book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

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Title: All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

Author: Rebecca Traister

Pages: 339

Genre: Nonfiction

Ratingtealstartealstartealstartealstar

Goodreads

 


Often culturally accepted assumptions are presented as the norm. There is a certain formula that is usually accepted for how to live.  You go to school, get a job, then you get married, and then have kids. In that order. This formula is so ingrained in American society (and worldwide society in general) that a person is seen as a pariah if they don’t follow these unspoken rules, even by which age you are considered basically  unmarriageable. These unspoken rules are often more rigidly placed on women. So what happens now when more and more women are not adhering to this strict formula? When more and more women in American society are single?

“In 2009, the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50% [and] ‘the median age of first marriage is around 27 and higher in cities'”.

Traister follows the history of single women and the implications of single women and the future in this nonfiction work. She explores multiple societal factors that this trend influences and devotes chapters to topics such as the institution of marriage, the wage gap, gender imbalances, and

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Elizabeth Blackwell, first accredited female physician, never married

sexual promiscuity or lack thereof, and even female friendships. She also explores power and freedom and how it manifests in women who remain single or delay marriage till a later age. Throughout the book, she includes many interesting statistics and anecdotes from women she has interviewed. I also appreciate that she explores the stigma that single women have long suffered and provides counterpoints to each. I did wish she had discussed this using people of different races and ethnicities and sexual orientations. This would support the many points of her argument. For instance, she insists that singlehood is not a new phenomenon as black women have historically seen higher percentages of singleness than their white counterparts. When she does, she consistently repeats herself and does not analyze her perspectives to include people of different sexual orientation especially in the chapter talking about gay marriage. This book does take a liberal slant although it does try hard to remain impartial and does take into account conservative sources.

What is so special about more women being single/delaying marriage whether by choice or not? One of the major and fascinating impacts it has is on marriage, a topic that is

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Anne Bronte, English novelist, never married

thoroughly explored in All the Single Ladies. Marriage has historically been one of the best institutions “for men to assert, reproduce, and pass on their power to retain their control” and this is becoming irrelevant more today with the rise of single women.  Yet despite this, “marital privilege pervades nearly every facet of our lives, health, life, home, and car insurance all cost more for single people, and reports that “it is not a federal crime for landlords to discriminate against potential renters based on their marital status.” Ironically, even though there is definitely marital privilege, this seems to affect men more beneficially, as on the whole, “women earn approximately five percent less per hour, per child, than their childless peers with comparable experience.” I like how she explains these ironies in a progression that helps the reader understand the existence of these ironies.

The author explains the attributes of a marriage that have long enforced gender imbalances. Why is that women have more career ambitions than ever before but are still saddled with most of the domestic chores and childcare? The single woman phenomenon is inadvertently toppling these biases. What’s even more fascinating is that marriage is seen more and more as entrapment but the LGBTQ community has long fought for and won the battle for gay marriage even as more and more women are staying single.

By far, I think the most fascinating thing about this book is the way it opened my eyes to this world we live in, how a family does not always follow the 2 parent, heterosexual formula and that single women have given way to many of these non nuclear families,

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Gloria Steinem, journalist & social political activist

how technology allows women to have babies in their own time and under the circumstances they choose. She does explain that the older the woman, the more likely incidence of miscarriages and higher incidence of disease and mental disabilities. There are single women with children by necessity and by choice. There are long term couples who cohabit and have kids. These choices are becoming the norm. It is interesting how we have so many ingrained ideals about marriage with kids when the association of marriage and kids together is completely a social construct. I also did appreciate that not everyone wants marriage, she explores the fact that women are often fulfilled by their work, their passions, and their friends that marriage is suppose to fill. What this trend ultimately leads to is a greater independence for women, greater responsibility for men, and a diverse model for family.

This book is about the implications of the rise of single women in the country. I was surprised to learn it’s about more than just changing the landscape of marriage and family, but it’s changing the social landscape from work to education to and to the changing of gender dynamics. Going into this book, I thought it would be a pretty niche topic that would, at best, only have a small ripple effect but as it turns out, the phenomenon of the single woman has an effect on all parts of society and will continue to do so.

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Book Recommendations · book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: Identity

I might be grasping at straws here by compiling all these books under the same theme but I think it works. All of these are relatively short books, no more than 304 pages and quick reads. They were all informative about some specific historical event and culture and by writing about violence, war, and family, the authors were able to see how these affect a person’s identity and sense of self. Enjoy! =) Let me know if you’ve read any of these, your thoughts or if you’re planning on reading them.

