issue #100 - the milestone one

A lot of things snuck up on me in the past couple of weeks.

Book deadlines (Marisa and Fanta, you both are insanely patient and THANK YOU). My birthday, and our first trip to Pennsylvania since Thanksgiving. The 25th anniversary of one of my favorite movies. The 4th of July and the many mixed feelings I have about the day.

I shared many thoughts about them on Instagram (linked above).

And of course, this milestone. 100 newsletters. WHAT.

I started #5SmartReads on Instagram when I paused my old blog. At the time, I was early in my pregnancy with Rhaki, had just stepped into the CEO role of my company, and was feeling both lost and focused.

This newsletter has seen me through the birth of my second child (and learning how to be a mom of two), a global pandemic, running a company, through the scaling of #5SmartReads and bringing on new contributors, my writing my second book, and so many more things.

I am endlessly grateful that you continue to welcome me in your inbox week after week, whether’s it’s been for a long time or a good time. And I’m going to celebrate this milestone with some sort of giveaway or SOMETHING in the next couple of months, when I should have a little more bandwidth to come up with something that delivers value to you all.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

What we read this week

Hitha - I read and loved Body Talk by Katie Sturino (reviewed here) and A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria (reviewed here). I haven’t had much time for reading lately, but I’ve been a devoted listener of Showmance (the latest season of RomComPods) and I think it’s their best season yet!



  • The Bad Muslim by Syed Masood - I just finished The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed Masood, and it may be one of the best books I've read in 2021. The book tells the simultaneous stories of two Muslim immigrants in the US from the 90's through 2017. Anvar Faris is a restless young man with a sharp wit, at odds with his family traditions and his Muslim faith. Safwa is a young woman in war-torn Iraq trying to escape a desperate situation. Both consider themselves "bad Muslims" for various reasons, and this book explores faith, family, tradition and expectations in a nuanced, often very funny way. June is also National Immigrant month, and if you're looking to read an own-voices immigrant experience, I highly recommend this one.

    This book has been criticized for being not representative of Muslims in the U.S., but I disagree. Having known many "bad Muslims" myself, I think this is an important representation of one type of experience, and a reminder that no group of people, whether tied by faith, ethnicity or anything else, are a monolith. We all contain multitudes.


  • Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford - Ashley C. Ford's memoir is so wonderful (and Oprah endorsed). She shares her story of growing up in Indiana with an incarcerated father and a mother who struggled with such love, self reflection, and compassion for everyone involved. It took ten years to write and was worth the wait.

The Top 5

  1. A Different World: Cast Members And Crew Tell The Oral History (Vanity Fair)

  2. 3 New Job Interview Questions Companies Are Asking Right Now (Huffington Post)

  3. Frito Pie To The Rescue, As A New Foster Dad Navigates Dinner For An 8-Year-Old(Washington Post)

  4. The New Old Stacy London (InStyle)

  5. 4 useful strategies to resist the siren song of multitasking (Fast Company)

The Catch Up

Monday (LaToya)

Tuesday (Shibani)

Wednesday (Abigail)



Things we love this week


  • Have you watched Sex/Life on Netflix? I personally found it smarter than most reviews made it out to be, but it also had me wanting to replace all my pajamas with sweet white nightgowns that Billie often wore (the symbolism is rife, here for it). This one hits the bill perfectly, and it’s made by the brand of my favorite pajamas.

  • MasterClass is KILLING it lately. I loved both Robin Arzón and LeVar Burton’s recent classes, and have been making my way through Dan Brown and Amy Tan’s when I’m able (and am working on the crazy multigenerational pharma thriller I’ve been dreaming up). You can check it out with this weeklong guest pass (first come, first serve). It’s well worth the $15/month - I watch them while folding laundry, doing the dishes, or even listening to the audio-only option while going on a walk.

  • I just reserved my Blue Apron meals for the next 5 weeks and the menus are AMAZING. Lots of Asian-style Beyond Burgers (and the opportunity to use my grill), some enchiladas and tacos, and I added the spiced peach crumble, spicy green beans & shishito pepper sides to my boxes. Their current offer is one of their best ones (10 free meals and free shipping across your first five boxes).
    Disclosure - I’ve had a longtime partnership with Blue Apron that just wrapped up, but I’m still a huge fan of the service and am continuing my membership with my own money. The link I shared is an affiliate link and I will earn a commission if you use it, and I truly appreciate your support of my partnerships.


  • You have probably seen this mug everywhere, but it's really my favorite. It's just a chic and fun and really pretty to look at item, which we all could use more of in our lives.


  • In the summer, I prefer using bronzer over a powder when I'm on the go, and this bronzer is the perfect beauty product to stash in your bag. It's got a really nice finish, is vegan, Asian-owned, $10, and available at Target.


  • This reusable eye mask is my new favorite thing. It's sustainable and works with any eye cream you have, plus it's perfect for selfies. I like to use it while I get ready and find it helps with puffiness and product absorption

Take care of yourself, and please share #5SmartReads if you’re enjoying them!

Refer #5SmartReads