Member Reviews

➡Trans Rights Readathon

➡The Diverse Baseline

October Prompt B: A book by a Trans BIPOC Author

I used to think poetry wasn't for me. That was before I read it more diversely. I found I could finally connect to it. While I don't love this current trend of not capitalizing anything, that doesn't really detract from any of the content, so I'll leave it.

This book hits a lot of hard topics, including white feminists, trans-exclusionary radical feminists, and JK Rowling. I am of the school that if your feminism doesn't include all women, you're not really a feminist. I will die on this hill. Kai Cheng is a lot more loving than me, as she even thanks these people with differing opinions in her acknowledgements.

As with all poetry, or things of a personal nature, some of these poems resonated more with me than others, but the feel of them is generally the same. I found myself captivated with bits of each one, and found this a very fast read. I'll be on the lookout for more in the future.

Was this review helpful?

This is an epistolary poetry collection from a Chinese Canadian transwoman. She writes poetic letters to all kinds of people: sex workers and their johns, ancestors and even Jesus Christ. The poems are meditative and followed by an exercise for the reader to engage. By addressing letters to all kinds of people, the poet is exploring the title of the collection: falling back in love with being human.

Readers who enjoy innovative forms of poetry will enjoy this collection.

Was this review helpful?

A very articulate and well written collection of essays from Kai Cheng Thom. These essays/prose I think are a great way to open your eyes, to thoughts and experiences that people experience. I look forward to reading more from them in the future.

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Falling Back in Love with Being Human
Letters to Lost Souls
by Kai Cheng Thom

My first from poet Kai Cheng Thom and wow this is incredible - Falling Back in Love with Being Human is written in letter format to a variety of people whether it be to the sisterhood of trans femmes, to JK Rowling, to Jesus, or the exiled. After each letter is a well thought out call to action designed to help as the title suggests, fall back in love with being human.

I loved the format and the insightful thoughts of the essays written. My favorite poems were: "to the girl trying to be a magic mirror when she is in fact a secret door," "to the johns," "to the ones who watched," and “to the ones who disappeared.”

Was this review helpful?

Gorgeous and necessary. A beautiful book about empathy we so need right now. Kai Cheng Thom’s most recent book, Falling Back in Love With Being Human, is a series of letters to people or groups of people who are hard to love. Which is everyone. She addresses trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) and trans women. She writes to sex workers and their clients. She has letters to mass shooters and their victims. She writes to J.K. Rowling. She writes to herself.

The current state of the world can make it awfully hard to ground ourselves in love. It can be hard to love ourselves when we represent something that society is raging against. And it’s just as hard to look at those doing the raging with compassion and curiosity.

Was this review helpful?

I’ve never read anything from Kai Cheng Thom and poetry is a little out of my usual wheelhouse, but I really enjoyed this.

Falling Back in Love with Being Human is a series of nonfiction/memoir-esque poems written as letters to a variety of people whether it be other trans femmes, TERFs, sex workers, or johns. After each poem is a related task designed to help as the title suggests, fall back in love with being human. The prose was gorgeous and some of the tasks were really thought provoking. In a world that consistently feels terrible, Kai Cheng Thom advocates for radical love and acceptance and I think that’s beautiful.

Was this review helpful?

There are some truly beautiful poems in this collection, and the self-help type exercises in between them are also nicely written and tie into the themes of the works. My favorite poems were: "to the ones who didn't cry," "to the girl trying to be a magic mirror when she is in fact a secret door," "to the deathwalkers," "to the johns," "to the ones who watched," "to the ones who disappeared," and "to the Animorphs."

Was this review helpful?

I discussed this on the Book Riot All the Books podcast. Here is a rough transcript:

Falling Back in Love with Being Human: Letters to Lost Souls by Kai Cheng Thom
I love Kai Cheng Thom’s writing, whether it’s her stunning novel Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars or her essays or poetry or even her advice columns.
This collection is a fascinating mix of formats that I am having trouble categorizing.
It’s almost an essay collection, almost poetry, and has self-help elements, too.
It’s a collection of love letters, addressed to people ranging from celebrating other trans women to trying to reach out to intensely transphobic and racist people.
It comes from, as she describes it, her attempt to “embrace the revolutionary belief that every human being— no matter how hateful or horrible— is intrinsically sacred”
“I wrote my way through the question: What happens when we imagine loving the people—and the parts of ourselves—that we do not believe are worthy of love? What emerged was a series of love letters to unexpected people and places, to the parts of the world and my own self that I thought were beyond saving.”
Between each letter are instructions, ranging from simple to more elaborate ways to embody the letter that came before.
For example, write a list of ways you can support the transfem people in your life. Or, go into the woods, lie down, and cover yourself in leaves.
Write a prayer of hope on a piece of paper and leave it somewhere for someone else to find.
I tried to do the ones that I could as I read, and even when I couldn’t, I stopped to think about them.
It forced me to slow down and really process what I was reading, which I should be doing with poetry anyway.
I was highlighting so much as I read: there are so many thought-provoking and memorable lines that I want to get as an art print. I’d love to be reminded of them all the time.
Part of why I enjoy Kai Cheng Thom’s writing so much is because she makes so much room for the complexity of human beings.
For example, discussing the abuse within the queer community, and how even activist communities can fundamentally treat people as disposable.
This is only 176 pages, but it benefits from being read slowly.
If you’re looking for hope, or an activist lens that offers an alternative to punishment-based “justice” systems, pick this up — and also all of Kai Cheng Thom’s other work.
And that’s Falling Back in Love with Being Human by Kai Cheng Thom

