Thursday, April 13, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge - check in 1

Etudesque posted about a PopSugar 2017 Reading Challenge checklist and I like lists so I thought perhaps I'd check in at the end of each quarter and see where I'm at. I'm not actually super concerned with checking things off this list, but hey, perhaps this will help with picking next read
  1. A book recommended by a librarian
  2. A book that's been on your TBR way too long
  3. A book of letters
  4. An audiobook
    • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  5. A book by a person of color
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  6. A book with one of the four seasons in the title
  7. A book that is a story within a story
  8. A book with multiple authors
  9. An espionage thriller
  10. A book with a cat on the cover
  11. A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
  12. A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read
  13. A book by or about a person who has a disability
  14. A book involving travel
    • All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (time travel is travel, right?)
  15. A book with a subtitle
    • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  16. A book that's published in 2017
    • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (to be released in Sept I think)
  17. A book involving a mythical creature
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  18. A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  19. A book about food
  20. A book with career advice
    • Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett
  21. A book from a nonhuman perspective
  22. A steampunk novel
  23. A book with a red spine
  24. A book set in the wilderness
  25. A book you loved as a child
  26. A book by an author from a country you've never visited
  27. A book with a title that's a character's name
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  28. A novel set during wartime
  29. A book with an unreliable narrator
  30. A book with pictures
  31. A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
    • The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
  32. A book about an interesting woman
  33. A book set in two different time periods
  34. A book with a month or day of the week in the title
  35. A book set in a hotel
  36. A book written by someone you admire
  37. A book that's becoming a movie in 2017
  38. A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
  39. The first book in a series you haven't read before
    • John Dies in the End by David Wong
  40. A book you bought on a trip
  41. A book recommended by an author you love
  42. A bestseller from 2016
  43. A book with a family member term in the title
    • The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin ('wives' count right?)
  44. A book that takes place over a character's life span
  45. A book about an immigrant or refugee
  46. A book from a genre/subgenre that you've never heard of
  47. A book with an eccentric character
  48. A book that's more than 800 pages
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  49. A book you got from a used book sale
  50. A book that's been mentioned in another book
  51. A book about a difficult topic
  52. A book based on mythology
OK, 13 out of the 52. Let's see what the next few months bring.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Born a Crime: Don't fight the system, mock the system

I know, I've been super bad at posting recently. I have reasons, sure, but still. I should get better at this which means I need to push myself. Especially where I'm reading more, which means I'm just getting further and further behind.

With that, let me tell you about my love for Trevor Noah's book Born a Crime. Specifically the audiobook, which is how I "read" this and it was amazing. Not only because I love his accent (though, I mean, that was definitely a big part of it) but he is an excellent storyteller.

Of course listening it on audio means I have no notes or quotes to go back to. So shit. Hopefully this won't be too much of a mess.

For those that aren't familiar, Trevor Noah was born in South Africa during apartheid to a black mother and a white father, which means that his very existence was illegal. He had a quote (whether from the book or from an interview, or both, I don't remember) where he says he always thought he was an indoor child, until he got older and realized it wasn't that he didn't want to be outside, but that he wasn't allowed to play outside, lest someone see him. This is obviously a serious topic, and while it does get sad or has points that make you angry, things are kept light. He is a comedian after all. But at no point did I feel like I was reading a bit (and even having watched a few of his stand up specials, which I recommend, there was no point where I was thinking I had heard this story before).

Noah had his ways of getting by in a world that saw him as a violation. Mostly he did it by learning a crazy amount of languages (crazy to me, a monolingual American who knows a handful of phrases in a couple languages), because he learned that even if he didn't look like you, if he talked like you, he could be one of you. A skill that was SUPER important for someone who didn't look like anyone who was supposed to exist, not in South Africa at this time.

The story follows Noah from his childhood, which involved a LOT of church (3 churches on Sunday plus Bible study a couple times during the week), through his teen years as an entrepreneurial DJ (one of the few people who had a CD burner). But as much as this is the story of Trevor, it is the story of his mother, Patricia, who is a serious badass.

Patricia is painted as a deeply religious and also rebellious woman, who went against apartheid, not just in having a child with a white man, but also in living and working in areas that were banned to her. She raised Noah mostly on her own, or rather with her family, because his father wasn't allowed to be with them. She has a sense of humor, which is something you need to get by in a world like this.

For example, one of my favorite quick anecdotes Trevor tells is when he and his mother were at a grocery story and he was whining about getting some candy. As they're about to get to the register his mother, visible irritated with him, tells him fine, he can get one. He runs off to grab a candy and when he comes back and puts it on the belt, his mother acts like she has no idea who he is. And of course, because his mother is black and he is light-skinned, the cashier believes his mother that this must not be his child. They're nice to him and try to help him find his mother, while Trevor wails that this woman is his mother. She grabs her bags and leaves with Trevor, leaving the candy behind, crying after her. When they get outside she says of course she knows she's his mother, but he was annoying her and asking for this she told him not to have. So don't do that any more.

