May 7, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

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.

Holy cow, friends. When I typed up my last post, I had absolutely no idea I wouldn’t be blogging or reading for this many weeks after. Wow. I’m thinking of calling myself The Chaotic Bookworm or The Neglectful Reader or something. Chaos is my middle name. Chaos is my state my mind. Chaos is my new best friend. You get the idea. 

Since this still is a book blog, let’s talk books. I feel like I haven’t been reading at all, but I just checked my Goodreads, and since my last blog post, I have actually read fourteen books. Primarily romance, YA, and middle grade novels. Mostly audiobooks. Still, way more than I thought I did. Some really good books too- I highly recommend The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, A Princess In Theory, Wanna Bet?A Girl Like Her, and Sunny. It’s so interesting, because you wouldn’t be able to tell I’d been doing any reading based on any of my social media updates, rather lack thereof. Hell, I couldn’t tell I’d been doing any reading. That’s something to think about. 

I’ve also been a bit off social media. Not intentionally, I just can’t seem to hold space for it, besides tweeting when I’m overwhelmed and promptly disappearing. Which is mostly fine. I do feel guilty about being so out of the loop with friends and book news and aro/ace activism, and I’m just choosing to sit with it for now.

Life- let’s see. So much going on. We’ve moved again, and this will be my parents’ permanent home. It’s a gorgeous place though it’s far away from the city. BUT I HAZ SHINY NEW BOOKSHELVES AND ALL MY BOOKS ARE OUT SO CITY, SCHMITY AMIRITE?! Pictures will happen when my room doesn’t look like a cardboard box infestation. 

I am traveling to the States in two weeks for a work conference and seeing friends and I am excited, stressed, and terrified about traveling. I will be among folx who are incredibly supportive, so my anxiety is no longer at vomit-y, just nausea. I’m choosing to focus on the being able to see dear hearts, and that’s keeping me going.

Rehab- This is the one thing that has been going really, really well. It’s so great to see and feel progress and improvements in strength. I had a follow-up with my surgeon a few days ago, while he’s not very happy with my foot still being weak, he’s cleared me for travel and is generally happy with how my sessions with my trainer have been going. 

I guess we should come back to books, eh? Here’s what I’m planning to read this week:

I am laughably behind on reviews. They will happen. Soon. 

Meanwhile, what have y’all been upto? Read anything good lately?

-J

 

February 19, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

img_20160516_170058.jpg

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.

Hey there!

I WATCHED BLACK PANTHER AND IT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE. PLEASE GO WATCH IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. SHURI, NAKIA, AND OKOYE ARE THE LITERAL BEST I’M GONNA NEED MORE SCREEN-TIME AND PRINT TIME AND ALL KINDS OF FORMAT-TIME ABOUT THEM. 

tenor

Okay, I know that wasn’t necessarily book related (unless you haven’t already read the Black Panther and World of Wakanda comics in which case, please read them), but I had to put it out there.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming- books! I read some. Let’s see, quite a bit of romance in the last couple of weeks. First, The Lust Diaries series by Tasha L. Harrison (I liked the first book, had some issues with the second and third. Iffy consent, and cis men who think they can make decisions for women “because they know what’s best for them” is a trope that makes me want to smash things), and the first two books of the Cyclone series by Courtney Milan, Trade Me and Hold Me (both of which I loved).

Backlist:finally finished Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (absolutely phenomenal, I really think it got swept under the radar during awards season) and Blue Nights by Joan Didion (thoughtful written and so cathartic). 

Frontlist: I devoured An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (brilliant writing and character development) as well as This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins (tightly crafted and eviscerating).

On audio: I listened to Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam (character-led plot, well-rounded, engrossing story) and Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot (brutal account of an Indigenous writer on motherhood, mental illness, loss, among other things). 

Screenshot_20180217-222702_01.jpgI am going to take a moment to acknowledge that on Saturday night, for a whole ten minutes, my Goodreads “Currently Reading” shelf was empty because I didn’t have any partially-read books left in it. *insert GIF of shedding a single tear*

That of course, did not last long, so let me show you what I plan to read this week:

If you are trying to recover from the shock of only seeing three titles on this week’s TBR instead of the usual obnoxious number, it’s because I’ve actually got things I need to get done this week, which includes watching Black Panther again tomorrow. 

These past two weeks have been a little hazy because of a general spike in my anxiety as well as not feeling great physically. Here’s hoping for a more productive week.

