Ep. 265 Deep Comfort Reads with Nicole Chung – Transcript

Bestselling author Nicole Chung joins The Stacks to discuss her new book A Living Remedy: A Memoir. We talk about her process of writing and talking about grief in the midst and aftermath of COVID, and what it’s like as a memoirist to be publicly known for her family life. We also hear what it’s meant for Nicole to become a full-time writer, and how she uses vibes to organize her books.

The Stacks Book Club selection for May is This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown by Taylor Harris. We will discuss the book on May 31st with Nicole Chung.


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Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today we welcome the brilliant memoirist Nicole Chung to the show. Nicole is the author of A Living Remedy, which is one of my favorite reads so far this year. It’s a sharp personal and political memoir tackling family home death and grief and adequate health care and wealth disparities among other themes, The New York Times called A Living Remedy a luminous addition to the literature of loss. It follows Nicole’s beloved and bestselling memoir, all you can ever know which was a Stacks book club pick in 2019. Nicole is also a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a Time contributor and a Slate columnist, and she’s also an avid reader with fantastic tastes. So get your pens ready for the second half of this episode when she goes through some of her faves though, everything we talked about in today’s episode, and every episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. Nicole will return on May 31. For the discussion of our book club selection This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics and Facing the Unknown by Taylor Harris. If you love the stacks, and you want more of it, like our incredible community on Discord, our bonus episodes our monthly meetups to discuss our book club picks, and more, you must join the stacks on Patreon. It’s just $5 a month and you get all of that plus you get to know you’re part of making this black woman run independent book podcast a reality every single week I had to patreon.com/the stacks and join now a special shout out to our newest members Nia Smith, Colleen Stearns and Halina Thompson, thank you all so much for joining the stocks pack and thank you to the entire stacks pack. Because I love you. Alright, now it’s time for my conversation with Nicole Chung.

All right, everybody, I am thrilled to welcome back a friend of the podcast an author that many of you already know, because we did her first book for book club. It’s Nicole Chung, and we’re here to talk about her new book A Living Remedy. Nicole, welcome back.

Nicole Chung 2:11
Thank you so much, Traci. I’m excited to be here.

Traci Thomas 2:14
Okay. Nicole, book two. I kind of want to just start with you explaining to folks a little bit what this book is about.

Nicole Chung 2:25
Yeah, I mean, this is tricky, actually trickier than it sounds because I never did work out a great elevator pitch, you know, for A Living Remedy. So the book began, originally as a story of grief from my father, who died at 67. His death was spurred in part by precarity and lack of access to health care. And that was a story that I, I felt really compelled to write. And then you know, I started working on it on this book, and my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And so I never expected that it would become a book about losing both my parents within two years of each other, my adoptive parents that is, but that that is very much what it became. And you know, it has different layers. I like to think there are different ways into the book. But it is essentially a story of grief and class and American inequality.

Traci Thomas 3:14
I love the book so much, you know that and I think listeners, if you if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you probably might not know that. But I love this book so much. I think I think in my notes, it says I started crying on page 29, which is very early for me to be emotional in a book, I mean, crying it off. For me, it’s sort of a reach. But I was like, deeply touched by this book, I have lost a parent, and you hit on so many things that I felt like, we’re right on about that grief. And then, you know, there’s so many parts of your story that are really different from my story. And and I mean, I just love the way you write. There’s so many things about this book to love, both the writing and the storytelling, and also like the things that you had to say and just, it’s just people listening. This is a good one. I this is one of the really, really good books I’ve read this year.

Nicole Chung 4:01
Thank you. That means so much to me truly.

Traci Thomas 4:03
I’m happy to hear that. And we’re going to talk about sort of how this book experience compares for you as to your first book, but we’ll save that for later. And I realized I sort of jumped the gun. Normally I asked people to tell us about themselves. And I was just like, let’s talk about the book. But you should tell us a little bit about you aside from the book?

Nicole Chung 4:20
Of course. So I live in the DC area now. But I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Born and raised. I was born and adopted in Seattle, and I spent most of them the first 18 years of my life in a little town in southern Oregon. And I was the only Korean I knew there. Because I’m an adoptee. So like that includes my family, the only one I knew until I went to college. I’ve been on the East Coast for over 20 years now I have two kids and a beautiful golden retriever. And in my past lives I’ve you know, I’ve been an editor and I’m currently a contributing writer to many publications. Yeah, so that’s kind of me. This is my second book. Actually, and no one is more surprised than I that I have written. Not one but two memoirs. I’ve never would have anticipated it. But there you go.

Traci Thomas 5:07
What did you think you would write?

Nicole Chung 5:09
I don’t know. Like, like many people, I think, who loved writing. As a kid I wrote, like mostly fiction. I wrote a lot of poetry that was not very good. But I still love to read poetry. But I think, I think when you’re growing up as a kid, and you’re starting to stretch your wings and and see which creative pursuits you love, nobody’s really like I’m gonna grow up and write my memoir. I mean, I don’t think that’s something we say. And I don’t know, I came to the forum by surprise. And I not that late, but a little bit late. I was in my like, mid to late 20s. But I do I really, really love the genre. I don’t know if I’ll write anymore memoirs. But yeah, I feel very lucky to have gotten to write these two.

Traci Thomas 5:51
I think it’s interesting. You said that about kids. Because as you say that I’m realizing there aren’t really memoirs for kids, right? Like, that’s not something that you read as a kid, there might be like nonfiction, biographies about people. But like a memoir, trying to think is tough.

Nicole Chung 6:07
There’s definitely a lot of literature for younger people, where authors are, they’re transparent about borrowing heavily from their own lives, they might say, this is semi autobiographical, and you know, or sometimes even so my co editor for a young adult anthology of stories by adoptees that I have coming out this fall Shannon give me she just wrote a book that is very much like speculative fiction slash memoir, like it’s right on the line. And it is intended, partly for like, it’s an to put away audience. But you’re right. It’s, it’s kind of rare, and I’m not sure why that is. But I do think we see a lot of like, especially, you know, Own Voices type stories, where people are at least borrowing from their experiences and, and trying to represent people like them in their communities.

Traci Thomas 6:52
Do you think you will write fiction?

Nicole Chung 6:56
I would love to, you know, I, I tried it out a little bit. Well, I should say, like, when I was younger, it was like what I wrote, growing up, and even through college, you know, when I took writing classes, I was taking primarily fiction classes. And then, I don’t know I’ve, I’ve outlined a novel, which, you know, not ready to talk about yet. But I’m very interested to see if I can write it. And I would love to write also literature for young people. So you know, we’ll see. But yeah, I’m trying not to put a lot of pressure on myself in terms of what’s next. This was a really, it was a difficult one to write. And it has been a privilege, but also kind of taxing as you can imagine, to promote. And I really want to get through, like events and tour and at least a month before before I start thinking a lot about the next will be so

Traci Thomas 7:47
yeah, I mean, no, there’s no pressure from us. That’s just we’re just rooting for you. That’s what I say, yeah. I don’t care. Whatever you write next, and when you write it, I’ll read it, I promise.

