August 15th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

It’s my last day at work, and I was feeling blue about it all through the weekend. I didn’t feel like reading any of the books I started last week, so I ended up finishing Monstress Volume 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, which is creepy and awesome, and forced myself to finish at least one book- If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut, which was okay. I have a few major things to do before I leave, and hoping to meet with as many people as I can before I fly out, so I’m not sure how much reading I will get done. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get through at least these:

My first check-in for Social Justice Book Club is going to be a few days late, but I will make it happen.

More later 🙂

-J

When I’m Reading In Public

Here’s something I’ve been working on for a long time: Spending time out in public by myself. I don’t mean a grocery store run or a Starbucks drive-thru, I mean taking myself out to a restaurant, a coffee shop, or even the park. I’ve actively taken this on in the last few months, and it’s been really nice. I’ve been notorious for spending Friday evenings after work through Monday mornings in my room by myself, lounging in my bed binging on Netflix. Before you knew it the weekend would be over, I wouldn’t have read a lot, I wouldn’t have accomplished anything, and would end up spending most of my Sunday evening feeling gross and lonely and lethargic and supremely nervous for the upcoming week. 

So here’s where reading has been my saving grace- I have slowly but surely learned that I can be antisocial but also spend some quality time doing the thing I love in the process. This has led to me actively spending time outside my house- in my backyard, the diner near my old place, going to the several local coffee shops, and visiting the occasional bookstore. Ever since I’ve moved out to my new place, where I don’t have a kitchen to cook in, I’ve been frequenting the restaurants and cafes nearby, so dinner, drink, and book is the thing I look forward to every evening. However, here’s some things I’ve noticed that seem to happen a lot and I don’t really care for them, so I thought I’d share with you guys to see if these have happened to you as well: 

People saying: “Are you reading?”, “Oh hey, you’re reading a book!”

You don’t have to acknowledge that I’m reading a book. I in fact, am fully aware that I’m reading one. Your observations skills are on point. 

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People sitting next to me on public transport that see I’m listening to an audiobook.

If you see me on public transport with earphones on, I’m probably listening to an audiobook, and I definitely don’t want to hear about how audiobooks aren’t real books, because I will fight you. This is not a theory you want to test. 

Servers/bartenders checking in on me every two minutes because I’m seated alone at the restaurant.

If you’re the server or the bartender, and you can see there’s this giant thing in front of my face and all of my attention is being directed towards it, please don’t keep asking me if I need anything just because I’ve been nursing the one drink for more than 20 minutes or my food hasn’t arrived. I’ve actively selected your business because it’s relatively quiet and isn’t bustling with activity, and your tip certainly doesn’t depend on how many times you ask me if I like my drink or my food. I will not resent you for even just leaving my food or drink in front of me without saying a word. In fact, that is greatly appreciated. 

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Asking for book recommendations. 

Don’t ask me for book recommendations if you’re not prepared to be flooded with them. People that know me have made that mistake and it hasn’t done them any good. Also be prepared that I will be asking you a bunch of question about your bookish tastes before being able to actually recommend anything. 

“If I could only read one book this year, which one should I read?”

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Wrong question. Since it is unlikely that you have read every book that has ever been published before you asked me that question, it is literally impossible for me to mathematically derive a conclusion as to which one book you should read this year. Seriously, I don’t know how to answer that question. 

This probably paints me as quite the curmudgeon, it’s just that I’ve been asked these so many times, and have gotten into more than one interaction on the bus or the train about the merits of different ways of reading, that sometimes I can’t help but roll my eyes at this stuff. 

Have any of these things happened to you guys? What other weird/annoying things have happened to you when you venture out in public with a book? I’d love to know!

-J

Teaser Tuesday: August 9, 2016

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This fun bookish meme is hosted by MizB at Books And A Beat. The rules are pretty simple: Grab your current read, open a random page, and pick two teaser, non-spoilery sentences to share from that page.

Here’s mine for this week:

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“My mother wasn’t perfect. My mother was intense. Things didn’t happen because they were possible, they happened because she decided they would….but, as anyone who has read a fairytale knows, all spells come with a cost. The magic pulled on hidden sources. … she could set the universe aflame, but she used herself as fuel.”

I’m doing this one on audio, and her descriptions of her mother remind me of my own, it’s fascinating. 

