Hello Readers!

I am so honored that there are people reading my blog! For a long time this was personal and I thought I’d be mortified if my real-life friends read this, but lately I’m becoming more honest and true to myself. So, HELLO READERS!!! Maybe you found me from Goodreads or Twitter? I love the people I follow/talk to on there too!

This week, I feel more true to myself than ever. For a long time, I had been feeling guilty and not myself. My parents have always given me a hard time about not being accomplished or failing, and giving me shame about not having a stable career at age 30. I had also been teaching for about 3 or 4 years, but I’ve always struggled with it. In addition, I haven’t felt good in relation to guys because they always tell me I need to relax more or I’m not brave/strong enough. I guess they like pretty tomboys.

I know I am not these things:

  • Authoritative teacher who is great with all kids
  • A cool and chill girl who’s physically active, yet feminine
  • Successful career woman who is married and a homeowner

Whether by my own choice or unintentionally, I kept being in situations where I was expected to be these things. I pretended and try but of course, since they are not me, I failed. It finally came to a point where I could not take it anymore. I was done putting in effort that wasn’t worthwhile. I didn’t want to fail at something I didn’t even want to do.

Plainly and simply, I wanted to be myself.

I am not doing anything bad. I don’t have any “misbehaviors.” (I never have!!!!!!) There is no reason I need to be feeling guilty for who I am. Even if I am not smart or accomplished, there is nothing shameful about it. Without shame, I am able to live more openly, hopefully, and joyfully. I can start to embrace my life.

I know I am these things:

  • Silly, nerdy, and weird
  • A singer (I want to be part of a glee club!)
  • A total bookworm
  • Accepting and loving. Diversity rules!
  • An introvert and comfy nerd
  • A creative person!!!
  • A loyal and trustworthy friend

Because I know I am these things, it doesn’t matter anymore whether I have a 6-figure job, whether I am a cool girl, whether my parents accept me, or any of those things that used to make me feel uncomfortable about myself. I’m really happy to be in my own skin and live the life I have always wanted for myself <3.

My bread and butter books

Reading books is like wearing on clothes or going to a favorite restaurant. Or watching your favorite TV show. You choose what you like and more importantly for a creature of habit like me, you know what you like!!!! This batch of books describes what I like pretty well. I like middle grade books, some kind of fantasy or magic realism element, fun YA books, and books that take you to a different locale.

I liked The Dreamway by Lisa Papademetriou a lot! It reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth and Alice in Wonderland. A sidenote about this book: I go to Goodreads a lot to seek out books to read next and put them on a hold, but once in a while it’s good to judge a book by its cover and pick out an unknown book! This was that book for me when I went to the Garden Grove Library. It was a New book and it looked interesting. I’m glad I picked it!

On the other hand, What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein HAS been on my TBR list for a long time. I’m a bit of a Disney fan and I love that they publish books. This book about elephants set in Nepal was published by Disney and it was a unique story. First, I think elephants are magical and beautiful creatures. They definitely know things we don’t! They are so wise and peaceful. I love Nandu’s special connection to elephants and the research and personal experience that went into this book. Adding the sequel to my list!

I love contemporary YA too and Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno is one of them. A YA book not about romance but about sisterhood and female friendships? YES, PLEASE! To be honest I wasn’t sure what was driving the plot, but when I got to the end it all made sense. I love the slow build. Don’t let the cover fool you, this is not a beach or summery read at all. It is really about protection and strength.

I already talked about Love & Luck and Secrets of Worry Dolls but they belong in this pile because I just love those two books that much. I love stories about women and finding your true self. LOVE!!!!

What is your favorite genre/ what kind of books are always on your Currently Reading list?

Soul books

Are there any books that speak to your soul? The books in this batch spoke to mine.

I read these in January when I was home alone, deciding whether to quit my teaching job or not, recovering from a sickness, and in general feeling like something big was happening, but that things would get worse before getting better. It seemed like these books describe that same change/emotions in life.

The one that spoke to me the most, and possibly one of my favorite books ever now, is Secrets of Worry Dolls by Amy Impellizzeri. It sounds silly but I think the universe had Amy write this book so I could read it at this particular time in my life. I relate to both Mari and Lu. I am Mari because my life has been difficult but I have a big heart, and I relate to Lu because she is pretty much exactly like me, lol. It was so healing and satisfying to read this. I feel so honored to have read this story and it is one I will re-read at various points in my life <3. Thank you, universe, for bringing this book into my life.

I have no business reading any love poems but I did. Nikki Giovanni is so creative and fun. I think this is what people mean when they say someone is “young at heart.” Love is love, Nikki Giovanni definitely knows that. If you are going to read love poems by anyone, read the ones by Ms. Giovanni.