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Goodreads | 89 pages | Poetry

Thank you to Copper Canyon Press for sending me a review copy. All opinions are my own.

Poetry is not my forte and still isn’t but I still like it and I think through this collection, I’ve discovered 2 really important secrets to help me appreciate it more and I think they actually just might help those who just can’t seem to get into poetry too. So,

  1. Read the poetry aloud.
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3.5/5

I realize this is really weird and will probably make you seem crazy. But just think of it like spoken poetry. I think orating it out loud just emphasizes each word and makes you see how each word fits together in the whole scheme of the poem. All strangeness aside, it’s actually quite cathartic.

2. Don’t try to understand it (at first).

The first time you go through this collection, don’t try to find meaning underneath each statement. In fact, I think poetry is less about meaning sometimes than the overall structure and phrasing of the words and the word choice in general. It won’t make sense but at the same time it’s really fascinating how the poet constructs the piece. How he can relate two such unrelated things and have it somehow work.

With those in mind, you’ll have a really good time with this poetry collection. This collection is all about how family shapes your identity, how your identity is an extension of your mother’s and your father’s. About finding your identity through culture, through sexuality, and ultimately through self.

Now here is your father inside

your lungs.

He also touches on the Vietnam War and Vietnam written with a fusion of Vietnamese and English in some of them such as in “Aubade with Burning City”, a piece that follows the evacuation of refugees from Vietnam while a Christmas song is playing on the radio.  Others are more about love bordering on the erotic; in fact he writes an “Ode to Masturbation” at one point and it was quite poignant (lol).The great thing about Ocean’s poetry is that he doesn’t technically have a defining structure like Emily Dickinson and her dashes. He will try out many different structures. One of the poems is written entirely in footnote, others more prose poetry. And hidden in these poems are gems of poignancy that are really beautiful. It almost feels as though this poetry collection is helping him find himself. It’s particularly displayed in one of my favorite pieces of this collection, “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong”, which sounds like a piece written to himself. And maybe it is.

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Excerpt from “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong”

 

I’m so excited to have finally read an Ocean Vuong work and I’m definitely going to check out his future works.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Goodreads | 85 pages | Nonfiction, Memoir

If you’re going to read this memoir, I highly recommend the audiobook. Trevor Noah himself narrates it and his humorous and conversational voice really shines through.I honestly think this is one of the best, if not the best, entertainment celebrity memoirs I have ever read. This is true because first and foremost, Trevor Noah can actually write without sacrificing his humorous witticisms. Sometimes the conversational voices that celebrities use in their books sort of undermine the writing process in general because it is clear that the story was not meant to be a book, more better for a video or a podcast. But Trevor Noah’s story just works so well as a book. The opening of every chapter is followed with a little history lesson or framing device about South Africa which sets up his story in a relevant way. But the memoir, for the most part, revolves around his childhood in South Africa where he was quite literally “born a crime”. Born

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4.5/5

to a Swiss father and an African mother during the time of apartheid Trevor was obviously illegal and he talks about how he spent a lot of his childhood hiding, sometimes when he and his mother were walking down the street, and police were roaming the street, she would push him away and pretend not to know him for safety’s sake. It’s very clear throughout how much his mother means to him. How his deeply religious mother, a force of nature who eschewed tradition and propriety, shaped his open perspective of the world. In spite of the poor community he lived and the fact that he grew up very poor (his mother would park at red traffic lights to save gas), Trevor reminisces that he never felt trapped or limited to the ghetto because his mother always reminded him that the community he lived in was not all that the world had to offer him. He knows he was one of the lucky ones however.

 

People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing. 

You really feel as though you knew his mother and by extension, Trevor as so much of his personality is shaped by her. Noah also discusses his struggle to belong in a certain community because of his race. He didn’t quite belong with the “whites”, not quite the “blacks”, and not even the “mixed” raced kids because they would think he would act like either a black or a white. The discussion of race was effortlessly integrated probably he has had to live by these race rules his entire life. But putting those aside, Trevor gets into some crazy shit mostly because he admits to being a troublemaker as a child.

