(The Last Remnants of) 2018 Reads: Not My Favorites

Hi, Nerdies!

I must be the last person in the blog-world who is still talking about her 2018 reads. But well, I am a slow reader and even a slower blogger, so please bear with me. And, Thank You.

These were books I didn’t enjoy for several reasons, a chunk of them were because something about the stories just didn’t click with me, some because the writing-styles weren’t to my liking, and some because I was obviously not a part of the age-group targeted! Yet I stubbornly read it.

I categorized them based on those reasons I just mentioned! And this recap is not ranking-ordered.

Storyline

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Too Much Hype.

As you’ve probably guessed, this is a trilogy telling about how crazily rich asians live their lives.

First glance, the backstory is so very interesting. As an Asian myself, I know exactly how these rich-richie-super-duper-rich Asians live a strikingly contrasting lives compared to people who belong to a different social status or race. Supposedly, these people are extremely,extremely,EX.TREME.LY extravagant and pretentious.

So I thought these books should be fun and entertaining. (They even made a movie based on this trilogy!)

But, no. I read the first book, and decided to put them down. I rarely, rarely dnfed any book or series, so at least I finished the first book I was already reading.

Honestly I found the narrative unnecessarily prolonged. It was lack of progress and dull. I felt like the story would be much more engaging if it were to be cramped into just one book instead of being extended to fit into three books. Throughout the first book, setting and character-wise, the plot kept switching back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, And. Back. And. Forth., it exhausted me. So I was done.    

The Summer I Turned Pretty; We’ll All Have Summer by Jenny Han

Heavy Romance.

This is weird. It’s a trilogy, yet I only read two out of three.

This was how. I read the first book, and as I said, I rarely dnfed any series, so I continued to the next book. And because I was so smart, I jumped into the third book haphazardly instead of picking up the second one orderly. Intentional or not, I skipped it hence I missed it.

Anyway.

I loved loved loved another trilogy by Jenny Han: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. So I figured I would probably love this one too. Especially because this was Han’s older trilogy.

Well, it didn’t suit my taste. I loved the other trilogy because it was sweet, light and refreshing. This one however was too sad, too dramatic, too tragic for my liking.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Too unfair.

This book is about a black marriage in America which has to face racial injustice, be victimized because of it, and to either thrive or crack under its pressure.

Well, I am fully aware that in many stories with persecution theme, it’s hard if not impossible for the victim to get vindicated in any way. But, it’s just way too too painful to read how hard and how futile our main couple’s struggle to collect and mend any pieces left of their shattered marriage, and because of what? Some-external-unjust-reason that shouldn’t even have happened in the first place?

I felt like I should be peacefully shipping them, not devastatingly un-shipping them! Like the way I did Roy and Celestial’s relationship.

But now that I’ve come to think about it again, maybe that was what the writer wanted to evoke from the readers all along! Maybe this book shouldn’t be here at all. #sorry 

Writing-style

Underground Railroad

Terrific Story, A Bit Slow Though.

This is a story of a courageous slave who wages her best attempt to escape from a ruthless cotton plantation. Great story!

Unfortunately.

Something I couldn’t put my fingers on held me back from savouring this book. My best guess was the writing-style. The writer has this sort of slow to unravel, a bit on the arcane side, and hard to read story-telling style. But at least I admired the heroine! 

Thanks a Thousand by A.J. Jacobs

Intriguing Idea, Monotonous Execution.

This one is a record of Jacobs’s journal on him invoking gratitude feeling by thanking people who contribute in making his cups of coffee. The list runs from a barista to a steel producer.

The message is well delivered. We should be grateful, and gratitude is not an innate thing. In contrast, it can be intentionally cultured and invoked. Yada yada.

As important as the message was, I found this book highly redundant. I kept losing my focus while listening to the writer telling the story of when he was personally thanking various people. I thought there were not enough discerning events in every chapter to separate one version of thanking this person from another account of thanking that person.

Lastly

Age

I am an old lady now.

These were honestly good books, but I was already too old when I read them. The scare didn’t frighten me, the ruses didn’t fascinate me. But I could imagine that I would have enjoyed it ten years back.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The story takes set in a fantasy world, where rats have ways to communicate, do business, and even emphatize with fellow rats. A girl interestingly named Lady Door would lead you through her search adventure to find out the murderer of her family members and to finally take her revenge.

It by Stephen King

Yes, that IT movie you know is based on this book.

It’s about a haunted city where children keep missing. Some of these children’s bodies are later found dead and horridly incomplete while the rest of the bodies mysteriously disappear. Ironically, adults don’t even bother to question what’s been happening and instead, they let it pass like it is just another daily stuff. Not the living kids though, they have their own suspicion, and eventually some of them are brave enough to prove their hunch.  

I’ve covered this in another post, you can check that out if you want: IT -Book Review.

That’s it for now. As always, don’t forget to press like, follow, or kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll see you guys next week!

