Summer Reading List
I have done quite a bit of reading this summer and ripped through plenty of science fiction / speculative fiction books. However, the four books I have to recommend from my summer reads are mostly non-fiction and memoir. Admittedly, non-fiction takes me a little more time to get through but is as rewarding upon completion as a novel whose plot has you flipping forward to the end.
Fulfillment is about the company Amazon’s growth and success, paralleled with the widening wealth gap in America. There are stark contrasts made between the extreme levels of wealth in Seattle among the tech companies and their employees and the growing homeless population, as well as the consolidation of the retail industry alongside the shuttering of small towns all across the country. On my part, it was willful ignorance to not read more into the atrocities committed by Amazon - be it to its employees, contractors, customers - and to not learn more about the retail practices of the firm. After reading this book, I’m much more resolved to be more conscientious of my own purchasing.
With this inflammatory title, researcher and author Donath writes a study about Israeli women who regret motherhood. She presents her methodology clearly and easily walks the reader through her line of questioning. For these women (and I suspect for many others), the regret originates from the ignorance of choice, societal pressures, among other reasons. The line of questioning that kicks off the discussion leads down a longer and broader path about the societal implications of what a “good” mother is, why time is seen only as a forward construct, why regret is viewed as negative, and why a title such as Regretting Motherhood is considered inflammatory in the first place. Donath's conclusion is that motherhood should be considered as a relationship, with the kaleidoscope of variations found in all relationships, instead of a role. I was able to speed through this one quite quickly and recommend it to both mothers and non-mothers.
The only fiction book of the bunch, The Thursday Murder Club could be considered a cozy mystery but follows the formula little more loosely. A group of four senior citizens live in a retirement home and have formed the aforementioned Thursday Murder Club, which investigates cold cases to keep themselves entertained. A local developer is found murdered and the group takes up the charge to solve it themselves. The characters are what keeps me coming back to this one, as a recommendation, and as with any good whodunnit, the reader is kept guessing on who is the guilty suspect.
This book has received quite a bit of acclaim and publicity in 2021 and for good reason. Zauner's memoir is on losing her mom to cancer and growing up as a Korean American. Half of the reason why I love this book is because of Zauner’s experience as an Asian woman in America, and straddling the divide of her upbringing and her ethnicity. Even though Zauner is half Korean and I’m Chinese, I can relate to her incomplete awkwardness in communicating in her mom’s native tongue and her stifled relationship with relatives - aunts and grandmothers - that she feels she should be close to but remains at arm’s length because of a communication barrier. The other half of the reason why I love this book is because of how she talks about her relationship with her mother. It's as complex as any parental relationship but reminds me more of my relationship with my mom compared to your stereotypical mother / daughter relationship. I particularly loved finding those aha! moments in this book, where I could point to something that I’ve personally experienced.