Nicole Chung 7:56
So that makes you the perfect reader.

Traci Thomas 7:59
I’m just waiting. I’m just eager. Every time I asked someone about like the next thing, I’m like you, you can also say fuck you leave me alone, because I’ll read it whenever it comes. I don’t care. I just am curious and nosy. But I wanted to Okay, so let’s talk about a living remedy. What has it been like talking repeatedly, over and over about grief about death. And in the case of your father and your mother, you know, it feels like almost wrongful in a way like your dad didn’t have to get sick and be so sick so quickly. Like if the American healthcare system, you know, like there is some sort of like, frustration, maybe at the very least. So I’d love to know what it’s like for you to talk about that. And write about that, and sit with that for so long.

Nicole Chung 8:52
Yeah, I mean, I appreciate that question. too, I guess to start with the writing, you know, pre pre promo, and you’re just kind of with your thoughts and your words, I wrote a lot of this book during the pandemic, I should say, like, rewrote it during the pandemic, I took probably almost a year off from writing actually, when my mother got her terminal cancer diagnosis. I just put the book down, I knew it was going to change that was like, if I could write it at all, because there were several points when I was like, This is too much. And how am I supposed to write about losing both of them? How am I supposed to lose both of them? Right? And then at some point, like make art about that. It just it did it felt kind of wrong, and it felt impossible. And I wasn’t in a place where I was ready to even really think too hard about it. So from the time she was sick until about six months after she passed away, and my mother died in the spring of 2020. She started hospice care actually right as like the first Coronavirus cases were being reported as I write about in the book. I really just didn’t I wasn’t ready to go back to this and I did not know crucially I did not know what it was going to become I will say like, when I did find I was able to get back to it. It’s not that it felt, of course, it can’t feel good, like reliving those experiences, but there was so much there’s so much active memory work you do with a memoir. And in a way, it was like another way of honestly spending time with both of them. And I knew I was creating something, if I actually managed to create it, it was going to be a story in which my parents lived. And like, I mean, lived on the page and would hopefully feel like real to people. And real to me, that’s not to say you can ever fully perfectly capture, like the quirks and nuances of who a person is in a portrayal of a book. But like I was trying to get as much as I could in like the short space. And it was meaningful, like to get to spend that time with those memories, and to try to do do their story, our story, justice, and even to grapple with, like the things that we were talking about with AI, you know, my father had diabetes, he had kidney disease, I don’t believe death at 67 was an like this, this inevitability for him. You know, my mother didn’t believe that either. And so there was this part of my grief, that did mean confronting that injustice and grappling with the fact that it is such a common American death that so many families here really do go through the same or very similar things, because of our broken systems because of our broken safety net. So it was actually like, important to me to be able to face that head on in the story. It wasn’t something I saw, necessarily explored in a lot of grief stories. But for me, and for my mother, after we lost my dad, it was such, like it was just so interwoven with that mourning experience was, was facing our own regret, and then trying to forgive ourselves and also realize the truth of what he had really been up against.

Traci Thomas 11:59
I wanted, you said that you started writing this before the pandemic, originally, and then you got the diagnosis for your mom. And I’m wondering, how writing about grief maybe changed in you, as you are also part of this global grief related to COVID-19?

Nicole Chung 12:18
Yeah, that’s such a good question. I mean, I like to say this book was a process, right, as every book is, but I mean, like a rewriting process. And then it’s also like about a process because that’s what grief is. And I, I mean, I remember after my dad died, there’s this sense of betrayal. And like shock you feel when you realize for you, the world has completely shifted. And it seems like for everyone else, it just keeps going on with my mother who died in the spring of 2020. Like there was no snapping back to normal life, nobody I knew was leading a normal existence. And I won’t say that made me feel good, of course, like I would have preferred that not be happening, because then not just because it prevented me from, you know, being with her and the way I wanted to be toward the end, but just a difficult thing for everyone to go through. But I do remember feeling like Oh, nobody has to dig very deep. Nobody has to reach very far. Everybody knows how to access grief right now, everybody is grieving something or someone, everyone has lost something, it may not be a loved one. But maybe it was an experience a moment, like a wedding, a graduation ceremony, like time with loved ones, we were all missing something. And it felt like it felt like in that way, what I was writing about was even more universal than then grief would normally be. It was just like, an interesting time to be to be thinking about that, and like how it changes you and how it shifts your priorities and your values. And, and then to be trying to, like translate that experience in a way that could perhaps matter to other people make them think of their own losses, you know, their loved ones.

Traci Thomas 13:57
Yeah. And then, you know, we fast forward to the book coming out now in April of 2023. And you still are obviously I mean, I would assume grieving your parents. And you’re also now publicly talking about this thing, which gets kind of back to the previous question. Yeah. And I think and I think on top of that a lot of people are some people at least have moved on from COVID. And that grief and that feeling. And so I’m wondering, again, what it’s been like for you to talk about that. Kind of knowing the backstory of like you starting this in 2008. Teen after your dad passed away, and then moving into this collective grief, and then your mom passes away in 2020. And now we’re kind of five years later, and now you have to talk about it.

Nicole Chung 14:45
Yeah, so it’s interesting, like I’ve just my pub de was this month. So I’ve just started getting out there and talking about it. There’s often not always but often a moment during an event when or when I’m asked some some version of this question and But I always say like, I’m very conscious, I was very conscious of not wanting to write like a pandemic book, say, or even a book that was like, quote, unquote, just a grief story. But at the same time, like, I do think, I think that that’s those themes, those, those events are really resonant in people’s lives, like all of us who have been changed by what we’ve been through in the past few years, especially, there is, as you say, this, this tendency to want to look, look past it, or look forward. And I think it’s honestly just so much pain that there’s a lot of unacknowledged unseen, like pain and grief, it’s a very hard thing to face. Like, I understand why people sometimes shy away from that, but I don’t think we can, or we should look away from that pain and that grief that so many people experienced that we all experienced in some way. You know, a point that keeps being raised on my tours, like we there hasn’t really been, like a moment of like collective mourning in the pandemic. I think there was one brief sort of ceremony shortly after President Biden was elected, right. And that’s kind of it. But then again, I’m like, Well, how do you how do you memorialize something that is ongoing? I mean, that’s another question altogether. But I very much hope that the book would, would would be able to keep people company, if this was also something that was on their mind. And I think I think it is on a lot of people’s minds. There are so many people I know who live streamed funerals. And like, I will never forget what that experience was like. And I think it’s important that we don’t forget the things that people lost, you know, the people that we lost.

