It's hard to read any book after "Saga". None of them can compare.
How did the authors make me care about each character so much?
My rating system:
10 – life-changing, an all-time favorite
5 - average for what I read
1 – terrible; why did I finish it?
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs – I listened to this book on audio, and it’s a work of non-fiction. Robert Peace was born in an African-American neighborhood in New Jersey that suffers from many of the problems urban America has: sub-par schools, jobs that don’t pay well, crumbling housing, Black men being locked up without fair trials, and more. Bolstered by a hard-working, self-sacrificing mother and by his own brains, Robert gets into better schools and seems on his way to a successful life when he lands a scholarship at a very prestigious university. And yet, the book’s title gives you something of a spoiler into what happens. Why was his life “short and tragic”? What would it have taken for him to rise above the odds? The book offers no easy answers but it is a fascinating character study, and a fascinating look at the reality of life in America for those who are born into poverty and with the wrong color skin. The book may be sad, but I was completely taken in with it. One minor complaint: I would like to give a stern talking-to to whoever produced or directed the audio book. Each CD had just 2 or 3 tracks on it. Most tracks were really long (like 30 minutes), but some were just a minute or two. Makes no sense; good audio books have short and numerous tracks in case you need to pop out the CD and listen to something else. Well, I guess books on CD will go the way of music on 8-track cassettes so the point will be moot pretty soon. Grade: 8
Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit – A collection of essays by the acclaimed writer. The book was originally published in 2004 but updated with a new forward in 2016. The book is only 140 pages but it demands to be read slowly and carefully. I complied. I retyped passages that moved me and shared them on social media; it was that good. Solnit lays out the dangers of despair and gives real examples of how those who hope and work for a better future can stay committed and have hope that a better world is possible. The book is not about rah-rah pie-in-the-sky optimism; Solnit’s examples of activism being successful are concrete, grounded, and global. Grade: 8
Hi, Anxiety by Kat Kinsmark – A memoir about the author struggling with anxiety and depression. We see how it impacts her day to day life, and the challenges of everything from going to the doctor to trying to keep her conditions a secret. It was well-written and eye-opening. Grade: 7
Saga, Volumes 1 & 2 by Brian K Vaughn, art by Fiona Staples – Holy hell, this graphic novel is amazing! Thank you, Ann, for recommending it. The interstellar story of star-crossed lovers fighting the odds was lovely. The artwork was some of the best I’d ever seen. I’ve attempted to read graphic novels over the years where I can’t recognize the same character from panel to panel. This artwork was beautiful, each character drawn so well. The storyline was fast-driving, and every single character felt fully realized. And all the different worlds and different species, and their interactions, were so imaginative. Can’t wait to see what happens next!! Best thing I’ve read in a while. Grade: 9
Daughter of Kura by Debra Austin – It’s been too long since I’ve read a good novel taking place during pre-history. This book’s setting is half a million years ago in Southeast Africa. The protagonist lives in a matrifocal society and, as granddaughter of the village’s leader, she is poised to someday be leader herself. But a strange man enters their village with some new ideas, and group cohesion starts to break down as a result. Since I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I glanced at a few reviews on Goodreads. Some criticized the book for its predictable plot (true) and lack of details. The author lays out, in an afterword, what we know about this time period and some things we can guess at – and perhaps she played it too safe, rarely taking educated guesses at details which would’ve rounded out the book and supplied more snapshots of the characters’ daily lives. (Some examples – we don’t know whether the characters wear clothes for warmth or decoration, whether they bathe for sanitation or vanity, whether or not they have attempted to domesticate animals or tried to create their own groves of edible plants). That is a legit criticism, and yet I have to say that I enjoyed the story she had to tell anyway. The book quenched my thirst for a good yarn taking place in pre-historic times, and let’s not forget that too many extraneous details can weigh a story down too. Bonus points for including characters who are attracted to members of the same sex. Grade: 7
For today's gratitude, I'm just going to be thankful for the new MST3K. It's so good. As of right now, there's no word as to whether or not it'll be renewed for a second season, which surprises me because I thought the kickstarter that brought it to life broke a ton of records. I have 3 more episodes left and will savor them!
