Loving books, and destroying books

A few weeks after Misunderstood was first published, I wrote about “why I hope you destroy my book“. It turned out to be somewhat controversial! What does it mean, practically, to love a book? Do you keep it pristine? Do you cover it in notes? Do you keep it only for yourself? Do you lend it out indiscriminately so more people can experience it?

I decided this post was worth reflecting on because it’s a concept that comes up in conversation fairly often. I was just discussing it with someone on twitter last week. Here is an excerpt from the original post, more than two years ago:

The books I have found most helpful, the books that I have most enjoyed, the books that have meant something special to me – these are the books on my shelves that show significant signs of wear. Now, I have friends who are scrupulously careful with their books. They are plastic covered, with spines uncracked, corners unturned, pages pristine. This is how they show care for their books. But there is something passionate and personal about a book you just have to carry with you – leaving creased pages and scuffed covers. Something about a book that speaks to you so deeply you feel compelled to turn it into a journal, writing your responses, jotting down the way it reflects your heart and your story. . .

So as an author, I would like to say – it would be an honour to have my book destroyed. It would delight me to see handwritten notes and smudged pages and scratched covers. It would be a joy to see physical evidence that my words have impacted someone – sparked thoughts, touched emotions. I really hope I get to see that!

And the best part? I did get to see it!! I’ve heard stories and seen photos of different ways my book has been loved by readers around the world.

One time I was speaking at an event and heard that one of the attendees had my book and read it thoroughly and was really excited to meet me in person – but didn’t bring their book to be signed because they were embarrassed of the rough condition it was in. If that’s ever you, know that I take that as the highest compliment!

A few times people have told me they bought a second copy to loan out to others, either because they were always lending it and never had it at home themselves, or because they wanted a copy that stayed clean and safe. Either way, also a huge compliment!

And perhaps sweetest of all, one person told me they don’t like to write in books, as they consider them sort of sacred. But they really wanted a way to reference the content in my book that was impacting them, so they could refer back to it. So they used coloured tabs to mark places that were meaningful or important. And sent me this photo:

misunderstood-tabs

Another time, a student I’d known in Beijing was talking to a friend and saw that they had my book in a stack they’d borrowed from the library.

I love hearing these stories of my book out in the real world – that it exists in the hands, and on the desks and bookshelves, and in the minds and hearts, of readers around the world. Literally around the world. I know it’s been owned and read in over 30 countries now, including:

Australia, Austria, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Curacao, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE, UK, USA, and Vietnam.

So please – keep reading, keep scribbling and tabbing, keep lending and sharing, and keep telling me your stories! I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

Win a signed copy of Misunderstood!

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Update: The draw has now closed, stay tuned to hear about the winner!

A few weeks ago Facebook pointed out to me that the Misunderstood page has over 900 likes, and suggested I celebrate this milestone. I couldn’t be bothered – hah! But then I thought, well, 1000 is a pretty nice round number, why don’t I celebrate that instead? And so I’ve decided to celebrate by mailing *one lucky winner* a signed copy of my book!

Here’s the deal: to enter the draw, comment on this post. That’s it!

Once the Misunderstood page on facebook hits 1,000 likes, I’ll use a randomiser to pick a winner from the list of comments. If that’s you, I’ll email you to arrange sending a personalised book to you (or someone you want to gift it to!)

You’ll be required to enter an email address in order to comment. Your email address will NOT be posted publicly, but I’ll be able to see it privately. That’s how I’ll contact you if you’re the winner.

It would also be great if you can share the Misunderstood page with your facebook friends. There’s an “invite friends” option on the right hand side, where you can send an invite (even through messenger) explaining to people what the page is and why you think they might be interested. For example:

I’m inviting you to like this page for the book “Misunderstood” which is about the experience of growing up overseas. I thought you might find it interesting.

Remember, the faster Misunderstood hits 1,000 likes on facebook, the faster there’ll be a winner to send a book to ;)

A revealing review of Misunderstood

misundertood-3d-cover.jpgRecently Expat Bookshop published a lovely review of Misunderstood by Youth Intercultural Transition Specialist Jane Barron of Globally Grounded.

Jane does a great job of explaining what Misunderstood is: who it’s for, what material is covered, and the flow of the content.

What struck me most about her review, however, is how she went to the heart of the intent with which I wrote.

What sets this book apart from others in the global transition genre is the way Tanya brings research, perspective and solutions together. She identifies the challenge, fear or feeling “many TCKs believe others cannot, or will not, understand,” then underpins it with research and wisdom from experts in the field and articulates it using anecdotes from TCKs and Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs). For each challenge, Tanya provides solutions and strategies for parents/ caregivers to support their TCK, so those challenges do not become traumatic but instead serve as springboards for growth.

She’s hit the nail on the head here. I wholeheartedly believe in the many advantages and opportunities that go with an international childhood. I am also all too aware of the corresponding challenges. My goal is to equip carers (and TCKs themselves) with tools, and a perspective, that will help them tackle those challenges effectively – so they aren’t left as speed bumps to trip them up, or land mines coming back to create trouble later on.