Traci Thomas 16:38
Yeah, I want to talk about this book in relationship to your first book, because in your first book, all you can ever know which we’ve done on the podcast before we did it for book club, and I talk to you about it. So folks should definitely go back and listen to those episodes. But that book is about your experience, or a little bit about your childhood but mostly about your adopt about your birth parents and trying to find out where you came from and or who you came from, I guess more specifically. And in that book, that being your first book, you come onto the scene very much, Nicole Chung and adoptee right? A transracial adoptee that’s like what the world learns about you in the beginning. And then in reading this book, you kind of have a few sections where you talked about when you went to college, nobody had to know you were adopted and and how that was really freeing for you. And it allowed you to like live in your own self in a way that you’d never been able to. And I’m wondering, I guess about about that, because I think of you so much as an adoptee because that’s where I met you. And now reading this book, I’m like, oh, it’s interesting that you started where you started. And if you’d ever thought about not starting there.

Nicole Chung 17:44
Yeah. So I mean, I think about something that Alexandre chi said once when I interviewed him, and this is like many years ago, and he was talking about his first novel, Edinboro and how at the time he wrote it, it was one of the first I don’t know if he said the only like, my memory is failing me. But it was one of very, very few anyway, or possibly the only like treatments in fiction of a Korean American gay protagonist. And he said something along the lines of it felt like he had to like write his, like, write himself in, like, write his way in. Like that was almost like a declaration of selfhood in a way not that that book was entirely of course, autobiographical, or anything, but like it was it was fiction. And my book was more but I felt similarly, I suppose at the time I wrote all you can ever know. I mean, I don’t talk about this often. But I’d had an interest in both projects before. And like, someone asked me once if I wanted to write a book that was had also a memoir, but very different focus. And I did not want to first of all, I felt like I had said everything I wanted to say about that topic. And it was very, very little like I knew that was not a book I had a knee and second like I because I grew up not seeing my experience anywhere. Like as a transracial Korean adoptee. I think a part of me did feel like I’ve got to have this one first, like this is the first book. And if there’s space for just this much, you know, maybe that will open the door for more. To be honest, I’m not sure I feel that way. Now, I don’t know if I’d have chosen to write the books in this order. Or if I’d have chosen a different book altogether as my first now, partly because it’s been so hard to get away from that adoptee label not that I’m ever trying to separate it from my identity. I am an adoptee it’s part of everything I am like it’s part of every area of my life. But you know, as you can see with the living remedy, like it is a much bigger, broader book. In some ways. It’s a lot more ambitious. And it’s also like my identity is always there because it’s baked into everything I do like my politics like everything, but like these topics like grief and class and American inequality and health care and are failing systems and leave taking and the distance between you and home and the distance between what you want to do for your loved ones and what’s possible. These are like big universal themes that are in like no way dependent on like my Korean adoptee identity at all. In a way, a living remedy scared me because well, it scared me for so many reasons. But one was like, I had this real question of this is how people know me this, like you said, this is how you met me. Like you’re this Korean adoptee writer? Will I get to be something more as a writer? Can people see me as something else? Will they follow me into new areas like will publishing let me well, like, Will critics respond? Is there space for that? Because publishing loves the category categorization. Like, and people love something that they can quickly and easily define or box in. And I’ve never seen writing about adoption as all I am or all I want to do. You know, like, my journalism is like, it’s more wide ranging. I have like a lot of different interests. But like, I know that writing that book, which I’m super grateful for, for having the chance to have written, like, I know, in some ways where that put me in this landscape, and how hard it was to even get that toehold because that book was a very hard sell. So, yeah, I’ve been a little anxious, and maybe I still am, like, how remedy will be received, how it’ll be read, because, like, it’s not a book, like somebody can read and be like, Oh, now I understand this marginalized experience, right? At least I don’t think of it that way. And I’m writing about topics that we think of as, quote, universal, when white writers write about them. But I’m obviously not wait. So I’ve been I’ve been thinking a lot about that. And just hoping the work stands up and stands for itself. But it was a little bit terrifying. Like moving into that, that space. That said, all you can ever know, was obviously such a huge thing for my career. And I wouldn’t be here with a chance to have another book or other books, if not for that. So of course I am, is just so thankful to have that opportunity. And that story still means a lot to me.

Traci Thomas 21:56
Yeah, I mean, it’s a fantastic book, though, if you’re asking, I think I told you this, I like the living room anymore. I just think it I just feel like I can tell that you’ve changed as a writer. And it’s like, so exciting. I can’t tell people who, but the episode after this is another writer who wrote a book in 2018, who we had on the show, who’s back with our next book in 2023. And the two of you, represents so much to me personally, in my experience with the stacks, but also seeing you both do bigger and more ambitious projects is just as a reader and a person. So frickin exciting, like this book, aside from like, who you are, and my having admiration for you. I was just like, wow, this artist is like going for it. And I just, it’s like, gives me chills, because that’s what you want as like a consumer of the things. And I guess my next question is tied to that, which is, you went from having a job to becoming a full time writer. And what does that mean for you creatively? What can you now do in your work that maybe you couldn’t do before? Or have you accessed that you hadn’t accessed before?