The weekend is almost here! Save for about 1 hour of work today plus half a day tomorrow, I'm almost in a 4 and a half day weekend.
My plans are:
- Staff the Dems table early on Saturday
- Scrabble/tea with Ann at Panera
- When Doris gets home from work Saturday, then we'll go out to eat
- Sunday should be pretty low-key like most Sundays
- Monday I will trek into the city to visit my indie bookstore
- On the 4th, we're marching in the parade with our local Dems
All of the above are lovely so I will consider that to be my gratitude list for now!
1. Walking into work today, I enjoyed the temperature. There was a cool breeze, it was really nice. And work was good. Kari drove in today for a meeting and we had lunch with her. I had an initial meeting with Erin and Diane to start to transition my work to them for when I'll be out, and it went well.
2. Doris got home early yesterday and we watched an episode of Supergirl. We just kind of laugh and wish we liked Supergirl as much as the other shows we watch, but we don't.
3. Texting with Pam, making plans for when she and Sean will be here in August. Fun!
1. Yesterday our food coop had a clothing swap. You bring 5 items and can take 5 items. It was very well organized. I took a necklace, 2 scarves, and 2 tops. They're all nice.
2. Doris did a ton of cooking yesterday. That was awesome. Every summer I stress just a bit because we get a box of veggies each week from the CSA, and I always worry about using them before they go bad.* I try to cook something up after work each day. I sure love it when Doris cooks, her cooking is great!
3. Looks like another day of good weather.
*The CSA does have a swap box - when you go to pick up yours, you can put stuff you don't want in the swap box, and take stuff you do want. That is handy if you happen to have 2 bunches of something at home and if there are 2 more of the same thing in your box.
The weekend is almost here! Just one half day at work, and then let the weekend begin. Here are my plans:
- Alaska in town on Friday! I'll get to see him, with Eric
- Doris is off Saturday! We're going to do a food rescue at the food pantry, I'll do a shift at the Dems' table at the farmers' market, and we're going to go to the delicious restaurant Vegan Plate
- And we'll see Wonder Woman this weekend, finally
- And hopefully do more cooking of the abundance of veggies we have from the CSA
- We'll also watch the last 2 eps of OITNB
For whatever reason, feeling just a bit blah today. (The election result in Georgia, and the insanity on the health care bill in the Senate are not helping) - so it's time to do some gratitude
1. I have an excellent job
2. My spouse is awesome
3. My good health
Not the most interesting list for today but I do take it for granted
You know, I'm sad about it but I think my brain is finally done with excessive fan-girling once and for all.
When I was a teenager, I used to wonder 'Will I still get obsessed with stuff (TV shows, bands, movies.....we didn't use the word 'fandoms' back then) when I'm older?' But I kept on fan-girling out through my 20's and 30's.
But it's been a good 3 years since I've been really obsessed with a fandom. There are plenty of movies, TV shows, and drag queens that I love, but I haven't been completely preoccupied with any in years. I think I might be over and done with fan-girling for good.
Not sure how I feel about it. There are pros and cons.
1. Got a nice pedicure today. Peach color with some sparkles
2. Pam is definitely coming to our anniversary party in August!! She and Sean booked their tickets!
3. And 1 week from today, Alaska is back in town. He's hosting a viewing party at Roscoe's. He's done that before and I enjoy them. It'll be nice to see him.
1. The weekend is almost here! For me, it pretty much is here because tomorrow there's a 'fun' event downtown and we're told we can have the rest of the day off. My weekend plans are: staff the Dems' booth at the farmer's market early, meet Ann for tea and Scrabble, and then dinner with S and several other friends. Sunday we'll do something with Doris's family for father's day and squeeze in a lunch with mine.
2-3. Hey, the above should be all 3 things. So I'll just add in being grateful for friends and family and for my health.
My rating system:
10 – life-changing, an all-time favorite
5 - average for what I read
1 – terrible; why did I finish it?
