The Validity of eBooks

“The ebook is a stupid product: no creativity, no enhancement,” says the Hachette Group CEO

Allow me to scream about this ebooks are stupid thing for a bit, thanks.

I work in a library so I am literally surrounded by books for a good majority of my waking hours. In my day to day life I can easily pick up physical books for free to read. I wouldn’t have to go out of my way. Having access to physical books is part of my life.

Why am I telling you this?

Here is a fun fact: I read more digital ebooks than print. If I were to estimate, it would be upwards of 90% of my reading is done via a screen. I say as I type this up on a screen and read that article on a screen and have another browser with a book I was reading up on my screen. While yes, many of us can say that, when a lot of reading is online. I say that with reading upwards of 100 books last year. Most of them were digital.

There are a few reasons I read a lot digitally, but honestly the main one is ease of access. I always have my phone with me. Let’s be honest, I don’t want to carry the latest doorstopper fantasy novel, however, if it is right there on my phone I can easily read it when I am out and about, or just sitting on the couch and don’t want 20 pounds of paper sitting on me. I have cats for that. Doorstopper fantasy novels really impede the cat cuddling. Phones do not. I am saying this as a person who has the capability to pick up that book and turn those pages.

What if you can’t do that? Ebooks make content, yes, the exact same text as physical books, available for a wider range of people. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s amazing!

For a brief moment, consider garlic. Before it can be used garlic needs all of that outside paper peeled off and then the cloves themselves to be chopped up. First you have to take apart the head of garlic. You need the dexterity and the strength to take them apart. Now imagine if your hands ache with every movement. Then you need to be able to do the delicate work of taking off the thin sheets of papery membrane that hide the meaty garlic from you. Now imagine if your hands shake with every movement. Now you have to mince the clove. Imagine you cannot grip a knife without it slipping from your hands.

Now imagine someone started selling garlic paste in a easy squeeze tube.

Oh yes, garlic is back on the menu. (As a human person who injures her hands on a regular basis, I love garlic paste.)

Ebooks are garlic paste.

Does reading give you eye strain? Switch the background from light to dark. It’s easier to read, and if I recall anything from my Education degree, a light font on a dark background can help some people with dyslexia and learning difficulties.

Speaking of dyslexia, you can swap out fonts. Generally, sans serif fonts are easier to read on screens than serif fonts, swap it out. Many eBook providers will also give a font option like OpenDyslexia ( https://opendyslexic.org/ ) providing even more people with access to information.

Are you hypersensitive to textures and smells? Bam! Digital books don’t have bothersome ink and paper.

Do you struggle with mobility? Downloadable content without having to struggle out of your house is a life saver. I’ll give a little library plug here with a lot of local libraries have access to various digital libraries. Overdrive ( https://www.overdrive.com/ ) is a great resource for  looking into that.  

If you have gotten this far and think: None of these situations apply to me. I would like you to consider two things. Thing one: empathy. Oh, that isn’t enough. Ok, let’s move on to thing two: being able bodied is a temporary state.

We age. We get injured. We become ill. It’s easy in the moment to think oh I love the smell and feel of pages beneath my fingertips. Until it becomes hard to turn that page.

 

As an aside: If you want to support writers and have no money, please please please check your library for a digital library before resorting to downloading a free copy from somewhere… questionable. If you can’t find what you are looking for, suggest it! Seriously. We want to know how to best provide for our community!

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100 Books, 100 Quotations – 2017 -Addendum

I ended up with 15 extra books this year! Here are the bonus 15 in addition to the first 100 in the last post. Now onto 100 more books for this year!

  1. Room by Emma Donoghue — “God’s yellow face isn’t coming in today, Ma says he’s having trouble squeezing through the snow.”
  2. The Emotionary: A Dictionary of Words That Don’t Exist for Feelings That Do by Eden Sher, Julia Wertz — “emote + spiral / Emotal / v. to feel, think and judge oneself in rapid succession, ultimately causing immobility”
  3. She, Myself, and I by Emma Young — “Right now, she is in a coma. Her body is intact, but her brain is dead. I have essentially the opposite problem. We’re two halves of a person.”
  4. The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag — “I think we have much to learn from each other.”
  5. Swords, Sorcery, and Sundry by Mina MacLeod – “He once knew an assassin who would give speeches in such situations, or worse, puns.”
  6. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt — “I can’t believe it. My experiences with endless frustrations and having to work on things for so long has actually paid off.”
  7. Catmas Carols by Laurie Loughlin and Gemma Correl — (to the tune of We Three Kings of Orient Are Chorus) “Home is heaven. Home is good./ Home is where we get our food./ Why go out for christmas parties? / Frankly we’re not in the mood.”
  8. The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George — “The KINGDOM OF WEIRDNESS will be a paradise of freedom on earth in which joy and happiness and clean forests and other unbesmirched kinds of nature reign and now one judges anyone else and eventually everyone will see how VASTLY SUPERIOR Weirdness is to quote unquote ‘normalcy’ and quote unquote ‘normalcy’ will wither away.”
  9. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston — “Though it might have appeared pure politics to officially recognize all religions practiced in the Empire as part of its Church, the practical effects have been far-reaching. From Islam–the most numerous– to individual indigenous groups in Australia, we serve better when we talk like grown-ups and avoid petty squabbling.”
  10. The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill — “See the leaves on her horns? We gradually harvest them to make a special brew.”
  11. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones — “The rule was: Lose your temper, lose a customer. She had just proven that rule. It troubled her to realize how very enjoyable it had been.”
  12. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling — “As the weeks passed, Alec realized that aside from certain rapidly diminishing ethical qualms, he had never been happier.”
  13. Witches of America by Alex Mar — “I want to grasp the moment when that confidence becomes conviction; to know what it’s like to believe, without doubt, that you hold the key to the Mysteries, that you are capable of magic. I decided to press deeper, to try to discover just what that faith this built on.”
  14. How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake — “I used to love this lighthouse. It always seemed so magical when I was six or seven, but you can only hold your own mother’s hair back while she pukes up vodka so many times before you get a little disenchanted.”
  15. Project Semicolon: Your  Story Isn’t Over by Amy Bleuel — “The semicolon was chosen because, in literature, a semicolon is used when an author chooses to continue a sentence, rather than end it. You are the author and the sentence is your life; you are choosing to continue. This book is filled with examples of people who chose not to end their sentences.”

