hunger…so many feelings about this book…

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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

I know that not enough time has gone by since I finished this book to put my feelings into any kind of coherent piece of writing. But I also know myself well enough to know that no amount of time would actually do that. This book spoke to me in so many ways, and I sort of feel like I need to get some of it out.

This book is amazing. And painful. I cried for Roxane Gay. I cried for myself.

I bookmarked soooo many passages.

I love Roxane Gay. I love her for so many reasons. I love her honestly in all its messiness. I love that she admits she’s full of contradictions. I am so very messy and so very full of contradictions. I struggle with that (I like things ordered, straight-forward), but I’ve accepted the truth of it.

There are so many passages I want to write about, but I’ll weed them down to just a few. This one knocked me flat:

He said/she said is why so many victims (or survivors, if you prefer that terminology) don’t come forward. All too often, what “he said” matters more, so we just swallow the truth. We swallow it, and more often than not, that truth turns rancid. It spreads through the body like an infection. It becomes depression or addiction or obsession or some other physical manifestation of the silence of what she would have said, needed to say, couldn’t say.

And sometimes that depression goes as far as a suicide attempt that lands her in a psychiatric hospital…

In that way where we can always find someone whose experiences have been worse than our own, I was lucky. And really, I’m not being facetious there. I *am* lucky in so many ways. That failed attempt to go “to sleep and never wake up” (the words I used even to myself for the longest time) led me to the beginning of a road that ran in a better direction.

*****

When you’re overweight, you body becomes a matter of public record in many respects. Your body is constantly and prominently on display. People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.

And come on, we all know what that narrative is when it comes to fat people. We’re lazy and we’re stupid and we have no self-control. But just as no two thin people have the same story, no two fat people do either. My story is not Roxane Gay’s story, though there are glimpses of it. Thing is, why does a fat person owe the world her story just to be accepted as a human being?

The bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

The bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Obviously there’s a reason she said that twice. The truth of that is profound. It is overwhelming.

The sheer willpower it takes to leave my home is immense. Oh, I’m fine to go for a walk in the woods or something like that, where I know I won’t have to see other people. But being around other people terrifies me. And it wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t this way when I was thin, or even a bit overweight. Somewhere, many years ago, I crossed a line though, a line that seemed to be the demarcation of what size was acceptable and what size was not.

Fat shaming is real, constant, and rather pointed.

*****

Doctors generally adhere to the Hippocratic oath, where they swear to abide by an ethical code, where they swear to act, always, in their patients’ best interests. Unless the patient is overweight.

As a result, I don’t go to the doctor unless it is absolutely necessary even though I have good health insurance and have always had every right to be treated fairly and kindly.

Not every doctor I’ve had has been this way. I really like my current doctor, and while she always discusses my weight, I at least feel like she hears me when I talk about other things. I don’t go until it’s absolutely necessary, because even though she’s kind about it, it’s still not easy being told you’re a failure. (Not that she actually says “failure,” but the implication is always there.)

But I had a doctor once who was horrid. My obstetrician when I was pregnant with Annie. We’d spent a few years battling infertility because of my endometriosis. After surgery, I finally got pregnant, and to say we were elated would be an understatement. But oh how this man tried to ruin it for me. At my very first appointment, he told me that I needed to be very careful and not gain too much weight. I was overweight then, but nowhere near as big as I am now. And at this first visit after stressing how I just couldn’t let myself gain too much weight, he went on to tell us how horrible it was to have to do C-sections on obese women and have to go through all those layers of fat. WTF?!! If I’d had a choice, I would have switched doctors then and there. There were more fat-phobic incidents to come. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme nausea and vomiting that leads to weight loss and dehydration. Despite having to be hospitalized for dehydration, he was downright pleased that I was losing weight. And when I finally reached the point where I was feeling somewhat human again, when I could at least keep water down and sometimes bland foods, he told Rich to make sure I didn’t eat too much at Thanksgiving. Yeah, he told Rich, as if I wasn’t even there. And as if I could eat Thanksgiving dinner anyway. Asshole. But the worst came when he actually put Annie and I in danger. I was 29 weeks along and I woke up not feeling right. For one thing I’d gained 6 pounds overnight. If I knew what I know now, I would have immediately known what was going on—and he sure as fuck should have! Or at least had me come in to check on things. But when I called, he told me to quit eating so much. Just what the hell did he think I ate to gain 6 pounds overnight?!! But of course, that wasn’t it–I had preeclampsia. Which he immediately diagnosed at my next appointment 2 weeks after my call–with my blood pressure through the roof, protein in my urine, and a body so swollen that I couldn’t wear shoes or even talk normally because even my tongue was swollen. Because I was fat, he had dismissed me and my very real medical problem. BECAUSE I WAS FAT.

