I read this for my Boston Asian book club and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would?? In my circles Simu Liu has a reputation for being a bit oI read this for my Boston Asian book club and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would?? In my circles Simu Liu has a reputation for being a bit of a himbo so I wasn’t sure how I’d react to this memoir. However, I found it a well-written, down-to-earth portrayal of his parents’ immigration from China to Canada as well as his childhood upbringing and his subsequent foray into business and then acting. As the child of Vietnamese immigrants myself, I liked reading about Simu’s parents’ journey and Simu’s raw honesty about the difficult and abusive parts of his childhood. I also felt quite entertained learning about his time working at Deloitte and all the effort he put into developing his acting career. One thing I appreciated in particular is his ability to name when and where he messed up in his life, to face those mistakes instead of covering them up.
The main thing I wanted more of was additional reflection on his dynamic with his parents later on in his life. He wrote with candor about what they went through as immigrants as well as their abusive behavior toward him, though I think how he processed those events later in his life felt glossed over. I know in September 2022 he tweeted about going to therapy (not sure if that’s when he first started) so I wonder if there will be even more self-insight into that part of his life later on, whether he wants to share about it publicly or not....more
An important book about the history of slavery in the United States and the intergenerational impact of enslavement on Black Americans. Joy DeGruy expAn important book about the history of slavery in the United States and the intergenerational impact of enslavement on Black Americans. Joy DeGruy explores and unpacks how some of Black Americans’ present-day behaviors may stem from slavery (i.e., glorifying whiteness and viewing Blackness as inferior, possessing low self-esteem, and persistent anger). Through her historically-attuned arguments, she makes the case for both understanding the past and using that knowledge to change the present. I think this book may be of particular benefit to people who don’t know much about the history of slavery in the United States as well as those who want to think more deeply about intergenerational internalized racism. I found DeGruy’s writing about Black parents and how they raise their children particularly fascinating; I think she avoids common stereotypes about Black parents and instead urges us to consider sociocultural and historical context and how those factors affect parenting....more
Celebrity memoirs have a reputation for surface-level writing, though Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine felt both sincere and deep. She’Celebrity memoirs have a reputation for surface-level writing, though Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine felt both sincere and deep. She’s real about her life, including her internalized colorism as a child, the faults of her first marriage, feeling competition with younger Black women in Hollywood, and more. She also shares courageously about topics such as her experience of sexual assault in her young adulthood and people’s intrusive probing about her fertility as an older adult. She reflects on these topics with the wisdom of someone who’s both had enough time to process and who’s unafraid to delve deeper into her initial thoughts and emotions about a situation. I particularly appreciated when she shared about mistakes she made (e.g., perpetuating homophobia in her young adulthood) and what she learned.
While there were a couple of topics I felt she could analyzed a bit more rigorously (e.g., beauty standards, like Tressie McMillan Cottom in Thick), I still enjoyed Union’s book. Her writing is engaging and entertaining and I’d recommend this collection for those who want a read that feels both light and deep at the same time....more
I read this book because my Boston Asian book club chose it for our February read. It was cute in a way! I felt like I did learn some interesting tidbI read this book because my Boston Asian book club chose it for our February read. It was cute in a way! I felt like I did learn some interesting tidbits related to romance, like how decades ago people tended to meet their romantic partners through close geographical proximity (e.g., living in the same apartment) which has changed now with online dating. The issue of having “too many” options living in a city made sense to me too (so maybe it’s not just patriarchy’s socialization of men and white supremacy that’s made me romantically single for all of my life, but also living in predominantly urban environments?? intriguing!)
One glaring limitation of this book is the lack of discussion of amatonormativity. I find it almost laughable to write an entire book about romance without discussing heteronormativity and amatonormativity and how they shape the prevalence of romance and the wedding industrial complex in our society. Aziz Ansari kind of almost barely touches on this through mentioning that women’s increased economic power made it so they didn’t have to marry men to access financial security.
