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.

  • 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.
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. 

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. 
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
  • 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)
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.

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.

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
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


Female authors
POC authors

US authors

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%



Review book

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
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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

What'd Red Do This Week

OK another busy week but DON'T WORRY, stuff still got done. Let's dive right in
  • Reached out again about the AHCA because OMG. I've seen the list of what it would not cover and am really curious what it WOULD include. And hey, victory there! Now we just need to make sure they don't do whatever they can to destroy ACA
  • I had a legit nightmare about Gorsuch so figured I should probably reach out about him again
Read Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple which wasn't quite as good as Bernadette but Bernadette is still one of my most favorites so hey, big shoes to fill there. And I still enjoyed it. And all the Seattle talk. Now I started both The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin and Invasive by Chuck Wendig, which I did not realize is in the Zer0s series, but here we are.

More of the same. We're finally catching up on the last season of Veep which is a treasure. Right now I'm watching Shrek cos it was on TV when I turned it on and that seemed like a good enough reason. Watched some Trevor Noah stand up, some Futurama (though not super into the movies they made when they brought the series back but whatever, still love the Professor), some Bob's Burgers. T

I should drop this section cos it's nothing interesting. More My Fav Murder which I'm almost caught up on so...crap. Listened to Hamilton again. Of course. 

Working out
Since keeping track of my citizening has helped keep me going, maybe I should include workouts I do (or more recently don't do) here. I did manage to find some yoga that was similar to the classes I was taking till my gym closed for renovations almost a year ago (grrr) so I managed some of that this morning. And I'm trying to get back to doing the stationary bike. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shrill: In a certain light, feminism is just the long, slow realization that the stuff you love hates you.

Lady comic memoirs, you are a THING I  am super into and feminist lady comic memoirs is pretty much a dream. I've enjoyed Lindy West's writing on Jezebel for a while* so I was excited when I heard she had a book out. Plus I mean, the whole lady comic memoir love.
A League of Their Own is a classic family comedy that mines the age-old question: What if women...could do things?
West talks about all the things you expect her to talk about: growing up, her weight, being a loud feminist on the internet and the shit that comes with that, relationships, her writing. It's a mix of columns she published elsewhere and new work, although I don't actually know which is which so hey, it's all new to me!

I'm not going to lie, West intimidates me. This book shows her growing into her loud, shrill self (there's a chapter "How to Stop Being Shy in Eighteen Easy Steps"), but I am still in awe of how unapologetic she is about her self, in a world that VERY much wants people like her to shut up. And perhaps because she made her way on the internet, she feels like she's more 'in the trenches" than someone like a Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, who OF COURSE dealt with insane and insulting things. But the internet is its own beast.
Conventional wisdom says, "Don't engage. It's what they [the trolls] want." Is it? Are you sure our silence isn't what they want?
I laughed through the whole book, but almost teared up when she discussed talking to an internet troll who set up a profile of her (recently deceased) father to taunt her. To hurt her in a way that the multiple rape threats she was getting every day couldn't do. And she confronted the guy in one of her columns. And THE GUY CAME FORWARD AND APOLOGIZED. I mean, some of his apology was an "I'm sorry but..." and then a series of excuses, but hey, apology from a troll. That's pretty good.
I do fight monsters, just like I always dreamed, even if they are creeps in basements who hate women instead of necromancers in skull-towers who hate lady knights.
So yeah, I was a fan of this. I mean, that was sort of a given and West didn't disappoint. But really, feminism. Fat-positivity. Lady comics. Yeah, this was going to be a good one.

Gif rating:
*Have you read her reviews of Love Actually and Titanic? Regardless of your feelings about those movies, read these and love yourselves. Also instead of writing this I spent a couple hours reading her reviews. Oops.

Title quote from page 19, location 188

West, Lindy. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. Hatchette Books, 2016. Kindle

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What'd Red Do This Week

This was a busy week so I didn't do nearly as much as I wanted to.
But let's see what I managed.

