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, we rarely encountered stories that reflected our experiences or that of our 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!
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 #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!
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 #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!