2020 is officially more than halfway over, which is scary. I have still been slowly but surely reading books off of my to-read pile, and here are my thoughts on the books I read in June!
THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko
I cannot remember where I heard about this book, but it was on my to-read list for two years! The Leavers is a story of a Chinese immigrant mother Polly and her son Deming/Daniel, who is adopted by white parents when Polly disappears one day. The book tells both Polly and Deming’s stories from their beginning to present: Polly having arrived in New York in her twenties through now living in China with a new identity after her deportation; Deming reminiscing on his childhood as Deming and his struggles while growing up as an adoptee and wondering why his mom left him. They eventually find each other through a family friend. I loved reading this book, especially Polly’s character!
DARE TO LEAD by Brené Brown
This book was the very first pick for the Salem College Alumnae Book Club, and I was thrilled to read it since I really enjoyed Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. Dare to Lead is a culmination of all of her research on vulnerability, courage, and leadership. So much of this book resonated with me—I took so many notes and photos of pages. As someone who is not in a managerial position, the book was helpful in realizing what kind of work environment and company culture in which I want to find myself. For the book club, we utilized the workbook (available online for free), which felt a little bit like homework, but it definitely helped me critically face reality and apply this book to my life.
THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE by Abi Daré
A few months ago, earlier during quarnatine, I had asked my Instagram friends about their favorite books, and this book was recommended by my fellow Salemite Dorinda. Girl with the Louding Voice is a story of Adunni, a Nigerian girl who dreams of going to school and finding her “Louding Voice.” Once her mother passes away, education seems out of reach for Adunni as her father sells her as a child bride and she eventually finds herself as a slave in a wealthy household. Some parts of the book broke my heart, but Adunni is resilient and courageous throughout. It was incredible to read about a strong girl like Adunni and other strong women, including Adunni’s mother Idowu, second-wife Khadija, and Ms. Tia.
SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE by Ijeoma Oluo
Like many of us, I am still in the process of learning about the systematic racism and police brutality. So You Want to Talk About Race was one of the most recommend books, and I can see why. The biggest takeaway for me was the concept of structural injustice and institutional racism. Even though I learned the definition of racism as institutional discrimination based on race in the Introduction to Sociology class my first year of college, I only recently finally understood what that meant—how the system discriminates, not because majority of people in power are discriminatory but because the system was designed to discriminate, and Ijeoma continually emphasizes this throughout the book. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator (not ready by the author) is fantastic too.
ON EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS by Ocean Vuong
I added this book to my to-read list on Goodreads when I saw Ali Wong’s post on Instagram. This was a challenging read for me due to the poetic prose, and I honestly want to (and need to) read it again. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from Little Dog, a Vietnamese-American son to his mother. Though the letter is addressed to his mother, since she is not literate, this letter reads like a cathartic confession almost to himself. There are a lot of stories in the letter–the older generation surviving the war; domestic violence told, witnessed, and experienced; Little Dog’s first romantic relationship and realizing his sexuality. It’s incredibly personal and raw.
What are you reading? What was the best book you read recently?
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