Another unscheduled 2 week break! Fun! Turns out when things are hectic at work, even if they’re less hectic after work, all I want to do is…not more work! And also watch Couples Therapy on Showtime! I really don’t understand my compulsion to marathon this show, as I generally like my TV to be highly scripted and also it’s very stressful to watch! But it was also impossible to stop watching, so here we are! Please watch it and tell me everything/yell with me about how BAD one particular person on the show is.
Also I know it’s not Wednesday but I really wanted to boost a fundraising effort whose last day is TODAY. It’s in the last book, which had to be last because I wanted it to be the preview image and that’s literally the only way I know how to do it on this damned site!
Fleishman is in Trouble – Taffy Brodessor-Akner
Starting off with the “literary pool read” of the summer!! Brodessor-Akner, known widely for her insightful profiles, has written a book about (among many other things) divorce, middle-age, wealth, New York, parenting, dating, and ambition. I do not have experience with very many of those things! And yet! Once I heard a [non-spoiler] excerpt read on an episode of The Cut On Tuesdays I had to read it, and while I was reading it I was antsy during every break because I needed to get back to it.
The premise is that Toby Fleishman’s ex-wife disappears, but from there it’s like a russian doll of books!! It just somehow keeps expanding inward, with tiny but wrenching plot twists and characters you want to both want to succeed and also want to sit them down for a Serious Talk About Their Choices. Despite the sound of the premise, it’s really not a thriller — is there a genre for “emotional suspense”?? That would be this book, and soon to be miniseries!
I haven’t read a memoir in awhile, which means Mock’s memoir got to the top of my library stack at the exact right time! Some of you may know of Mock from her activism and/or television work [most recently she wrote, directed, and produced on Pose, which I’ve heard excellent things about and plan to watch soon], and if you read this book [or just listen to my opinion on it, or both, whatever] you’ll find that she’s also a fantastic memoirist.
The book covers roughly the first 20 years of Mock’s life, growing up in Hawaii, Oakland, and Dallas with a growing certainty that her gender identity did not match what she was assigned at birth. Her writing is gorgeous, with lovely imagery and incredible generosity for everyone in her story. Whenever she pulls back to explain something [like the process of starting hormone replacements or the devastating numbers on trans homelessness], she writes with clarity to a beginner level without watering down her own nuanced perspective. I’m particularly excited to read her second book Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me.
P.S. if you’re looking for a good cause to donate to, consider Trans Lifeline!
[tw: attempted suicide, childhood sexual abuse]
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkein
So I’ve been on a bit of a Tolkein break since finishing Two Towers in *checks notes* last October. I didn’t feel quite ready to dive into Return of the King, so here we are, the LOTR: Kids Edition, or something like that. What I’ve heard amongst LOTR fans is that feelings on The Hobbit are deeply divided; some like it more than the trilogy, some deeply dislike it, some find it amusing but barely canonical, none find it worthy of three 2+ hour movies that’s for sure.
As for myself, I mildly enjoyed myself! It’s a much faster read than any of the trilogy, and I feel like maybe fewer songs? As with Two Towers, I continued to be deeply delighted whenever Gollum was around and honestly I do think he should have won that riddle game. Bilbo cheated multiple times and that’s my final word on that.
A Duke By Default – Alyssa Cole
The second in Cole’s ‘Reluctant Royals’ series, this book follows Portia (best friend to Ledi in A Princess in Theory) to Scotland for an internship at an armory. She’s doing her best to set herself on “Operation New Portia,” determined to leave partying, drinking, and — inconveniently for a romance novel — sex behind for the time being as she attempts to prove herself to her parents and herself. Inconveniently for her, the owner of the armory is….alluring. Inconveniently for him, he’s about to learn a whole lot about himself.
This has got to be the literal SLOWEST BURN I have ever encountered in a romance novel. But it was for real and understandable narrative reasons, which were done super thoughtfully. There’s also a lot that Portia’s grappling with emotionally, which Cole handles with such care and nuance. Also, she has a great sense of humor and skillfully reveals each character’s horniness in truly delightful ways.
Millenneagram – Hannah Paasch
You know in Mary Poppins when Mary Poppins is unpacking her carpetbag for the Banks children, and she pulls that plant out of her bag and says “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”? [I guess John Keats said it first but whatever who cares.] That’s how I feel about this book, both the inside and out.
Disclaimer: Hannah is a friend, so I was extremely well-disposed to like this book before even starting it, but I can promise you that within the introduction alone you’ll be similarly well-disposed! It was Hannah’s work that got me invested in the Enneagram in the first place, translating an ancient system of processing one’s experiences and motivations into a graspable understanding of why I react the way I do to things that happen today.
It’s great for any pre-existing level of Enneagram knowledge, whether that’s none or “I keep Riso and Hudson on my bedside table.” Also! Hannah has a Millenneagram podcast! Which is nearly funded for a second season!! If you’re interested in helping to keep this thing going, check out the Patreon, and if you’re on Twitter you might want to check out the *ahem* inspired fundraising campaign going on there.
Okay bye! See you next week, maybe/hopefully!