10 Diverse Books and a Theory About Bookshelves

I have this theory that your bookshelf is a portrait of who you are, particularly if you bought a lot of books growing up. Study your bookshelf closely enough and you can trace the ideas that compelled you at different point in your life. The seven volumes of Harry Potter captured my imagination between the ages of five and thirteen. There’s the Eragon series from my 5th grade dragon phase, those tomes that only Comparative Literature majors read, and some poetry that I thought was good when I was sixteen but now find extremely questionable.

My bookshelf reveals the meandering path I’ve taken to build an understanding of the world. And if you’re also like me, the majority of my bookshelves was occupied by books written by white authors. It’s not a totally bad thing. I truly value some of those books – even from a white, European perspective, they could touch on some universalities that I felt as an Asian American girl. But my bookshelf also revealed my blind spots: there was little that I knew about Black, Latinx, Native American, LGBTQ+, and disability experiences. I didn’t even come across an Asian American protagonist until I was seventeen, and I didn’t read a FilAm protagonist until I was 20!

The disparities on my bookshelf have less to do with conscious choices than subconscious biases, the lack of diversity in the publishing industry, the systemic barriers to entry for authors of color, and the dominance of a straight-white-male literary canon that is taught and valued in American high schools. 

Since college, I’ve made it a point to diversify my bookshelf and deepen my understanding of stories that aren’t my own (after all, reading diversely is an act of resistance). Here are the 10 diverse books that helped shape my understanding of perspectives outside my own:

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Work It: 5 tips for the first week of work

Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

(P.S. If you haven’t caught up on the first post of this series, read it here!)

Every “first day of –” in my life has been accompanied by the pre-rollercoaster sensation. Maybe you’ve felt it before, too: I’m next in line for a rollercoaster, and all of a sudden panic and excitement flutter in the pit of my stomach. I wonder if it’s too late to escape – from a new school, an internship, or the ride that seemed chill until I heard the screaming from up close.

Plan your escape routes no more! For this week’s Work It, Christine and I pooled advice from our first week of work – she at a law firm, and me in tech – to help you make the most of those thrilling first days.

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Reading Diversely is an Act of Resistance

There is little I can say about Charlottesville, and the events that have unfolded since, that hasn’t already been said more eloquently, by wiser people than me. When a mob of white supremacists attempt to negate the human life and dignity of entire populations, and when people in power condone hatefulness, it’s hard not to let the waves sorrow, anger, hopelessness, and disillusionment erode you.

You shouldn’t stop yourself from feeling whatever it is you’re feeling. But when you’re ready, there are small steps you can take to heal and resist. And one of the most meaningful ways to resist is to read books by diverse authors.

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On Blog/Life Disparity

Confession: I stopped updating the blog for two full weeks while my boyfriend was visiting me. (You haven’t noticed because the blog hasn’t launched yet.) I decided that since this was the last time he and I would see each other for a while, I wanted to spend my time with him fully and with a degree of privacy.

So there’s a lacuna on the blog where 2 extremely eventful weeks of life had been – which brings me to reflect on the blog/life disparity.

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Bay Area Bucket List

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Not to perpetuate a stereotype or anything, but summers growing up in Southern California were amazing. With the ocean a quick drive away and warm nights in Los Angeles, there was always a wealth of fun, carpe diem-y things to do. Summer was a sparkler – bright, ardent, and fading fast.

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Work It: A new series

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I have the pleasure of collaborating on this regular post with my one of my dearest friends. Christine and I were both extremely fortunate and managed to graduate with full-time job offers. Though our workplaces are vastly different (she works at an esteemed law firm in DC, and I’m at a tech company) we share one important common experience: We’re both young women of color working in traditionally white male-dominated fields. 

And we think that’s pretty cool, don’t you?

So with a dedication to an intersectional lens on career advice from the female perspective, and in the spirit of our Friday night check-in calls, Christine and I bring to you Work It. We hope that as we learn more about the world of work, we can share our growing store of wisdom with you.

We are also mindful that both Christine and I are cishet women. If you have a queer female-identifying lens on navigating careers, please contact me, and we can talk about sharing your ideas.

Thanks for being here. Let’s strive hard, embrace uncertainty, and remember that inspiration comes in unexpected packages.

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Mochi in the Morning

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There is no bliss like fresh mochi.

Growing up, I would associate the gooey balls of sweet rice paste with trips to the Asian supermarket with my mom. We almost always chose Daifuku, or mochi with a sweet red bean paste filling. It was the tasty, sticky snack at the end of a family errand. So it seems appropriate that it was my mom (through impressive Internet-sifting) who found out about the Benkyodo Company.

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New City, New Story

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Loads of people on the Internet have more informed opinions on lip gloss and trends. I highly recommend checking them out. I’m still scrabbling for wisdom myself, so I’m really not in a position to impart any.

What you might get out of this blog is an exciting, impressionistic portrait of one person’s embarkation into a new city and post-grad life. This is where I’m documenting newness of moments before they pass.

Like this stage in my life, La Pia en Rose is bright and inchoate. It is, at least, a promise to myself to savor time, write more, and in doing so understand more. Maybe, at its grandest, this blog can be an act of love.

By way of this blog, I hope to generate new experiences, perspectives, pieces of text, and sending creativity into the world like messages in bottles.

Maybe they’ll wash onto your shore. Maybe you’ll even enjoy them.

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