  • Reached out to my local rep (again) to vote against Trumpcare
  • Made my monthly donation, this month went to Planned Parenthood again, since healthcare (or you know the decimation of it) is top of mind

I finished up Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward the other day and OH MAN you guys, it was so good. Except I'm not supposed to write a review for it until we're closer to the release date, which is in September. So in the meantime, hey, it's excellent so maybe keep that in mind. I also finished Feminist Fight Club which was a good time, even if there were maybe too many puns (which, I KNOW, not a complaint I thought I'd have). Next up is Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple because Where'd You Go, Bernadette was so good.

Nothing super exciting here. Still powering through Futurama. Watching Planet Earth II. I did watch The Force Awakens and very much enjoyed it, more than the other movies (even original trilogy, sorry). Oh and there's been college basketball on but that's not really my choice and I know very little about what's actually going on. 

Same ol', same ol'. A bunch of MFM. Some How Did This Get Made. I may start Last Podcast on the Left soon, per a coworker's recommendation. I shall also be avoiding Sword and Scale per multiple coworkers' recommendations that everyone should stay away from this lest they get nightmares. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"Girl" Books, I might need a break

From my own shelf:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Gone Girl
The Girl on the Train
The Good Girl
The House Girl
Luckiest Girl Alive
I was browsing through titles on NetGalley and, you guys, I think I need to take a break from books with "girl" or "girls' in the title. Because there are so many out there. Goodreads has a list of almost 800. And a lot of them deal with actual grown women and not girls.

Emily St. John-Mandel looked into this, in a piece titled "This Is Why So Many Books Have 'Girl' In The Title" by Lena Grossman. St. John-Mandel actually put together a list with over 800 titles (eliminated children's books, and books with less than 250 ratings) and found that more than half of the titles dealt with "girls" that were in fact women.
Now there isn't actually much to actually answer the question of why, despite what the title might tell you. There's the suggestion that saying "girl" suggests a vulnerability that wouldn't be there if it was woman.

Having "girl" in the title doesn't make a book bad. It doesn't really say much about the book. Really, it says more about the marketing. An NPR story says it's not just about marketing, though the interview seems to suggest that yeah, it is about marketing. Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train did well so "girl" in the title becomes sort of a shorthand, telling you if you liked X then you'll definitely like Y.  Though of course it's not to say no books had "girl" in the title before Gone Girl. Three of the books I listed at the top of this post were published pre-Gone Girl.

The point is, this is a trend I'm not crazy about. When there's a few, it didn't bother me. I didn't think twice about it. Then I started noticing it everywhere. Obviously I'm not the only one (hence those links above). This is like the "Wife" trend (as was pointed out by others as well, so well-trod ground here), where it seemed that ever other book was the "something-something Wife". And just like with the "girls" trend, the title doesn't necessarily reflect on the quality of the book, nor does a few instances mean much. But once you start seeing it over and over, it started to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I'm not crazy about the infantilization of women being referred to as "girls". I'm not crazy about the stories about women being framed in their relation to a man.
So I dunno. Maybe it something really great comes out that people are raving about, I'll pick up another "girl" book. But otherwise, I'm thinking twice about going for these books.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

All Our Wrong Todays: You don't need time travel to smash apart a world. But it helps

I managed to snag a copy of All Our Wrong Todays from NetGalley which was exciting. I didn't know too much about it but from basic summary (time travel!) and a couple positive reviews from others, I figured it was a good gamble.

What if the world we're living in was an alternate timeline from what the "real" present should be? And that everything we know is actually just a primitive and backwards society compared to what we're supposed to have? I mean, look, the way things are going, doesn't the idea that this timeline is a mistake seem like a comforting thought?

The world Tom Barren knows is this technological marvel, where there's unlimited clean energy, no wars, no hunger. Everything is basically perfect. Even waking up in the morning is pleasant. Sure, not everyone is perfectly happy, because people are still people but society pretty much has things worked out. Basically it's what the 1950's figured 2016 would be like, though with a bit more social progress.