Also, Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week starts today! I’m hoping to write a post about it for this week, but I’ll definitely be talking about it over on Twitter. Feel free to direct your questions there, in public or private. I’m happy to talk about this stuff with you. 

So tell me friends, what have you been reading?

 

 

 

January 15, 2018: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

img_20160516_170058.jpg

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.

Happy New Year, friends!

Wow. WOW. What a year. Phew. Sometimes I laugh when I think about how terrible I thought 2016 was ’cause boy, 2017 was a humdinger. Never in my life have a been happier for a year to be over. 

If there’s anything 2017 taught me, it was not to make elaborate, overly ambitious plans because you never know when one thing could happen that sends all your plans down the drain. You’d think that’s a super obvious life lesson but I’ll be the first to admit it took me 2017 to actually comprehend what it looks and feels like. 

I spectacularly failed all of my reading and blogging goals for 2017 because so much life happened, and I’ve entered 2018 with a super low-key, attempted zen attitude. I’m not participating in any reading challenges this year- no Read Harder, no Goodreads goal, no Litsy A to Z, no Reading Women challenge, nothing. In truth, I’m a little burnt out on reading challenges, and I’ve realized I pretty much read diversely regardless of challenges, so I’m forcing myself to take a break from them this year and see where my moods take me. Likewise, I don’t have any specific blogging goals this year, and I’m already noticing that I’m looking forward to sitting down and writing posts and reviews as opposed to dreading them. That feels really good. 

Now, to the actual reading I’ve done so far. I read and loved Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (what a brilliant writer), Halsey Street by Naima Coster (stellar debut), Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano (absolutely delightful), The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (superb multigenerational novel), We Go Forward by Alison Evans (sweet friendship story), and Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (I’ll be shouting from the rooftops about this book for the rest of the year).

Only two books I’ve read thus far have been a bit disappointing: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (I think we can blame the hype for this one), and Bad for the Boss: A BWAM Office Romance (Just For Him Book 1) by Talia Hibbert (questionable consent in erotica novels always makes me itchy). 

On the roster for this week: 

I started Furiously Happy on audio a couple of days ago and The Music Shop last night and I’m really liking both so far. I’m struggling a little to get through A Few Red Drops; the subject matter is interesting but the writing isn’t engaging. I’ll start the other two later this week once I finish a sensitivity read that I need to get done. 

That’s all I’ve got going on for now. I’m excited to do It’s Monday posts again because it’s a great way to check-in and gives me chance to chat with you all about books and other things. So, how are you? How did your 2017 go? What are you looking forward to the most in 2018? Last, but not the least, what are you reading these days? 

-J

So…Life Happened

heroism-in-life
Retrived from: http://searchwh.com/2017/lifestyle-hobby/advantages-heroism-life/

Hey friends,

Remember me? Seems like I took my sporadic blogger moniker a little far this time. I opened my blog today for the first time since July, which is definitely the biggest break I’ve ever taken from this space. My intention was to write a review and pretend like nothing had happened, but I think I’d like to talk about the last five months and offer you an explanation as to why you haven’t seen new content at all from me in that time.

(Oh, if you follow me on twitter and such you’re totally off the hook for skipping this post because well, I think I’ve whined plenty there about what’s happened)

Trigger Warnings: Surgery, medical stuff, body stuff, fatmisia, lifestyle changes, depression, anxiety, mental health

A lot of you know I’ve been struggling with sciatica for a while now. The last time I was active on the blog, I was in the middle of a really bad flare-up that lasted longer than the usual two-three weeks, and the pain was relentless. I was on bed rest for nearly six weeks, and barely functional. Things escalated, I went in for an MRI, and was told that I had a major prolapsed disc that had probably been around for a few years now (they suspect around the onset of my sciatica three years ago), and I was admitted for surgery immediately. It happened so fast, I only met my surgeon the day after the operation had been performed. Those 36 hours were pretty surreal. I’ll spare you the gory surgical details, but it was a longer procedure than expected. 

Post surgery, here’s where I was: Months (potentially years) of nerve compression had happened leading to some neurological symptoms in my foot and tightness in my legs, and I was looking at about six months of physiotherapy to regain mobility in my foot. My surgery had been successful in that my spine was intact, no other organs or systems were damaged in the process, I wasn’t going to be paralyzed. and the nerves had decompressed.

