books and reading · pop culture

November 2017 Recap

I spent a lot of November writing for NaNoWriMo (and finished by the skin of my teeth), which meant I didn’t read as much as I would have liked, and I stopped blogging almost completely. But here’s how the month shook out:

Books:

Total: 32
Picture Books: 22
Middle Grade: 3
YA: 2
Adult: 5
Fiction: 32
Non-Fiction: 0
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 2927

Favorite Reads in November:
33876540Bonfire by Krysten Ritter:
Abby left her tiny hometown in Indiana and never looked back. But now she’s an environmental lawyer in Chicago, and her team has been sent back to her hometown to investigate a company that might be leaching chemicals into the water. She has to confront the demons of her past as she digs deeper into a conspiracy that’s more far-reaching than she ever imagined.

I devoured this twisty thriller in a couple of days. Ritter’s debut novel is compelling, smart, and super well-written. I was blown away by this one, and it’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Viewing

thor_ragnarok-115636540-large

Total Movies: 4
New: 4
Re-Watch: 0

Favorite Movies in November: Thor: Ragnarok 

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

Somehow I’ve ended up deep into a rewatch of Grey’s Anatomy, which has taken over my life. I’m into season 6, and I don’t even know how it’s happened.

We’re onto the last month of the year! I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more movies and books before revamping my goals for the new year.

 

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books and reading · pop culture

October 2017 Recap

I can’t believe October is over and we’re into November. I’m sad that my favorite month of the year has come to a close. Here’s how October shook out:

Books:

Total: 34
Picture Books: 25
Middle Grade: 2
YA: 3
Adult: 4
Fiction: 34
Non-Fiction: 0
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 3079

Favorite Reads in October: 

31931941Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: I just loved this sweet story about a weird girl and a weird boy who meet and form a friendship. I loved the exploration of the online world merging with the real world, and I thought that Zappia did a nice job of blending two very different stories together. I think this is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare: A super fun regency33259027 romance featuring two strong characters and genuinely scorching chemistry. This wasn’t my first Dare novel, and it won’t be my last one, either. The first in a new series, this is definitely one to check out, even if you’re not a regular reader of romance.

 

Viewing

Total Movies: 2
New: 2
Re-Watch: 0

Favorite Movies in October: 

None. I watched 47 Meters Down and Kong: Skull Island, and both were DUMB.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’ve been re-watching Sex and the City, and I’m up to season 4. The show is still funny in many ways, and I do love the female friendships that center the series, but there are things about it that have not aged well at all. It’s really transphobic, and it’s still maybe the whitest thing on television?

We’re still watching The Office, and we’re in season 6, which apart from Jim and Pam’s wedding, is a pretty unremarkable season. It’s starting to be a slog, but I think we’re both determined to finish it.

 

I’m hoping to get a few more movies in this next month (I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s no way I’ll meet my year-end goal), and read some more titles on best of lists.

 

pop culture

Internet Things I’m Thinking About This Week

My Life Has Been Marked by Sexual Harassment: Just Like All Women (The Guardian)

A short, powerful piece about how sexual harassment permeates every part of our culture:

Actually, though, life is good. I work on a magazine where men think feminism is talking to you for hours about problems with their sperm count. I have a flat and a baby, and then I get a job on a newspaper. Now surely I am in the safety of a middle-class world where women are taken seriously. However, there is inevitably one guy who touches up women as they bend over the photocopier.

I start writing about some of the big sexual harassment cases, such as Anita Hill. It’s a concern. The editor calls us all together. “Dreadful business, this sexual harassment,” he says. “I am glad it doesn’t happen here.”

Rebecca Solnit on Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, and Blaming the Acts of Men on Women (LitHub)

This should be required reading:

Remember that every time a man commits a violent act it only takes one or two steps to figure out how it’s a woman’s fault, and that these dance steps are widely known and practiced and quite a bit of fun. There are things men do that are the fault of women who are too sexy, and other things men do that are the fault of women who are not sexy enough, but women only come in those two flavors: not enough, too much, and it is the fate of heterosexual men to endure this affliction. Wives are responsible for their husbands, especially if their husbands are supremely powerful and terrifying figures leading double lives and accountable to no one. But women are now also in the workforce, where they have so many opportunities to be responsible for other men as well.

