After finishing A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, I’ve been having the worst book slump ever. It might be because I’ve spent the last month and a half trying to read all the books I have for various projects this summer. Usually, I like to spread these out throughout the months to come so that I’m not bogged down with required reading.
Little Reads is a weekly blog post dedicated to short stories or essays I find interesting online. They may be older posts or they may have published recently, but you will always find a link to those posts and my opinions here.
First off, while this isn’t a short story or an essay, I did want to share this amazing obituary written about the late Stephen Hawking. I’m not a physicist or have an interest in learning physics, but I admire this man. Despite the lengths his body endured through his sickness he continued to study and create many new theories. His contributions to science and physics help to bring more answers to what the meaning of the universe is. I even learned a little bit about the Hawking radiation, which is aptly named after him.
Now that he’s even more a part of the fabric of the universe, I read this amazing obituary from the New York Times about what he was able to accomplish in his life with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a pretty lengthy article highlighting many accomplishments of his life and some of it was a bit difficult to grasp because of the science, but still I would strongly recommend skimming.
The main thing they talk about here is his work with black holes. According to this and his theory, he believed that black holes not only sucked in a lot of materials, but it also radiated some materials back. I’ve read a lot of Science Fiction to know that a black hole is nothing but destruction. If I’m correct in this (and I’m probably not because I’m not a physicist), Stephen Hawking’s theory means that what we believed to be this swirling death hole not only destroys but creates. I mean, if you’re a scientist, that’s something big right?
The second article I found was this beautiful one written by Esme Weijun Wang and her struggle with her chronic illness. She talks about her fight with Lyme disease and how that’s essentially made her gluten-sensitive. She then goes into discussing the joys of enjoying a bowl of noodles from Taiwan and how that made her feel terrible and the adaptations we all have to make when trying to survive.
I resonate so much with this article. Ever since finding out that I have chronic Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, I try my best to stay gluten and dairy free. I mean, I do have my weak moments where I get a cheeseburger or whip up a batch of my homemade mac and cheese, but I can never eat gluten and dairy regularly to keep my thyroid and body as healthy as I can.
But there’s so many things I miss from my childhood and a lot of that includes food from Asian countries. While my symptoms when eating these foods aren’t as bad (I get a slight headache), I still feel the sacrifices you have to make in order to stay alive. I have to sacrifice a little bit of my own heritage so that I can continue to maintain my body without ups and downs of thyroid issues.
And it kills me sometimes. I would do anything for a giant bowl of noodles but I also know that I’m better off with some meat, veg, and a bowl of rice.
We all have to make sacrifices and you can meet those sacrifices with a positive attitude and you can have that bowl of noodles. It can taste exactly like home despite the minor changes you had to make.
If you have any little reads to suggest, contact me and let me know! I would love to read your little reads.
Being a book blogger and reviewer is tough. There’s tons of books you want to read and then there’s tons of books you have to read. How do you balance the two? I’m still trying to figure that out.
Wow, 2017 felt like a whirlwind. I hit a ton of different milestones, came to some interesting decisions, and will be starting my new year with a different career path. While the world was in shambles, 2017 treated me pretty well and I’m thankful to be starting off 2018 with some great plans.
It was a great year for books (well, every year is a great year for books) and I’m so excited to share with you what I’ve read, what I’ve learned, and a little on what I will be reading next year.
First, let’s get to the numbers.
- # of books I wanted to read: 25
- # of books read: 43
- # of books that were diverse reads: 18
My favorite books of the year
It was tough to dwindle this list down and I had a tough time to get it to these eleven. I restrained myself and thought about what really captivated me about them. Here’s my favorites:
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
- Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
- Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
- Artistotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saez
- Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
- Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
- Warcross by Marie Lu
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Isn’t it kind of funny that by the end of the year, you remember most of the books you read during this half rather than the early half. I feel like the books I read in the early half of the year don’t really represent the repertoire of reading I picked up in the second half. I think I’m going to try and keep my reading pretty even across the months.