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(2019) January Hits and Misses

Hi, Nerdies!

Hope everything is going well with you! Today I am summing up my January reads. There are some hits, one that I have mixed feelings about, and the rest are unfortunately misses!

Hits :

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Remarkable.

Not only this book is a good book, it’s also a must-have-must-read book. It’s a theory which predicts what kind of future that we’ve been making for ourselves as a species, written by a history genius. If you’re interested in knowing more about this book, you can go here:  Homo Deus: Are We God?

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Intriguing.

This one is another and highly political book. It’s laden with partial political views and opinion. This book covers 100-first days of Trump’s presidency, it includes narratives on his governing-style, his political and racial disposition, his family and most importantly his fury. Putting aside its provocative propensity, I must say that this book is very well-written.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Fine by Gail Honeyman

Great Story. Great Characters.

If you’re in a mood of a good, somber and grim story with a bit of bitter and saucy humor on top of it, then this novel will definitely satisfy your thirst!

I’ve put out a full-on post on this book, and you can check that out here: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely NOT Fine!

Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm

Perfect Guide.

It’s an abridged version of a meditation handbook. It’s surprisingly very easy to digest and very very well-structured. This book would be a perfect guide for any complete newbie who knows absolutely nothing of meditation and is not sure where to start.

(For the full version, check out: Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm)

However, a tiny caveat, if you’re only interested in meditation practices, and not in being a Buddhist, the full version is probably not for you.

Mixed-Feelings:

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

A Quasi-Poem.

As clear as in the title, this small book recounts a writer’s life, through a somewhat poetic narrative. Not that this book is a bad book, because it’s obviously not! But the thing with anything poetic is I am too dumb to understand it most of the time. And that’s where the mixed feelings came from I guess.

Misses:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Moms would relate the best to this book!

I read this book because of all the rage on the Instagram. People seemed to like it so much, so probably I would too. I didn’t.

I guess the fact that I am not yet a mom myself has made this book a full-of-questions pool for me. I questioned every turning point of the story, I had mixed feelings about almost each character, and I didn’t fully understand which part of the narrative should have intrigued or hooked me.

But since many people enjoyed it, maybe you will too!

One Day In December by Josie Silver

Not for me.

To me, this novel would otherwise be an engaging story if not for its terribly drawn-out love at the first sight. Personally and primarily, I am not a fan of awfully cheesy romance and most importantly, I don’t believe in love at the first sight. Besides, I also couldn’t accept the irony of what was painted as such a deep and sure love took the longest time to materialize.

Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead

Too short of a book, too important of a subject.

This one is a brief record of a debate on humankind’s future. I read this book in the event of trying to balance out Harari’s opinion (see Homo Deus: Are We God? to understand what I am talking about), and I ended up not liking it simply because it was too short to be substantial on such a complex matter. But it was short, so it didn’t take up much time to read anyway.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to press like, follow or kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll see you guys next week!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely NOT Fine!

Hi, Nerdies!

Here’s another novel to read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a realistic fiction by Gail Honeyman.

Storyline

It’s a story about a girl who thinks she is completely fine when she is completely not!

Her name is Eleanor Oliphant and she is an atypical girl with a complicated scar on her face.   

Everything about her is either unusual or downright strange. She doesn’t have a mobile phone or know what facebook is. And despite her young age, she can’t stand anything part of pop-culture, especially those in-style typed abbreviations! She does speak and write over-formally as she doesn’t even know how to make or have a standard conversation with another human being. And on top of all that, she is also this oddball who thinks of stalking people as merely visiting them, and of liking a stranger as the same as having that very stranger as a boyfriend.

It’s either because of her peculiarity that she has nobody in her life, or the fact that she has nobody in her life makes her bizarre.

Anyhow, she has no friend, no family, basically nobody to talk to. Not that she has anything to talk about. Because never once she thinks that she needs somebody else, or that there’s anything wrong with her life or herself really.

Only through a random IT guy who later becomes an acquaintance who goes by the name of Raymond, Eleanor eventually finds out that she’s been missing out a lot in life. All along, she’s been missing things as basic as having a friend and things as elusive as a scar that she’s been refusing to deal with.   

So.

I enjoyed this book so much!

Especially the characters.

To begin with, I adored all and every El’s peculiarities. I found them so striking that they’re intriguing, and sometimes they’re even amusing! I loved seeing her behaving insanely oddly while thinking that the others were the ones who’re incomprehensible. It was so twisted and exhilarating.

Other than that, I also found Ray and his absurd connection with our pitiful main weirdo so fascinating.

Nothing is normal about their relationship that it’s impossible to even put a name to it. It’s something like a friendship, yet it’s hard to call something friendship when one person in it doesn’t even know what a friendship looks like, let alone know how to act like a friend. But anyway the two end up spending time together thanks to a series of unplanned life events and Ray’s casualness combined. And in span of their times together they do usual stuff friends do; like going to another friend’s house, coming to a bar and having lunch, but somehow those episodes go quite differently in El’s mind.

