snow thank you; 10.16.19

Okay I know I know you didn’t deserve that pun but then again I didn’t deserve witnessing snow in mid-October, so! I mean, it didn’t stick, but honestly what the hell. 

Anyways, before I get into the books, I wanted to share some breaking news, which is that I went to see the movie Alien [1979] last night and, hot take: it’s a good movie! 10/10 recommend!


Lot – Bryan Washington

40749395

If you’re not sure if you like short stories but you do love narrative propelled by strong imagery you should definitely read this book. You should probably read this book anyway, as it’s an excellent debut story collection that tenderly celebrates the city of Houston (Washington’s home) while exploring the challenges of gentrification, natural disaster, and racism that the city struggles with. The stories alternate between the continuing narrative of one particular character and a variety of other characters (or, in a few incredibly skillful stories, the point of view of an entire pick up baseball team and neighborhood). These stories carry you along so smoothly that it’s extra-delightful when a particular image or turn of phrase stops you in your tracks. In an ideal world I would have taken either a little more time with this book or read it in one sitting; unfortunately I wasn’t able to do either, but at least that means I can verify it’s still great outside of those ~ideal circumstances~.

Lord Dashwood Missed Out – Tessa Dare

One bed! One bed! This book has one bed!!!

26115826

“One bed” is a trope beloved among readers of romance novels and watchers of rom-coms, and this short and sweet novella basically revolves around it. I read it in two quick sittings (I think it literally clocks in at about 100 pages) and would have read much more of it. Print romance novellas are a bit hard to come by, as a lot of the romance genre has shifted to e-reader exclusive, which I think is great in general for the world and annoying for me personally because they make my eyes hurt. So I was particularly delighted to find this quick jaunt by an author I’m already coming to adore, about a lady writer who finds herself thrown together with the man she wrote a fiery screed in response to his scorning. There are a lot of interstitials with characters from one of Dare’s other series, which I probably would have enjoyed more if I’d already read those books, but they were charming nonetheless.

Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over – Nell Painter

37774050

After a long and prestigious academic career as a historian, this memoir starts when Painter decides to follow a long-held passion and pursue art. She begins with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and continues into a graduate degree, grappling with her own internal tension between ‘academic’ and ‘artist,’ her simultaneous enthusiasm over growing technical skills and frustration with the many conflicting messages she gets about technique and meaning, and the ways in which her identity as a Black woman in her 60s frequently separates her both from her classmates and the artworld as a whole. I really really enjoyed it; the book is informative and soothing and funny and reflective about craft and the many joys and difficulties of being passionate about making art.

This is one of those books that has been on my ‘to read’ list for so long that I honestly don’t remember how it got there, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to read write now. I would imagine it might be even richer if you’re a person who knows anything about art (or better yet any sort of visual artistic skill yourself, which even the most cursory glance at this blog will tell you I don’t), but Painter excellently pitches it in a way that an engaged reader can easily understand (or look up) what they need to.


Okay that’s all for now! See you hopefully next week but more likely the week after that!

support millenneagram!!!; 9.30.19

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

41880602. sy475

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!

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much MoreJanet Mock

18144031

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

5907

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 DefaultAlyssa Cole

35564582

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

41180664. sx318

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!

busyness quotient and quality books; 9.18.19

Hello and thank you for bearing with me for my unscheduled break! The start of fall has upped my busyness quotient a bit, which leaves me less time both for the reading of books and for the enthusing about them, plus a great deal of my writing energies last week were going towards this month’s Pop Culture Pen Pals, which is pretty great.

Now, into the books!


The Governess Game – Tessa Dare

Image result for the governess game tessa dare

So I’m thinking, for the time being, I might eschew the “romance editions” and just talk about the romance novels I’ve been reading in the “normal” posts. When I started regularly reading romance novels, I had no idea how to talk about them in any sort of way, and I’m still figuring it out. Romancelandia is enormous and varied and I still feel like I’ve barely dipped a toe in, but my enthusiasm for it just continues to grow (as for the volume of my reading space that it occupies) so they’ll be here for now!

This one was a lot of fun! Tessa Dare is another cornerstone of the genre, and I understand why. The characters are well-developed in a relatively slim book, the banter is prime, and the heat between the protagonists was…enjoyable. Admittedly, the “reasons” they couldn’t be together felt stretched a bit thin the further into the book I got, but I really appreciated the balance Dare struck between the characters’ navigation of the power dynamic and also giving the readers the sexytimes they showed up for.

