Bout of Books 20

Bout of Books

After missing the last couple of rounds, I'm happy to announce that I will be participating in the upcoming 20th round of the Bout of Books readathon! After the craziness that was BookTubeAThon last month, my reading has definitely slowed down a bit. I'm hoping Bout of Books will help me finish out the month strong!

Sign ups run through Tuesday, August 22nd, so head on over to the Bout of Books website if you'd like to participate.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
--From the Bout of Books team

I'll be sharing my TBR later this week.


New Books (A Summer Haul)

I think it's safe to say that I've been exercising a lot of restraint over my book buying inclinations lately. As someone who consumes a lot of bookish content and is constantly getting recommendations, I'd say this is a pretty admirable feat! Plus, it means that all of books I have picked up are books I am genuinely interested in.

Books Mentioned:
Pigeon-Blood Red / Ed Duncan
Human Interest / Valerie Bandura
Where the Past Beings: A Writer's Memoir / Amy Tan
A Few Good Women / Evelyn M. Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
Goodbye to All That / Robert Graves


July and BookTubeAThon Wrap Up

Just when I was beginning to lose hope for my reading this year, July turned out to be quite the productive reading month! The credit for this suddenly uptake in my reading must be given to the one and only BookTubeAthon reading event. And while I've just realized that I never actually posted my TBR for the event here on the blog, I hope you enjoy hearing about what I read all the same.

Books Read
Common Sense / Thomas Paine
The Tale of Aypi / Ak Welsapar
The Girl Who Is Getting Married / Aoko Matsuda
Moonraker / Ian Fleming

Currently Reading
Are You My Mother? / Alison Bechdel
The Garden Party and Other Stories / Katherine Mansfield


What I Read Growing Up

I was very lucky to grow up in a household where my parents not only encouraged my brother and I to read, but were also very open to buying us books. As if we didn't get enough to read in our bimonthly library trips, we used to spend hours in our local bookshops, agonizing over which book we would be bringing home. And when we got those books home, we treated them like gold: read them individually, read them together, read them aloud, read them over and over.  And, as you can see, I've managed to hang on to quite a few of them!

One reason these books means so much to me is that we weren't allowed to watch television as children. So with the exception of the occasional Disney or Studio Ghibli film, all of the stories and characters I was exposed to came to me through my books. So I've taken as best care of them as I can and will treasure them forever as my first lessons in storytelling and my first windows into other worlds.


June Wrap Up

I'm back again with another two-book reading month. Unfortunately, trying to get through The Impossible Fairy Tale really put a damper on my reading in June because I felt like I shouldn't read anything else until it was finished and reviewed, but then dreaded picking it back up. But now that it is done and dusted, I'm hoping my July reading will fare much better!

Books Read
Live and Let Die / Ian Fleming

Currently Reading
Northanger Abbey / Jane Austen
Under the Tuscan Sun / Frances Mayes


The USS Midway

A few weeks ago, my family and I decided to take a trip down to San Diego for Father's Day. We surprised him with a trip to the decommissioned aircraft carrier the USS Midway. And, of course, I took a few pictures!

If you've been reading my blog since my 2015 trip to the USS Iowa Battleship, you're probably wondering if my family and I have some sort of military connection. Well, sort of. My dad's father was in the Army Corps of Engineers back in the day and actually worked on some of the Midway's safety features. Both of my parents have a real appreciation for American history and I personally am really interested in military history. So trips like these are fun for all of us!

I would highly recommend this as a day trip. If you're interested in American or military history, this is a must see. Not only does it have a fantastic audio tour on what life was like on the ship throughout its decades of active duty, but it also has a wide selection of the historical aircraft used by the US Navy. You can see the kind of fighter jets used in films like Top Gun, sit in a camouflaged helicopter, and even sit in a few cockpits.

And if you're just hoping to get your kids excited about history, you can reward them at the end of the day with a spin in a flight simulator!


Mid-Year Check In | 2017

Seeing as it's the end of June, I think I can finally make it official: I'm having a really rough reading year! I don't know what's going on, but I cannot seem to make myself sit down and finish a book. I've gotten into a better reading habit over the past week or so, so hopefully, the second half of 2017 will be better for my reading!