I swear the never-ending twist-slash-contradiction between the world in and outside El’s thoughts is seriously addictive!

Writing-style

Gail’s writing-style is dramatic, solemnly atmospheric, and meticulous. This novel is not titanic-tragic, nor armageddon-dramatic, but it has just enough drama and secrets to engage readers in and out. If it were a dish, I’d say this book was very well-seasoned!

The story runs not exactly slowly but it’s not a fast-pacing narrative either. It’s more like being magnetized slow. The solemn vibes will give you the sense of right time and ambiance to devour the story properly.

Narrator

If you’re on Scribd, I’ll say you better listen to this book’s audio version. It has the best narrator I’ve listened to! The kind of narrator that totally turned me back into a preschooler by listening to her narration!

That’s it about Eleanor and Ray and see you guys next week!

Homo Deus: Are We God?

Good morning Nerdies, and welcome to Rubbish Talk.

Today I am going to breathlessly talk about Homo Deus, a wildly captivating and exceedingly speculative theory postulated by the atrociously intelligent Yuval Noah Harari

WOA!! WAY . TOO . MANY . adverbs-slash-jective !

I know!

I just wanted to show you how high I deemed this book.

Because, DAMN! What a mind-blowing book!  

Let’s get on with it!

What’s this fuzz I made about?

Harari was originally known for his another mind-blowing book that he egged in 2011 but first published in English in 2014, Sapiens. Rumor (Read: Wikipedia) has it, he was virtually nobody before Sapiens, and then BOOM, he became well-known worldwide after the book had been out.

Sapiens covers a comprehensive humankind evolution history. Or in plain English, it’s about our history since those days when we were apes until today when we are assholes.

Meanwhile, Homo Deus is a forecast of what would happen to our world or to us if this new digital era are to culminate without any major hindrance.

The book is a prophecy of humankind’s future, or as Harari puts it, A Brief History of Tomorrow.

So, if you’re wondering which one should you read first, entirely basing on the historical timeline I suggest that you read Sapiens first. I suppose reading Sapiens first will give you a better understanding of Harari’s perspective that he’s basing his prediction on.  

What does the future hold for us?

According to Harari’s conjecture, there’s a sensible probability that Homo Sapiens (Read: we) are going to extinct in the future.

Future here is not the future we used to know. Since circa the last century, technological advancement has been going on in such an unprecedented speed that now we basically live in dog years. Thereby, in this epoch, future means 30 years from now.  

This brand new digital age is so shiny and intoxicating that it’s blinding us. Twenty-first century quickly becomes a time when new is always best and old means backward.

Step by step, we trumped major threats to humankind’s survival; first wars, and then flu, and eventually we also put famine to end almost completely. We’ve changed the harsh world into our cozy home.

Now that we conveniently live in peace and have Mc. Donalds in immediate access nearly everywhere we live, we put our precious time to fix finer, more individual problems. Your heart vein is clogged up? Have a ring attached to it, and live longer. Don’t want the hassle asking people around for direction? Have a map app smarter than you that can track wherever you are, and never get lost again! Even cancer is no longer a huge scare like it used to be!

Apparently it’s in our DNA to never be complacent with ourselves. First we made our lives free from threats, then we produced as many of our kind as we could, and then, good became the new bad. So we started to upgrade our lives. This upgrading process has been getting more and more sophisticated, that now we are in the middle of doing or being something so progressive that no one knows what will be of us or of this earth in the future.

In Homo Deus, Harari dares us that if we keep going on this track, whatever species that will thrive through the twenty-first century might not be us. Looking at the way how things go, it could be some mishmash Homo Cyborg or just plain Cyborg.

It’s an argument. And therefore it’s in its nature to be challenged.

Today we are the latest God, we possess the power to do and take whatever we want to and from the earth and its other inhabitants. We decide which direction this world would go. Though also comes with the power we have such a superior ego that won’t let us believe that we, the designer, the administrator of this world, are going to extinct. So naturally, many people take Harari’s hypothesis as ludicrous. And these people are called optimists. They argue that on the contrary of what Harari surmises, we are about to face our best days.

If you’re interested in knowing the other side of this contention, Steven Pinker is the most eminent optimist on this subject (that I know), and his most profound work is Enlightenment Now.

As a matter of confession, I haven’t read that book. #LOL

Given time slots and reading pace that I had and was born with, I read a shorter piece of Pinker’s mind instead. I read a debate record titled Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead between the optimists which were represented by Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley, and the pessimists’ side delivered by Alain de Botton and Malcolm Gladwell.

I hate to say this but I suggest you not read that book. For two reasons. First one is thickness-wise the book looks more like a booklet than a real book. Which means the book(let) entails not enough analysis on such a complex dispute. And second reason, in my opinion, the debate is closer to a belligerent discussion than a substantial dialogue. I was expecting much more meat and less aggression in the talk to be honest.

