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Minithon the Mini Readathon: September 8, 2018

The minithon is upon us once more! Minithons are for the lazy. Minithons are for the uncommitted. Minithons are for us.

The minithon lasts 8 hours (10 AM to 6 PM CST), therefore making it a mini readathon, as opposed to the lovely Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and 24in48, both of which you should participate in, but both of which are a longer commitment than this, the Busy Watching Netflix person's readathon.

By 'read for eight hours' what's really meant in the minithon is "read a little bit and eat a lot of snacks and post pictures of your books and your snacks, but mostly your snacks." We like to keep it a mini theme here, which mainly means justifying your books and your snacks to fit that theme. Does your book have children in it? Mini people! Does it have a dog! Mini wolf! Does it have pencils? Mini versions of graphite mines! or however you get graphite, I don't really know. I just picture toiling miners.

The point is, justify it or don't. Does…
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#24in48: What Was Good, What Was Bad, What You Should Read

24in48, where we try to read for 24 hours out of 48, has come and gone once more. I managed 13 hours, which considering my usual average is 2, is excellent and I will take it. I attribute this to genuine planning this time and a remarkable lack of things to do that weekend.




What did I finish!

The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
Captain Phasma by Kelly Thompson (comic)
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
DC Bombshells Volume 1 (comic)
The Punisher: The Complete Collection, Volume 1 (comic)
Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall

The Good.

It was actually all pretty good, so I'm gonna give a quick recap so you can decide if it strikes your fancy or not.

The Summaries

The Witches: Salem, 1692. This is a breakdown of everything that happened before, during, and after the Salem witch trials of 1692. I loved the beginning because Stacy Schiff gives you a good idea of the awfulness of life in New England in the 17th century, and it also helps you understand how the trials happened, because everyth…

Spotlight on Black Women for Black History Month

It's February! Let's read some BOOKS.

Black history is notoriously underrepresented in our schools, except for the usual mentions:



I focus on women's history, so here are some great American women-centered reads for Black History Month!

Phillis Wheatley Poems. Phillis Wheatley was kidnapped from West Africa and enslaved in Boston after being bought by the Wheatley family. They taught her Latin, Greek, theology, mythology, an ancient history, and she published a volume of her poetry in 1773. She was the first African-American and first U.S. slave to publish a book of poems in America. She dedicated several poems to George Washington and was invited to meet him in 1776. She was eventually freed from slavery and died in her early 30s in 1784. You can read some of her poems here.


Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth. Did you know Sojourner Truth grew up speaking Dutch and also lived on a commune for a while and escaped enslavement and was a general revolutionary badass?…

The Top 10 Books from The Millions Book Preview

The Millions listed the best upcoming books for the first half of 2018 and I have distilled that FURTHER through the filter of “very specific fiction but also nonfiction.”

The full list is here! So here we go:

JANUARY
This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins.
It's an essay collection! They remain so hot right now! She covers “Rachel Dolezal; the stigma of therapy; her complex relationship with her own physical body; the pain of dating when men say they don’t ‘see color’; being a black visitor in Russia; the specter of ‘the fast-tailed girl’ and the paradox of black female sexuality; or disabled black women in the context of the ‘Black Girl Magic’ movement.”

She's doing an event with Women and Children First in Chicago in February. This looks real good. Let's all read it and discuss.


The Sky Is Yours by Chandler Klang Smith.
This is getting compared to Blade Runner, which I haven't seen, but I HAVE seen Fifth Element, which seems inspired by Blade Runner, unless it isn't…

2018: Plotting the Year Ahead, Which Will Inevitably Fail But Here We Are

It's 2018! I don't know how I feel about things!




Things feel...vaguely...better than 2017. But that's mostly because of our lovely tradition of "it's a new year!" which is preeeetty arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but also since a lot of cultures have calendars, also probably not. This new year MEANS something. And what it means is there is like a 20% chance of this year being better than the shitshow that was last year. 20% because you don't wanna tempt fate, man.

I have plans for this year! Big plans! Mostly regarding books, because obvs.

Last year, counting comic volumes, I read 105 books. Mostly because I was freelancing for much of the summer. This year, I'm starting a project that'll necessitate reading even more nonfiction, which I'm very excited about, and I'd like to finish Martin Chuzzlewit and my book proposal. Ideally both by July, but I'm not married to the Chuzzlewit idea.

My personal library is slowly getting whittl…

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg: Magic! Also It's Pretty Fun!

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (a lady!) caught my eye a while back because of its cover.



It also has a lady in a late 1800s dress AND she's holding an umbrella, which usually specifies whimsy of some kind? I don't know. Also paper in what way! Is SHE paper? I have questions.

So it turns out magic in this 1890s/1900s world seems pretty accepted? And there's a school, and Ceony Twill, the whimsically named heroine (ah, that's why that umbrella's there) has just graduated from said school and she has to bond to a material because that is how magic works here, do not question it. 