All of this is told with the usual Trevor Noah humor very on par with his humor as host of the Daily Show. But he never tries too hard to cater to a certain audience or sounds too self-deprecating as sometimes celebrity memoirs will do and most importantly, he never writes as though he is wondering why he is even writing a book. Trevor Noah lets the audience know that this story is important to him and is important in general. Informative, sincere, and humorous, I highly, highly recommend.

Human Acts by Han Kang

Goodreads | 218 pages | Contemporary, Korean lit

I think I liked Human Acts even more than The Vegetarian and I think readers who didn’t like the Vegetarian should still give this a shot because it is definitely not as bizarre or surreal as The Vegetarian. It definitely leans more towards the gritty and brutal

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4/5

tone. Written by several different perspectives within a 3 decade span, Human Acts tells a fictionalized story behind the very true student uprisings in Korea in 1980. Han Kang really delves into the concept of the body, how you can be separated from your body. How after torture, you can even be disgusted by your body. Is the body separate from the person’s soul?  To answer she eve writes one chapter from the perspective of a corpse which honestly I wouldn’t want any other author to write.

When they threw a straw sack over the body of the man at the very top, the tower of bodies was transformed into the corpse of some enormous, fantastical beast, its dozens of legs splayed out beneath it.

It works because there is something about Han Kang’s writing that is so visceral, that requires an equally visceral and immediate reaction. Her writing is so penetratingly vivid and poetic. I usually hate describing writing as poetic because it is overused now but it’s definitely true for Han Kang because I looked at the back flap and what do you know, she started her writing career as a poet so hence poetic writing which really helps the imagery of this book. Because of this, however, it can also become confusing because there is a lot of section breaks and it was sometimes difficult to discern how the subsequent perspectives were related to the previous ones but that’s a minor quibble. She also touches on the concept of nationality, the feeling of belonging to a nation but at the same time in disbelief at how your nation can ultimately betray you. This is explored by following these characters through the aftermath of the uprisings and how these acts of violence have scarring effects on a person and their memory. This book would definitely benefit from a reread to see how everything ties together. But, in all, such a brilliant book and one that already cements Han Kang as an exceptionally accomplished writer.

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book review · mini book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: Memoirs (and my favorite book of 2016?)

I’m really excited about this post because I gave all of these memoirs 4-stars which is a feat especially for me and this year of books. I love all of these and would highly recommend them.

Yes Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

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For some reason, I’m not all that into cooking but I love reading about food and the making of food. That appetite was probably fed by watching Ratatouille. My favorite part of that movie being, you guessed it, the food. In fact, my favorite scene of the movie is when Remy is adding all these ingredients to the soup that Linguini leaves out. So I initially wanted to read this because it’s the memoir of a professional chef but Samuelsson is quite the renowned chef having appeared on Masterchef and was a guest chef at Obama’s first state dinner.

Born in Ethiopia but raised by Swedish middle-class parents, Samuelsson was first exposed to extravagant home cooking through his grandmother. From there, he worked at some well known restaurants in Austria, Switzerland, and New York. Samuelsson is able to evoke this sense of coziness of his grandmother’s house but effortlessly conveys a dog-eat-dog world at Restaurant Aquavit where the upper chefs consistently humiliated the young chefs and one mistake could get you fired. It makes his memoir feel so rich and diverse. There’s no doubt that what makes Samuelsson so compelling to me is his undying ambition probably because it is so different than mine. He can come off as an arrogant asshole but I liked that he talked about the sacrifices that ambition takes. Few people are willing to work 16 hour shifts 6 days a week with little pay and endure humiliation to reach the top of the cooking world. Samuelsson could not even attend his father’s funeral. Besides the cooking though, his life is so interesting. He talks about how he reconnected with his birth father whom he thought was dead his entire life. He has lived in Switzerland, France, New York and has traveled the world trying out and currently owns a restaurant. He talks about all of this with such passion and occasional bouts of humility and it was quite inspirational in many ways.

Another thing that stood out to me was the fact that he wrote such a perfect balance between cooking and food jargon and his life stories. I feel like whenever you read about another professional not familiar to you it can become tedious because there is so much vocabulary you don’t know but Samuelsson combines it with enough context to make you want to look it up yourself. It’s a lovely ode to food.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

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I’ve been a fan of Anna Kendrick ever since I watched 50/50 (an awesome comedy about a guy who has cancer). She’s absolutely hilarious on Twitter; I love her self-deprecating but snarky humor and we both like red pandas so I mean we are obviously soul sisters. Obviously..