Fortunately, beside Pinker’s real book, you can also listen to Pinker’s speech on Ted Talk.

What’s important though.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which side you stand on this topic, the subject is intriguing and compelling by itself, thereby it won’t hurt anybody really to get to taste a morsel of it. Even opposing my opinion by perusing that booklet will actually give you some idea on the matter. But better read the real book, Of Course!

Writing-wise

When it comes to writing skill, I think it is the one thing that matters the most in fiction. But in non-fictional literature, it is that one thing that gives the WOW effect when we realize that the author is just not impossibly knowledgeable but also has an insane writing skill.

And Harari is exactly THAT kind of author. If you think history is boring, maybe it’s not the history that’s boring, maybe the one who’s blabbering about it who’s boring. Because I found out through Harari’s books, that one can actually recount and explain history as if it’s a gossip! Yes, I swear his books are that juicy, provocative and engaging!

One thing that I thought was Harari’s best writing trait was his way to turn every complex matter into the easiest thing to understand. I was glad that one didn’t have to be smart to read his books, otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking about them!

Last thing, before I say goodbye.

This last piece is for you who are a true believer in the merit of sales number.

Based on Come and see Yuval Noah Harari at Brand Minds 2019 !, Harari’s books are sold 12 million copies worldwide and translated into 50 languages (by 2019). These are history books, and it’s freaking 12 million! I can write 10 pages long advertising these books, but a single me can lie. Unlike those 12 million people (discounting those who borrowing and not buying) who surely can’t!

Finally, you’re at the end of this endless post, and if you read every word I’d written, here’s 12 million thank yous for you!

(Still From) 2018 Reads: Fun Reads

Hi, Nerdies! and Happy Chinese New Year!!

It’s another list from my 2018 reads, and this time it’s a list of pastime kind of books. Hope you enjoy it.

My fun reads from 2018 fall in to four unorthodox categories: Memoir Slash Comedy, War-Themed Fiction, Romance, and Mystery.  

 

Comedy Slash Memoir Slash Comedy

This category is really muddy, I know.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

And the reason for the muddiness is because of this witty memoir of Amy Poehler, the comedian who stars the SNL. This book is essentially a comedy slash memoir slash comedy.

If you are not an American though, I’m just going to warn you there’s loads of names that you probably have never heard of in the book. Otherwise, you’ll know whom those fellas Poehler‘s talking about.   

The Funny Thing Is … by Ellen Degeneres

This small book is downright comedy, it contains a compilation of Ellen’s old monologues. If you’ve watched all of her stand-ups, you probably won’t want to read this, because the book contains the exact same stuff.

 

Becoming by Michele Obama

And just to be clear, this one is a memoir and there’s absolutely nothing comedic about it. I’ve got this one covered already, you can go here Michelle Obama as a Friend: Becoming, if you want.  

 

 

 

War-Themed Books

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

It’s a unique novel written with a quirky writing style. I’ve seen people hating Foer’s writing style, and I must say I get why they hate it. I guess it’s a love it or hate it kind of thing. But in my case, I found Foer’s storytelling style as a quite interesting way to tell a weirdly interesting story!

 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This one is good, like, really good. It’s a story of extremely brutal racial disparity that has been going on for so long in Afghanistan. If you’re interested in my thoughts of the book, you can go to The Kite Runner Review.

 

 

Romance

Trilogy: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before; P.S. I Still Love You; Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (YA)

If you haven’t read this already, know this: you’re missing out. I even wrote a letter to you not long ago telling you about this sweet sweet trilogy. If you also haven’t read that, please read it now, will you? A Sweet Love Letter: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (YA)

A light french-y romance. Sliiiiightly too cheesy for me, but overall it’s a fun read.

 

 

 

The Winner’s Crime and The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

A feminine romance tale painted on a warfare backstory. These two books are the middle and the last part of a trilogy respectively, but to be honest I think the first book is the best part of the three. —and as for why I didn’t include the first book here, it’s because I read it a long time ago, and not in 2018, and I just wanted to stay committed to my post title. Ha!–  But still, I was the kind of person who never dnf, thereby I finished it anyway. (Btw, I am still preparing a complete commentary on this trilogy)

Mystery

Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie

I don’t think I need to advertise for an Agatha Christie’s novel. Everybody knows that her mysteries are invariably intriguing, this one is of course no exemption. And even though Miss Marple is my favorite sleuth in Christie’s universe, a Hercule Poirot’s investigation is never less fascinating!

 

 

You: Obsessive Chilling and Thrilling by Caroline Kepnes

This one is a documentation of a psychopath’s doings from his own perspective. I’ve also covered this one, you can read A Comment on You: Obsessive and Chilling if you like. 

 

 

The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

I was a little bit not sure what genre should I have categorized this book in, but decided that the story was basically a mystery, but just to be precise, it also had romance in it. Or to better put it, it’s typical of Sidney Sheldon. Adult revengeful romance. One thing that Sheldon’s stories have in common is the never-ending twist. And this one is just exactly like any other of his books, it’s fast-paced, its plot keeps turning the way you don’t expect to, and it has no rigid rule as for the ending. If you’re a fan of twists, you probably will like this book too!

Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark

I read a lot of bad reviews of this novel, I saw people complained that it’s too predictable, and how they’d known the kidnapper very very early on. –Oh yeah, almost forgot, it’s a story about twins kidnapping–  Call me stupid, but I didn’t see anything coming at all, so for me it’s honestly unpredictable, and thank God the book was a super quick read so I didn’t spend so much time anxiously wondering who’d done what.

I also saw among the reviews that for some people a book being a quick read was a bad thing, and I honestly didn’t know why because hell, I loved it more for that very reason. LOL. I totally sound like I just want to oppose all people for no good reason. But really, that’s not what I am trying to do here. All I want to say is that this book is a great thriller. That’s all.

And don’t you think that children abduction is such a relatable topic? After all, most of us are parents or uncles or aunts, aren’t us? And oh my, I have been dragging, haven’t I? I need to stop talking now.    

But just one more thing.

Bonus: One Re-read

I also read a re-read on Christmas last year, only because the title rhymed. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (by Agatha Christie) on my Christmas. Done! I hope you enjoyed this list, and I’ll see you in my next post! Which will be uploaded on Wednesday next week! I upload on Wednesday. Jeez, I really need to stop blabbering. NOW!

Whatever It is, Do It Now.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.


–Thomas Jefferson– 

To All Nerdies who wish to have a different life.

The title of this post may imply otherwise but I am not going to tell you to do whatever it is that you want to do now, because honestly I have no idea what you should or should not do. I put that title just to sound sure when in fact I just want to talk a bit of comfort zone. My thoughts of it might or might not be true, but it’s all I know and can share.

So, feel free to point out my mistakes. Please.

Comfort Zone   

Here’s what I think.

Comfort zone could look or feel comfortable. But so could a jail.

If you think about it, in a jail you don’t need to try so hard making money. Because they serve you your food on schedule, you never have to worry how you would afford to get by. And because money is out of your concern, you can put your focus on things that you actually enjoy, like reading books or meditating or other things that probably feel luxurious to us freely strolling citizens. And if your crime is small enough, you’ll actually get more services than punishment in a prison. That’s why homeless elders in Japan would steal something small from a convenience store only so that they can be sent to a jail. It’s strange, but it’s a fact. You can look it up.

On the contrary.

Living outside of a jail freely also means having to make endless choices on a day to day basis which often feels like a suffocating trap.

You know what I’m talking about, you’ve surely been there.

Start from the moment you wake up, there are feels-like-hundreds decisions you need to make in merely a day, like which clothes to wear, what kind of coffee to order, to drive or to ride the bus, to answer emails or to phone your clients first, to scold your staff or to be Zen, to get mad at your husband or to swallow your anger, to abandon your kid or not. No, no, that isn’t right. Yes, I am joking. Of course I am joking! Don’t abandon your children!

But you get what I mean, having to decide on too many options sometimes smothers you.  So in the evening, when your spouse lets you off of having to pick what to eat for dinner you feel somewhat relieved. So now you let go your freedom of choosing what you’d eat, yet what you feel is convenient. You feel comfortable of not having to decide.

Here I am by no means telling you what’s good or bad, I am merely stating that from a slightly shifted perspective, even freedom could look like a trap, and even a trap could look like a comfort. The same goes with comfort zone. It could look comfortable or look like a trap, it totally depends on how you see it.

Because freedom does not only mean being able to do whatever you want to do, but it also means being able not to do whatever you don’t want to do.

Freedom is the power to choose our own chains.


Jean Jacques Rousseau

Another thing.

Comfort zone feels especially comfortable when you look outside and find out that it’s a jungle out there.

If you’re behind bars, and over the bars is a jungle full of wild animals ready to attack and to devour you, your prison will surely look more like a sanctuary than a confinement.  

I think that’s why comfort zone is so hard to leave. Because it’s so familiar inside and from inside, outside looks frigging dangerous.

People are afraid of anything unknown. When we don’t know about one thing, we automatically imagine the worst of it. And that’s just instinctive.

The thing is, consider what Ajahn Brahm said in his book: Mindfulness, that the thoughts that you have about your past (and your present) are only distorted thinking. Most often than not, the past (and the present) is not like what you think at all.

Maybe, the space that looks like a wild jungle in your head could actually turn out to be the one place that you’ve been dreaming to go to all along.

The reality is you would never know if it’s a jungle or if it’s Eden outside until you’re there. So get out, or don’t, whatever you want.

But.

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything


Tyler Durden, Fight Club.

Thank you for reading.

Bye for now and don’t forget to let me know what you think!

Michelle Obama as a Friend: Becoming

I am an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. And sharing my story I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why

Michelle Obama

Hi, Nerdies!