100 Books, 100 Quotations – 2017

Last year I began a 100 books/100 quotes a year challenge to get myself out of a reading slump and to read outside of my preferred genres and age ranges. I continued this challenge into this year and just hit my 100 books!

I’ve slowly been poking at Goodreads to figure out how that all works, so you can follow me over there (authorialfuries) and keep watch for new books in that new little sidebar I added here. I’ll learn the ways of bookish internet eventually, I promise.

Before I drop the 100 books in here, let me mention some reading highlights this year. This was the Finally Reading V. E. Schwab Year and loving A Darker Shade of Magic as much as people were telling me I would. She also happened to do a signing at a bookstore near me and I was able to go! Totally worth the hour drive! Something I would suggest of literally anyone if they get the chance.  I went away wanting to write again. Looking back, this year seems to be the Year of Exciting Book Signings since I had the opportunity to see Roxane Gay! Once again, if you ever have the chance, listen to her speak and read everything you can. Both were wonderful, engaging signings. Bonus: Roxane Gay commented on our Toast totes and it was everything. I suddenly understood the phrase To Fangirl deep, deep in my heart..

Onto the 100 books!

(Note: I’ll add a new post at the end of the year to see how far past 100 I can read.)

  1. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely — “We tried to edge our way a little closer to the front line, and with all the camera crew hovering, and people watching us on their TVs back home, I wondered if anybody though what were doing was unpatriotic. It was weird. Thinking that to protest was somehow un-American. That was bullshit. This was very American, goddamn All-American.
  2. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand — “Sometimes before you can give someone help, the person has to ask you for it, because they have gotten really good at hiding what hurts them.”
  3. If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan — “He is a prince, and I am a frog. A hairy frog that is due for an eyebrow wax and breast reduction, with a sexual orientation that will get this frog imprisoned sooner or later.”
  4. Beast by Brie Spangler — “I can’t be the prince, can’t be a bodyguard, definitely do not want to be the Man, and now even being a friend feels all shot up with holes. Don’t quite know what that leaves me, but it feels like nothing.”
  5. Yes Please by Amy Poehler — “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and seize your real estate.”
  6. The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne — “Before my brain could catch up with my mouth and shut it down, I said it. The idea. The only possible solution.”
  7. Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi — “But now the elf princess had turned into a pumpkin. Prince Charming had faded into the virtual night. Reality had set back in. I felt like crying, but I was too proud to allow the tears to fall.”
  8. The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Abigail Halpin — “Or he could be attacked by a bear or he could freeze to death, but those are endings that don’t usually happen in kid’s books. Adult books are probably different because they don’t worry about terrible endings.”
  9. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab — “I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
  10. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab — “She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”
  11. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab — “Anoshe brought solace. And hope. And the strength to let go.”
  12. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction by Neil Gaiman — “I hope none of you are here for answers. Authors are notoriously bad at answers. No, that’s not right. We’re not bad at them. We come up with answers all the time, but our answers tend to be unreliable, person, anecdotal and highly imaginative.”
  13. The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose — “In winter, when they’re gobbling down the suet dough I mix up for the birds I want at my feeders, I think of a starling as nothing more than a capacious digestive tract propelled by a set of triangular wings.”
  14. Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes by Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck — “Not everyone has the time, yard space, fertile soil, or inclination to plant a tree, but everyone can learn to appreciate and cook with fresh fruit. When you crunch into a crisp apple on a blustery fall day, or eye a basket of burnished nectarines, part of what you consume is the grower’s story.”
  15. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss — “‘I am a myth,” Kote said easily, making an extravagant gesture. ‘A very special kind of myth that creates itself. The best lies about me are the ones I told.’”
  16. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman — “‘Because,’ said Thor, ‘when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.’”
  17. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner — “I hadn’t wanted to be a soldier. I’d become a thief instead, to avoid the killing. See where that had gotten me.”
  18. Bestiary by Donika Kelly — “Love Poem: Pegasas/ Foaled, fully grown, from my mother’s neck,/ her severed head, the silenced snakes. Call this/ freedom.”
  19. Quarter Life Poetry: Poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry by Samantha Jayne — “They say in your twenties/ each moment is priceless/ if each moment isn’t/ an existential crisis.”
  20. Love is the Pain of Feverish Flowers by Kwon Cheonhak, translated by Kim Hana — “I will send with the wind/ the thing which will be gone with the wind”
  21. Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 200-2016, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week by Ursula K. Le Guin — “Imagination is not a means of making money. It has no place in the vocabulary of profit-making. It is not a weapon, though all weapons originate from it, and their use, or non-use, depends on it, as with all tools and their uses.”
  22. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas — “Calaena hit the landing, ran for the tomb door, and prayed to gods whose names she’d forgotten, but who she hoped had not yet forgotten her.”
  23. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis — “That look said, without the need for words: You will never be impressive enough to be worthy of my attention. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any fireballs to belch into this woman’s face in answer.”
  24. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab — “My thumb traces over the words, The wind is lonely.
  25. The 13 Clocks by James Thurber — “‘I hope,’ the Golux said, ‘that this true. I make things up, you know.’”
  26. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard — “So I had put together a portfolio, written my artist’s statement– an activity that always made me feel like I was writing some strange manifesto that had nothing to do with why I actually wrote– and sent in my application.”
