The importance of reading (what someone else wrote): How does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit Review

To be a good writer, you have to read.

Or at least that’s what everyone tells me.

Somewhere in college, between the assigned essays and dreary textbooks, I forgot how to read for fun. I didn’t have time to read. I had so many other things I had to do. Only after starting this blog, after pouring over the blogs of other travellers, have I remembered how to enjoy reading again.

It’s not often that I write book reviews, but it’s also not often that a friend writes a book. Jocelyn, from Speaking of China, was one of the featured authors in How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit

Of course, I wanted to read the book right away.

Reading through this anthology, I was shocked by how many people were “just like me.”

An Indian woman living in Thailand, an American mother in Malaysia, a Chinese-American woman in China, an American in Taiwan – all completely different than me, with different background living in different countries – and yet we shared so many things in common.

It was surprising to see the things I have felt for so long, personified by someone else and eloquently weaved into a story. This book talks about a lot of things.

It talks about the complicated body image issues that arise from moving from a country like America to China. What was once skinny is now seen as “fat.” I talked about that internal battle- comparing yourself to other women and hating yourself for not looking just like them last week, and I found the exact same thing in one of the stories in this anthology.

It explains the joys and the hardships of living abroad. In some instances, living in Asia is physically much safer for these women than in their own countries. In other cases, it’s more scary – trying to navigate complicated legal procedures after a break-in or incident. Or figuring out how to deliver a baby abroad.

It shows how living abroad creates a confusing personal identity for these women. Families are altered, broken up, and altered. There is no blueprint for how to act abroad. Things change and break apart, and there is nothing you can do about it but hold on and hope for the best. And sometimes you just have to bring along you new father-in-law on your honeymoon.

It shows how living abroad is a chance for a new beginning. It is a chance to learn something new, to become a part of something unknown and “larger” than you could have ever imagined. It illustrates how you don’t have to be brave to choose to reside in a foreign place, you just have to commit.

I don’t want to spoil anything – but this anthology is definitely worth a read. The stories are short(ish) snippets (7 – 20 pages) of personal narratives from women who have lived or continue to live in Asia. They talk about daily life, hardships, and memorable moments abroad. Through their words, you can get a window into the life of an expat woman in Asia.

Because really, when you’re living abroad, no one actually knows what they’re doing. Everyone seems to just be along for the ride.
And if you’re interested in reading about all the rides these women have been on, I highly recommend the anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit.

You might just learn about something new.

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

15 Comments on The importance of reading (what someone else wrote): How does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit Review

  1. Have you read the Moth Radio Hour book? As far as collections of anthologies go, it is really good (especially if you ever listen to podcasts of the Moth.)

  2. I also ordered this book earlier this week, waiting on delivery. ^^

  3. I just got my copy yesterday, Amazon is quite fast but I will start it after 18th :) cannot wait to read it! hopefully your book will be next :)

    • Hopefully :)
      I’m writing a guidebook right now – but that’s more informational and less “joy reading.”
      I’m like 95% sure that I’m going to have a comic book published by September, so I will let you know!

  4. … thanks for reading the book.. though i am among one of the writers of this book.. “BAngkok through the eyes of Indian girl”.i almost lived 26 different lives while reading each one of the author’s life abroad. I guess others must have had a similar experience..

  5. Have you ever thought about writing a book?? That would be awesome!!

    • I actually have :)

      I’m trying to publish a comic book on kickstarter (I’m going to start the campaign next week) – and I’m working on a funny guidebook for Tokyo right now with some blogging friends.

      Once I have a couple more years in Tokyo under my belt I really, REALLY want to write a book about living in Tokyo~

  6. I’ve also bought a copy of the book – still have to finish another one until I’ll get to this one, but the reviews are pretty good, so I have high expectations :D

  7. I’m so glad you enjoyed the anthology! The stories really resonated with me as well, they were so personal and honest and incredibly touching. Okay, yeah, I guess I am a little biased…but seriously, I loved it and am thrilled you did too.

    • Biased is good :)

      I really do love anthologies, though. There’s something wonderful about being able to read a collection of stories.
      I also really loved this book “Marriage in Translation” which was a collection of stories from women married to Japanese men, living in Japan. It was really… touching.
      I hope this book does well in sales!

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