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Book Review: Crying in H Mart

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but Crying in H Mart was recommended to me on #booktwt because I was looking for similar vibes to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. I’m glad I picked Crying in H Mart up! Michelle Zauner’s writing is moving, right in your face, and yet manages to be compassionate and loving.

Main Themes

This memoir deals with the loss of the author’s mother due to cancer, and is as such necessarily painful. I feel the book does justice to the experience though (that’s a bad way of saying it, like what can ever do justice to an experience of losing your mother). But I guess what I’m trying to say is the writing isn’t flippant – it has gravitas. The topic of life and death is handled with care – something that is always tricky to do.

Crying in H Mart is also about identity. Being half Korean and half American, the author goes through self-identity crisis and search which is amplified when her connection with Korean culture is cut short because of her mother’s death. The author writes about how she slowly finds her way back to it through food and cooking. This is something which is surely relatable to everyone who has ever dealt with identity and cultural crisis. As such, anyone who loves books about food (especially Korean food) will also be attracted to Crying in H Mart.

Writing Style

Although nonfiction, the memoir nature of the book results in me reading it like a fiction, so I wasn’t bored at all. I didn’t cry (these days it’s loving relationships that make me cry, not sorrow) but I was very moved and ate a lot of ramen and shrimp prawn chips while I read it. The prose is to the point when necessary, but also poetic in certain scenes – perhaps because she writes songs!

PS: Here’s a shout out to Post Bookshop, a book shop in Pasar (market) Santa from where I ordered it. The delivery was quick, the packaging lovely, and the handwritten note so sweet! Friends in Indo, please support this bookshop!

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Book Review: Sex at Dawn

Well well well, here we are. I started this book a couple of years ago but did not manage to finish it, and now I was determined to tick it off my list. In the book’s defense, I like all its main arguments, I really do. However…


Since this is a book that you probably will never read (it’s kind of hard to find in Indonesia), let me give you a summary. Sex at Dawn is a study of human sexual behavior from prehistoric time until modern time. The authors draw from various researches and also make several comparisons with the sexual behavior of primates (chimps, baboons, bonobos, gorillas, etc).

Sex at Dawn, page 224

The main arguments are:

  • female sexuality in humans is highly repressed
  • monogamy is the cause of unhappiness, and polyamory is something which is more natural to human beings
  • human sexuality in general is repressed
  • love and sex are two different things

Honestly, I pretty much agree with all the arguments and the positions of the authors, polyamory, and polygamy included. As long as everyone consents, why not? What bugged me, and I remember now this was why I stopped reading the book in the first place, is that it’s quite clear the authors build a weak case.

The research they draw upon as evidence to support their arguments is cherry-picking and taken out of context. Their writing style is derogatory to the readers (are they trying to be funny?) and in my opinion: not cool. They try to be slick and naughty, while I would have just preferred more data and respect for the reader.

Hang On…

Another huge thing that I am surprised and disappointed that they did not address is sexually transmitted diseases. In a book about sexual behavior which promotes more unrestricted sex, it would be logical and responsible to talk about the results of such behavior aka sexually transmitted diseases! I would have liked to see at least a chapter on the rates of STDs in some of the communities around the world which they brought up as an example of societies with more sexual freedom.

Again, this is not because I don’t agree with their arguments, but because I truly want to know how a community can responsibly manage looser sexual culture while not having skyrocketing STDs.

Cuz come on, is having wild crazy sex worth contracting an STD? Not for me. Heck no. Give me boring sex and a clean hand any day!

So yes, I hear you, but no, I don’t like the way you’re saying it.