I like collecting physical books on a physical bookshelf. The experience of reading isn't complete to me without carrying around something tangible and being able to associate ideas and stories with the time and place I discovered them.

While I tend to save, highlight, link, and hop all around digital content, I just start books on page 1 and trust the author to deliver a self-contained experience. You won't see any notes from me besides the short post-reading reviews on this page.

If you have book recs, submit them I'll save them in the back of my mind, and if I ever stumble across it in a bookstore or library I'll grab it and let you know.


∅ no stars: If I didn't think a book was worth recommending, it won't be on this list- so having no stars isn't a bad thing! But YMMV on these: they range anywhere from 'just above average' to 'absolutely incredible but not for a general audience'.

one star: great read! I had a fun time and learned something new.

two stars: I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading. I think about its ideas and revisit it pretty regularly.

three stars: this book changed my life and maybe it will change yours too.


sort by: title|author|rating
Paper Names
Paper Namesby Susie Luo
millbrae library new book section

Paper Names jumps between three perspectives- a Chinese-American immigrant, his daughter, and their morally questionable lawyer friend- as a family grapples with differing perspectives and a lingering incompatibility with a world of entitlement. Having lived, worked, and studied with hundreds of people in similar situations, this book hit close to home and redefines the American Dream in a way that really resonates with me.

Afterwordby Nina Schuyler

after the death of her mentor and love, a genius mathematician devotes her life towards reconstructing him. a very human story about AI, and an antithesis to the classic doomsday scenarios.

The Future
The Futureby Naomi Alderman

Margaret Atwood's mentorship really shines in Alderman's modern take on the speculative fiction genre, where a few unlucky people at the right place and time try to steer obscene wealth and power towards a better direction. I inhaled this book in a way I hadn't in a long time.

A Second Chance for Yesterday
A Second Chance for Yesterdayby R.A. Sinn
millbrae library new books section

In the familiar setting of a San Francisco startup in the 2060's, Nev writes the worst bug of her life and starts falling backwards, waking up a day ago instead of a day later. It's a wildly fun read with a great concept; and in its more humorous parts, it serves a great satirization of Bay Area software engineering.

Crying in H Mart
Crying in H Martby Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner's voice extends even further than her accomplishments as the lead singer/songwriter of Japanese Breakfast, and I'm glad it's one that's been heard by so many through this book.

Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America
Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in Americaby Conor Dougherty

Another fantastic piece of must-read journalism for anyone living in a city with an untenable housing situation. The solution to the housing crisis is deeply political and bureaucratic, yet Dougherty makes the problem approachable via the stories and battles of front-line activists.

Golden State Bouldering
Golden State Boulderingby Kimbrough Moore & Shannon Joslin

As humans, we like doing unnecessarily hard things for no particular reason. This guidebook not only enables one to climb the coolest rocks in the Bay Area, but also explains how one might identify the most difficult humanly possible way to do so (with cute illustrations!).

The Anthropocene Reviewed
The Anthropocene Reviewedby John Green

In the Anthropocene there are no disinterested observers; there are only participants. John Green challenges the notion of the prototypical five-star review, and spins it into a deeply personal memoir that expands upon its origins as a podcast.

The Secret of our Success
The Secret of our Successby Joseph Henrich

Out of the millions of species, what made humans uniquely poised to conquer the world? This book offers a compelling two-word answer alongside enough cross-cultural context to fill a semester-long psychology course.

Bad Blood
Bad Bloodby John Carreyrou

This is the best piece of journalism I have read so far.

The Three Body Problem
The Three Body Problemby Cixin Liu
uc berkeley main stacks

I have no doubt that this will be regarded as one of the great classics of science fiction literature, if it isn't already.

Galapagosby Kurt Vonnegut
anthro 1

I read this book in March 2020. Due to some minor health-related concerns at the time, I do not remember much about its contents despite writing an entire final paper on it (pre-ChatGPT, too).

Ender's Game
Ender's Gameby Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game is a book about some unrealistically smart children and their battle against authority figures in space. It is also about some other things: war, politics, identity, and coming of age, to name a few. I've read this two different but equally enjoyable ways: first, as a standalone book; and second, as fluffy exposition to the much heavier-hitting Speaker for the Dead.

Speaker for the Dead
Speaker for the Deadby Orson Scott Card

There are two sides to the Ender Quartet: Ender's Game, and everything else. Speaker for the Dead is the introduction to a thoughtful exploration of otherness, and the beginning of a long redemption arc for humanity after [redacted Ender's Game spoilers]. This is far and away my favorite installment of the Ender saga.

Xenocideby Orson Scott Card

Xenocide is generally regarded as the weakest of the Ender Quartet, and I'm inclined to agree- but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I wouldn't recommend continuing past Speaker for the Dead unless you already know you're into science fiction, philosophy, and Card's writing style. Go read Ender's Shadow otherwise if you're looking for a continuation on fun Ender-related content.

Children of the Mind
Children of the Mindby Orson Scott Card

A satisfying-enough conclusion to the Ender Quartet, in which the Speaker for the Dead is finally seen in action speaking for the dead, and the many secrets from the preceeding two books are finally uncovered.

The Rainmaker
The Rainmakerby John Grisham
uc berkeley main stacks

Despite this legal thriller being in the opposite side of the library from my usual sci-fi corner, I was blown away at how enthralling Grisham's writing is and would recommend anyone pick up one of his books (doesn't have to be this one!). I am also now an expert in the American court system, in the same way I am an expert in the Korean education system from reading a couple Webtoons.

Sophie's World
Sophie's Worldby Jostein Gaarder
uc berkeley main stacks

Sophie's World is a great introduction to the prevailing figures of Western philosophy delivered in a straightforward, informational manner.

1984by George Orwell
high school literature

literally 1984.

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Taleby Margaret Atwood
high school literature

After reading The Year of the Flood in high school (and being somewhat underwhelmed), I decided to give Atwood's writing one more try. I'm very glad I did. Like 1984, this cautionary tale is a timely warning of the mistakes we've made, and what might happen to us if we don't change our course.

Thining Fast and Slow
Thining Fast and Slowby Daniel Kahneman
de anza college intro psychology

This is the book that got me into psychology. To be completely honest, I've read textbooks that were less dry than this, but I'm amazed at how Kahneman was able to pack nearly everything an average person needs to know about psychology into a single, non-back-breaking book. If you're already well-versed in modern cognitive psychology, this will likely be completely redundant. Otherwise, I recommend trading ~20 hours of your life for a truly impactful, self-contained knowledge dump.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxyby Douglas Adams
high school literature

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite books are, this always tops the list. In addition to brilliant British humour, it also contains some of the most iconic assertions in literary canon: the meaning of life, humans as the third most intelligent species on Earth, and what happens when we accrue interest for a few billion years, just to name a few.

2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odysseyby Arthur C. Clarke
kindle unlimited

2001 was my first real sci-fi novel, and set a very high bar for what is now my favorite genre. Kubrick's famous match cut from the movie perfectly represents the abrupt awe of turning the page from Act I to Act II, and it only gets more iconic from there.

Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbesby Bill Watterson
cupertino library

Every couple of years, I have the urge to read as many Calvin and Hobbes strips as I can get my hands on. So far, every read has been better than the last and I don't expect this trend to ever change direction. It's a timeless collection of philosophy that can mean anything you want it to-- but really, it's just a boy going on adventures with his stuffed tiger.