The best part of this quarantine period has been all the extra free time on my hands (though I would rather be out with my friends if I had a choice), which I’ve used for mostly productive activities. Whenever I’m not sleeping (which usually takes up half the days I’m not working in the office) or watching Sex & The City and The Office, I’ve been reading, playing guitar, cooking, and baking as much as possible. I shared two “Reactions to” posts over the course of this month as Megan and I have been trading books we normally wouldn’t purchase ourselves (she gives me novels and I share my poetry chapbooks). Incidentally, two of the books I previously blogged about—Three Women and In the Dream House—and today’s one are now in my top 10 favorite reads ever. If You See Me Don’t Say Hi (breaking the fourth wall and redacting the comma because the title wouldn’t fit as my slug!) by Neel Patel is a collection of short stories about what it means to be first-generation Indian-American today. Throughout the book, Patel seeks to eradicate the stereotypes and caricatures that Indian-Americans are often reduced to in most forms of media, and he treats each character with such tenderness and care—illustrating how complex different people from one culture are. My favorite story in the collection is, funnily enough, the namesake of the book—”If You See Me Don’t Say Hi,” which is one of the longest pieces about two brothers and their strained relationship. The last two pieces are also some of my most beloved, told from the opposing perspectives of each character—Ankur and Anjali. I’ve often found short story collections difficult to read because I can’t always connect with new characters once I’m invested in the previous ones, but Patel crafts his casts with such detail and love that I can’t help but feel drawn to all of them. I finished most of the stories with tears in my eyes, wanting to return to the narratives again and again. I love this book so much and I hope you’ll all read and enjoy it too!