Don't forget to check out Retribution Binary by Ruth Baumann.


My Dream Reading Space

I share a lot of my interests with the Internet: journaling, freelancing, films, and of course, reading. However, one thing I never really share with you guys is just how much I love interior design and decorating. I love how you can transform a space just with furniture and a few decor items. In fact, if I ever was to go back to school, I would seriously consider getting a degree in interior design.

So when Arhaus.com reached out to me to see if I would write a post about my dream reading space, I was super excited by the opportunity to combine my love of interiors with my love for reading. So I've scoured Arhaus and some of my favorite home furnishings brands and have pulled together a few things I personally would love to have in my dream reading space.

I've always liked the idea of a window bench, but they're not always the most comfortable place to sit and read for hours. So in my dream reading space, I would prefer an armchair like (1) this one from Cost Plus World Market. I love this grey, slightly textured fabric, and as someone with short legs, the matching ottoman is an absolute essential!

The reason I prefer an armchair is that you get the comfort of a couch but with the placement options of a chair. As someone who likes to switch their furniture around every so often, I think it's important to get pieces that can be used in a variety of locations. I also love to get furniture in neutral colors so I can add pops of color and pattern with accessories like this (2) pillow. I'm really into oranges and yellows at the moment, which is why this  (3) yellow knit throw from West Elm caught my eye. Even though I live in sunny and warm Southern California, I'd pick a chunky knit over a thin woven throw any day!

Of course, every reading nook needs some bookshelves! My dream bookshelf scenario would include not only shelves all along the walls but also shelves with glass doors. I know, I know, why would I want to put a glass door between me and all my lovely books? Because of dust, that's why!

I found (1) these shelves on Arhaus.com and kind of fell in love. Not only do I really love that they have glass doors, but I also love that the thin wooden details along the front of the glass doors remind me of traditional Japanese sliding doors. Am I the only one that sees it? Anyways, I can imagine a bunch of these stacked up against the wall opposite my chair, so that I can see all my books as I sit by my window!

Now, I do a lot of my reading at night, so this means that I need a good light. Thankfully, Arhaus has quite a huge lighting section and it was really hard to pick just one! In this dream reading space scenario, I'm picturing hanging (2) this kind of old-fashioned pendant light right above my little armchair for the perfect nighttime reading light.

One thing I've learned about myself over the past couple of years is that I cannot read and eat at the same time. I either end up with food all over my book or so completely distracted that I have to go back later and reread the same passage. But I'm a big believer in a cup of tea with my reading, which means that my dream reading space has to have a place for me to place my mug!

At first, I was thinking of a slim side table, but then I came across (1) this amazing coffee table made out of petrified wood. I personally really love incorporating tree stumps into my home (I actually have a stump with a face carved into it on my hearth right now!). It brings a little bit of the outdoors in, softens a more modern, minimalist look and is actually one of my favorite design quirks. So yes, this amazing tree stump coffee table would be going in my dream reading space.

Because I wouldn't want to ruin such a beautiful table, I would place my mugs on (3) these crystal coasters from Anthropologie. And as for the mugs themselves, I would love a few (2) clear mugs like you see above. My grandmother used to have a bunch of small, clear mugs and now every time I drink tea out of anything clear I can't help but think of her!

So those are some of the elements I would love to have in my dream reading space or window nook. I think it's a pretty good reflection of my personal style: a bit simple, but with a few quirky and natural elements as well. As readers, I know we've all dreamed about our ideal reading nooks or home libraries. So my question to you is: what's one thing you'd love to have in your dream reading space?

Disclaimer: This post was created in cooperation with Arhaus.com to be featured on their social media channels. All opinions and product selections were my own. This post was NOT sponsored.


Memorial Day Weekend | Friday Reads

Ah, finally, a three day weekend. That means sleeping in, eating lots of great food, and, of course, time to catch up on reading. Most of the month I've been making my way through the audiobook of Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, but this weekend I plan to focus on catching up on some review copies.

The Impossible Fairy Tale / Han Yujoo, translated by Janet Hong
I'm reading this to review over on April Magazine and I have to admit, I wasn't really sure what to think when I first started reading. It wasn't drawing me in, though I can't really pinpoint why. Thankfully, it's started to pick a little because my review is due next week!