 

The YA Dystopia Boom is Over. It’s Been Replaced by Stories of Teen Suicide (Vox)

A very interesting piece that attempts to explain the rise and fall (and rise?) of YA dystopias, and the current (?) spate of books and movies about teen suicides. It’s definitely a piece for people who like to read about the underlying ideas surrounding pop culture phenomenons, but I liked it a lot:

If pop culture is America’s subconscious, then pop culture that’s aimed at teens is the purest distillation of that subconscious. Pop culture aimed at teens is simultaneously didactic and escapist:We want to pass good moral lessons to our youth, but we alsooften equate teen with trashy, and use the media we ostensibly create for teens as a way for adults to escape the pressures of post-teen life. On any given cultural issue, a look at the pop culture we make for teens will tell you both how we as a society think we should feel about the world and how we actually feel about the world.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?

books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Thinking About This Week

These are the articles that caught my attention this week:

From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell their Stories (The New Yorker)

This is a really long piece, but I read the entire thing in one sitting, unable to take my eyes away from the horrors the piece reports. It’s absolutely upsetting, and absolutely worth your time. If you read one piece this week, make it this one about the women who are coming forward about the sexual harassment, assault, and rapes they experienced at the hands of Harvey Weinstein:

Weinstein’s use of such settlements was reported by the Times and confirmed to me by numerous sources. A former employee with firsthand knowledge of two settlement negotiations that took place in London in the nineteen-nineties recalled, “It felt like David versus Goliath . . . the guy with all the money and the power flexing his muscle and quashing the allegations and getting rid of them.”

Here’s How Not to Critique Romance Novels (Jezebel)

I’ve been reading a lot of romance lately in an attempt to expand my reading horizons, and this piece at Jezebel about a very misguided piece in the NYT about the genre is super great:

Gottlieb writes in the tone of affable authoritative critic willing to entertain an unexpected interest, but to somebody who reads a lot in the genre, he comes off as a dilettante, failing to serve both romance fans who might be looking for an informed review of new titles and non-readers interested in educating themselves about a phenomenon with which they’re unfamiliar.

How Essential Oils Became The Cure for Our Age of Anxiety (The New Yorker)

I should be clear: I think essential oils are at best an annoying white-lady-wellness thing and at worst part of a very dangerous anti-science cult, but this article about how they’ve permeated the mainstream is very very good:

Multilevel-marketing companies are structured in such a way that a large base of distributors generally spend more than they make, while a small number on top reap most of the benefits. It is often expensive to invest in an initial stock of products, as well as to make required minimum monthly purchases—around a hundred dollars for Young Living members who want to receive a commission check. According to a public income statement, more than ninety-four per cent of Young Living’s two million active members made less than a dollar in 2016, while less than one-tenth of one per cent—that is, about a thousand Royal Crown Diamonds—earned more than a million dollars.

books and reading · pop culture

Internet Things I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the articles that I stumbled across this week:

What are We to do with Cinematic Monuments to the Confederacy? (Vulture)

A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece about the insidiousness of white supremacy and how Gone with the Wind is the best example of how pervasive it is:

Nestled in its visual splendor is a slippery sort of racism that is surprising for what it says, meta-textually, about the ways America has yet to reckon with its second original sin. More than any American film about the Civil War, Gone With the Wind reveals the cunning skill with which white supremacy creates its own myths.

Attacked by Rotten Tomatoes (NYT)

This article actually made me laugh when it quotes Brett Ratner right off the bat about how the website Rotten Tomatoes is to blame for the declining sales and attendance at movie theaters. The rest of the piece takes a really close look at the business of the website and how they create the algorithms of what becomes “fresh” or “rotten”, as well as providing insight into the employees of the website. It’s really interesting, and this part made me laugh, too:

Kersplat: Paramount’s “Baywatch” bombed after arriving to a Tomatometer score of 19, the percentage of reviews the movie received that the site considered positive (36 out of 191). Doug Creutz, a media analyst at Cowen and Company, wrote of the film in a research note, “Our high expectations appear to have been crushed by a 19 Rotten Tomatoes score.”

Like, brah, I saw that movie, and it was fucking terrible. Rotten Tomatoes didn’t make your movie bomb. I promise.

