I was in a reading rut until I came across the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge hosted by the Los Angeles City Public Library. The challenge was to read graphic novels through March and into early April. It was a fun way to get myself out of a reading rut.
I felt like most of the books I’ve read this year were intense and serious. According to my Storygraph, the majority of the books I read are informative, emotional, and reflective. 70% of my reading this year are non-fiction. I thought reading a light-hearted young adult book would lift things up and it did not do the trick. When I participated in the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge, I discovered how enjoyable graphic novels can be (even if the topics were not so fun and light-hearted). What I like about graphic novels is that it presents really hard and complicated topics into something that is easy to understand without infantilizing the message.
What do you do when you’re in a reading rut? Comment below!
Sapiens: The Birth of Humankind, Volume 1 (A Graphic Novel) by Yuval Noah Harari
…We should be careful not to make real people suffer for the sake of a fiction.”
Reading this graphic novel made me regret NEVER taking a single anthropology class in college. At this least book makes up for it. It was so fascinating! I cannot wait to read Volume 2.
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
“To understand how my father became the way he was, I had to learn what happened to him as a little boy. It took a long time to learn the right questions to ask.”
I liked this book so much that I bought it for my husband to see if he could find himself and his family in this story. I hope it does some healing. My husband does not have the best relationship with parents because growing up, his parents never talked to him and his five siblings. As a child, his parents only asked if he’s eaten yet. As an adult, they ask for money only to be gambled away. His parents never talked about their life in Vietnam before the war which adds more to my husband’s frustration. For me, it helped me understand the concept of generational trauma and how it can be passed on to the next generation where the kids carry the weight. I see it with him who is actively fighting it, I see it with his siblings and their kids, and his extended family.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
“Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
My favorite part of Michelle Obama’s memoir was when she went from being a lawyer at a prestigious law firm making six-figure to working in community relations for less than half of her pay. This section was so timely because I am transitioning into a new job. For some time I kept asking myself, “did I make the right decision?” If I stayed long enough at my now former employer, I would have gotten a promotion. I still get calls for promotional interviews, but I am at a point in my life where these long commutes are no longer compatible with me. Now I am pursuing a lateral position with the same pay with a different employer that is closer to home. Another thing I have in common with Mrs. Obama is that she works in community relations, a very noble profession. Mrs. Obama shares the outcomes she wanted to achieve through her job (i.e. access to high-quality education, fresh and healthy food, etc.), but I wish she also shared some of the setbacks and frustrations she’s encountered because I experienced a fair share of that.
Persepolis (Complete Series) by Marjane Satrapi
“I wanted to be justice, love and the wrath of God all in one.”
I watched the movie many years ago in college. I finally got around to reading the book. I was drawn to this novel because my parents lived in the Middle East for work for 10 years in the 1980s. It gave me a better understanding of the Iran-Iraq war. This graphic novel starts off with the author’s life in Iran where she has seen so much death in her early life and experienced Iran’s economic instability at the time. Later on, she is uprooted to live in Austria experiencing Western culture where the difference was quite overwhelming. I found the book to be suspenseful, if I could I would read it in one sitting.
World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever
This is more of a travel guide of the major countries Anthony Bourdain visited. He shares his favorite restaurants, places to stay, and how to get there. Honestly, it’s no different than any guidebook like Fodor’s or a Lonely Planet sprinkled with direct quotes from Bourdain’s shows. I honestly wished it was a series of essays written by Bourdain because I found him to be such a wordsmith.
Books I did not finish/panned:
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
This book is a book club pick. I have a rule where I read the first 100 pages and decide if I want to keep reading the book or not continue. Unfortunately, I decided not finish this book. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe because it marketed itself as a Romeo and Juliet retelling I constantly did a direct comparison. This book is so much more than a story of star-crossed lovers because *spoiler alert* they’re not star-crossed lovers. It was also the story of the economic, political, and social environment in China in the 1920s. Shanghai — where the story took place — had a large expatriate community enough to be its own large city. If you’ve seen any version of Westside Story you would see the direction of These Violents Delights. Maybe I just wasn’t the right person to read the book because it had a heavy YA tone and I found Juliette to be a Mary Sue.