  27. Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough — “Uh-oh. When I start noticing the length of shadows on the floorboards, I know I’ve entered that psychological state my father likes to call the Self-Pity Parade. It begins with a hypersensitivity to tacky cliches of despair like long shadows and howling dogs.”
  28. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Novel by Mark Haddon — “I find people confusing. This is for two main reasons. The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words.”
  29. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald — “Ever now and again a pair of big gray eyes peeped up over the edge of the book, like a prairie dog sticking its head up to check whether the coast was clear.”
  30. It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt — “This is what it looked like when the sun finally came up. I was tired, we both were, but we did it anyway.”
  31. I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil — “What was wrong with everyone?”
  32. The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey, illustrated by Sfe R. Monster — “Being despised is exhausting.”
  33. To the Sea by Cale Atkinson — “It’s not everyday you meet a friend.”
  34. Siren Sisters by Dana Langer — “Like most of our family stories, I don’t know all the facts and details. It’s the curse of the youngest sibling.
  35. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella — “The truth is, if you don’t communicate with anyone new, ever, at all, then you lose the knack.”
  36. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell — “It would please Lafayette that the pleasant patch of grass bearing his name is where all sorts of splittist, foreign and domestic, routinely air their grievances. After all, the only reason a there’s a statue of him staring at the White House is because as a teenager he defied his father-in-law’s edict to settle into a boring job at the French court, explaining afterward, ‘I did not hesitate to be disagreeable to preserve my independence.’”
  37. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy — “That night when I replayed our introductions over and over in my head, I realized that he didn’t flinch when I called myself fat. And I liked that.”
  38. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor — “‘Tribal’: that’s what they called humans from ethnic groups too remote and ‘uncivilized’ to regularly send students to attend Oomza Uni.”
  39. Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson — “The Dowayo people of Cameroon in Africa have special forms of pottery for different people (a child’s bowl would look different from one belonging to a widow), and there are taboos against eating from another person’s designated food pot.”
  40. Beneath My Mother’s Feet by Amjed Qamar – “Sherzad stepped back. ‘I’ll miss you. Remember to sleep where you can see the stars, baji. No matter what you’ve been through, the lights in the night sky will always sooth away the day’s pain.”
  41. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson — “That night I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about how I’ll never experience what Livvy’s experiencing tonight. It’s a biological impossibility so unfair it makes my entire body throb.”
  42. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill — “It was the first lie she ever told. Even though the words were true.”  
  43. Cinder by Marissa Meyer — “With a yank of the last wire, her foot clattered to the concrete.”
  44. Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall — “I have– I hate myself even as I think the word– a crush.  I have a crush on my best friend. I have become a teen rom-com cliche. There is no hope for me.”
  45. Wrecked by Maria Padian — “Her roommate shakes with silent sobs. Haley just holds on. She doesn’t know how long.”
  46. Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher — “I watched her go. I felt a bizarre mixture of friendship, lust, fear, pity, lust, confusion, panic, and lust.”
  47. Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman — “I’m not sure exactly how she will interpret this request as a personal attack, but I’m sure she has it in her.”
  48. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp — “I never realized that courage was so terrifying.”
  49. 10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac — “There would be no keeping calm and carrying on. There would be panic, and reeling backward.”
  50. A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind: How to Be “Normal” in Your Twenties with Anxiety and Depression by Emily Reynolds — “I felt like my identity was so wrapped up in my unhappiness that I wouldn’t be anything without it. If I was happy, or at the very least not unhappy, there’d be nothing to me.”
  51. The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente, Illustrated by Annie Wu — “We call ourselves the Hell Hath Club. There’s a lot of us. We’re mostly very beautiful and very well-read and very angry. We have seen some shit.”
  52. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown — “The whole being-gay-and-a-preacher’s-daughter thing comes with some weird mixed messaging– Jesus Loves You. Well, maybe not you. It’s been a constant internal struggle, having grown up in a religious household, desperately wanting to believe in the great goodness all around me, yet hearing so much hate even when my dad did his best to shield me.”
  53. The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash — “I smile down at her. ‘Then I wish I was in one of your stories.’ And who wouldn’t wish that? Certainly everyone here– dressed up as aliens, and wizards, and zombies, and superheroes– wants desperately to be inside a story, to be part of something more logical and meaningful than real life seems to be.”
  54. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley — “Now he knew it to be absolutely true: He had a friend. And he was terrified of her.”
  55. Draw The Line by Laurent Linn — “Like blood, ink is miraculous. Whether confined in a pen or free on a brush, it spreads and builds, giving my drawings life.”
  56. How To Success!: A Writer’s Guide to Fame and Fortune by Corinne Caputo — “Delete unnecessary clutter words like “a,” “and,” and “the.” Grab the Reader’s Attention.”
  57. D.I.Y. Magic: A Strange & Whimsical Guide to Creativity by Anthony Alvarado — “As you mosey along, divide up the length of the walk, block by block into the different eras of your life.”
  58. Wretched Writing: A Compendium of Crimes Against the English Language by Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras — “prose, purple: Purple prose– the art of writing prose so ornate, so flowery, and so overweighted with frills that the reader not only gets exhausted but also feels as though he o she is being smothered in highly scented velvet curtains– is a time-honored hallmark of wretched writing.”
  59. Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction by Philip Athans — “Monsters are scariest when they’re revealed in pieces, and scarier still when revealed slowly.”
  60. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman — “Spoons are excellent. Sort of like forks, only not as stabby.”
