The Cosmos Book Club
The Cosmos Book Club is a gathering of self-identifying Asian women that meets every six weeks. Our mission is to support Asian/American diasporic literature written by women authors as we engage in thoughtful discussions as a community around identity, politics, and life experiences. Growing up in the US public school system, Asian women rarely encountered stories that reflected their experiences or that of their families.
The books we were taught to appreciate were primarily borrowed from the Western canon, and Asian stories, if included in the curriculum, were often exotic (The Good Earth) or solemnly related to World War II (Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes). We knew there was more out there for us and were determined to co-create a community-led book club to discover, share and celebrate it.
By reading and analyzing works of Asian women authors, we aim to improve our understanding of complex issues, nourish our well-being, and reaffirm one another. We welcome all who want to take part in these meaningful discussions - no reading requirement!
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The Cosmos Book Club #7
If You Leave Me
by Crystal Hana Kim
Our next book club will be on Monday, April 8 at AAWW to discuss If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim! This debut novel published last summer delves into the lives of two ill-fated lovers Haemi and Kyunghwan and the difficult choices they are both forced to make in the years during and after the Korean War.
We are pleased to announce we will have Crystal in appearance at this book club! We will host an author Q&A as well as a signing. Please save the date and stay tuned for more details.
Partner with our Book Club!
Are you a food, beverage, or venue sponsor who wants to reach a community of Asian millennial and Gen-Z readers and writers? An author or publisher who wants to directly reach an engaged and active audience? Get in touch with us at email@example.com.
Past partners have included the Penguin Random House, Little A Books, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and Boba Guys.
Past authors include Lisa Ko (author of The Leavers, a 2017 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction), Nicole Chung (author of All You Can Ever Know), Sona Charaipotra (author of “Still Star-Crossed”), and more!
Past Book Clubs
The Cosmos Book Club #6: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
At our sixth gathering, facilitator Rosa brought forth a great icebreaker idea to draw out a scene in our future graphic novel memoirs. As folks trickled in, we each got to work busting out our best stick figure drawing skills to depict scenes from our childhood on index cards, snacking on chả giò along with lemon cake and strawberries generously brought by our members. After finishing our artwork, we each introduced ourselves along with our personal stories.
Facilitator Carolyn shared a poem Warsan Shire's "Home" that gives voice to the refugee experience. We talked about the meaning of home as separate from a physical location and how language can affect this mindset. We recalled the emphasis on keeping documents safe from our own childhoods, and how hoarding was a common characteristic in our households (contrasting Thi's family's sparse home). Our conversation veered deeply into the personal—from sharing the fear we hold in having and raising children to the resentments we hold toward our parents. The Best We Could Do dives deep into Thi's family history and own fears, and it was cathartic for us to have the space and time to explore the same.
The Cosmos Book Club #5: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Armed with plenty of onigiri to share, we kicked off the new year with our fifth gathering to discuss A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. The group jumped in right away to chat about this ambitious novel. Was Ruth the character based off Ruth the author? (At least somewhat, yes). What did it mean that Nao never ended up sharing Jiko's life story in her diary? Can we create technology with empathy and conscience, as Haruki #2 strived to do? (A member shared a podcast on the biases of tech regarding this topic). What did we think of suicide and death as "finding an edge" to ever-flowing, unending life? We searched for these answers and more from the book, in history and within our personal lives during our conversation.
The Cosmos Book Club #4: All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Munching on waffles and choco-pies, eighteen women introduced themselves by sharing where each most enjoyed reading (common answers: in bed, on the subway, in nature!) and jumped right into thoughts on the memoir. We ruminated on everything from how hard personal nonfiction can be (and what readers feel we're owed for a good story!) to our own family histories and the power of sisterly bonds. The group also broached the questions that Chung's complex story raised in our own lives. Our lively and provocative conversation definitely left a lot of food for thought!
The Cosmos Book Club #3: If They Come for Us by Fatimah Asghar
We gathered on a Friday night, topping off conversation with seltzer and bags of Hot Cheetos (we read it was author Fatimah Asghar's favorite)!
Many of us shared how If They Come for Us made us cry and the various meanings of Partition. We marveled over the many creative forms Asghar absorbed and reminisced over childhood memories bonding with friends while watching WWE. We explored our relationship with body shaming and what identity means to us without labels, both topics heavily explored in the poetry collection. Given the particularly heavy day of Senate hearings, conversation also wove in and out of discussing frustrations with current events.
After wrapping up at AAWW, we headed to a rooftop bar nearby for more candid conversation over cocktails!
The Cosmos Book Club #2: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
We divided into smaller groups for a more intimate book discussion of A Thousand Beginnings & Endings. We talked about the various stories within the anthology (rife with star-crossed lovers) and pondered whether knowing about the original myths would be more impactful before or after reading their inspired retellings. Members shared how different this YA sci-fi/fantasy book choice was from their usual reading material.
We were joined by Sona Charaipotra, the author of "Still Star-Crossed" for a Q&A session following our small group discussion. Sona delighted us as she described her future projects (including a book about an Indian girl Doogie Howser!) and gave a glimpse into the inspiration for her story (her first short story, no less). We ended the Q&A with a quick "this or that" round where Sona & members alike debated the merits of Twitter or Instagram.
The Cosmos Book Club #1: The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Our inaugural gathering took place at Asian American Writers’ Workshop to discuss The Leavers by Lisa Ko, the story of a Fuzhounese boy named Deming Guo whose mother, Polly, disappears after not returning from her job at a nail salon. Deming is adopted into an affluent white family from the suburbs and assumes a new name to fit his new life: Daniel Wilkinson. He is a young man when someone from his past reaches out to him through the Internet, unveiling a bridge back to the life and family he had before the disappearance. Author Lisa Ko joined us to share in the discussion of her award-winning novel, engaging the audience in a Q&A and signing copies for attendees!