Recent Reads — Jan to June (2020)

I like books. And if you like books, too, you might find these mini-reviews helpful. The following titles are in order of date finished and if you’ve read any of them, feel free to shoot me a comment.

Fiction

Similar to The Kiss Quotient, the story was cute and heartwarming. Khai believes his autism leaves him incapable of loving another human, so his mother convinces Esme, a poor, mixed-race girl living in Ho Chi Minh City, to fly to the USA and seduce him into falling in love with her.

There is an obvious power imbalance in the beginning, as Khai treats Esme unfairly until they develop real feelings for each other. So I felt a little conflicted with the circumstances. Overall, it was sweet and a little bit steamy. Plus, I love how Hoang portrays (grossly under-represented) autistic characters. But I couldn’t help feeling let down by the narrative. Looks like the romance genre still hasn’t swept me off my feet.

Lara Jean had quite a few crushes, and when she found out that the love letters she wrote to each boy were secretly mailed out, her life was turned inside out. I really liked this one — it was a cute, lighthearted romance.

Also, a word about the movie, which was directed by Susan Johnson: not impressed! The film completely missed the mark on conveying the overall theme (the three sisters’ love), went nuts on presenting all the characters’ back-stories before they were even introduced, and man was the acting awful.

This story just might be the embodiment of “poignant”. We start off by meeting Nana, a stray cat, and Satoru, a man who befriends the cat. Satoru then saves Nana’s life after he is struck by a car, and ends up adopting him.

The story itself is narrated in turn by Nana and Satoru, who take us on a delightful journey filled with friendship and compassion. It was such a lovely story but left me a mess at the bittersweet end. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much because of a book!

This was my first German book and the beginning of a series of short stories. It felt like the first chapter to a really cute, lighthearted novel. Wunderbar!

So. Good. The second instalment of the Mistborn trilogy blew me away. Although the first half of the book is a little slow, it just kept getting better towards the end. Brandon Sanderson is an incredible storyteller and I can’t wait to read more of his work. This is essential if you’re a fan of epic fantasies.

Non-Fiction

This book was incredibly insightful and practical. Clear dives into the psychology of behaviour and provides actionable steps to help create lasting habits. He explains that habits are driven by cues and rewards (dopamine), and that habits are built with systems, rather than from sheer willpower. If you’re looking for advice on building healthy habits and breaking unhealthy ones, read this book!

The Ethical Slut is an eye-opening educational tool in discovering where society’s biases towards sexuality stemmed from. It’s a decent introduction to unconventional relationships, even if you’re a curious outsider like me, and contains helpful advice on all relationships.

The only downfall is that the authors came across a little self-righteous at times. But regardless, we need to get the idea out of our heads that romantic monogamy is the only acceptable way of life.

Written by the authors of a popular FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) blog called , Quit Like a Millionaire addressed a few topics I hadn’t yet come across in FIRE literature. Strategies like the “Yield Shield” and “Geographic Arbitrage” are invaluable to an early retiree’s arsenal, and worth considering for a well-rounded retirement plan. A few USA-based sections were easily skippable (IRAs and 401Ks) since they weren’t relevant to me, but it’s worth a read no matter where you’re from.

Witty, passionate and raw, I couldn’t have asked for a better (first) memoir read! I personally loved Bryan’s performance throughout Breaking Bad and I’m honoured to have learned about the various roles he took on during his life (and the crazy stories that came with them). Despite it all, his passion and drive for the craft oozed off every page. A highly recommended read.

Just to be clear, I’m not a scientist nor a doctor by trade, but I thoroughly enjoy reading their books. Scientists commit decades to their research, so we should (definitely) listen to what they have to say. In this case, Fung dives into the science of obesity and why the “calories in, calories out” theory is so redundant.

Why does the low-fat, high-carb diet still fail to hold up after a plethora of unsuccessful observational studies? The answer might be found in refined carbohydrates and snacking. This one is easily one of my favourite reads on nutritional science.

Every woman should read this book because they need to know that there is nothing wrong with them (you know what I mean). Nagoski lays down some serious science on women’s sexuality and debunks the stigmas surrounding arousal and pleasure.

Did you know that a woman’s orgasm is a vestigial trait (no evolutionary benefit) and that women’s sexual arousal is heavily based on context? If you want some evolutionary psychology, biology, and neuroscience, this book is a real treat. And the key takeaway: “we’re all made up of the same parts, arranged differently”.

Sasaki is a regular guy who was overwhelmed by the stuff that lived rent-free in his apartment. After getting rid of most of those objects, his life became so much richer and more fulfilling. It’s a lot to think about — treating our homes like warehouses and always wanting more (the hedonic treadmill).

Goodbye, Things was my first book on minimalism. And even though it read a bit like a long-winded blog post, it was written from the heart. I absolutely recommend this if you’re flirting with the idea of simpler living.

After reading this book, I can say for the first time that I’m proud of being an introvert. I always thought I was weird — feeling overwhelmed amongst too many people, needing to recharge after social activities, or spending so much time in my own head.

Some of the greatest contributions to society are owed to introverts, but most people (especially employers) tend to value extroversion so much more. The research was fascinating to read and I now have a deeper understanding on the advantages of introversion.

This is the second book I’ve read which was written by a surgeon on death. Gawande talks about how the goal of nursing homes and medicine is to prolong life, rather than to enrich it. He addresses alternatives like hospice care and assisted living, and how they can be used to enrich and dignify one’s last days.

Being able to choose how you die is just as important as when. Plus, I feel that this book has helped me come to terms with the end of life experience, and soothed some of my existential dread as a bonus.

If you’d like to see what I’m reading now, follow me on !

Originally published at on July 23, 2020.

Twenty-something science & personal finance nerd, on a perpetual quest for knowledge. Blog: crystalviolet.home.blog

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Crystal Violet

Crystal Violet

Twenty-something science & personal finance nerd, on a perpetual quest for knowledge. Blog:

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