Nicole Chung 23:07
That’s a great question. I mean, first, I just want to thank you for what you said, because that means everything to me, like, I love that part of your review on your Instagram post about the book, because I felt myself stretching and growing. And I really, this book tested me a lot. There were many times I did not know if I was up to it. And so hearing that just means a lot, because I frankly, think it’s a better book. I also think I’ve grown as a writer. And I mean, I just love that you think so too. That actually means a great deal. No i So, for those, most of your listeners won’t know this. But I spent many, many years as an editor, full time editor for different sites. Most recently, I’ve had been the digital editorial director of catapult, which is an indie book publisher, and for many years also had, you know, from the beginning, its founding, I also had a digital magazine. And so I was there and kind of worked my way up and hired and trained other editors and had a great team. And I loved that job. Like I loved working with fellow writers to help them tell stories that matter to them. I love being an editor. It is in some ways, I still think of it as such a huge part of who I am. But it was like it was like the year after my mom died. And I was really struggling to get back into this book. But I knew that I wanted to and I knew that I had to. And I wasn’t really looking to leave my job. But it was slowly dawning on me. I mean, I had been in denial about it for a while, but it was dawning on me like, maybe you wrote one book with this full time editorial job, but you’re not gonna write this book with a full time editorial job. And part of that was the job had changed. I was I had been promoted and I was managing a team during a pandemic. And it was just the job was more challenging. But part of it was just the book. The book was frankly harder. It was more ambitious as we’ve talked about it. It just have demanded more of me like everything I am really is in this book. And I could not do it in the margins of my life, I couldn’t read it in the just just the evening. So just the weekend, I knew I needed great big, uninterrupted blocks of time. And then I had an opportunity from the Atlantic to come on board as a contributing writer. And it was a flexible arrangement that for a year gave me stable income enough so that I could quit my full time like editorial job. So I did it, I jumped, and the Atlantic did keep me pretty busy. But I found more time than I’d had in years to write, like, there were days where it was just me in this book. And some of those days, I wrote 10 hours, some of those days, I wrote one hour, but you know, like, I had a lot of time, for the first time. Granted, I want to say with a caveat, like my kids were home doing zoom school every day, like six hours. And I was supporting my younger daughter for like, half the school day. So that was that that little matter. And, you know, I was still grieving, and I was still I was still actively writing and freelancing. So it was definitely like not, it was by no means like, all day, every day was ready for writing. But it was more than I’d ever had, like for the first time I could wake up. And if I wanted to start reading at 10am, maybe I could. And that meant I could move in and out of the world of the book much more freely, it was less work to get myself back into it, it meant that even the breaks, I took like to go for walks or like to eat meals or to talk with friends, like those one that feeling like productive. And like thoughtful times, I was always like turning something over in my head, I just lived with the book in a different way, a way that I just couldn’t with all you can ever know, because I really did write that book like in the tiny margins of my life. And it was actually like, really wonderful. I think I learned a lot of patience and a lot of grace for myself. But I recognized that was a privilege I had, because I’d taken this step, because I had enough stability as a writer to be able to write full time for that year. And it just made all the difference. Like I felt a great sense of freedom working on this book that I had never felt when writing before. And that part was really exciting. And I think that’s where that’s why I was able to kind of like, honestly, to put it bluntly, like improve in terms of craft, I just, I mean, I really got to invest that time and that patience for that year. And it was really exciting, actually, to see like the ways I was stretching and growing. I entered this kind of meditative state while I was writing many days, and that hasn’t happened to me before. So yeah, I don’t know, it was just, it was a very hard book to write, obviously, but like emotionally really difficult. But it was also like sometimes a very freeing, almost, like joyful experience. Because I really felt Oh, I’m like becoming a different kind of writer. This is this is exciting.

Traci Thomas 27:58
That is so cool. Okay, we’re gonna take a quick break, and then we’ll be right back. All right, we’re back. And we do this at the beginning of every month. It’s called Ask the Stax. I didn’t prep you on this, someone has written in, and they want a book recommendation from us. So I’m gonna read to you what they said. And then we’ll give them a book recommendation. Oh, this comes from Danielle. And Danielle says Hi there. First time, right our longtime listener, I am looking for a book recommendation for my dad. He has never been a big reader in the past, but he recently had knee replacement surgery and found that reading really helped pass the time while he recovered. He’s having his other knee replaced in April. And I’m looking for some suggestions for him. He has read and liked bad blood by John Kerry Kerry Rue, the search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield, the Pacific by Hugh Ambrose. And then Daniel says parenthetically, nonfiction as a trend and he likes World War Two centric books. And then they say already have some Krakauer headed his way, but open to other options. Thank you. So it sounds like we’re looking for some nonfiction for Dad, maybe World War Two, maybe not. I can go first or if you already have an idea, you can go first up to you.

Nicole Chung 29:10
You should go first.

Traci Thomas 29:12
Ok, I’ll go first. So Danielle, here’s what I’ll say. Looking at the books you said it sounds like your dad loves to read white dudes, which, you know, I get it in nonfiction World War Two, but I’m going to try to mix it up a little bit. My first suggestion should come as zero surprise to anybody who listens to the show invisible child by Andrea Eliot. It won the Pulitzer in 2022. It’s about Dasani, a young black child in New York City whose parents are in and out of homelessness and her children, her kids and Andrea Elliot takes like a really wide lens on to Sonny’s life and New York City and child welfare and it’s just phenomenal. My second book is about World War Two. It’s called half American by Matthew F Delmont. And it’s all about sort of been described as like the definitive history of black Americans in war. World War Two. So it’s about the soldiers who went there and also as when they came back what happened to them? And then my last one is super narrative nonfiction really, like fast paced read almost really. It’s the Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Raya, which is his story of a group of migrants who come to America through Mexico. And it’s a really harrowing story and it’s an incredible book and just incredible writing. So those are my three non white guy nonfiction recommendations. Nicole, you only have to give one Don’t worry.

Nicole Chung 30:37
I’m I have to confess I don’t mean a lot of World War Two nonfiction. So I was like racking my brain to think of something and I was coming up empty, which I shocked nobody. I mean, okay, so I will recommend like one work of nonfiction by a white dude and I would just kind of recommend it to everybody, but like EB White’s collected essays is a favorite of mine, which I know might sound a bit surprising but like, because, well surprising for a couple reasons. One, I think when most people think of EB white, they think of Charlotte’s Web, they think of Stuart Little they think of children’s books. I really love his essays. Of course, he was a longtime New Yorker writer. But his Clifton essays in particularly the ones from his like saltwater farm in Maine, are just some of my favorite deep comfort reads. I like the clarity and ease and humanity of his sentences very much. So there’s one. And then I was trying to think of like, favorite nonfiction of mine, that’s also like a little bit, I don’t know, reported or researched. This might be kind of out there. But it’s not World War Two, but it’s about you know, it’s after, but it’s by ERISA, oh, it’s called to Save the Children of Korea. It’s like a history, a cultural history of Korean adoption, that set against the backdrop of the Korean War. And it’s a book about I mean, the growth of that program, which is really like the, I call it like the great grandfather of all international adoption programs, but there wouldn’t be one without Korea, and it sucks, quote, unquote, success. It’s an interesting read, though, if you’re interested in like American imperialism, and how we get to where we are. And, you know, in the aftermath of war, what both those countries, both Korea and the US did, I guess, to try to address what they saw as a shared problem, namely, like the large number of Korean war orphans, so it’s a little might be a little bit out there, but I think it’s a great reader says a wonderful historian. It’s really well written and I recommend it widely to anybody who’s interested in Korea, the Korean War or Korean adoption.

