Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

A punny poem

I was quite impressed

by all the puns Pollack made.

He could fillet book!

Oh, looks like he already has. 😁 This was a re-read for me, but I read it so long ago that I wanted to go through it again. It’s pretty expansive in how much it covers, and I knew I would have forgotten a lot of it. What a delight to revisit this one!

(I tried REALLY hard to think of a Pollack-fish pun 😂)

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Eat The Buddha

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is from an author I was quite moved by before, which made my discovery of a similar book, Eat the Buddha (by Barbara Demick) quite exciting!
Expected release: July 28, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I’ve read a lot of books about Korea and North Korea because I absolutely love the country (countries) and their history, culture, and everything. Barbara Demerick’s North Korea Confidential was incredibly well-written and completely immersed me in the stories of the people who spoke. If this is anything like that, then it will be another wealth of knowledge and experience.
  • I love learning about other places, and particularly about historical and cultural events that I have never learned about before. There are a lot of gaps in my world knowledge to fill, and I hope that this book could do well to help another one.
  • At the same time, I want to break my own stereotypes. I work in travel, and the way we sell trips to this region is largely by romanticizing it’s quaint, traditional, spiritual lifestyle. While those aspects may exist in Tibet, I feel that there is so much more to know about life there. I want to dismantle my shaky understanding and build a stronger foundation of knowledge and empathy.

Just as she did with North Korea, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick explores one of the most hidden corners of the world. She tells the story of a Tibetan town perched eleven thousand feet above sea level that is one of the most difficult places in all of China for foreigners to visit. Ngaba was one of the first places where the Tibetans and the Chinese Communists encountered one another. In the 1930s, Mao Zedong’s Red Army fled into the Tibetan plateau to escape their adversaries in the Chinese Civil War. By the time the soldiers reached Ngaba, they were so hungry that they looted monasteries and ate religious statues made of flour and butter—to Tibetans, it was as if they were eating the Buddha. Their experiences would make Ngaba one of the engines of Tibetan resistance for decades to come, culminating in shocking acts of self-immolation.

Eat the Buddha spans decades of modern Tibetan and Chinese history, as told through the private lives of Demick’s subjects, among them a princess whose family is wiped out during the Cultural Revolution, a young Tibetan nomad who becomes radicalized in the storied monastery of Kirti, an upwardly mobile entrepreneur who falls in love with a Chinese woman, a poet and intellectual who risks everything to voice his resistance, and a Tibetan schoolgirl forced to choose at an early age between her family and the elusive lure of Chinese money. All of them face the same dilemma: Do they resist the Chinese, or do they join them? Do they adhere to Buddhist teachings of compassion and nonviolence, or do they fight?

Illuminating a culture that has long been romanticized by Westerners as deeply spiritual and peaceful, Demick reveals what it is really like to be a Tibetan in the twenty-first century, trying to preserve one’s culture, faith, and language against the depredations of a seemingly unstoppable, technologically all-seeing superpower. Her depiction is nuanced, unvarnished, and at times shocking.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Craigslist Confessional

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast Forward Fridays to look ahead to a release I’m excited about! Today’s is Craigslist Confessional by Helena Dea Bala, and I am anticipating a book full of fascinating and emotional stories.

Expected Release: July 7, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I think this can be a sign of goodness in the world. This lady opens herself up for anyone who needs to talk, confess, get something off their chest. That’s generous, as you don’t know what you might get.
  • Other people’s stories are juicy stuff. Even for myself, a fairly not-interested-in-drama lady, can appreciate a good story of life. The idea of her being a repository for people with something weighing on them is a delight! I can’t wait!
  • Craigslist is a trove of interesting stuff. There are so many bizarre, sweet, and terrifying posts. You never totally know what you’re going to get, and that’s part of the fun of it (when you’re being careful). I just love things that are crowdsourced and anonymous!

After graduating from law school, Helena Dea Bala was a lobbyist in Washington, DC, struggling to pay off her student loans. She felt lonely and unfulfilled but, after a chance conversation with a homeless man she often saw on her commute, she felt…better. Talking with a stranger, listening to his problems, and sharing her own made her feel connected and engaged in a way she hadn’t in a long time. Inspired, she posted an ad on Craigslist promising to listen, anonymously and for free, to whatever the speaker felt he or she couldn’t tell anyone else. The response was huge—thousands of emails flooded her inbox. People were desperate for the opportunity to speak without being judged, to tell a story without worrying it would get back to friends, family, or coworkers—and so Craigslist Confessional was born.

