The Reading Culture Welcomes Mark Oshiro

author mark oshiro
Masthead Waves

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. And wow, in speaking with Mark, that freedom and joy they now have is palpable.


Mark spent over a decade blogging about the popular shows, movies, and “pop” fiction they consumed. Equal parts snarky and genuine, the “Mark Does Stuff” universe included Mark empathizing with characters, criticizing choices, and embracing individual journeys. 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 learned 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. And even though these topics are complex, every moment in our conversation seemed also to be infused with a form of joy, or gratitude, for having arrived at this moment. I am still thinking about our conversation, about the intensity of Mark’s life, and about their resilience and bravery. 


For Mark's reading challenge, Stories of Vulnerability, they recommended some of their favorite books with stories and characters that do not shy away from being raw and vulnerable. Beanstack clients, you will find this reading challenge ready to activate on your site and to share with your community.


This week’s featured Beanstack librarian is Cindy Philbeck, who is at Wando High School in Charleston County, South Carolina. Cindy shared with us about her library’s lunchtime strategy that encourages her high school students to come visit and see the space as a place of refuge. 


Listen to the full episode, "A Gut Punch and a Hug: Mark Oshiro on Practicing Vulnerability,”  on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Please leave a 5-star review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it!


Follow the podcast on Instagram @thereadingculturepod to see reels of our guests, and subscribe to our newsletter at to watch bonus content, get more intimate background stories, and learn about upcoming giveaways! #readingculturefam (for life!)


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