 

It’s time for the famous Becoming, an autobiography of Michelle Obama.

 

The fact that Becoming became a best-selling book in only two weeks after launching illustrates how much people adore Michelle Obama better than anything else can.  

I knew that a memoir was a place where people got personal, but I didn’t know that you could get this personal like how Michelle did in her book.

To me, Michelle always came across as a self-possessed and confident person. Like whatever comes, she’ll know what to do kind of person. I thought she was the kind of woman who’s always on top of things, who would segway from duty to duty smoothly, and kept the perfect balance of work and family at all times.  

I’d never thought she too could have her own insecurities or uncertainties. She looked so tough and strong, it’s like I wasn’t even sure if Michelle Obama had ever cried before.

But she turned out to be as normal as any other woman could be. And she wasn’t afraid to show it. That’s what makes Becoming totally worthwhile.

 

Becoming Me.

As a child, had you or had you not ever been asked this question:
What do you want to be when you grow up?

Michelle told Oprah on Super Soul Conversation, that this frequently asked question bothered her. In her opinion, the question suggests that a child is ought to know what his dream is, like it is a finite thing. Michelle herself though, rather considers that in life, one is supposedly confronted with an endless phases of becoming someone or something.

Hence the title, Becoming.

In the book, Michelle sort of divides her hitherto life journey into three big chapters, Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More.

In the first chapter, Becoming Me, the message that I suppose Michelle is trying to get across is how her childhood life was not much different to ours. That she comes from a family that is similar to ours.

I was particularly taken aback when I read about the time when Michelle stopped being a lawyer after she realized that that kind of life wasn’t for her. First of all, I didn’t know that she stopped being a lawyer at all. And second of all I had no idea that she took herself as a person who wasn’t cut out for lawyer-life. And I thought achieving that level of career she must have had relished it. How little did I know about her before this book really?  

I was also astonished knowing that she was once living a life driven by the ambition of checking boxes and powered by a thing as cliché as money. I really wasn’t expecting that from her at all.

Anyway, after that.

Having overcome a load of hesitation, she eventually resigned from being a lawyer when she was almost 30 years old. That decision alone, at that kind of age, deserves an applause. And she only got more courageous from that moment on. She subsequently started working for a semi non-profit organization which should have been sort of her dream job. But then, not having the income she needed became another problem. How did she react then? Just go read the book. #winkwink

The hope is I guess, through this part of her life she would inspire us not to balk on a change, no matter how drastic it is. Instead, having regrets is what we should be afraid of.

 

Becoming Us.

Michelle has been answering the same question with the same answer over and over again, yet the very question is still hovering around us. When will Michelle run for president?

In the second section, Becoming Us, Michelle seems hoping to finally put this inquiry to rest once and for all.

And her answer still remains unchanged. It’s Never.

Us expecting Michelle to be the next president means also that we undermine completely the complexity and the tangible risks of politics. Most of us don’t understand politics well, yet we are anticipating Michelle to be involved in something that she understands very well yet can’t stand it.

Michelle’s ordinary life stopped when she replaced the Robinson in her name with Obama. Michelle couldn’t possibly explain it better than she did in her memoir, how marrying the Barack Obama had made a normal life simply no longer attainable.

Barack Obama was born different. He was born to lead a big change.

And the only reason Michelle agreeing Barack to run was because she couldn’t bear to be the one to stop him, to hinder him. She couldn’t help but feel small juxtaposed with the intensity of people’s hopes and the prospect of what the man was capable of doing.

Politics was her compromise, her sacrifice.

To be someone’s wife is essentially a sacrifice of identity. To let everyone including countless non-deserving ones judge your life at all times is a sacrifice of normality. And to let your kids be exposed to the harm of politics is too big of a sacrifice that not everyone can make.

Thereby, she was somehow waiting it to be over someday. And it finally did.

 

Becoming More.

Up to this point, we have been served with Michelle’s sides of story that we weren’t aware before. But now that we are at the brink of the end, it turns out, we also have some things that we’ve already known all along.

Like the fact that she is a best friend material.

Becoming is one of her ways to reach out to people. Sharing her story, it seems that she is hoping we could get the idea that life is pretty much the same to her as it to us. That she also fights the same battle as ours. That in a way, we are never alone in our fights.   

While I was listening to her narration of the book, I couldn’t help but picture Michelle and us girls in a den where we were keenly listening to her telling her life story.

And as if she was really our friend, she was empowering us through her narrative.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and see you next week!

A Sweet Love Letter: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Hi, lovers! I love you all like lovers. Really, I love you, and you, and you, and you I don’t know but I could definitely see loving you. But most of all, I love Love.  


Jack Mc.Farland, Will and Grace

Dear Nerdies,

There is this new Korean American author who writes sweet sweet love stories, her name is Jenny Han.

Sometime in December last year, I casually started to read one of her book, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. It is a story of two highschoolers who aren’t supposed to be a cute couple naturally, yet they are.