Posted in Reviews

What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 3

I recently finished reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and have been working through my major learnings from it. The book focuses on the issues white people have with understanding and talking about race issues in the US, and the way the country socializes people into racism. If you haven’t already, check out my first post about this! Here are a few more key points that DiAngelo discusses, and that struck home for me.

White people “carry” race, too

This is building on the idea from Part 2 about white people asking black people to tell them about race. I’ll come back to this quote:

The expectation that people of color should teach white people about racism is another aspect of white racial innocence that reinforces several problematic racial assumptions. First, it implies that racism is something that happens to people of color and has nothing to do with us and that we consequently cannot be expected to have any knowledge of it.

White people experience race even if they are never around non-white people in their whole lives. The very fact that that might happen is a consequence of race: ask yourself why there are no non-white people living in the area you live in. Why aren’t you living in an area where there are more black people than white people? What differences between those two places would you imagine to exist? Portraying black people as the only ones with a race is ridiculous; there can’t be one without the other. If black is a race, why wouldn’t white be? Which leads us to the next issue…

Continue reading “What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 3”
Posted in Reviews

What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — part 2

I recently finished reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and have been working through my major learnings from it. The book focuses on the issues white people have with understanding and talking about race issues in the US, and the way the country socializes people into racism. If you haven’t already, check out my first post about this! Here are a few more key points that DiAngelo discusses, and that struck home for me.

Pretending race doesn’t exist makes the problem worse

I’m sure I’ve said it myself when I was younger and thought this made sense: that white or black doesn’t matter, I don’t even notice it when talking to or getting to know someone.


stopping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others that we don’t have them. We do have them, and people of color already know we have them; our efforts to prove otherwise are not convincing.

That really doesn’t help the issue, because it’s essentially pretending that the issues don’t exist, despite the glaringly obvious issue of white supremacy and a system designed to keep Black people in the lowest rungs of society. Saying you’re color-blind or don’t see race ends with you refusing to even partake in a discussion about race, let alone try to take action to change it. This also makes people whose lives are inevitably shaped by racism in the US feel devalued and ignored, because you’re telling them that this exhausting unfair part of their life doesn’t even merit your acknowledgement.

Continue reading “What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — part 2”
Posted in Reviews

What I Learned from WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 1

I recently picked up a copy of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo from the library when I saw that they had made it an “always available” title, likely due to the recent surge in people working to educate themselves on the institutionalized racism in the United States and what white people can do to change it.

I am so glad I did.

So much of what was written rang true and made so much sense. I feel like I am far better prepared to be an active ally for change than I ever have been in the past. I’m working on moving from non-racist to anti-racist, and learning why the difference is so important. I learned a lot from this book, and I’m going to have to break this into a few posts because there was just so much.

My goal here is not only to reinforce my own learning, but to help anyone else who might not be able to get a copy, or to whom these concepts are also new. Consider this a short primer, and I encourage you to pick up this book or one of the many others being recommended right now.

Racism is not an event, it’s a system

I had always envisioned racism as something one person does to another. Denying services, physical or verbal abuse, using slurs: those things were racist. In my mind, if you didn’t do those things, you were good, because you clearly weren’t racist!


David Wellman succinctly summarizes racism as “a system of advantage based on race.”

This means that it’s not just something that occurs on an individual level, but rather a societal level. The government of the United States and the values supported inherently support white people. Therefore the US is built on a system that advantages whites — the exact definition above.

Continue reading “What I Learned from WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 1”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Tiananmen 1989

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast Forward Fridays to look ahead to a release I’m excited about! Today’s is Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes, told from a man who was helping to organize the Tiananmen protests on June 4th, 1989.
Expected Release: June 16, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • This is about an event I know too little about: the Tiananmen square massacre, or June 4th Event. Considering how arguably recent this was, it’s pretty weird that I know so little about it, so I’m taking my education into my own hands.
  • This is told from the experiences of Lun Zhang, the Chinese sociology teacher who was helping to organize the protest. I hope to get an authentic insight that isn’t filtered through a Westernized lens; allow the culture to be shown genuinely the way it felt for the people living it and let those voices be heard.
  • I think I’ve made it clear by now that I love graphic novel memoirs. In general, I think the format is well-suited to difficult realities, particularly historical ones. I don’t know much about this incident, except that it was awful. I expect the image aspect of this to carry some of the storytelling burden.
  • It feels like a good time to learn about this event specifically, given the many protests happening now in my own country seeking political reform (particularly around police brutality). I’m not too familiar with the background of the event, but I believe that I’ll see connections between Tiananmen and modern-day America in the activist movements and what people are trying to change.

Follow the story of China’s infamous June Fourth Incident — otherwise known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre — from the first-hand account of a young sociology teacher who witnessed it all.