  61. Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke — “Just when you thought she was done with her tirade, she’d hit you with a prolonged diatribe, wrapped in a sermon, and topped off with a tedious dose of scripture.”
  62. Haffling by Caleb James — “ ‘There is no fair,’ I said. ‘It’s just a made-up thing.’ She looked at me. There were tears in the corners of her eyes. ‘I know that, but someone your age shouldn’t.’”
  63. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli — “She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.”
  64. Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman illustrated by Divya Srinivasan — “One day a tiger came to the palace. He was huge and fierce, a nightmare in black and orange, and he moved like a god though the world, which is how tigers move.”
  65. The Pants Project by Cat Clarke — “Sexist. Dumb. Unfair. Even the moms agreed with me. Mom said she hadn’t worn a skirt since her cousin’s wedding back in the nineties.”
  66. The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian — “I tried to distract myself from my anger by taking out a notebook and a pencil, and beginning a family tree.”
  67. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness — “The indie kids, huh? You’ve got them at your school, too. That group with the cool-geek haircuts and the thrift shop clothes and names from the fifties. Nice enough, never mean, but always the ones who end up being the Chosen One when the vampires come calling or when the alien queen needs the Source of All Light or something.”
  68. A World of Cake: 150 Recipes for Sweet Traditions From Cultures Near and Far by Krystina Castella — “Cakes are rich with meaning and symbolism, inspired by the celebrations that surround them.”
  69. The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich — “Death by incineration is a thing of nightmares, but life for a successful Love Interest isn’t exactly a happily ever after. After winning, the Love Interest needs to be a perfect partner to prevent his Chosen from ever moving on.”
  70. Perfect 10 by L. Philips — “The witch sits across from me, gnawing on Cheez-Its, practically bouncing up and down with excitement on the cafeteria bench.”
  71. Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica — “He had had enough therapy over the years to come away with the idea that everyone was fundamentally neurotic.”
  72. A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica — “Being married to a slave-owning, sociopathic, court-appointed killer might make me pissy, too.
  73. Autoboyography by Christina Lauren — “But if a tree falls in the woods, maybe it makes no sound. And if a boy falls for the bishop’s closeted son, maybe it makes no story.”
  74. The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso — “America’s first apple trees were planted from seeds, cuttings, and small plants brought by the Jamestown settlers to the New World in the early 1600s.”
  75. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon — “Dimple thought of Insomnia Con, of Jenny Lindt, of SFSU, of Stanford. Of all the things she’d jeopardize if she called Ritu auntie a backward, antifeminist blight on democratic society.”
  76. The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle — “It’s depressing how my dog is a better human being than I am.”
  77. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones — “Time to come forth and fight.”
  78. Best Enemies by Jane Heller — “Cardinal rule in publishing: Never tell an author the truth.”
  79. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer — “It would be easy to abuse a person when they never recognized it as abuse.”
  80. Poison by Sarah Pinborough — “What was this need to be seen as benevolent? If you were going to be cruel, then admit it. Embrace it. Anything else was just self delusion and weakness.”
  81. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, Katie Kath — “You know that chicken I told you about? It can use the Force.”
  82. Geekerella by Ashley Poston — “Look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.”
  83. Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner — “I can spot an underemployed lazy intellectual anywhere.”
  84. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn — “Was that personal growth or insanity?”
  85. The Best Man by Richard Peck — “We thought he was weird. He thought we were weird. It was great. It was what multiculturalism ought to be.”
  86. Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee — “‘Awkward’ — what an awkward word. It sounded like the cry of a giant scraggly bird. AWK. WARD. AWK. WARD.”
  87. Halfway Normal by Barbara Dee — “I never knew how to answer this. Because the question really was: SO ARE YOU GOING TO DIE? And usually I wanted to answer: YES, I AM. EVENTUALLY. AND SO ARE YOU, IDIOT.”
  88. The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo  –”Zot wanted that color too…”
  89. Inked by Eric Smith — “Growing up as ‘the orphan with the mysterious past,’ I’d become accustomed to those kind of looks, and the whispered bits of gossip, surrounding me and my grandmother, just two outcasts living on the outskirts of town.”
  90. The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith — “Your name isn’t Robert Jordan and you’re not writing the Wheel of Time series. Short and sweet, my friend.”
  91. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs — “White Knight Trolls can sometimes morph into Nice Guy Trolls who believe that women are just vending machines that you put Nice into until Sex falls out. They are mistaken.”
  92. A Greyhound, a Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrations by Chris Appelhaus — “A round hound, a grey dog, a round little hound dog. / A greyhog, a ground dog, a hog little hound dog”
  93. Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell With Your Coven by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman — “The greatest one-word spell: “no”
  94. The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla, Julie McLaughlin — “Now when you ask, ‘How are you, Charlie?’ I will say ‘Fine,’ even if I’m not fine, even if I know this amazing thing about starlings that would fascinate you to hear, instead of just hearing the boring old word: ‘fine.’ But if that is what people want, then fine. Okay. I’m fine.”
  95. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan — “I try to imagine her with a name i associate with Swiss cartoon characters or a famous supermodel- not my twelve-year-old Korean best friend.”
  96. The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle — “Quinn, your life story is starting to turn into a documentary that people would walk out of because it’s both too sad and too slow.”   
  97. Into White by Randi Pink — “Black skin was filled with so many barriers, so many restrictions, so many.”   
  98. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani — “That pashmina will allow women to see their choices. You shall no longer be bound by fear.”
  99. Slider by Pete Hautman — “If you ever feel the desire to be completely and utterly miserable, I recommend two pizzas followed by an entire head of raw cabbage, eaten as quickly as possible.”
  100. One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman — “Shh, I thought at my brain, because I was never going to get any sleep with it making so much noise.”

