During this past year, I’ve had the chance to read a few books and refine a email newsletters I find in my inbox, unsubscribing to the ones I rarely read, and staying subscribed to the ones I find myself opening throughout the week. While the list will likely be outdated in a few years, documenting them below acts as capturing a moment in time (currently on the 2nd year of a pandemic).
Here are some of what’s on my list – what’s on yours?
- Emoji Newsletter: it’s a light-hearted newsletter, that helps me understand emoji-speak that people use in chat conversations
- Candor: an email newsletter that delves into the trends of big tech companies (hiring, departures, compensation, financial outlook) – I’m not sure what the referral link in the URL is for, so feel free to use it, or not
- Better Allies – 5 Ally Actions: things one can do to create a more inclusive workspace (and life, by extension)
- Julie Zhuo’s The Looking Glass. Her newsletters were full of insights about product design, leadership, management, and how cultural roots as an Asian American affect perspective and communication style. Perhaps it’s through all this experience and insight led her to write and release the book, The Making of a Manager. When it first came out, the Kitchener Public Library got a copy or two of it, but for whatever … Continue reading Sometime last year, she switched from long essay blog-like posts to micro-blogging via tweet threads on Twitter, which forces her to be concise and use one idea per tweet. Personally, I find it slightly harder to follow now though because she pulls the tweets into each email digest – almost like a summary highlighting the threads that had the most traction, but what she says still often resonates with me.
- New York Times (NYT) newsletters: Although I’m no American, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the writing and reading the articles that come out through the free newsletters, that I ended up paying for a year’s subscription (at 50c/week, despite being able to get around the paywall in incognito mode) particularly:
“DiscoveREAD” is a great play on the word, “Discovery”, a term that Kitchener Public Library uses when they curate a bag of surprise titles for you according to reads you’ve previously enjoyed. With the help of library recommendations, books I’ve read that make it on the you-should-read list Canadian authors, include:
- The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi – this book gives life to the boy that was found face-down, washed up on the shoreline at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis, and the story of his family that spans from Damascus, Syria to suburban Vancouver (Coquitlam to be exact).
- Ru, by Kim Thúy, the English translation from the original text in French. The English translation still seems to captures her fictional prose beautifully, which at times reads like poetry. This fictional book is written like a memoir, the narrative retelling another refugee experience.
- Chop Suey Nation by Amy Hui – this Chinese-Canadian perspective weaves a very personal story around family over the historical and cultural nuances of food, innovation and survival.
Books that are on my (hold) list that i haven’t read yet:
- Other books by Kim Thuy, particularly Vi, Mãn, Em, and Secrets from my Vietnamese Kitchen
- Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
- How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
(hmm, most of these seem to be intercultural Canadian authors on the themes of a journey into a different culture, physically and/or metaphorically. As you read on, you’ll soon see that my picks seem to fit well with Asian Heritage Month. I had no idea that there’s a government page on it until now, though oddly, it doesn’t … Continue reading
Magazines, YouTube & Podcasts
- Mom n’ Pops: I’ve been a subscriber of Wong Fu Productions for many years now, but I seem to be aging out of its target demographic (or at least I can relate less to what they usually produce now). However, this short series captures some authentic conversations between 2nd generation Asians and their parents – which would be a challenge for me to have with my parents
- EastGate Project: I happened to come across his podcast on Spotify, but he interviews others and speaks about topics with an a Asian Christian lens. One interesting comment that came out of an episode talked about the prescriptive structure of Dr. James Dobson, and how many Asian parents bought up his parenting philosophy (that explains the Focus on the Family literature at many Asian churches I’ve seen)
- Canadian Asian Missional Podcast (CAMP): a friend pointed me to this podcast, after I came across a 2020 thesis by Scott Wall on Asian Christians, and mentions his experience attending Inter-Varsity’s Urbana with a bus-load of Asians to Illinois on winter. Because I recognized many of the names he credits from people I knew at Chinese churches in the Greater Toronto Area, that further piqued my interest. As I skimmed through the paper, the conversations that he had and situations he observed was as if he was talking about my experiences at a Chinese church, and that by attending one, there was some sort of affiliation to my cultural and ethnic background still, despite not actually speaking the language among my friends. Scott Wall retells his experience on one of the episodes, and then I started listening from there.
- If I recall correctly, many moons ago, I came across Canadian-based Ricepaper Magazine or something similar, but it had a costly subscription fee. Now, my RSS reader delivers regular content written by or relating to Asian Canadians.
- CBC Gem’s – Short Docs features many Canadian-based documentaries and stories from Asians and BIPOC, including Sing a Lullaby and COVID Who Am I Now?
As I was searching for some mental health support resources for our church, I came across Tiffany Bluhm’s Recovering Hope devotional on the Bible app (great timing, as I was signed up to attend a talk featuring Tiffany herself, along with a few other Asian Christian women, whom I had met 20+years ago). Her devotional was sobering but also convicting, as it brought back childhood memories, where I was guilty of making racial remarks (including on church property too!) or siding with white classmates against someone who wasn’t “white” to try and fit in. Heng-zi Lo Bereczki, one of the panelists at that talk identified that it’s stepping on other people’s colour in order to be as close to whiteness (or superior in this case) as much as possible – and while she used that definition to explain model minority, that certainly applied in my case.
Since May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada and Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month in US, I should mention the struggles I had completing the government census this month. Our household received the long form, and I found it challenging to select the ethnic, religious (including specific denominations), and cultural identities that I identified with, and make the same judgment call for my children. At the end of the census, there was an opportunity to express whether I had difficulty answering any of the questions, but how do I do that without going into a lengthy essay? With questions like what primary languages are spoken at home, I felt it a necessity to indicate Cantonese, as the dialect of Chinese, but left out that Chinglish is probably the primary language of my children. And although “Hong Konger” was a possible answer for ethnic background, what do our children know about Hong Kong? They haven’t been there, don’t know where it is in relation to where they live, and probably don’t even realize that some of the dishes that they eat have roots in HK. As a Christian with no particular loyalty to a denomination but am a member of a local church (that is part of denomination different than the one I spent 20+ years of my life at), would I say that I identify with this current denomination, and what of my children, who attend as a part of the family and don’t even know what a denomination is? I think I ended up settling with “Canadian Christian Hong Konger Chinese” for all of us even though none of us would fit in if we were in HK or with a HK group of people.🤷