Over 30 years ago, on April 15th 1989, the occupation of Tiananmen Square began. As tens of thousands of students and concerned Chinese citizens took to the streets demanding political reforms, the fate of China’s communist system was unknown. When reports of soldiers marching into Beijing to suppress the protests reverberated across Western airwaves, the world didn’t know what to expect. Lun Zhang was just a young sociology teacher then, in charge of management and safety service for the protests. Now, in this powerful graphic novel, Zhang pairs with French journalist and Asia specialist Adrien Gombeaud, and artist Ameziane, to share his unvarnished memory of this crucial moment in world history for the first time. Providing comprehensive coverage of the 1989 protests that ended in bloodshed and drew global scrutiny, Zhang includes context for these explosive events, sympathetically depicting a world of discontented, idealistic, activist Chinese youth rarely portrayed in Western media. Many voices and viewpoints are on display, from Western journalists to Chinese administrators. Describing how the hope of a generation was shattered when authorities opened fire on protestors and bystanders, Tiananmen 1989 shows the way in which contemporary China shaped itself.

bonus! sample page from the book courtesy of Edelweiss
Posted in A Picture's Worth

A Picture’s Worth: dark fantasy & light reality

Words have always carried more weight with me than images – give me a book over its movie any day – but I do love to see the beautiful images other people create when they’re in love with a book. That’s not my strength, but I can certainly appreciate it in others! So here’s a few of my faves based on what I’ve been reading recently.

The Obsidian Tower

I was absolutely delighted when I was offered a copy of The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso after posting about how excited I was for its release. I’ve dived right in and am loving the rich world of magic so far! It’s a new release, but I’m excited to see some wonderful bookstagram posts for it already. ^.^

Such a dramatic and striking cover on this one! The details of it are impressive, and the flurry of items in this one complements it so well.

Continue reading “A Picture’s Worth: dark fantasy & light reality”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast-Forward Friday: Good Boy

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I use Fridays to look ahead to upcoming releases that I’ve been excited about! This one is, I’m hoping, not going to totally break my heart. Focusing on dogs as a pathway, Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan might be a heartbreaking/hilarious format for a memoir.
Expected Release: April 21, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Who can resist a story of dogs? Their very inclusion in the story promises antics and lessons learned. I can’t have a dog at my current residence, so I desperately need to live vicariously for this.
  • But then again… including dogs kind of implies that I’m going to have my heart broken as the author is forced to leave these dogs one way or another. Early deaths, forced abandonment, tragic accidents… I know they’ll shatter me, but such is life. And I’ll probably have my heart broken at least six times.
  • This also promises to be a memoir that we see more in recent years of a person recognizing themselves and transitioning to reflect who they truly feel they are. In short, as the book blurb says, “how a young boy became a middle-aged woman.”

n her New York Times opinion column, Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote about her relationship with her beloved dog Indigo, and her wise, funny, heartbreaking column went viral. In Good Boy, Boylan explores what should be the simplest topic in the world, but never is: finding and giving love.

Good Boy is a universal account of a remarkable story: showing how a young boy became a middle-aged woman—accompanied at seven crucial moments of growth and transformation by seven memorable dogs. “Everything I know about love,” she writes, “I learned from dogs.” Their love enables us pull off what seem like impossible feats: to find our way home when we are lost, to live our lives with humor and courage, and above all, to best become our true selves.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward… Tuesday? — Banned Books Club

Well, I usually take the chance each Friday to write a bit about an upcoming release that I’ve been excited for. However… today is Tuesday. Why the change? Uh… I forgot. 😂 That’s really it; no excuses. My days kind of blend together right now what with being home 99% of the time, so I didn’t even realize it was Friday.

BUT, I have been really excited for Banned Books Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, & Ryan Estrada to be released, so I absolutely want to call some attention to it!
Expected Release: May 19, 2020 (pushed back from April 21, 2020)

Why wait on this one?

  • Ah, I know you’re tired of hearing it, but I love Korea and will read just about anything related to it.
  • My favorite format for a memoir is probably a graphic novel memoir. Capturing moments that are hard to put into words can be caught with the visuals, which can add so much depth of emotion to the stories the people have to give.
  • While it’s a bit more scary knowing it’s real, the political intrigue is certain to pull me in. Trying to fight for what’s right while not knowing who to trust and risking severe consequences? How can you NOT be on the edge of your seat, gripping the book with white knuckles?
  • While I have a decent awareness of it already, I’m always eager to learn more about the history of Korea. It’s rife with takeovers, rebellions, divisions, unification, inventions, and so much more. I want to know about all of it.
  • One of the focal points of the story is the reading club about banned books that she unknowingly joins. As a reader, that’s obviously going to attract me.