Well hello 📚

My name is Lily, I’m an indie bookseller so I 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: Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch and Female Masculinities by Jack Halberstam. 

Follow me on The Story Graph: LRugoReads and Readerly @LRugoReads.
L.Rugo Reads is my book blog, for my other projects visit my Link Tree.
If you’re in the Boston area check out my book club, Boston ABG: Asian Book Group.

Scribbles from my notebook reading “Goodbye, Again”

Getting lost in my own thoughts while reading Jonny Sun getting lost in his own thoughts.

I’ve been waiting for an advanced reader’s copy of Jonny Sun’s essay collection Goodbye, Again ever since I first heard about its existence a year ago. Sun is my favorite writer, across all of his platforms, my go-to presence when I want to be reassured that whatever I’m feeling has been felt by someone else. It’s my favorite thing about him and his style, but after reading his essay collection I started questioning that sense of comfort. Art and storytelling is comforting, but is it really healthy to find one specific person your emotional support writer? That’s a lot of pressure to put on one person’s words. And I get the feeling Jonny Sun is aware of that expectation from his readers.

Continue reading Scribbles from my notebook reading “Goodbye, Again”

Get Rec’d: “The Invisible Orientation”

Part of being a bookseller means writing staff recommendations for books we want to share with the world. Check out my staff rec’s from the Harvard Book Store:

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker.

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Apartment Book Club Round 2

A while back, 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 definitely felt like a grab-bag of miscellany, but that’s what makes our book club fun. Reading Round 2 has been pretty spaced out, given the global pandemic that melted our ability to focus on anything. But we made it, so here are my thoughts.

Continue reading Apartment Book Club Round 2

Understanding the “Minor Feelings” of “Interior Chinatown”

Each book on its own tells a part of the Asian American experience and together shed light on the complexities of the roles we play.

After spending seven years immersing myself in the creative Asian American community––think YouTubers, Crazy Rich Asians, even subtle asian traits––I’m pretty familiar with how the conversation about representation in media goes. It boils down to the lack of roles, the lack of opportunities to tell our own stories, and the stereotypes Asians in entertainment get pigeon holed into. Half a decade of listening to and discussing all that got tiring, so I initially avoided reading Charles Yu’s latest book. Turns out Interior Chinatown is less in conversation with Hollywood, and more alined with Cathy Park Hong’s book, Minor Feelings. Reading each tells different perspectives of the Asian American identity, and together unlock a sharp commentary of how that experience shapes us.

Continue reading Understanding the “Minor Feelings” of “Interior Chinatown”

“K-pop Confidential” is for those in the know

Flashy and achingly hip, this insider take on K-pop trainee life is def for the dedicated.

Months ago I got an excited message from a coworker saying she ordered copies of the upcoming K-pop YA novel K-pop Confidential by Stephan Lee for our bookstore, but really specifically for me. I’ve established myself as the K-pop bookseller at work and that means I absolutely had to read K-pop Confidential as soon as possible. But once I started reading I had the same feeling that I get when I hear a new comeback song I’m not sure about: do I actually like it, or am I just a devoted fan? Both?

Continue reading “K-pop Confidential” is for those in the know

Get Rec’d: “The Birth of Korean Cool”

Part of being a bookseller means writing staff recommendations for books we want to share with the world. Check out my staff rec’s from the Harvard Book Store:

The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture by Euny Hong

Continue reading Get Rec’d: “The Birth of Korean Cool”

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”