sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-01-08 12:55 pm

[sticky entry] Sticky: About this journal

This journal is being used primarily for reading and commenting. My posts are public (and mostly for the [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc/[community profile] 50books_poc challenge or otherwise) so I probably won't be formally granting access. Subscribe as you see fit.

I'm also on Goodreads here and Livejournal as [livejournal.com profile] sumofparts though I've been using the latter less.
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2013-01-13 03:06 pm

Second set of 50 books

1. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
2. Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch by Dai Sijie (translated by Ina Rilke; white)
3. Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup
4. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
5. The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh
(post for 1 to 5)
6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead
(post for 6 to 27)
28. Hong Kong Encounters (edition 3) by Piera Chen (post here)
29. More Than Just Race by William Julius Wilson (post here)
30. Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
31. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
32. War Dances by Sherman Alexie
(post for 28 to 32; content for 28 and 29 are repeated)
33. Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
34. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
35. The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
36. Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
37. Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
38. Henry Chow and other stories edited by R. David Stephens (white)
(post for 33 to 38)
39. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
40. A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
41. Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice
42. Zone One by Colson Whitehead
43. The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
44. The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
45. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
46. Snakes and Ladders by Gita Mehta
47. The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee
48. Beijing Confidential by Jan Wong
49. Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre
50. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
(post for 39 to 50)
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2013-01-02 11:22 pm

39 to 50; 1: various

I finished my second set of 50, yay and started a new set. Below are some thoughts on the books.

Remainder of second set:
39. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
40. A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
41. Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice
42. Zone One by Colson Whitehead
43. The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
44. The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
45. Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai
46. Snakes and Ladders by Gita Mehta
47. The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee
48. Beijing Confidential by Jan Wong
49. Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre
50. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
New set:
1. Decoded by Jay-Z

Cut for length )
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
2012-05-31 07:30 pm

33 to 38: various authors

33. Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
34. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
35. The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
36. Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
37. Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
38. Henry Chow and other stories edited by R. David Stephens (white)

Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
This was a well-written book but ultimately disappointing because it just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Judging from the Goodreads reviews, this was a departure from Brick Lane, which I'll still try eventually.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Like other posters on the comm, I enjoyed this book but it was not without its flaws, which I think everyone else has covered pretty well.

The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
I liked the book but I don't feel everything gelled very well for me. I did like how the main character wasn't always the most sympathetic.

Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
Gorgeous writing and evocative descriptions but similar to The New Moon's Arms, something didn't quite click for me. Still, I'd definitely try this author's other books.

Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.
Very detailed and beautiful drawings that really capture the story. Equal credit should be given to author and illustrator.

Henry Chow and Other Stories by various authors
Enjoyable but uneven collection of short stories for teenagers. I liked the different story settings and character perspectives. From the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop.
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-04-15 11:25 am

queerlit50: list of books read

1. Wicked by Gregory Maguire (post here)
2. The Long Firm by Jake Arnott (post here)
3. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (post here)
4. Clay's Ark by Octavia E. Butler (post here)
5. I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris (post here)
6. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (post here)
7. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (post here)
8. Song of the Boatwoman by Meiling Jin (post here)
9. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai (post here)
10. Room by Emma Donoghue
11. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
(post for 10 and 11 here)
12. Fruit: a Novel About a Boy and His Nipples (post here)
13. The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
14. Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
15. Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
16 The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-02-11 12:28 pm

28-32: various authors

28. Hong Kong Encounter (3rd edition) by Piera Chen (Lonely Planet Publications)
29. More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City by William Julius Wilson
30. Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

31. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
32. War Dances by Sherman Alexie

28. Hong Kong Encounter (3rd edition) by Piera Chen (Lonely Planet Publications)
Read more )

29. More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City by William Julius Wilson
Read more )

30. Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
Content notes are at the end of the review inside the cut.

Read more (possible spoilers) )

31. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Content notes are at the end of the review inside the cut.

Read more (spoilers) )

32. War Dances by Sherman Alexie
Read more )
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-01-21 10:59 am

28. Hong Kong Encounter (3rd edition) - format via Goodreads

Hong Kong EncounterHong Kong Encounter by Lonely Planet Publications (Piera Chen)

Overall, I liked the layout/design. It's split by neighbourhood and they provide an area map at the beginning of each section so I could get my bearings. The book also pointed out neat highlights and was well-organized.

Two suggestions I had:

1) For all the maps, it would've been helpful to have the Chinese characters on the maps as well as English since the locals would usually know locations by the Chinese names.

2) I noticed that some Cantonese phrases were included but there wasn't a pronunciation guide.