Some interesting insights
I read some really interesting books this year. Books I didn’t think I would read because it just wouldn’t be available to me in the methods that I chose. I also received so many books from various different publishing companies and I couldn’t be more grateful of that.
I think my favorite books will have to be the ones I ordered from Book of the Month Club. I don’t want to gush or advertise for them, but the judges have wonderful taste and I always found every book I read to be intriguing and interesting. I would strongly recommend especially if you’re a bestselling books reader. You’ll be the first to read the best sellers!
I realized that thrillers and mystery aren’t my favorite thing. I think I have a few that I will try and read but mostly because I heard good things. I don’t think I’m going to actively search for any more thrillers, but maybe horror will be in there? I don’t want to poop my pants while I read.
I also revived my love for Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, which also ties into my love of Young Adult novels. I’m so excited to continue reading more of these stories in the future.
My future plans
I’ve accumulated a fairly large pile of books. While my book buying ban will continue to go through 2018, I want to focus on reading what I already have. Being surrounded by books all the time is quite comforting, but sometimes it can be a real eyesore and a nuisance. I can’t justify buying any more books not only because I’m trying to save money, but because there’s already enough for me to read.
I also haven’t read ANY non-fiction. I love non-fiction every once in a while and I somehow just skipped over all of that this year. I do have some non-fiction in my TBR so I hope to read those and get some more stories that aren’t just based in the mind of the author. I think I already know where to start.
I’m also going to focus on reading more books written and about POC. While I did read 18 diverse reads this year, this was still less than half of my reading. I am pretty proud that the majority of my reads were from female authors, I still feel like there’s more diverse books to read and share with people. I especially want to read books by Middle Eastern/South Asian authors and characters. I also want to read way more Latinx and Hispanic authors and characters. I feel like both of these areas have been really neglected by me and other readers and they should also get some of the spotlight.
The final resolution (can we call these that?) is to really share more with you all. I’ve been pretty busy all this year with work and other obligations, but I want to double up my efforts with my blog and share a lot more with you all. You know where to find me on the social media universe, so I’ll be sharing on all those platforms.
Happy New Year, bookish peeps! I can definitely see 2018 as a big book year for all of us!
November seemed to go quickly, but also jam packed with news, articles, and great reads. I had a blast this November and here are some of the highlights.
Thanksgiving at my in laws
I’ve never had Thanksgiving at anyone else’s house before. I’ve always had it with my family with the same meal and the same sides to be expected. The same guests too! But this year, I got to explore what other people observe for their Thanksgiving.
If you ask my friends, I always bring up how Thanksgiving is one of those meals that is the same for everyone but different as well. We all have the turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes. Coming from an immigrant family, many of my Thanksgiving included things like kimchi and rice and even a little lasagna.
I have this great pic from a feast like this many years ago and there, right in the middle of the table, is a pan of lasagna. I’m not sure who brought the lasagna, but it really isn’t Thanksgiving without it on the table.
So this Thanksgiving, I was thankful to have a place to go and share a meal with my other family. The food was slightly different than what I would see, but there were some subtle differences. Like my family never watches football…ever. Also, we don’t have the adults fighting over the desserts. Most of the adults passed over dessert making room for a cup of hot tea.
It was fun to hear family stories and laugh with people who welcomed me into their home. I think it was the most American Thanksgiving I’ve ever seen!
Alright, enough chit chat, let’s hit the books.
Books I read
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
- Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
- Warcross by Marie Lu
- Sourdough by Robin Sloan
- Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Links from the Internet
This is probably my favorite part about the entire post! I get to share the articles and essays I found this month and LOVED! Make sure to definitely check these out when you have a chance!
I found this really great article from 1995 about what Little Women was really about. I was doing some research on an article about women and literature and I was just enamored by this detailed article about Little Women. Definitely check it out!
