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