Category Archives: biblio-file

What I read- 2018 edition

I thought this year I would remind folks that this list only includes books I read cover to cover. Most of the critical and a few of the creative works I read are “grad school reads,” meaning I do not (and cannot) read every page. I’ll link some of those books here in case you are interested. (I learned ONE of my friends reads this list, so you know, I have to maintain this list’s tradition of accuracy.)

  1. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  2. Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng
  3. Beast/Meridian by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
  4. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine
  5. A Bestiary by Lily Hoang
  6. Field Theories by Samiya Bashir
  7. play dead by francine j. harris
  8. Ghost Of by Diana Khoi Nguyen
  9. My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
  10. Hardly War by Don Mee Choi
  11. Silver Road by Kazim Ali
  12. These Days of Candy by Manuel Paul Lopez
  13. Goodbye Lyric by Ruth Ellen Kocher
  14. Together and By Ourselves by Alex Dimitrov
  15. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
  16. In the Language of My Captor by Shane McCrae
  17. Bluets by Maggie Nelson
  18. Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski
  19. Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
  20. Zong! by M. Nourbese Philips
  21. Cane by Jean Toomer
  22. Eye Level by Jenny Xie
  23. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  24. Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
  25. Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
  26. Bringing Down the Shovel by Ross Gay
  27. Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
  28. Digest by Gregory Pardlo
  29. Life in a Pretty Box by Dawn Lundy Martin
  30. Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn
  31. Translating Mo’um by Cathy Park Hong
  32. Engine Empire by Cathy Park Hong
  33. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  34. Milk & Filth by Carmen Giménez Smith

It was a good year for reading. As we entered 2019 on the Gregorian calendar, I have been finishing up: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Imaginary Vessels by Paisley Rekdal, and The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks. Also, finally bought a Lidia Yuknavitch book to read– The Small Backs of Children. Excited about 2019. Oh, today I also started The Undercommons by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten. But they don’t belong in any system of lists. 😉

 

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What I read– 2017 edition

  1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  2. The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
  3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  4. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  5. My Wicked Wicked Ways by Sandra Cisneros
  6. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  7. Haikus by Richard Wright (working through it still…)
  8. Blood Dazzler, Poems by Patricia Smith
  9. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  10. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  11. Seam by Tarfia Faizullah
  12. January Children by Safia Elhillo
  13. all about love by bell hooks
  14. I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men and What I Had On by Khadijah Queen
  15. Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral
  16. Ode to Walt Whitman by Frederico Garcia Lorca
  17. [insert] boy by Danez Smith
  18. Whereas by Layli Long Soldier
  19. Afterland by Mai Ver Dang
  20. Eat a Bowl of Tea by Louis Chu
  21. When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
  22. Palm Frond with its Throat Cut by Vickie Vertiz
  23. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  24. Look by Solmaz Sharif
  25. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  26. Odalisque in Pieces by Carmen Giménez Smith

Oddly, while I am in graduate school, this list isn’t as long as I thought it’d be, but I’ve read longer sections of books, mostly poetry collections this year. I’ve also jumped around a lot online, reading Ruth Ellen Kocher, Douglas Kearney, Julie Carr, Kevah Akbar, Ruth Madievsky, more Safia Elhillo, and others. I’ve poked my head into poems by Li-Young Lee and Sun Yung Shin. Also, I’m currently reading these two poetry books: Beast/Meridian by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine. Almost done with the novel Swing Time by Zadie Smith (I don’t know y’all. I guess I’m a hater, but from the sentence level to the story, I think it’s not as good as other novels. This one could be shortened and improved. Let Carmen Maria Machado head that project, Zadie.) Non-fiction: I’m in the first sections of We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes of Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang and Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination by Avery Gordon.

The nice thing about these posts is that they are self-explanatory. For the record, I keep and share these lists for my review and accountability, not for some other motive, but if you like them, then cool!

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Reading List Review 2016

This list is shorter than I hoped, and there are two books on it I still need to finish. However, as this Gregorian calendar ends, I think of what I have done instead—not including wasting time on T.V. or browsing blogs. I have:

  • continued a messy, non-linear process of healing
  • practiced invaluable skills for texting and interpreting emojis
  • applied to too many graduate schools
  • submitted writing to a variety of journals and magazines (and gotten published)
  • purged things and limited how much I bring into my life
  • been a pretty darn good teacher.

In this listing, I won’t include the books I’ve not finished from years past. I only promise that I’ll finish them… one day! So here’s what I’ve read this year:

  1. Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat (because a friend reminded me about our work and position as migrants.)
  2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (because #BlackLivesMatter.)
  3. The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (because he made me fall in love with his mind the first time. This one just confirmed it. Really enjoyed the playfulness.)
  4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (because work. And the canon…)
  5. The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyanne Chin (trigger-warning: sexual abuse, child neglect, verbal abuse.)
  6. Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day by Nikki Giovanni (because classic poetry.)
  7. New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (one of the most painful non-fiction reads I have ever read.)
  8. Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones (OOF! get ready to feel poems in your gut.)
  9. Renaissance by Ruth Forman (because she was literally one of my teachers.)
  10. Ceremony by Leslie Silko (because a friend gifted it and someone compared it to Morrison.)
  11. In the Name of Salomé by Julia Alvarez (poetic prose, mother-daughter story, and one of my favorite novel structures.)
  12. Black Movie (chapbook) by Danez Smith (because I can hear his twang in my ear and imagine new poem forms.)
  13. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness in the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison (dear U.S., we need to talk.)
  14. The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century by Grace Lee-Boggs (because our lives depend on it.)
  15. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (because I challenged myself to challenge the kids.)
  16. Dated Emcees by Chinaka Hodge (because it’s poetry by one of Oakland’s best poets, playwrights, rappers, black girls.)
  17. Night Sky Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (because. Poetry. Family.)
  18. Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie (because it’s Sherman, and #StandingRock, and we are feeling blue.)
  19. Bloodchild by Octavia Butler (because prophesies are needed!)
  20. I’m hopeful about fitting in another novel here.

