Book Review: What Color Is Your Parachute?

Today I'm reviewing a book that has been very helpful in the job hunt for me, and many others! What Color is Your Parachute? is the number one job-hunting book in the world, and it's been provided to me for this review by Blogging For Books!

I had heard tons about What Color Is Your Parachute but this was the first time I had been able to read it. I actually read it all back in May when I received the book in the mail, but referred to it consistently throughout my job search. The core philosophy of the book is that there is a great job out there for you that you're the perfect fit for-- but you have to learn how to align your interests and goals with the job market. I love that this book focuses on figuring out who you are, because the truer to yourself you stay, the more happy and productive you'll be as an employee-- and that's the best kind of person for any job!

This book really goes step by step, from figuring out who you are, what your skills, temperament, and interests are suited for, all the way through to finding and landing a job. It includes many different sections for whatever your situation, whether you're a recent (or recent-ish) grad looking for gainful employment, to a service member transitioning back into civilian life, to someone who wants to change industries or professions completely and doesn't know how.

I love how easy to read this book is-- it's not dense or verbose or overly theoretical. This book speaks in plain, easy to understand language, and gives both high-level insights, as well as tactical, actionable tips that you can easily put into practice. It's very thorough, but because it's so well organized, it's easy to navigate. One section I reference often is the interviewing tips section-- I am generally a pretty good interviewee, but if I am nervous I tend to word vomit. Reading through the interviewing section helped me feel more prepared and calm before each interview, because I came into each one with a strong understanding of what I was going into.

Another thing I love about this book is that it's really honest about the job market today. It doesn't rely on scare tactics or rose-colored glasses to carry its points across. Even better, it really gives you a good overview of how to compete in the digital age, how to look better on google, and utilize social networks to your advantage.

I found this book really helpful in my job hunt, and I've taken a lot of the tips to heart, passed them along to friends, and helped them get further in their job searches as well! Whether you are unemployed, underemployed, or just looking to change directions, I highly recommend this book!

Harper's Rating: 5/5

Great insights on how to figure out who you are and what you want
Fabulous tips on how to be a competitive candidate
Helpful resources in the back of the book
Chapters dedicated to make referencing sections easy
Updated to match the market today
Easy to read and honest
Takes you through the entire process of getting a great new job/career
This book can't cover everything-- it covers a lot, but you might want to utilize industry-specific resources in addition to it. Luckily, the book also tells you how to find, and utilize other sources of information to help you in your job hunt!

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Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is a novel by Kevin Kwan that's been much talked about, with an upcoming film adaptation starring Daniel Henney (I love Daniel Henney!), and a recently announced sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, on the way. I'm really excited to let you know what it's all about, since I had a great time reading it.

Side note: I'm currently in California for the first time EVER on a business trip for my internship, involving a trip to Disneyland and later LA! Keep up with me on instagram and twitter @harperyi!

The Basics

The book is about Rachel Chu, a 32 year-old Economics professor, ABC (American-Born Chinese), and current girlfriend to Nick Young, another professor at her university also in his thirties. They've been together for a while, and now that his best friend from back home in Singapore is getting married, he's flying back home and taking Rachel with him.

Unbeknownst to Rachel, however, Nick is rich. Really rich. Obscenely rich. Offensively rich. His family is old money in Singapore, and Rachel has no idea. She's only ever met one member of his family, his cousin, Astrid Leong, and he's kept her in the dark about his childhood and family affairs having been raised to keep family matters intensely private. Now that Nick's best friend, Colin Khoo, is getting married, Nick is the most eligible bachelor in Singapore-- and Rachel has no idea that she is being tossed into the deep end with a bunch of piranhas. Between having to navigate a fiercely private family wary of gold-diggers and unworthy romantic interests and the mountain of jealous Singaporean women who grew up with Nick, Rachel is in way over her head. Adventures and madness ensue in this somewhat soapy romp through the metropolitan, glamorous, ruthless world of Singaporean high society.

Harper's Thoughts

I read the book in just over a day. Granted, that day was pretty much fully devoted to reading this book-- at the time I was in between having accepted an employment offer and starting my job, so I had plenty of time for leisure. It's really well-paced, and the characters are well-drawn and believable. There are a few clear villains, and one clear hero in Rachel, but everyone else has an excellent balance of flaws and virtues.