The Girl Who Is Getting Married / Aoko Matsuda, translated by Angus Turvill
This is one of the beautiful Keshiki chapbooks I shared a few weeks ago and I am so very excited to read this one. The story's narrator is going to visit a friend from high school and apparently we get a new memory of their past with every floor he or she climbs. And this is only about 36 pages, so I will definitely be devouring The Girl Who Is Getting Married in one sitting.

Under the Tuscan Sun / Frances Mayes
I was supposed to have a review of this book up back at the end of March, so to say I need to start Under the Tuscan Sun is a massive understatement! But I'm not really worried because not only is it the memoir that inspired my favorite chick flick ever ( I love me some Diane Lane), but it also seems the perfect book to transition from spring to summer.

If you're based in the States, a very happy Memorial Day to you. What are you planning on reading this weekend?


Asian American Author Recommendations | Part II

Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! My absolute favorite way to honor my own Asian American heritage is by celebrating Asian American creatives of all kinds.  So hopefully you guys are able to find some authors and books that sound interesting on this latest installment of recommendations!

Books and Authors Mentioned:
Shortcomings / Killing and Dying / Adrian Tomine
> Watch the review
Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone / Sequoia Nagamatsu
> Watch the review
The Woman Warrior / Maxine Hong Kingston
> Read the review
Farewell to Manzanar / Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
The Buddha in the Attic / Julie Otsuka
> Watch the review
Do Not Say We Have Nothing / Madeleine Thien
> Watch the review
Sarong Party Girls / Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

If you're looking for even more recommendations for Asian American authors to check out, head on over to my first Asian American Author Recommendations video.


Bookshelf Tour & Life Update

If it seems like I've been a bit absent over the past couple of weeks or so, that's because I was in the process of moving! There was seemingly endless packing, furniture shopping, and lugging lots of heavy things. But I am finally all set up in my new apartment, which means that all my books are now (mostly) organized in their new homes.

Hope you enjoyed getting a look at my shelves. Do you like to organize your books by specific genres, categories, or authors? Or do you actively avoid any form of organization? I'd love to know!


Books I'll (Probably) Never Read | Original Tag

I can't believe I've been on BookTube for four years and have never created an original tag before! I've been binge watching beauty and lifestyle videos lately and came across the concept of the anti-haul, which ended up inspiring this video.

Even if you don't make videos, I'd love to read some of your answers in the comments of this post! Check out the questions and feel free to drop me an answer.

The Questions:
1) A really hyped book you're not interested in reading?
2) A series you won't start/won't be finishing?
3) A classic that you're just not interested in?
4) Any genres you never read?
5) A book on your shelves you'll probably never actually read?


The Keshiki Collection | Strangers Press


Are these not the most beautiful book covers you've ever seen? Behold the wonder that is the complete Keshiki set from Strangers Press, a chapbook collection translating and highlighting "eight of the most exciting writers working in Japan today."

I discovered Strangers Press a few months ago through their Twitter account. They're based in the UNESCO City of Literature Norwich and are all about publishing "the finest literature in translation." I practically jumped with joy when I saw that their current offering was all translations of new voices in Japanese fiction.

As I just received these chapbooks and haven't gotten a chance to crack them open (past admiring their French flaps, of course) yet, I can't really recommend them. However, if you love beautiful books or Japanese literature and you want the full set, I would recommend grabbing one before they are all gone!

I'm actually thinking of doing a video on the entire collection once I've actually read them all, but for now let's just admire the beauty and genius of these cover designs.

Check out the Strangers Press website | Get the full Keshiki set


#TomeTopple Wrap Up

One day, I will post a readathon wrap up and will actually be pleased with the amount of reading I got done. Unfortunately, that day is not today!

Books Mentioned:
Hawaii / James A. Michener
The Explosion Chronicles / Yan Lianke


Your Name | 君 の 名 は Film Review

Something I didn't mention in the video for sake of time was that seeing Your Name was actually my first time experiencing anime in theatres and honestly, I can't wait to do it again. It was such an immersive experience what with the incredible soundtrack and it was really nice to watch anime in a group of people who also love anime.

