Hiền Trang: Tuổi trẻ lạc lối và những cuốn sách của tôi

Những bài văn ngắn viết lại những suy nghĩ của tác giả qua những quyển sách cô đã đọc. Phải là người mê sách Hiền Trang mới đọc nhiều sách với nhiều tác giả khác nổi danh trên thế giới. Những quyển sách được chọn lựa để viết về tuổi trẻ. Tuy nhiên cách viết của Hiền Trang không đủ lôi cuốn và thiếu phần sâu lắng nên đọc không được ấn tượng cho lắm. Có thể là tại tôi chưa từng đọc những quyển sách cô đọc và tôi cũng chưa biết đến nhiều tác giả trên thới giới.

Susan Orlean: The Library Book

In The Library Book, Orlean weaves together investigative journalism, personal introspection, operational insights, fascinating characters, diverse culture, and social openness to tell engaging, riveting stories of the evolution of libraries. Orlean who writes for The New Yorker is both an excellent storyteller and reporter; therefore, this 300-page book is a breezy read—Carly Loman’s exceptional typesetting helps as well. If you love the library, you will appreciate this book. Here’s one of my favorite passages:

In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes made of our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived. It is something that no one else can entirely share, one that burns down and disappears when we die. But if you can take something from that internal collection and share it—with one person or with the larger world, on the page or in a story recited—it takes on a life of its own.

Book Collection: Special Topics

The Book by Keith Houston explores the fascinating history of bookmaking that dates back to more than fifteen hundred years ago.

Careful by Steve Casner is an informative guide explaining the psychology of safety.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean weaves together investigative journalism, personal introspection, operational insights, fascinating characters, diverse culture, and social openness to tell engaging, riveting stories of the evolution of libraries.

Nguyễn Ngọc Tư: Gáy người thì lạnh

Tập tản văn này của chị Tư ngắn và dễ đọc so với những bài nặng ký và rườm rà trong những tập sách khác. Những bài ký ức viết về đồng quê nhẹ nhàng và tình cảm. Tuy chưa bao giờ đến Cà Mau nhưng tôi thèm được thưởng thức tô bún nước lèo chị Tư diễn tả. Tôi thích bài viết về nhạc Trịnh Công Sơn và cải lương. Những người xa xứ như tôi, đọc chữ Việt và những câu chuyện quê hương để nhắc nhở mình còn có một nơi tuy xa mà gần.

Deborah Levy: The Cost of Living

I wish I can write about everyday life as beautiful and soulful as Levy can. Her candid prose and brutal honesty make this book so damn engaging. Her plumbing struggle, for instance, I know exactly what she was going through. Her writing is concise, funny, and heartfelt. Here’s an example:

To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children have been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman. It requires skill, time, dedication and empathy to create a home that everyone enjoys and that functions well. Above all else, it is an act of immense generosity to be the architect of everyone else’s well-being. This task is still mostly perceived as women’s work.

I definitely recommend this memoir for both writing style and vivid storytelling.

Joan Morgan: She Begat This

To celebrate 20 years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, hip-hop journalist Joan Morgan examines the profound impact the album had on hip-hop feminist and analyzes the misexpectation fans had for Lauryn. As a result, Lauryn, whose music paved the way for the next generation of black female artists and whose style defined black beauty, fell out of the limelight and got into troubles. She could not or did not want to follow up with another album. I wish Morgan delved more into the songs because I had listened to Miseducation twice, but had not feeling it. I need to go back to it for more careful listens. Still, this is concise and informative read on the perspective of black feminist.

Scott Kubie: Writing for Designers

This book provides general guidelines for writing based on the four basic workflow:
prepare, compose, edit, and finish. It’s a helpful read, but I was expecting a more laser-focus approach from A Book Apart. I would like to see specific tips on writing clear, concise copy for user interface, product, and marketing. Maybe it should not be a brief, but a full book to cover more practical details.

Zadie Smith: Feel Free

A collection of essays on cultural criticism ranging from politics, music, art, and film. Smith’s writing is thoughtful, honest, and personal. My favorite pieces are on Jay Z, Joni Mitchell, and life-writing.

Adam Silver: Form Design Patterns

In his practical guide for designing usable and accessible forms, Silver walks readers through 10 different design patterns that focus on the user experience. The book is well written, thoroughly researched, and approachable. The only technical issue is that all the codes presented in the book have no space, which makes the codes hard to follow. Other than that, it is a valuable resource for web designers and developers.