Traci Thomas 32:36
Oh my gosh, I’m like salivating over that book. I’m gonna go get it like immediately after we get off really good. It sounds like totally up my alley. Okay, Danielle, let us know what your dad thinks of the books. Good luck to him quick recovery. And if anyone else wants book recommended recommendations for themselves, email, ask the stacks at the stacks. podcast.com. Okay, we’re gonna move on to your tastes and books. But before we do I just have to tell you that I have you read this book. We were once a family by Roxana as Garyun it’s on my list, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s so fucking good. Nicole. I become like really interested in child welfare recently in America. And so that book that you just suggested reminded me of that, but it’s so good. Okay, two books. You love one book you hate?

Nicole Chung 33:24
Oh, gosh. Um, okay. So, I want to start off by saying I’m not trying to get out of this, but I hate almost no books. Because if I don’t feel a book, I don’t keep reading it. So I don’t sit with a book like long enough to really hate it. The best I came up with was like, I really struggled to get through the old men and see when we read it when I was in school. And then I don’t like hate this book. Exactly. But people might find it interesting that while I love Jane Austen, and I’ve read most of her books many times, I’ve always struggled to care about one of her most popular Sense and Sensibility. I don’t know why like it just I know many many people love it. I love a lot of her books. I’ve I’ve just really had a hard time getting into it. So it’s not quite a hate,

Traci Thomas 34:07
but um, you got it out of the way fast. I appreciate that. I thought you were gonna give me though I don’t finish any books I hate and so I can’t answer but you gave me good.

Nicole Chung 34:14
Thank you. I mean, I really truly don’t like finish I feel life is too short. And I always have 10 books going at once. So if I don’t really actually like it very much, I’m probably not going to finish it. In which case I feel I can’t say I hate it because I didn’t really-

Traci Thomas 34:30
Yeah, I gotta finish books.

Nicole Chung 34:32
I love like so so many but I mean to all time faves Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and the Buddha in the attic by Julie Otsuka. So both mean a lot to me, obviously fellow Asian American writers who I look up to. So those are my two two of my many loves.

Traci Thomas 34:49
I love that. Okay, what about the last great book you read?

Nicole Chung 34:53
Oh, man, this is hard. So I mean, I just Oh, gosh. Sorry. Of course I can I asked about book books. Like everything goes blank. I know. Yeah, no. So I read a line in the world by Dorita, Nores as a year and then our sea coast. It’s really, really beautiful just the language. It’s very evocative. It’s a book that takes you on a journey, which I love. I read it really slowly, like a chapter at a time. Like it’s a comfort read. So I really loved a line in the world.

Traci Thomas 35:22
You’ve mentioned this term comfort read a few times, what do you look for in a comfort read? How do you define Gosh,

Nicole Chung 35:27
that’s a great question. I have no idea like other examples of comfort reads, Madeline Miller’s books and station 11, which I know sounds like a very weird comfort. Yes, but like I know it’s a comfort read if I reach for it on my like e reader on a plane. Because like when I or like any any travel read, if I find myself rereading a book on while I’m traveling, like I specifically am looking for books, I can sink into, like the rhythms and feel comforted by maybe at this point, it’s just books I have reread so many times that I can fall back in immediately. That’s a great question, though. I don’t know. Like, if there is it’s just that familiarity. It must just be a book I love and have reread many times.

Traci Thomas 36:10
I love that I’ve never I don’t have comfort reads I don’t think what okay, you mentioned you can you read like 10 books at a time. What are you currently reading? And how do you keep 10 books at a time straight?

Nicole Chung 36:21
I don’t keep them straight. It’s really terrible. But I will say mostly that there are only so different it’s not like I’m getting characters mixed up either. Right? Um, so um, you know, I’m in the middle. I started yellow face by heart fog.

Traci Thomas 36:35
It’s literally right behind me on this bed.

Nicole Chung 36:37
Yeah, I’m not very far in yet. You know, but I expected it would hit like kind of close to home. And indeed. I’m good. I’m starting family lawyer. A little bit Acevedo soon but also in the stock behind me. Yes. Mobility by Lydia Kissling. I guess there’s a lot of books that coming out this year that are not out yet. Sorry to annoy your listeners that way. I started what kept left off by Kelly link. I’m excited to start ordinary notes by Christina sharp like it’s supposed to show up any day I pre ordered. Like I keep checking the mailbox. And as for how I keep them all straight. I mean, like I said, I guess I just don’t worry about it very much. But I always have like stacks, like in multiple rooms. And if I’m stuck or bored at work, or like, I just need a break, you know, reach for one. So yeah, yeah, I like working on many books at once. Yeah,

Traci Thomas 37:30
I’m definitely more of a one book pony. I like to do one book at a time. I just can’t, I sometimes can do like one on audio one in print. But it’s hard for me to maneuver multiple stories at once.

Nicole Chung 37:42
It’s probably for the best that you do that because I am so slow as a result of being in the middle of too many books at once. Like, I feel like people will not believe me when I tell them. I’m reading your book. I swear I’m still reading your book. I think it’s really good. I swear. But it’s just, I don’t know, I get I just get you know what it’s like to get galleys all the time. You’re like, this looks so good. I can’t wait. And then like before you know it, you’ve started another book.

Traci Thomas 38:07
Yeah, I definitely have that feeling of like, oh my God, I want to start that right now. But I’m like if I started, but I won’t finish the other thing. And like, exactly. You also know reading for work is like there’s a commitment when you’re reading for work. So for me, I’m just like, let me just read it. And I like write out a calendar. And I have like, finished by date so that I can prep or whatever. But when I get to the moment where I’m like, caught up with work for a little bit, and then I’m like, I can pick anything, I just freeze. It takes like a whole day to decide like what where am I going next?

Nicole Chung 38:36
This is also why I love to read poetry because you can have poetry just kind of ongoing in the background. Yeah. And like you can pick it up and read one poem and feel like, great. Yeah. I don’t know how poets do it. But I’m always I’m always reading like books of poetry as well.

Traci Thomas 38:51
Do you have favorite poets?

Nicole Chung 38:53
I mean, I love Italy, mon and ocean bong and Lucille Clifton. I love Clint Smith. I’m reading promises of gold right now.

Traci Thomas 39:03
Are you loving it?

Nicole Chung 39:06
I’ve been like reading it like, and I really have been but like, slowly, because I’ll pick a few poems at a time and then I’ll think about them. And it’s not I guess I don’t feel pressed to read in a hurry. You know, that’s like one thing about me. So yeah. I think poetry is like very good for that. I found that was perfect for the pandemic attention span in particular. There were like months there when like, I feel like I read more poetry than anything else. Because it was so compact and exactly what I needed, you know, in that moment.

