Books I finish reading, by year, sometimes with quotations.


1. Post Office by Charles Bukowski (via thisisvluu)

They brought in the flower, some kind of red-orange thing on a green stem. It made a lot more sense than many things, except that it had been murdered.

2. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson (via meebobebo)

The first kiss plummeted him down a hole and popped him out into a world he thought he could get along in– as if he’d been pulling hard the wrong way and was now turned around headed downstream.

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (via Kimmy)

You can’t just sit there and put everybody else’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. (Sam)

4. Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed edited by Vandana Shiva

One characteristic of this “mechanistic utopia,” which reduces living systems to machines whose output can be maximized and strives for “the best” of all crops and varieties, is the attempt to adapt environmental conditions to the production system rather than adapting production to different ecosystems and cultural traditions. Such attempts have a devastating effect on the environment, natural resources, and on the rural communities subjected to them. 

5. Odes to Opposites by Pablo Neruda (via Britt)

It’s a modest season, fall,
as modest as woodcutters.
It’s tough work
pulling leaves
off every tree
in every country.

6. Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

It is ridiculous for someone like me to aspire to do the things I aspire to do. I know it. I’ve always known it. It’s never stopped me. 

7.Time’s Power by Adrienne Rich

For I mean to meet you
in any land   in any language
This is my promise:
I will be there
if you are there

8. Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich

without tenderness, we are in hell.

9. Learning To Fly by Steph Davis

I was in a strange place with no idea where I was going, and everything had changed. But I felt like me. 

10. Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

11. Crossing with the Light by Dwight Okita

Some Tattoos

12. Crime Against Nature by Minnie B. Pratt

Words not so romantic nor so grandly tossed
as if I’d summon the universe to be 
at your disposal.

                             I can only pray:
That you’ll never ask for the weather, earth,
angels, women, or other lives to obey you

13. Madness and Retribution by Juliette Torrez

14. Parabolis by Eddie Han & Curt Merlo (via kklovescoffee)

“You judge as if the world has two clear notes. But the piano has no right or wrong key. Each note serves its purpose when played in the right arrangement.” 

15. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

Nothing is far and nothing is near, if one desires. The world is little, people are little, human life is little. There is only one big thing– desire. And before it, when it is big, all is little. 

16. The Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzie

17. The Other Side of Paradise  by Staceyann Chin

18. Songs by Mother Taught Me by Wakako Yamauchi

19. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

20. Let my people go surfing by Yvon Chouinard

21. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

22. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

I knew I could do nothing whatever to stop the ferocious excitement which had burst in me like a storm.

23. Abductions by Chiwan Choi

24. How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

25. Beyond the Summit by Todd Skinner


It seems I began 2013 in Westeros (while in Cambodia).

1. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you. (Tyrion Lannister)

2. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

She walked fast, to keep ahead of her fear (Arya)

3. *The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto “Che” Guevara

The revolution is not, as some claim, a standardizer of collective will, of collective initiative. To the contrary, it is a liberator of human beings’ individual capacity. 

What the revolution does do, however, is to direct that capacity.

4. Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you. (Petyr Baelish)

5. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

6. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

broke, but okay—getting to do what I wanted to do even though a reasonable person would have said I couldn’t afford to do it.

7. *Obasan by Joy Kogawa

The Government makes paper airplanes out of our lives and files us out the windows. Some people return home. Some do not. War, they all say, is war, and some people survive.

8. *Asian Americans: Oral Histories of First to Fourth Generation Americans from China, the Philippines, Japan, India, the Pacific Islands, Vietnam, and Cambodia by Joann Faung Jean Lee

I see myself as being nowhere, and that nowhereness has become part of my struggle. 

9. 54.memory by Vicky Luu

I am, in fact, severely imperfect.

10. *Eating Chinese Food Naked by Mei Ng

He wanted to know where she came from, as if that would explain her.

11. Gut Symmetries by Jeannette Winterson

I’ve lived my life as a serial killer; finish with one part, strangle it and move onto the next. Life in neat little boxes is life in neat little coffins, the dead bodies of the past laid out side by side. I am discovering now, in the late afternoon of the day, that the dead still speak.

12. Ceremonies by Essex Hemphill (via whale)

we examine scars, we teach ourselves to make power
and beauty of scars, a skill we learn with great effort

13. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

*purchased at a used books kiosk in Phnom Penh.