Tom's dad is a genius, working on a time machine that can take people back to the exact moment our timelines shifted (not that anyone knows about this other timeline). It's the moment when the Goettreider's Machine was invented, the machine that generates unlimited clean energy and makes the entire future possible. But you know what happens with time travel: you change one thing and the entire future is changed. So of course that's what happens and Tom finds himself in the timeline we know (because Tom's sort of a fuck up), trying to make sense of what has happened, how it happened, and how he can fix things.

Overall, it was a fun story. There's a lot of ridiculous stuff happening, but it's time travel so the more you're willing to just go with things, the better.

That said, there were problems with it. The female characters aren't great. And a fairly big part of the plot is an insta-romance, which is not my thing. I can suspend disbelief involving time travel, but people falling deeply, madly, truly in love in two weeks? I can't.

There are also some bits that I won't get into cos it's a bit spoilery but there's stuff where characters do things a bit TOO perfectly and you can give whatever excuse you want, but it still made me eye roll hard.

I also, looking over my notes now, realize I made a number of snarky comments not just about insta-romance but a few different points, which I typically do if I'm not enjoying a book. I did enjoy this, but it's not perfect

Gif rating:
Title quote from location 3164

Mastai, Elan. All Our Wrong Todays. Penguin Group Dutton, 2017. NetGalley

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What'd Red Do This Week

A bit late but it's cool, I still got this

  • Reached out to local reps to call for bipartisan and independent investigations into the Russia link, especially given the nonsense this weekend around wiretapping.
  • Reached out to local reps to call for an investigation into the Yemen Raid that led to the death of around 25 people, including the Navy Seal William "Ryan" Owens.
  • Reached out to senators per ACLU about the second Muslim Ban
  • Reached out to local reps about the garbage AHCA proposed. I believe the ACA has room for improvement but this nonsense is not it.
I need to reach out to my local rep Leonard Lance because at his town hall he explicitly opened it saying he didn't believe anyone there was a paid protester and that is ridiculous and blah. THEN he sends out a fund raising letter claiming that liberal groups are sending paid protesters to his events and WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE? And I know, politicians are full of shit, but I can still get pissed and voice said displeasure.

Still reading Sing, Unburied, Sing, which I sort of paused to read Feminist Fight Club cos I wanted something light and quick. 

I will be watching The Force Awakens (finally) in a bit with my bro, who lent it to me a while ago but I never actually watched. Whoops. Oh and more stand up on Netflix (Jen Kirkman, please make more standup specials, kthxbai) and I thought instead of watching anything new I would just rewatch Futurama for the billionth time. #goodchoices

Friday, March 10, 2017

Just a Few of My Fav Book Covers

It's been a busy week/I am quite lazy so instead of a review, why don't we look at some of my favorite book covers?

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
You guys, I dunno what it is but I luuurve this cover. Like to the point where I've seen other covers and my first thought is "WHY would you do that? Why would you 'fix' what isn't broken?"

Gulp by Mary Roach
This cover just makes me laugh. So simple. So effective.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The font, the design, is so perfect for Coraline. This is the correct atmosphere for the book. Some of the others are a little cartoony for me and this book is seriously creepy, children's book or not.

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Maybe it's because I love this book so much, but I am a fan of this cover. Simple, bold colors. This one stands out.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
I feel like this cover is a combination of the ones above. It has simple, geometric shapes, a lot of red and black (which I guess I really like, although I wouldn't have guessed it before), large font.

The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace
Now for something a little different. It's colorful, the shapes are mre organic, sure it's still text heavy but it feels different than the others.

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
Very much not to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey, this cover sort of bridges the gap between the ones up top and The Kings and Queens of Roam. It's busy, colorful but still a lot of red and black (and grey, of course), and text makes up a large share of the design.

Alright, that's what I got. What have I missed?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Anne of Green Gables: Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

This was a good book to start the new year. Something sweet and simple and innocent. I hadn't read this book as a kid, but it was a pick for book club and hey, better late than never. I don't know if young me would have been a big fan of Anne because Anne has a lot of things she doesn't like and top of that list is her red hair and HEY, we do not give into that kind of self-hate, and also red hair kicks ass and "carrots" is a totally innocuous nickname, so chill.