Suffice to say my life has dramatically changed and my world has become super small since the first week of August. The first couple of months were…hell. This is actually my second major spinal surgery, but my first one was at age four and I barely remember it, so this is my first time fully experiencing and processing the upward battle that is post-op recovery. It’s this thing where you’re no longer feeling the hellish pain that put you on in the operation theatre in the first place, but your body has been sliced open and the morphine has worn off and you can feel it all. My life was eat, sleep, physiotherapy, and rest. I was too exhausted to hold a book or laptop. I was in a world of pain. PT was frustrating and slow. My incredibly supportive parents’ lives were all about looking after me. Depression and anxiety were constant companions, and I didn’t really talk about it to anyone except the internet. My best friend was my only visitor, he would faithfully spend every weekend with me, even if it meant watch me sleep after my PT sessions because I was too tired, or when I started walking, walk those hundred feet three times a day.

But, sitting and writing this, I realize I’ve come such a long way since then. I went from a walker to using a stick to walking independently. I can now walk longer distances, I’m more functional in terms of being able to stand for longer and sit for more hours. I’ve started going out by myself, and even run a few errands. I don’t have to wear a lumbar support belt anymore, which means I will no longer have to be rude to strangers on the street that stare at me or ask me really personal questions. Our extended family comes down in a couple of weeks to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday, and I will be able to sit and be a part of the traditional ceremonies that will be happening. These things I’m infinitely grateful for, because six months ago I didn’t think any of this was possible.

There’s still things that are scary and overwhelming and weigh on me. My foot is still not at a hundred percent, and it scares me to think that if it doesn’t get better than this then I won’t be able to get back to dancing ever again (I’m a trained Bharatanatyam dancer). Somedays, hints of the old sciatica pain come through after an intense PT session and I worry about never not being in some form of pain for the rest of my life. My job-hunt has been on pause for the last six months, and the prospect of having to explain this really long and unexpected break in my career feels daunting. I’ve been told to lose weight so as to take off the pressure from a spine that’s been operated on twice, and I’m dealing with a megaton of internal and external fatmisia while I make some dietary and lifestyle changes. My mental health has definitely seen better days, and now that I’m mobile I need to get around to finding a therapist.

There’s so many uncertain things, and I’m trying not to let them take over, which is easier said than done.

So there, that has been (is) my life. It’s been a hell of a rollercoaster, 2017, but I think the end of the year is looking less bleak than I thought it would be three months ago. I’ve finally gotten my reading mojo back, and am hoping to make my Goodreads goal by the end of the year. I’ve spectacularly failed on my blogging goals, but I’m trying not to beat myself too much about that. I’m working on some academic projects with my friends to stay sharp and have started looking for a job again.

All this to say, thank you so much for still sticking around despite my horrendously erratic blogging this year. Thanks for sticking through all of my promises to be a more regular blogger even when I’m not. Thanks for accepting this explanation for my absence. Thank you for being a source of support in any corner of the internet at any point in time. I’m back right now, I’m feeling excited to talk about books again, and I’m hoping that feeling stays with me, along with you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

So much love to all of you,

-J

 

 

Let’s Talk About (My) Identity

download
Image source: Deviantart.com

This post is inspired by my twitter pal Painter McSomething, as well as recent events in the ace and aro communities. My original intention was to do a Twitter thread, but I wanted to go into details and doing that on twitter feels scarier. Plus, this post may be TMI for a lot of folks, and this way the only way to be exposed to the information is to click on it, which is a choice my followers can make actively without being forced to interact with it on twitter. 

So, this is going to get personal. If you’ve had a chance to read Painter McSomething’s thread, they did a great job sharing how their identity as a grey-ace panromantic person works for them. I know there’s been a lot of talk among people both in and out of the ace and aro communities about wanting to learn more, especially in the last few months. Now, there’s quite a few resources for people to check out online (I’ll link some at the end of the post), but I figured it’s also helpful to hear how people ID as ace and aro and what that means to them.

Disclaimer: This is not an educational post on aromantic and asexual 101. I’m going to be only talking about myself. Remember that not everyone’s experiences will perfectly match up to mine, and my experiences don’t probably reflect everything you’ve read online. This doesn’t invalidate either mine or other people’s IDs as aces or aros in any way, shape, or form.