Hard As Ice – Raven Scott

Image result for hard as ice raven scott

Another romance novel, this one in a subcategory I was new to: thriller romance! The book revolves an art heist, a guarded art curator, and a guarded security expert. It was sufficiently steamy, and the leads had good chemistry, but the heist plot somehow simultaneously took up more of the plot than I wanted and was not built out enough to keep me interested in that part of the story. I’ll probably give some of her other books a try still; I really enjoyed some of the side characters that I could tell probably had their own books and there was a preview of one of them at the back of this one that intrigued me.

[tw: brief discussion of past sexual assault]


[tw: the next two books involve suicide and suicidal ideation]


The Wangs Vs. the World – Jade Chang

Image result for the wangs vs the world

A road trip book! A family drama! A rumination on a particular immigration narrative! There is a LOT in this book, the majority of which is set during the 2008 financial crisis. The formerly wealthy Wang family has just lost it all, and Charles, the patriarch who built their wealth from next to nothing, is insistent that if he hauls his wife and two of his children across the country to his eldest daughters’ home, they’ll all be able to go back to China to reclaim what’s theirs. The story is told from the perspective of everyone in the family, including at times the extremely old car. 

I enjoyed Chang’s writing a lot; she has a knack for lovely description and vivid characters. I did find a couple of the characters a bit tiresome, and at times their various plot threads didn’t seem to quite connect. The eldest daughter, Sana, is separated from the rest of the family for most of the book, and her story felt almost like its own separate book (that I would have gladly read! I really liked her narration and wanted more of it). That being said, the family dynamic was fantastic and I look forward to reading more of Chang’s work in the future.

Mostly Dead Things – Kristen Arnett

Image result for kristen arnett mostly dead things

You may already know of my adoration for Kristen Arnett, and if you’re at all tuned in to Book Twitter you’ll know that this is one of the buzziest books of Spring and Summer 2019, and for good reason!! Arnett has frequently described this book as being about taxidermy, Florida, family, and queerness, and oh boy is it ever. It’s also about loss and vulnerability and I know I already said it, but jesus christ the TAXIDERMY. [If you are quite squeamish, this…may not be the book for you. But it’s very very good and if you think there’s any chance you could push past it or let your eyes glaze over occasionally, I would recommend it.] The protagonist, Jessa-Lynn, is trying to keep her family and her family business from falling apart in the wake of her father’s recent suicide, and the less-recent but still deeply painful abandonment of her brother’s wife…who Jessa also happened to be in love with. I don’t even want to say more because if this book appeals to you at all you should GO. READ. IT. RIGHT. NOW. It wrecked me about eleven different ways.


Okay that’s all for me! Until I see you again…watch Derry Girls!

a goodbye to summer; 8.28.19

Has this summer been brutal for *checks notes* everyone? It seems like it has and personally I would like to file a complaint. I find myself welcoming the chill in the air, which normally is abhorrent to me, signaling as it does the soon to be relentless onslaught of Minnesota winter. I spent a great deal of the winter of 2018/2019 thinking “well this is the LAST one and soon I will be MOVING!” and that has not been the case, and so I lie on the floor, appreciating a fall-themed candle, feeling feelings about the finale of Jane the Virgin.

That got way more dramatic than I intended, so let’s just go ahead and jump into those books!


It’s Not Like It’s a Secret – Misa Sugiura

29073707. sy475

This sweet YA novel goes down easy and was a nice break from some of the more challenging stuff I’ve been reading lately. I read the majority of it on a quiet Saturday night with chocolate and the cat nearby and the experience was really lovely. Sana is navigating a new school, new friends, and frustrations with her parents, all while trying to figure out if the girl she has a crush on might just like her back. It’s a cute book and I enjoyed reading it, but by the end it mostly just felt ‘meh’ to me. Something about the plot just didn’t quite cohere smoothly and some of the “teen dialogue” felt a bit choppy.

Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty – Dorothy Roberts

229445

A while ago I mentioned that I wanted to read some books about reproductive justice that don’t center white women, and since the internet is a place ripe with book suggestions, I landed here and WOW FUCK IS IT EVER GOOD. Roberts provides an enormous amount of history on the many ways that the reproductive liberty of Black women has been targeted and attacked, from slavery to the eugenics movement to insidious racist policies and attitudes at work today. The book was published in 1997, so it obviously doesn’t come all the way up to today, but the context Roberts provides and framework she puts forward is invaluable. I think I said, “what in the FUCK” at least 7 or 8 times per chapter. The book is much more expansive than just how the modern “reproductive rights movement” frequently outright ignores the needs and activism of Black women [though it certainly goes into that]; it dives deep into the necessity of understanding the many ways that white supremacy and misogynoir have shaped the reproductive conversation and reproductive policies.

tw: sexual assault

The Last Thing He Wanted – Joan Didion

Image result for the last thing he wanted joan didion

I thought about starting this section with “Baby’s First Didion!” but that seemed too gross even for me. As a mature human adult speaking of herself would say: this is the first full work of Didion’s that I read, and I really liked it. Hot hot take: Joan Didion is a good writer! Honestly I did not have a great grasp on the actual plot for a lot of the book — it’s about a scammy, shady deal that goes wrong and has a lot to do with political scandals of the 80s which I do not happen to be well-versed in. According to the podcast Little Gold Men, I was not alone in my confusion, but it didn’t really matter to me. The sentences were gorgeous and I was swept away by the tone. Apparently it’s becoming a Netflix movie soon [starring Anne Hathaway!!!], but there’s no trailer yet, so instead I’ll direct you to one of Daniel Ortberg’s excellent Joan Didion/Anna Wintour impressions.


Okay bye for now! I hope your Labor Day has as little labor in it as possible, and if labor is inevitable I hope it’s fulfilling or at least passes quickly!

a mini romance edition; 8.21.19

I no longer know how to start things without sounding like I’m opening an email, so “Hi all,” etc.

I’m in the middle of a lot of different things right now, so I decided to just talk about 2 romance novels I’ve recently finished, both of which I have some level of frustration with (and not the good kind), so….buckle in I guess. Both are written by goddesses of Romancelandia, which I still feel like I’ve barely tipped my toes in, so if you’re a romance aficionado please bear with me!


Devil in Spring – Lisa Kleypas

Image result for devil in spring

Though this is only the second Kleypas book I’ve read, she has a special place in my heart, as Married by Morning was one of the first I read when I started realllllly getting into the genre. Though I feel skeptical about how many upperclass society young ladies in the Regency period (or….ever?) were named Pandora, I had a lot of fun with this book. The whimsically named heroine has set herself firmly against marriage, as she knows it will interfere with her entrepreneurial ambitions. Unfortunately, she’s caught in a compromising misunderstanding with Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, who just so happens to be an eligible bachelor with a reputation for being a rake (I don’t think I’ve met a single non-rake hero in these books and you know what I am COOL WITH IT.)

There’s a reasonable amount of push-pull between them, helped along by some intense chemistry, but [spoiler] when they do get married about halfway through the book, I felt a bit let down by the way the conflict took a SHARP left turn into action and intrigue. Pandora’s reasoning for not getting married was thoroughly thought-out, and she emphasized that even marrying a really really nice, supportive guy was going to hold her back as a Regency woman in ways that being single wouldn’t, and the second half of the book didn’t really deal with that. All in all though, a fun time was had by me, and that’s what really counts.

The Duke and I – Julia Quinn

Image result for the duke and i julia quinn

Okay so I was really really prepared to love this book. I EXPECTED to love this book. I bumped it up to the top of my list because it’s the first in Quinn’s 8-part “Bridgerton Series,” which is coming to Netflix as an 8-part adaptation, produced by Shonda Rhimes! Which is very exciting! And I really liked…..a lot of it. But something happens in the last third that threw me so off that I have a sour taste in my mouth about the whole thing.

Trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault ahead.

This is about the 4th Bridgerton child, the eldest girl, Daphne, who’s been having a spot of trouble getting one of her many pleasant and eligible male acquaintances to see her as marriage material. She thinks it’s some combination of her personality (which seems fine to me, but whatever) and her three large brothers (she actually has four brothers, a fact which she mentions, I swear to god, two or three times a chapter, but the fourth is only 11 so he’s not a hurdle here). Enter Duke Simon Hastings, whose stormy relationship with his recently-deceased father has caused him to swear off marriage and children forever, but who is nevertheless besieged by the mothers of the many eligible young women of the ton, including Daphne’s mother. Daphne and Simon decide to work together and pretend to be in a relationship, which of course becomes a relationship and things for the most part work themselves out from there. 

