Sharing the books we are reading right now, or admitting that we are not really doing that actually.

Hot Pot is a weekly thing where we gather around a topic that happens to be on our minds, talking to each other and readers alike. If you’ve got a take of your own, you should join us in the comments below.

This week: what we’re reading (or pretending to read).

Melissa Chastang. An Email is Forever, or So You Want to Work at a Law Firm.

Randy Chen. Life After Law: Finding Work You Love with the JD You Have, by Liz Brown, JD. Thinks are pretty bleak right now here, too. Another book I saw that looked intriguing is The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang. The title alone is pretty great.

Jean Zhou Smyth. The Girl on The Train. To be honest, I don’t like the characters, but it is exciting. There’s a lot going on.

James SmythNow that I’m in grad school I’m printing reams of papers off Blackboard all day every day and would feel guilty about reading anything but Twitter for fun. That still hasn’t stopped me from indulging my tsundoku habit. For brevity’s sake I’ll only mention what book is on my mind at this moment, and that book is the Bibliotheca edition of the Bible that I ordered several life stages ago on Kickstarter and finally get to hold and read as soon as my family brings it over for Christmas.

Jay Zhu. God, I wish I had something better to offer. I’m currently in the lab doing vascular biology research. We have monthly journal clubs (which are like book clubs, but instead of reading and discussing book chapters, we hand pick scientific publications in our field of research). This was my month to present so naturally, I chose the article “TGFβ Triggers miR-143/145 Transfer From Smooth Muscle Cells to Endothelial Cells, Thereby Modulating Vessel Stabilization” by a group of Italian biologists. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but suffice to say that opposing cell types dialogue with one another in dramatic fashion. Cells forming tunneling nanotubes and sending coded signals–some real convincing action. This was a particularly moving bar graph (

screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-6-41-40-pmThe plot is dense, and the pace plodding, but overall, 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Roaming Through Life. Just finished Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I read it because one of my (conservative white male) friends told me it was the only book he could remember ever having read by a black author. Relatedly or unrelatedly (I’m not sure which), I did not like it. Just started The Orphan Master’s Son last night. I’m only about 50 pages in, but I’m loving it.  

Gina Brittney Ann. I just wrapped Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie and absolutely loved it. It sat on my bookshelf for entirely too long and once I finally picked it up, I couldn’t put it down (except for the times when colleagues kept pushing credit agreements in my face). Adichie is one of my favorite authors and I adore the way she unapologetically seems to keep surprising the world. Who knew that a woman could consider herself a feminist AND want to not be judged for enjoying makeup! Amirite?? I’m moving on to A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James now, which is a heavy read (both literally and figuratively) by a fellow Jamaican. Color me green, gold, black and excited.

Quiet Warrior. I tend to read three books at a time. Right now I’m reading Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom , one of a my spiritual heroes (weird name, I know. Tramp as vagrant. The book is over 40 years old). She survived a Nazi concentration camp and then went around the world sharing her story. She has a way of making faith and trust in God so simple. I love short stories, particularly short stories by black authors. So I just bought Children of the Night: the Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1967 -present.  It’s over 500 pages and I hope to spend a lot of time reading it this break.

LavaLamp. I’m about a third of the way through The Magic Years by Selma H. Fraiberg. If ever there was an instruction manual for babies and kids, this is it. This was recommended to me by my psychoanalytic supervisor. Through personal kid anecdotes and clinical kid ones, Fraiberg tries to explain the world through the eyes of a kid throughout development. She talks about infants as scientists and magicians, that they start out with this super narcissistic and God-like sense that since they dropped their sippy cup, the entire Metropolitan area of Los Angeles has rain. This shifts to a broader understanding of the world, potty training, separation anxiety and then the big questions (“Who am I?”, “How can I return my little brother back to the store?”). This book is pretty amazing.

Wonderbread. I just started Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Devastatingly written. It’s striking how much he at once writes like Baldwin but also doesn’t. His ability to put the inarticulable into words is incredible. And his grasp of history…. Can this man write all our textbooks please? Next on my list is MacCarthy on Cross-Examination by Terence MacCarthy. He’s one of the masters at it. My coworkers have given me great tips for cross, but sometimes you just gotta sit down with that book and cram it all into your brain.


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