I also found a couple of small statements in the book… annoying in a mosquito bite-y sort of way. For example, Ansari makes a joke about having an “Indian stalker” and I was kind of eye-rolling about the stalker being Indian, like why do you have to implicate your own race (and it made me think of this broader criticism of Ansari and his lifting up of white women over women of color). And in another section of the book he implies that a man he meets isn’t a “stud” because he’s on the shorter side. Yawn! Where are our critical thinking hats in regard to desirability and gender norms??
I wouldn’t recommend this book though at least the writing was accessible and easy to read. I’m going to be taking notes *for sure* at my next book club meeting especially if anyone actually liked the book lol o_o If anyone is interested, I also write about amatonormativity on my blog....more
I overall liked this essay collection centered around grief, ranging from the loss of a parent, child, romantic partner, and from what I can recall onI overall liked this essay collection centered around grief, ranging from the loss of a parent, child, romantic partner, and from what I can recall one essay about a friend. I appreciate how Modern Loss normalizes the ongoing grief process and refutes outdated stereotypes that grief is just something you get over after a certain amount of time. These essays touch on some of the complicated parts of grief, such as when the person you grieving had committed adultery or when your grief is exposed to a wide mass of people on the internet. I liked how there was some diversity in regard to race and sexual orientation of the authors.
Mainly giving this three stars because I think the book favored quantity over depth – there are a lot of essays in this collection though each of them are pretty short. Totally respect that choice and I imagine some of that has to do with the online format of this forum prior to this book coming out. When it comes to a full-length book about grief my mind first goes to Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell, about losing her brilliant friend Caroline Knapp. Also, I wanted to say that you can grieve people and experiences even if death isn’t involved (e.g., a breakup between friends or romantic partners or family estrangement), just because a lot if not all of these essays are about when someone dies specifically....more
Overall, I found this a wholesome, research-backed, and warmly and accessibly-written book about making and keeping friends. Dr. Marisa Franco foregroOverall, I found this a wholesome, research-backed, and warmly and accessibly-written book about making and keeping friends. Dr. Marisa Franco foregrounds her ideas in Platonic by articulating how contemporary society often overlooks friendship and prioritizes romantic relationships. Thus, many of us may do not know how to form friendships and how to keep them, especially after high school or college where friend networks are more built-in, in a sense. Franco then provides a lot of helpful strategies for making and keeping friends, such as taking the initiative to see your friends and to build friendships, expressing affection and concern in a genuine way, and developing healthy boundaries. She draws upon attachment theory in thoughtful and intelligent ways to support her claims and recommendations.
I liked this book! It felt easy to read while still offering smart strategies that I imagine can help many people out, especially those who may struggle with social anxiety or those who haven’t thought about investing in their friendships. There were times where I wish the book had been a bit more… hard-hitting, for lack of a better word – I wanted more of a callout of amatonormativity and how the deprioritization of friendship aligns with how patriarchy and heteronormativity prioritize the nuclear family. But I recognize that Franco may have intentionally kept her tone on the lighter and more positive side to appeal to a wider audience. I also for some reason don’t love the insight of assuming that people like you. For me, it feels more authentic to try to cultivate self-regard so that even if people don’t like me, that’s fine, I can still find my people. Regardless of these qualms, I appreciate the rise of books tackling friendship instead of viewing it as an afterthought.
