Book Recommendations

A pixel gif of a bookshelf with books arranged by color; some of the books are bouncing.

I like to read books because I like long form things. This is a list of my favorite authors and books. I will include specific content warnings, headed as [CW] before each description. Please be gentle with yourselves; something I found transformative for myself might be counter-productive and triggering for you, and vice-versa!

(Current and Past) Favorite Authors

Louise Erdrich

[CW]: in many of her works, she deals with generational trauma, genocide, rape, murder, death, pedophilia, gender dysphoria, homophobia, transphobia, religious violence. Erdrich has written many Native-centered books, and many feature the same cast of characters and lineages but are their own stand-alone stories. Her prose is traumatically, unflinchingly raw yet somehow calmly grounded. In spite of the heavier subjects she focuses on, there are many pleasingly detailed domestic scenes, humorous antics, and triumphant moments of joy. I've found each book is worth re-reading many times over for the connections I can begin to make between all of her books. *Bonus points*--I always learn about old ways of food preparation and preservation in each book! She owns and operates an independent bookstore. If you order through them, you can receive signed copies of her works.

Lu Xun

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Specific Book Recommendations

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Cain explores the causes behind why mainstream American culture has become increasingly extroverted over the past couple hundred years, and how this change impacts many facets of modern American life. She also explores the relative strengths and weaknesses of introverts and extroverts in different spheres. Definitely pop-sciencey, but I felt validated by this book.

This Earth of Mankind, by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

[CW]: incest, rape, racism, sexism, colonization, violence, slavery. Many refer to this book as a historically-realistic fictional work about the effects of Dutch colonization on 19th century Java from the perspective of a Javanese teenager. It is the first entry in a quartet. I have not read the rest of the quartet yet, but from reading reviews, it looks like they are necessary to understand the author's overarching points. This book was a required reading in one of my college courses because Toer includes highly detailed depictions of pre- vs. post- colonial cultural norms. Definitely a difficult read at times, but on the whole I recommend it.

Caucasia, by Danzy Senna

[CW]: racism, explicit sexual content, colorism, exploration of gender dysphoria, potential sexual assault. This book was one of the reasons I started specifically seeking out queer or queer-coded books in my spare time. Caucasia is about a bi-racial girl with a Black academic father and a white activist mother navigating America as white during the 1970's and 80's following the decision of her parents to split up. I didn't understand why at the time, but the main character's experience with queer feelings and sexual acts deeply resonated with me (only because I had the former). I would really like to revisit this book soon.

The Taste of Apples, by 黄春明 (Huang Chunming)

[CW]: bodily harm, death, sexual content, discussion of consent/birth control, sexism, poverty, sex work, racism. A collection of short stories (translated by Howard Goldblatt) centered around the effects of modernization on working-class Taiwanese people during the 1930's. Imaginative yet grounded, the stories explore how people navigate poverty and their traditions crumbling under pressures to modernize from governmental bodies. The stories aren't quite short enough for bathroom breaks at work, but I like reading them before bed.