My favorite thing this month was reading this article about Colin Kaepernick and how GQ found him his own team while he still is banned from playing in the NFL. It must be really difficult to follow your dreams only to be thrown out from your dreams because of what you believe in. How do you manage to do both? Are they mutually exclusive? I don’t know, but this article was great to read!
This is a reminder for myself that I need to pick up I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez because this interview really blew it up for me!
I feel like I should mention this, but I’m super sad that The Mindy Project is done. However, I found this wonderful article about how great the show was and how it really appreciated the romantic comedy genre.
Continuing my work to become a better writer, I found this wonderful essay in NY Review of Books about writing memoirs especially after a family member has died.
I’m such a nerd because Mara Wilson aka Matilda wrote this article for Elle magazine about young female actresses and how they’re sexualized at way too young an age. It also dives into Millie Bobbi Brown and the controversy she didn’t mean to cause, but did because she’s 13 and yeah, that makes sense (eye roll).
I am so happy that people are seeing Lena Dunham for what she truly is and writers like Zizi Clemmons are taking a stand against her backhanded, racist comments. Take a look at the official statement in this article.
I love me some great essays lately and this one from TheMillions.com talks about how we shouldn’t forget that a walk in the woods in a book shouldn’t replace a real walk in the woods. This was a pretty interesting read!
I love Sophie from Main St. and Maple and how candid she is about her struggles to find work in a very male-dominated career. Good luck! I know that something will find its way to you and don’t give up! Come out to the coasts where women are totally wanted to help break down those barriers!
This was one literary piece from Electric Lit about how women turn themselves into trees when approached by unwanted desire. It’s moving and poetic and makes you want to tear the years of bark growing over you.
That’s it! Thanks for reading my blubber about the Internet. Honestly, I love sharing these articles with you!
Until next time!
As the saying goes "imitation is the highest form of flattery."
There's a lot of readers out there. A lot. Not every one of them is posting pics on Instagram or forming lifestyle choices around their reads. Some people just read.
And we all know that writers read. Reading for writers is as essential as a pen and paper. You can't be a writer if you're not a reader and if you are, please email me so I can read you work.
However, how do you make a reader into a writer?
I'm not talking about legendary tomes of literature or spending years creating the perfect fantasy universe. I'm talking about those average day readers who enjoy what they read. Do you know how it's done? It's what I'm doing now and what you're reading.
When readers read, sometimes it's followed by thoughts and opinions and things that need to be said in some shape or another. That's where the writing comes in.
A friend of mine from a long time ago first introduced me to writing about books after he said he wasn't fully done reading until he wrote about it. I never understood that. I thought you read a book and you pat yourself on the back for reading and move on.
Yeah I would have lingering thoughts going through my head and I'd make some casual notes in my notebook, but it wasn't until I was expressly writing about books that I realized that he was right.
Books were made to make you think or understand or believe in something. Good or bad. Right or wrong. There was always something to make you feel. And feelings sometimes feel good to be said out loud. For me, I write them.
Sometimes I'm lazy about it or the book didn't hand me that spark. Other times I'm so inspired that I could write dissertations on a single scene or glance or shade of blue the character wore.
Sometimes I'm impassioned where I need to reach out to someone to debrief or vent.
Can you imagine all these emotions can be derived from one book?
And so I write. And so we write and we write well. We write and feel and love and inspire by the characters and stories we read. There are tons of blogs and booktubers and bookstagrammers that can't help but to share what they read. Some people even go off to write books themselves perpetuating the lifecycle of a book reader turning into a writer.
Perhaps they're all not writing, but they're all reading and they're all believing.
Imagine if you were in a relationship and completely happy. Blissfully happy in the same routines you’re always used to doing. You’re always sure you’ll come home to someone.
Then suddenly, your significant other tells you that they’re interested in someone else. How do you react?