Is everyone else familiar with Anne of Green Gables? I feel like it's one of those books that most people did read as a child so not entirely sure how I missed it (especially with the red hair bit. I guess my family was more a Pippi Longstockings kind of place.) So anyway, story of Anne.

Siblings Marilla and Matthew decide they want to buy an orphan boy to help out around the house, cos this was 1900 or whatever, and that was a thing you could do. Not only could you do it, but you could do it and NOT be the villain of the story. #WhatIsWrongWithYouHistory When Matthew gets to the train station to get the boy, he finds this scrawny girl instead and what the hell, that's not what he ordered. But since he's super shy and doesn't want to cause a scene, he decides to let his sister deal with it, so he takes Anne home.

During the ride back to Green Gables Anne will NOT STOP TALKING but since Matthew hates talking, this works out for him and she wins him over. She goes on and on (and on) about her fantasies and how happy she'll be and the homes she lived in before. But Marilla sees this girl and decides nope, back to the orphanage with her. Orphanages have generous return policies.

But Anne manages to win over Marilla too, even though Marilla goes through the hassle of taking her all the way back to the orphanage which must have been terrifying for Anne. Marilla puts her on probation to see if she'll be a pain or if they'll keep her. (I know, different time, but seriously, past, what the hell?)

Surprise, they keep her and then the book is a series of Anne screwing things up cos she keeps daydreaming, getting into fights with people cos they point out she has red hair, making friends, refusing to turn down dares if someone calls her chicken, all kinds of wacky (for 1908) adventures.

Anne is a fun character. She's sweet, obsessed with all things "romantic", really into having puffy sleeves, is super dramatic, super insecure about her appearance which sure, causes her to lash out a few times, but sometimes her reaction was deserved. Mostly not though. I wanted to yell "chill" at Anne pretty much every page. I also wanted to hug her so I guess it balances out but seriously, chill. Also maybe take a breath every once in a while. There'd be full pages with no paragraph breaks that were just Anne talking and talking.

I actually bought the entire Anne set cos the full thing for Kindle (all 12 books or whatever) was under a dollar and it seemed silly to only buy the first book. It's like a Columbia House deal, except without the scam later. We shall see if I get to the others.

It was nice book and one I'm sure I wouldn't have picked up had it not been for book club so #ExpandingReadingHorizons.

Gif rating:
Title quote from location 2261

Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. Doma Publishing, 2014. Kindle. Originally published 1908.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

What'd Red Do This Week

I may be fighting a massive headache now, but that didn't stop me from getting stuff done this week and then posting about it here.

I didn't do quite as much as I was hoping but I still got some stuff done.
  • Reached out to local rep to support HR 111, the resolution to look into Trump's conflicts of interest (biz & Russia)
  • Reached out to local rep to urge him to put actions behind his words that he does not stand for the anti-semitic attacks happening across the country to actually DO something about it, including pushing back against the statement that the attacks are actually being committed by Jewish people and/or democrats to to "make others look bad". 
  • Contacted local reps again about Russia, especially after the news that Sessions met with Russian ambassador twice during the campaign AND THEN LIED ABOUT IT. (I reached out pre-recusal and plan to continue to push for resignation and keeping pushing for investigations.)
I just finished up Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates that a coworker lent me and am working on Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. And I just picked up a copy of Feminist Fight Club on sale, which is exciting.

Saw Hidden Figures for a work screening, which was pretty swell. The black employee network set it up and yes, while I realize I am not a black employee it was (of course) open to whomever wanted to attend. And they did a panel that my boss was part of after talking about the movie and women in STEM and POC and WOC and that was cool stuff. Coincidentally I was also meeting with my book club this week to discuss the book Hidden Figures so what good timing.