1. The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twentieth Century by Grace Lee Boggs

Real poverty is the belief that the purpose of life is acquiring wealth and owning things. Real wealth is not the possession of property but the recognition that our deepest need, as human beings, is to keep developing our natural and acquired powers and to relate to other human beings.

2. The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen

I decided I’d rather be in hell for love than to be in heaven for bigotry.

3. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

I am free to live by the standards and ideals and rules I create for myself.

4. The Sea Is My Brother by Jack Kerouac

She had weaved back into that part of him that was still young, and now she stunned that part of him that was old, she stole into it, a stranger haunting his life.

5. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. But that was the thing I was born for.

6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

7. The Road Back To Nature by Masanobu Fukuoka

8. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

9. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

10. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

11. Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

12. Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain

If anything is certain in this world, it’s that only out of a host of bad ideas will emerge the occasional good one. Censor your thinking, attempt in advance to limit yourself to a superior product, and you can count in it that you’ll end up sterile, or paralyzed, or both, creatively speaking.


1. Ignorance by Milan Kundera

They stayed in their country because they liked themselves and because they liked themselves together with their lives, which were inseparable from the place where the lives had been lived.

2. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

If your boy is a poet, horse manure can only mean flowers to him; which is, of course, what horse manure has always been about.

3. America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

I knew, then, that he had loved my mother although he had had no chance to show it to her. Yes, to him, and to me afterward, to know my mother’s name was to know the password into secrets of the past, into childhood and pleasant memories; but it was also a guiding star, a talisman, a charm that lights us to manhood and decency.

4. The Awakening and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin

How strange and awful it seemed to stand naked under the sky! how delicious! She felt like some newborn creature, opening its eyes in a familiar world it had never known.

5. Lucky Child by Loung Ung

I feel like a worm in a cocoon wrapped in all these layers of thread to keep me safe and hidden. I can’t wait to bite my way out of all the trapings and find out whether I’m going to fly or fall flat on my face.

6. We Should Never Meet by Aimee Phan

The sun melted into the freeway. 

7. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

She smiled at me. I smiled back. Sometimes these things are not accidents. I’m almost sure of it.

8. Rosebud and Other Stories by Wakako Yamauchi

9. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

10. American Cooking: Creole and Acadian by Peter S Feibleman & the Editors of Time-Life Books (Foods of the World)

11. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

12. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (via Hailee)

13. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

14. Mockingjay by Suzanna Collins

15. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (a re-read)

16. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (via Hailee)

17. Dune by Frank Herbert

18. Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

19. The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

20. Bossypants by Tina Fey

I read fewer books toward the end of the year than in the beginning, in part due to 1) spending more time reading my subscription to The Nation, 2) having a new full-time job, and 3) spending a lot of time watching rock climbing videos. The titles also got fluffier toward the end there, heh.


The year I started including quotes in my reading list.

1. The Master Key To Riches by Napoleon Hill (via Ryan S.)

If a man be truly great he will be compassionate, sympathetic, and tolerant.

2. Life Studies & For The Union Dead by Robert Lowell

Mother mooned in a window,as if she had stayed on a trainone stop past her destination.

3. The Epic of Gilgamesh, English Version with an Introduction by N.K. Sandars

“When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping. As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man.”

 4. The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante

I wanted to jump, to live, to die, to sleep wide awake in a dreamless dream. Such wonderful things. Such wonderful clarity. I was dying and the dead and the ever-living. I was the sky and not the sky. There was too much to say, and no way to say it.

 5. Ask The Dust by John Fante

Six weeks, a few sweet hours every day, three and four and sometimes five delicious hours, with the pages piling up and all other desires asleep.

6. First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung

I wonder if she knows I choose her to fight with because I know she will always love and forgive me.

 7. Spirits Rebellious by Kahlil Gibran (via Naaz)

Vain are the beliefs and teachings that make man miserable, and false is the goodness that leads him into sorrow and despair, for it is in man’s purpose to be happy on this earth and lead the way to felicity and preach its gospel wherever he goes. He who does not see the kingdom of heaven in this life will never see it in the coming life.

8. We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For by Alice Walker

And when someone thanks you, you thank them, because you realize it is only their acceptance of your gift that allows you to give.

