly plug my own work, but I wrote a piece for Bookriot on 5 ways to cope during a book buying ban. Please don’t get caught up on the “addict” language. I see how I messed up there and I won’t do it again. Here is where I mention again that I’m working to improve my writing.

We end the month with Kevin Spacey’s allegations and coming out. Everyone on the Internet is up-in-arms about this one especially since it touches on the LGBTQ community. Me? Well, I think it’s bad form to save yourself by coming out of the closet. Uncool, Kevin Spacey. Uncool.

 

 

 

 

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – Book Review

28214365 A story about how the decisions you make for yourself can trigger effects across everyone you love.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) –

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

Rating: 4/5 stars

My thoughts – Have you ever considered if the decisions you make for yourself somehow effect the people around you? Thinking that way would probably put you on eggshells for the rest of your life. For the most part, we all do what makes us happy. It’s what we’re taught when we’re young. But what happens when what makes you happy makes everyone miserable?

In Commonwealth, Ann Patchett explores what happens when you do. After Bert and Beverly kiss at Franny’s christening party, it ends up setting off a chain reaction of events. First, they get divorced from their former lovers and then get married. Then, they move to Virginia causing their kids to shuttle between the West Coast and the East Coast every summer. The cause of all these events leads to their children hating them.

And perhaps you can say that the events that happened to them as they spent their summers in Virginia was the catalyst for the rest of their life. Ann Patchett took a lot of time to really bring out these characters. Since there are six kids between Beverly and Bert as well as their exes, there’s a lot of ground to cover. While I did love the character development, I feel like the plot of the story suffered a little bit from it. It’s why I didn’t give it that last star.

However, the story idea is intriguing and what really made me think after I put the book down. What have I done in my life that might have affected the life of someone else? I think we all do things with the best of intentions and in some place somewhere far away there’s someone who is affected by it.

An example I can think of is my day job. If I were to leave, what would happen to the people I work with? Yes, they’ll be fine, but they’ll also have another manager and perhaps they may consider their own careers. For better or worse. It’s difficult to be selfish, but sometimes life requires you to be selfish. Sometimes you just need to be selfish to be happy because your current situation makes you miserable.

I think what you need to remember is that even though you’re making decisions for yourself, others may also be along for that ride. If that’s the case, take a moment to remember them. Empathize with their feelings, get their opinions, and if you do go ahead with your plans, never leave them out. You may never know what may happen to them down the line.