This celebrity memoir is in my humble opinion a little different from other celebrity memoirs because instead of telling me their whole life story, she only told me snippets of some of the more entertaining stories of her going into theater and being an actress and how she got into the acting world because let’s face it I don’t want to hear every single thing you did as a child.

The best part about this memoir to me is that listening from her perspective you get the sense that she was almost thrust into this world because she always seems surprised that she has acquired recognizable fame but it just helps readers be put into her shoes, what it’s like for someone who has only become “famous” recently. She knew she loved acting but she didn’t know what it came with so to speak. I really liked the parts when she was talking about the first time she went on a red carpet (Twilight) or the first time she got a hair stylist.

I highly, highly recommend the audiobook for this. Anna Kendrick has such a sharp, clear voice and you can really feel her sense of humor based on what she emphasizes or when she lowers or raises her voices for certain parts when it’s suppose to be funny. Of course, if you don’t like Anna Kendrick, it’s not the book for you because her trademark is very apparent but even if you have a passing interest in her, I highly recommend.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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This might actually be my favorite book of 2016 because it changed me a little bit. The author, Bryan Stevenson, is a lawyer representing people on death row and life imprisonment and he recounts his experience working on these cases with the case of Walter (a wrongly convicted death row prisoner) as an overarching case throughout. His words are taut with tenderness and the self-righteous passion of what he felt justice should be. I have always believed the saying that no matter how bad a childhood a person has, he/she still has a choice to be good so there are no excuses for criminals to use their past as an excuse. But reading the accounts of the people Stevenson has represented (most of them poor and nonwhite), you realize that what they’ve been through shapes their actions so much and even after they had been convicted, the justice system continued to fail them.

One case in particular was especially heartbreaking to me: Trina grew up with an abusive and alcoholic father who repeatedly beat her, her mother, and her siblings. When he beat her mother to death, some of her siblings ran away. She ran away to her sister’s and her husband’s place but ran away again when her husband was sexually abusive. One day, she decided to sneak into some friends’ house at night; she couldn’t see, lit a match and set fire to the house killing everyone inside. She was thirteen when she was sent to life imprisonment. In jail, she was raped by a guard and became pregnant with a son. She had been repeatedly hospitalized for mental illness and intellectual disabilities which worsened when she was incarcerated. Though Stevenson does not excuse the crimes these people have committed, he pleads for the system and us to show compassion to those who might not want it or even to those society deems unworthy of compassion and mercy. These cases add a human touch to the abundance of legal procedures and trials that Stevenson employs to get these people out. These cases only prove that our legal system is fueled by racial and gender politics instead of being as objective as it needs to be. Stevenson covers all of these procedures and rulings as well as his experiences trying to protect those convicted though legal ruling. The result is equal parts frustrating and touching.

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS

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Title: Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS

Author: Joby Warrick

Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis: Goodreads

Ratingtealstartealstartealstartealstar (4.5)

Winner of Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction (2016)


If you had asked me, even now, before I read this book, why exactly the US was fighting in the Iraq War, I and probably many, many other people would probably say something along the lines of fighting over oil, or idk trying to find weapons of mass destruction or finding Bin Laden or something..I have even less knowledge about what ISIS is. What exactly is it?

And then this book came along and when I finished reading, I realized just how ignorant I was about this entire conflict and how important it is even now in 2016.

This book is separated into 3 parts. The first follows Zarqawi, one of the earliest founders of ISIS and how he amassed such a cult following. The second follows Iraq and the war and how the chaos, instability and tension allowed Zarqawi to manipulate and send the countries into more chaos and the last part is about the subsequent leaders of ISIS and how it continues to be a prevalent and deadly force in the Middle East.

The narrative style of this book is very much like Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. What keeps it from being just a book about statistics on how many people died and blah blah blah or a dry history textbook that will just fly over your head is the touch of humanity that Warrick infuses into the story. He follows the people like Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein and other radicals, the individuals behind ISIS and the Iraq War, and delves into their personalities and their histories which makes you invested in their motivations even if they are terrible in their executions.

“Zarqawi had no capacity for warmth or nuance. The man with the scar did not smile. He did not return greetings from prison employees, or engage in their small talk.”

