Between the World and Me: Through the Eyes of an Asian Teen

In his ground-breaking novel, Coates tackles the struggle of African Americans through letters to his son. But what does this all mean for an Asian teenager?

“ You are the bearer of a body more fragile than any other in this country.”

4e07bf4c-76aa-11e5-9b6f-703717d3539c-780x522
(seattletimes.com)

These were the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son in his novel Between the World and Me. In his epistolary memoir, Coates, an American author and journalist, attempts to explain to his son about his own fear and insecurities on this “terrible and beautiful world.” As a man who faced discrimination at a young age, Coates traces his own experience and intertwines it with examples today to touch on one of the most sensitive and grave issues of America today: the lives of African Americans.

I am a Korean Australian teenage girl who has fortunately experienced little racism. The most serious encounter being only when three Australian boys yelled at me “die Chinese girl! Die” as I was entering my mom’s car. Worse, I have seldom witnessed racism in the lives of Blacks. For me, my connection with them was through texts: the countless U.S. history textbooks that fill the chapters with the Civil War, the lengthy essays and speeches in AP Lang prompts that inundate students with topics on slavery and equality, the limitless passages in the SAT that continuously highlight the Black struggle. My relationship with racism was felt inauthentically. They never felt tangible.

When you enter Mr. Brondel’s class and see the screen with the word “slavery”; when you flip over to the essay prompt as Mr. v starts the timer; when you open the SAT package and the proctor says “start the reading section”; you groan and sigh to find that the topic is on African Americans again. Even I as someone who tries to appreciate texts, it is at times frustrating to read about a topic that I have so little relation to.

However, Coates’ use of rich language drew me in to take a peek at their lives. The use of ‘body’ as a fragile belonging of African Americans elucidates what it means to live in fear. For us, the body is just an identity that we own. But for Coates, it is a precarious, delicate part of their lives that could be broken, stolen, or even abused: a part of his son’s life that is prone to be vulnerable. Coates, by doing so, makes such struggle real; the multitude of textbooks, prompts, passages in my shelf slowly took form into life. For once, the words and feelings started to make sense.

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(npr.org)

Some of my fellow peers, on the other hand, may argue the contrary. I asked my friend the other day whether or not she could empathize with the struggle of African Americans. She told me that she did because she was once an Asian in a country of White. Sure, perhaps she felt excluded from the majority. Sure, she may feel as if she was marginalized. But as I was reading Between the World and Me, I realized how her thought, which many other teenagers around me may agree, is false. The African American’s fight for equality is so unique and ingrained in such complex heritage that it cannot be generalized to mere ‘racism’ or ‘discrimination.’ No matter how much I face marginalization or discrimination, I can never fully understand, empathize, or feel their pain and fear. Their experience and story are distinctive; it isn’t something we can completely understand.

But by no means am I saying that we should all now relinquish our fight for equality just because we cannot wholly feel their experience. I am not in any way pitying their lives or degrading ourselves. I am just arguing the need to realize that the struggle of African Americans can never be completely felt by those who say that they were merely excluded in a society. I do not know what the solution is to gaining equality for all race and peoples. But what I do know is that Coates has shown me that the struggles are more profound, more complex, more humane than just a chapter in a textbook or a passage on an exam. And for that, I want to thank Coates for showing me a glimpse of their lives and for making my connection to them more real.

– Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Featured Image: http://www.boredtodeathbookclub.com/2015/12/10/between-the-world-and-me-ta-nehisi-coates/

Sources:

https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/books/qa-with-ta-nehisi-coates-author-of-between-the-world-and-me/

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/07/10/421469553/ta-nehisi-coates-looks-at-the-physical-toll-of-being-black-in-america

KIS HS English Teachers’ Favorite Books

Ever wondered what your English teacher’s favorite book is? Find out their favorite books only on Blueprint! Featuring Ms. Clarke, Mr. Collings, Mr. Miller, Ms. Pate, and Mr. van Moppes.

