I’ve been having a lot of fun with tags recently. I love talking about what I’ve read – see also my burgeoning library of bookish opinions, 66 strong and always growing – but I also love just talking about reading in general. What do you like to read? What do you not like to read? As will be discussed in this tag, which books have stayed with you? These are all things I need to know. I feel like I need to start finding some blogger friends, because I know they’re out there and it gets lonely talking to a void. How do bloggers find each other? I’ll be finding out as soon as I have some time to think about it.

Tag taken from Zezee with Books.

The Rules

  • List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way.
  • Do not take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard.
  • They do not have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.
  • Paste these instructions and tag 10 friends.

A book that made me think

Build Your House Around My Body (Violet Kupersmith) was a real mindfuck, in the best possible way. You can’t read this half asleep, or you’re going to get lost. There’s ghosts and possession and counter-possession and this strange red mist that affects every part of the book, and it’s so good, and you need to read it.

A book that surprised me

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) was a huge surprise: the first 13 chapters were saccharine moral-driven pap, and then the rest was actually good. I was so sure I was going to unhaul it, but then I decided I was going to keep it. It was a surprising read all around.

A book that made me happy

Despite the breakneck pacing, Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Sue Lynn Tan) made my Asian American heart very very happy. It’s a little fast, but I didn’t mind because it reads like a Chinese historical drama and I’m here for it. Most of all, I love Xingyin. I also finally read Heart of the Sun Warrior, which I rushed out to buy when it first came out last November but then didn’t touch for months. A review for this is coming in August, assuming I don’t mess with my publication schedule again, which I probably will.

A book that made me sad

Purple Hibiscus (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) was so sad, and borderline triggering. It’s still one of the best books I’ve ever read, but I feel like I’d have to be in a certain mood to reread it. Certainly don’t read it when you’re happy, because it’s gonna take care of that real quick.

A book that made me feel nostalgic

Is there such a thing as a book that makes you want to go back to work because *vibes*? If so, Impostor Syndrome (Kathy Wang) is it. This book made me kinda nostalgic for the office, even if the workplace inhabited by the characters isn’t exactly idealized. And I have to admit it: I miss going into the office. My ideal arrangement would be a hybrid schedule, where I work at home three days a week but go into an office twice a week. I don’t get to chill with my coworkers too often, and our team is relatively tight, or about as tight as it is possible to be when we have a small core of people who actually know each other (from our days in an office before quarantine hit) and a number of people who joined the team after we went 100% remote. It would be so nice to be able to see people face to face and spend all our money on cafeteria food and snacks like we used to do. I really miss that.

A book I have a love/hate relationship with

I love Three Souls (Janie Chang). I also hate Three Souls. I can’t explain it. Don’t ask me to make it make sense. Listen, I could read this book all day long if I really had a mind to, because the setting and the premise are wonderful. All of the food described throughout the book is mega attractive to my half-Chinese soul, and the vibe of the book is everything I ever wanted. But Leiyin is so. Goddamn. Stupid. The book spends so much time crowing over her book smarts, and yet she has neither patience nor judgment. Nor does she seem particularly skillful at putting together the tidbits of information she unwittingly acquires, either before death or after it. If she hadn’t plunged off a balcony in the wake of her final act of Hanchin-related stupidity, I would have reached into the book and strangled her myself.

A book that I have reread the most

I suppose Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) fits here. I am a serial rereader and always have been, but most of those rereads were done before I started tracking everything on goodreads, so I don’t know which book I’ve actually reread the most. Eleanor Oliphant is the kind of book I could probably read at any time, because it’s just so damn good. I’ve reread it once a year since I first bought it in 2020, and might keep the tradition going this year.

A book that made me want to travel

The Marriage Portrait (Maggie O’Farrell) sort of made me want to visit Italy – not so much because of the book itself, but because of the delightful author’s note in the back, in which O’Farrell discusses her travel, her research, and the little lion figurine that almost got her arrested at Customs. Reading about that kind of thing makes me want to conduct travel-based research myself, though on what I have no idea. I’ll figure it out as I go.

A book that gave me all the feels

The Map of Salt and Stars (Zeyn Joukhadar) is a masterclass in emotion and I AM STILL NOT OVER ABU SAYEED GODDAMMIT. I NEED TO REREAD THIS BOOK SO HE CAN LIVE AGAIN, EVEN IF ONLY BRIEFLY. T___T Seriously, though, this book is amazing. I even liked Zahra at the end. I never thought I’d like Zahra when she was first introduced to me, but she grows up so much over the course of the book and it’s so well done.

A book I wish I hadn’t read

Daughters of the Wild (Natalka Burian) was so bad that it actually made me feel unclean. I have read other reviews on goodreads and I’m not crazy, this is a thing other people have said. It’s not the 1980s version of The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath), it’s a story about a bunch of hillbillies and the plant that’s turned them into drug-brewing slaves. There are many books I didn’t like, but this is the only one that I genuinely wish I had left on the library shelf.