I've also started watching a bunch of standup on Netflix. I used to watch all the standup shows (Comedy Central Presents, Premium Blend, whatever specials) and not sure why it's taken be so long to embrace all of the stand up on Netflix but I am and that's fun.

Same ol' ALTHOUGH How Did This Get Made just did an episode about Surf Ninjas and since that TERRIBLE movie has a special place in my heart (and I'm sure the taped-off-TV copy we had is in a basement somewhere along with the Three Ninjas saga) I was extra excited, even if June and Jason weren't there for the episode.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Moranifesto: Oh my god, a change is coming - can you feel it?

Did you know Caitlin Moran is pretty great? If not, maybe get on fixing that. And Moranifesto is quality Moran. Much like Moranthology (exactly like Moranthology?) it's a collection of her columns from The Times of London.
Sometimes I'm on the fence about collections of things published elsewhere. Except now that I've written that, not really. I mean, I guess I'm kind of on the fence about it in theory, but in actually, I will totally buy a collection of essays (or blog posts, what's up Freakonomics: When to Rob a Bank) even if I could have gotten them elsewhere, and I love having them in a single book. Plus I don't have a subscription to The Times so this is pretty much the only way I'm going to read them. So Moran, please keep putting these books out.

Anyway, Moranifesto. As I mentioned in a previous post, I bought this cos, well it's Moran, we have established that love. But ALSO it's a signed copy. Plus I read it right around the election, and this turned out to be the perfect mix of serious and irreverent, something I was looking for in what continue to be trying times.

The book is split into three sections:
The Twenty-First Century, Where We Live (essays include "I Am Hungover Again", "The Rich Are Blithe" and "BACON!");
Feminisms (essays include "Let Us Find Another Word For Rape", "FGM - It Takes Just One Person to End a Custom" and "Why Can't Life Be More Like A Musical?");
and The Future ("The Refugees Are Saving Us All", "The Frumious Cumberbatch", and "To Teenage Girls on the Edge").

She starts the collection with a quick introduction about how she started writing, focusing on pop-culture and being funny and staying away from all things political. Because politics was for Grownups and people who know absolutely EVERY LITTLE THING about a topic* and not just people with opinions. Once How to Be a Woman came out and people started considering her a Feminist Writer. And she realized that you can write about serious things. And fluffy things. Write about ALL THE THINGS and screw what people might say. As she says:
I am going to write about politics now. Firstly, because I think I should; and secondly, because I'm old enough now not to care if people think I can't. I love getting older. You might lose skin elasticity, but you also lose the amount of fucks you give. It's awesome.
And so she does. And the book is a mix of odes to David Bowie and interviews with Benedict Cumberbatch and writing about how she doesn't wear heels anymore, and it's also about rape and abortions and refugees and services for the poor. There's stuff that's in between, such as the internet dismissing people who aren't perfect. The columns are funny and touching and there's a feeling of hope, even when she's tackling dark topics.

Gif rating:
*I believe there have been studies done around this. Where typically women won't apply for a job unless they are 100% qualified. Meanwhile dudes will apply for a job if they're like 60% qualified cos whatever, they'll figure the rest of it out. So while knowing every little thing is great and experts are a good thing, that doesn't mean that you can't have and express your opinions on things. Accept and be upfront about what you know and don't know, but don't stay silent just because you don't know absolutely everything.

Title quote from page 3

Moran, Caitlin. Moranifesto. Harper Perennial, 2016.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Reading Wrap-Up

Another month of 2017 has come to an end (10 and 35). Even though February is a short month, they all feel long these days, don't they?

I was pretty successful with my citizening through the month, if I do say so myself, and even managed to keep up with the weekly updates (I feel these things are related). I didn't do as much reading as I did in January but on the other hand, I read way more than I usually do last month, so it makes sense. That and the fact that so much of my reading last month came from listening to HP and while I'm still doing that, Order is roughly 200,000 pages, so I'm still making my way through this.