If you can't tell in the video, I absolutely loved Your Name and would highly recommend that you go see it even if you think it's not your kind of anime. And don't forget to check out the soundtrack!


#TomeTopple Check In | Friday Reads

I probably didn't even need to take a picture of this week's Friday Reads, because it's pretty much the same as last week! I'm still persevering through my #TomeTopple TBR, though I have decided to set aside Our Mutual Friend for now. I'm also partway through Great Expectations and I think that taking on two of Charles Dickens' novels at once is just way too ambitious.

Hawaii / James A. Michener
I've been making rather slow progress through this massive tome, but I'm really surprised at how much I'm enjoying it. So far as I can tell, each "chapter" is actually the length of a decent-sized novel and is set in a different period of time. All chapters, however, center around the Hawaiian islands and the people who've inhabited them over the centuries. It's like getting a bunch of mini novels in one and so far I'm more than happy to keep reading.

The Explosion Chronicles / Yan Lianke
I plan on finally picking this up this weekend and I honestly cannot wait. Despite it's making it to the Man Booker International Prize Longlist, I haven't heard many people talking about The Explosion Chronicles and the few reviews I have found have only intrigued me more.

The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles / Kij Johnson
Lately I've really been craving some Kij Johnson, but I have so much reading on my plate right now that I can't commit to reading yet another novel. So instead I thought I'd take a crack at her novella The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles, which you can get free on Tor.com. From what I can tell, it sounds fairly similar to Fudoki and this, of course, makes me super excited to finally get to it!

So that's what I'll be reading this Easter weekend. Happy Easter if you practice and happy reading!


I'm on Patreon!

I am incredibly excited to announce that I am now on Patreon! This means that you can now help make more videos and blog posts possible.

Patreon is a really incredible place for creators, artists, and anyone else with a "nontraditional" career or hobby to gain a monthly income. As someone who freelances and whose monthly earnings can vary quite a bit, I find the idea of any kind of steady monthly income is incredibly appealing.

Of course, I know that it is a lot to ask of you, my viewers and readers. I am already so grateful for the time you're willing to spend watching and reading my content and for the amazing, insightful comments you leave me. So trust me when I say that I have put a lot of time and effort into creating rewards that I think are fun and worth every cent of your pledges.

If you'd like to find out out more, please feel free to head on over to my Patreon page!


My #TomeTopple TBR | Friday Reads

If you've noticed my slight absence from the blog lately, you probably won't be surprised to hear that I've been struggling through a bit of blogger's-block. To get back into the groove and hopefully on some sort of schedule, I thought I'd start doing Friday Reads posts. And what a better way to kick things off than by sharing my TBR for the #TomeTopple Readathon?

Be sure to check out Sam's announcement video and let me know what you're reading if you decide to participate!

Books Mentioned:
Our Mutual Friend / Charles Dickens
Hawaii / James A. Michener
The Explosion Chronicles / Yan Lianke

The official #TomeTopple announcement video | Check out @Tome_Topple on Twitter


March Wrap Up

So far, two books a month has become my monthly average in 2017. However, I've recently got the reading bug back in a bad way, so hopefully I'll tackle more than two reads in April!

Books Read:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid
Post Mortem / Patricia Cornwall

Currently Reading:
Great Expectations / Charles Dickens


February Wrap Up

With one audiobook and one poetry chapbook completed, February was another light reading month.

Books Read:
The Essential Koran / Thomas Cleary
Between the World and Me / Ta-Nehisi Coates
Perceived Distance from Impact / Kamden Hilliard

Currently Reading:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid


Your International Women's Day Reading

I'm a firm believer that there are the perfect books for every occasion and International Women's Day is no exception. Whether you're taking the day to participate in #DayWithoutAWoman or you're looking for something to read on your lunch break, here are some inspiring reads to remind you just how amazing women can be.