But the most striking part of Jane’s review was her clear understanding of the book’s title. I had planned to write a blog post of my own talking about this – but maybe I don’t need to anymore!

The title of the book, Misunderstood, may lead readers to assume the contents are negative in nature but in fact it is very balanced. This word, misunderstood, was repeated over and over in interviews and conversations Tanya had with TCKs yet the book provides an insight into the heads, hearts and souls of children growing up overseas to dispel any misunderstanding. It bridges the gap between TCKs feeling misunderstood and adults trying to understand. TCKs reading this book will identify with the words ‘spoken’ by other TCKs and perhaps find a vocabulary to express their emotions and find a sense of belonging. Parents, educators and other caregivers will gain the understanding TCKs desperately need and want in order to encourage, equip and support them to “develop into emotionally mature adults,” either abroad or at home. Misunderstood is a book of hope and one I would highly recommend for all TCKs and those who care for them.

Yes, yes, and YES. I felt strongly that the title “Misunderstood” was the best way to stay true to the stories that were entrusted to me by hundreds of TCKs. But that title is not a curse, and it is not the way things must inevitably be. It is instead a starting point: that of stopping to acknowledge the way so many TCKs (young and old) feel, or have felt, as a result of their international childhood experiences. To understand TCKs, we must first listen to them, to their stories. We must stop to hear their feelings – even if they are uncomfortable. Only then can we begin to move from misunderstanding to understanding. Yes, Misunderstood is intended to be a book of hope – that no TCK need always be misunderstood, and that non-TCKs really can learn to understand how TCKs see the world.

Read Jane’s full review on Expat Bookshop.

Initial reflections on FIGT 2017

The Misunderstood blog has been very much on the backburner the last six months. I poured a lot of energy into it around the book’s release, which put me behind in my studies. I’ve been working hard to catch up and keep up – and 2017 has been jam-packed so far!

Attending the Families In Global Transition 2017 conference in The Hague (Netherlands) a few weeks ago reminded me that supporting TCKs and expatriate families is what I really care about, the field I want to work in. So despite the busyness of student life, I’m hoping to get into the expat headspace more often from here on out.

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FIGT 2017 was an amazing three-day experience. It was my first time attending the conference, and I met a lot of incredible people with whom I had inspiring conversations. Some were people I had already “met” online – I had read their books and blogs, they had contributed to Misunderstood, or written reviews of it. I felt very lucky to have the opportunity to turn online connections into Real Life connections.

(I hung out on twitter a lot throughout the conference, reflecting on key moments as they occurred to me and to others in attendance.)

I was stunned to discover that some of the very authors I consider giants in my field (such as Ruth van Reken and Linda Janssen) were actively looking to meet me! One of several surreal moments was being asked to sign a copy of Misunderstood for Valerie Besanceney – an author I greatly respect and whose books I regularly recommend. There were also people at the conference I met for the first time and who turned out to have already bought and read my book, or had been hearing about it and bought a copy while at the conference. It was quite astonishing to me!

Also astonishing – my book selling out! Misunderstood was stocked in the conference bookstore, and the recommendation was to bring up to 10 copies. Those sold out in the first day, so I went through my suitcase and brought along the six copies I had with me – which sold out on the second day.

Beyond the Misunderstood connections, FIGT was a wonderfully enriching experience. I had the privilege of listening to a range of researchers discuss fascinating research they are conducting regarding various issues connected to expatriate life.

I was so encouraged by the work of SPAN to build networks of international schools who actively work to smooth transitions for students as their families move – to create safe passage. (Safe Passage is, not-so-coincidentally, the title of another book I regularly recommend, by another author I was delighted to meet in person – Doug Ota).

I had conversations which strengthened my convictions as to the importance of my work with TCKs and expat families, and conversations with prompted me to think further and in new directions. I listened to thoughtful talks unpacking different aspects of expat life – sometimes affirming things I have experienced and believe, other times challenging me to consider a new point of view.

There were three ideas which impacted me most deeply – which inspired me to think in new or deeper ways. The first was expat empty nesters; the second was dual careers for expat spouses; the third was the experience of being a twenty-something TCK. I’m still processing the things I heard and learned and the new ideas that have sprung from my time at FIGT, but I hope to write a little more about these things as I continue to reflect.

Right now I’m still in Europe, and over the next week I’ll have two opportunities to meet and share with groups of expat parents. I’ll be sharing with them some of what I’ve learned in 12 years spent working with TCKs, some stats and stories from Misunderstood, and taking time to listen to their stories and talk through their questions. I am really looking forward to both times.

After that I’ll be headed back to Sydney – and a pile of study to catch up on! But hopefully I won’t be quite so silent here anymore.

Why I hope you destroy my book

The other week I read a post by The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) about when books are loved so well they fall apart. It was a lovely post, called “Sometimes tattered and worn = loved” and I recommend it to you. She talked about how her best loved books are so well used that they become worn and tattered. She talked about looking for second hand books with scribbled notes in margins – markers of a book that meant something important to someone at some point in its history.