I’m grey-asexual, meaning I fall somewhere on the asexual spectrum. I don’t fall in one particular place, my feelings of sexual attraction and my libido vary all the time, so grey-ace works best for me. I’m mostly uninterested in sex and that works for me. Even as a teenager, I was interested in sex, but not interested in *having* sex with other people. This has not changed thus far. Here’s where the term autochorrisexual comes in. This means I engage in certain sexual activities (choosing to keep the details to myself here), but none of them involve other people. I occasionally do find other people attractive, mostly aesthetically, almost never sexually. I read a crap ton of erotica novels and genuinely enjoy them, and I’m not averse to visual representations of sex in movies and such. Libido is a whole other factor to consider. Again, I’d like to point you towards another thread by Painter McSomething. My libido goes up sometimes, and mostly (but not always) correlates with my reading of erotica. I’m also kinky, but it is a completely non-sexual experience for me. It has more to do with the power dynamics, and helps a great deal with my anxiety. I don’t feel qualified enough to discuss more about BDSM, but this is the extent of my experience with it. 

I’m grey-romantic, which means I fall somewhere on the romance spectrum. To be honest, I’m ninety-nine percent “no thanks romance”, but I have commitment issues, so I prefer ID-ing as grey-romantic. I have no interest in a singular or multiple romantic partners, and definitely prefer the idea of queerplatonic relationships. I have had crushes in the past, but have had no interest in any sort of romantic or sexual involvement with them. I value friendships deeply, and have a small number of extremely close friends. I have one or two people in my life with whom the relationship goes a lot deeper than traditional friendship, but is still strictly platonic and (so far) has no labels, and I like it that way. Even if I were to ever be in a defined QPR, I don’t think monogamy is my jam, and that’s okay. My (hypothetical) queerplatonic partner’s gender does not factor into this, in that I’m not strictly queerplatonically attracted to a specific gender. I value close emotional commitments. My feelings about physical behaviors like hugging, kissing, hand-holding, spooning, etc. really depend on the person. I don’t identify as touch-averse, but I definitely have a preference about whom I engage in these behaviors with. 

I’m going to talk about gender identity for a second here. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I’ve landed on identifying as demigirl. “Cis” has not felt comfortable to me for a long time, but neither did going with nonbinary or trans. Some days I feel femme, somedays nonbinary. This reflects in my emotional responding, how I connect with people, how I want people to see me, my hair, my clothes, my makeup, my everything; the lines are very blurry. I’m still working out how this works with my aroace-ness, and some days feel very conflicted. I am not comfortable with female-specific words like “woman”, “lady”, “queen”, etc. My pronouns are she/her

This is all I have for now. Again, this is all just me, and how I identify as a grey-ace, grey-aro demigirl. These might reflect other people who share these identities, or they might not at all, and that’s okay. None of this also means that I’ve figured everything out about myself. I’m comfortable with evolving IDs and values, and I’ll just keep checking in with myself from time to time. This does not mean I don’t have days where I’m wondering if I’ve just all this up about myself, or days that I don’t feel like an imposter. I absolutely do. But that’s when I reach out to some lovely hearts for validation, and work through it.

So, I hope this helps you some, whoever is reading this. Whatever I know about the ace and aro spectrums I know from my own experiences and my research when I was contemplating these IDs. I’m always willing to share, and always open to chatting with anyone, or answering any questions you may have. I also don’t have all the answers, and I will be honest with you when that’s the case. I’m also linking some resources below, but these are not exhaustive at all. The best way to learn more is by talking to people within the community, especially those who are constantly advocating, but please remember not to demand anyone’s time and emotional labor. 

Thanks so much for making it to the end of this. This was not easy to write. Being this open and vulnerable here is terrifying, but I also know this was necessary. I hope this helps anyone out there, and I apologize if I inadvertently hurt anyone with anything I’ve written in this post. 

P. S. I’m still not out to a lot of people that I know in real life, and I don’t feel comfortable being out to most people outside of the internet for now. So, if you’re reading this and you happen to know me outside of the interwebz, please check-in before discussing any of this with me in-person. I am not in a place where I can or want to be accidentally outted. I appreciate the support. 

Resources:

AVEN: http://www.asexuality.org/

On aro/ace jargon 101: https://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/how-to-not-to-do-101-on-asexuality-sex-repulsion-and-sexual-activity/

On using allosexual: https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/why-i-use-allosexual/

On allosexual: https://aroaceyellspace.tumblr.com/post/158869186213/honestly-i-have-no-idea-what-the-fuck-peoples

On allosexism: http://asexualityexists.tumblr.com/post/29138181610/on-allosexism

On inclusion: https://vaspider.tumblr.com/post/157183577991/okay-but-if-someone-doesnt-experience-homophobia

You Might Be Aromantic If: http://anagnori.tumblr.com/post/69145328274/you-might-be-aromantic-if

The Asexual Journal: http://theasexual.com/

The Ace and Aro in SFF database: http://claudiearseneault.com/?page_id=1320

 

 

 

Mid-2017 Evaluation: Where Do I Go From Here?