The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston
For those of us in the US and other western countries, it can be easy to forget that daughters are not celebrated in every corner of the world. In The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston examines a clashing of cultures where the old world of China and the new ways of the US meet in her female body. Part myth, part family history, it is a captivating portrait of the complexities of the Chinese-American identity.
> Read the review

The Buddha in the Attic - Julie Otsuka
Most history books only laud the achievements and bravery of men and in many ways The Buddha in the Attic is a response to that. She illuminates the incredible courage of the 19th and 20th centuries' Japanese picture brides, women who left behind everything they knew to join husbands they'd never met before in the US. These women speak as a chorus of hardship and suffering, determination and the unshakeable bonds of family.
> Watch the review

Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own - Kate Bolick
What is a woman's ultimate goal: happiness or marriage? Are those two mutually exclusive? While Kate Bolick doesn't have all the answers to these very loaded questions, she does take the time to examine the course of her own, happily unmarried life. And she does so by investigating the female writers who have helped to shape her understanding of herself and the kind of life she wants. Spinster is one woman's love letter to the most important female minds in her life.
> Read the review

My Beloved World - Sonia Sotomayor
You can't talk about inspiring women without mentioning Sonia Sotomayor, just the third women to ever be named to the US Supreme Court and the first ever Hispanic Justice. My Beloved World is a memoir about family, learning, and all the amazing things you can achieve through hard work and dedication.

The Girls of Atomic City - Denise Kiernan
There's kind of an unspoken rule in my family: if you want something done, ask one of the women. The Girls of Atomic City tells the tale of the women that helped the US Miliary get shit done during the race for atomic arms in World War II. Follow the young women who left their families for pop-up "atomic cities" in the hopes of gaining some independence and helping their country.


Winter Book Haul

Okay, I did not realize just how many books I'd acquired until I was listing out all the titles. At least I didn't buy them all at once!

Books Mentioned:
The Housekeeper and the Professor / Yoko Ogawa
The Lie Tree / Frances Harding
At the Mouth of the River of Bees / Kij Johnson
The Art of Miyazaki's Spirited Away
How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy / Orson Scott Card
The Buried Giant / Kazuo Ishiguro
The God of Small Things / Arundhati Roy
The Samurai's Garden / Gail Tsukiyama
Empress Orchid / Anchee Min
Stubborn Twig / Lauren Kessler
Lipstick Jihad / Zadeh Moaveni
The Year of Magical Thinking / Joan Didion
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time / Mark Haddon
Atonement / Ian McEwan
The Secret History / Donna Tart
Crazy Rich Asians / Kevin Kwan
The Audacity of Hope / Barack Obama
Perceived Distance from Impact / Kamden Hilliard
Retribution Binary / Ruth Baumann
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story / Alexander Freed
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel / James Luceno
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid
Drifting House / Krys Lee
Born a Crime / Trevor Noah

Have you read any of these? Which one should I pick up first?


My 2017 Bullet Journal

After one year of bullet journaling, I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the only planning system for me. I decided to treat myself to a fancy new journal to use through 2017 and thought you guys might like a peek inside!

Materials Mentioned:


#Diverseathon & January Wrap Up

If you saw my last video, it'll be no surprise to you that I didn't get as much reading done in January as I would have liked. So I'd like to offer another huge thank you to the hosts of this last round of #Diverseathon for getting me back into the groove of things.

Books Read:
The Buddha in the Attic / Julie Otsuka
Born a Crime / Trevor Noah
The Essential Koran / Thomas Cleary
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid


Born a Crime | Trevor Noah

TITLE / Born a Crime

AUTHOR / Trevor Noah

PUBLISHER / Doubleday Canada

DATE OF PUBLICATION / November 15, 2016

NO. OF PAGES / 304


I listened to Born a Crime on audiobook over the course of a single work week and, boy, was that a mistake. Trevor Noah had me chuckling on more than one occasion and trying to smother my laughs into ill-timed snorts.

This shouldn't have been a surprise to me. I've recently discovered Noah's stand up comedy and, between that and his razor-sharp wit on The Daily Show, have become a real fan of his. I enjoy that he's not only able to see below the surface of the world around him but that he is also able to find the humor in it all. So when I learned that he had written a memoir of his time growing up mixed-race in South Africa, I had to pick it up.

Of course, if you're not a fan of Noah's stand up or only know him within the context of The Daily Show, you might be wondering why on earth you should read his memoir. I can give you a couple of reasons.

First of all, I have never felt so transported by a piece of nonfiction in my life. Noah paints a really vivid, vibrant, and visceral portrait of South Africa. I could really visualize the street corners he hung out on, the streets and alleys he ran through to escape from trouble. From the township to the multitude of languages, if Born a Crime is a love letter to Noah's mother, it's also a love letter to South Africa.