15 Percent? 20 Percent? It Doesn’t Matter Because Tipping Culture is Fundamentally Broken (Mel Magazine)

Minneapolis is starting to see some restaurants discuss doing away with tipping as we also move towards a $15 minimum wage, so this well-written piece about how tipping culture is fundamentally broken is a really interesting insider’s perspective on what’s happening:

This leaves the burden of paying for the expertise and performance of servers and bartenders on the dining public. Or put even more simply: “The restaurant owner has made it the customer’s responsibility to pay its employees,” says Sharon Block, executive director of the The Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.

Which, when you think about it, is fucked up. Shouldn’t the people whose business I’m helping be successful be responsible for paying me? Not to mention, how can I be rewarded for a stellar job performance if my wages come from people culturally obligated to leave extra money on the table? And what happens when it’s a slow day?

Teaching White Students Taught Me the Difference Between Power and Privilege (Buzzfeed)

A super powerful piece about privilege, power, and race:

…white colleagues routinely put their hands on my back and called me lucky. They meant that Southern black boys like me were more likely to end up incarcerated than working beside wonderful white faculty at so-called elite liberal arts colleges. I looked in the eyes of those colleagues and routinely shook my head. These colleagues were lucky, not simply because their students demanded less of them, nor because their identities were never threatened by security or armed police officers; they were lucky that they got to share professional space with poor young black professors who materially never invested in notions of academic excellence being a stand-in for innocence.

books and reading · pop culture

August 2017 Recap

This is how the month of August shaped up for me in terms of reading books and watching movies. And a lot of terrible TV.

Books:

Total: 35
Picture Books: 21
Middle Grade: 3
YA: 3
Adult: 8
Fiction: 30
Non-Fiction: 5
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 4254

Favorite Reads in August:

32940879Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed: I loved this dystopian tale about an island where the (increasingly inbred) population follows a religion based on ancestor worship and strange mating rituals. It’s dark and haunting and beautifully written. I couldn’t pt it down. It’s one of my favorite reads of the year.

Grit by Gillian French: This fantastic YA novel about a girl31706530 living with a reputation in rural Maine was gripping and gorgeous. It’s my favorite kind of YA: dark, a little gritty, and featuring an authentic teen voice. French is an author to watch, and this is one of my favorite YA novels of the year, for sure.

Viewing

Total Movies: 6
New: 5
Re-Watch: 1

Favorite Movies in August: 

landlineLandline: I really really liked this dramedy about a family each dealing with their own issues. Set in 1995, things change for youngest daughter Ali (Abby Quinn) when she realizes her father (John Turturro) is having an affair. Meanwhile, Ali’s older sister Dana (Jenny Slate) starts to question her long-term relationship with nice guy Ben (Jay Duplass). It’s a smart movie, full of genuinely funny and sad moments about family and love and sisters, and while director Gillian Robespierre’s first movie Obvious Child remains my favorite, I really loved watching this tighter, more controlled narrative.

Everything else I watched in August was mostly garbage, including Baywatch, Beatriz at Dinner, and The Dinner.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’m almost done with Dawson’s Creek, and I want it to be over so desperately. I also can’t not finish, so I’m stuck in a pain cycle of my own doing. Everyone on the show is simultaneously boring and also the worst. I forgot how boring the show is in general, but it’s especially true of the college years.

I finally convinced the boyf to watch The Office, so we’ve been tearing through that. We started with Season 2, because he’s particularly sensitive to super awkward humor, and he seems to really be enjoying it, which is fun for me because it’s still one of my absolute favorite series.

That’s it, really. I’m hoping to read more genre fiction in September, and try to squeeze in a few movies, too.

pop culture

Movie Trailers

I’m falling very far short of my goal of watching 100 movies that are new to me in 2017, but these are some trailers for upcoming movies I’m super interested in.

It (2017)

Look, I get that this one isn’t for everyone. A killer clown stalking children? It combines so many fears for so many people. I think it looks absolutely terrifying, but it made me want to pick up the novel again–I haven’t read it in at least 15 years. I’m going to have a hell of a time finding anyone to watch this with me, but I’m determined to see it.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

I loved this book as a kid, and I can’t wait to see this take on the book, featuring a stellar, diverse cast. I think it looks good, and early buzz isn’t bad, either.

Step (2017)

Upon watching (and crying) this trailer, I immediately emailed my mom and told her we needed to see this. It’s completely in our wheelhouse, and I can’t wait to watch this documentary about girls who dance in Baltimore. It looks so lovely and beautiful and heartbreaking.

What movies are you really looking forward to?