Well hello 📚

My name is Lily, I’m a bookseller by day and content creator during the other times. I read a lot of books, and decided to create a specific place to share my thoughts, reviews, and other book-like writing. I’m also a firm believer that Amazon is evil, so please shop at your local indie!

Currently reading: K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee (9/2020) and The Broken Heart of America by Walter Johnson.

L.Rugo Reads is my book blog, for my other projects visit lilyrugo.com.

If you’re in the Boston area check out my book club, Boston ABG: Asian Book Group.

Check out this cool event happening in April next year: The 2nd Annual Antiracist Book Festival.

Getting Your Fairy Tale Ending in “You Should See Me In a Crown”

Finding Black queer joy in the chaotic world of high school prom season.

Prom can mean a lot of things to different people; for me, it means indifference and some nice photos taken in my backyard. But that doesn’t mean I’m indifferent to the fun of YA prom: the friends, the date, the outfits. Prom stories are popular because they encapsulate so much of the quintessential American high school experience full of drama and traditions that in hindsight may not have aged well by 2020. So what could challenging those traditions look like? I think a glimpse at what new YA fairy tales should be lies in Leah Johnson’s debut novel, You Should See Me in A Crown.

Continue reading Getting Your Fairy Tale Ending in “You Should See Me In a Crown”

Following your dreams and finding what makes you sing in “Shine”

“Shine” is about being true to yourself, your dreams, and the people important to you. Reading into the book for dirt on the K-pop industry or Jung’s past is ultimately a disservice to her as a writer and the book she wrote. 

Last summer, poet and author Ocean Vuong came to speak at the Harvard Book Store about his debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. During his talk he spoke about the trap of autobiographical fiction, the thing that happens when an author writes a book heavily based off their life experiences, but the story and actual events may or may not be true. Even though it’s a fictional story and characters, because it so closely resembles the author’s real life readers will automatically use the story to make assumptions about the author. This was the case for many Asian American writers including Vuong, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and I expect will repeat itself for Jessica Jung, former K-pop idol and debut young adult author of Shine.

Continue reading Following your dreams and finding what makes you sing in “Shine”

An intricate, complex exploration of history in “Delayed Rays of a Star”

I can’t quite describe this book, but I also can’t stop thinking about it.

I will take any chance to read about Anna May Wong, the Chinese American silent film actress, which was the immediate draw for me towards Amanda Lee Koe’s Delayed Rays of a Star. I excepted Koe’s debut to be the usual historical fiction novel: a linear, mostly true account of the lives and adventures of 1940s icons Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich, and Leni Riefenstahl. It was those things, but Delayed Rays of a Star really ended up feeling like more than that; it was a series of character studies and reflections on human nature, a book that I find myself thinking about months after I read it. 

Continue reading An intricate, complex exploration of history in “Delayed Rays of a Star”

Apartment Book Club Round 1

About a year ago my roommates and I decided to start a book club together. I don’t remember who or what prompted it, but the rules were simple: each person picks a book, we draw the titles out of a jar, and then after about a month or so we’ll go out to dinner and discuss it. 

The four of us have somewhat similar tastes in what we like to read: fiction, YA, fantasy, fun tropes, magic. But we chose books new to all of us and each pick could vary wildly in how much others like it. Sometimes we’ll choose books from our TBR lists, other’s recommendations, or if we heard enough good things about it. It’s an interesting mix, and the books from Round 1 definitely felt like a grab-bag of miscellany, but that’s what makes our book club fun.

Continue reading Apartment Book Club Round 1

OMG can you believe “Anna K”? Because I’m not sure I can

Perfect for fans of “Crazy Rich Asians” and not just because both books feature attractive young Asian people with too much money.

I know it’s unpopular to pitch new things––books, movies, TV shows, etc––relative to how it’s alike to other already popular things. It’s not fair to say that every new magical book series for kids is the “next Harry Potter” when really the only thing in common is some magic wands. I get that. However. Jenny Lee’s YA debut book, Anna K really is the next Crazy Rich Asians (but teenagers).

Continue reading OMG can you believe “Anna K”? Because I’m not sure I can

Finding representation in Vanessa Hua’s books

About a year ago, journalist and author Vanessa Hua reached out and asked me to write a review of her two books, the short story collection Deceit and Other Possibilities and then-newly published novel A River of Stars. Now nearly twelve months later, her novel just came out in paperback, my review got turned down by a number of outlets, and here I am. But I enjoyed her books, and after hearing her at a reading in Boston I wanted to make sure some form of a review made it into the world somewhere.

Continue reading Finding representation in Vanessa Hua’s books

“Artemis” from Andy Weir only checks the boxes without any depth

I read a book by a white guy and I regret it.

For a while now I’ve made a conscious effort to read books not written by white men. But I’d seen enough reviews of Andy Weir’s sci-fi novel Artemis that when it came through my library holds I stopped what I was doing to check it out. And now I’m sad. It was exactly the kind of book I’d been avoiding: trying too hard to be edgy, featured a flat female lead, and with a diverse set of characters just to have them there.

Continue reading “Artemis” from Andy Weir only checks the boxes without any depth

Apparently 2017 was the year of the Chinese adoption books

Looking at Little Fires Everywhere, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, and The Leavers.

I always thought I had an understanding about adoption. Never questioned much, just accepted everything I was grateful for. After reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, and The Leavers by Lisa Ko, I’ve started thinking about it again.

It hasn’t been easy, or particularly fun (I should probably talk to a professional about this, but blogging will suffice in the meantime.) I set out with the goal to compare the three, and while reading them back-to-back-to-back started to weigh on me, it’s been enlightening too. Reading them together put into words a lot of the feelings I didn’t realize I even felt. By the end, finishing with Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, I had a new clarity on the topic. But I never felt like any one of them told a complete story of adoption. Here, let me explain each one a little better.
(Warning, spoilers ahead.)

Continue reading Apparently 2017 was the year of the Chinese adoption books

A fresh, needed perspective from a living female rock critic

Jessica Hopper’s book, “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic” goes beyond the simple story of a review or profile.

After years of music criticism, Jessica Hopper assembled her best work to plant a flag in pop culture criticism with her second book, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. Her dry humor and honest reviews make this First Collection an enjoyable read, but Hopper’s refreshing point of view on female musicians and fans really make these essays cultural criticism. She took each artist, body of work, and the overall culture to contextualize it within her own perspective.

Continue reading A fresh, needed perspective from a living female rock critic