*****

I love the body positivity movement. It brings me such joy to see these big, beautiful women (and men) embrace and love their bodies. To tell the world to #effyourbeautystandards. But admiring these women isn’t the same as being one of these women. As Gay puts it:

…I hate my body. I hate my weakness at being unable to control my body. I hate how I feel in my body. I hate how people see my body. I hate how people stare at my body, treat my body, comment on my body. I hate equating my self-worth with the state of my body and how difficult it is to overcome this equation. I hate how hard it is to accept my human frailties. I hate that I am letting down so many women when I cannot embrace my body at any size.

*****

Roxane Gay is so admired by so many, myself most definitely included. She has friends and family who love her. And yet she sometimes doubts that love, wonders when there’s going to come a time when she’ll have to lose weight to keep that love.

Omfg, can I relate. Not to the being admired by many part, of course. But the what-if-these-people-who-are-my-world-can’t-keep-loving-me-because-I-can’t-lose-weight. When I’m in a good frame of mind, I can believe that my close friends love me. I can believe it with all my heart. But that good frame of mind isn’t with me much of the time. I spend more time that I’d like to admit wondering if these truly freakin’ good, kind, nonjudgmental, accepting people would be happier if I wasn’t in their lives but are far to nice to just say so. Should any of my dear, sweet friends read this, please do not be insulted by this admission. Because it is nothing you have ever done or said, and I know that is not the kind of people you are. But it is a story that the world tells me at every opportunity, a story that says I’m not worthy of love because I take up too much space.

*****

In case it’s not obvious by now, I loved this book hard. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been for Roxane Gay to write this book, to share her truths. And in doing so, she told pieces of so many other people’s truths. And to feel understood, to know that you’re not the only person who feels the things you do, well, we all know how important that can be. Thank you, Roxane Gay.

my summer reading project…

I’ve decided to break my own damn rules. I usually refuse to let myself get into “summer mode” until the school year is out, which around here usually coincides pretty closely with the actual start of summer. But this year, because I need something to cheer me up, and well, simply because I can, I’m going with that unofficial start to summer that comes with Memorial Day weekend.

This means I am ending my spring reading project about 3 1/2-ish weeks early. And how did I fare? I said that I’d be happy if I read a quarter of the books off the large TBR pile I made for spring. One quarter of that pile meant 18 books, and hey, I finished 19. I’m an overachiever. Ha! ¬†Here’s what I knocked off that pile (with a few words about the ones I didn’t already talk about here):

  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman¬†by Lindy West (Loved this one hard!)
  • A Maze Me¬†by Naomi Shihab Rye (While I did enjoy this poetry collection, it was definitely aimed at a middle school age audience, not a¬†middle age audience.)
  • Passing¬†by Nella Larson (OMG–I read a classic–go me! Better yet, I loved it! And yet, still I cannot shake the intimidation I feel when it comes to classics. *sigh*)
  • A Thousand Mornings¬†by Mary Oliver
  • Allegedly¬†by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • The Girl on the Train¬†by Paula Hawkins
  • No Way Home: The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations¬†by David S. Wilcove
  • Ariel¬†by Sylvia Plath
  • Parable of the Sower¬†by Octavia Butler
  • The Ship Who Sang¬†by Anne McCaffrey
  • Parable¬†of¬†the Talents by Octavia Butler
  • The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance: Poems, 1987-1992 by Audre Lorde
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers¬†by Jack Finney
  • The Hate U Give¬†by Angie Thomas
  • Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine¬†by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro
  • Brown Girl in the Ring¬†by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Morning Haiku¬†by Sonia Sanchez
  • Hold Your Own¬†by Kate Tempest (Not my favorite poetry collection of all time, but I definitely enjoyed it. And it make me think. And if I hadn’t had to return it to the library, I would have spent much more time with it. The whole collection was based on Tiresias from Greek mythology.)
  • The Blood of Angels¬†by Johanna Sinisalo (While this one didn’t immediately pull me in, it definitely grew on me. It’s a hard one to describe. It involves colony collapse disorder and a parallel world and undertaking and animal rights and a man’s relationships with his son, his father, his grandfather and bee folklore/mythology and grief. Set in Finland.)