National Poetry Month: A Promise

As I stay far away from the internet (and most human populations on April Fool’s day) happy belated April!

April is National Poetry month. I am not one to purposefully read poetry, but I am always trying to expand my reading horizons. So, I am on here to say on the record I will read at least one book of poetry each week this month. I will do it.

I will read poetry.

I WILL.

First up is Donika Kelly’s Bestiary. I’m already interested in the premise of this one.

With no immediate plans for next week other than hitting the library, we will see what else I read this month! Who knows! Not me!

Mark your calendars. Expect a list of what I read at the end of the month.

I should also spend some time writing poetry this month, but I will not post that. No one should be subjected to my terrible poetry. I’ll save that for my eyes only. You are welcome.

Go read poetry!

Go write poetry!

POETRY.

 

100 Books, 100 Quotations

As of April 7, 2016 I decided to read 100 books by the end of the year to get me out of a reading slump. I needed to keep track of them. So, to help me remember each book, I wrote down a single quote. This list is my literary year (or 9 months) in review— from graphic novels to cookbooks, from picture books to epics, from poetry to prose, from new to old, here they are…

1. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley — “Cookies are all about comfort. Sometimes something simple can comfort the most.”

2. Jin Jin the Dragon by Grace Chang, illustrated by Chong Chang —“‘Oh, I’m all mixed up,’ cried the little creature. ‘Doesn’t anyone know what I am?’”

3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik — “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside out valley.”

4. Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson — “Why had this Guardian chosen her? She could protect no one. She had never done a very good job of protecting herself.”

5. Through the Woods by Emily Carrol — “It killed livestock, wrecked fences, came from the woods (most strange things do).”

6. The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker — “What artists choose to make art about has absolutely no bearing on what they’re attracted to or what they might want to experience themselves.”

7. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente — “September could see it. She did not know what is was she saw. That is the disadvantage of being a heroine, rather than a narrator.”

8. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann — “This poem is much more attractive. / With the Healing Brush Tool”

9. George by Alex Gino — “Scott snuck glances her way too, but where Mom’s eyes were filled with concern and confusion, Scott looked at George as if his sibling made sense to him for the first time. George had never been gladder to have an older brother.”

10. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay — “I have never considered compassion a finite resource. I would not want to live in a world where such was the case.”

11. The Aspects of a Novel by E. M. Forester — “History develops, Art stands still, Is a crude motto, indeed it is almost a slogan, and though forced to adopt it we must not do so without admitting it vulgarily. It contains only a partial truth.”

12. How They Met and Other Stories by David Leviathan — “Sallie’s doubts were only reinforced by her textbook. It defined a ‘couple’ as ‘two forces on a body of equal magnitude and opposite direction, having lines of action that are parallel but do not coincide.’”

13. Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy — “Oh, I’ll marry him! He seems brave and kind and I much prefer adventuring to dancing anyway!”

14. One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva — “Alek put his hand on his brother’s shoulder. ‘Nik, there’s a difference between need and want. Remember that, okay?’”

15. Emperor of the Eight Islands: The Tale of Shikanoko by Lian Hearn — “Sesshin smiled and nodded. ‘I am what I am and what I have always been, a poor soul on a journey.’”

16. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce — “Alanna stared at herself in the mirror. Her twin stared back, violet eyes wide in his pale face.”

17. Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler — “‘Never forget that even the grandest of trees once had to grow up from the smallest of seeds.’”

18. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis — “Wednesday would put together an eloquent string of seemingly unconnected adjectives that one day, months later, would make perfect sense.”

19. Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers & Eaters tales retold by Jane Yolen, recipes by Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrations by Philippe Beha — “A storyteller never tells the same story twice, because every audience needs a slightly different story, depending upon the season or the time of day, the restlessness of the youngest listened or how appropriate a tale is to what has just happened in the storyteller’s world. And every cook knows that a recipe changes according to the time of day, the weather, the altitude, the number of grains in the level teaspoon, the ingredients found (or not found) in the cupboard or refrigerator, the tastes or allergies of the dinner guests, even the cook’s own feelings about the look of the batter.”

20. Are We There Yet? by Nina Laden — “No.”

21. Anything Could Happen by Will Walton — “There’s a pounding in my chest. That’s your heart, I think, all broken up but beating anyways. It’s trying to save you. Feel it go, Tretch. Feel your heart, working harder than ever. It is working to save me, and everything else is working to save it.”

22. Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci — “Being pretty here involves so much more than just being pretty, and frankly I don’t have time for it.”

23. Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee — “The new queen was attractive, but she was very insecure.”

24. Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale — “I didn’t really know what I was doing… but that didn’t seem like a good reason not to try.”

25. Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell — “In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.)”

26. Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon — “Being… extremely cute… doesn’t mean…you can’t get… EXTREMELY MAD!”

27. I Want a Monster! by Elise Gravel — “Papa takes me to the Monsterium. This is the best day of my life!”

28. The Sword in the Stove by Frank W. Dormer — “Vikings! Who will steal our cookies and make us say… Gribnif.”

29. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson — “The more I considered it, the more I realized how much I have in common with these koalas. We’re both immunocompromised, lightly diseased, exhausted, and full of toxins. I’m totally a koala.”

30. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst — “My magic was small and quiet, like the rest of me, and easy to keep hidden.”

31. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt — “There is no experimental model of the transgender person; there is no lab protocol; no double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trials. There are just human beings, each of us understanding, often without thinking about it, who we are, male, female, or something in between.”

32. I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World by Eve Ensler — “This book is a call to question rather than to please. To provoke, to challenge, to dare, to satisfy your own imagination and appetite.”

33. Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “‘I am widely considered to be unduly suspicious of everyone and everything,” Kazul said in a dry tone. ‘Particularly wizards.’”

34. Searching for Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “This young woman didn’t look like a princess (except for the crown), and she didn’t act like a princess, and she didn’t talk like a princess.”

35. Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “She refused even to put on the tall, pointed hats most witches wore, and she dressed in loose black robes because they were comfortable and practical, not because they were traditional. All of this occasionally annoyed people who cared more about the propriety of her dress than the quality of her spells.”

36. Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede — “Mother had taught me a lot more about dragons than she had about princesses.”

37. A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass — “Reading always makes me tired because sometimes I get so caught up in the rainbowlike colors of the words that I have to read passages over and over.”

38. Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil — “I am slightly curious, however, as to what level my self-loathing will sink to today.”

39. Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale — “The current plan happened to consist solely of pretending I had a plan.”

40. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth — “But all those times, no matter what the occasion, it had eventually ended up feeling sort of phony, like I was playing at a relationship with God, just like any little kid playing house or grocery store or anything else, but not like it was real.”

41. Shrill by Lindy West — “Mother or monster. Okay, little girl— choose.”

42. 45 Pounds (More or Less) by Kelly Barson — “Air-conditioning is my friend; sweating is not.”

43. Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli — “But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

44. Texts From Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Mallory Ortberg — “IM FULL OF RIGHTEOUS FURY”

45. Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom — “How can I be this person who likes the way she is, has self confidence— or at least some semblance of what appears to be self-confidence— if I still have to spend so much time trying to change?”

46. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman — “My own survival required me to counterbalance interesting with invisible.”

47. Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki — “There’s nothing wrong with being unsolved. Unsolved just means not everyone gets it.”

48. The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga — “I got Little Miss Indy-Alternative-Goth-Gaiman Fan to like my graphic novel. They call that ‘crossover appeal.’”

49. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell — “Eleanor had never thought about killing herself—ever— but she thought a lot about stopping. Just running until she couldn’t run anymore. Jumping from something so high that she’d never hit the bottom.”

50. Faux Paw: Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly — “Marcus liked to tease that I thought pretty much any problem could be solved with a plate of brownies. That wasn’t true. I thought a blueberry muffin or a nice coffee cake would also work.”

51. Landline by Rainbow Rowell — “For a hallucination, this conversation was progressing very rationally. (Which made sense; Gerorgie had always been good at writing dialogue.)”

52. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman — “On the third day, I slept at last and dreamed that I was alphabetizing an infinite library that turned out to be myself.”

53. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo — “It seemed to me that in this confluence of cultures we had acquired one another’s superstitions without necessarily any of their comforts.”

54. The Goblin’s Puzzle: The Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew Chilton — “There was no point in saving the people from an oppressive tyrant if he had to tyrannize them oppressively to do it.”

55. The Bees: A Novel by Laline Paull — “Flora bowed to her hive, set her engine to hard ascent, and leaped from the board.”

56. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic: A Novel by Emily Croy Barker — “Anything that threatened her control of her own body seemed anathema.”

57. A Victorian Flower Dictionary: The Language of Flowers Companion by Mandy Kirkby and Vanessa Diffenbaugh — “The Order of the Thistle, a chivalric order founded by King James VII, has a famous motto: Nemo me impune lacessit, ‘No one harms me without punishment’, evoking the prickly aggressiveness of the plant.”

58. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline — “I don’t know, maybe your experience differed from mine. For me, growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth. Existentially speaking.”

59. Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss — “If he had been a book, I would have hurled him across the room.”

60. If I Had a Gryphon by Vikki Vansickle and Cale Atkinson — “If only I could have a pet with strange, exotic powers, I know that I’d find lots to do to while away the hours.”

61. Talking Writing: 50 Contemporary Writers on Novels Short Stories, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Playwriting, Digital, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Blogging, Criticism, Comedy, Erotica, Crime, Young Adult, Screenwriting, Picture Books, Memoir and Much Much More by Kirsten Krauth — from the piece “The Importance of Being Rejected: An Incentive to Improve” by Adrian Deans— “This was a key moment in my development as a writer— realizing that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. (At least, not yet.)”

62. The Sandman Volume 1 Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III — “I sprinkle sand into the waters of night. The grains burn as they fall, reminding me of another in times long passed away.”

63. The Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey — “Air, though, they tend to be the scholars, the artists, or the entertainers. Lots of creative types in Air.”

64. Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide by Charles Foster — “Going after badgers is the best way to scorch your sentiment. They are great tutors. In the darkening woods they look you shrewdly in the eye, finger their corduroy braces thoughtfully, and then slash open your face.”

65. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch — “To the right, a stone walkway meanders into a forest of maple trees, a hidden path for midnight trysts or assassination attempts.”

66. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce — “In the three years she had been disguised as a boy, she had learned that boys know girls as little as girls know boys. It didn’t make sense— people are people, after all, she thought— but that was how things were.”

67. Everything I Never Told You: A Novel by Celeste Ng — “These are the new rules, which no one has outlines but which she already knows: Don’t talk about Lydia. Don’t talk about the lake. Don’t ask questions.”

68. Grim by Christine Johnson, Ellen Hopkins, Julie Kagawa, Amanda Hocking, Claudia Gray, and Rachel Hawkins — “‘You are a kind and generous person, and I like you a lot,’ said the giant. ‘But we could fill this castle ten times over with the things you do not know.’”

69. The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce — “‘I think as a human being,’ she retorted hotly. ‘Men don’t think any differently from women— they just make more noise about being able to.’”

70. Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “My reluctance to use force isn’t ideological, it’s practical. Violence is stupid. Even as a last resort, it only ever begets more of the same.”

71. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce — “‘The trouble with arguing with a cat is that cats don’t hesitate to say anything about you, no matter how crazy it is,’ she complained. ‘You can’t win an argument that way.’”

72. Saga: Volume Two by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “In romantic comedies this is called the ‘meet-cute.’ I’ve always hated romantic comedies.”

73. Saga: Volume Three by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “Over the years we met every kind of person imaginable. But no one makes worse first impressions than writers.”

