Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Six-word synopsis: There are trade-offs to be successful.
Why I picked it up: My cousin Maui recommended it and said it inspired her to create an activewear brand (to be launched soon!).
Favorite line: "Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.”
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: The book raises a curtain on the hard work, level of excellence, and challenges it takes to build a global brand. Phil Knight was - is - a visionary (but also admittedly a little bit kupal).
How I’d recommend it: Inspiring, motivational, and fascinating. It was the perfect read entering another month of uncertainy.
On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Six-word synopsis: Love is often clouded by pride.
Why I picked it up: It was recommended by a couple of friends and I liked his name: Ocean. Hahahaha.
Favorite lines: “They say nothing lasts forever but they're just scared it will last longer than they can love it.”
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: It's difficult to take care of yourself and all your coming-of-age issues while taking care of your mother (who is also figuring out how to be a mother). I know so little about the Vietnam War, but with this book, I got a glimpse of its psychological and intergenerational impacts.
How I’d recommend it: Ocean Vuong is a poet, and each sentence had interwoven layers of description and meaning. It's a book that's meant to be enjoyed slowly, the way you would chew a dish slowly to experience all its flavors. I wasn't in the right headspace because I was mentally and physically restless, so I found myself glossing over several parts without even realizing it.
Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption, edited by Daniel Jones
Six-word synopsis: "Love" is a flexible, loaded four-letter word.
Why I picked it up: I read Modern Love pieces every now and then, and started watching the TV series on Amazon. I wanted some kilig in the time of COVID, and this anthology didn’t disappoint.
“Love, for me, is less about definitions than examples.”
“Anyone can have [love]. All it requires is a little bravery. Or a lot.”
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Love can come in the most unexpected ways. To be brave enough to love means you need to be brave enough for loss, forgiveness, and commitment.
How I’d recommend it: Since it's an anthology, you can choose how much - or how little - you want to read in one go. The editor did a great job at picking different kinds of love stories: with parents, partners new and old, friends, children, and self. If you liked the TV show, you'll enjoy this too.
Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd
Six-word synopsis: Dead people can tell the truth.
Why I picked it up: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a forensic pathologist. I was obsessed with forensic shows and followed outcomes of high-profile cases. Then I realized my people skills were better for people who were, well, alive and not dead. I still like to read/watch forensic-related media.
"We must seek the truth with clinical detachment. In order to serve society we sometimes have to suspend some aspects of our own humanity."
"It’s all so different from the many versions of the truth, the conflicting facts and interpretations of them which are the messy face of real investigations."
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Dr. Shepherd provides a commentary on humanity - why criminals do what they do, how we stay fair when we have our own cognitive biases, and how we "balance" our professional and personal lives (or how we don't). It's difficult but necessary to detach your emotions from work, but there's a hard line between being objective and apathetic.
How I’d recommend it: The author worked on so many high-profile cases: 9/11, 7/7 bombings, Bali bombings, and the re-opening of Princess Diana's case. It was late at night when I reached the Princess Diana part and tried so hard to stay awake because I NEEDED TO KNOW. If you love law, crime, and medicine, and world history, read this book.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Six-word synopsis: Everyone has secrets. Secrets can kill.
Why I picked it up: First recommended by my cousin Ella, who said she couldn't put it down, then by Jamie who said, "Please read so we can discuss! Mababaliw ka!"
Favorite lines: "[W]omen are like the Olympic athletes of grudges."
The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Comparing your insides with someone else's outsides is a futile exercise. What people post on social media or talk about in public is never the full truth.
How I’d recommend it: Suspense and crime for the chismosas! A laugh-out-loud escape from real life.