One of the things I really liked about this book is that you can really see where everyone's interests lie in this complicated web of players. I'll admit, it can be hard to keep the family members straight from time to time (luckily there is a diagram of Nick's family tree in the front of the book) but for the most part, you see these different personalities and how they get tangled up in concerns over the Young family-- their money, their status, the potential for a power-grab. It's fascinating.

It's reminiscent of a lot of novels about an average girl getting caught up in a complicated web woven by "naughty rich people," but for once it's not about white people, which is really refreshing to me as an Asian American reader. There's a whole new spin on what's generally a very played out story. This book explores Asia in a way that goes beyond what we typically hear of Asia from the Western perspective. In general, Asian nations are depicted as generally very homogenous, xenophobic, and monolithic. Singapore, like many other islands in the Pacific, is actually very cosmopolitan, with blends of many different languages, ethnicities, cuisines, and peoples having lived there for centuries due to serving as a trading hub dating back before the American colonies were even founded. It challenges Western ideas of wealth and power, by forcing you to recognize that old money, Rockefeller-style money, is not just in the hands of old white families across Europe and the US. It challenges racist assumptions of where Asians can and can't be on the socioeconomic ladder. While in the West we talk about Asians being talented and smart, but ultimately barred from high ranking managerial roles (the bamboo ceiling), across the globe in a cultural climate where we're not out of our element, we run the world. There are some really great examples of East meets West clashes where westerners will assume one of the Singaporeans in the book is just a silly tourist, or arm candy to a wealthy white guy, and the moments when they are proven wrong are extremely satisfying-- that's what you get for being racist! But it's not just about those moments of vindication feeling satisfying-- it's also about examining racism as it still exists in the world today, even at the most exclusive places in the world.

I would also like to note that Rachel's one girl friend in Singapore who has never even heard of Nick Young (outside of being Rachel's boyfriend), Peik Lin, is amazing, and I love her. Peik Lin is also very rich (not like Nick is rich, but still a Crazy Rich Asian) but her family is very warm and has a teasing sort of sense of humor about them. Peik Lin was from the get-go a good friend, and stayed a good friend, and I think that it's so wonderful. There are a lot of things in the book she did which could have been done for bad reasons, to go after Nick or ingratiate herself with the wealthiest family in Singapore, but she always had Rachel's best interests in mind. She reminded me of Charlotte LeBouf's character in Princess and The Frog. As ridiculous as her spending was, as privileged as she grew up, she always put her friendship first, and a lot of times I felt myself almost expecting her to ditch her friend to pursue more riches still, since many of the other women in the book were constantly at Rachel's throat. Snaps to Peik Lin for being that female character who valued friendship above all else-- and didn't think that way because of nor in spite of her wealth.

This book is a lot of fun, with characters who are big, but still very real. Kwan didn't write any of the characters with the intent to exaggerate-- rather with the hope of showing extremes that exist in real life. I wouldn't call this a comedy, which is what a lot of critics are calling it and gives me the impression that they are speaking as outsiders of Asian culture, assuming things are exaggerated or blown out of proportion for laughs. Sure, it's funny, but that doesn't make it a comedy, as it centers at heart around a couple being tested by money, power, family, expectation, and jealousy.

Overall, I had a great time reading this book, and Kwan masterfully created just enough closure for a satisfying ending, while leaving just enough loose ends and brewing controversy to make me hungry for the sequel! Read this book!

Harper's Rating: 5/5

Asian stories, authentic Asian voices and characters, decentering whiteness
Explore the glamour and culture of Singapore through the eyes of both the really wealthy, and the average ABC
Great pacing
Intriguing, broad cast of characters
A great story about a tangled web of love, power, and money
Solid humor
Punctuations of explicit sexual detail. Not necessarily a con, but those with delicate sensibilities have been warned of short spurts of sexual content.
Would probably leave this for those age 14 and up, due to mature scenes both sexual and violent.
Content warning for domestic abuse (not gratuitous, but explicit enough to warrant a warning)

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