Though the book was enjoyable, I was already a little uneasy about an aspect of the book that seemed to dance on the edge (and perhaps over the edge) of ableism. NOW I get that most people’s attitudes about disabilities in the Regency era were pretty fucking bad, but a lot of people’s attitudes about disabilities TODAY are also pretty fucking bad and if the [able-bodied] author wants to use that card, they should be extremely clear about where their attitudes differ from the time period they’re writing about. 

AND ALSO…….so as I mentioned at the top of this section, there’s an instance in this book that just about made the whole thing fall apart for me. As an attempt to get pregnant despite Simon’s efforts, Daphne takes advantage of him when he’s drunk and half-asleep, which is just! so! not!! okay!!!!! The whole scene I was screaming “NO! WHAT??? NO!!!!” And I mean….later on they address what a “breach of trust” it was, but! it was assault!!! I really really hope the Netflix series goes in a different direction because holy hell. Nope.

Despite all of this…….I probably will read the other books in the series, or at least one more. I’m curious to see how the rest of the family fares, and I’m curious to see how the Netflix adaptation handles this stuff. But like….hopefully in the future I can tell you to go ahead and skip this one and start with book 2 in the series.


Whew okay that went on for way longer than I thought it would and I’m just going to leave it here on that double entendre. Bye!

dedicated, the blog post; 8.14.19

Whoo hi this is probably going to be a short one because for five hours today I solidly forgot about this and also there’s another writing project I really need to stop procrastinating on and this is basically the last legitimate thing I have to do before my putzing around starts to get really out of line. I’ve listened to the entirety of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated an innumerable amount of times and it has not made me more productive but it HAS filled me with a lot of general crush-like feelings with no one to direct them towards, so if one of you is able to introduce me to Jake Gyllenhaal today would be perfect, thanks. [I recently watched Love and Other Drugs for the first time and spent most of it horny-cackling.]


Three Wishes – Liane Moriarty

31706542. sy475

Appropriately, this is the third Liane Moriarty book I’ve read, following Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret, although it’s the first one published. Unlike most of Moriarty’s works, Three Wishes isn’t a mystery, but it does give us a rather dramatic start and then back up to see ~how we got here~ [like Big Little Lies]. It’s a family drama about a group of triplets — Cat, Lyn, and Gemma — loosely following a year in their life, with lots of backstory. They deal with infidelity, parenting, anxiety, love, etc. I found it less compelling than the other two of Moriarty’s that I’ve read, but I did enjoy it and will continue to read her, hopefully by a pool and in anticipation of the Reese Witherspoon/Nicole Kidman produced adaptations of Truly Madly Guilty and Nine Perfect Strangers, because apparently those ladies cannot get enough!! [jfc when I was searching for the book cover I found out that THIS TOO HAS BEEN OPTIONED because we are living in the ~golden age of TV~]

tw: depictions of emotional abuse

How To Date Men When You Hate Men – Blythe Roberson

Image result for how to date men when you hate men

People have had mixed reactions to this book, but I enjoyed it a lot! This is at least partially due to having been warned that it’s less a ~hard hitting analysis~ and more odd and nihilistic jokes about how shitty it is to try to date within the patriarchy, but that turned out to be exactly what I needed. Roberson writes about her own experiences, as well as the structural power imbalances and effed up cultural dating expectations we have about dating, specifically about women who date men.

Roberson is pretty clear that the book is mostly aimed at and centered around her own demographic (cishet, middle class, able-bodied, 20/30-something white women), but is clear that this is largely due to not feeling qualified to meaningfully analyze other types of experiences, and she does her best to use inclusive language and point out her own privilege whenever possible. Considering the tone of the book, I felt better about this than I would have if her aim was to be more critically thorough. A lot of the jokes rest on making fun of herself, and I found myself frequently reading them aloud to the friends I was spending the weekend with.


That’s all for this week! If you haven’t already read it, this month’s Pop Culture Pen Pals came out on Thursday, is all about Veronica Mars, and, if I’m being honest, is very very good. As Hannah’s aptly said, “Tinyletter is out for blood,” so if you’re subscribed and haven’t seen it in your inbox check your promotions or even (horrified gasp) your spam folder.

collections and injustices; 8.7.19

Hi all. Today starts with some sad news, that you may already know if you’re on social media. Earlier this week literary legend Toni Morrison passed away. So many people are beautifully expressing their love for her and the power of her impact, but Stacey Abrams’ tribute is one of my favorites:

Onward, to books! All three of these books were exactly what I needed after making my way through Black Leopard, Red Wolf, not because they were “easy reading” — they absolutely weren’t — but two of them are essay collections and one is a short story collection, and the packaging of shorter sections that all contributed to a whole was a relief. Also, they all grapple with questions of justice, injustice, violence, and healing.


