David Sedaris: A Carnival of Snackery

Sedaris’s diaries from 2004 to 2020 are filled with humorous stories he had seen, heard, or encountered. His observations are the money shots. The “balls” joke is just too hilarious. His entries on the 2020 election are moving. Against all odds, his father beat Covid at age 97. It made me wonder what if I never made that 911 call to get my mother hospitalized. Could she have beaten COVID as well? I can’t turn back time now.

What prompted me to read this book was that I wanted to write my blog posts like he writes his diaries. What I had discovered is that Sedaris hated writing about feelings. He thinks feelings are boring and no one gives a fuck how you feel. I finally understand why he is a successful writer and I am still an amateur. Then again, Sedaris does Sedaris and I do me. I will continue to write about my feelings and the things I want to write about. Even if no one cares, I do, and that’s all that matters.

Brain Deer: The Doctor Who Fooled the World

In his riveting book, Brain Deer, a multi-award-winning investigative reporter, digs deep into three decades of Andrew Wakefield’s misinformation war on vaccines. Deer exposes Wakefield’s professional misconduct, dishonesty, and fraud. Wakefield claimed that the MMR vaccine caused inflammatory bowel disease. He argued that autistic enterocolitis was related to bowel disease and regression and that opioid peptides impact the brain. He conducted studies of twelve kids that had autism caused by vaccines. Unfortunately, these kids already developed autistic behaviors before they were vaccinated. It took me almost a month to read this book and I am glad that I took the time to learn about the doctor with no patients who fooled the world. Deer’s work is a master of investigative journalism.

Edward Sorel: Profusely Illustrated

Edward Sorel is a satirical cartoonist and an unapologetic leftist. His illustrations appeared on the covers of major publications such as the Esquire, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker. His memoir is both personal and political. His writing is engaging and his works are exceptional. A must-read for designers. I didn’t even know about Mr. Sorel and to my surprise he is 92 years old. He can still write and draw at his age. I have utter respect and admiration for the man. I enjoyed this book throughout and I am glad that I had picked it up to read it.

Patricia Lockwood: No One is Talking About This

I read the entire novel and still hadn’t understood the plot, but then the plot doesn’t matter. This is the kind of book that you just read a bit at a time. If you know the reference, you will enjoy it. If you don’t know then you just have to keep reading. Lockwood is a brilliant writer and any part of this book can be quoted. Here’s one:

The first boy who had ever called her a bitch was now in jail for possession of child pornography, and this felt like a metaphor for the modern discourse. But the modern discourse, too, was his mother moaning after a single glass of red wine, “I know that he’ll have to go to hell, but still he’s my son” and “What did we do? What did we do? What did we do! What did we do!

Nguyễn Hữu Lý: Quê hương qua thi ca Việt Nam

Hơn 100 bài thơ qua hơn 100 tác giả viết về quê hương Việt Nam, viết về những địa danh từ Bắc, Trung và Nam, và viết về nỗi nhớ cùng nỗi đau của những tâm hồn tha hương. Tất cả những bài thơ được ông Nguyễn Hữu Lý phiên dịch sang tiếng Anh. Tôi có ý định sau khi đọc xong sẽ tuyển ra một số bài để làm một dự án mẫu đưa vào Vietnamese Typography nhưng tôi không mấy hài lòng về phần tiếng Anh từ cách viết đến ngữ pháp.

James Edmondson: Some Tips on Drawing Type from A to Z (Reread)

Last November, I received a misprinted copy of this little book. Although Oh No had provided me the PDF version, I didn’t read it until I received the corrected print copy. It’s a short book with lots of illustrations and funny explanations to give readers some insights into the world of type design. For type design students, the details and nuances of each letter will serve as an invaluable reference. For typographers, the structure of the letterforms will help them make better type selections. James Edmondson should continue with numbers, punctuations, and diacritics. Just make sure the copies printed correctly before sending them out.

Tâm Minh: Mưa Xuân

Tập thơ gồm những tác phẩm từ những tác giả tên tuổi như Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, và William Shakespeare được dịch giả Tâm Minh chuyển sang ngữ Việt. Khi đọc tập thơ này tôi chỉ chăm chú vào tiếng Việt để xem ông Tâm Minh chuyển ngữ ra sao. Và ông đã dựa vào ý thơ để viết lại những câu thơ bằng tiếng Việt chứ ông không dịch xác nghĩa. Chẳng hạn như đoạn cuối của bài “The Road Not Taken”, Robert Frost viết như sau:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Tâm Minh chuyển sang tiếng Việt như sau:

Mai này ta kể chuyện đời
Nơi miền đất lạ thở dài luyến thương:
Rừng kia chia cách đôi đường
Ta theo một ngả ít vương dấu giày
Đời ta từ đó đổi thay
Lá vàng theo gió cuốn bay cuối trời.

Không hiểu tại sao ông lại thêm câu cuối: “Lá vàng theo gió cuốn bay cuối trời”. Quyển sách này đã xuất bản vào năm vào năm 2001 tại tiểu bang Virginia, nơi tôi và dịch giả hiện cư ngụ. Nếu có dịp gặp mặt ông, tôi sẽ hỏi thử. Vì những bài chuyển ngữ của ông có chất thơ chứ không chỉ thông dịch nên đọc rất thú vị.

Trí C. Trần & Trâm Lê: Vietnamese Stories

I was looking forward to reading Vietnamese traditional folktales in English. Disappointedly, the English translations were so dense that the spellbinding essence of the folk stories didn’t come through. The English stories sounded foreign and stilted. For instance, the idiomatic expression of “Ăn chưa no, lo chưa tới” was translated simply as “carefree” or “Cái nết đánh chết cái đẹp” was translated as “Beauty is only skin-deep.” The literal translations would have been more helpful for language learners.

Geraldine Woods: 25 Great Sentences

Through her impressive collection, Geraldine Woods, a language enthusiast, shows us the power of the sentences. Drawing from a wide and diverse range of examples, from writers to poets to musicians to presidents, Woods digs deep into the intentions behind the sentences so that we can appreciate their greatness. An enlightening read.

Anthony Veasna So: Afterparties

A collection of personal stories that took readers into the Cambodian-American community. So was a gifted storyteller who didn’t shy away from sharing his sexuality. His stories were honest, heartfelt, and hilarious. Being a gay Cambodian American, So offered such a unique voice and perspective. My heart crushed to learn that he had died at the age of 28 due to an overdose.