It’s certainly true for me and my library. The books I have found most helpful, the books that I have most enjoyed, the books that have meant something special to me – these are the books on my shelves that show significant signs of wear. Now, I have friends who are scrupulously careful with their books. They are plastic covered, with spines uncracked, corners unturned, pages pristine. This is how they show care for their books. But there is something passionate and personal about a book you just have to carry with you – leaving creased pages and scuffed covers. Something about a book that speaks to you so deeply you feel compelled to turn it into a journal, writing your responses, jotting down the way it reflects your heart and your story.

Near the end of her post Lawson told the story of a fan at a book signing bringing out a tattered and worn copy she was embarrassed to present to its author. Instead, Lawson was delighted and insisted on taking a photo of the book. To her eyes, the ripped and worn pages were a sign not of neglect but of great love.

My immediate thought was, “Wow, that must be the highest compliment for an author. I wonder if anyone will ever love my book that much.” Not love as in kind adjectives and deep thoughts, but the sort of love that is shown through scribbles in margins and highlighted passages, torn pages and worn covers.

So as an author, I would like to say – it would be an honour to have my book destroyed. It would delight me to see handwritten notes and smudged pages and scratched covers. It would be a joy to see physical evidence that my words have impacted someone – sparked thoughts, touched emotions.

I really hope I get to see that!

Misunderstood is now available!

reading-tAfter 11 years spent mentoring TCKs and nearly four years spent collecting their stories I am beyond excited to announce that Misunderstood is NOW ON SALE!!

I am so proud of this book. I know it might sound strange to say that about my own work, but I really am. Not of me, mind you (though I feel pleased with the work I’ve managed to do). What I’m proud of is all the stories collected and collated in it, proud to have created something I believe does those stories justice.

I interviewed over 270 TCKs during the process of writing and editing Misunderstood. More than 100 of them are quoted in the book, sharing their stories of Third Culture life, of adapting to new environments, of processing the emotional ramifications of international lives. I am so proud of all the TCKs who bravely shared their hearts, putting sometimes difficult emotions into words, so other could benefit.

I spoke with many parents of TCKs as well. These types of conversations are what spurred the writing of the book in the first place, and helped adjust the narrative of the book as I wrote. I am so thankful to the many parents who shared their hopes and fears with me so openly, that the questions they and so many have held in their hearts might find their way onto the pages of Misunderstood. Part of the pride I feel is that, with their help (and the help of Summertime‘s wonderful team), Misunderstood addresses worries many expat parents carry.

Through the process of writing Misunderstood I have seen it shape me – making me into a more compassionate person. I find myself more convinced than ever of the wisdom to be found through asking questions and listening to the answers. I have also had the privilege of seeing young TCKs affected by the book as it took shape. The raw and emotional responses of many test readers (young TCKs who read a chapter or short section I was working on to give feedback) humbled me, and made me determined to do this well. I am proud to present to you a book that can impact people.

That is why I’m feeling proud today. Years of work, and the contributions of so many people, have become a physical book in my hands. Misunderstood is a book that honours the stories of TCKs, encourages expat parents, and offers helpful insights to anyone connected to international life.

I am delighted to share it with you now, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Interview on DrieCulturen

I did an interview with Janneke at DrieCulturen which is online today. In it I talk about writing Misunderstood, my experience living overseas as a teenanger, and where “home” is:

As you probably know I love books and especially on the topic of growing up abroad. I am pleased to announce that a new book on the topic is about to be released and the author Tanya Crossman has agreed to answer some questions specially for you. Thank you Tanya! By the way if you want to know what children or young people say about growing up abroad then you have to read this book. Now over to Tanya.

1) Please tell us about your book “Misunderstood”. Tell us about how you were inspired to write the book?
I spent a decade mentoring TCKs (third culture kids), listening to them and learning how they felt about life. Parents began to ask my advice, and I saw lightbulb moments as they saw their children’s situation in a new light. When asked for resources I pointed to lots of great books, but couldn’t find anything that did what I did…

Read the full interview on DrieCulturen Misundertood 3D COVER

Welcome!

reading.jpgWelcome!

My name is Tanya Crossman and I am the author of Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century. On this blog I discuss different aspects of international life, with a focus on children and young people: how they feel about, and are shaped by, their global experiences.

Perhaps you have come here hoping to learn more about raising children internationally, or teaching such children. Perhaps you were raised overseas yourself. Perhaps you have read Misunderstood and want to know more. In each case, a good place to start is my post on Third Culture Kids, which lays a foundation for a lot of what is discussed here. You can also check out articles arranged by topic, or take a look at the most popular posts.

However you found your way to this blog, I’m glad you’re here. I would love to hear from you, hear your story, and your questions. We’re all learning, and we all have something helpful to contribute. Please add your voice to the conversation!

Tanya Crossman
Beijing, 2019