Q1 2020 Reading List



She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

Six-word synopsis: We all need an unbreakable resisterhood.

Why I picked it up: Highly recommended by Chely and Lynn, and I was in the mood for a complicated and empowering story.

Favorite line/s: "If the story was not shared, nothing would change. Problems that are not seen cannot be addressed. In our world of journalism, the story was the end, the result, the final product. But in the world at large, the emergence of new information was just the beginning—of conversation, action, change."

The takeaway that’s stuck with me: We are all complicit to misogyny in different ways. When we don't speak up for ourselves or for others, we enable harassment to continue. But we also need to recognize that it's hard to be a woman who speaks up - you need to be so committed to your truth that you won't crack under pressure. And there will be a LOT of pressure.

How I’d recommend it: A page-turning story that dives deep into a dissection of gender issues. Prepare to be angry.


Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Six-word synopsis: Ali Wong's thoughts, behind the scenes

Why I picked it up: I wanted a light read after She Said.

The takeaway that’s stuck with me:

(1) Identity is complex. People want to define you based on your gender, what you look like, your race (or in her case, races as an Asian-American). It's up to you if you'll let them.

(2) Work hard AF. Ali Wong was so committed to stand-up that she performed in comedy clubs even when there were just a few people watching her, even if she was tanking, even if no one knew her. She just kept at it, week after week until she learned to read the crowd and saw which jokes worked.

Favorite line/s: “If you don’t bomb, you’ll think you’re good and there’s no work to do. But there’s always work to do. That’s the beauty of stand-up. A joke is never finished. There’s always more material to write. A joke can always age or get stale. It ain’t music, where Mariah can sing “All I Want for Christmas” over and over.”

How I’d recommend it: A fun and funny read (with a lot of crass moments)


Tools for Grassroots Activists edited by Nora Gallagher and Lisa Myers

Six-word synopsis: Useful insights, but lacks non-white examples

Why I picked it up: Recommended by Marja my berks (fellow campaigner and founder of SEA Movement). I'm always interested to learn different and better ways of campaigning. This book tackles it from different angles and aspects.

Favorite line/s:

"It is the task of environmental activists to figure out how to tell people what they’re not asking to hear."

"Every word you choose is valuable real estate."

The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Make your target audience as specific as possible. Address moms, students, specific decision-makers in a government agency. If you ask people who they are or what they do, no one will say "general public" so don't use that term.

How I’d recommend it: An inspiring toolkit for campaigners and advocates, with case studies and resources. It provides fresh perspectives, or assures you that you're doing the right thing.



Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

Six-word synopsis: Your story is your true north.

Why I picked it up: After reading three books straight, I fell into a reading rut and gave up on three books between this and Tools for Grassroots Activists. This seemed like an easy, inspiring, and applicable read to get my reading rhythm back.

Favorite line/s:

"The future is not a destination—it is a direction."

"Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new."

The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Sweat the details to get the story right. The research process of Pixar is intense because of their commitment to authenticity. Create a culture of collaboration, respect, and support.

How I’d recommend it: Best for visionaries, storytellers, and creatives and fans of Pixar/Disney. Language isn't complicated and case studies are movies you're familiar with, so it's an easy read.


Normal People by Sally Rooney

Six-word synopsis: Life's hard when you're not "normal."

Why I picked it up: There was so much hype around this book and it was time for a fiction book.

Favorite line/s: "Life is the thing you bring with you inside your own head.

The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Your biggest concerns in high school seem ridiculous when you get older. You'll get opportunities to reinvent yourself but your past will find a way to catch up with you if you don't deal with it. (Wow ang lalim pala?!)

How I’d recommend it: It's a bleak high school love story. I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Six-word synopsis: Use humor to deal with shit.

Why I picked it up: I wanted a light read after Normal People (you see a pattern here, no?).

Favorite line/s:

"My mom did what school didn’t. She taught me how to think."

"The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money."

The takeaway that’s stuck with me: Race has a lot to do with what opportunities you have. I've known this truth as a Filipino, but it's more complicated when you're black and white like Trevor.

How I’d recommend it: The wit and humor that we see of Trevor Noah in The Daily Show comes from a childhood of pain and poverty. The book is laugh-out-loud funny but there are also parts that will make you tear up.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Recommended by: Reese Witherspoon. LOL.

Six-word synopsis: Families are complicated. Hard to judge.

Why I picked it up: I binge-watched the first three episodes of the TV adaptation and wanted to know how it ended. Atat si teh.

Favorite line/s:

"You'll always be sad about this. But it doesn't mean you made the wrong choice. It's just something that you have to carry."

The takeaway that’s stuck with me: I'll pull another quote from the book: "What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?"

How I’d recommend it: It starts slow and picks up on the 8th chapter - then PAK! You don't want to put it down. It's hard to compare it to the TV adaptation since they change some of the backstories.

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