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Poetic offerings

 

"...
you just turned eleven
i don't know what the years coming look like
soon you enter a storm
i see the rumblings on you
black child in Los Angeles
endangered species
i would call all my people to stand
n make a circle around you
until you grown
i would carry you
if you behaved
but all i can do
is give you these words
soft as the morning when no one else notice



this is to tell you i see you..."

from "Aye Nay," by Ruth Forman

 

I see you. How powerful are those words? I wish heard them growing up. I wish I knew my people made a circle around me. I wish I was given these words, “soft as the morning.”

There is a lot of fear and pain in the world today as well as this year, building upon previous centuries of it so it should be no surprise to us now. In thinking and feeling my way around what it means to be alive and principled during these times, I return to writing. And though I haven’t written many blog posts this year and few poems this week, I am working on a more long-term endeavor to dedicate time and resources to writing. As I envision the intertwining of writing and creativity in my future and feel uncertainty and excitement, I know for sure that writing (and therefore reading) has always helped me heal. Has always helped me see others. Has broken me apart to reveal our core. A core which is so shaken, so bruised. I hope we all stay in a place of softness in a time of such strident, common needs. I will share a few more poem excerpts that keep me tender and teary-eyed.

 

"Do you understand the song you've sent walking through my 
catacombs of marrow? Black parasol notes hum, dirge of the 
removed lung. I now know the promise of a body scooped 
hollow, tea lights in the the torso's cave. You've come 
inside from another country and I have so much to give."

From "Beheaded Kingdom" (part iii.), by Saeed Jones

 

"...it is the sense
that something that was alive
for a very long time
is still alive.  Not yet beaten into
submission
or oblivion
by those who kill everything
they touch
with money."

from "Loving Oakland," by Alice Walker

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Book Line-up Winter 2015-16

Here is what I’ve been reading at the end of 2015:

Finish poetry books not yet finish:

7) The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich

15) How to be Drawn by Terrance Hayes

21) Home Course in Religion by Gary Soto

 

Finish or start these novels/collections:

22) Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie

23) Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat

26) Son by Lois Lowry

27) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

28) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

 

How I hope to start 2016:

1) Playing in the dark by Toni Morrison

2) Renaissance by Ruth Forman

3) Revolutionary Petunias by Alice Walker

4) My House by Nikki Giovanni

5) My father was a Toltec by Ana Castillo

6) How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

7) Bloodchild by Octavia Butler

I’m happy to end 2015 with hopefully 28 books under my belt. I do have to say that it is increasingly hard for me to focus my mind on reading because of the growth of tech in my life. I’m not against technology, per se. However, it is good to be aware of its impact on my focus.

I will be traveling to Mexico with Harper Lee’s books tucked in my backpack, hoping I will finish both amidst exploring and relaxing. And as 2016 rolls around, I have a lot of poetry on my list. As always, am wondering about the Asian American voices I should also find to read. I am also slowly mulling over Feminist Without Borders like it is medicine. It has been years since I started this academic, non-fiction book, so it doesn’t belong on any one list.

On this new moon I also set intentions on sending out my poetry collection in February, a grad school application timeline, and a commitment to use public/shared modes of transportation. The new moon was a week after someone hit my parked car. It was celestial timing, I suppose. It feels right.

What are you reading? How are you reflecting and ending or beginning this winter?

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Book Line-up Winter 2015

In hopes for writing more on this blog and to answer a few friends’ questions about what I’m reading, I thought I’d write!

Currently, I’m still working on James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. Yes, I know it was on my 2014 list, but I’m not done with it. I tend to be slower on non-fiction, especially if the writing style is dated a generation back. Speaking of non-fiction, I’m practically done with The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk. If you are interested in the ways our brains and bodies are linked in trauma, read this! He’s an expert in PTSD and provides unexpected critique about the current state of psychiatry and the diagnostic system they use. Well-written (except for a few copy-editing mistakes)!

The next non-fiction book is Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks. If I’m honest, this will take me until June since I’ll be reading other material.

Namely, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. What Poets Are Like by Gary Soto has been on my list for awhile. I went all crazy and will be picking up Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood from the bookstore soon. That’s a collection of three novels. All the sci-fi books are ones (Bradbury, Le Guin, and Butler) I bought or ordered today. Partly I got those books out of frustration at the fact that Suki Kim’s more recent memoir about being in North Korea still hasn’t arrive yet. I’m mad it’s not here, mad that local bookstores don’t have it, so mad I have an unsupported theory that the anti-Asian government is trying to slow it from being shipped, and did I mention I’m mad about The Interview. In my mind, it’s all connected. (On another note, I’m also frustrated, because I’m not excited to read it after all this work to get it in my hands. It was a book club pick, and I’m not playing well with others.)

So onwards. In hopes on using the public library more, I plan on borrowing Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, and anything by Sherman Alexie. I may want to have my own copies of some Alexie’s writing though. So we’ll see.

I’m very excited if you couldn’t tell by this world of words. This wraps up this bibliophile’s biblio-file. 😉 Happy reading!

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