Pachinko is a title I picked from the February choices of Book of the Month. Since Behind Her Eyes was such a hit I figured I should continue on with my others from that book box. I decided on Pachinko because the guest judge who chose this book is Alexander Chee. He of the Queen of the Night phenomenon. Now that I’ve finished Pachinko I find this unsurprising because it is a sweeping novel with multiple generations from one family growing and changing through the years and with the country. Chee’s novel reads much like Pachinko in detail and saga.
Sunja is the main character we meet first, a Korean who gets pregnant by a married man. She then marries a traveling preacher, Isak, who stopped at her mother’s boarding house and was nursed by them back to health. He is a great man. He wants kids and a wife and Sunja is in need of a man to keep her from ruin so it works out well. They move to Japan with the intent to go back to Korea someday. Spoiler alert : they never do. Their family is subjected to racial commentary throughout the whole book because Koreans are lesser in Japan. They are immigrants. Even though some of them get Japanese citizenship towards they end they’re still never considered Japanese, always Korean. Sunja and Isak meet family in Japan and have kids and the rest of the book follows their journey and the journey of those that come after.
Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge 2017 : an immigrant story
Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book about an immigrant or refugee
Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2017 : read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color
Original article published at Wired.com on March 8, 2017
When Your Kid Asks a Question, Hand Them a Book—Not a Phone
When my 5-year-old asks a question, is there a difference between looking it up in a book and just using my phone?
Recently, I watched David Kwong do some sleight of hand in a crowded theater lobby. Kwong is a magician who often consults on Hollywood films. (When a director needs, say, Jesse Eisenberg to learn a magic trick, they send him to Kwong.) Anyway, Kwong sauntered over to a guy with a deck of cards and asked him to pick one.
Honestly, I don’t know how to describe what happened next. For 30 minutes, Kwong made cards materialize in outrageous, stupefying ways, as though he were nonchalantly sliding them in and out of a parallel universe. Someone’s card flew out of the deck, spinning through the air. Another turned up in a guy’s back pocket—and not just in his back pocket, but buried deep, between his wallet and a bundle of crumpled receipts. Kwong asked someone to rip a card into four pieces, then hold them in his fist; when he opened his hand, the card was reassembled!
Maybe this doesn’t sound that impressive, written down. We all know card tricks are a thing. But the way Kwong kept relentlessly confronting us with the impossible—seeing this sorcery at close range—seemed to not just entertain people but to make them feel vulnerable and a little scared. People mewled and screamed, “No!” One poor man was reduced to crouching on the floor, laughing so euphorically he couldn’t catch his breath. (OK, that was me.) The guy with the ripped-up card in his fist refused to open it at first, shaking his head like a child terrified to look at his boo-boo, afraid of what he’d find. “He has total power over us,” one woman said quietly, gravely. She sounded creeped out. It was so much fun!
Now, I’m sure everyone in that crowd wondered how Kwong was doing it, but it’s a rare bird who goes home and actually labors to understand the mechanics of how such tricks are engineered. (Those rare birds become magicians—it’s how Kwong got his start.) Most of us perceive magic tricks to be unreplicable, to violate the reality we inhabit. They’re, you know, magic.
To a 5-year-old, phones are magic. The internet is magic. An older kid might be able to understand the technology and infrastructure involved, the nature of Wikipedia, and so on, but for a child so young, the answer just appears, miraculously, like a playing card yanked from a bystander’s back pocket. Leafing through a book together, by comparison, is a more collaborative, tactile, self-evident process. It’s a journey toward the answer, one that your child gets to go on.
What I’m talking about is the difference between learning and being told, between answering a specific question and getting a child excited about answering it on their own. It’s fun to amaze your 5-year-old, sure. But it’s more gratifying to set your kid up to one day amaze you.
These are four words I never want to utter. I don’t have kids and I don’t plan on it either but if I did I would never want to have a kid who hated reading. Can you imagine? A librarian who has a child who doesn’t like books? It’s probably inevitable now that I’ve said it out loud. If it ever does happen I will take comfort in this list of 10 tips for parents who have children who hate to read. Read the link for suggestions on how to implement beyond the tip.
- Establish a reading routine.
- Establish a library routine (yes, please!)
- Forget about progress.
- Withhold judgement. This one is so important!
- Try nonfiction.
- Set an example. Also, so important!
- Read aloud. Check out this other article about why reading aloud to older kids is so important.
- Read to discuss.
- Try audio books.
- Create a positive reading environment. My father-in-law has a dedicated reading room, and chair, in his house. It’s as if he physically can’t read anywhere other than there.
There are lots of other lists like this also.
8 ways to DIScourage reading! Don’t do these things!
Lastly, tips to foster great readers.
I picked this book from the February choices of Book of the Month. I chose Behind Her Eyes because in an episode of the All the Books podcast Liberty Hardy, who reads for a living, said that even she had no idea where the ending was going. I thought to myself, Are you f*ing kidding?? Sign me up! Liberty did not disappoint. I had no idea what was happening through most of the book let alone guessing the ending. I read it with some old co-workers and I wish I would’ve known the ending was going to be so awesome because I would’ve made us all wait and read the last 20 pages together so we could see each others faces. It is that good.
Now that I said that I don’t know. Is it good or was I just thoroughly engrossed? I feel like it’s Gone Girl-ish in the way that all the characters aren’t really characters I want to root for. (I have some serious things to say about Gillian Flynn’s books here). They all do something bad and they are all more or less horrible people. But the plot is so enthralling. Also, the ending. Along with the warning from Liberty that no one will guess, it came with a BOTM bookmark that said, “You think you know how it ends? You’re wrong. I promise.” That’s just asking for it. I read the words so closely, which is very unlike me. I’m a big skimmer. But I wanted to catch all the possible clues. Still, I did not guess. You will not guess either. I promise.
Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge 2017 : a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending
Popsugar Reading Challenge 2017 : a book with an unreliable narrator