Traci Thomas 39:39
Do you know aro Quan? Yeah, yeah, she said the exact same thing about poetry during the pandemic. Yes, yeah. Okay. You got all the galleys. You’re a big reader. How do you decide what to read next? Are you looking at reviews? Are you talking to friends? Are you just browsing a bookstore or whatever comes to the door? How do you decide what to actually start.

Nicole Chung 40:01
Oh, I love a bookstore, browse like that’s my favorite being on vacation totally relaxed, not looking for anything. I almost never go into a bookstore with a plan or an agenda. I love to ask the booksellers, what they’re loving, and like. So recommendations are huge for me. They say social media doesn’t sell books, but I get so many good recommendations from like Bookstagram, and even even following writers on Twitter, I take a ton of recommendations from social media. And then I use reviews like very sparingly. So I read a great one. And by great, I don’t just mean a rave. I mean, like a really thoughtful review. Sometimes even a critical one will make me want to pick up the book. But that’s much rarer than just a recommendation from a trusted source. So I would say I lean a lot on like friends and like, I mean, I follow a lot of books to grammars and I definitely read those reviews. It’s, it’s like really helpful for me, but it’s also terrible for me, because despite getting a lot of books for free, which I’m very I know, I’m very lucky. I mean, I also spend just like a lot of money on books. Yeah. It’s definitely not like what my budget needs. But

Traci Thomas 41:09
yeah, same hard, same. Yeah. How do you organize your books? Do you organize your books,

Nicole Chung 41:15
I do organize them. I mean, I tell people I organize by Vibe, like, but at first we go my room. So in my like, I have this tall, like thin bookcase in the living room. And that’s where I keep a lot of the current reads and books I very, very much want to read soon. But of course there’s like 50 books in there. So who knows how soon I’ll get to them. I have like another towel shelf that’s almost all galleys that I still like to read. But like maybe they’re backburner in my bedroom where they just stare at me and making me feel guilty. I’ve got like too active to be read stacks in my office. And like you’ll see behind me I have a lot of like faves. One whole shelf is poetry. Books by like close dear friends like those are in my office. And then everything else is in the den just on like several several bookshelves. I don’t really have a system within each like with on each shelf that would make any sense to anybody else. But I do know where everything is. Yeah. Like if you ask me, where’s your copy of whatever, like I can go find it for you, despite not having a great system. So something must be working. But yeah, it’s just like, organized chaos. Yeah. And look, I’m literally in the middle of those, like sit in a stack on the piano. And I just kind of like go through them. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 42:38
Love that. I have a shelf. I have a bookshelf that is all books that I’ve read and loved. And that one is the bookshelf in my bedroom. Because I like to be near them. You know? Yeah. Like your book is there heavy? Is there Jasmine Ward is there. Who else some of my really serious dark like Charles Manson books are just like, you know, my comfort rates.

Nicole Chung 42:59
Read can truly be anything, it can be anything.

Traci Thomas 43:04
That’s what I say about like a beach read or like a summer reading. Like it’s whatever you’re reading at this in the summer. What do you mean? It’s just whatever you pick during the summertime, what are books that you love to recommend to other people.

Nicole Chung 43:15
I do actually love to recommend poetry to people. It brings me a lot of joy. Not because I think anybody needs me to tell them about Lucille Clifton, like who doesn’t know Lucille Clifton. But I have found a lot of people like don’t buy it. And I’m like, No, you have to buy it. You have to support the poets, and you have to keep the poets near you. And like also, what do you read when you just can’t with the world? So I do want to recommend a lot of posts and I talked about some of them before. I mean, there’s books I’ve it just kind of depends. I actually like to ask what people are into and then like I can make a better recommendation but I mean recent books or recent ish books that I’ve bought for people I guess that’s how I can tell I really connected with a book when I want everyone to read it. Like I gifted Julio to Costa swimmers, many people last year. My I mean my teenager and I read it together trying to think I mean Pachinko. Pachinko is one of the is one of those books I have bought for many people like in my family. And I don’t know, just looking at my shelf and kind of cheating here. But yeah, oh, um, like Brian Washington’s books. And I’m always like, I’d say I love Ted Chang. Like his story. So yeah, those are like books that I bought for other people, which is sort of like recommending them. I mean, it’s like the highest form of recommendation. Literal

Traci Thomas 44:34
recommendation. Want you to read it. So literally giving it to you.

Nicole Chung 44:37
Yes. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 44:39
I think that’s the highest form of recommendation for

Nicole Chung 44:41
Yeah, and I really love Clint Smith, new collection of poetry above ground. I mean, I know I’m not alone in that everybody does but I thought it was so beautiful. And I can tell it’s when I’m going to be like buying for folks. So I’m excited.

Traci Thomas 44:53
I think that’s gonna be my like, my baby shower gift to the parent. That’s such a good eye. Yeah, cuz I feel like it’s like you give them like a blankie or whatever, which is fine, but you don’t really give them anything for the parent. Usually, sometimes I give I give like a nipple thing to the moms that I really, really liked. But mostly, it’s like

Nicole Chung 45:15
yes, yeah. Oh, that’s such a good idea. I love that. Do you audiobook? No, no, I don’t. I don’t know why I’ve just never really been able to, like, get into a story that way. Like I appreciate audiobooks as art, right? Like it’s, I think many of them are beautifully, like read and performed. I really liked Bryan Washington’s Memorial. I happen to listen to the audiobook because my husband was listening to it. But I don’t actually it’s not the way I consume books myself. However, because so many people in my family like love audiobooks, I am still a very devoted, like libro FM customer. So like maybe someday I’ll like get into them walking the dog or something that I haven’t yet.

Traci Thomas 45:55
Do you read your audiobooks?

Nicole Chung 45:58
I don’t. I’ve had actors narrate both times. I think Jennifer Kim, who reads a living remedy, I haven’t gotten to listen to the whole thing yet, but I thought she did like a really lovely job.

Traci Thomas 46:10
Have to check out at least a preview. The thing about when you read books in advance is that you don’t get the audiobook. So sure, that’s how people who listen to this show you couldn’t know if I read the book before it published because if I said that I listened to the audio that means i waited. Yeah, it’s a little little little inside baseball. What’s your favorite bookstore?