Plus I read a few that weren’t on the list:

  • Storm #1-4¬†by Warren Ellis
  • Black Widow: The¬†Itsy Bitsy Spider¬†Devin Grayson
  • A Spy in the House¬†(Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee (Not my usual type of read, a YA historical mystery set in Victorian England. It was a total delight! Definitely plan to read the others in the series.)
  • If I Was Your Girl¬†by Meredith Russo (I thought this was an incredibly awesome book, and I appreciated it from it’s dedication at the beginning right down to it’s author’s note at the end.)
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (It’s Squirrel Girl, need I say more?!!)
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 4: I Kissed a Squirrel and I Liked It¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (See previous.)

Anyway, I am so proud of myself for sticking to my list for the majority of my reads. I think it’s unprecedented. So of course I’m going to try again! Okay, it really has little to do with the successful meeting of my goal, and more to do with the fact that I really just like to¬†go through my shelves and pull out books and make big old enticing piles. A few of these are books I’m already actively reading, some are ones left from the spring reading piles that I’m still really excited about, some are still for this school year, but most I pulled at a whim from my bookshelves.

My summer book pool:

  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution¬†by Shiri Eisner
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History¬†by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines¬†edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams
  • A Room of One’s Own¬†by Virginia Woolf
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life¬†by Anne Lamont
  • The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Economy and Redefine Democracy¬†by Raj Patel
  • 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin,¬†Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin and Other¬†Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania¬†by Matthew Chapman
  • A Human Being Died That Night by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory¬†by Caitlin Doughty
  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
  • Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses¬†by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond¬†by Sonia Shah
  • Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’ Most Diabolical Virus¬†by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
  • The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World¬†by Michael Pollan
  • Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation¬†by Olivia Judson
  • Seedtime: On¬†the¬†History, Husbandry, Politics and Promise of Seeds¬†by Scott Chaskey
  • Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birut√© Galdikas¬†by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
  • Mycophilia:¬†Revelations from the¬†Weird World of Mushrooms¬†by Eugenia Bone
  • 100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save the World’s Most Endangered Species¬†by Jeff Corwin
  • Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss–and the¬†Myths¬†and¬†Realities of Dieting¬†by Gina Kolata
  • The Madame Curie Complex: The Hidden History of Women in¬†Science¬†by Julie Des Jardins
  • Woman: An Intimate Geography¬†by Natalie Angier
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness¬†by Michelle Alexander
  • Nylon Road: A Graphic Memoir of Coming of Age in Iran¬†by Parsua Bashi
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings¬†by Maya Angelou
  • The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius as Written by Our Genetic Code¬†by Sam Kean
  • Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer¬†by Novella Carpenter
  • Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honeybee¬†by Hattie Ellis
  • The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II¬†by Iris Chang
  • The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective¬†by Kate Summerscale
  • America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines¬†by Gail Collins
  • The Illustrated Treasure of Fairly Tales¬†edited by Rita Marshall
  • Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection¬†edited by Matt Dembicki
  • Red Dragon¬†by Thomas Harris
  • The Silence of the Lambs¬†by Thomas Harris
  • Difficult Women¬†by Roxane Gay
  • See No Evil¬†by Eleanor Taylor Brown
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union¬†by Michael Chabon
  • White Tears¬†by Haru Kunzau
  • Lagoon¬†by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Duma Key¬†by Stephen King
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit¬†by Jeanette Winterson
  • Flygirl¬†by Sherri L. Smith
  • Koko Be Good¬†by Jen Wang
  • The Calder Game¬†by Blue Balliett and Brett Helquist
  • Gifted¬†by Nikita Lalwani
  • Saga Volumes 1-7¬†by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (the first few will be rereads)
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Bone Gap¬†by Laura Ruby
  • Food & Spirits¬†by Laura Brant
  • The House of the Scorpion¬†by Nancy Farmer
  • The A.B.C. Murders¬†by Agatha Christie
  • The Wasp¬†Factory¬†by Iain Banks
  • The Girl with All the Gifts¬†by M.R. Carey
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory¬†by Edwidge Danticat
  • My Soul to Keep¬†by Tananarive Due
  • Indigo’s Star¬†by Hilary McKay
  • Reef by¬†Romesh Gunesekera
  • Verdigris Deep¬†by Frances Hardinge
  • Ask the Passengers¬†by A.S. King
  • Song of Solomon¬†by Toni Morrison
  • Luna¬†by Julie Anne Peters
  • The Complete Essex County¬†by Jeff Lemire
  • Swallow Me Whole¬†by Nate Powell

