Tag Archives: reading books

Roqué’s Sunday Book Review: “See You in the Cosmos” by Jack Cheng

June 13, 2021

Reading Books / Roque Recommends

Today’s book recommendation is another local library find. More often than not, I like to wander all around a library to look at what’s on display in hopes that something catches my eye. Well, this book certainly did. I found it in the children’s section of the Woodbury library, and while it is specifically geared toward younger readers who are in middle school, it’s one of those books that can be read by people of any age.

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng is a book that explores the complexities of what it means to be a family and centers around a charismatic young boy who is traveling with his dog to participate in a rocket launching conference. If that premise alone does not attract your interest, then you may be better off taking a nap. This book is written from the perspective of this boy as a conversation with extraterrestrial beings from outer space. (Are you more interested now? No? Then go fluff your 500 thread count Egyptian cotton pillow, pronto!)

Here are the pros of this book in bedazzling polka dots:

Engaging, endearing, and thoughtful characters. It’s always good when the people you read about have integrity and the best intentions. There are a group of characters in this book who practically move mountains to make everything better for the rocket-launching kid. Not to give anything way, but there is something deeply troubling in his life that undermines his wellbeing and his lofty aspirations.

A unique and clever book format. I’ve read books whose chapters are actual diary entries or correspondence letters between characters. This book takes a similar, but quite modern, variation on this format. The chapters are recordings voiced by the boy that are logged in an iPod that he carries everywhere with him. As such, it reads in a way that a middle-school aged child would talk if he happened to be an ambitious and articulate young scientist who often fires on all cylinders. The book flows quickly in an organic and conversational way, ingeniously betraying every vulnerability that this child has.

Many layers and dimensions. It was a lovely surprise to understand that this book has depth and complexity, even though it is intended for young readers. The story confronts some heavy stuff and makes no assumptions that a young mind cannot handle heavier, weightier things. I admire that the author did not hold back and trusted that young readers could comprehend the twisted dynamics that bind people together (or tear them apart). Outside of this, the story is also a coming-of-age adventure, a quirky comedy, and a hero’s journey all balled-up into one. Any reader will get swept up into the swirling pace of its saga.

Okay, are there any cons?

Nope. None that I could think of. Does this make me a bad reviewer?

Probably?

All I can say is that I genuinely enjoyed this book. It’s story is rich, and its characters are strong and compassionate. The writing kept me wanting to know what would happen next. I wanted this boy to be okay.

So, that’s that. If you are still not interested in this book, then, after your long and luxurious nap, step outside and look out into the night sky. The stars and hazy clusters that you see are not what they seem, despite the beauty that they present.

What you see in that night sky is what you’ll find in this book—something wholesome and worthwhile hidden in the distance of things, like the surprising (but often elusive) presence of tenderness and love where it cannot be seen.

It’s the kind of feeling I hope we all experience in our waking hours, soft Egyptian cotton be damned.

—Roqué

How I Read Books Every Day

July 6, 2020

Reading Books

As of this moment, I have read over 7,300 pages across 23 books since January 1, 2020. This is clearly an anomaly because I typically read only 12 to 15 books every year. (It’s been less than that while I was in college leading up to my graduation last December.)

Two primary factors have lead to this.

  1. I set a goal to read at least 40 books at the beginning of the year.
  2. The global Coronavirus pandemic effectively canceled all of my plans for 2020.

The lofty goal of 40 books was questionable, at best, and I’ve pursued it only because of the large backlog of terrific books I’ve yet to get my hands on. Covid-19 and sheltering at home have enabled me to develop very clear and simple reading habits that have made all of the difference. I only have 17 books left to reach my goal, and at my current rate, I may exceed that quantity by the end of this crazy year.

Before I outline how I have been able to read so much, I have a couple of disclaimers to get out of the way. First of all, I am not a speed reader by any means. I read at a moderate and steady pace, and I’ve learned how to read with my eyes—as opposed to reading with an “inner voice” that enunciates every word. I keep a moderate pace only because I find that comprehension and attention to detail gets compromised if I try to rush through a book. Secondly, I make sure that I actually want to finish the book. If it has a well-written and enchanting story with characters that I actually care about, then this definitely makes finishing it fun and easy.

So, here are the steps I take to enhance my daily reading excursions:

  • I read a minimum of 35 pages or read for at least one full hour EVERY DAY.
  • I have my next book ready to tackle as soon as I am finished with my current book.
  • I make time either in the morning when I wake up or before bed at night to read.
  • If a book feels tedious or boring by at least a quarter or a third of the way into the story, I dump it and move on to the next one.
  • I make sure I have sufficient light whenever and wherever I read to minimize fatigue in my eyes. My Kobo e-reader has a front glow light that I can adjust for comfort.
  • I borrow MANY e-books through my local library’s online Overdrive portal. I can borrow and download a book or I can place holds on several books in mere seconds without ever leaving my house. This saves me a lot of time.

That’s basically it in a nutshell. Because I enjoy reading so much, it’s not difficult to incorporate it into my daily life. Lastly, I cannot stress this enough. It is vital and paramount that you read a book with excellent content. This makes all the difference in the world. You’ll fly through an outstanding book and story in no time at all.

Find a terrific book and start reading now!! Whether you only read a handful or hundreds of books within a year, you’re bound to find a story that will enthrall and inspire you.

Happy Summer Reading to you!!