Read This Book

Read This Book…

Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to.

But first, are you looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift for your bookish boo? Gift Tailored Book Recommendations. Your boo will tell our professional booknerds about what they love and what they don’t, what they’re reading goals are, and what they need more of in their bookish life. Then, they sit back while our Bibliologists go to work selecting books just for them. TBR has plans for every budget. Surprise your bookish boo with Tailored Book Recommendations this Valentine’s and visit

Today’s pick is a book that left me a different person than I was before I read it.

Book cover of Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

To say this is satire about a racial awakening is an understatement. It’s utterly hilarious and also I pretty much cringed the entire time I read it. Our main character is Ingrid Yang, a Taiwanese American woman in her eighth year of her PhD and she still has no idea what her thesis even is. She has been researching the renowned Chinese American poet Xiao-Wen Chao but it’s hard to write anything about him that hasn’t been completely researched into the ground. He was faculty at Barnes University (where Ingrid is) and was a big deal. A large part of the reason she’s doing this PhD is because there is a professorial chair that is about to open up; so she can get a cozy faculty position as the next expert on Xiao-Wen Chao, yet she has no idea what the heck she is going to do her dissertation on.

The East Asian Studies department that Ingrid is in has very few Asian people and many, many white people. Her advisor, Michael, is a white man who has gone all-in on Chinese culture and doubles-down in his orientalism time and time again. Ingrid’s fiance, Stephen Greene, is a white man who has taught himself Japanese (doesn’t actually speak it) but has made himself into a literature translator.

They frequently explain Chinese culture to Ingrid repeatedly and really terribly because she is Taiwanese and they just lump her in with Chinese culture like it’s all the same. If you haven’t caught on, there are massive amounts of anti-Asian racism in this book and lots of the particularly insidious type where it’s people pretending to have a respect for a culture when they are actually fetishizing it. Ingrid herself has very firm ideas of the “right way” a woman should be, especially an Asian American woman, and the “wrong way.”

This book is full of some amazing characters. Through it, Ingrid awakens to her complicity in her own subjugation and the white supremacist trash fire that is academia. Highly recommend it!

That’s it for now, book-lovers!


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