Dead Girls: Surviving An American Obsession – Alice Bolin

Image result for dead girls alice bolin

I first heard of Alice Bolin through an essay she wrote for what I could have sworn was Literary Hub, but I can’t find it anymore. Anyway, the piece was about the “Dead Girl Show,” which is also the focus of the first essay in this book, and I knew immediately after reading the essay I’d have to read the book, especially as I started to rewatch Veronica Mars. [p.s. the newest Pop Culture Pen Pals comes out soon and is allll Marshmallow content!]

As it turns out, the book covers much more ground than the Dead Girl Show, though the analysis she applies and draws in that section come up again and again. She writes about a culture that simultaneously panicks over and fetishizes violence against women, particularly white, cishet, thin, able-bodied, middle-to-upperclass women [or “girls,” as they’re more frequently thought of]. Bolin examines the culture and art that either endorses or pushes back against this violence, sometimes at the same time. 

A note: during the final chapter Bolin writes extensively about the work of Eileen Myles, a writer who for the last several years has used they/them pronouns. Dead Girls came out June 2018, but uses she/her pronouns when talking about Myles and their work. It’s possible that Bolin was unaware at the time of Myles’ pronouns [though that seems odd for someone so familiar with them]. It’s also possible that somewhere in the publishing process someone other than Bolin said no. Either way, I was disappointed.

[tw: sexual assault, suicide]

Friday Black – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Image result for friday black book

It has been A WHILE since I read a short story collection and this was a wonderful one to break the dry spell with! [I suppose Joy Luck Club is technically short stories, but it reads as such a novel/short stories hybrid that the structure of this felt super different.]

The collection grabs you in the very first story and does not let go. These are all, or almost all, speculative fiction, but in a very close to home way. Nearly all of them seem to ask, “what if right now, but with the tiniest tweak?” or “what if right now, but if something very particular was possible?” or “what if right now, AND this particular thing happened?” Adjei-Brenyah writes with particular poignance about the violence of racism and oppressive demands of capitalism, and the ways those forces intersect to make the world especially difficult and dangerous for Black people.

One of the stories from the book is featured at Guernica and you should definitely read it and then read the whole book. This story definitely skews closer to the sci-fi side of speculative fiction, so if that genre’s not usually your jam you should know that his stories cross an entire spectrum, and one of the joys of reading them is figuring out the parameters of each one.

The Reckonings – Lacy M. Johnson

Image result for the reckonings lacy johnson

A couple months ago I read Johnson’s first book, The Other Side, a memoir of surviving being kidnapped and raped by, as she often describes him, “a man I used to live with.” Her follow-up, she explains, was formed in response to the question she often gets at speaking events, or online, or in conversation: “what do you want to happen to the man who did this to you?”

Throughout the rest of the essays, Johnson examines and works through questions of justice and injustice through lens after lens. There’s an essay on the fear of expected violence that comes with being a woman in the world, an essay on encroaching environmental disaster, gun violence, capital punishment, and one in which she works to resist her own whiteness and become a better ally and accomplice in the fight for anti-racism. 

I truly didn’t expect to be soothed by these essays? They’re full of ways in which the world is wrong and sad, but they have the effect of handing you a cup of tea or coffee and saying, “it’s okay and right to feel sad and angry and hopeless about these things, and also here are some ways to think about them that may help you gather your strength to push back against them.” 

[tw: sexual assault]


I’m going to close out with a couple of GoFundMe causes that are important to me. 

The first one is personal; some of you know that in early May my aunt had a very serious and unexpected stroke. Thankfully, she’s alive and recovering incredibly well, but to continue the recovery progress long-term is going to take time and many health expenses insurance won’t cover, and her page is here

[just gonna take a breath here again to stew about how EFFED health care in this country is and how it really, truly doesn’t have to be like this]

The second one is on behalf of my Twitter pal Shannon Dingle. A few weeks ago her husband Lee was tragically killed in a freak accident. In the midst of intense grief, Shannon is also having to work on figuring out how her and her six kiddos are going to financially hold things together and you can support them here.