Little did I know that I was getting myself into a chain reading.

Once I finished reading the book, I figured out that it was a part of a trilogy. Of course a lover like me would never leave a love story hanging. Hence for the next two days, this too-old lover did absolutely nothing but finishing all three books of the trilogy, voraciously swallowing P. S. I Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

You know how sometimes when you read a love story, your heart flutters so much as if you’re the one in the story? This story will do exactly that to you. Repeatedly. Addictive-ly. (if that’s even a word)

I read the story. I smiled. I cringed. I laughed. I cried. A lot. I hated. I loved. I climaxed.

Love books are totally porn for us girls. And girls, these books are a good porn. They will satisfy your lust of love. 

And then I repeated from reading to climaxing over. And over again. And again. Until I lost counts.

Yes, these books are that sweet and addictive.

I think you really should read these books. Also please keep in mind that the right order is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before first, P. S. I Love You second, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean is last. Make sure you don’t mess up the order, or else you will know what you shouldn’t too early and surely that will ruin the mystery for you.

And you’re supposed to read all three books, (again, it’s a trilogy!) because I am afraid the ending of the first book will leave you high and dry. You hate that feeling, don’t you? Well, I know I do. So just think of the three books as one big book, cause that’s exactly how it is.  

Last but not least, to say that the real ending of the story is beautiful is an understatement.

P.S.

I intentionally write this post letter-like, because I still can’t forget Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky, and their teenage love.

A Cursed Novel: To Kill A Mockingbird.

Hi, Nerdies!

I don’t often enjoy classics very much, but To Kill A Mockingbird is such an exemplary piece. Thereby I am hoping to persuade another person to enjoy this heart-breaking narrative through this post.  

So, no spoiler ahead.

Synopsis

The theme is racism, and the story takes place in Alabama in 1930s. The story teller is a six-year-old girl named Scout Finch. Scout lives with her brother Jem and their lawyer father, Atticus. 1930s is a period when people are still in many ways deeply affected by cotton days, hence there is an apparent schism between white and black population in their neighbourhood.

One day, a girl from a white riff-raff family reports to the town sheriff that a black man rapes her. The only witness is the girl’s father. Predictably enough, prevalent predilection in the neighbourhood is to believe the white statement despite the other conflicting facts. Meanwhile, Atticus is appointed to be the defendant’s attorney. And he begs to differ from the victim’s report.

Subject-wise

There’s nothing new in both slavery and post-slavery inequity to be weaved in a narrative. But as much as slavery is such a common subject, this novel however is nowhere near common.

Also common is that through the subject of injustice, an author hopes to let people feel a glimpse of the rage, to break people’s hearts, to shift people’s perspectives and perhaps even to inspire people to do something consequently.  

What’s uncommon is that these wishes are impeccably materialized in To Kill A Mockingbird.

The Curse

If I were to pick one word to describe the novel, the word would be perfect. And I don’t use that word loosely. It’s the kind of perfection which will send you right into a reading slump after finishing the book.  

And the crazy thing is, I don’t think the readers would be the only party affected, I honestly think the perfection of the book cursed the author herself. In fact, To Kill A Mockingbird is the only novel the late Harper Lee ever published to this day. Go Set A Watchman was published in 2015, but later was admitted as the first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. Lee worked on several different drafts in between 1960 ( the year To Kill A Mockingbird was published in ) and 2015, but ended up discarding the drafts as not satisfying enough.

It’s like the first book was so great, she felt people would expect more from her. Which was probably felt overwhelming to her. She was so worried of not being able to create another quite the same perfection that she kept trying while doubting herself too much along the way that she ended up failing to finish any new book. Doesn’t that seem like a curse to you?  

That probably wasn’t what happened with Lee at all, but well, it seems like a plausible scenario to me. #smilingsheephisly

Anyway, this book is that intense.

Quotes

Among all the great things in the book, I love, I adore, and I dream to be Atticus.

Because.

Atticus Finch is a father.

“Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in.”

Scout Finch

He is simple and honest.

Atticus Finch is a wise father.

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

Atticus Finch

He is sensible and intelligent.

And the most important thing is, he is kind.

“An’ they chased him ‘n’ never could catch him ‘cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an’ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things … Atticus, he was real nice….”

Scout Finch

“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

Atticus Finch

The final message is that to simply be kind to others requires courage. But still, it’s important to be kind anyway.

Thank you for reading.  

2018 Reads: Exceptional Books

Hi, Nerdies! And Happy New Year!

Before I say anything, there is one thing that you should know about me. It is that I am a complete control freak, thus I categorize, categorize and categorize. Categorizing is basically what I do for living. So beware of highly incessant categorizing ahead! #lol

I read 39 books last year, 12 of them were exceptional, 10 of them were less exceptional, and the rest of them (17, to be precise) were downright fun. And for obvious reasons, I wanted to blog about the 12 exceptional books first.

