Facebook Pixel
The Reading Culture

A Gut Punch and a Hug: Mark Oshiro on Practicing Vulnerability

The Reading Culture
The Reading Culture

On Today's Show

  • "It's practice. Vulnerability is practice. It is learning that you can do things and say things that seem scary, but ultimately know that you're safe.” - Mark Oshiro

Mark Oshiro was taught to fear the world. To be someone they were not and to repress someone they were. But books were an escape. Books taught them that freedom was possible.

Mark spent over a decade blogging about the stories they consumed, empathizing with characters, criticizing choices, and embracing every person's journey. But then they realized it was their turn to share, and in that sharing, they learned the transformative power of storytelling from the other side of the pages. They knew the healing power of vulnerability.

Mark debuted on the YA scene with their 2018 novel “Anger is a Gift” and has since written titles such as “Each of Us a Desert" and the latest installment in the Percy Jackson universe, “The Sun and the Star.” But their recent semi-autobiographical novel, 'Into The Light,' represents their most ultimate and vulnerable storytelling to date.

In this episode, Mark shares their life story and reflects on the refuge that books and libraries offered them as a youth from an abusive household. They also discuss how lowering their emotional defenses led them to discover the healing power of vulnerability.


Connect with Jordan and The Reading Culture @thereadingculturepod and subscribe to our newsletter at thereadingculturepod.com/newsletter.


In Mark’s reading challenge, "Stories of Vulnerability," they want us to explore other stories with the same rawness they bring to their work.

You can find their list and all past reading challenges at thereadingculturepod.com.

Today’s Beanstack Featured Librarian is Cindy Philbeck, a teacher librarian at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She told us about her library's lunchtime strategy that encourages students to visit and see the space as a refuge.


Chapter 1 - A Controlled Environment (2:34)

Chapter 2 - Safety in Books (7:14)

Chapter 3 - Losing Grip (11:13)

Chapter 4 - We Are Okay (20:41)

Chapter 5 - Mark Does Stuff (lots of stuff) (22:53)

Chapter 6 - The Practice of Vulnerability (28:32)

Chapter 7 - Closure? (33:40)

Chapter 8 - Stories of Vulnerability (37:45)

Chapter 9 - Beanstack Featured Librarian (38:58)


Host: Jordan Lloyd Bookey

Producer: Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media

Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey

The Reading Culture
Not playing