Reading is one of the most rewarding experiences that everyone can have regardless of one’s gender, race, ethnicity or social status. It enables us to empathize with others, learn about humanity, and improve ourselves into compassionate people. For me, reading novels has not only been a pastime but my counselor and friend; books have taught me to live wholeheartedly and authentically, to strive towards my goal.

Just as how each and every one of us has at least one favorite book that influenced our lives, KIS HS English teachers also have their many favorites. In an attempt to discover insights into their favorite books, Blueprint has interviewed several English teachers.

Ms. Clarke

jane eyre

  1. What is your favorite book?

I will choose my favorite classic- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

I’ll admit I first read this book in grade 9 because I shared a first name with it. I loved this book because of the heroine, Jane. It was a book I read at just the right moment: 9th grade, when I must have been looking for some unique and memorable female role-models in the stories I was reading. Jane Eyre is one of those: deeply introspective, guided by strong beliefs, and absolutely her own person. This was the first British Gothic/Romantic book I’d ever read; the supernatural, dramatic elements of the story compelled me. There’s nothing quite like a story with unexpected, shocking twists, and Victorian literature is full of them!

  1. How has it impacted your life?

After I read Jane Eyre, I choose The Eyre Affair (a modern British Alternative History/Sci-Fi/Mystery novel) for a 10th grade English project. It is this weird, funny, fast-paced story that let me realize/ enjoy being a bookworm. As you read it, you get to enjoy all these allusions, inside jokes, and alternate narratives that stem from Jane Eyre and other classics. The sequence of those two books helped me realize how much genuine enthusiasm and fun I found in the act of reading, and in the use of imagination and attention to detail that exists in so much good fiction/writing.

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

“I am no bird, and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will…”

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

“I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

Mr. Collings

cuckkoo

  1. What is your favorite book?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

I love the way it presented the need for civil disobedience and the way people can use it to bring down the combine. It speaks to me on a higher level and shows the importance to practice civil disobedience in my daily life, but also to understand the consequences for participating in it as well. The cause needs to be bigger than the individual. Plus it is hysterical. It makes me laugh every time, even though I have read it on numerous occasions.

  1. How has it impacted your life?

Ken Kesey’s story impacted me by the way it showed me to challenge my thinking, and to fight against the combine. I believe my work as a teacher is the same kind of work that McMurphy was doing in the story. I see education as greater than myself, and because of that I am willing to fight for the way it can be most impactful for my students.

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

“‘But I tried, though,’ he says. ‘Goddammit, I sure as hell did that much, now, didn’t I?'” (Kesey 111)

“It’s too late to stop it now. McMurphy did something to it that first day, put some kind of hex on it with his hand so it won’t like I order it. There’s no sense to it, any fool can see; I wouldn’t do it on my own. Just by the way the nurse is staring at me with her mouth empty of words I can see I’m in trouble, but I can’t stop it. McMurphy’s got hidden wires hooked to it, lifting it slow just to get me out of the fog and into the open where I’m fair game. He’s doing it, wires… No. That’s not the truth. I lifted it myself.” (Kesey 126)

“And we’re sitting there lined up in front of the blanked-out TV, watching the grey screen just like we could see the baseball game clear as day, and she’s ranting and screaming behind us. If somebody’d of come in and took a look, men watching a blank TV, a fifty-year old woman hollering and squealing at the back of their heads about discipline and order and recriminations, they’d of thought the whole bunch of us were crazy as loons.” (Kesey 128)

Mr. Miller

river_town

  1. What is your favorite book? (title and author)

River Town by Peter Hassler

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

Hessler’s work is admirable and speaks to many of the sensations I have personally felt while living abroad.  As Hessler starts to learn Mandarin, he attains a Chinese identity when he is given a Chinese name—“Ho-Wei.”  The disparity he feels between his Chinese self and his American self-reads like a version of “Borges and I” with the dual identity theme of “author-self” and   “self” taking shape for the visitor to a foreign land. Hessler’s personal descriptions of the alienation and fascination of living in a foreign land ring true to the style I would like to create in my travel writing.