Warrick explores how religious fanaticism and liberal interpretation of religious texts

An image of a prisoner, Ali Shallal al-Qaisi, being tortured has become internationally famous, eventually making it on the cover of The Economist -Wiki

allowed Zarqawi and other charismatic leaders to feel justified in their rampant killings.  In many ways, this book is a character study. It’s almost like you’re reading a fictional biography until you remember these people are real people and that’s probably the scariest part.

Then again, the even scarier part is the part that we, as the US had and has in this ongoing war in the Middle East. Because the US is to blame for a lot of it which is difficult to express because I wouldn’t like to think of the US like this. The one example I found particularly haunting was the Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 where US military personnel systematically tortured, raped, sexually abused, and humiliated Iraqi detainees under Executive Order. The epitome of hypocrisy..

But I think more than that, if this conflict is about anything, it is about the often complicated and frustrating ways that cultural and political differences allow people to dismiss other countries and to pretend that their way of living is better than all others.

For years afterward, when CIA officials would dissect the mistakes of the war’s early months, some would marvel at the improbable confluences that enabled Zarqawi [one of the early leaders of ISIS] to achieve so much [bombings and killings] so quickly.

Richer, deputy director of the CIA, would later say,“The rain and sunshine were the ineptitude of the provisional authority and U.S. misunderstanding of Iraqis and their culture.”

All of this sounds dense but the book delves into this long and traumatic history with ease. It is both accessible and compelling (it reads a lot like a thriller) without skimping on the details of why this conflict is so important to not only the Middle East but to the US as well. Even if you are totally new to this material, I don’t think you’ll find it confusing. It also remains, on the whole, unbiased, and provides countless first accounts and evidence to give the reader enough information for him/her to formulate personal opinions. This book is still extremely relevant especially concerning the Syrian refugee crisis, our demonization of an entire race/religion based on a few radicals (Orlando shooting) and even as recent as May 2016, there have been killings on behalf of ISIS. The least I could do was to become educated on it.

I really stepped out of my comfort zone with this book and this time, it really paid off. I learned a lot and from that alone, I think it probably will end up in one of my favorite books of 2016. I highly recommend this.

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Book Recommendations · book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: Nonfiction

 

Happy Easter everyone! I’m currently in the midst of packing so I can go back to my apartment and start my last quarter at school..In other news, my heart goes out to those in Belgium and Iraq. I don’t know how I was going to transition into these set of reviews but I wanted to review a few nonfiction books that I’ve read recently. I hope you find something you enjoy! 🙂

 

Catfish and Mandala 4370-“Some call you the lost brothers. Look at you. Living in America has lightened your skin, made you forget your language. You eat nutritious Western food and you are bigger and stronger than us. You know better than to smoke and drink like Vietnamese. Someday, your blood will mix so well with the Western blood that there will be no difference between you and them. You are already lost to us.”

Rating: 4 stars

Author: Andrew X. Pham

Goodreads

Older generation Vietnamese people are obsessed with the Vietnam War, obsessed. We have countless songs and stories about it and I find that a LOT of Vietnamese/Vietnamese American literature focuses solely on the war and not much else. Which is why I’m so glad I found Catfish and Mandala. It focuses not only on the immigration experience but also immerses us into the country of Vietnam, its beauty but also its dark underbelly. Pham alternates between the past in which he recounts how he escaped to America and the brutal reality of not knowing where you belong but also the present where he tries to come to terms with not only his ambivalence towards Vietnam but the circumstances surrounding the suicide of his transgender sister and the numerous generational conflicts of his parents. I thought it was written in a very honest way and I find that Pham writes with an extra touch of style that a lot of Vietnamese American authors I’ve read lack. It was interesting to see an almost immediate account of someone escaping on a boat when I’ve really only heard about it indirectly through family members.

Between the World and Me25489625 “I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”

Rating: 3 Stars

Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Goodreads

What it’s about-A father writing letters to his son about his experience as a black man in America, what it means to be black in America, and what he hopes for the future of race in America.