Ok so stats:

Total books read
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

Total pages read


Female authors
POC authors

US authors

Book formats
audiobooks: 25%
ebooks: 50%
paperback: 25%

Where'd I get the book
Gift: 25%
Indie bookstore: 25%
Kindle/Audible: 25%
Netgalley: 25%



Review book

Books by decade
2000s: 25%
2010s: 75%

Books by genre
history: 25%
memoir: 25%
sci fi: 25%
YA fantasy: 25%

Resolution books

Whaaaa? And none of them are the technically-resolution-book-but-only-cos-published-before-2000-which-is-a-pretty-low-bar so OH MAN, good job, me.
Hidden Figures and The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl are both by people of color.
All Our Wrong Todays and Order of the Phoenix are both by non-US authors (Canada and UK)

So there you go. Pretty successful. Let's see how next month goes

Sunday, February 26, 2017

What'd Red Do This Week

At some point, I'm going to quit being impressed with myself by actually getting this posted. Not yet, so GOOD JOB, ME!

So let's see what I got up to this week:

  • Reached out to local reps and Sessions to support Title IX and help protect transgender students
  • Reached out to local rep to thank him for actually showing up to a Town Hall (which I couldn't make), for saying he would stand up and push for independent investigation into Russian connections, support the free press, and stand up against the crazy spending from the Pres, while also sort of reminding that we would be watching to make sure he actually does these things.
  • Watched the next Town Hall (because there were so many people they had to have two). There was lots of yelling from the audience, some good stuff from the Congressman, some less good.
  • Booker signed a letter along with other senators about an investigation into the Russian connections, but since Menendez didn't, I contact him again about supporting these efforts.
  • Reached out to local reps to push back against the White House's press ban and general rhetoric about fake news

Just finished up The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, still listening to Order of the Phoenix (I seriously may re-listen and then do my own readalong about it, because OMG I want to discuss the stupidest smallest details as well as bigger things such as Ron being swell), and going to start Between the World and Me that a co-worker is lending me.

Work is hosting a private screening of Hidden Figures along with a panel discussion about the importance of STEM, and I am PRETTY EXCITED about that. Otherwise, it's the usual stuff. I have sort of soured on The League in its last season(s). I've learned that where I have trouble DNF-ing books, I am 100% cool with dropping a TV show the second it no longer interests me. So while I'm cool stopping right now, we're still finishing it cos Tom is a completionist. I also watched the first episode of The Santa Clarita Diet and I am undecided if I'll watch anymore. I didn't hate it, and I am a FAN of most of the cast, but eh.

I essentially keep going back and forth between My Favorite Murder and the Moana soundtrack, which makes for strange bedfellows, but there you go.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Audiobooks, what makes a good one?

Over the past year I have gotten into podcasts and audiobooks. Previously I had trouble getting into them. I mean, there were exceptions to that rule (and I will recommend the World War Z audiobook again and again and again, and I had listened to Welcome to Night Vale but even that was few and far between) but in general I couldn't get into just listening to something.

But now? Now I'm almost constantly listening to something. It started in our new house that the kitchen is separated from the living room. In our old place I couldn't see the TV from the kitchen, but I could hear and frankly I didn't so much care what was on, I just wanted some background. But in our current place, unless I BLASTED the volume, I couldn't hear the TV and at that point I realized podcasts are the perfect solution.

And so I began, listening whenever I'm cooking or cleaning in the kitchen. Then it expanded to when I was cleaning anywhere.*
me but instead of music, it's about murder
Eventually I started listening while in the shower (not with headphones, DON'T WORRY). Now I'll start ones and basically as long as I'm doing something else fairly mindless, I'm listening to something. First it was just sticking my phone in a measuring glass (which totally works to amplify things, BTW) but it was sort of a pain when I actually needed the measuring glass so eventually I got a blue tooth speaker, though the glass is still used as backup when I inevitably run the battery down. #responsible

I started with Freakonomics and Stuff You Missed in History Class. Then I started Oh Witch Please and How Did This Get Made and Stuff Mom Never Told You. I'm currently on My Favorite Murder (which I have on right now [as I'm writing this**, not by the time this gets posted. Or maybe. I can't tell the future.])