  1. How has it impacted your life?

When I lived in Taiwan, the students laughed at my Chinese name, “Yue Han” (约翰) which consists of two characters–the first means “promise” and the second means “writing.” It is a good name for a writer. The idea of a “foreign self” and a “local self” is an idea that I take from Hessler and regularly use in travel narratives.

Ms. Pate

sparrow

  1. What is your favorite book? (title and author)

I have so many favorites! I usually claim The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, Beloved by Toni Morrison, or A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as my favorite, though.

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

Each of these books has compelling character arcs and some sort of tragic abyss. I am a character-driven reader; I need to get into the main character’s head and root for him/her. All of these books also draw me in with the beauty and poetic richness of their language. While they all involve deeply troubled or injured characters, they also contain some of my favorite sentences in the English language.

  1. How has it impacted your life?

The Sparrow captured my imagination and love of adventure; the other two books have shaped my transition from Social Studies to English. They are all books that I have read multiple times 🙂

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

So many! I could have chosen a huge list, but I thought I’d just add a couple from Handmaid’s Tale and Beloved. The Sparrow has wonderful language, but it’s not about the language the way that the other two are.

Handmaid’s Tale: “Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.”

Beloved: “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”

Mr. van Moppes

fight

  1. What is your favorite book?

Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk  

  1. Why is it your favorite book?

It just felt so prescient when I read it. Like it was a lens into the future. It examines conspicuous consumption, globalization, marginalization, minimalism, greed, isolation, etc.   

  1. How has it impacted your life?

It reminds me of the true value of things, what is truly important, what matters as a human being. Love, tangible relationships, freedom of thought.

  1. What line(s) strikes you as insightful?

The things you used to own, now they own you.”

“The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly.”

So often, we forget to ask the teachers about their favorites. However, as shown in the interviews, KIS English teachers have a vast array of their favorite books, whether that is classic or modern. Perhaps, students can attempt to read the department’s books and discover how they impact their own lives.

– Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Images:

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/60371/jane-eyre/

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2013/08/one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest-by-ken-kesey.html

http://peterhessler.net/river-town/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/334176.The_Sparrow

https://bookriot.com/2014/01/23/fight-club-and-other-inappropriate-childrens-books/

 

 

 

The Courage to be Vulnerable

What does it mean to be vulnerable in Korean society?

“You are terrible at this. Why are you even here?”

“You are not good enough to do this.”

These are some of the most common comments from our peers that make us feel uncomfortable and self-doubt. As students, we face criticism and shame from people on a daily basis. Consequently, many students attempt to either hide their true selves or ignore the criticism.

Brené Brown, who is a researcher and author, proposes the revolutionary claim that we need to accept our vulnerabilities and imperfections in order to connect with others and live wholeheartedly. In her widely acclaimed novel Daring Greatly and Ted Talk, Brown explains the gifts that come with embracing vulnerability and building shame resilience, such as the three components to a wholehearted life: courage, compassion, and connection.

 

As the academic competition and expectation in South Korea are consistently high, students are always under pressure to perform well at school. One notable way of measuring the competitiveness is shown in the annually increasing high school student suicide rates. In fact, the Voice of the Youth Organisation reported that suicide is the leading cause of death in Koreans aged 15-24 years old.

As a student who attends an international school in South Korea, I find that the problem with cultivating shame resilience and accepting our imperfections is from the high expectations in academic excellence. For instance, if a Korean student gets less than 95% on an exam, this means that they are inferior to the friend who received a 96%, which leads one to conclude that the latter student will go to a better college than will the former student. Therefore, the former student’s self-esteem will diminish in response to the misconception.

