To be honest, reading for pleasure fell to the complete wayside after I became a mom. But these days, I’ve made it a point of self care to carve out at least 30 minutes to read before bed in complete peace and quiet, as a way to de-stress and unwind from the day and the news. Below are a few books I’m currently reading (and re-reading) – most are actually titles I learned about previously from you guys, so would love to hear again about any books you’re reading now and would recommend!
What I’m Reading
I often end up just using the free Kindle app on my iPhone (especially if I were commuting or traveling), but at night, I don’t bring my phone into the bedroom. Reading on my actual Kindle device is great to not get distracted by social media and emails (and also easier on the eyes in the dark)!
1. Pachinko (fiction)
by Min Jin Lee
I must admit, the book category “historical Japanese fiction” doesn’t exactly capture my interest. However, I just downloaded the free sample of this novel last night (after it popped up as a recommendation) and already found myself reading into the wee hours of the morning! The Kindle sample is actually quite lengthy, enough to give you a good sense of the book and decide if you want to purchase.
The story follows a poor Korean family over 4 generations, starting in the 1900s era during the Japanese colonization. At the fairly early point I’m at, it’s already explored topics of family values, motherhood, survival and strength with storylines that have either warmed my heart, left me feeling uncomfortable, or brought tears to my eyes … basically peeling back my layers of emotion like I’m an onion.
2. No Bad Kids (parenting help)
by Janet Lansbury
This was recommended by several fellow mamas, after I had mentioned Nori discovering her feisty toddler side. While we don’t adhere to any strict parenting philosophies or schools of thought, the book does give you good perspective on what’s inside the mind of your little ones (beyond just “no”, “no” and more “NO!”).
Understanding even just a few tidbits of what makes toddlers tick has helped me stay a little more calm when Nori gets upset, resists, or even has a full on meltdown. I find myself reading a lot of the passages and advice to Nick, so we can help hold each other accountable and attempt to be one united front. You can actually listen to the author’s free podcast, Unruffled, but it’s a little slow moving and I personally prefer the book as one resource. This isn’t a speed read for me, but rather a book that I’ll chip away at every once in a while and will probably re-read as my toddler eventually turns into a three-nager ; )
3. Re-reading: Little Fires Everywhere (fiction)
by Celeste Ng
A couple years ago, I asked for book recommendations on Instagram and SO many of you suggested two books by Celeste Ng, a Boston-area based author. The online reviews are polarizing (ppl are a little trigger happy with 1-star reviews when something isn’t their cup of tea, just like on Yelp), but personally I ended up binge-reading both of her novels in a matter of days. Now that the TV adaptation of Little Fires Everywhere just came out on Hulu (star-studded, but to be honest I wish they cast lesser known main actors), I decided to re-read it this week and found it just as good the second time around.
The main characters are two mothers with very different lifestyles and families, and their lives intertwine in conflicting ways. Throw in a third character (a single-mom and waitress from China who tries to live with a heartbreaking decision), and you’ve got a triangle of class and cultural clash that takes place in a picture-perfect town. It’s a whirlwind of motherhood themes, and my second time around reading this book (now as a mom) it definitely played with my emotions in different ways.
4. Re-reading: Everything I Never Told You (fiction)
by Celeste Ng
This was Ng’s first book, and I can only guess it draws on her upbringing as a child of Asian immigrants growing up in Ohio. While I did enjoy it, be warned it’s slower-paced than Little Fires Everywhere, and the themes are not exactly uplifting. The book starts in a jarring way with the “favorite” child being found dead. The family then tries to untangle the net of relationships, emotions, and secrets that may have led to it. There’s familial favoritism, overshadowed /forgotten siblings, and gender and race issues to unpack (mother is white, father is second generation Chinese in small town Ohio).
I can see how this book isn’t for everyone, but having grown up in an Asian family with three kids in a predominantly white town, I think I appreciated this read as there were some topics that felt (almost uncomfortably) close to home. I can’t recall all of the details, though, so this is actually next on my list to re-read this week!
I was also thinking of doing a list of “what Nori’s reading” (much longer than mine) soon with some of our favorite books for babies and toddlers!