One complaint was that on the metro/subway map, the Kowloon Southern Link was missing so Austin and East Tsim Sha Tsui stations were not on the map. The subway maps in the HK system itself are super-helpful but at first I was definitely a little confused.
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
2012-01-21 10:07 am

29. More Than Just Race by William Julius Wilson (format via Goodreads)


More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (Issues of Our Time)More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City by William Julius Wilson

I think this was a good primer on the issues for someone who basically has no clue (e.g., me). It's interesting that he is taking a third and more nuanced position in arguing that it is a combination of structural and cultural factors that contribute to the issues of race and poverty, though in my reading, he does emphasize that structural factors are still more significant even if some of them appear to be nonracial. I felt his arguments were laid out clearly and backed up by actual reports and studies though it is unfortunate that because of the Moynihan report and the controversy around it (interpretations of it suggest that black culture is a factor in the breakdown of the black family and in the issue of poverty in black America), there are few or no studies around cultural factors, whether to support or critique the claims in the report.

Sometimes the writing style was dry but the content was important. I do agree with one review that he doesn't provide any concrete solutions but I think this is certainly a starting point to reframe any solutions that do arise.



sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-01-08 11:45 am

10-11: Donoghue, Feinberg

10. Room by Emma Donoghue
11. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

10. Room by Emma Donoghue
It wasn't my favourite, but I did like it. The narration/voice was sometimes unbelievable, but I liked it as a device especially in showing not how young the boy was but his mother, especially after their rescue when she's recovering and wanting to get her life back. I also liked the transition from the boy missing the room to, ultimately, wanting to be outside of it.

11. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
This book was eye-opening and absolutely amazing but also absolutely devastating. I can't remember where this was recommended since I had it on my to-read list for so long but just wow. If push comes to shove and I had to choose one book I read in 2011 to recommend, I'd go with Stone Butch Blues. I think it's a book that everyone should read though one should be prepared for some potentially disturbing content.
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-01-08 11:35 am

12. Fruit: A Novel About a Boy and His Nipples (format via Goodreads)

Fruit: A Novel About a Boy and His NipplesFruit: A Novel About a Boy and His Nipples by Brian Francis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


It was enjoyable and amusing but not amazing. I did find it sort of cool that it's set in Sarnia and I happen to be in Sarnia at the moment. However, I think the story itself has a universality to it despite a very specific setting. I think it did seem almost cliched in parts, especially with the groups/cliques in high school, but there was a freshness to the book too, like Peter's bedroom movies, his point of view itself, the religion aspect and of course, his nipples. I liked the slice-of-life aspect of the book; it was definitely more of a character study than a plot-driven book. I think the character's voice and the events in the story felt authentic and I definitely liked the hopeful/happy ending.


sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-01-07 12:59 am
Entry tags:

"On a Cold Road" by Dave Bidini (format via Goodreads)

On a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian RockOn a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian Rock by Dave Bidini

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't love the book nor do I think it's one I recommend for Canada Reads. It was too scattered for me; there's this central narrative from the Rheostatics interspersed with stories from these other Canadian bands but I couldn't tell where Dave Bidini was going with it all. Either write about the Rheostatics or about the other bands. Or if a combination is absolutely necessary, change it somehow. I can appreciate that it was more of an oral history and I did think the format was interesting but it didn't hang for me. I could see the connections sometimes but other times, the stories felt randomly stuck in. Also, I wish there was more background about each of the bands/musicians; I was gleaning some narrative to tie it together but not enough to paint a proper picture.  I don't think non-fiction has to necessarily be like a novel, with a beginning, middle and end, but I think there should be a path the writer is leading you on or a direction the writer is pointing to. Bidini could've done this better, I think, if the stories were separated better but even so, I can see how the individual bits wouldn't have worked exactly because they were all basically transcriptions of interviews. Although, I wonder how this would work as a documentary or movie.

The description of how the band broke up was interesting to me though; of how, even though the members were great friends and loved each other, the relationships became toxic; also, how the payoff gradually decreased and how the balance tipped in terms of how much each member was wiling to put up with the (actual) bad for the (potential) good.

I guess I did enjoy the central narrative and I really enjoyed the more "travelogue" aspects. Overall, there were great parts but the book wasn't greater than the sum of them.
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2012-01-05 12:53 am
Entry tags:

2012 reading goals

ETA on Feb 7: I joined a book group to try to meet more people and will likely be reading fewer authors of colour and fewer books off my to-read list so I've adjusted my goals.

Overall count: I'm going to try for 40 in 2012 but would be okay with about 25.