 

images
(edgeofmyknowledge.wordpress.com)

 

In an image analysis conducted by Yang Liu, easterners tend to be less confident with themselves compared to westerners as depicted in the image below. One reason for this gap between the two ethnicities lies on the idea of how we view our imperfections and faults; westerners tend to accept their mistakes while easterners usually take them more seriously.

eastwest-ego
(bsix12.com)

This accounts to why I have seen my Korean peers often act artificially in front of teachers in order to maintain their status, just to hide that they are imperfect. These acts no doubt portray how determined and eager students are to work hard to achieve their goal of attending a prestigious university. However, these acts are making the community disconnected, preventing opportunities to build meaningful connections and impacts. If we want to connect and learn from one another, we need to reveal ourselves authentically and vulnerably and believe that we are enough. 

aaaa
(lovedreamsmile.com)

This is not to say that we should all not aim to be as perfect as we can be; rather, it is to advocate that sometimes we need to be vulnerable. If students start to embrace their imperfections, they will begin to understand who they are and what they need to work on. By doing so, we can not only grow as a courageous, compassionate, and connected students but also as changers in our world. So students, start showing yourselves—be vulnerable and proud.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

*Featured Image: Hannah Kim (’19)

Sources:

http://www.voicesofyouth.org/posts/student-suicides-in-south-korea

About

Daring Greatly & The Gifts of Imperfections by Brené Brown

https://www.ted.com

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

A memoir so human, deep, and breath-taking.

Holding a delicate small figure in his hands, he brings the new human close to his chest. As her eyes slowly opened up to view the world, Paul knew that this was why he pursued his job as a neurosurgeon: to discover the meaning of life. For him, the child was a valuable being—someone’s first daughter, cousin, and grand-daughter.

paul_kalanithi_in_hosp2-300x194
(blog1.bookstore.washington.edu)

An Indian American neurosurgeon and writer, Paul Kalanithi graduated from Stanford University and earned a Bachelor and Master in both literature and human biology, two rather contrasting subjects. After earning his degree, he took philosophy at Cambridge University wherein he became curious about what life is. To discover answers to his questions, Kalanithi joined a medical team at Yale university as he believed that neurology—the subject that deals with the birth and science behind human knowledge—would help him. After ceaselessly working in the operation room and explaining to the patients the reason for the failure of a surgery in the white beds, Kalanithi himself ended up lying on the same patient’s bed, feeling hopeless and despair due to a terminal cancer. In an effort to share his experience as a doctor and then a patient, Kalanithi wrote a memoir even till his death in March 2015.

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(amazon.com)

 

“Even if you are perfect, the world isn’t. The secret is to know that the deck is stacked, that you will lose, that your hands or judgment will slip, and yet still struggle to win for your patients. You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”

The novel is divided into two parts, the first about his experience as a doctor and the latter as a patient. What fascinated me most is the former section in which he shares his initial drive to undertake the job of a doctor. Students these days, especially Koreans, are sensitive to the divide between liberal arts and STEM for both the students and parents hold misconceptions on the two areas. Take KIS students for instance: many of my friends who claim to be more on the STEM side set their entire high school courses and extracurriculars solely to those pertaining subjects, such as biology or maths. Even I, as a student who is still struggling to discover her career, have always believed that I should belong to english or maths. As I heard great praises from my teachers and peers on my writing, I expected that liberal arts was the path for me, urging me to preclude any possibility of learning maths or science. However, after reading When Breath Becomes Air, I began to open up the doors to both areas because they complement one another. It fascinated me how Kalanithi could pursue both literature and human biology as they are rather disparate areas that seem odd to be studied together. Nevertheless, his point of view on how they led him to become a more mature and knowledgeable person revolutionized the divide between English and science; Kalanithi claims that though “literature provided the richest material for moral reflection,” he felt that it was “missing the messiness and weight of real human life,” which explains why he took on neurology.

kalanithi.interior-ata-photo---suszi-lurie-mcfadden
(npr.org)

Another beautiful part of this novel is how the author writes his experiences in a clear voice that really speaks to the audience. I used to have a negative view on doctors as I felt as if they were mostly corrupt due to the media depiction of them today. But he intertwines illuminating lines when explaining about the surgeries he conducted that compel the readers to view doctors as utterly humane people who experience the value of life, making me even further empathize with my own father who is a doctor as well.