Nicole Chung 46:30
This is so hard. I feel like-

Traci Thomas 46:32
Or favorites. You can say-

Nicole Chung 46:34
I have legit always loved a bookstore. I love the bookstores you stumble into on vacation when you’re not really looking like in the beach towns. I have to shout out one of my locals loyalty books. Yes, we love loyalty here. We do love loyalty. They’re there. In my acknowledgments, they set up a signed poster campaign for me in record time over the summer when no one should have had to do anything. So I’m very, very grateful. And I love them and have reminded me actually, recently that I was like their first author event when they opened loyalty, which I don’t think I knew, I think I was their first author event and like their second ever event event. So I’m like, I’m extremely honored by that. I really love Pauwels, you know, as an Oregonian, and I’ve been shopping there. I mean online since I was a teen just as an as an aside, it’s like they sell also used in rare and like out of print books. And I was obsessed with Kay, you know the both the Scarlet Pimpernel. Yeah. Okay, so she also wrote like all of these obscure sequels with the same characters that nobody really has heard of, but I loved them. I was obsessed with the scope of Brunel and all its sequels. And pelvis was like the only place I could find all of these books. So I started shopping there as a teen and like, just kept going. And then I guess I will shout out. So Elliot Bay books, the third place books, all three locations in Seattle, they were the first bookstores I visited as a brand new published author in 2018, because I was in Seattle for the PMBA conference. So they were the first stores I went to as an author to like sign stock. And I was like, I mean, it was just kind of like thrilling. And I still really love those stores. And they’ve been incredibly supportive of me over the years. So those are a few of the many. Yeah, I love an indie bookstore.

Traci Thomas 48:22
I love that. Okay, this is sort of our speed round. What’s the last book that made you laugh?

Nicole Chung 48:28
I’m reading it right now. Congratulations. The best is over by our Eric Thomas, who is just one of my favorite writers and love your it’s funny, it’s funny and then it just suddenly hits you with something very heartfelt and beautiful. That’s error. So I but yes, he is. He is laugh out loud funny.

Traci Thomas 48:45
Like I have so that came for me and I have not been able to get to it yet and hear me you will love it. I will I have no doubt. Okay, last book that made you cry.

Nicole Chung 48:55
Probably the swimmers actually every and I’ve reread it now a couple of times and the very ending. I cannot read the last page without like, just so Yeah,

Traci Thomas 49:04
fucking love that book. Last book that made you angry. Oh, gosh.

Nicole Chung 49:09
It’s a strange answer. Maybe but I was just rereading Imani Perry is breathe it’s a letter to her son’s you’re probably club okay, it’s gorgeous. i She’s one of my she’s just like God, Imani Perry, like She’s incredible. And it’s a beautiful like meditative like soulful book. I think parts of it do make big made me angry. I and I was more conscious of that this time. And the first time I read it. I think the first time I was very caught up in just this is like a mother’s message to her sons trying to like, affirm their goodness. And like their beauty in this world that often doesn’t want to see it. And this last time I read it I was thinking about how this book is a few years old and so much has not changed. And I was conscious of feeling much more angry than I was the first time I read it even though that wasn’t. I wouldn’t say it was the prevailing emotion I felt Yeah. I find it funny. To be like a very, like, I mean, her voice is very soothing. Yeah, like she writes about very complicated, often heavy things, but she’s a soothing writer for me. But yeah, I was conscious of feeling like this deep anger. You know? Like, while I was reading that I didn’t feel the first time. Yeah, so it’s kind of a strange answer. It is so good.

Traci Thomas 50:20
That’s on my my bedroom bookshelf with my faves. It’s right. It’s like right behind me here. Yeah. That’s when you got to keep close. What’s the last book where you felt like you learned a lot? Huh?

Nicole Chung 50:33
I’m sorry to go with him. Again, but South to America. Just thought, you know, one little thing called the National Book Award. But it was incredible. And I got to be in conversation with her for it, which meant I was really feeling the pressure. And I read it like twice before him, like Captain dumb in front of Imani Perry. And I did I learned like so much. It was just like an incredible read.

Traci Thomas 50:56
Yeah, that in the swimmers are probably my two favorite books of last year. So for you to mention both of them. No, I know that I can trust your taste.

Nicole Chung 51:04
I mean, great minds. Yeah,

Traci Thomas 51:05
that’s exactly right. We can be friends forever. We’ll be recommending to each other. Are there any books that you feel proud to have read?

Nicole Chung 51:15
That’s interesting question. Not really, like I don’t think, I don’t know. As mentioned, I only really finished books I like these days. And like, I have read like a fair number of books in the western, like, quote unquote, classics canon just from being educated here. No, nothing like leaps to my mind in terms of like feeling proud. I finished it.

Traci Thomas 51:35
Are there any books you feel embarrassed that you’ve read?

Nicole Chung 51:39
I don’t believe in being embarrassed about books, honestly. Yeah, no, I mean, I mean, I have been like rereading some Agatha Christie books recently. And this is not something I particularly noticed as a kid when I read my way through her whole library. But obviously, there’s a lot of period of typical racism that just like for me, sneaks up and like shocks me. And then we’re right back to the story and the the whodunit of it all. So like, I’m not embarrassed to have enjoyed or read those books. But like, I think as to what happened so often, when you revisit books you read when you were younger, and a lot went over your head. Like, it’s just like, it’s, you know, you just learn like, okay, you know, if I’m going to read this, I’m, I’m getting all this other stuff along with it. And there’s, yeah, it’s just, I don’t know, I hesitate to call it like a problematic phase. But like, that was

Traci Thomas 52:27
literally gonna be my next question. So we’ll skip that. Um, are there any books? Or is there a book that you wish more people knew about?

Nicole Chung 52:37
Um, it’s hard, because I don’t follow sales that much. So I don’t have like, I will have read the book and loved it and assumed it did very well. And like, then I’m told later that it didn’t. And I’m like, Oh, everybody should be reading this book. So, you know, I always think that my favorite books should be more widely read, even if they were widely read, I feel like more people should. I do really love Taylor Harris. She’s a dear friend of mine. But also, I love her book, this boy we made. It’s a beautiful memoir. And like, anyway, we’re gonna talk about it, I’m excited to talk about it. And then like another recent book, I thought was just great that more people should read by Tasha Eisen, some of my best friends. It’s an essay collection. I really, really thought it was just so smart. And well done. Everything Tasha writes is great. And she’s a wonderful editor as well. So that’s another recommendation.

Traci Thomas 53:29
I’m so excited to talk about this boy we made because I had a lot of thoughts and feelings as I read it. And I kept being like, oh, my gosh, I cannot wait to talk to Nicole about oh, God, because I feel like you’re like the perfect person.

Nicole Chung 53:40
I’m gonna make sure I reread it before, before we talk about it. But like, just like full disclosure, I was Taylor’s editor catapult when she was writing columns that became the book. So no, I did not edit the book itself. I did read it early. But a lot of like what’s in it kind of took shape when we were reading that column working on that column together. So I am really excited to talk about it-

Traci Thomas 54:02
and you’re thanked profusely in the acknowledgments. I think you’re the second person thanked?