Also, Franco graduated from the PhD program I’m gonna graduate from this upcoming May! I started the program the year she graduated, I believe. It’s a small world sometimes o_o And, I’m happy to see her flourishing as an author....more
A powerful debut poetry collection about Cathy Linh Che’s experience of childhood sexual assault as well as her parents’ journey of war and immigratioA powerful debut poetry collection about Cathy Linh Che’s experience of childhood sexual assault as well as her parents’ journey of war and immigration from Vietnam. The first section got my heart caught in my throat, as Che writes about the violation of her boundaries with heartbreaking clarity. The second section, foregrounded by Che’s compassion toward her parents’ experiences in Vietnam and as immigrants to the U.S., resonated with me as well. The third section centered on Che’s healing felt a bit sparse and abrupt to me; as someone who doesn’t often read or understand poetry I selfishly wanted more detail about this more restorative part of her life. Still, I’d recommend this collection to those interested by its synopsis....more
A powerful memoir about a gay Nigerian man who flees Nigeria upon experiencing homophobic persecution and then must navigate the United States as an aA powerful memoir about a gay Nigerian man who flees Nigeria upon experiencing homophobic persecution and then must navigate the United States as an asylee. I liked Edafe Okporo’s vivid and clear-eyed writing style, how he captured his coming-of-age in Nigeria and the anti-gay bullying and outright physical abuse and beating in his country of origin. He does a nice job of showing that while he escaped a potentially lethal level of anti-gay persecution in Nigeria, he still encounters xenophobic and racist policies and treatment when he arrives in the United States. He writes with humility and conviction about his work now centers LGBTQ+ asylees, as well as shares how going to therapy helped him heal from the trauma he experienced at the intersection of homophobia, xenophobia, and racism.
Overall, a moving memoir that shows we have a lot of work to do to combat xenophobia, colonialism, homophobia, and other forces of oppression. Toward the end of the memoir, I thought he could have done more to interrogate dating and committing to a long-term relationship with a white man from a wealthy background (e.g., interrogating proximity to white privilege and power). Still, Okporo’s resilience shines through though of course ideally he wouldn’t have had to face these identity-based challenges in the first place....more
I give this book four stars because I think Sophie Lewis writes about a fascinating idea here: what if we abolished the family? What if we replaced thI give this book four stars because I think Sophie Lewis writes about a fascinating idea here: what if we abolished the family? What if we replaced the nuclear family with more communal and collectivistic forms of care? Lewis references queer activism, Indigenous feminism, and more to build her argument against many of the trappings of the family. This book spoke to a lot of feelings and critiques I have of the nuclear family, such as how a lot of abuse, mistreatment, and even societal loneliness and isolation could be prevented with more collective models of care. Lewis makes some intriguing points, such as how oftentimes people will justify careers that hurt other people by saying things like “well I have to provide for my family” – what if we deconstructed relational networks and reimagined them so that isn’t the case?
I agree with other reviewers’ on Goodreads that sometimes Lewis’s argumentation didn’t quite make sense to me. For me, I felt like sometimes the language felt a bit too academic jargony/theoretical, and I wondered if more practical, direct examples of family abolition would have bolstered the overall strength of this book. Still, as someone who thinks a fair amount about heteronormativity, amatonormativity, and dismantling the nuclear family, I appreciated this book for its overall message....more
An important book about how the enslavement of Black people in the United States helped build many of the country’s institutions and structures of weaAn important book about how the enslavement of Black people in the United States helped build many of the country’s institutions and structures of wealth. Clyde Ford connects events and themes throughout the United States’ history to show how white wealth emerged from slavery. While I found the writing style a bit dry at times – I echo what at least one other reviewer has said about the book reading like a textbook with some creative nonfiction thrown in - Of Blood and Sweat still effectively highlights why we need ongoing reparations for Black people in this country, as well as policies like affirmative action....more
Don’t get me wrong, I love mindfulness, though this specific book about mindfulness felt so long and drawn-out. Jon Kabat-Zinn details some important Don’t get me wrong, I love mindfulness, though this specific book about mindfulness felt so long and drawn-out. Jon Kabat-Zinn details some important and helpful information about mindfulness, and he then applies it to many, many areas: mindfulness for doctors and patients, walking meditation, mindfulness applied to pain, mindfulness applied to stress, mindfulness applied to work, and so on. While I can see how this approach may resonate for folks who do want to read about mindfulness applied to literally everything, for me it started to feel repetitive. I don’t regret reading this because I like little boosters/reminders for me to engage in mindfulness in my packed day-to-day life. However, for those who want a more concise or targeted introduction to mindfulness, I’d recommend Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are or Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance. I read both of those books around a decade ago or even more than that I think, so I don’t recall everything from them, though they resonated with me then and still impact my day-to-day life positively.