This book is about the value of a relationship. How some people move from one partner to the next like stones skipping in a river and how other people enjoy that sinking feeling of being with someone you love.
Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)
After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often at the Laundromat, Kathryn encourages her boyfriend to pursue this other woman—certain that her bond with Chris is strong enough to weather a little side dalliance.
As Kathryn and Chris stumble into polyamory, Next Year, For Sure tracks the tumultuous, revelatory, and often very funny year that follows. When Chris’s romance with Emily grows beyond what anyone anticipated, both Chris and Kathryn are invited into Emily’s communal home, where Kathryn will discover new romantic possibilities of her own. In the confusions, passions, and upheavals of their new lives, both Kathryn and Chris will be forced to reconsider their past and what they thought they knew about love.
Rating: 4/5 partners
I have a lot of thoughts about this one. If you can artistically create a relationship with words, this might be the best example of it. At first, I thought this was some book about some dude who is bored with their current mate and looking for another. Granted, I don’t like Chris because he’s the type of insecure human being who can’t be with someone in a committed relationship. However, this book turns out to be the analysis of relationship all together.
When we first hear about Chris and his myriad of relationships, you think to yourself that he’s so womanizing jerk who drops one girl for another girl because of the way they look or their interest. But it turns out that he’s extremely insecure and doesn’t know what he wants for himself. It’s a tough lesson to learn especially when there are other people involved.
I think the entire story is an allegory on the types of people we tend to turn into in a relationship; those people who are completely dependent on the other. The people who don’t remember who they were before they fell in love. Being in a committed and long relationship myself, you can definitely feel a struggle to maintain a semblance of your “True Self” and also be with someone else.
Relationships are a shared life, not a single one. What you do may have cause and effect on your partner and that’s clearly what’s happening here with Chris and Kathryn. Chris finds someone else. They form some strange triad, not necessary a poly relationship but three people all involved in the same relationship. You see Kathryn peer off to someone else. You see Kathryn be happy. You see Chris miss all the little things about his relationship with Kathryn. Did Chris make a mistake? That’s the ultimate question.
The writing is quite simple, but beautiful. For a debut novel, I’m surprised the author didn’t go full tilt on eloquent writing. But the story has got a bit of depth. You can’t take it at face value. This isn’t a story about a dude who has two girlfriends. It’s more about finding yourself in the niche of a loved one. It’s more about seeing yourself be with someone else. It’s beautiful and while not the most thrilling novel I read (hence the four stars), it’ll definitely leave you thinking, who am I? Is this the person I want to be?
I love when you’re on vacation, you don’t want to get bogged down by heavy stories or morose endings. You want something light and fluffy to make the vacation more enjoyable. It’s like pairing a wine with your dinner. You don’t want something heavy to go with something light. You want them to equally match so that your entire experience is fun. That is exactly how I felt about Isla and the Happily Ever After.
To be honest, I didn’t think Isla’s name would be so appropriate with my vacation, but it’s made me happy knowing I’ll be reading the story about a girl named after an island.
Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)
Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Is it weird when I call a book “emotionally triggering,” I’m talking about the passive of time in the book rather than anything else?
I can deal with my fair share of self-harm, sexual abuse, and even suicide. When a book writes about them (and they do it well), I find it most fascinating and continue to read instead of depressing and want to put the book down.
However, you mention the passive of time and getting older and being on your deathbed and I’m an emotional wreck.
I’m currently reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, and if you haven’t already heard of this book it’s an emotional time bomb. Each section of the book brings forth something else that will break you down, make you cry, or leave you in the dark of your bedroom with a full blown anxiety attack. Almost every review (despite its star rating) has said “THIS BOOK IS DEPRESSING AS FUCK. HEED CAUTION.” Who would ever want to read a book like that?
But people do and they all fall prey to its emotional triggers and depression. Every time someone mentions how old they are and how their bodies and deteriorating and culling up dead people, then I’m in the dark having an anxiety attack. It’s got something for everyone!