This book has gotten rave reviews from so many people and I had really high hopes but alas, it’s another one of those overhyped books that I did not seem to like as much. #hipster jk, kind of. DOn’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about this book. Coates has some really interesting race theories that I’ve never encountered before. He boils down the conflict of the black people to violence of the black “body” and how there will always be this barrier to the American dream for the black people because the American dream was made possible because of the enslavement and degradation of black people. He asks us to reevaluate what the American dream even means. And he includes many contemporary examples of police brutality including Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Which is where I had problems. See, he simplifies the problem too much. It’s not about blacks vs. whites, it’s not about police vs. blacks, good vs. evil. He never gives me the other points of view. I want to know the full story and because he doesn’t give me those other POVs, it just ends up sounding like propaganda. And for all the philosophy that he gives, he’s actually kind of vague and abstract about all of them which just makes it feel like he spewed out anything on his  mind and that was that. The structure of the book is also quite erratic. It just jumps from one thing to another almost like a stream of consciousness. So I think this book is worth reading but it does have his flaws.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers-“It seemed to him that in Annawadi, fortunes derived not just from what pe12900261_1077589925596072_93077103_nople did, or how well they did it, but from the accidents and catastrophes they dodged. A decent life was the train that hadn’t hit you, the slumlord you hadn’t offended, the malaria you hadn’t caught.”

Rating: 4 stars

Author: Katherine Boo

Goodreads

Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize
I was a little skeptical going into this book because it’s a book about a Mumbai slum written from a Western perspective. There’s always the fear of the viewing the West as the “savior”, things like that. But I’m very happy it didn’t dissolve into that. Instead, Boo paints these people with tenderness and detached sentimentality that makes it all the more powerful and heart-wrenching. There was a point in the book where a woman self-immolates herself so her family can get money from the another family that they have incriminated and all the boy from the other family can think about is that he is going to jail. I thought it was impressive that Boo writes about poverty as not about just being poor and not having enough food to eat. It is about the lengths that people will go to to survive and move up in the social hierarchy. It’s about the elevated power of money when everyone is poor and how that leads to a  deeply ingrained game of corruption that everyone in this community has to play in or they will not survive. It’s a stunning piece of investigative journalism where you read about what Boo did to acquire this information. I believe that she lived in Mumbai for a time. She had eyewitness accounts and interviews to many of the people and events described in the book. She spent years trying to obtain certain records to use in the book. I think her dedication really shines.

Just a side note- This book is narrative nonfiction which means that it’s a real story but Boo writes the story in third person as if the people in it were fictional characters like
“James went to the store and bought tomatoes” like a book version of a documentary. It can be a bad thing to some readers as it makes it feel like a story instead of something that has actually happened to real people but it depends on the reader. I personally didn’t mind.

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Uncategorized · wrap up

February 2016 Wrap Up

February was an interesting month in terms of reading. I’m glad I got to go out of my comfort zone a little and it paid off. I’m surprised to say that I’ve really been liking all the nonfiction I’ve been reading recently.

Novels

2/5

Embassy town by China Mieville– This is actually one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long, long time, thematically at least. It explores the concept of language and language barrier in a scifi world where some humans serve as ambassadors (basically translators) to an alien race. What is truth? What are lies? And you really feel as though you’ve been submerged into this strange world. BUT. The characters and the storyline were lacking so, so much and were not engaging at all. But to be honest, I think I am not smart enough to understand it. I’ll probably reread it in the future.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes– Full review here

4/5

The following 2 books are going to be featured in my next genre mash-up review post so stay tuned for that! These are all nonfiction.

4/5

 

3.5/5

 

Novellas

4/5

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn– A must read if you are a fan of fairytale retellings and magical realism! I wasn’t expecting too much from this but it kinda blew me away and I can see why it’s getting Hugo buzz! The general gist of it is that young boy hears the story of his grandfather living with a jinn and a princess in Pakistan and when his grandfather passes away, he feels an urgent need to go back to Pakistan and find out what this jinn really is. It weaves in so many insights on cultural identity, immigration, and generation barriers. You can read it free at the SFF website Tor here

 

 

Graphic Novels/Comics

Descenders Issue 1 by Jeff Lemire, Artwork by Dustin Nguyen– You expect precise and

3.8/5

hard, concrete drawn lines when it comes to the artwork in scifi comics but omigosh Dustin Nguyen so precisely renders this scifi world in watercolor and it works so well. It makes the world so much more expansive and surreal. The story itself is interesting, even if a little generic (it follows a young robot as he tries to survive in a world where robots are outlawed but there’s also an intergalactic war mixed in) and I can’t really judge it yet since I’ve only read one issue but I’m excited for the rest. It reminds me a lot of Star Wars and the kaiju in Pacific Rim. If you’re looking for your next space opera read, I think this one should be on your radar.

An excerpt panel from Issue 1

What did you read this February?

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