Another African-American author that I love is Jacqueline Woodson! All of her books sound so gentle and have a 90s vibe. You will feel it when you read it. I adored If You Come Softly. I thought it could have been written today and been equally relevant. I love Jeremiah and Ellie. I love their gentle love story but was not prepared for the end. (who is ever prepared for the end of a truly sweet relationship?) This is a book I wish I could share with everyone.

Lastly, I read Small Country by Gael Faye. It was also a novella about a boy, Gabby, growing up in Burundi. (I guess I’ve been reading about a lot of Gabbys lately.) I’m so glad I got to read this! It was on my TBR list for a year or so and it’s another step in my journey as a reader to read translated works. I’d like to read more coming-of-age stories set in other countries. Not YA in especially, but memoirs. I’m on a memoir kick lately.

Unfortunately I DNF Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart. I love graphic memoirs, especially ones about loss (see The Best We Could Do), but given that I am going through a hard time personally, this book was not right for me at the time. I may back to read it again someday. In a way, this book also spoke to me.

What books speak to your soul? What is your “lifetime” book?

Pneumonia books

These are my pneumonia books <3.

Why?? Because I read them when I had pneumonia. I have to say the best part about being sick is that it gives me an excuse to stay in bed and read <3. I don’t think I am better than anyone for reading– it is really the same thing as watching Netflix episode after episode. I love stories and books!

I looooved Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. It was so much fun! A travel, romance, and YA book all rolled into one. It was exactly the kind of story I needed when my life is falling apart and I feel physically horrible. It’s a romance story set in Italy!!!!! One day I am going to Italy to eat gelato and magherita pizzas. A bonus would be going there with a boyfriend who loves gelatos as much.

I had so much fun reading Your Own Worst Enemy by Jack Gordon! Have you ever read a book that feels like a hidden gem and you’re in on the secret for having read it? This is the book. It was so timely, aware, and accurate about high school life that only someone who is in that world could have written yet. Indeed, Gordon Jack works in a high school! Given the current political climate, I think we need this book to be able to laugh about it and see how ridiculous it all is. I loved all three candidates and I think Stacy Winn, Julia Romero, and Tony Guo are some of the most well-developed characters I’ve read in YA. I love fantasy but I’m a realistic fiction fan at core.

I have to read every Kate DiCamillo book and the latest one is Louisiana’s Way Home. It’s been said that her books are too sad for children but I think they are so hopeful. Things are awful and you get abandoned, but the universe does have a safety net for you. That is really all one needs to know when life is falling apart. I’m the biggest Kate and Louisiana fan <3.

I DNF The Round House or Commonwealth. Frankly I was going through pretty bad stuff at the time and could not handle heavy books. I will get around to reading these, someday! Louise Erdrich and Ann Patchett are kind of contemporary literary queens so I do want to get into them.

What are your sick day books?


New Year, same books

I have neglected my reading blog for too long! A lot has happened as you can tell by my ‘Dear Diary’ entries but the good news is that I now have a job where I get to read more than ever. I love it!!!! I have tbh never been a receptionist before but I realized it is like a vacation for me. I get to read in between when I have to work. It is simply the best and I am getting through (and adding) to my book list every day.

This is a batch of books I read during winter break/around the New Year. Don’t they have beautiful covers?? Sunny by Jason Reynolds is a hit like all of his books in the Track series, and lbr, all of his books. A reader on Goodreads said that this is like the ‘Louise Fitzhugh tribute’ of Jason Reynolds and I can see it. It is written in Dear Diary format and Sunny has an older, strange and magical lady for a mentor. I love you Sunny! Thanks for being weird and let’s keep being weird.

I loooved The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. It was so painful, beautiful, and truthful, which is what the best memoirs are. It must’ve been hard giving birth to a book like this, and I imagine the writing and illustrating is hardly the most difficult part. It takes years to be able to face your family’s demons and get into ugly truths about your parents and your origin. Thi Bui did just that and the result is a book that shows how depths of an ordinary person’s life.

Every Shiny Thing was a joy to read. I can’t believe there aren’t more books about shoplifting. I really like the verse/prose and dual perspectives here, and this book was indeed written by two authors! It was a nice look into privilege and what it looks like between two white suburban kids who nonetheless live very differently and with different stakes. More books about shoplifting, please.

I DNF Teacher Man or I’ll Give You the Sun. I guess I really am done being a teacher because I can’t even read a book about a man who was a teacher, ha. I’ll Give You the Sun is a very stylish book but it is not my style.

Happy reading! I love you all.