If I counted correctly, that’s 64 books. And this time I’ll shoot for a third of them. I’m feeling confident. Yeah, I think my ability to stick so closely to my spring list made me cocky. Hopefully I won’t crash and burn this go-round.

bout of books…

¬†Bout of Books 19 came at the perfect time for me. Last week was largely a pile of suck, and I’m paying for it not only mentally or emotionally, but also physically in the form of chronic illness flare ups. So a week of resting and concentrating on my reading sounds pretty perfect right about now. And goodness knows I have more than enough school reading to catch up on. Though I plan to do some purely-for-me reading as well.

The official blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. РFrom the Bout of Books team

I made a pool of books that I may read or at least dip into, but I make no promises to stick entirely to it. Another thing I can’t promise to do, but am going to attempt, is updating this post daily with my progress. One of things I love so much about Bout of Books comes straight from their official blurb: “low-pressure.”

Monday:

Books read from:

  • Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual¬†Revolution¬†by Shiri Eisner
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issues 2-4 of No. 2)
  • Morning Haiku¬†by Sonia Sanchez
  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee

Books completed:

  • Brown Girl in the Ring¬†by Nalo Hopkinson (only had 14 pages left to read though)

Number of pages:

  • 111 +
  • an unknown number of pages in¬†A Spy in the House–because if there’s a way to see what page you’re on when reading on the Kindle app, I haven’t discovered it (hopefully I’ll finish the book this week and can then add the total pages)

Tuesday: 

Books read from:

  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual¬†Revolution¬†by Shiri Eisner
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issues 5-6 of No. 2) +¬†Howard the Duck¬†by Chip Zdarsky (issue 6, because crossover)
  • Morning Haiku¬†by Sonia Sanchez
  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee

Books completed:

  • Morning Haiku¬†by Sonia Sanchez

Number of pages:

  • 173 +
  • an unknown number of pages in¬†A Spy in the House¬†(because I still don’t know what page I’m on)

Wednesday:

Books read from:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee
  • The Blood of Angels¬†by Johanna Sinisalo
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual¬†Revolution¬†by Shiri Eisner
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issues 7-8 of No. 2)

Books completed: none

Number of pages:

  • 72 +
  • an unknown number of pages in¬†A Spy in the House¬†(because I still don’t know what page I’m on)

Thursday (aka the day my reading mojo totally sucked):

Books read from:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee
  • The Blood of Angels¬†by Johanna Sinisalo
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issue 9)

Books completed: none

Number of pages:

  • 31 +
  • an unknown number of pages in¬†A Spy in the House¬†(because I still don’t know what page I’m on)

Friday: 

Books read from:

  • Hold Your Own¬†by Kate Tempest
  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez (issue 10)

Books completed: none

Number of pages:

  • 60 +
  • an unknown number of pages in¬†A Spy in the House¬†(because I still don’t know what page I’m on)

Saturday:

Books read from:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee
  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual¬†Revolution¬†by Shiri Eisner
  • Hold Your Own¬†by Kate Tempest
  • If I Was Your Girl¬†by Meredith Russo

Books completed:

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1)¬†by Y.S. Lee

Number of pages:

  • 118 +
  • 352 (Except that this is totally misleading. This is the number of pages in¬†A Spy in the House, which I read on the kindle app and thus didn’t know how many pages I actually read on any one day.)