 9. Dreams From Bunker Hill by John Fante

I had no thought of making a pass. I merely wanted to play, to enter into some sort of game with her.

10. Thirtha by Pramila Venkateswaran (via Naaz)

When I write, grandmother’s words tumble into my lines,
splashing my beach with variations in her scale.
My pen moves to trace her rhythm, smearing its ink
in the thumb of my brain.

When I write, the toughness in her life is seaweed in my song.

11. Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“Sex is a talent, and I do not have it.”

12. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.

13. Perspectives (1865-2005) – From the pages of The Nation (via Joel)

The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer. To respect the law, in the context in which the American Negro finds himself, is simply to surrender his self-respect.

–James Baldwin, 1964

14. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

I started out being clever and superficial and dishonest. Gradually I got braver. Gradually I stopped trying to disguise myself.

15. signaling by traci kato-kiriyama

you might be my friend and teacher

you could be my muse, my lover

you are definitely and always my sister

16. Ways of Seeing by John Berger, Sven Blomberg, Chris Fox, Michael Dibb, Richard Hollis (via Grant)

When in love, the sight of the beloved has a completeness which no words and no embrace can match : a completeness which only the act of making love can temporarily accommodate.

17. The Moths and Other Stories by Helena Maria Viramontes

She had not felt like this in a very long time; moonwarm and tender for another person.

 18. The Cooking of Provincial France by M.F.K. Fisher & the Editors of Time-Life Books

I know of only one village in all of France without its own bread, and that is Le Truel in the Aveyron, on the wld banks of the Tarn. By now this strange situation may have changed but–when I last heard–all the bread had come from neighboring places for many years, since the startling suicide of a baker who was felt to have betrayed his trade and his village by leaving so unexpectedly, with nothing edible in his ovens.

19. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (via Crame)

The longing for Paradise is man’s longing not to be man.

20. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (via The Miracle)

We are a lukewarm people and our longing for freedom is our longing for love. If we had the courage to love we would not so value these acts of war.

21. Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood by Michael Walker

The impulse, then and now, is the same: Behold, the tribe has gathered. Make of us what you will, but you will know that we are here, now, in this canyon.

22. Between The Lines: An Anthology By Pacific/Asian Lesbians in Santa Cruz, California edited by C. Chung, A. Kim, A.K. Lemeshewsky

To insist that  lesbians are women who love women sexually is not to claim that their sexuality is the most important thing about them.  It is to acknowledge that their sexuality places them in a particular relationship to the world.

23. Extravagaria by Pablo Neruda, translated by Alastair Reid

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, make them new-born,
mix them up, undress them,
until all light in the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crackling, living fragrance. 

24. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hatedby Gore Vidal

Representative government of, by, and for the people is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congresses and presidents it pays for in an arrangement where no one is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government also own the media… . Although we regularly stigmatize rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue of all. We honor no treaties. We spurn international courts. We strike unilaterally wherever we choose. We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues. We complain of terrorism, yet our empire is now the greatest terrorist of all. 

25. Living for Change: An Autobiography by Grace Lee Boggs (via Grace Lee)

Our present system based on preparing children for individual upward mobility into the system by making “us” like “them”  is destroying our communities because those who succeed in the system leave the community while those who don’t take out their frustration and sense of failure in acts of vandalism. 


The year I decided to start keeping a public record of books I read. I kept track of the dates I finished them, too. This was on Facebook.

1. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, Jan. 5

2. Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis, Jan. 10

3. The Accidental by Ali Smith, Jan. 10

4. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, Jan. 15

5. No one belongs here more than you. Stories by Miranda July, Feb. 3

6. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, Feb. 9

7. In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women by Alice Walker, Feb. 13

8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mar. 10

9. Wait Until Spring, Bandini by John Fante, Mar. 10

10. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, May 7

11. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, July 16

12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

14. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

15. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

16. {who the hell do we think we are} by The Undeniables

17. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Sept. 27

18. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Oct. 1

19. The PowerBook by Jeanette Winterson, Oct. 6

20. Twenty Love Poems And A Song Of Despair by Pablo Neruda

21. Native Son by Richard Wright, Oct. 31

22. The Boys in the Band by Mart Crowley, Nov. 1

23. Loving in the War Years by Cherrie Moraga

24. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

25. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

26. The Marquise of O and Other Stories by Heinrich Von Kleist

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