What are you reading lately? Recommended book list for the 2023 Book Fair

As we grow up, we often see the world and ourselves through the lens of our beliefs. While we can listen to others’ life stories and experiences, we often have our own set of ideas and emotions as third-party observers. We may unintentionally add too much of our own emotions and opinions.

When we listen to our friends’ stories, we often try to put ourselves in their shoes, but it’s not the same as experiencing it firsthand. That’s why I enjoy reading – I can read other people’s life stories without bringing my personal emotions or being influenced by close relationships. It’s easier to detach myself, immerse myself in the world of the book, and experience a different world view and life story. The annual book fair is a great opportunity to discover new books, and I’ve prepared some recommendations from women who share their experiences on life economics and values. It’s a great way to relax and unwind when you want some alone time.

  1. “Don’t live the way others want you to, live in a way that makes you happy.”
    Jens Mama’s most practical and caring life principles for all girls, women, and mothers.”
    [Author:Jens Mama ; Publisher:布克文化 ; Publication Date:2023/05/25]

Jens Mama is a young blogger who frequently shares her writing quotes on social media. She is also a new mother.

In this book, Jens Mama reminds all mothers not to live their lives according to others’ opinions. Instead, they should regain their confidence and live a life that belongs to them. In addition to discussing motherhood, the author shares her life insights on marriage, parenting, and changes in life after marriage in the fourth section “What is Marriage?”, the fifth section “Life After Marriage”, and the sixth section “Parenting: Don’t Raise Your Child to Be What Others Want”.

She once shared, “I am a wife, a daughter, a mother…but most importantly, I am myself…Please don’t judge a mother based on your own perceptions and society’s expectations. Leave time for yourself, give love to yourself…It doesn’t mean you are a failure/lazy mom.” In your child’s eyes, you are a mother who teaches them how to “love themselves”. The book resonates with most women’s concerns and can guide you when you feel lost in your identity as a woman in society.

  1. Serving Tea: Stories from Taipei’s Red-Light District
    [Author: 李玟萱 ; Publisher:游擊文化 ; Publication Date:2023/05/31]

In “The Heart of Tea Room Women,” Author recounts the stories of 12 women who worked in tea rooms or engaged in sex work. Most of them were born in “difficult” families in the 1950s and 1960s. They entered the industry to make a living, but their surroundings often dragged them down. They became addicted to drugs, gambling, diseases, high-interest loans, and even joined human trafficking groups. Coming to Wanhua was their last stop in life. For a long time, no one respected them, but when they grew old, a group of passionate people, such as Pearl’s Home, wanted to help them rediscover their value.

These women are not just sex workers or tea room staff. Each person had a different reason for coming to Wanhua and entering the industry. Through the author’s portrayal of each grassroots woman’s story in the book, they become more vivid and rich. In the past, you may have read many stories of successful people, but the world has many faces. The stories and rights of grassroots women are often harder to discover and notice. Not many people are willing to actively understand their life experiences, but the stories in this book can help you understand the inner thoughts of these women who worked in tea rooms or engaged in sex work one by one.

  1. The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
    [Author:Elyn R. Saks ; Translator: 黃致豪 ; Publisher:大家出版 ; Publication Date:2023/03/29]

Ellen Sachs, the author of this book, holds dual degrees from Oxford and Yale and teaches at a law school. However, she also has another identity: a sufferer of schizophrenia. Sachs first felt herself “falling apart” at the age of eight. In her memory, her consciousness became blurred and shaky. She felt like a sandcastle that crumbled and fell apart as the tide receded. In high school, she heard rows of houses on the roadside speak to her for the first time, implanting the idea that “you are evil” in her mind, which visited her from time to time.

This book is a record of the author’s struggle with schizophrenia. In this rare and fascinating memoir, the patient speaks for herself. She is no longer just a seemingly neutral spokesperson for professional treatment, nor just medical insights. Sachs recounts various delusions and ideas she had from childhood to adulthood, comparing the symptoms of her schizophrenia at different stages of development. She also shares her journey as a patient, the community support and medical assistance she received, and the stigma and challenges she faced.

