December 2016 TBR – #readthemargin

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Recently, a fellow book blogger going by the name of @ladybookmad created a new hashtag called #readthemargin for the month of December.

What’s the point of the tag? Well, because there’s a want and need to read more diverse books. As an Asian American woman, I want to educate my fellow readers on the different cultures and backgrounds . Also, it feels good to relate to the people and places I read about.

So, I’ve dedicated my December TBR not only to reading authors on the margins of society, but also to read a little bit of the people that make up a huge part of my being. I hope you’re reading the margin, or at least taking some time to read.

The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

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Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

18373213When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. 
 
On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

23398763“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, drama, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

 

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. 

 

How to Manage Your Reading Slump

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Oh goodness. I’m in a pretty awful reading slump right now.

For those of you who don’t know, a reading slump is when every book you pick up feels like a lead weight. You definitely want to read that book, but it’s not on the top priorities list. You read the words on the page and all you want to do is watch that episode of the Kardashians you missed last week. You’re just not interested in reading.

What usually takes me about a week to read a book took me nearly a month. Yup. One book in a month. As an avid reader, that’s some pretty slow reading especially for something less than 400 pages and pretty easy to read.

I’m here to tell you that reading slumps do suck, but that it’s also all okay. There’s some ways to manage it and I hope it relieves your slump as well as mine.

Reassess the books you’ve read this year – I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve got a threshold for the number of books I can read in a year. It’s not only about reading the books but also remembering what these books are about. Instead of putting another notch on your proverbial bed book post, take a look back at all the books you’ve read this year. See if you can remember what the basic plots are about. Make it a game!

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Write! – Again, with the many books that I’ve read this year, if I can’t remember what the book is about, I’m going to try and write about it. Or if I remember it having some profound effect on me, then I’ll try and write about it. Writing about books almost feels like you’re dumping out those thoughts from your brain. You’re making space for other books to occupy your mind. And if you’re a book blogger, you’ve got a line up of blog posts for the next few weeks.

Organize your TBR – When I say “organize your TBR,” I really mean take a look at each book you’ve been wanting to read and realistically tell yourself if you’re going to read it. TBR piles are always so daunting especially when you’re buying books faster than you’re reading books. It could cause you to stress out and stop reading. Organizing those books allows you to manage them and maybe you won’t feel intimidated by that ridiculous pile. Konmari those books. Ask yourself if this will definitely be a book you’ll read. If not, then maybe think about donating it to someone or putting it up on the shelf. Out of sight and out of mind.

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Do something else – Yes, the best thing you can do in a reading slump is not to get down on the fact that you can’t read. Just go ahead and do something else. Is there a craft project you’ve been wanting to do? Is there a tv show you need to catch up on? Don’t let reading become another chore. If you can’t do it, don’t force yourself to do it otherwise you’ll end up resenting it.

The last thing you should always remember is that there’s no goon standing over you watching you read. There’s no pressure to read a book when you don’t want to. When you’re not reading, you’re still a reader so enjoy yourself! Be you! And always remember to give yourself a break because you most definitely deserve it.