Welcome back, everyone! I truly cannot believe that the first month of 2020 is already over?? I need time to stop passing so dang fast thank you so much 🥺
January has been an incredibly busy month for me. Between starting to write my dissertation, having a million projects to submit for university and the very loved exam session that I finish with today, I barely had any time to myself and for the things that I really wanted to do… yet again. Regardless, it wasn’t a completely wasted month, and it did have some really cool highlights that I want to share with you all, so here goes!
WHAT I READ
In short: not much. I wasn’t able to pick up any of the books that I wanted to read for myself this month, but I did read some works for uni, and surprisingly enjoyed them!!
First up is “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee! I’m pretty sure that everybody is already familiar with this book and its subject matter, and I can definitely see why it’s so important and necessary, even today (trigger warning for rape and extreme racism before we continue!!) We follow Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their single father, Atticus, who is a lawyer and has taken up the case of Tom Robinson, a black man who is accused of raping a white woman. Through Scout’s perspective, we are also exposed to the deep prejudices that the American South had – and still has – against Black people, and the deep racism that was a direct result of those prejudices. Even today, Black people are still racially profiled and discriminated against, and works like these are vital in understanding the trauma that they have to go through every single day. In that regard, I think “To Kill a Mockingbird” does an extremely good job of showing that all people are the same, and that we should not let our skin color make us believe that we are superior to anybody else, in any way. I did have my gripes with it (white authors, stop using the n-word, even if it “reflects the times”, please and thank you), but overall, I ended up being pleasantly surprised and enjoying it a lot!
Next up, I was assigned a series of plays, two of which I read in January! The first one is Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes”. Can you already tell that I’m getting a Master’s degree in American Studies? 😅 I was also pleasantly surprised by this play, not only because I actually ended up watching the 2018 revival starring Andrew Garfield of all people (!!!) As the title suggests, it tackles a lot of LGBTQ+ themes, and does so in a way that is both very serious and very (very) funny. I’m not sure how to explain the plot of this play, because it can get really weird at times (and I also want to mention the trigger warning for homophobia, both internalised and externalised, racism, and for some very graphic scenes that are present in the play), but I can say that we have a cast of very well-rounded characters, who struggle with understanding the world around her, are forced to make very difficult decisions that not only impact themselves, but also their loved ones, and are very enjoyable. The main critique I have of this cast, though, is the fact that we have one Black character in the entire play, and said character definitely falls into harmful stereotypes. It is a narrative that absolutely centers white, gay men, and I’m very glad that we’re starting to do better about representing everyone nowadays. Aside from that, the play really is very interesting, so if you’re in the right headspace to read something that deals with the AIDS crisis and its repercussions on gay men, I definitely suggest you pick it up!
The second play I read was “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by Eugene O’Neill! In this, we follow the Tyrone family, and how broken they truly are (trigger warning for addiction, PTSD/suicidal thoughts, alcohol and drug abuse – why is all my required reading so heavy!!!) Surprisingly, what I liked most about this play is Mary’s character – she is the matriarch of the family, and as a result of her pregnancy with her second son and her doctor’s inability to take care of her properly, she becomes addicted to morphine. This renders her extremely anxious and self-conscious, and it is the aspect of her character that I could relate to the most. She constantly feels like the others are watching her, waiting for her to slip up and do something wrong; she can’t shake this sense of always being scrutinised and observed, and morphine provides her with an easy escape and lets her “not care anymore”, as she puts it. It was really interesting to see the effect that her addiction had not only on Mary herself, but also on her husband and sons, who truly do love her and want her to get better, but cannot understand how overwhelming life really is for her. It was definitely not my favorite play that I’ve read, but I liked it all the same!
THINGS I DID
I met an author for the very first time!! Remember how I told you about Sebastian Oacheș and his adorable graphic novel, “Oranges: Love & Kitties”? Well, my friend and I actually ended up meeting him and his girlfriend for a cup of coffee and a chat, and we had such a great time with them!! We talked about his process for his comics, and he also had some insights into the self-publishing process that were really interesting and that made me see the industry in a different light. Also, you guys, he signed my book and gave me the cutest autograph in the world and I can’t believe that it has now become my most prized possession 🥺He wrote “To Clau, good luck with everything you’re aiming towards, I hope you can find your passion in all the things that you do! Keep on dreaming!” AND DREW ME AN ADORABLE KITTY. I CAN’T. I LOVE IT SO SO MUCH.
My parents and I finally applied for our United States Visa! The process was way more stressful that I thought it’d be, not only because I’m just generally a very stressed person but also because we had to take photos to go with our applications and mine was the only one that the system would not accept and I got really sad but hey!! All’s well that ends well, and I’m hoping that our interview with the US Embassy next month goes really well!
I also participated in the Subtle Asian book club!! This is a new book club that is co-hosted by the lovely Tiffany from Read by Tiffany and Alexandra from Twirling Pages, and which aims to diversify our reading by focusing on Asian stories and authors (find both their introduction posts here and here!!) One of my bookish goals this year is to read more diversely, and to focus more on own voices stories, so this book club was the perfect opportunity for me to kickstart that resolution! As I had already read the January pick, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”, I didn’t take part in the actual read-along this month, but I did have a lot of fun with the final discussion and I was really excited to see what everyone else thought about the book! If you’re interested in joining us, next month’s pick is “Loveboat, Taipei” by Abigail Hing Wen, which I’ve already ordered and which I’m so excited to talk about with everybody!
If you take a close look at my blog description, I also mention wanting to talk about music – so welcome to the very first instalment of what I like to call “Clau’s Favorite Songs of the Month”! I really just want to share some good music that I’ve been listening to with you all
and be able to scream about them without being judged thank you so, without further ado, here are January’s picks:
- This wouldn’t be my list without first mentioning “Black Swan” by BTS 🥺 Honestly, they did THAT!! The song is incredible, the message cuts very deep but is also incredible, the artistic direction that they’re taking with this comeback is chef’s kiss and honestly?? I’m not ready for what’s coming next because THIS ISN’T EVEN THE TITLE TRACK AND IT’S ALREADY SO GOOD????? Also, peep their very first performance of it right here!!
- Also BTS related (because I just love them a lot) is “Suga’s Interlude”, the collaboration between Yoongi and Halsey! This song… really made me cry when I first listened to it, and I really love how Ashley’s vocals and Yoongi’s rapping mesh together so perfectly to create this masterpiece!!!
- The “Anne with an E” soundtrack. All of it. I can’t believe that this show still hasn’t been picked up for its fourth season (#RenewAnneWithanE YOU COWARDS!!!)Let me tell you, the music that is in the show is JUST as brilliant as the show itself, so please take a listen (I’m learning how to play “Unrequited Love” and it’s making me cry EVERY TIME so, yes, please watch the show and also listen to the beautiful soundtrack 🥺)
How did your January go? Was is a good reading month or not? Did you do anything that you’re really excited about? Do you have any more music recommendations that I should listen to? I want to hear all about it, so please share down in the comments, if you’d like! I hope February will treat me better and that I’ll finally get to some books that I’ve been patiently waiting to read for weeks, so I’m looking forward to update you all next month! See you next time 💜