For the fun reads you can go here: (Still from) 2018 Reads: Fun Reads

And one more thing,  please pardon me for this interminable commentary.

I divided my recommendation into three sections: Must-read which is pretty much self-explanatory; Recommended books which are the books that I think will provide meaningful reads; and Personal Favorites which are my own favorites from 2018 reads.

I intentionally added Classics as the fourth category only because I had this one classic book that I think absolutely deserved a shout out to the world. Which one, you say? Keep on reading and you’ll find out. #winkwink

In lieu of me rambling on and on, let’s just jump right in!

Must Read

These are the books which either have changed the trajectory of my life completely, or the books that hold invaluable information – the kind of books that are so important they might as well be textbooks (in my opinion). 

I’m afraid I would be doing a disservice to these books if I were to disclose too much of my opinion regarding them, thus I only provided a glimpse of what the books are about. Therefore you can decide whether you want to read them or not based on the topic. But I say you should read them, because!, these are must read books after all!

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This book is about general history of Homo Sapiens, or if you prefer the generic word, Humankind. Looking back to history, human as a species should have been merely one of various animals existing on the earth. But rather, we currently hold overwhelming power on the earth and its inhabitants, the power that we should not have had let alone used. In short, Harari brilliantly summarizes how human race gets from the middle of the food chain to the very top of it.

Grit by Angela Duckworth

In her book, Duckworth asserts that Grit is the one thing that successful people have in common.  Ensuring the accountability of the conclusion, her argument is built on a basis of endless psychological researches.

A little tip: This is my life-changing book.  Now I know that Grit is not merely hard work. It is hard work and MUCH MORE. 

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This one is a memoir of a young man from Appalachian Mountain area. He is a part of so called hillbilly society. If you already decided that memoirs bore you, all I can say is if you give this one a chance, you’re not going to regret it. This book is such an exemplary memoir.   

And,

Muhammad: The Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong

I highly suggest everyone who loathe or outright hate Islam in any way to read this book. As we all know, all this hate-for-Islam runs from the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001 as the outset to the fact that now we all are jumbled in the danger of ISIS threats wherever we live. Armstrong however, never ceased to refute some of the most distorted opinion about Islam.

Even the term for a criminal suspect in a court is defendant. And it’s requisite that a defendant is accompanied by a defendant attorney during a litigation process. Because all people including the bad ones deserve to defend for themselves.

There is a little bit of truth in every lie, and there is a little bit of lie in every truth.

So I entreat you to hear out the side of Islam written by a person who genuinely intends to defend for Islam’s unfairly judged disposition. Cause you know, you can always go on and hold your opinion of hating it after reading the book. Eventually, it’s entirely your decision to hate or love anything in the world.

And for what it’s worth, Armstrong herself is not a Muslim.

Recommended Books

Three recommendations: two memoirs broaching the subject of inequity and one worthwhile self-help book.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have.


said by every black person in USA

This very sentiment is affirmed that it is (still) real and deeply instilled in black society vulnerable daily lives through such a poetic memoir written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

In Order To Live by Yeon-Mi Park

A North Korean girl telling her story of how she managed to escape the renowned tyrannical North Korea passing its impervious borders and to elude extremely suffocating poverty In Order To Live.

Btw, the way the title perfectly sums up the gist of the book in one sentence is simply impressive.

Lastly,

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

I think all people might have read this book as of today because this one is such a popular book. But if you haven’t, better read it asap.

Favorites

This section will come across as highly biased because it’ll totally look like I dedicate this section to Michael Meyer.

Michael Meyer is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh who spent his young adulthood in China volunteering with the Peace Corps. He spent time teaching there, and he recorded some of what he perceived as China’s condition after Mao’s government in his books.

I am not gonna smooth-talk you into reading his books, because I admit that his books are a bit dragging reads if you’re not so into architectural stuff. In his books, Meyer pivots his narration on historical buildings, ruins and landmarks.

But I still love Meyer anyway, because he is such a funny  writer and his writing feels very personal. He is that kind of writer which makes you feel like you’ve known him personally for a long time.

Also: I even emailed him to ask a silly question. And yes, I like him that much. #lol

And these are two of his books that I read in 2018: In Manchuria and Last Days of Old Beijing.

Classics

I finished perusing three classics last year: Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I am particularly far from thrilled to discuss any classic, because I feel like I am only going to give a distorted opinion of them. The thing is, I always think that classic stories are old as in its complexity is obviously nothing compared to contemporaries’, and the English is very very old in some of them. And to be frank, I think you need to at least have interest in linguistic history in order to completely appreciate classic materials. And as for now, I am not that kind of person. Yet. (I hope)

But I still put this section out because one classic struck me as beyond an astounding piece, and even if you are not a huge fan of classics like me, I assure you that you still will absolutely love To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

If you want to know why I deem very high of To Kill A Mockingbird, see you in my next post! h

But I need to mention this.

To Harper Lee: Thank you for writing this masterpiece.  

And to you Nerdies, Thank You for reading.