OK, I feel like that probably didn't paint her in the BEST light, but still, it was hilarious and Trevor says that he was being super annoying and that he could be spoiled. The benefit, one he didn't understand as a kid, of being a "white" kid in a black family. He has one quote (paraphrasing cos again, no quotes since it's an audiobook) where he says he didn't think that he didn't get beat, where his cousins would (different time) because he was white. Trevor didn't get beat because he is Trevor, and obviously Trevor is special.

I could keep going on but I'll stop here. I highly, highly recommend this book, especially the audiobook. Like, I talked about it enough that at least one co-worker downloaded the audiobook the other day, and made sure to let me know. Possibly so I'd stop telling him how he should read/listen do it.* The book is funny and touching and serious and even suspenseful at times, and one of the few audiobooks I listened to while on the train because I just couldn't put it down.

Gif rating:
*Jokes on him. Listen to my recommendation and that just empowers me to make more!

Title quote from one I found on Goodreads cos of audiobook and I didn't write anything down cos who plans? Not me.

Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Audible Studios, 2016.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

What'd Red Do This Week

I know. I didn't do much. I'm sorry. I know how important it is to not lose momentum and to not lose steam and to not get discouraged.
Even if I just want to spend my time doing this.

Citizening
  • Added name to the ACLU petition that the NCAA stand strong on their promise to not hold any championship game in North Carolina until they repeal (not this change that actually didn't make anything better) for LGBT people
  • And then a follow up to the head of the NCAA Mark Emmert who didn't stand strong. Thanks, guys.
Reading
I finished re-listening to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and am in the process of re-listening to the associated Oh Witch, Please podcast episodes. Which is an A+ way to spend time, I recommend it to everyone.
I'm also reading Chuck Wendig's Invasive which is creepy and while not my fav of his stuff, still something I have trouble putting down. 

Watching
We finished VEEP season 5 so now I am super excited for the new season, which is starting soonish. I just watched Louis CK's latest standup that's on Netflix, which made me laugh and groan in equal parts. We're also rewatching Arrested Development and I can't decide who does my favorite chicken imitation. Probably Lucille because I love everything Lucille does. 
Listening
I guess I covered this before, with Oh Witch Please. And continuing MFM and How Did This Get Made. Oh and some of the Book of Mormon soundtrack, especially "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" because my fav musical character are self-centered people trying to do right, but really just focused on themselves. (OK, so the only other example I can think of right now is Galinda with "Popular" but whatever, that's enough.) You guys are swell.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Infographic Time: Q1 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017

What'd Red Do This Week

I know it's late, but hey, better last than never, right? So let's do this
Citizening
  • Reached out to local rep about SJ Res 34 that rolls back FCC regulations on internet privacy.
  • Signed ACLU petition and Cory Booker petition about anti-immigration order. (I understand that petitions are/can be less effective than calling but in cases where it's backed by either my local rep or else a large organization, I figure I can go with those.)
  • Reached out to senators about push to roll back Title X (per Planned Parenthood prompt)
Reading
Read The Stepford Wives for the first time and OMG it was excellent. Obviously I knew the general story already cos it's not a new thing but it was so much better and contemporary feeling than I thought. Now I'm reading Chuck Wendig's Invasive.

Watching
Just finished watching Captain America: Civil War and that was super swell fun times. Now we're finishing up the latest season of VEEP, which is a little depressing because it's way less of a satire than it should be.

Listening
Still more My Fav Murder (oh guess what, I get to go see them live cos Tom is an excellent birthday gift giver), still more How Did This Get Made, and I binged on S-Town the other day. 

Working Out
Well, not nothing. I managed some time on the stationary bike but that was about it. Let's see if I can do better next week. (Not that I did any today.)

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Reading Wrap Up

March, the best month (cos it contains my birthday), is sadly over (9 and 34). Overall I'd say it was a good month. I mean there's said birthday. Tom got me tickets to go see My Favorite Murder so ALL THE EXCITEMENT there. Tom's birthday is also in March (I got him tickets to a Mets game + fireworks + all you can eat food). Exciting events abound. Will April be as good? I mean, probably not cos the birthdays are over, but hopefully it will warm up so that would be nice.

Also I'm going to blame birthday week on why I got like no posts done. They're really unrelated (alas, I was not celebrating all week) but still, birthdays = excuses for getting out of responsibilities, even self-imposed responsibilities.

Stats time

Total books read
6
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

Total pages read
2,105

Fiction
67%

Female authors
67%
POC authors
33%

US authors
83%

Book formats
audiobook: 17%
ebook: 50%
hardback: 17%
paperback: 17%

Where'd I get the book
Borrow: 17%
Gift: 17%
Indie: 17%
Kindle/Audible: 33%
Netgalley: 17%

Rereads
17%

Bookclub/readalong
17%

Review book
17%

Books by decade
1970s: 17%
2000s: 17%
2010s: 67%

Books by genre
essays: 17%
horror: 17%
lit fic: 33%
self-help: 17%
YA fantasy: 17%

Resolution books
67%
Order of the Phoenix is (of course) by a non-US author
Between the World and Me and Sing, Unburied, Sing are both by POC authors
The Stepford Wives was published before 2000