Sunday:

Books read from:

  • If I Was Your Girl¬†by Meredith Russo
  • Hold Your Own¬†by Kate Tempest
  • The Blood of Angels¬†by Johanna Sinisalo
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (issue 11)¬†by Ryan North and Erica Hernandez
  • Red Dragon¬†by Thomas Harris

Books completed:

  • If I Was Your Girl¬†by Meredith Russo

Number of pages:

  • 161

Wrap-Up:

I would call this a successful Bout of Books for me. Honestly not sure if I did more reading than I do in an average week, but I most definitely focused more on purely fun reading and less on reading for homeschooling. That alone makes it a special week.

So what did I accomplish…

I read 1,078 pages. (You know, I’m gonna say that that probably is more reading than I do in an average week.)

Though I only had a few pages left to go, I did finish Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson. Loved it.

I read one volume of poetry in its entirety (Morning Haiku¬†by Sonia Sanchez), and started another (Hold Your Own¬†by Kate Tempest) which I’m about halfway through now.

I started and finished two YA books that weren’t in the original TBR pile I made for Bout of Books. Both were ebooks. I don’t read a ton of ebooks, so to have read two in a week is out of the ordinary for me. They were A Spy in the House,¬†the first in the¬†Agency series¬†by Y.S. Lee, and¬†If I Was Your Girl¬†by Meredith Russo. Two very different sorts of stories, and I adored them both.

I read 12 comic books from Marvel Unlimited (All The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, with the exception of a Howard the Duck issue involved in a crossover with USG.)  Which is equal to about 2 trade volumes, huh?

I read not quite 50 pages in¬†Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. I’ve purposefully been taking that book slowly as is it a bit academic (though still *very* accessible). I just feel like I do a lot better taking this sort of book slowly.

I got about a third of the way through¬†Johanna Sinisalo’s¬†The Blood of Angels.¬†Another slow read. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it, but it’s one of those books that I don’t feel compelled to pick up once I’ve set it down. I really need to just give it some attention.

And finally, last night I picked up Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. I was tired and none of the books I had going felt quite right, so I grabbed this off my spring TBR pile. Only got through the foreword and the first chapter before falling asleep.

 

Sincere thanks to Amanda and Kelly for hosting yet another great Bout of Books readathon!

amidst the pages, April 2017…

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For me, not a shabby reading month, quantity-wise. Quality-wise, which is obviously the “-wise” that matters, it was pretty stellar.

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

“The Terminal Beach” by J.G. Ballard

“The Heat Death of the Universe” by Pamela Zoline

allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

No Way Home: The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations by David S. Wilcove

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Storm (issues 1-4) by Warren Ellis and Terry Dodson.

Black Widow: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider by Devin Grayson, J.G. Jones, and Scott Hampton.

The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey

Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance: Poems, 1987-1992 by Audre Lorde

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro

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That boils down to 7 novels, 3 comics, 1 non-fiction science/nature, 3 poetry collections, and 2 short stories.

6 by authors/artists of color. At least 3 by LGBTQ authors. (Work harder on diversity, Debra Anne.)

10 by women. 4 by men. 2 by combination.

2 YA.

6 read in part for homeschooling.

6 from library. 2 through Marvel Unlimited. 1 on-line. 7 from my shelves.

11 physical copy. 4 ebook/on screen. 1 audiobook.

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A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver. Utterly adored. She remains a favorite author.

“The Terminal Beach” by J.G. Ballard. Didn’t do much for me. Gray had same opinion.

