your books are on the way

I… bought two new books. My friend, who was opposite me, wondered if I was rushing some work or you know, something serious. She was curious, because I was like a busy bee, fingers pounding here and there on my computer.

What I was really doing – Chatting with a bookseller, trying to secure the books, pay online, send the payment receipt, my new shipping address…

I was expecting her to roll her eyes, as I have hundres of unread books, piling up in my Kindle and around my apartment. But she didn’t. She said, “as long as you’re not buying ten books a month, you’re okay.” What a friend!

I bought these books, can’t wait to receive them:

  1. Shell-shocked – On the ground under Israel’s Gaza assault by Mohammed Omer
  2. What it means to be Palestinian – Stories of a Palestinian childhood by Dina Matar

That’s all. Excited would be an understatement. Anxious and impatient, yes.

Read: I, Who Did Not Die

I, Who Did Not Die by Zahed Haftlang and Najah Aboud with Meredith May

First book completed this year. I started in December 2018.

This book, is heavy. I came crashing into this book after decades of media absence from the Iran-Iraq war.

By ‘media absence’, I mean I haven’t read anything in-depth on the said war since the late 90s. As a teen, I read a lot of newspapers and news magazines, and I’ve read about the tortures and all the inhumane stories from this very war. But to relive it, with even gorier details (how they hang you), once again drags you back to hopelessness. The world, as we all should realize, by now, a year shy from turning 2020, is hopeless. There’s little hope left in humanity. Torture is still going on. So are wars. What’s new?

For Zahed and Najah to have survived the war and torture let alone found each other – proof that there’s still hope.

Thank you, Meredith May – for bringing this story to life, for writing this legacy. How is this not a bestseller, I have no idea. Probably the cover. This has got to do better than Educated by Tara Westover or that Crawdad book.

Read: I’m Still Working On It

I’m Still Working On It by Kevin Zalinsky

I dove into this book expecting some combat action, but there were none. Thankfully there were none, because this book prevailed in many other aspects – anecdotes on growing up gay, a brother who committed suicide, and the many stories that entwined humor with pain and loss. It was a book that would make you laugh at one page and cry the next, that’s how good it was. Kevin Zalinsky isn’t a famous person, many won’t know about him nor his book. But in spite of all these ‘book world clichés’, I am so glad I stumbled upon this book. Two thumbs up. I’d read it again someday.

Read: Zlata’s Diary

Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Wartime Sarajevo: Revised Edition, by Zlata Filipović

What is the meaning of life? Why do we read nonfiction, feel the pain, and yet we continue to read nonfiction?

A dear friend of mine (actually, we refer to each other as ‘soul sisters’) is from Serbia, but unfortunately we never got to talk much about the war while we were hanging out together (we have weekend bookish excursions at a place called Bookworm, at Sanlitun), living and working as expats in a foreign country once upon a decade ago. But what I do know is that she feels deeply ashamed of the war, doesn’t quite want to discuss it unless invoked, and that she wish this war never had to happen.

There aren’t many books out there on this war that’s written from a child’s perspective. Thus, if you’re looking for something similar, you should grab this book.

Read: The Things They Cannot Say


This is my second book written by Kevin Sites, who is also one of my favorite investigative journalists.

I read this a while back, so details are a tad blurry. However I do remember wishing that this book carried more diversity, e.g. women, LGBTQIA, and race. I felt that all the characters interviewed were all white men (okay, I think one had a Hispanic surname, I humbly apologize if that’s the case). I could be wrong, but at least that’s the impression I was left with.

When you look at how Americans complain that their vets aren’t given better treatment, you feel sorry for them because most of them don’t know just how much they have it better (odd sentence, can’t help it), compared to the rest of the world. So much better. Everything in this book is depressing, heartbreaking, and worse, traumatizing, because these vets are so young. Having to experience war and PTSD when their peers are in college? Backpacking around Europe? Unimaginable.

(I’m no military fanatic, but a good friend of mine is. He could certainly write a book dissecting vets from around the world, including WW1.)

This wasn’t an eye-opening read for me, as I’ve read other military biographies before which more or less carried similar notes. Nonetheless I did learn something new and important.

To summarize.

There is no way to stop them from getting married, having partners and children, and trying hard to lead normal lives, while unintentionally fucking up their role as a partner and parent. There’s no way.

But there is one way to help, and hopefully prevent more of these unseen war casualties and heroes from multiplying across the world (not a great choice of word I get it) –

Less greed, corruption,

No more wars.