Oh also, HAPPY NATIONAL BOOK LOVERS DAY!

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-J

 

August 8th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Continue reading “August 8th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

Review: The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

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The Ballad Of Black Tom by Victor LaValle

Published: February 16th, 2016
Publisher: Tor.com
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780765387868
Source: Library
Challenges: Diverse SFF Book Club

 

Here’s the favor I’m doing myself (and you should too)- I’m not going to be reading Lovecraft’s The Horror At Red Hook. There’s plenty of books in the world not written by bigots towards which I would like to give my time and money. That said, well, if you want to know more about the horror show that was Lovecraft’s book, Tor did a great synopsis. Was more than enough for me, that’s for sure.

Here’s the first thing that I loved about the book- it’s existence. Warms my grouchy heart that someone took it upon themselves to respond to Lovecraft’s racist book- a well-written response, might I add. I mean, these were his opening lines:

“People who move to New York always make the same mistake. They don’t see it. They look for magic, and nothing will convince them it isn’t there.

That made me grin so hard, and I was hooked (sorry guys, I’ve been all about the bad puns recently). LaValle manages to create such a juicy story in this tiny novella, only things like packing and moving could really force me to put the book down. The plot: Tom Tester is a young black man in 1920’s New York City, living with his father and hustling to make ends meet. He’s a mediocre guitar player, a terrible singer, and uses his guitar case to make his “deliveries.” One of these jobs results in his introduction to Suydam, who has a serious case of white savior complex. He exposes Tom to an occult experience where he is exposed to several hidden realities and possibilities. In the second half of the book, the perspective shifts to Malone (Lovecraft’s original protagonist), who is an NYPD detective that has been keeping tabs on Tester and Suydam and the horrors that ensue.

New York is strife with racial tension in the Jazz Age, and the author manages to convey this masterfully. Everyone- the cops, Tom’s dad, train conductors- everyone keeps reminding Tom of his blackness every time he dares set foot out of Harlem, reminding him to stay where he belongs. The racial tension isn’t unfamiliar, and LaValle has done a splendid job outlining it in the book. The underlying implication of the persuasion of power and its effects depending on whose lap it falls on, is so well-crafted by the author, he didn’t even have to explicitly state it in the prose. The characters have stunning emotional depth, the feelings of hurt, pain, and suspicion are very, very real. For lovers of the genre, I’d say this is one you shouldn’t miss, because it is such a well-crafted story, and it comes without all of Lovecraft’s racist narrative. Within this tiny, tiny book, the author manages to touch readers’ fears that are very real. Moral of the story: Things can get real dicey when people that have been power-deprived for too long are suddenly exposed to it. The preventative tactic would be to make power legitimate and not an exclusive shiny toy so that it loses some of its lustre and people don’t get desperate from the deprivation. 

So glad I took the time to participate in this edition of the Diverse SFF Book Club- it would’ve been a shame to miss out on this book. Can’t wait to see everyone else’s reactions and reviews. There’s a chance I might read it once more before I return it to the library. 

 

 

 

July 2016 Wrap-Up

So July:

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I’ll just skip right ahead to book data. 

Print books: 13 books, 3924 pages.

Audiobooks: 2 book, 604 pages, approx.  15 hours

Graphic novels/Comics: 11, 1020 pages.

Total number of books/comics: 24

Total page count: 5548

Read My Own Damn Books:  19

This month is a perfect illustration of why I love data. I honestly had not been paying attention to my reading the entire month, so I started writing this post dreading how low the numbers were going to be and grumbling about moving once again. Clearly I’d read more than I remembered reading. Kind of had an audiobook lull- nothing was grabbing my interest. Also, it’s interesting how much my numbers skew when it’s a readathon month, especially since I did no reading in the last week of July. Hurray readathons! 

Do you guys have any cool audiobook suggestions? I’m all ears. 

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-J

 

 

 

Social Justice Book Club: The New Jim Crow Intro Check-In

Howdy!

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Sorry guys, I know it’s been a couple of weeks. For those that don’t follow me on Twitter/Snapchat/any other social media, I’ve been packing and moving out of my old apartment to a temporary space for the month of August, so it’s been a tad overwhelming. I have finally moved out, I even managed to get a solid hour of reading last night, and generally in the groove of things. 

Continue reading “Social Justice Book Club: The New Jim Crow Intro Check-In”