“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single person in want of a good job, must be in possession of a sh*tty commute.”
Sorry for the improv, Jane, but that just about sums up the lives of millions of people every day, myself included. Let me back this up a bit and start from the top.
Hey, hi—I’m Steph. To give you a better picture of myself, I am THAT person who starts out every day ready to carpe diem the hell out of it, and then the traffic on the highway is at a standstill. And the trains are running with delays. And, don’t even get me started on the ferry ride, where I actively consider jumping ship at various points throughout my voyage. But I digress.
Welcome to the very first Rush Hour Rundown! I’m not here to share with others how miserable commuting is (but misery does love company, you know?). If you have a long and gruesome commute to work every day, you get it. And if you don’t, then count your blessings from up above
and know that I secretly hate you. This corner is solely dedicated to improving the lives of my fellow commuters…or at least distracting them from their misery long enough to get to work. I’m an experienced commuter with a few tricks up my sleeve, and am ready to share them with the world. I’m your go-to girl for the best books, podcasts, apps, and distractions galore. And now, on with our show!
Must Read: Crazy Rich Asians
If you haven’t heard of the series by Kevin Kwan, then you live under a rock, but lucky for you, your commute just got better! If you have already read the books, then you’re SOL right now, but you have really great taste 👍.
The series is a three-part collection: Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems. In case it wasn’t made clear from the title, the characters are really, really rich. Rich in a way you probably never even thought possible. Seriously, they put the Kardashians to shame. Apparently this is how some people actually live, because the story is loosely based on Kwan’s childhood in Singapore. To sum up the series in a few words, Crazy Rich Asians is Gossip Girl reincarnated for a new generation.
You may be thinking, “Why on Earth would I want to read about such a lavish lifestyle as as I travel to work like the peasant that I am?,” and honestly, same. Except, when every headline for the day’s news makes you depressed or unreasonably angry, it’s kind of nice to escape for a bit into a world you’ll likely never know. Kwan effortlessly pieces together stories from several characters’ perspectives to deliver backstabbing, two-timing, and social-climbing situations to fulfill any missing drama in your life. He has a super witty way of writing, and manages to jump from character to character—as well as country to country—with smooth transitions that don’t get lost in translation.
The book isn’t just about a bunch of rich, spoiled 20-somethings. Well, it is, but there is also a storyline in there somewhere. It’s told from the perspective of five main characters—Rachel Chu, Nicholas Young, Eleanor Young, Astrid Teo, and Edison Cheng—and revolves around Singapore’s wedding of the year. When Nick, who now lives in New York City, travels home for the wedding, he spontaneously decides to bring his girlfriend, Rachel. Rachel is a mystery to them all, and madness soon ensues.
Let me briefly break it down for you below. You’ll notice that the five characters mentioned above (using their film portrayal) are compared to a Gossip Girl character. That’s because I will shamelessly plug Gossip Girl into any scenario, and also because the two series are v relatable.
Rachel Chu is an American who comes from Chinese descent. She dated Nicholas Young before she knew how rich he was, so that, like, makes her a good person, I guess. Rachel is a smart girl from a middle class family who was raised by a single mom, so obviously Nick’s family will hate her. Rachel is a lot like young Jenny. They both are super sweet and entirely too naive for what they are about to get themselves into.
Nick is originally from Singapore, but lives in New York City. He comes from one of the richest families in the country, but his fellow city-dwellers have no idea of his financial status. He loves his family, but won’t let money stand in his way of “true love.” OK, Romeo, but that is a convenient way to feel when you are already rich 😒. Much like Nate, he’s a standup guy who is often torn between his devotion to his family, and doing the decent thing.
Meet mama hen. Eleanor fiercely loves her son, Nick. She wants what she thinks is best for Nick, which often causes her to stir the pot and spill some tea. Other than being a monster-in-law, Eleanor is a lot like Lily Van der Woodsen. They both try to protect their kids, but most of the time they cause the problems (Hey, remember that time Lily sent Serena’s teacher to jail!).
Astrid is the beautiful, stylish, basically untouchable, cousin of Nick. Known literally as “the Goddess,” Astrid also has a heart of gold and will command a room the second she struts into it. Obviously, she is the Serena Van der Woodsen of the series.
Eddie is Nick’s cousin and aspires for his family to have the picture perfect life. This guy will literally take down anything and anyone who gets in his way. Much like Blair Wahldorf, Eddie is known to throw a b*tch fit or two if things don’t go the way he wants. Though I am a Blair Wahldorf enthusiast, these two characters often let their ambitions get the best of them.
You’ll meet a ton of other really dynamic and ironically funny characters along the way. There’s a solid chance you won’t know who to love and who to hate, and I think that is really beautiful.
The novels are all pretty lengthy, so depending on how speedy of a reader you are, you can probably dig in to the series on your way to work and be kept busy for a couple of weeks. Best yet, a film adaptation based on the first book is hitting theaters this summer. Besides the fact that the rom-com looks hilarious (hi, Ken Jeong!), it also includes a star-studded all-Asian cast, which is WAY overdue. Expect the film to be over-the-top gaudy, in the best way possible. Whether you already added the book to your Amazon cart, or are still on the fence, check out the trailer below to see what’s in store.