2019: book reviews


Last year’s attempt to compile book reviews failed because I didn’t update it in real time. It was just too much for me to do it all at the end of the year, especially because Novembers and Decembers are generally busier than other months.

This year, I’m trying to update the books as I finished them in real time when they are fresh in my mind. Below are books that I read and enjoyed.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown – 4/5 [Nov’18 – Jan ’19]
It provided me a sense of clarity and empowered me to make intentional decisions, specifically saying no now so that I won’t regret later. Timely book to finish at the start of the year, as I’m trying to re-focus and re-prioritize.

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro – 4/5 [Nov’18 – Feb’19]
I loved getting a sneak peak into a writer’s life, livelihood and family history. Her subtle yet true observations about her writing, family, life, jealousy, envy, success, etc was relatable and easy to digest. Glad to have found a new author to follow and read.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – 4/5 [May’19]
It took me a couple of years to get into this book; this was one of those books that I would always pick up at the bookstore, try to get into it and failed. Something about this month got me really into this book and wasn’t able to put it down.

The subtle family nuances, expectations of living in Asian household and the racism / discrimination faced by the members in an interracial family kept me on my toes. Beautifully written page turner that explored dysfunctional family dynamics.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung – 3.75/5 [February]
Korean adoption stories have a special place in my heart, mostly because I’m horrified of its history and its continuous impact on everyday people like Nicole. Her story was raw, honest, human, and hopeful. The only thing I felt lacking was positive stories about her adopted family. A touching memoir with beautiful writing.

Southern Lady Code by Hellen Ellis – 3.5/5 [May – June]
A lighthearted, non-committal read during subway rides or before bed. Some of Helen’s hilarious stories felt hollow and some a bit too superficial, as in, she felt the need to continue to stress how “souther ladies” think, but nonetheless a pleasant mindless read.

Save me the Plums by Ruth Reichl – 3.75/5 [August]
Memoirs based on NYC media / publication scene has a special place in my heart and it helped that Ruth’s writing style was very smooth and pleasant. I devoured this book like she devoured her last years at Gourmet magazine.

Grit by Angela Duckworth – 4.25/5 [October – November]
Finally got around reading this – I read it so quickly but made me wonder if I have grit or not. Definitely want to teach my future daughter to have grit and to show that it’s okay to fail.

As I update this post in 2020, I realize that my attempt to organize my thoughts around books in a single post wasn’t as successful.  Also, did I just finish six books last year? That number seems really low to me.

I’m pretty good about highlighting while I read and eventually finishing a book. But I’m pretty bad about going back to my highlights and gathering my thoughts, which is one of the reason why I started this blog.

As I start the new year, I will think more about how I want to classify all the new learnings that I’ve acquired while reading. What a challenge for a book lover!


Photo by Sylvia Yang on Unsplash

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