74. The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley — “I remember being asked at a baby shower once if I wrote children’s books. I found it difficult to even respond to that, because I’d just published a science-fantasy noir book about a bisexual bounty hunter who lops off people’s heads for a living. There is of course nothing wrong with writing children’s books, but I couldn’t help wondering what that person would assume I wrote if I presented as a dude.”

75. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire — “Her parents loved her, there was no question of that, but their love was the sort that filled her suitcase with colors and kept trying to set her up on dates with local boys. Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken.”

76. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig — “She thinks, I want an orange soda. And I want vodka to mix into the orange soda. And, while we’re at it, I’d also like to stop being able to see how people are going to bite it. Oh, and a pony. I definitely want a goddamn pony.

77. Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig — “Grade school— elementary and up— is like being dropped in a dunk tank filled with starving piranha.”

78. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale — “Her pulse clicked in her jaw, and she held on to that noise, tried to take comfort from it, as if the quarry and home were as near as her heart.”

79. Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale — “I am trying to choose words carefully, you see. Master Filippus lectured on the importance of word choice in our Rhetoric lesson. Words can fall hard like a boulder loosened from a cliff. Words can drift unnoticed like a weed seed on a breeze. Words can sing.

80. Saga: Volume Four by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “Admit it, you’re probably a very different person at work than you are at home. Everyone needs to be someone else sometimes.”

81. Saga: Volume Five by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “Cheer up, Beard of Sorrow.”

82. Saga: Volume Six by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples — “We’re all aliens to someone. Even among our own people, most of us feel like complete foreigners from time to time. Usually associated with invasions, abductions, or other hostile acts, the term ‘alien’ gets a bad rap. But over the years, the word has come to mean something very different to me… future friend material.”

83. The Black Book of Colors by Merena Cottin and Rosana Faria — “Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers.”

84. The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale — “‘Are you so afraid of a baby girl?’ Miri said, leaning toward him across the table. ‘How about me? Do I terrify you too? Watch out, I wear a dress and don’t grow a beard, and if you don’t keep me in check, I’ll steal all your power!’”

85. How to Be Brave: A Novel by E. Katherine Kottaras — “Liss teases me, ‘You can take the dork out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the dork.’”

86. Sprout by Dale Peck — “In Long Island, all the roads were, first of all, streets, and they were also, you know, paved. Dirt roads belonged to movies set in other countries, other centuries. Yet here they were, their washboard ridges shaking our suburban car to pieces, as if to punish us for disturbing a quiet pastoral afternoon.”

87. A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett — “So let’s not get frightened when the children read fantasy. It is the compost for a healthy mind. It stimulates the inquisitive nodes. It may not appear as ‘relevant’ as books set more firmly in the child’s environment, or whatever hell the writer believes to be the child’s environment, but there is some evidence that a rich internal fantasy life is as good and necessary for a child as healthy soil is for a plant, for much the same reasons.”

88. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins — “Americans called this time of the year ‘October’ or sometimes, ‘Autumn,’ but the librarians reckoned time by the heavens. Tonight was the seventh moon, which is the moon of the black lament.”
* I read this one on Halloween. Would recommend that.

89. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell — “‘It’s just that getting paid to do nothing is a constant reminder that I’m doing nothing,’ Lincoln said. ‘And doing nothing takes more energy than you’d think. I’m tired all the time.’”

90. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg — “No one had ever told me that my writing was all over the place. I could feel heat spread across my face and into my ears. Take away my labels, fine. Just leave me the things I know I am, like being a good writer.”

91. Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture by Stephen H. Segal, N. K. Jemisin, Genevieve Valentine, Eric San Juan, Zaki Hasan — “I wish I could remember who asked me the question. Because I know for sure that my answer is what set me on the path that has brought me here, to you, on this page. The question was: ‘What was our religion when you were growing up?’ And my answer was: ‘Uh, science fiction, pretty much.’”

92. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin — “Fortunately, where reason failed, blind panic served well enough.”

93. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell — “(Which is my rough luck, pretty much always. As soon as you start carrying a sword, all your enemies turn out mist and gossamer.)”

94. The Story Book Knight by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty — “Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed. While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read.”

95. Everyday Witchcraft: Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World by Deborah Blake — “By creating daily practices, a practitioner can feel more grounded and centered in reality, allowing for more mindful choices to be made on a daily basis. By consciously consuming and by choosing love-based human interactions, our empathy increases and so does our engagement in this strange thing called life. By bettering ourselves, we better the world, creating a solid path of living magick.”

96. Timekeeper by Tara Sim — “Here, he felt needed. Valued. The tower was a sanctuary, all gold lines and hand curves, glint and glass, standing old and steady under the thrum of time.”

97. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman — “‘I think,’ said the bear, ‘as a responsible adult, I should point a few things out.’”

98. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel: A Novel by Sara Farizan — “The class is silent again. I hate when this happens. I’ve never done will with awkward silences or pauses. I can always hear people breathing. I can hear myself breathe. It’s the most uncomfortable feeling ever.”

99. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz — “The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”

100. Invasive: A Novel by Chuck Wendig — “The future, it occurs to Hannah, does not frighten him the way it frightens her. That worries her. Someone with his power and experience shouldn’t have such raging optimism— and deception by powerful men is a danger as persistent as global warming, famine, or disease.”

I’m officially over my reading slump.

What Happens When You Read

When you read you end up drinking a mixture of black tea, coffee, and condensed milk.

Allow me to explain.

When you read you end up drinking a mixture of black tea, coffee, and condensed milk.

Allow me to explain.

It all started with my library’s summer reading challenge. Part of the challenge this year was reading books across genres. A sample of the genre lists: Travel Memoirs; Mystery & Thriller; Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Paranormal; and Appalachian Fiction. Each list had about 10 books to choose from. Unsurprisingly, I had read the majority from the SFF list. Out of the Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Paranormal list I had not yet read: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo.

