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Baek Se-hee Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Baek Sehee
Baek Sehee was born in 1990 in Korea and studied creative writing in university before working for five years at a publishing house.

For ten years, she received psychiatric treatment for persistent mild depression (dysthymia) and anxiety disorder, which became the subject of her essays, and then her two part memoir. Her favorite food is tteokpokki. She loves writing, books, and Zoodasa (who is a streamer on Twitch TV).

One thing that Baek would like to tell the 22 year old version of herself is do not hate yourself so much. And finds the words: ‘it’s not your fault, because it’s an illness’ to be very comforting ones.

She gives lectures on depression and writes on the topic. Baek’s dream is just to be loved and to love. With ease and without suspicion. Because she doesn’t know how to do either properly and it pains her.

“I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokpokki” is a memoir that was released in 2018. The South Korean runaway hit by debut author Baek Sehee’s intimate therapy memoir, which was recommended by RM of BTS. The book is translated into English by Anton Hur, an International Booker Prize shortlisted translator. Baek is a successful young social media director at a publishing house when she starts seeing a psychiatrist about her, what to even call it?, depression?

She feels persistently low, endlessly self-doubting, anxious, yet also highly judgmental of other people. She does her best to hide her feelings at work and with her friends, performing the calmness that her lifestyle demands. The effort is overwhelming, exhausting, and keeps her from forming any deep relationships. None of it can actually be normal. However if she is so hopeless, why can she always summon up a yen for her favorite street food: tteokpokki, the hot and spicy rice cake? Is this just what life is like?

Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a period of twelve weeks (taking place over a two year span), and expanding on every session with her own reflective micro-essays, she starts disentangling the feedback loops, harmful behaviors and knee jerk reactions which keep her trapped in a cycle of self-abuse.

Part self-help book and part memoir, this is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness. It’ll appeal to reader that have ever felt alone or unjustified in their everyday despair. It captures the edgy relationship that many millennials and Gen-Z-ers have with hunger, hopelessness, and the pressure to be perfect.

Readers found they were able to immerse themselves into the conversation to the point that it felt quite intimate, as though they were in Baek’s situation the whole time. While some were not depressed themselves, readers felt they could relate to a lot of the things Baek goes through. The confusion in some of what she says mirrors their own, and they get comfort from the words of her psychiatrist that they certainly needed. Some readers felt like reading this book was like therapy, and are so glad this book exists.

The concept is fantastic, and Baek displays courage, vision, and creativity; she also provides insights on different medicines to handle your mental health issues. And this book is the invention of a new genre: The “My Self Help Book”. She writes with a lot of candor, and it takes a lot of courage because new people she meets are going to know these personal and private things about her.

Baek is blunt yet charming, and readers couldn’t help but respect her throughout this book. She holds nothing back in her very honest approach to writing this book. Fans liked the essay portion of the book the most, which are at the start of every chapter, and the end of the book.

Through writing the book, she wanted those living and feeling like she does to read the book and find some relief that they’re not alone. For those that are different from how she is to just know there are people like her in the world. And that depression is another illness like the other physical diseases. It is just their mind that’s ill.

She hoped that those that are like her to not get embarrassed, hate, or ignore the emotionally hard or dark parts inside of themselves. It might sound banal, but life is tough for everybody, and it’s ultimately you that must look after yourself in the end.

She never imagined that her book would become a bestseller even when it was officially published. She thinks the most important element is the title. Baek only titled it this based off of her own experiences, but who knew? Readers really found some empathy in them. There were even some parodies accompanying the book.

Everybody encounters that difficult moment in life, however your body still gets hungry and craves something delicious to eat. And the next important thing was that the book featured depression and that it’s written like a dialogue from the perspective of your ordinary patient. There were books written in a psychiatrist’s words before this.

She thinks about people like herself, who seem perfectly fine on the outside yet are rotting on the inside. Where the rot is this vague state of being not-devastated and not-fine at the same time. She realizes that many of her issues stem from her painful family background, she does examine the pressure put on Korean women to conform to an ideal image, something plaguing a lot of Korean women.

The book has been adapted into a play, which Baek has seen twice. During the first performance, she was so embarrassed that she could barely watch it. On the second performance, she could concentrate better on the play. Reading her story in letters and watching it in a play was a totally different experience. Like somebody else is standing in her shoes, and acting her story out.

It was awkward at first, however she felt some sort of new ease of emotions through her story in the form of play and it consoled her. She could look at herself from the third person’s perspective. Inside of her heart, she could tell herself in front of someone else that she did a great job.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Baek Se-hee

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