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen – I hate to quote from the back cover, but I like its summary. It tells us that 44 writers, dancers, actors, and artists contribute essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations about everything from body positivity to romance to gender identity to intersectionality to the greatest girl friendships in fiction. My own thoughts: the above is an excellent summary. (Sidebar: why is Word flagging ‘intersectionality’ as a typo?? Get woke, Word!) Sure, the tone of this anthology was rather fun and breezy, but what’s wrong with that? I’m all in favor of the editor and writers bringing feminism to a broader audience. I can’t say I learned a ton of new stuff but I can say I enjoyed the book and found it refreshing. Grade: 7
I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillian – I listened to this book, by the bestselling author of “Waiting to Exhale”, on audio. The protagonist, Georgia, is 50-something and her life is just fine – she has a successful optometry practice, two divorces, two adult daughters who are well, and friends. But she’s bored too and searching for meaning. She gets the idea to reconnect with her ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends, and also to sell her practice, sell her house, and maybe travel by train across the US and Canada. I like the set-up, but plot-wise the book really dragged. Dialog was the biggest problem though because each character sounds the same. Georgia has a mother, 2 BFFs, and 2 daughters – and they all speak in a witty, acerbic-but-caring, “sassy” manner. You could pull dozens of pieces of dialog from this book and have no clue which character spoke which lines. And it actually gets tiresome, like ‘no more sarcastic banter, please!’ Compounding the problem, the exes who Georgia meets up with also all sound the same and like they’ve all somehow recently done an amazing amount of self-reflection. Wanted to love the book but it was dull. Grade: 3
Victoria the Queen by Julia Baird – A very detailed biography of England’s longest-serving monarch. Minus the pages of detailed notes, the book is 500 pages long. It’s pretty good. The author gives us an idea of who Queen Victoria really was, what she was like, and her impact. Baird also never shies away from controversy. The parts I enjoyed the most were Victoria’s private life: her relationship with her husband (it seems they were very much in love), her 9 kids, and her late in life friendship-that-likely-was-more with a Scottish man. Grade: 5
The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman – A series of essays by the trans writer. The essays are fairly insightful, sometimes funny or witty, once or a twice a bit too twee. But overall it’s a strong collection if you want to learn more about life for a trans/queer man. Grade: 6
Turning Japanese by Marinaomi – This is either a graphic novel or graphic memoir (the cover of the book says one thing, the spine another). The protagonist is part Japanese, she lives in San Jose, she and her boyfriend visit Japan and struggle a bit with a culture clash and each other. It was nice as a peek into someone else’s life but I’ll likely forget about it in a few months. Grade: 4
1. The weigh-in that I worried about on Friday was fine
2. Okay, the weather is way too hot for me, so I need to get back to some basics. Like being grateful for a weekend where Doris isn't working.
3. And in less than an hour, we're heading out to see Eric and go to an LGBT themed comedy thing.
1. The weekend is here! Our plans are: Saturday nothing much other than going out to dinner. Sunday is monthly date night which will be an LGBT-themed comedy show and dinner with Eric. Oh, and tomorrow I have that interview with the woman from the local newspaper about Pride month and my leadership of the LGBTQ committee.
Ann, if you're reading this, we should try to schedule another double date night, don't you think?
2. I hate to be so focused on TV, but a new episode of Drag Race tonight and new season of OITNB! Only 1 episode a day of OITNB for me. (And why are there only 13 eps, that feels so short??)
3. I don't look forward to my weekly weigh-in tomorrow. I don't think I exercised as much as I usually do and am also thinking I blew it food-wise. But regardless of what I get on the scale, I looked at myself in my underwear this morning and thought I looked pretty good. Ish.
1. I had a work trip and all went well. Almost 8 hours of driving between yesterday and today, so am just thankful that went well. (I hate sharing the road with so many trucks and SUVs).
2. And I got an awesome present! At work, we partner with an entity called the Career Online High School. All the folks who I work with there contributed 'little' items to a gift box for me (cooking stuff, bath salts, a book, etc). One of them was there at the event today and presented it to me beforehand. So awesome!!
3. My neck is feeling pretty stiff and one of my legs was pretty sore during the driving, but the leg feels better now (and the neck is manageable).
Oh, and spoiler alert for anyone watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmit, but I am happy that S3 ended with the possibility of Titus and Mikey getting back together).