Many people still believe that schizophrenics cannot have professional degrees or challenging jobs. However, this female professor presents the complex aspects of schizophrenia and the vast difference between the mental health systems in the UK and the US. She tells the public through her personal experience that patients are also human beings with rights. Life is not just about darkness and pain; there is still happiness.

Especially in Hong Kong, where people feel mentally exhausted and stressed, mental health has received more attention. How can people with mental illness break down public discrimination? This book may also allow you to better understand the feelings of patients themselves. As for the issues and coping strategies for relieving mental health problems among Hong Kong people, what more can we do?

  1. Dancing at the Pity Party
    [Author: Tyler Feder ; Translator:尤采菲 ; Publisher:三采 ; Publication Date:2020/11/27]

The pandemic has not only weakened our physical immunity, but also made our emotional resilience fragile. Sometimes, in an attempt to quickly recover, we force ourselves to bury our emotions hastily. When was the last time you shed tears? Have you ever considered giving “sadness” a proper name and outlet? As living beings, we must experience and overcome the sorrow that has existed since birth, like an organ. We can celebrate, reflect, mourn, and deeply feel all the emotional ebbs and flows of “being alive.”

Tyler Feder is an illustrator who graduated from Northwestern University’s Communications Department. The following year, she published her works online, developed her personal illustration brand, and gained opportunities to collaborate with Netflix, ESPN, and Comedy Central.

The shadow that death brought to Tyler after learning about her mother’s cancer and facing her death after failed treatment was unimaginable. However, death has always been a difficult topic to discuss. Ten years after losing her mother, Tyler decided to open up and honestly express how “grief” occupies a significant part of her life and is a feeling that others find hard to understand and she cannot articulate well. She hopes that this book will be dedicated to herself, her mother, and all those who have lost their loved ones.

  1. 女人要堅強而不逞強
    [Author: 周品均 ; Publisher:三采 ; Publication Date:2023/02/25]

The author is the CEO of Vipshop Fashion Group and the founder of Wstyle and Tokyo Fashion. She founded Tokyo Fashion in 2004 and became a legend in Taiwan’s e-commerce industry. In 2016, she established Wstyle with the goal of promoting a carefree and confident lifestyle for women. In 2020, she took over as CEO of Vipshop Fashion Group and created a multi-brand fashion group. Starting in 2021, she began sharing her experiences in the workplace and in love on YouTube and has since gained 300,000 subscribers.

Reflecting on her life, Joanna Cheng started her business at 22, got married at 25, became a mother at 28, got divorced and lost her job at 32, and started her business again at 34, finding success in her career and in herself. She believes that the most important thing for women to live happily is to find themselves. In this book, she shares her thoughts on women being true to themselves: “Being true to yourself means knowing your preferences and values, accepting your strengths and weaknesses, and being able to live the life you want. That’s what it truly means to be true to yourself.” If you have ever felt lost, take a look at how Joanna Cheng found herself and found happiness.

  1. 剛剛好的完美主義:擺脫拖延、討好、怕犯錯,創造自己喜歡的人生
    [Author: 李東龜, 孫何林, 金書瑛 ; Publisher:三采 ; Publication Date:2022/09/02]

The trait of “perfectionism” is often labeled as negative and is a major cause of depression, anxiety, and insecurity in today’s society. However, the pursuit of excellence and achievement has always been a powerful driving force for human progress. Many of the traits of perfectionism also drive people to grow positively. How can we use these traits to become a positive force for growth?

In the midst of a wave of “imperfection is also good,” this book will help you learn how to deal with yourself. You will understand that perfectionism is a unique talent, and by using your perfectionist tendencies wisely, you can become a “just-right perfectionist.”The first half of this book is dedicated to gaining a comprehensive understanding of perfectionism, while the second half provides practical guidance on how to use perfectionism as a tool for understanding others.

Reading one life story after another can provide different insights for each person based on their own experiences. I believe it helps me better understand the diverse and ever-changing nature of the world. It shows me that there are many possibilities in life, and that sometimes, whether life is good or not doesn’t have to conform to social definitions. No one knows oneself better than oneself, and what we need to learn is to absorb other people’s stories, expand our perspectives, and reflect and adjust our own understanding of the world and life.

Data source: Hong Kong Book Fair APP, Books.com Co., 2022 Hong Kong National Reading Survey
Photo source: Books.com Co.

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