It's not just podcasts. I've also listened to Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, and Joe Hill's Locke & Key. I'm relistening to the Harry Potter books. And there's always World War Z.

[Surprisingly, there are no valentines about WWZ. I mean, surprising cos I expect to find everything on the internet instantly. I'm too lazy to make one, so just imagine your own here.]
But I'm still a bit hesitant when it comes to audiobooks. I've had more positive experiences than I have negative ones, and yet. I listened to Drop Dead Healthy and while it was FINE, it was not my fav listening experience. It was hard to get past the way Jacobs narrated. I listened to the opening of Lamb and was NOT into what I heard. So what's the deal?

I'm not entirely sure. I mean, WWZ and Locke & Key are sort of different than a straight audiobook. It's a bunch of different actors so we don't have a single narrator telling the story. Maybe that's my thing? And Born a Crime is a memoir, so maybe because there aren't really a bunch of characters, that helped. Or maybe I just love Noah's accent (yes, this is true). Harry Potter is Harry Potter so, I mean. Plus Jim Dale (the version I have) is just now the voice of the HP books for me.

So I guess, this isn't really a post about what makes an audiobook good so much as it's me talking about how I started to listen to stuff and asking you, what the hell makes a good audiobook?
I don't feel like I've listened enough to really say for sure what that magic sauce is. Is it just the narrator? How much is it the story and some that just work as audiobooks vs. some you need to read? TELL ME because I want more audiobooks.

Even if you can't say what makes a good audiobook, if you wanted to recommend some great audiobooks, YES PLEASE TELL ME. Or podcasts. Either. Both.

*This is a stupid side point, but I got wireless headphones recently and they make this whole cleaning while listening to stuff thing so much easier. So just saying, I recommend. Though I won't actually call our brands.
**Apparently blogging counts as a mindless activity? Except, not really. Or rather this does take brain power so if this post makes no sense, assume something CRAZY happened in a podcast and I got distracted. Or that I got frustrated cos I kept having to rewind the podcast cos I was missing stuff. Anyway.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Something New: It's hard to explain how little and much things have changed

I had an evening in NYC to myself so naturally I found myself at the Strand. The idea was to JUST BROWSE and not get anything cos I mean, I don't really need anything and also I'm staying in the city and only have a backpack which is already filled with work stuff and clothes and I can't even fit anything else in there, so really, I won't actually get anything.

Of course, I ended up buying two books.

First was a copy of Caitlin Moran's latest book Moranifesto and it was a SIGNED COPY. Obviously I can't leave that behind. Then as I continued my just-browsing-not-buying-anything-except-this-one-book I ended up by the graphic novels which I always want to get into but have a hard time with. I remembered the book Relish looked like something I might be able to get behind and thought I'd flip through it. Instead I found a different book of hers, Something New. One of the copies was priced at $18. The other identical copy was priced at $10. Both had the correct label for the correct book. So I mean, I couldn't turn down this deal. The fates were MAKING me buy books.
One thing I have learned about myself (other than I have no willpower) is that I am down for memoir-type graphic novels because I was totally for Something New, a book about the author getting engaged and planning her wedding. She has a lot of questions from the more superficial (What sort of cat cake topper perfectly encapsulates us as a couple?) to more important (What's marriage actually mean for a feminist and is this something I really need to do and what do I want in my future?). Both sides of the question are great.

Even if this hadn't been a graphic novel, I would have been all about reading this story. But the graphic parts work as well. There are chapters that tell the story (in a somewhat non-linear fashion) and then sections in between like Weird Wedding Facts or Crafts done for the wedding.

The book is so fun and sweet and her drawing style is the type of thing I can get behind (vs. some of the more elaborate styles that are SO PRETTY but can be overwhelming for me when I'm trying to read the story). It was a book I didn't want to put down so I sped through it. And it's definitely a book that I want to give to friends going through the whole wedding process. And I definitely want to read her other stuff.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 277

Knisley, Lucy. Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride. First Second, 2016.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What Red Did This Week

Look at this, three weeks in a row. Oh man, that's pretty impressive, me.
This time it's even on the right day. (Right date = the day I planned on posting this).

