Book reflections

by Lucy Lee

Super short reflections of books a late-early-adult midwestern Asian-American woman is reading during a global pandemic.

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White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Robin DiAngelo

The author makes the case that every person is racist because we live in a racist society; racism is not a personal character flaw but an inherent part of how America functions. And because America is run by white people, white people are responsible for working on becoming less racist - people of color are not responsible for teaching white people about racism or helping them be less racist.
(May 2021)


American Royals

Katharine McGee

Alternate version of an America where George Washington accepted kingship, and a modern day female successor is about to take the throne. Some of the characters uncomfortably reminded me of Trump's White House.
(Mar 2021)


The Duke and I

Julia Quinn

Glad the Netflix version went with people of color in lead roles. Not sure why this book was chosen to be Netflixed; it's basically about a guy saving a lady and then the lady saving the guy.
(Feb 2021)



Marissa Myer

Didn't realize this book was YA until the 1. emphasis on a prince charming 2. the sarcastic attitude of the protagonist. Still, ended up getting invested in the notion of discriminated cyborgs and moon people that control brain waves to make themselves appear beautiful.
(Feb 2021)


A Promised Land

Barack Obama

A glimpse into the decision-making behind President Obama's campaigns, 2008 financial crisis, Affordable Care Act, and up to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Obama's detailed narration of legislation was so calming that I often could not get through the 30 min sleep timer every night. Favorite parts of the book were stories of his family life in juxtaposition to his role as president. On trips to summits with world leaders, his daughters: "Why can't Daddy come do fun things with us?" "Daddy has to go do boring meetings all day" "Poor daddy". Or Obama waking Michelle to tell her he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and Michelle replying with "That's wonderful, honey" before rolling over and going back to sleep.
(Jan 2021)


Dear Girls

Ali Wong

After many pages of filthy, hilarious, comedic stories told by Ali Wong, her husband gives an afterword that describes how Ali, as an Asian woman, gives voice to the very human things that Asian women are taught to keep silent. Because of this, her comedy takes on an almost spiritual nature for some of her viewers, as she digests and tells stories about her experiences of being an Asian woman, a mother, and being a female in a male dominated industry. (Jan 2021)


Atomic Habits

James Clear

The way atoms build up an organism, our tiny choices and habits throughout our day make up who we are - we are the result of our habits. Therefore changing micro habits is more effective, sustainable, and less overwhelming than setting large goals for yourself, especially if you leverage the principles of making a habit obvious to remember, fun and easy to do, and satisfying to complete (ex read one page everyday versus read a book). (Jan 2021)



Tara Westover

A woman jumps from knowing no history except as taught by her fundamentalist, controlling and abusive family, to writing history at Cambridge and Harvard. Yet as she successfully wraps her life on the mountain into historical movements, she personally breaks from trying to reconcile her lived experience of abuse and danger with her family’s gaslit interpretation of it. (Jan 2021)


Do Androids Dream of Sheep

Philip K. Dick

As you follow a bounty hunters journey to chase down runaway androids, you root for the classic hero cop to beat the criminal bad guys. This becomes more uncomfortable when you see the oppressive, arbitrary, flawed and increasingly blurry line between what is human and deserving of life and what does not deserve empathy. (Dec 2020)


Crazy Rich Asians

Kevin Kwan

Real housewives-style drama, judgmental Asian families, hgtv porn, and unfamiliar Singaporean noodle dishes I stopped reading to google. I doubted the fantastic descriptions of lineages and riches until I came across the footnotes that had historical references. Overall, the book felt like a fun and almost trashy page-turner, whereas the movie made me cry at seeing Asians portrayed so gorgeously in so many different roles. (Oct 2020)



Neil Postman

We live in a time where technology is invisible and has taken place of a moral code or laws. For example, we don't question the system of letter grades, advice from sociological psychology, or even clocks. But every tech has a context and a socio-political agenda, and educating ourselves of the history of our tech and processes is integral to understanding them as tools and not law. (Oct 2020)


The Fifth Season

N.K. Jemisin

So different from usual fantasy books that focus on a hero's singular journey, Jemisin's hero bears the weight of her flawed actions and acknowledges her weaknesses. The descriptions of how the dominant race exploit and plunder the bodies of the oppressed is horrifyingly reflected by news coverage of systemic racial injustice. (Oct 2020)


The Sun and her Flowers

Rupi Kaur

The voice of a daughter of immigrants, who is listening to her roots and shortcomings. Her vulnerability inspires with its honesty and makes me think of my own immigrant mother and how relatively untethered I am. (Sep 2020)



Madeline Miller

The story of a beautiful statue turned to life by the gods, whose creator traps her in a prison when she shows cracks or actions he can't control. (Sep 2020)


Digital minimalism

Cal Newport

An exploration of how today's digital tools like social media are 'fast food' to our brains' complex and highly evolved mechanisms of social cognition, and how high quality leisure of analog and physically/mentally taxing activities is integral for our health. (Sep 2020)


Amusing ourselves to death

Neil Postman

Today we consume news and content in time-agnostic chunks, where each piece of content is not reliant on previous knowledge and has no context. The author makes the argument that it's not Orwell's 1984 we should fear, where government oppresses and limits our knowledge, but Huxley's Brave New World, where we're so inundated by pleasure that we are incapable of critical thought and don't desire anything beyond pleasure. (Sep 2020)


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