“The physician’s duty is not to stave off death or return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence.”

Despite how impressive and alluring the novel is, there were some aspects of the novel that I was disappointed with, including the epilogue and the interjections of famous lines. Though numerous fans find the epilogue from Kalanithi’s wife as the apex of the novel that made them weep, I found the epilogue rather dry compared to the author’s strong voice. As the ending of the memoir was a potent saying from the author to his daughter, I expected that the novel would end there, leaving the readers with tears and excitement. However, when I read the epilogue afterwards, it did not make me feel that heart-warming feel I got from Kalanithi’s words since his writing is stronger than that of his wife. Another part of the memoir that I disliked was how the author includes famous saying from other famous authors. Although I was able to grasp some of the quotes, there were many that I was not able to comprehend, digressing the novel away from me.

17856882-_sy540_
(goodreads.com)

Nevertheless, When Breath Becomes Air is a heartfelt novel that I believe will resonate with me for a long time as it has taught me not only the value of life but also what it means to be a knowledgeable, humane person. If students are more aware that there is no set formula of courses to be prosperous in the future, they will become more successful in the future and enjoy their learning. After all, Kalanithi has proven to us that regardless of whether the subject you undertake is on the STEM or liberal arts side, if you have the passion and will to take value from the things you do, you will be content with your work and life.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

Featured Image: http://cupofjo.com/2016/01/when-breath-becomes-air-by-paul-     kalanithi/

Goodreads: The Book Lovers’ Social Media

The skyrocketing ‘book social media’.

Used by over 40 million book-lovers worldwide, Goodreads is an online website that allows people to share books to friends, track their own books, and find new books to read. This prevailing website can be coined as a social media: it allows you to discover what your peers from overseas or nearby are reading, their personal reactions towards certain novels, and enable others to see your own reading status. As Ms. Tiffany Skidmore, a KIS 8th grade English teacher at Korea International School who frequently uses Goodreads, said,  “Goodreads is an amazing tool I use almost daily in my reading life. I use it to stay connected to what my friends are reading; to find new books to read by the great book recommendations or by looking at ratings and reviews of books I’m considering; and, to keep track of and organize the books I have read. Goodreads has enriched my reading life in countless ways!” 

“Books are one of the strongest social objects that exist, so lots of people are innately willing to talk about and share them.” – Mr. Chandler, founder of Goodreads

One of the main features of Goodreads is its convenient method of tracing one’s own progress. There is are sections of the website called “2016 Reading Challenge” and “Currently Reading” where readers can update the number of pages they read in their currently reading books and see whether or not they are working towards their reading challenge. In between the two sections, there is another part where Goodreads recommend books that are in line or similar to the books that one is reading and the books that one rated high as, giving one a vast opportunity and exposure to a variety of novels ranging from contemporary to economics.

 

Goodreads: The Book Lovers' Facebook
(Goodreads)

Another aspect, according to a New York Times article, that makes this website an escalating social media and different from other book-tracking websites such as Shelfari and LibraryThing, is the fact that “people will put more faith in book recommendations from a social network they build themselves”(Leslie Kaufman). Goodreads accentuates individuality and commonality; it allows readers to create their personal bookshelves where they can easily find their favorite books and discover what their peers are reading. This assures the users to feel free to personalize their reading process, to express their own feelings towards a book, and advocate novels to their peers.