  • Reached out to White House (per ACLU reco) about the leaked Executive Order that would allow people to discriminate basically against anyone not white, Christian and straight
  • Reached out to local reps about concerns about the ongoing news of the Administration's ties to Russia because OMG YOU GUYS
  • Reached out to my local rep about the amount of money Drumpf is costing taxpayers, because the terrible things coming out of the administration spans all topics, and since my local rep is a Republican, I figure this is something that will appeal to that side. Also WTF STOOOOOP
  • It's the middle of Feb, so I made my monthly donation, this time to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
I finished up Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and am just about done with All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai and deciding what to start next (Do I read The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae? Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward? Invasive by Chuck Wendig? Something else entirely?) I'm also still listening to Order of the Phoenix but for some reason chapters 11-14 are not loading properly, which is a PAIN.

Still more of the same (My Fav Murder, How Did This Get Made?, Oh Witch Please). I haven't started it yet, but I did subscribe to the podcast Can He Do That? which is from the Washington Post about Tr*mp. I haven't listened yet because for the most part podcasts are my lighthearted escape (yes, even when I listen to Stuff You Missed in History or Freakonomics or Serial) and this just seems like it will be a stress causer. BUT it also seems like something I should know about.

Also, I was listening to My Fav Murder at work when someone snuck up on me and asked what I was listening to. Since he caught me off guard I didn't think to make up something else and just sheepishly said "Oh, um, well, it's My Favorite Murder. So. Yeah." Luckily he was fairly cool with this and we talked about some other podcasts and I didn't get an email for HR or something. 

As I predicted last week, I'd probably spend the week listening to the Book of Mormon soundtrack and yup, that's what I did. Current fav song from the show, "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" because I heart songs by pompous people (What's up, "Popular" from Wicked.)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Unfamiliar Fishes: A painful tale of native loss combined with an idealistic multiethnic saga

Back in December I went to Hawai'i for my first time. So how could I not get a copy of Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes to read while there? It would have been ridiculous not to. Ridiculous, I say!
For those unfamiliar with Vowell, what are you doing with your life?* Haha I kid (kinda). Vowell writes about American history with snark and wit and hilarity, which is all I ask for in a history book. Most books, really.

Unfamiliar Fishes is the history of Hawai'i. Or at least the history of Hawai'i from the point when Americans/missionaries decided to start sticking their nose in.
I mean, they meant well.
Sure, all missions are inherently patronizing to the host culture. That's what a mission is - a bunch of strangers showing up somewhere uninvited to inform the locals they are wrong. But it's worth remembering that these women, and the men they married so recklessly, believe they were risking their own lives to spare strangers on the other side of the world from an eternity in hell.
It's not only about the missionaries, though it is a lot about these people that traveled half way across the world. And they did some good things, like helping to develop a written form of the Hawaiian language. It's also about the Hawaiian royalty who perhaps weren't always the best (see rules governing what women could and couldn't do, down to not being allowed to eat bananas and just a whole bunch of incest).

She also mentions the Rainbow Drive-In, which we ate at during our trip and it was delicious. Oh and if you're wondering, while I don't understand the genius of macaroni salad with pretty much everything, I have come to appreciate it.
Seriously, so good
There are good parts in the history of these islands. And bad parts. And sad parts. You know, like any other history. I recommend the book. And if you can read it while in Hawai'i, preferably while sitting on one of the beautiful beaches, hey, all the better, right?

Gif rating:
*What are some other kick ass Vowell works? LET ME TELL YOU
Assassination Vacation
Lafayette in the Somewhat United States
The Partly Cloudy Patriot
Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World
The Wordy Shipmates

Title quote from page 9

Vowell, Sarah. Unfamiliar Fishes. Riverhead Books, 2011. Kindle