“Heat Death of the Universe” by Pamela Zoline. Enjoyed this one a lot. Odd. Quirky style. Gray enjoyed this one as well.

allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. Loved it. Broke my heart. Reminder of how broken our justice system is.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. While I enjoyed this one, I’m not sure I understand the overwhelming hype that surrounded it.

No Way Home:¬†The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations¬†by David S. Wilcove. Unsurprisingly, it was sad. But not without all hope.

Ariel¬†by Sylvia Plath. At the risk of ridicule and shame, I have to admit I didn’t connect with these poems very well. One of those times when I truly felt I wasn’t smart enough to read the book.

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. Heart these books hard. Had a few random thoughts on them here. Gray really enjoyed these too.

Storm by Warren Ellis. First dip of the toes in the overwhelming world of X-Men. Am eager to explore more. Kind of love-at-first-sight with Storm herself.

Black Widow: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider by Devin Grayson. Didn’t love, though definitely didn’t dislike either. Intrigued enough to want to read more of her story.

The¬†Ship Who Sang¬†by Anne McCaffrey. Don’t read much of this sort of sci-fi–the space ship, traveling the universe sort. Which I guess is what many people automatically think of when they think of science fiction. Anyway, I was sort of surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, though I can’t claim that I loved it.¬†Anne McCaffrey always make me think of Pat and her love for the Pern books (which I haven’t read), and that makes me smile. Gray did not like this one at all, mostly because of its style.

The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance by Audre Lorde. Wow. This collection, just wow. Some of these poems ripped my heart out. Loved this one hard.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers¬†by Jack Finney. This book was so much more fun than I’d thought it was going to be. A change your life book–no. But it was fun.

The Hate U Give¬†by Angie Thomas. This book, yeah, now with this book I totally get the hype. Favorite this month…wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up favorite of the year. Talk about a heart-breaking look at racism in this country. I can’t do this book justice, so I won’t even try. But damn, so worth the read, people.

Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly DeConnick and Valentine De Landro. At the start I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be for me. By end I was screaming, “More, more, I need more now!”

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the pre-game show…

In the spirit of blogging how I want to, I think this Dewey’s Readathon, I’m going to blog like I did in that very first 24-Readathon. By updating on my blog every hour or so. (Okay, it’s actually unlikely that I’ll blog every hour…I’m just too damn lazy for that.) But I’m not going to worry about inundating people’s feed readers by posting too often, because not having told people about this blog, I’m unlikely to be in their feed readers, now aren’t I? ūüėČ

The pre-game necessities:

1. Chores done in advance so there’s no nagging voices interrupting spirit of calm relaxation tomorrow. CHECK.

2. The comfy clothes set aside, both for day time and for evening/night. CHECK.

3. The foodstuffs gathered. (It goes without saying that this one is vital!) CHECK.

IMG_0707Never claimed to be shooting for healthy here.

4. The coffee ground and ready to be brewed in the morning. CHECK.

5. And duh! The book pile. CHECK.
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This is the Friday afternoon iteration. It has changed slightly from its original creation, and is subject to continued change. As it is now, I’ve got a pretty good mix though: fiction, non-fiction, comics, short stories, poetry, and an audio book. Also, not pictured, I’m keeping¬†Difficult Women¬†(essays) in mind from my iPad, as well as comics from Marvel Unlimited. So yeah, seems like I’ve got something for nearly every mood.

And while there’s nothing exactly to prepare, one of the best parts of the day shall be chatting with friends and cheering on fellow readers.

