Sami’s (End Of) Summer Reading Challenge 2k16

My present relationship with reading is complicated. Ever since I moved to San Diego four years ago, I’ve been slacking on reading for fun. I blame school and my own lack of motivation on the reading-for-fun front. This makes me feel bad because I’ve accumulated so many unread books over the past few years…yikes. I used to read a lot. Like, a lot. So much that I would be told to stop and do something else. I hold my phone/use my phone as much as I should be holding a book nowadays, and recently, I’ve come to realize that I can’t live like that anymore.

Now that I have a lot more time on my hands (thank you, post-grad job hunting life), what better way to put moments of boredom to good use than to read a damn book or two?

Here’s my personal challenge: for the next five weeks, I’m planning on pairing a graphic novel with a book. Here are my new reads for the next five weeks, with summaries from their respective publishers:

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Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn | “Pitched as “The Devil Wears Prada with superheroes,” the first book chronicles the adventures of Evie Tanaka, a put-upon personal assistant who is forced to pose as her diva superhero boss and must embrace her own hidden talents in order to protect our world from a demonic invasion.” (from Sarah Kuhn’s website)

*Monstress by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda | “Steampunk meets Kaiju in this original fantasy epic for mature readers, as young Maika risks everything to control her psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, placing her in the center of a devastating war between human and otherworldly forces.” (Image Comics)

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Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami | “A college student, identified only as “K,” falls in love with his classmate, Sumire. But devotion to an untidy writerly life precludes her from any personal commitments — until she meets Miu, an older and much more sophisticated businesswoman.” (from the back cover of Sputnik Sweetheart)

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, art by Sonny Liew | “[The Shadow Hero is] the story of Hank Chu, a mild-mannered Chinese American teenager growing up in a fictional 1930’s Chinatown.  Hank wants nothing more than to work in his family’s grocery store, but his mother has more ambitious plans.  She wants him to embody the excitement of their new country.” (from Gene Yang’s website)

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The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley | “The book collects dozens of Hurley’s essays on feminism, geek culture, and her experiences and insights as a genre writer, including “We Have Always Fought,” which won the 2014 Hugo for Best Related Work. The Geek Feminist Revolution will also feature several entirely new essays written specifically for this volume.” (Amazon)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, art by Robert Hack | “On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, the young sorceress Sabrina Spellman finds herself at a crossroads, having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey. But a foe from her family’s past has arrived in Greendale, Madame Satan, and she has her own deadly agenda.” (from Archie Comics)

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | “Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right. Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.” (from Rainbow Rowell’s website)

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan | “In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time.” (Image Comics)

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn | “On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary … Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?” (from Gillian Flynn’s website)

DC Comics: Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett, art by Marguerite Sauvage | “Learn the story behind this alternate reality where the Second World War is fought by superpowered women on the front lines and behind the scenes! It all begins with the stories of Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl.” (DC Comics)

Annnnnnd, that’s my list. Let’s see how this works out – I’m planning on continuing this challenge even when I am done! I am open to any and all recommendations – especially works by Asian/Asian-American writers and artists! If anyone would like to keep up with me and this challenge, follow me on other social media:

Twitter: @whaleesi
Instagram: @sambajuice

I’ll be using the hashtag #SamsSummerReading2k16. Or something. I’ll change it up.

*Monstress was highly recommended by my friend Ian. I purchased my copy at SDCC this year and got it signed by Liu and Takeda.

**Now that I think about it, a lot of the pairings I made were based on each book’s cover aesthetic.


Rejection is Okay: College Edition


On a high school trip. Senior year.

In high school, I was constantly told by my peers, parents, and teachers that college was the “big leagues” – that huge leap towards #adulthood. Needless to say, application season was terrible – mostly because I attended a high school abroad with a staff that wasn’t too familiar with the mechanics of applying to schools in the United States. I applied for schools in California (several UCs, and private schools in L.A. and San Diego), and one in Michigan (UMich, to be exact. Yay, Wolverines! Darren Criss’ alma mater! No, really, he was part of the reason why I applied there, besides its fantastic English program. Damn it, 17 year-old Sami). College applications were expensive, tedious, and overall, just a major pain in the ass.

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You Do You, Boo-Boo

A few weeks ago, I attended a leadership conference on campus. The closing speaker was a Creative Director from EA (Electronic Arts), who I actually got to hang out with during lunch time. She asked the people in the room eating with us what our favorite video games were, and when she got to me, I was already a nervous wreck, and said: “I’m not much of a gamer, but…”

She stopped me, and said something along the lines of: “Don’t say that. If you play games in some shape or form, you’re a gamer. Don’t let that gendered/sexist bulls*it stop you from being passionate about things. Too often, when people get older, they lose touch with the stuff they’re passionate about, and they’re cold. Now, what are your favorite games?”

Then, without hesitation, and while almost tearing up a little, I said spewed out the titles of some my favorite games: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Left 4 Dead 2, and a few more (I forgot to mention Wario Land 4, Monster Rancher, etc.). It was a pretty pivotal moment for me, because for the past year and a half, I’ve expressed a lot of interest in wanting to buy my own PlayStation 4 and a copy of the new Star Wars: Battlefront. One or two guy friends of mine who I’ve talked to about this have looked at me when I said this and replied with, “But you’re not *really* a gamer.” What the heck is a “gamer” then? In the voice of Tita Auntie, “YOU E’TELL ME RIGHT NOW.”

Oh, thanks dictionary:

gam·er (/ˈɡāmər/) | noun
noun: gamer; plural noun: gamers
  1. a person who plays a game or games


After talking for a bit, the Creative Director gave me her e-mail and told me that whenever I get a PS4 to e-mail her my address so she can send me a free copy of Battlefront. And then, she introduced me to some games she thought I’d be interested in and we geeked out over their designs.

That was the highlight of my day at the conference, besides getting to know a lot of really cool people from other schools and attending fun workshops.

The point of all of this is: why is it so hard for womxn/non-male identifying people to like things in nerdy spaces without being questioned? I’m done with these elitist, mostly male-dominated circles not acknowledging the fact that other people thrive in these spaces and live and breathe in these fictional worlds like they do. Of course, they’re partially not to blame – it’s society’s habit of sorting things into “male” and “female” that have created this very damaging barrier of masculinity and femininity, causing things like the above and the “fake geek girl” stereotype to perpetuate in society. Not only boys can like video games and Legos – not only girls can wear make-up. We shouldn’t question or challenge people for liking things (unless they are really, really bad things…like, well, murder). It’s 2016. You do you.

On a lighter note, I’m thankful for my amazing friends and family for always being so supportive of my nerdy ventures. I also really want to thank that Creative Director for calling out my battle with myself and making me acknowledge and reaffirm the fact that I am a passionate individual who can like whatever I please. I can immerse myself in these spaces that encourage growth and innovation.

TL;DR – just let people like whatever the heck they want.