The Autumn Reading Tag

With autumn upon us and cool fall weather due any day now, this seemed like a good tag for Tag Tuesday.

1) Are there any books you plan on reading over the Autumn season?
The Vanishing by Wendy Webb, Carnivale of Horror edited by Marie O’Regan, Silence by Tim Lebbon, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, What Happened by Hillary Clinton and Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. Will I get to all of these? No but it will be fun trying.

2) September brings back to school memories: what book did you most enjoy studying? And what were your favorite and least favorite school subjects?
I enjoyed English and most of my culture studies classes in college. I was never a big fan of math and science because I never had great teachers save 9th grade algebra.

3) October means Halloween: do you enjoy scary books and films? If so what are some of your favorites?
I used to hate horror movies but I’m warming to certain kinds. I used to be a huge weenie about them and now I’ve gotten FHubs hooked on AHS. My favorite scary films are Trick r’ Treat, Urban Legend, Sleepy Hollow, and Identity.

I love creepy books. I haven’t read Autumn Cthulhu but it sounds pretty perfect for this time of year. Other books I’d recommend are In the Dark edited by Rachel Deering, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Bird Box by Josh Malerman, The Gates by John Connolly, Halloween by Sarah Guran, and October Dreams by Ricahrd Chizmar

4) With November it’s time for bonfire night & firework displays. What’s the most exciting book you’ve read that really kept you gripped?
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. It’s not a particularly fall book but I was just hooked from the first line.

5) What book is your favorite cozy comfort read?
Pride and Prejudice. There’s something cozy and familiar about it to me.

6) Curled up with a good book, what is your hot drink of choice?
Tea if I’m under the weather or hot chocolate.

7) Any plans you’re looking forward to over the next few months?
Getting married is featuring pretty highly on the list, RenFest is always great, and we’ll be visiting some friends to see how their kids have grown and catch up.


Music Monday: Awesome Mix #2

This Awesome Mix is based more on what I’m listening to right now. I hope you find something new to love here.

Hymn by Kesha
Rocket Science by The PDX Broadsides
Women Know Math by The Doubleclicks
Ugly by Courtney Act
Brave by Josh Groban
Strange by LP
Champion by Fall Out Boy
Shiny by Jonathan Young
Low by Todrick Hall feat. Rupaul
Talking to Myself by Linkin Park
Black Wedding by In This Moment
Somebody’s Watching Me by Hidden Citizen

I Suck at Read-a-thons Read-a-thon

I finally found a read-a-thon I won’t suck at. Sam’s Nonsense is doing a read-a-thon for people who are busy, distracted, and otherwise suck at read-a-thons. It is aptly called I Suck at Read-a-thons Read-a-thon (#ISARAT). It runs from September 18-22 with the following categories.

1. Read the smallest book on your shelf
2. Read 10 pages/day
3. Read a graphic novel
4. Finish 1 book
5. Read for 20 mins/day

This is my TBR

Smallest Book
Bikes in Space edited by Elly Blue is pocket sized. I started it for the tail end of a different read-a-thon but didn’t finish it.

Read a graphic novel
I have a couple of things I could go with. An installment of Princessless (short and always fun) or my latest Kictstarter arrival, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Emily Cheeseman. Let’s Speak English by Mary Cagle would also be fun. I’ll leave this up in the air.

Read 10 pages a day/for 20 minutes
I typically read on the train so this easily checks off both of these boxes. I’m still plowing through Trump Revealed but I’m really hoping to finish it this weekend. I need to start The Sorcerer to the Crown for a book club my friends decided to start. Which of the two books I read depends on what I get done this weekend.

Finish a book
Any of the above will hopefully be finished in that time.

The Privilege of Minimalism

I’ve been watching a lot of minimalist videos on YouTube since I’ve been especially broke lately. I came across an article by Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet. She has some serious vitriol for minimalism.

Her critique of the ‘no-makeup makeup’ reminded me of The Anna Edit, who freely admits to liking that look. Anna has professional photographers take a lot of her insta photos, rocks purses that cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars, and uses makeup that would kill a week’s worth of my pay. While she makes some fun videos, that life is not attainable.

Anna probably had money to start with and, through hard work and luck, created a life on YouTube and Insta that makes some people hate themselves. So much on social media screams, to quote Fagan, “Look at me! Look at all of the things I have refused to buy, and the incredibly-expensive, sparse items I have deemed worthy instead!”

Part of the minimalist mystique is that it’s voluntary. I think this is why the KonMari method blew up the way it did. You can look at your stuff, decide what brings you ‘joy’ and get rid of excess. Some people can’t get rid of a beat up old coat that doesn’t spark joy because they don’t have a replacement.

“The only people who can “practice” minimalism in any meaningful way are people upon whom it isn’t forced by financial or logistical circumstances”
I missed half a paycheck to take a vacation and it definitely screwed up my finances. I’m forced to not spend extraneously because I have bills to pay. However, I like that I’m being forced to change my ways. I don’t like being this broke but I’m hoping to learn something from this crappy situation.