Was this review helpful?

With vulnerability and insight, Thom explores the full spectrum of being alive. For entrepreneurs, the book provides a meaningful reminder to care for one's inner life amidst the demands of starting a business, supporting mental health and fulfillment.

Was this review helpful?

Good lord, Kai Cheng Thom’s writing just does it for me. Her prose is lyrical and honest and stripped bare, so full of emotion, vulnerability, introspection, and thoughtful analysis. In this collection of letters, she explores similar themes as in her series of essays, I Hope We Choose Love — gender, identity, belonging, anger, social justice and the movement’s dogma and unwritten rules, sisterhood, fear, and, of course, love. And she does so, once again, with nuance and care and softness and sharp edges. I laughed and cried and learned about her, the world, myself. I just can’t recommend this enough.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Was this review helpful?

This is a collection of poetry letters to various people, groups, and things. The book is filled with advice on how to see the world in a different light. The short chapters of poetry are followed by a suggestion on how to fall back in love with being human.

I enjoyed the format of this book and the variety of poems. There is a poem for everyone. If you like poems or short stories, then this book is for you! I give it 4/5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Was this review helpful?

- thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an arc to review!

- an impactful list of essays that speak upon being trans, being human, and reclaiming identity and feelings. Thom writes with such a lyrical punch that makes each essay stand out, and each essay is full of determination and understanding to those who it is addressed to.

Was this review helpful?

Beautifully written poems/letters to various different groups of people. This was my first read of the author and while I resonated with some poems more that others, the lyrical writing style both packed a punch and left me moved emotionally. Kai Cheng Thom did not hesitate to address tough topics, but she did it in such a impactful way.

Was this review helpful?

4.5+ stars

This short-but-sweet book was an excellent collection of pieces from the writer, based on her thoughts, ideas, and experiences. It wasn’t long, but it was powerful, impactful, interesting, and enjoyable. I would like to revisit it in the future and consider some of the ideas and prompts in greater depth.

Was this review helpful?

Kai Cheng Thom's latest collection features poems written as letters to help the writer fall back in love with being human, and in doing so it certainly allows plenty of room for the reader to do the same. The poems featured in this collection are all addressed to someone, and whether it be the john's the author slept with during her time as a sex worker, unrequited loves, her trans sisters, TERFs or the transphobic author of the child wizard books, Thom offers them all love and forgiveness. This was a beautiful collection full of grief, rage, and ultimately and most importantly: love, and is in my opinion, one the author's best works to date.

Was this review helpful?

This is a collection of poetry letters to various people, groups, and things. The book is filled with advice on how to see the world in a different light. The short chapters of poetry are followed by a suggestion on how to fall back in love with being human.

I enjoyed the format of this book and the variety of poems. There is a poem for everyone. If you like poems or short stories, then this book is for you! I give it 4/5 stars.

Was this review helpful?

Loved the unique set up of this. I really enjoyed the commentary on how we can still see the human in people we may really dislike. That there is always something redeeming. That’s a good reminder for everyone.

Was this review helpful?

FALLING BACK IN LOVE WITH BEING HUMAN: LETTERS TO LOST SOULS by Kai Cheng Thom is a collection of love letters to herself and to many others that have loved and hurt her. These letters are a form of transformative healing and self-acceptance that speaks to the beauty of being human.

I can see myself coming back to this book and these letters over and over again when needed. They are wonderfully crafted and meaningful.

Was this review helpful?

Falling Back In Love With Being Human is a short book but it is packed with wisdom and intelligence. I really loved reading how this author expresses herself creatively and she really hit the nail on the head with some of her shorts. I really loved this collection and look forward to reading more from this author!

Was this review helpful?

beautiful. soul-deep beautiful. i loved the biblical references — the reclaiming of the biblical word to reflect love for trans bodies, which house souls worth every iota of love. i am really amazed by this book of poems.

Was this review helpful?