Also, this should be the bare minimum, though I’m glad Kabat-Zinn acknowledges the roots of mindfulness in Eastern and Buddhist philosophies....more
I found this book an insightful and sometimes deeply moving look at how generational trauma affects people’s mental health and relationships. Galit AtI found this book an insightful and sometimes deeply moving look at how generational trauma affects people’s mental health and relationships. Galit Atlas a psychoanalytic therapist, describes several of her therapy cases and how people’s family histories affected the course of their treatment with her. I appreciated her consistent empathy for her clients as well as her accessible writing style. I felt really emotional in a couple of instances while reading this book, such as when she described a woman having an extramarital affair and the deeper reasons underlying her cheating (e.g., avoiding agency, wanting someone to take care of her) and how this woman grew and healed, as well as the man who tried to distance himself from Atlas (e.g., saying things like “it’s okay if you don’t want to see me, you’re my therapist not my mother) because of how his own mother rejected him. Compelling content!
A couple of things I didn’t love: first, I found the stories a little too neat at times? While Atlas definitely includes nuanced cases, I felt like they followed a format of, client experiences some angst, Atlas helps the client draw an insight to their family of origin, and then this insight pretty much does all the work of aiding the client’s recovery. I know insight is a cornerstone of psychoanalytic and dynamic approaches though this portrayal almost felt a bit too convenient for me at times. I also felt iffy about a couple of things Atlas wrote about in relation to sociocultural issues. While generally I thought she did a nice job of addressing issues like the restrictive norms of masculinity, there was one comment for example she made about a certain sexual act between a man and a woman meaning X thing, which I found a kind of odd, heteronormative, and somewhat gender-stereotypical/binary statement.
Finished this one with tears in the back of my eyes and a bittersweet heaviness in my chest. In Stay True, Hua Hsu writes about his close bond with hiFinished this one with tears in the back of my eyes and a bittersweet heaviness in my chest. In Stay True, Hua Hsu writes about his close bond with his Japanese American college friend Ken, as well as Ken’s untimely, awful murder in a carjacking. Though most of the memoir revolves around Hsu’s memories of his friendship with Ken, it also describes what Hsu learns when he goes to therapy after Ken’s death and begins to let go of his feelings of guilt surrounding Ken’s passing.
I loved how this book focused on a friendship between two Asian American men without solely being about being Asian American. Hsu shows us the small, everyday intimacies of friendship that he experienced with Ken – watching movies together, laughing about strangers on the internet side by side in their dorm, sharing about their dreams for the future with one another. I whispered “oh my goodness, I am so sad” to myself when I read about Hsu’s grieving process after Ken’s death, like how he still wrote to Ken about his day-to-day life and how when Hsu moved to Boston – where Ken always imagined himself going after college – he imagined the outline of Ken at a baseball game, selling concessions while going to law school. Ugh, my heart!
I think people who grew up in the 90’s and/or are familiar with the Berkeley, California area may get an extra kick out of this memoir. I was born in 1995 on the east coast so I didn’t recognize a lot of what Hsu wrote about on a personal level, though I appreciated the general high quality of his writing. The memoir flowed well; I felt immersed in it. At times I felt that Hsu talked about some subjects that came across as a bit random to me, though I recognize that those subjects were often a part of his upbringing and/or his college experience.
Overall, wow, what a memoir. I love witnessing Asian American men write about their relationships, their messy emotional moments, and going to therapy. What makes me most enthused about Stay True is that it’s such a beautiful tribute to Hua Hsu’s college friend Ken. One of my best friends, who I met in college, texted me while I was writing this review and I almost started crying. Definitely a book that makes you remember what’s important in life and to cherish the moments with the people you love....more