But she gets assigned to paper because no one chooses paper because it is stupid. Why would you choose paper when you could work with metal (she wants to work with metal). But there she is, so she goes to the home of her new instructor guy whose apprentice she'll be. And the guy (Magician or "Mg." Thane) turns out to be like 30 and okay looking, at which point I went &q…

The Women's March 2018: Be Seen, Be Heard, Stay Angry

On January 20th, 2018, Chicago will host a second Women’s March. Those who attended the first remember the astounding numbers, miraculously warm weather, and surge of energy across the nation as America’s women stood up and said “we are here and we are angry.” 

So we did it. Our elected leader who bragged about sexual assault and who has made countless denigrating remarks about women is still in charge. Why are we marching again? 

 There is a tendency in any movement for things to lag. People become complacent, they accept their new reality, and think they can make no change. It makes sense that after the draining year that 2017 turned out to be — a year where one could constantly feel buffeted on all sides by waves of racism, misogyny, cruelty, and disregard for the planet — after that exhausting year, why should people come out in January weather to stand in the streets once again and say “We are still here and we are still angry”? 

 The answer is because without that voice, and withou…

Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy: Readalong Signup

You know what was the third bestseller of its time after Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ben-Hur? THAT IS CORRECT, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy. 


No one talks about this book anymore, but it was a sci-fi utopian novel about a young man waking up in the year 2000, which is a socialist utopia. Looking Backward spawned over 150 "Bellamy Clubs" that got together and discussed political issues, and it looks like a damn fascinating book.

It is also available FOR FREE online. Here's the Project Gutenberg link. So read this not too long book with me in February and get familiar with a bestseller of the 19th century!


2017 Books in Review

2017 was one of the hardest years of my life. I was cobbling together employment for six months, my mom got cancer, and I had a mouse living full time in my bedroom and ended up couch surfing for weeks. BUT ON THE PLUS SIDE, I read more books than I have any other year. Because of the cobbling together employment thing. Which, when it didn't go well, involved me sitting by the lake in June, reading. So it could have been worse. MAYBE.

So! Books this year. A whole lot were comics. Because when you are dealing with depression, you want to have some minor victories. And my minor victories were almost entirely in the form of finishing a ton of comic volumes. 48 of them, anyway. SO SOME QUICK REVIEWS:

COMICSSilk Volumes 0-1. Hot DAMN, I love Silk. This took me by surprise because I don't really care about Spider-Man as a character or comic series, and Spider-Gwen is ughhhhhhh but SILK. She was in a bunker for years! Kind of like Kimmy Schmidt. But Silk is super awesome and is kind of

Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Book 5

Here we are once again at the Aurora Leigh readalong, hosted by me, Alice, and this week I read only Book 5, but it was yet again really gay and a mix of genius and wtf, so lots to talk about here.

We left off in Book 4, with Aurora and Romney parting ways again after he has been dumped by Marian Erle. Romney talked about Aurora "break[ing] the mythic turf where danced the nymphs," and in my epic poetry I love that, but if he said that to me in real life I would be like



Elizabeth Barrett Browning makes her case in Book 5 for people writing about the world right now. She makes some great points, but also it is a lot and maybe write an essay. MAYBE WRITE AN ESSAY, ELIZABETH. But she doesn't want to, and this is her book, so fine.

There is a consistent feeling through Aurora Leigh of Browning peeling back the curtain of Being Literary in the Victorian Age and just talking about life as we all know it. It's weirdly juxtaposed with verbal flights of fancy that soar to epic l…

Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Books 3 & 4

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "You know how ladies are like windmills?"

Aurora Leigh! EBB's novel in verse. This week we read Books 3 & 4, which involve Aurora making her name as a poet, talking about how great London is to inspire one, and also some gay stuff and Aurora's cousin Romney Leigh almost marries Marian Erle, A Poor Person, but then she says never mind.

If we're going to pick a gay person in this book, I pick Marian. SURE, you can say "But she seems too into Romney." I also really wanted to marry a dude who I could help with his Great Life's Work. But guess what? I then turned out to be super gay.
Marian says
“I’d rather far be trodden by his foot,

Than lie in a great queen’s bosom.”

And it's like, um, no one MENTIONED a great queen's bosom, Marian. That was all you. But sure, now that we're on the topic of ladies and their bosoms etc, what's up with—
Marian: I'M NOT GAY ladies just kiss me all the time I don't even ask…

Something Sunday: Good Things That Have Happened

I am all for listing things that are good in what is so increasingly becoming The Darkest Timeline that we should all have goatees by now.

Fortunately, Jenny at Reading the End has started "Something Sundays" where we can list happy/good/whatever things that are keeping us going. Lots of lovely things happened today, and here they are:

1. My girlfriend made breakfast before she got on a plane to Canada. Breakfast was extremely good, and now I can say I have a girlfriend in Canada.

2. The Frances Willard House began its renewed "Views" series with a talk by Joan Marie Johnson on her book Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women's Movement, 1870-1967 (published by UNC Press), and the talk not only sold out -- there was a WAITING list. I smiled muchly.

3. In keeping with the women's history theme, I have become increasingly delighted that my books are becoming more and more collectiony. By which I mean the books I own have never been very "…