For the most part, if a book is emotionally triggering for me (and many are. How do you write an adult book that doesn’t talk about existential crisis?) I will put it down. If it’s not worth my time reading or if the book straight up sucks the I won’t do it. I’ll just put it down, remove it from my Goodreads, and not mention it again. I won’t write a review. I won’t talk about it with friends. If a book is emotionally triggering for me, it might not be for anyone else so I don’t bring up my opinions on it because I would rather someone read it for themselves.
However, this book is good. The writing is beautiful albeit a little heavy on the descriptors and unnecessary comments. And yes, emotionally triggering. So I’m stuck at this crossroads where I need to decide if I want to continue reading the book despite its emotional triggers, or if I should put the book down and go the route that I’m used to.
And I’ve decided that I’m going to continue reading it. But how do I manage the emotional triggers? How do I get passed them and still enjoy the book. I’ve basically put together a list of ways I can manage this emotion and continue on. I hope you enjoy it!
1. It’s just a book. If you’re a big fantasy book reader always wanting to ship your OTP and bust out the knives and guns to defeat the bad guy, then you might be one of those Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole falling people who have pretty bad book hangovers. You get lost in the book. You find yourself traipsing along through a story as if you’re standing beside the main character. What they feel, you feel. It’s a great feeling and one of the ones that really makes me love reading. However, you need to draw a line when it comes to the emotionally difficult stuff. If you find yourself trapped in the abuse of a character or tripping down a dark path, you have to remember that it’s just a book. It’s fiction. It’s a fantasy. It’s something that someone made up in their brain, put to words, and got some sadistic publisher to publish. It’s just a book and reality is waiting outside your bedroom door and reality isn’t as bad as the book you’re reading.
2. Take breaks. It’s so crucial that when you’re reading a book that is emotionally triggering and an amazing read is to take breaks. Take 5 minutes. Take an hour. Set a timer on your phone. If you’ve got one of those smart watches or a Fitbit, then set it to tickle you every hour and take a walk. Sometimes the cause for the emotion draining is the fact that you’ve spent too much time stuck in the book’s story and you need to pull yourself out. Forcing yourself to take a break while you read will refocus your brain to the reality of things. It’s a sunny day. There’s a dog sleeping at your feet. There’s a cat swatting at your water glass. If you take a break and look around or walk around, your brain will naturally pull itself out of the emotionally draining and give you the energy you need to continue reading.
3. Keep distractions close by. This kind of goes along with taking breaks. If you’re like me and you think about books long after you’ve finished reading them, then you need to refocus your brain on something else. I don’t want to say “distract” yourself because that implies almost a bandage to the wound rather than a fix. However, if you’re able to refocus your brain on another activity then you’re not distracting yourself from the inevitable continuation of reading, but taking your mind completely off the book and doing something else for a while. It’s a method used for people with have obsessive thoughts (like me). Don’t “distract” yourself, but refocus your brain to do something else other than thinking about the book. I like Candy Crush personally as a way to stimulate my brain and refocus.
4. Learn to know when to let go. The final step is basically pulling the ripcord. While you may try to be as strong as you can be when reading an emotionally triggering book, sometimes the themes and the story are just too much. In this case, you need to let the book go. I’ve come across so many books where I thought it was enjoyable but then feel emotionally triggered by one little theme that runs through the entirety of the book that I had to let it go. It’s tough for us book readers especially since we’re all about reading what’s new and interesting and possible award winners. I feel a little bit of pressure to read and enjoy some very popular books because everyone else is reading them. Granted this is all in my head and I can easily turn it off, but it’s an insecurity of mine. But knowing when to let a book go or stop reading when you’re feeling emotionally triggered is like learning that what you’re going through isn’t the definer of your being. It’s like CBT to know when enough is enough. You have control and it’s as easy as closing the book.
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
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
When 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
“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
When 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.