Nicole Chung 54:07
Oh my God, that’s incredible. I had forgotten that, which is terrible of me.

Traci Thomas 54:10
But I well, I feel like you’re one of those people that the other writers often attribute I think, you know, because you’re an editor, but I feel like you pop up a lot in acknowledgments. And on Twitter, I see people thanking you and I always, you know, I think that’s like such a special something that I noticed as a reader. I’m like, Oh, who are the people that come up a lot. And it’s very meaningful, I’m sure to you to to know that, like, you’ve had such an impact on so many people, but it’s really cool to see that.

Nicole Chung 54:40
I mean, so many people have been really kind and generous and supportive of me. And I say sometimes, like there’s no pain that back like the people who help you often. Suppose they will need your help, but most often they don’t. Yeah, they’re in a position to help you because they can. Like you can’t necessarily always pay them back but you pay it forward. And of course, I was just doing my job. When I was editing rogues, but also, yeah, I mean, I like to. It’s a pleasure to see writers I love succeed and get to tell their stories. So that does mean a lot.

Traci Thomas 55:11
Is there any thing on your bookish bucket list?

Nicole Chung 55:16
Um, I was like to actually read more plays. And like, I don’t even just mean the classics. Although, yes, I’d like to read like the classics. But I’m talking like modern playwrights, especially playwrights of color plays can be harder to find. I remember I was looking for a play a few years ago, because my friend was in. I think it’s world premiere is by an Asian American playwright. And I had like, really searched to find like a copy of it, but I did. And I read it. And even though I couldn’t see it, performed, I really loved reading it. So I was like, this is cool. I should have like, read more plays. So I mean, that’s kind of a reading goal for me, for sure.

Traci Thomas 55:52
If you were a high school teacher, what’s the book you would assign to your students?

Nicole Chung 55:56
Oh, gosh, um, I would probably again, like make them read a whole lot of poetry. I don’t know, like, Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Jun, Jordan, Langston Hughes. I mean, I think those those poems, I was assigned almost exclusively dead white male writers in high school. So don’t get me wrong. I love me some Hamlet, but like, Yeah, I know, there’s so much more out there that I wasn’t exposed to till much later. So and I get the sense it’s changing. But I would, you know, if I were a teacher, that’s what I would be.

Traci Thomas 56:30
I hated Hamlet. I hate Hamlet. It’s one of my I do and I’ve read all of them. I read all 37. I know you have and Hamlet calls mid low for me. I mean, there’s ones that I hate way more that are like, objectively bad, but I never quite got the hamlet of it all. But that’s just a taste thing. I generally don’t like male coming of age stories. I think like, I don’t know, just not enough. There was not enough there for me there. But I understand it’s a masterpiece, according to some Oh, no, that’s fair.

Nicole Chung 57:00
I just like this a lot of ways man, like-

Traci Thomas 57:02
Yeah, there’s some really great speeches. And there’s a few really great scenes, but okay, you’ve written two memoirs, who would you want to write the book of your life?

Nicole Chung 57:12
See, I’ve written? Well, okay, let’s say it’s the authorized biography or memoir. So I’d be looking for someone who I know well, who’s a friend who I can trust honestly, as someone who’s writing voice I know really well. I think the problem is that a lot of people I can think of like, primarily write fiction, but like, let’s say there are no rules. No rules, no rules. I said they wanted to write nonfiction. I mean, I don’t know. I’d be tempted to ask someone I knew and trusted. Like, you mentioned REO Quan, earlier. She, I mean, I love her writing. She’s a beautiful writer. She’s also like a very dear friend. So I mean, that’s someone or like, maybe I would try to find like a, like an an unknown, emerging, like Korean American adoptee writer. Someone like that would be like, very exciting for me. But it’s such a strange question. Like, it’s weird to think about as a memoir is

Traci Thomas 58:12
like, I mean, you’ve sort of done it already. So right, this question-

Nicole Chung 58:16
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s a tough one. You know, like, I mean, who wouldn’t want like mentioned me writing their life story? I don’t think my I don’t think my life is worthy of life. Minjin Lee treatment,

Traci Thomas 58:25
but that’s not for you to decide. Let men decide if that’s what she wants to do.

Nicole Chung 58:29
Yeah, ask her next time.

Traci Thomas 58:32
Okay, last one, I stole it from the New York Times. But if you could require the current president of the United States to read one book, what would it be?

Nicole Chung 58:39
Um, okay, this is a good and like, really hard question. So at the LA Times Festival of Books, which you and I were both at. So I was on a panel with Rohan Benjamin, who wrote viral justice, how we grow the world we want and every single thing she said, Yes, I wanted to stand and applaud, but sort of everybody in the room. Yeah. And I was like, so maybe that book that would be a great one. And this also reminds me that if anybody does have a connection to like the Obamas I would love if they sent them my book. I think it’s like right up their alley. What with the health care at all, but ya know, I think I think there has to be one I would for sure, like, recommend to, to any sitting president or former president.

Traci Thomas 59:19
I love that. I love that. Benjamin is like such a genius. Brilliant. Just Oh is a wow, it’s a wow person for me.

Nicole Chung 59:28
Yeah. Yeah. It was really incredible. Just sharing the space. I was I felt really privileged to get to hear her speak. That’s so cool.

Traci Thomas 59:35
All right. That’s it for Nicole today. She will be back on May 31. When we discuss Taylor Harris’s memoir, this boy we made there will be spoilers. So you’re gonna want to make sure you read the book before May 31. So you can listen to us talk about it. And you can get Nicole’s book A Living Remedy. Now it is out in the world. If you haven’t read her first book all we can ever know. You should get that one too. Nicole, thank you so much for being here.

Nicole Chung 59:59
Of course. Thank you. Ah, it was a delight.

Traci Thomas 1:00:01
Yay. And everyone else we will see you in the Stacks.

All right, well, that does it for us this week. Thank you so much to Nicole for being my guest. And thank you to Michael Tompkins. And I’m Bingham maraca for helping to make this conversation possible. Don’t forget our main book club pick is this boy we made a memoir of motherhood, genetics and facing the unknown by Taylor Harris. Nicole will be back on May 31 for this discussion. If you love the show and want inside access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks and join the stacks pack. Make sure you’re subscribed to the Stock Show. Have you listened to your podcasts and if you’re listening to Apple podcast, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. Oh and tell a friend about the show. For more from the stocks follow us on social media at the stocks pod on Instagram and at the Stacks pod underscore on Twitter and check out our website the stackspodcast.com This episode of the stacks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. Our graphic designer is Robin MacWrite. the Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

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