Chronicle: Tuffy’s Book Nook reconnects with human emotion | Way of life


Photo illustrations by Jessica Choi

A book: a compilation of thousands of words, judiciously intertwined, telling a story that is imprinted in the mind. The power of words can easily become unappreciated when the only written articles you read are soulless academic papers. However, these emotional readings reconnect with the diversity and beauty of language and storytelling.

“On Earth, We Are Briefly Magnificent” door Ocean Vuong

“Mom. You once told me that memory is a choice. But if you were a god, you would know it’s a flood.

This poetic novel takes the form of a letter from a son to an illiterate mother. The narration envelops the reader through the emotional, mental and physical turmoil of a Vietnamese boy growing up in America. It explores the constructions of race, class, sexuality and identity through the narrator, Little Dog’s coming-of-age narrative.

The significance of his mother’s inability to read is why this story was written in such a stark manner. Little Dog’s discussion of parental abuse, his Vietnamese-American experience, and his sexual identity through the use of language dedicated to the parental figure who would never be able to understand him, is poetic in itself.

Although it is a smaller book, its humanistic content is so beautifully articulated that it is sometimes painful to read. It can be difficult to understand Vuong’s writing as he combines poetry and literature; however, replaying its uniquely crafted sentences is extremely rewarding in the end.

“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

“To live each day in the presence of those who refuse to recognize your humanity takes a lot of courage.”

This historical fiction novel is a generational story following a Korean family exiled from their country and in search of success. A wealthy and dodgy outsider impregnates main character Sunja, altering her family life for generations. Opened in the early 1900s in Korea, it captures the turbulence of war, the difficulties of immigration, family ties and the harsh realities of love.

A wonderful centerpiece of the story is the underlying focus on femininity and the structural importance that women play within families. Lee writes with a powerful yet direct style that leaves a strong impression on the reader.

“Pachinko” is a tribute to the imperfection of families, which unpacks the baggage of generational trauma and how its effects are far more intense than a trickle-down perspective.

“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah

“In love, we discover who we want to be; in war, we find out who we are.

This Story is another historical fiction novel that follows the lives of two French sisters during World War II, shedding light on the lives of women during wartime and how their contribution goes unrecognized.

The eldest sister, Vianne, has to take care of her young daughter and keep the house while her husband goes to the front. On the other hand, younger sister Isabelle is filled with reckless passion and joins the Resistance to fight for what she believes in.

This dual-perspective storyline following the lives of two very different women presents a common theme of courage and what one is willing to do for loyalty, love and passion. Hannah writes with tenderness and abundant description, allowing this devastating story to unfold like a movie in the minds of readers.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

“Good and bad things – every friendship and every romance formed, every accident, every illness – result from the conspiracy of hundreds of little things, in themselves inconsequential.”

This murder mystery goes beyond the clichéd investigation and incorporates the intense questioning of social taboos such as lust, assimilation, guilt and caregiver resentment. Kim uses her writing to strip her characters of their truest forms – imperfect humans.

The book is an impressive balancing act as the stories of each suspect and victim are analyzed in depth but not fully explained until the end. This withdrawal of information forces readers to flip through the pages and devour every word.

Although “Miracle Creek” is a mystery at heart, Kim taps into her own life’s experiences to craft a startlingly personal narrative that connects to the unseen skeletons within us.

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

“Like most miseries, it began with seeming happiness.”

A beautiful tragic story about the life of a young girl adopted into a poor family in Nazi Germany. This story is an emotional lens into the lives of native Germans during World War II and draws on the power of books and their ability to take the reader away from reality.

Watch Liesel’s life be impacted by the tragedies of war and how it shapes her identity and moral codes. This story will make readers wonder how far they would go for their own beliefs, even if the consequences are terrifying.

Zusak personifies death as a narrator in a witty yet charming style of writing that can touch the heart in an unconventional way.

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