Which brings me to my second point: this is a book that examines post-apartheid South Africa from the inside. As much as this is Noah's coming of age story, it is impossible to separate the man and comedian he becomes from the racial, social, and political world he grew up in. As a fan of his work, I found it incredibly interesting to see the experiences from which he has gained his sometimes uncanny ability to cut through the crap and see the real heart of the issue.

As someone who is mixed-race myself, I was also really intrigued to realize that certain aspects of the mixed-race experience are universal. Although Noah's stories were obviously set against the backdrop of the extreme racial divide created by apartheid, some of the stories he told could have been lifted from my own life.

And finally, if you still need a push, read this because Trevor Noah is one heck of a storyteller. Each life episode is structured like a bit from one of his standup sets: they start off anecdotally, pull in some interesting cultural facts, and crescendo to an emotional high towards the end. Not all of the stories Noah shares are funny, but all of them ring with a real genuine sincerity and respect for experiences and characters he shares.

The only reason I have denied this book just half a star is that, sometimes, the organization of the memoir seemed a tad random. Rather than following a strict chronological structure, Noah jumps around to different moments of his life and this does occasionally get confusing. And yet, after reading the extremely poignant ending, I couldn't imagine the book structured any other way.

Now, I'm not the only one saying great things about Born a Crime. Just this last weekend Noah picked up two NAACP awards for the book. And if you're not yet convinced that this is a memoir worth reading, I guess there is little else I can say except, once more, read it. Seriously, read it and I promise you'll have no regrets.


January was... weird.

I know for a fact that I'm not the only one who found January of 2017 to be very disorienting and difficult to get through. It was also a month of inspiring social movements in which we saw that passion and massive protests can actually get stuff done.

So I think it's fair to say that January was one hell of a weird month.


The Buddha in the Attic | Julie Otsuka

TITLE / The Buddha in the Attic

AUTHOR / Julie Otsuka


DATE OF PUBLICATION / March 20, 2012

NO. OF PAGES / 129



The Not a Booktube Newbie Tag

I can't believe I've been making Booktube videos for almost four years! Seriously, it feels like just yesterday that I was nervously stuttering out my first video (which is still live if you feel like you want to go back and relive the awkwardness that was me in college).

Check out Erika Chung's channel | Check out her video on Books for Lunar New Year


When Marnie was There [#YearofMiyazaki]

When Marnie was There
directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi
written by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Keiko Niwa, and Masashi Ando
originally released in 2014 as Omoide no Mani


My #Diverseathon TBR

Yesterday was the first official day of the second round of the #Diverseathon and I can honestly say this has already been one of the most rewarding readathons I have participated in. I joined in on the Day 1 Twitter chat and it was a really amazing outpouring of interest in diverse authors, stories, and perspectives. After last week, this was exactly what I needed!

The #Diverseathon runs until Sunday, Jan 29th so feel free to join in if you haven't already! And if you're interested in participating in more of the discussions or want to keep up with the latest news, I'd highly suggest checking out the official #Diverseathon Twitter (@DiverseAThon).

Unaccustomed Earth / Jhumpa Lahiri
A Pale View of Hills / Kazuo Ishiguro
The Reluctant Fundamentalist / Mohsin Hamid
Born a Crime / Trevor Noah
The Underground Railroad / Colson Whitehead
The Essential Koran / Thomas Cleary


Top 5 Books of 2016

If you followed my reading at all in 2016, I'm sure none of these favorite reads comes as a big surprise. It was a year full of female authors, literary fiction, and fantastic translations! Just keep in mind that these are simply the best books I read in 2016 and not all of them were published in 2016.

The Vegetarian / Han Kang
> Read the review

Number9Dream / David Mitchell
> Watch the wrap up

Sarong Party Girls / Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
> Read the review

Do Not Say We Have Nothing / Madeleine Thien
> Read the review

Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own / Kate Bolick
> Read the review


2017 Reading & Channel Goals

I finally pulled myself and filmed my 2017 reading goals and channel resolutions. Time to get on with the year!

