Excerpt from “Among the White Moon Faces” by Shirley Geok-lin Lim

There are many ways in which America tells you you don’t belong. The eyes that slide around to find another face behind you. The smiles that appear only after you have almost passed them, intended for someone else. The stiffness in the body as you stand beside them watching your child and theirs slide down the pole, and the relaxed smile when another white mother comes up to talk. The polite distance as you say something about the children at the swings and the chattiness when a white parent makes a comment. A polite people, it is the facial muscles, the shoulder tension, and the silence that give away white Americans’ uneasiness with people not like them. The United States, a nation of immigrants, makes strangers only of those who are visibly different, including the indigenous people of the continent. Some lessons begin in infancy, with silent performances, yet with eloquent instructions.

Changes to the List: May 2018

In my ongoing effort to achieve gender parity in my list (as well as my somewhat less successful effort to pare the list down to a more manageable size) I’ve made a few changes to the list in the past month. I’ve also changed my reading order for Southeast Asia. I had originally intended to go from Thailand to Cambodia and then to Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Macau; I decided it would make more geographical sense to go Thailand-Myanmar-Laos-Cambodia-Vietnam-Macau. Vietnam and Macau don’t share a border (there’s a bit of China between them), but they’re a hell of a lot closer than Macau and Myanmar.

Here are my additions and subtractions, with the occasional explanation: Continue reading