I don’t live in poverty but it can warp your thinking in ways people who’ve never struggled with it don’t understand. According to John Cheese, you develop tastes for cheap, processed food and often don’t know how to handle money. They will buy the cheaper shoes even if it will fall apart sooner and investing in a better quality item would save them money in the long run. This concept well described by Terry Pratchett.

Some important tenants of minimalism could be useful to people in low income situations where an extra $50 a month could make a huge difference. However, a lot of the more visible minimalists can be pretentious shits so a lot of folks in dire straits aren’t interested in what they have to say.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, now famous for their devotion to minimalism, write about exactly this but do it in such a way you kind of want to smack them. “If we have less money, then we must be more intentional with how we spend it” is a perfect point that gets overshadowed by the ‘look how smart I am’ name drops in the last paragraph.

I think minimalism started as a natural response to the economic bust of the late aughts. People getting loans they couldn’t pay to buy houses they couldn’t fill eventually tanked out economy. Rather than dive into the consumerist lifestyle that impacted an entire generation, people started going tiny, buying locally, and trying to learn from those mistakes.

As with any major social change, you have people who go to the extreme. These are the spiritual minimalists like Nicodemus and Millburn who promise total life satisfaction. They have a documentary, a podcast, books, and tours. They got rich off capitalizing on this movement. If they’re smart with their money, they will be able to live off this for the rest of their lives.

I think there are important takeaways from consuming less, consuming consciously, and spending wisely. You do not have to be all in or voluntarily participating to find what about minimalism resonates with you. Making it your lifestyle doesn’t make you a bad person; failing to see your own privilege makes you a bad person. I aspire to be more minimal in a lot of aspects of my life. That doesn’t make me a bad or more enlightened person; it just means I’m figuring out what works best for me.

The Reading Quest Wrap-Up

In which we can definitively say I kind of suck at read-a-thons. How did I do?

First Book in a series: Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates
It was enjoyable but unremarkable.

Book with a Verb in the Title: Donald Trump Revealed by Michael Kranish
Reveal is the verb. This book was incomplete at the time the challenge finished.

Book with a Weapon on the Cover: Brimstone Angels by Erin M. Evans
Entertaining. I look forward to continuing with the series.

Book with a Red Cover: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
An old favorite with a new spin. Done in the style of 1960s satanic horror movies, this was a fun, creepy, and campy romp.

Book with a TV/Movie Adaptation: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
A very compelling memoir that I highly recommend.

I didn’t complete any side quests since I never finished the main quest. My final stats are EXP 45 and HP 143 and I was level 1. I checked the comments on the Final Scoreboard and someone checked all of the boxes. I’m impressed, baffled, and intimidated.

I hope Read at Midnight does this again because it’s a fun idea. Maybe I’ll do better when I’m not two months out from my wedding.

Music Monday: Awesome Mix #1

I thought about what songs I would want on my Awesome Mix if I could only listen to a limited number of songs for a long time. I thought about what I typically listen to most days and what music serves me well.

When I get angry, music is one of the few things that helps me calm down. I wanted to include a couple of songs to soothe my savage beast. I also wanted a couple of songs that are slower but had an undercurrent of menace to them. I think you need some songs that are slower and sadder for when you need to feel your feelings. You also need songs that pump you up.

Woman (Oh Mama) by Joy Williams
Cynics & Critics by Icon for Hire
Hard Times by Paramore
Only if for a Night by Florence + the Machine
Throne by Bring Me the Horizon
I Will Never Die by Delta Rae
Fin by Anberlin
Immortals by FOB
Shoot It Out by 10 Years
Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Lorde
The Grey by Icon for Hire
Breathe Me by Sia

I got to make a mix tape for extra credit in a sociology class in college. My professor said I liked anthems. That definitely holds true with this. It’s probably not the fun awesome mix tape of the original but this would sustain me for a good long while.

Nerdy 30 Activity 17

I didn’t do a proper wrap-up for Activity 17, focus on ebooks. Because I’m not a speed reader and had library holds come in, I only read two.

Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates and Brimstone Angels by Erin M. Evans. The former was entertaining but generic (3/5) and the latter was good but unremarkable (4/5). I’m hopeful for future books in the series.

There are some very practical reasons to own an ereader. Forest was a $3 ebook when I bought it as opposed a $16 paperback. I’m currently reading a full size hardcover which is not nearly as versatile as my Kindle keyboard. Many libraries lend ebooks and it gives indie writers a better platform to self-publish their work.

But there’s something about the smell of a book, the heft of it, the feeling of the pages between your fingers. During my brief stint in publishing, several of us gathered around a new shipment to breath in that new book smell. Our brains retain information better when read from the page instead of a screen. I’ll still read the occasional ebook but it will never be my favorite method of reading.