From my to-read list (specifically entries added to Goodreads list in 2011): minimum 75% or 30 minimum 60% or 24

By authors of colour: min 75% or 30 min 60% or 24

By female authors: min 50% or 20

Non-fiction books: min 25% or 10

By queer authors: min 10% or 4

Poetry (instead of fiction, non-fiction): min 5% or 2

In Chinese: min 5% or 2

I've planned out and tagged on Goodreads:
2012-pending shelf (to-read)
2012 shelf (read)
*gap between sum of those two and 40 indicate TBD books or extras


sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2011-12-18 11:01 pm

Books 6-27: various authors

Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2011-08-06 08:46 am

Second set of 50 books

1. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
2. Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch by Dai Sijie (translated by Ina Rilke; white)
3. Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup
4. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
5. The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh
(post to first five here)
6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead
(post to 6-27 here)
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2011-06-15 11:31 pm

1-5. Shyam Selvadurai, Dai Sijie, Vikas Swarup, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Amitav Ghosh

1. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
2. Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch by Dai Sijie (translated by Ina Rilke; white)
3. Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup
4. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
5. The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh

Read more... )
sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2011-04-05 10:11 pm

1-9: various authors

In this post:
1. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
2. The Long Firm by Jake Arnott
3. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
4. Clay's Ark by Octavia E. Butler
5. I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris
6. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
7. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
8. Song of the Boatwoman by Meiling Jin
9. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai

Not counted but special mention: Story-Wallah! A Celebration of South Asian Fiction edited by Shyam Selvadurai

Read more... )
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
2011-03-22 09:54 pm

50books_poc challenge: first set of 50 complete!

(linked posts are at this journal or my LJ although they've been cross-posted at the comm[livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc too)

1. Clay's Ark by Octavia E. Butler (post here)
2. Goddess for Hire by Sonia Singh (post here)
3. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (post here)
4. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (post here)
5. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende (post here)   Not poc. Count Story-Wallah! edited by Shyam Selvadurai instead (post here).
6. The Walking Boy by Lydia Kwa (post here)
7. February Flowers by Fan Wu (post here)
8. The Withdrawal Method by Pasha Malla (post here)
9. When She Was Queen by M G Vassanji (post here)
10.Our Twisted Hero by Yi Munyol (post here)
11. I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris (post here)
12. A Short History of Indians in Canada by Thomas King (post here)
13. Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King (post here)
14. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (post here)
15. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (post here)
16. Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam (post here)
17. Delicious by Sherry Thomas (post here)
18. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (post here)
19. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (post here)
20. West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary (post here)
21. The Holder of the World by Bharati Mukherjee (post here)
22. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (post here)
23. Dream Wheels by Richard Wagamese (post here)
24. The Rouge of the North by Eileen Chang (post here)
25. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (post here)
26. Soucouyant by David Chariandy (post here)
27. De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage (post here)
28. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (post here)
29. The Mao Case by Qiu Xiaolong (post here)
30. The Arrival by Shaun Tan (post here)
31. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (post here)
32. Warchild by Karin Lowachee (post here)
33. Burndive by Karin Lowachee (post here)
34. Cagebird by Karin Lowachee (post here)
35. Ocean of Words by Ha Jin (post here)
36. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith (post here)
37. The Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong (post here)
38. Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang (post here)
39. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh (post here)
40. Pulse by Lydia Kwa (post here)
41. Choose Me by Evelyn Lau (post here)
42. The Monkey King & Other Stories edited by Griffin Ondaatje (post here)
43. The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee (post here)
44. Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? by Anita Rau Badami (post here)
45. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (post here)
46. Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee (post here)
47. Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap (post here)
48. A Good Fall by Ha Jin (post here)
49. Song of the Boatwoman by Meiling Jin (post here)
50. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh (post here)

sumofparts: person holding a cloud in a field (Default)
2011-03-19 04:44 pm

Books 5, 45-50: various authors

Here's the last of my first 50 plus my new 5. Let me know if you have questions or would like more detail.

5. Story-Wallah! edited by Shyam Selvadurai
45. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
46. Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
47. Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
48. A Good Fall by Ha Jin
49. Song of the Boatwoman by Meiling Jin
50. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
 
5. Story-Wallah! edited by Shyam Selvadurai
Awesome short story collection by various authors of the South Asian diaspora. I was especially taken by the foreword by the editor (and contributor), "Introducing Myself in the Diaspora", which definitely resonated with me, as a second-generation Chinese-Canadian.

45. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
I picked this one up because I kept seeing it on the comm and I enjoyed it. It was interesting to read about the fantastical creatures but I admit some of it was a bit out-there for me.

46. Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee
I really really liked this one. Not sure how to describe it but I thought the voice of the main character was really spot-on in that way you can't decide if someone is a native speaker and was very fitting.

47. Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Short stories set in contemporary Thailand. Considering some of the subject matter, surprisingly hopeful.

48. A Good Fall by Ha Jin
Short stories set in the US mostly about immigrants from China. Funny, touching, thought-provoking and again, hopeful despite the subject
matter sometimes.

49. Song of the Boatwoman by Meiling Jin
Another short story collection. I wanted to like this more but I sometimes felt there was a distance. However, I did enjoy the new (to
me) perspectives that the author wrote about.

50. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
I really enjoyed this book but I would've liked to read more about certain characters who were integral in the story but given very little pagetime.