Reading Goals
Read 50 books
Read my own damn books
Read from my Classics and Back to University TBR
Read more broadly genre-wise

Channel Goals
Continue film discussions
Just have fun making videos!


Vlogmas Days 19, 20, & 21

Well look at me, I'm finally getting back on top of things. Here are the last few days of Vlogmas that I never got around to posting here on the blog.

Day 19 - Hobonichi with Me

Materials Used:
2017 Hobonichi
Kuretake ZIG Clean Color II Markers
Hobonichi Ball Point Pen

Day 20 - 2017 Anticipated Releases

Books Mentioned:
Harmless Like You / Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Whereas / Layli Long Soldier
The Impossible Fairy Tale / Han Yujoo
Green Island / Shawna Yang Ryan
Beren and Luthien / J.R.R. Tolkien
Rooms of One's Own / Adrian Mourby
Uncomfortably, Happily / Yeon-Sik Hon

Day 21 - My Winter TBR

Books Mentioned:
Little Women / Louisa May Alcott
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Anne Brontë
The Buddha in the Attic / Julie Otsuka
The Casual Vacancy / J.K. Rowling
The Following Sea / Marcel Jolley
Under the Tuscan Sun / Frances Mayes
How To Be A Woman / Caitlin Moran
The Chronicles of Narnia / C.S. Lewis
The Silmarillion / J.R.R. Tolkien
The Ranger's Apprentice series / John Flannagan


On Burnout and New Beginnings | Happy 2017

Hello there. It's been a while.

If you were following my 2016 Vlogmas videos and wondered why I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth, my deepest apologies. It would be easy to blame the busy season or the fact that I didn't start prepping for the month far enough in advance, but in all honesty, I have no excuse.

To put it simply, I just hit creative burnout.

This is something I've experienced a few times before, once when I tried a month long drawing challenge and another time when I spent two straight weeks frenetically writing chapters of a manuscript I still haven't finished. Back then, it felt almost like physically hitting a wall, like these projects were a rock that I'd brought so close to the top of the hill, only to have them roll back and crush me down.

Both of these previous burnouts left me unable to pick up a pen or even look at my computer for weeks. I remember reading a lot, listening to a lot of music, and vegging out at night with bad police procedurals on tv.

This Vlogmas-induced creative burnout, however, was different. Maybe this was a natural reaction to twenty plus straight days staring at my own face and trying to wrangle some sort of coherence and meaning out of my ramblings, but I couldn't force myself to make another video if my life depeneded on it. I normally feel some resistance to editing what I've filmed; maybe I just don't have a strong enough narcissistic streak to enjoy hours of listening to my own voice. This time, I couldn't even compel myself to prefilm footage to edit at a later date.

But where I was expecting to feel listless and disheartened, I discovered a real, intense desire to create. It's honestly been years since I've felt such strong creative inspiration and I've tried to let myself flow with that feeling. I've had a rash of new ideas that have me excited about writing and storytelling again and, for the first time in years, I found myself compelled to take another crack at poetry. It's probably not very good poetry as I don't have the patience to sit and craft something intricate, subtle, or polished. But it is a genuine rush of expressive energy, equivalent to Whitman's untranslatable, barbaric yawp.

Who knows, maybe I'll share it with you all one day.

So have I given up on creating videos? No; in fact, later this morning I plan on filming for the first time since December. But I also plan on cutting back on video content if that means being able to explore more varied avenues of creative expression.

Now, this might read like an entirely self-indulgent post, an overly-dramatic way of saying "I failed at Vlogmas because I wasn't feeling inspired." Maybe it is. But it is also my way of closing the chapter on 2016. Last year brought out both the best and the worst in people and I think that in times of turbulence when hope is very much a small, flicking thing, it is easy to lose your way creatively. It is easy to question what the heck we do anything for when the world seems like such a fractured and unhealable place.

At times like this, I think it is entirely appropriate to step back, to stop doing what you think you should be doing and take the time to get right with yourself. Take the time to sort yourself out so that when you get back to working, creating, or leading you can do so with fullness of intention and passion of spirit. Because in the coming years, we're going to need everyone, and especially those creators who are capable of making great, moving, and discussion-inspiring work to be at the top of their games.

Happy 2017, everyone.