Recent Reads

Welcome to my mini book reports! This page serves as a reference for summaries, my learnings, and thoughts. Hopefully you can also find a book that piques your interest.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

⚔️ Genre: Memoir

📖 Summary: A memoir by Michelle Zauner, singer and guitarist of the band Japanese Breakfast. She talks about her life and relationship with her family and culture, and finding her identity as a Korean-American.

💭 Thoughts:

  • Cried maybe 5 times while reading this book. As someone who has struggled with my Chinese-Canadian culture growing up, this book resonated greatly with me. I'm sure a lot of immigrant kids can relate to this - our parents found the ability connect with us through sharing their cuisine. My parents' love language was easily bringing fruits to my room, making me congee when I'm sick, going out for dim sum, and so much more. This book really brings to light the difficulties of being an in-betweener, where many first generation immigrant children often find themselves.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

⚔️ Genre: Fantasy Fiction

📖 Summary: This book follows a protagonist that is between life and death, where there is a library in which the shelves go on forever. Each book is a chance to try another life you could have lived if you had made different choices.

💭 Thoughts:

  • This was another easy read that is somewhat similar to Before the Coffee Gets Cold in which it makes us think about how we live our lives / our past. This story will ultimately make you think about all the different choices you've made in life, and how they've all amounted to where you are today.

  • Often I think about what ifs, what if I pursued another career? What if I gave this guy a chance? What if I moved to another country? This book shows you just how beautiful life in itself can be, even in mundane things.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

⚔️ Genre: Fantasy Fiction

📖 Summary: A tale about a café in Tokyo that allows its customers to travel back in time, as long as they return before their coffee gets cold. The story follows the lives of those that frequent the café.

💭 Thoughts:

  • This was an easy read that I was able to complete on a 6 hour plane ride. I greatly enjoyed the way it told the stories of various characters throughout the novel. We get to see really real relationships and lives of the people in the book - and we get to explore the themes of familial relationships, romantic relationships, health, love, career, and more.

  • An interesting time-travel rule in this novel is whatever you do in the past, will not change your present. I think that's an interesting take on time-travel, especially when we see all of these things in mainstream media telling people to be careful not to play around with the past, as that could greatly change your future / present self.

  • This novel definitely made me think about which instance in my past I'd like to revisit to relive. I think I'd like to go back to moments where I felt happiest. Not sure if I'd want to visit the ones where I was most sad / had the most regret though...

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

⚔️ Genre: Self-Help

📖 Summary: A viral relationship blogger talking about the key to being stronger, happier, and better at handling adversity. "In life, we have a limited amount of fucks to give, so you must choose your fucks wisely."

☑️ Takeaways:

  • Everyday we are exposed to stories of people who are exceptional (those in the 99.999th percentile in both great and terrible ways), but the vast majority of life happens in the middle. Life is unextraordinary and pretty average. Admitting to this will give you a better appreciation for life's basic things.

  • Self-awareness works like an onion: 1) The outside layer is understanding your emotions, 2) Next it's to ask why we feel that way, and 3) the hardest and most difficult, is to question why the experience was a success/failure? What are the values that are guiding me to think this way?

  • People who are scared of the crappy things that other people might think about them, are actually terrified of all these things they think about themselves being reflected back.

  • Good values and metrics are process-oriented and controllable. For example "Improve my social life" is a better metric than "Make everyone like me."

  • Don't be special or unique. Redefine your metrics to be mundane things like being a good student, partner, friend, or creator.

  • "Knowing/finding yourself" is inherently dangerous as it puts yourself into a specific description with expectations. If you never really know who you are, it removes a sense of entitlement, forces you to stay humble and accept differences between you and others.