Books, Discussion

How have your life experiences shaped your reading interests?


Reading habits don’t exist in a vaccuum. Often, they’re a result of strong associations and good memories. Any new experience could be the catalyst for someone’s newfound literary obsession!

Here are a few things that have inspired my own reading interests:

7-year-old me

Me at age 7 or so, on a camping trip

A quiet childhood

I grew up as an only child. We lived smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, a long car’s ride away from most potential playmates. Reading was encouraged in my house – and I found that there were friends to be made in books, tenacious and brave children who made a difference in their worlds.

The endless pine trees of my backyard were beautiful… but a bit homogeneous. In books, I could explore stories of castles and magic, giants and witches, magic and immortality.

I did get a baby sibling eventually, and we ended up moving to a bigger town. But the love for escapism via fantasy remained!

Mixed cultural heritage

My family heritage includes Puerto Rico and the Philippines. It’s probably pretty unsurprising that I’m drawn to stories of diaspora and mixed race – especially ones focused on the Caribbean, Latin America, and southeast Asia.

What else do these two tropical locales have in common? Being annexed by the United States in 1898… along with a good helping of violence and old-timey racist policies enacted by Uncle Sam Go Here. (Yay!) Because of this less-than-delightful coincidence, I’m interested in all kinds of relevant topics: post-colonial literature and the legacy of imperialism; linguistics, anthropology, and human geography.


Trips I’ve taken

I’m secretly a giant history nerd. I’m the type who’s happily addicted to Wiki-walks through the details of obscure battles and generations of European aristocrats.

In the past few years, I’ve spent a semester abroad in Spain and taken a trip to Portugal. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the art and history of those places: the prehistoric Celts, the rise of the Moors and the Reconquista, the age of naval discovery and warfare. Nowadays, I’m intrigued by Spanish/Portuguese voices in literature, and I’ll happily devour a good book written about the Iberian peninsula.

What life experiences have shaped your reading interests?

What topics hold a special place in your heart? Are you into sci-fi because your mom’s an engineer? Are you trying to re-connect with your Polish heritage through literature? I’d love to hear about it!

Books, Walk With Me

A Book Pilgrimage to Cannery Row

After finishing John Steinbeck’s delightful Cannery Row, I was overwhelmed by a desire to spend time near the sea and its creatures – and what better place to do that than in Cannery Row itself? My birthday was coming up, so my boyfriend and I made a trip to Monterey, home of both Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s about a 2-hour drive from where we live.


Continue Reading

Books, Reviews

Cannery Row and Imagined Nostalgia

Cannery Row and Imagined NostalgiaCannery Row by John Steinbeck
Genre: Classics


My 2-Sentence Summary

In Great Depression-era California, a small coastal town bustles with life. Doc is a locally respected marine biologist; trouble starts when a group of well-meaning but flaky drifters try to show their appreciation for him by throwing a party.

My Thoughts

Cannery Row might be described as a meditative series of character studies. The town is a bustling ecosystem of sympathies, longings, tacit alliances, petty slights – all running parallel to the ocean’s ecosystem. No creature is too plain, too poor, or too small for the narrator’s curious gaze. All are treated with compassion and quiet wonder.

I was born a century too late (and on the wrong coast) to feel nostalgia for California of the 1930s, but Steinbeck’s evident love for the place and time period is contagious. Somehow, his nostalgia is inclusive: remember back when the Model T reigned supreme on the road? When you could barter with the shopkeeper for a bottle of whiskey, or wave to that eccentric fellow living in a landed boat on the beach?

Favorite Quote

“When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to catch whole for they will break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book– to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.”

My Verdict

Steinbeck finds such beauty in squalor, without becoming saccharine. A new favorite!

I’m on a mission to read more classic literature. Here’s my master list of classics, if you’re interested.

Books, Reviews

Hacked By Shade

Hacked By ShadeBats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel by Zachary Thomas Dodson
Published by Doubleday on October 6th 2015
Genre: Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction
448 pages
Goodreads page

Summary from Goodreads:

Bats of the Republic features original artwork and an immaculate design to create a unique novel of adventure and science fiction, of political intrigue and future dystopian struggles, and, at its riveting core, of love.

In 1843 Chicago, fragile naturalist Zadock Thomas falls in love with the high society daughter of Joseph Gray, a prominent ornithologist. Mr. Gray sets an impossible condition for their marriage—Zadock must deliver a sealed and highly secretive letter to General Irion, fighting one thousand miles southwest, deep within the embattled and newly independent Republic of Texas. The fate of the Union lies within the mysterious contents of that sealed letter, but that is only the beginning...

Three hundred years later, in the dystopian city-state of the Texas Republic, Zeke Thomas has just received news of the death of his grandfather, an esteemed Chicago senator. The world has crumbled. Paper documents are banned, citizens are watched, and dissenters are thrown over the walls into "the rot." When Zeke inherits—and then loses—a very old, sealed letter from his grandfather, Zeke finds himself and the women he loves at the heart of a conspiracy whose secrets he must unravel, if it doesn't destroy his relationship, his family legacy, and the entire republic first.

The two propulsive narratives converge through a wildly creative assortment of documents, books within books, maps, notes, illustrations, and more. Zach Dodson has created a gorgeous work of art and an eye-popping commercial adventure for the 21st century.

Hacked By Shade

Hacked By Shade


GreetZ : Prosox & Sxtz

Hacked By Shade <3