Remembering Dewey is most definitely not exclusive to readathon day, but it is always a huge part of it. I’m so blessed to have friends who miss her, who love her as much as I do. I’m so blessed to have had her in my life. #missyouDewey

tidbits…

*I’m so far from alone in my feelings about the state of the world right now. The normalization of hate. Not that hate hasn’t always existed, of course. But after Brexit, and after the still unfathomable presidential election in the U.S., it’s become a more openly hateful, less friendly, less compassionate planet. For so many there was this turning point, after which nothing felt normal any more. And even months later, it’s hard to know what to do with oneself. Yes, there’s the endless petitions to sign, there are letters to write daily, if I had a phone there would be calls to make, there are rallies and protests to attend, there is reading to be done, and so much listening to do…but beyond those acts, what do we do with ourselves. How do we approach the things that make up a life? I’ve heard many people say that apart from their resistance activities, they have largely pulled inside themselves. And that’s what I’ve done too. I’ve had talks with friends about the importance of not letting go of hope and not letting go of joy…because if we do that, well, hate wins. But it’s hard. Some days it feels impossible. Anyway, last night I was having a text chat with my dear friend Chris, and he said one of the most meaningful things I’ve heard in dealing with the world. In part, he said, “…sometimes I think the best thing we can do is just be our most authentic selves and put that out in the world whatever way we’re able to in that day…” There was more, and it was all rather beautiful, but this particular line really struck me. Even when you’re exhausted and discouraged, show your love. Kindness should be a given, and yet somehow it feels nearly radical these days. Share yourself, your creativity, your kindness, your love.

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*Switching gears entirely. Finished a book last night. A book I never would have read if not for homeschooling. While some of the books, Gray and I have read for his sci-fi class genuinely have knocked my socks off (Octavia Butler’s Parable¬†books being the most recent),¬†Invasion of the Body Snatchers¬†is not that kind of book. But I have to admit it was fun! I enjoyed reading it far more than I would have guessed. Yeah, it was a bit silly, a bit cheesy. But like I said it was fun. Even a wee bit suspenseful at times. And definitely an interesting peak back at 1950s small-town America. Never would have read it if not for homeschooling, but I can’t say I’m one bit sorry that I did.

IMG_0660*My uncle died yesterday. I wasn’t close to this particular uncle, but my heart is breaking for Mom. He was her baby brother. Said baby being almost 74-years-old. He is actually the first of my uncles or aunts to die. It was a powerful reminder (there have been several of those in the last couple years) of how old my parents are getting to be. And of how I am not ready to lose them. But then, when is anyone ever ready to lose a parent…

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Octavia Butler’s Parable books…

Just a collection of random thoughts:

*First things first: I loved these books! Both¬†Parable of the Sower¬†and¬†Parable¬†of the Talents.¬†Octavia Butler has again won my heart with her storytelling. These are only the second and third of her books that I’ve read (Kindred was the first), but I don’t feel it premature to think that she may end up my favorite author of all-time. Hell, she may already be.

*The¬†Parable¬†books are among the best dystopian books I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a decent amount of them. What I find so odd is that I didn’t even realize these were dystopian until I actually started reading them. I knew they fell into the larger category of science fiction, but had no clue they were dystopian. I looked at a bunch of lists of “the best” dystopian lit to try to figure out how I could have been so clueless. But that endeavor just reinforced my notions–they were seldom mentioned. Hmmm…perhaps because they’re authored by a black woman…

*My love of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/dystopian literature goes way back. The first adult book I fell hard for in my early high school days was¬†The Stand. And it definitely kickstarted my love of the genre. A friend rather condescendingly ranted about how she hated dystopian literature and couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly enjoy such depressing stories with such a bleak view of the world where all anyone did was try to survive the next horrible thing that came down the road. Her rant (which was not directed at me personally but to the world at large) was a vivid reminder of how no two people have the exact same experience with a book. And wow–in some cases, they have vastly different perspectives. Because the thing that I have always loved so much about dystopian stories is the hope that is to be found even in the darkest of times. And the ways that strangers come together to form their own imperfect families often in pursuit of, or as a result of, that hope. My love for the genre remains, but I must admit that these stories have become much harder to read as the world has become a darker place (and yes, I do realize this darker world has been the reality for so many for much longer than the past year, and my massive amounts of privilege left me blind in a lot of ways). Since the presidential election here in the U.S., I’ve seen a few lists of “dystopian books that seem all-too-prescient of recent world events” nature.¬†The Handmaid’s Tale¬†is often right up there at the top of those lists, and while I won’t argue against that (it’s a freakin’ amazing and scary book), I would argue that the¬†Parable¬†books ought to be right there with it.