Now, I normally don’t do book reviews because they go something like this:

FIVE STARS THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ. PERIOD. NOTHING WILL COMPARE.

Or…

BORED.

Or…

I AM FILLED WITH NARRATIVE FURY. STARS WILL NOT ENCOMPASS MY RAGE.

The Ghost Bride falls solidly into the first category. Lovely prose. Engaging characters. Intricate storytelling. Well-paced plot. That is the extent of any real review here. The end. What I am saying is: Go read this book right now. Stop reading my words and go read hers.

So, of course I wanted to know if Yangsze Choo had written anything else. Off to the internet we go!

If curiosity leads, it never takes you on a straight path. You twist and turn and wander your way through words and links and ideas you never really had any plans on encountering. You find new things pressed between old things. Unknown pressed between known. Things you never knew you wanted to know.

In my wanderings I found her blog. Which lead me to this paragraph“In Malaysia, a favourite breakfast item is a soft-boiled egg served in a bowl with soy sauce and white pepper. Thick Hainanese toast, grilled over charcoal and lavishly smeared with butter and kaya, a caramelized custard spread, is the traditional coffee shop accompaniment together with piping hot coffee (or more scandalously, the subversive drink called chum, which is coffee and tea mixed together with condensed milk).”

Can we look at that last bit a bit closer: COFFEE AND TEA MIXED TOGETHER WITH CONDENSED MILK.

First thought: WHAT IS THIS CONCOCTION AND WHY HASN’T IT BEEN IN MY LIFE?

Second thought: I need a recipe.

Once again with help from my old friend Google, I found this recipe over at Saveur that seemed impossibly easy. Which lead to the third thought: I need to go to the grocery store.

*cackles over cans of sweetened condensed milk*

Fourth thought: I now have everything I need.

A classic drink for us during the holidays is swiping the used sweetened condensed milk cans after cookie baking and pouring in the last of the coffee. The coffee is usually the last dregs in the french press, so it’s the dark black sludge of caffeine infused darkness. We swirl it around until it lightens several shades and takes us into the nethersphere with its sugariness. It keeps us awake until the wee hours of the night so we can finish the unreasonable number of cookies we think a family of seven needs.

It felt like some kitchen witchery as warm, familiar smells of coffee and black tea swirled around the apartment. I poured cups of the milky concoction into small cups and served it with something I suppose you could call quiche. Quiche without the crust? Crustless quiche? Oven omelet? Egg loaf?

Overall opinion: FIVE STARS THIS IS BEST DRINK I HAVE EVER HAD. PERIOD. NOTHING WILL COMPARE.

I told you. I review in extremes.

It might be a touch dangerous that I now have a recipe for a liquid sugar and caffeine bomb which packs the punch of both tea and coffee. Somehow, you can taste both the tea and the coffee. I am not sure how, but by the magic of this drink they merge together into something new and yet also familiar. Additionally, after it kicked in, my brain was on fire. Delicious, delicious fire. While at work that afternoon I am pretty sure I was vibrating in my chair, twirling pencils around my fingers, and just generally bouncing around. (As much as a practically clinically stoic person is wont to do.) To quote Sister Number One, “If I had this while writing my dissertation, I would have finished six months earlier.”

I now know what to fuel myself with when all sleep is lost.

A Grimdark Confession

I am not a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire. Or, for that matter, Game of Thrones. I said it. It is out in the open. On the internet. For people to find in years to come. There are many things I appreciate about it. There are many things I find problematic about it. I am in no way arguing it hasn’t had a massive impact on media in recent years. This post is not about any of that. This post is simply about being a fan of it. More specifically, about why I am not.

It comes down to this: I’m not going to immerse myself in Westeros long enough to become a fan.

There is this discussion surrounding Game of Thrones and the books that came in its wake that the truest stories are hard stories. Stories where there is only darkness and grit. Stories where people are only it for themselves. Stories where there is no good– only bad and worse.  A Song of Ice and Fire became an epicenter for dark fantasy.  Ripples of it touch other novels. Evil vs. EvilCrapsack WorldsBlack and Gray MoralityDarker and EdgierFailure Hero.  I apologize for the time suck of TV Tropes I just sent you in.  If you are still here, let’s move on…

As a general rule, I’ve always struggled with grimdark fantasy. The Lies of Locke Lamora is sitting half-read on my bookshelf, a bookmark still poised halfway in hopes that I will return soon, because I just couldn’t do it any more. I will come back to it. I will. I promise you, Scott Lynch.

I acknowledge that we all aren’t Paladins. The world is not as simple as good and evil. The lines between what is right and just and good can be blurred. Each person sees the scope of morality differently. It is in those differences that diverse narratives flourish. However, gray morality is not the same as a narrative which depicts violence and hatred as something that not only exists, but must exist as a necessary part of everyday life.

Although some novels paint this violence as a horror. Some do not. Some bask in violence. Some revel in it.  A quick google search gives me this definition of grimdark: “a subgenre or a way to describe the tone, style or setting of a speculative fiction (especially fantasy) that is, depending on the definition used, markedly dystopian or amoral, or particularly violent or realistic.”

We place realism with violence. We combine them and twist them until we accept violence as a panacea.

I just can’t believe that.

Maybe this post is fueled by my idealism trying to win over my cynicism. I’ll let my idealism have the reins for a moment. Throughout my life I’ve constantly been surrounded by nonprofits. Either I’ve worked with them directly, or my family has, or friends have. One constant in my life has been people helping people.  

When I read a story where there is only darkness, where there is only grit, where there is only pain, I can only think of the people we don’t talk about. The people who work in the bowels of such darkness. Advocates. Counselors. Activists. The people who help people.

At the end of the day I have to believe in that. I have to combat the darkness with light, not with more darkness. Darkness compounded by more darkness. Violence compounded by more violence. Hatred compounded by more hatred. I have to believe in stories where people help people.