Goodreads: The Book Lovers' Facebook
(Goodreads)

Goodreads not only benefits readers, but also self-published authors—such as Lisa See. She, who is the author of New York’s Times Bestseller novel Shanghai Girls,  Snow Flower and The Secret Fan, claimed that she has been using Goodreads since 2009 and found it as “a way to meet your readers and hope they become your advocates and spread the elusive word-of-mouth places you are not going and are off the book-tour route.” In other words, Goodreads enables authors to engage with their authors and gain invaluable feedback from them.

As students, we should encourage each other to utilize this “book-lovers’ Facebook” not only to discover new books, but also to ascertain what our fellow book-lovers and peers are reading. If you are struggling to find your next novel to read, there is one solution: Goodreads. This skyrocketing website, perhaps, will become the newest, largest ‘book-social’ media yet in our world.

 

– Sarah Se-Jung Oh (‘19) 

10 Must Read Novels

As hectic as our lives can be, it is essential for us to read multiple novels throughout our high school years.Whether it’s historical, fiction, psychological, our getting exposed to a wide range of literature will enhance not only our writing skills, but also knowledge. Below are ten novels—ranging from fiction to psychological, from historical to christianity—that I find engaging and thought-provoking. I hope you, along with your peers, attempt one or more of these books and truly embrace yourself into the powerful content and prose.

1.Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help, Business, Feminism, Leadership

10 Must Read Novels
(integrityequestriancenter)

 

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In is an empowering novel that has changed not only the lives of women, but also the perspective of the society. Dissecting and examining current gender inequality, anecdotes, data and research, Sandberg reveals the harsh reality that surrounds women in the workplace. She advocates that women should Lean In at work and explains how vital it is for men and women to unite in making progress to this issue. Gender inequality is critical to know in our fast-developing country; yet, so little know about it. Reading this novel will make you ponder about aspects that you have never thought of and will make you want to lean into your work and responsibilities. 

“Women need to shift from thinking ‘I’m not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that — and I’ll learn by doing it.’”

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

 

  1. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Genre:  Non-fiction, Self Help, Autobiography, Inspirational

 

10 Must Read Novels
(Goodreads)

Just as the subtitle states, this runaway bestseller novel revolves around two man and a concept: an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson. Through the perspective of the author, Tuesdays with Morrie recounts the colloquial—yet inspiring—conversations that a young man named Mitch have with a dying, old man called Morrie. The two planned to talk about how they are doing; however, it turned out to be a final class about how to live. A heartbreaking and inspiring novel that will change your life completely.

Tuesdays with Morrie has made me hungry to find a teacher like Morrie”- Anonymous Freshmen
The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” -Mitch Albom

 

3. Everything is Illuminated– Jonathan Foer

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary

 

10 Must Read Novels
(Goodreads)

Jonathan Foer’s novel is divided into three sectors and perspectives: recount of journey, history, and letter. The novel mainly focuses on the journey of Foer who travels to Ukraine with a blinded man, a lustful dog and a bad translator in quest to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazi. The other two sectors seem to be completely divergent and non-linear to the story; however, these three intertwine as the story drives through and remind us that confusion is what makes this novel so unique and powerful. Beautiful prose, jargons and sentences that will guarantee you to be illuminated—you will cry, scream and smile.

“She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.” —Jonathan Foer

  1. Letter from Birmingham by Martin Luther King Jr.

Genre: Non-fiction, Politics, History

10 Must Read Novels
(Goodreads)

Through the play of words, Martin Luther King Jr. portrays the injustice that evolves and dominates in Birmingham. The letter was, initially, to the clergyman who forced him to stop campaigning; however, instead, it is a depiction of the cruel inequality that still lingers around human and a compelling defense of nonviolence. Inspiring and powerful, Martin Luther King  Jr. guides the readers through his cogent logic, enabling you to have a firmer grasp on reality.

“Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Anyone who lives inside the US can never be considered an outsider anywhere in the country”

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied”

  1. City of Thieves by David Benioff

Genre: Historical Fiction

10 Must Read Novels
(Goodreads)

Imprisoned for looting, Lev—a socially awkward, passive Jewish boy—meets an outgoing, garrulous Cossack deserter named Kolya. Rather than being executed, the two are given an alternative: to find a dozen eggs for the colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake. In the war-torn city of Leningrad where even finding a single meal is a rarity, Lev and Kolya venture on a perilous journey that will determine their fate between life and death. What makes this novel compelling is the fact that Benioff intertwines history with humanity, allowing us to know that friendship is what keeps us going. 

“ I have always believed that smile was a gift for me. Kolya had no faith in the divine or the afterlife; he didn’t think he was going to a better place, or any place at all. No angels waited to collect him. He smiled because he knew how terrified I was of dying. This is what I believe. He knew that I was terrified and he wanted to make it a little easier for me.”

 

  1. Elements of Style by William Strunk

Genre: Non-fiction, Language

10 Must Read Novels
(thedailybeast)

A classic manual that will help amateur or professional writers to find their own style. Starting from basic grammar instructions to tips on choosing the right dictions, The Elements of Style is a short and powerful book that will guide you to writing with power and passion. 

“To achieve style, begin by affecting none”
“ When a sentence is made stronger, it usually becomes shorter. Thus, brevity is a by-product of vigor.”

  1. The Geography of Thought by Richard Nisbett

          Genre: Psychology, Non-fiction, Philosophy, Sociology

10 Must Read Novels
(smithsonianapa)

As international students, we often see the divergent characteristics among Westerners and Easterns—not only in appearance, but also behaviours, logic and decisions. In The Geography of Thought, Richard Nisbett utilises history, statistics, diagrams and examples to convey and inform the readers about how the two are different and why. Reading this will allow readers to appreciate who they are and the reasons for this difference.

“‎The Chinese believe in constant change, but with things always moving back to some prior state. They pay attention to a wide range of events; they search for relationships between things;and they think you can’t understand the part without understanding the whole. Westerners live in a simpler, more deterministic world; they focus on salient objects or people instead of the larger picture;and they think they can control events because they know the rules that govern the behavior of objects.”

  1. Predictably Irrational– Dan Ariely

Genre: Economics, Non Fiction, Business, Psychology

10 Must Read Novels
(Goodreads)

In our lives, we always overpay, procrastinate and belittle; for so long, many have believed that we are innate in these actions and that our decisions are unpredictable. Ariely, however, reprimands this commonplace notion and entices us through statistics, economics and experiences that we are linear and predictably irrational. Once one finishes this, he or she will never think about decision making and economy the same.

“We usually think of ourselves as sitting the driver’s seat, with ultimate control over the decisions we made and the direction our life takes; but, alas, this perception has more to do with our desires-with how we want to view ourselves-than with reality”

 

  1. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

Genre: Nonfiction, Christianity, Spirituality, Inspirational, Autobiography/Memoir 

10 Must Read Novels
(Amazon)

Colton Burpo, a four years old who made it  through an appendectomy surgery, tells his parents of how he went to heaven whilst he was in operation; how he met Jesus; how he discovered what happened before he was born. As absurd as this sounds, his parents constantly gets aghast and shocked at his seemingly fictional yet true recount. Heaven is for Real will alter the way you think about eternity, life and love.

“…when I was angry at God because I couldn’t go to my son, hold him, and comfort him, God’s son was holding my son in his lap.”  

 

10. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teentalk Getting into College  by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark

Genre: Self-help, non-fiction

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(simonandschuster)

As high school students, we are always pressured about getting into college—especially with the upperclassmen. In this novel, there are 101 first-hand stories and recounts from students all around the world who have experienced getting into college. Intertwined with multiple emotions, these stories will guide and remind you that although the application process is onerous, the experience is successful and rewarding.

“The best counsel of all comes from reading the real stories of those who have known the anxiety and uncertainty of the college application process”- Sally Rubenstone

 

– Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)