312793

I’m a little stunned that we’re already in the middle of 2017. It is friggin’ July, this is wild. What even is time? It is ridiculous how fast it flies. So much has happened in the last six months. I don’t think I am where I wanted to be at this time when the year began, but it isn’t the worst place to be. 

I went back to take a peek at my 2017 blogging resolutions, and so far, haven’t done any of them justice. I’m way behind on my Goodreads goal, I haven’t made or stuck to a blogging schedule, I took on extra reading challenges and didn’t manage to keep up with them, I fell behind on the Social Justice Book Club, and I haven’t really discussed any books with problematic rep on my blog. I had to scale back on the layout of this space because I couldn’t afford full membership, but needed some modicum of self-hosting control. All of this is getting me down. These all seemed like reasonable goals at the beginning of this year, but I definitely didn’t anticipate how much of my time would get sucked in our giant move in the first half of this year. I didn’t anticipate the toll it would take on my mental and physical health. I’ve experienced more identity crises in the last 11 months than ever before. I’m still looking for full-time employment. The world seems to be even more of a shitfest than before. These aren’t really excuses, nor am I looking for condolences or sympathy, they’re just things I didn’t anticipate happening or affecting me as much as they are.

Some good things happened too- My Chicago vacation and the annual professional conference I attended went super well. I took on some projects I’m really excited about, and I’ve got clearer career and academic goals in mind since then. Living in India definitely offers me more freedom in terms of movement and having close friends in the same city. My reading pace has picked up in the last couple of weeks, and I feel good about that. 

Given all of these things, I’m taking another stab at my 2017 resolutions:

  1. Blogging schedule: I’m going to set myself a goal of publishing once a week. It doesn’t seem like a lot, and it’s fairly low response effort, but right now consistency is key. If I do more, great, but if I do at least one, it’ll be better than month-long breaks.
  2. Social Justice Book Club is coming back in August- I’ll be announcing the details of that this weekend. We’re going back to a bi-monthly schedule, so hopefully that helps.
  3. I’m going to work on really, really evaluating the time and space I have available before participating in reading challenges.
  4. Catching up on ARC reviews, and cross-posting on Amazon and Goodreads. 

I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but I’m sincerely grateful for every person that follows my blog, reads my stuff, and takes the time to comment. I’m always shocked when anyone visits this space, given that my content is so erratic. Please know that I value each and every one of you. Thank you.

-J

Dewey’s Readathon: Spring 2017 Edition

24hrreading1-thumb

Hey friends,

I know, it’s been a while. A long while. My sincerest apologies. I just cannot seem to get a handle on this life thing. We’ve moved and I’m still adjusting. It’s been weird. Also yes, I’ve had to change the blog format, for reasons (that are mostly financial). Apologies if that’s throwing anyone off.

I’ve been a little off the blogosphere and bookternet in general recently- minus yelling on twitter. Nothing outside of YA has been grabbing my attention lately, so this edition of Dewey’s could not have come at a better time. I’m more than ready to hunker down for some uninterrupted reading and bookternet time (and yes, of course, will be going grocery shopping because what is a readathon without the snack really?) It’ll be interesting because I’m in a completely different timezone this time, so my readathon is from 5.30 p.m. Saturday evening to 5.25 p.m. Sunday evening. This is going to be very interesting. Somehow, 7 to 7 doesn’t feel quite as long. I’m not sure if I’ll be awake all 24 hours this time, but really I’m just looking forward to being in the zone and have a good time. 

I’ve been particularly absent this time around- I usually like to help Andi and Heather out with writing a warm-up post or hosting a twitter chat- and the reasons are mostly along the lines of me flailing at life in general. I’ll spare you the boring details. However, I managed to spend some time yesterday catching up on the official blog, and this beautiful tribute to our dear friend Heather from Bits and Books left me teary-eyed. Please check it out. 

I will probably do one quick midway update on here and a wrap-up post at the end, but I will be active on Twitter, Instagram (Amanda aka nerdybookgirl is hosting an IG challenge), and Litsy (@theshrinkette). Use the hashtag #readathon to find your peeps!

Whether you read 2 hours or 20, make yourself sick on too many cookies, or just lounge about in your pajamas reading one book, it’s still an amazing thing to be a part of for a whole 24 hours. Don’t miss it. I’ll be there doing my thing: 

tumblr_inline_ogf77wp7gw1uqccih_500

-J