Saturday, November 28, 2015

December Reading List and Challenge

I am participating in a couple of things this December. First of all is an initiative I have been following on Tumblr called #ReadWomen in which we are reading books by women during the month of December.

There has been a generally positive response from the people I follow, but there have been some negative comments from some. Apparently people interpret it as "man hating." I want to clear up now that this is not the case. But there are a ton of books out there by white men who are usually cis and privileged. While women are not the least privileged group out there these days, they do not get as much notoriety as they should. Plus, reading books by someone different is good for you. You may just learn something and expand your world view. Not everyone sees the world the same way as a white male. So reading books by women, women of color, trans women, et cetera, will give you a different look at things. And how is that bad?

One person wrote up a good response to one of the people against the challenge (movement, initiative, whatever you want to call it). Here is their response to someone calling the movement sexist:

I didn’t want to get in this discussion, and after seeing other posts by you I can see you’re not even open to the possibility that you are wrong. No one is calling for the boycott of male or white writers, or talking about a conspiracy, if you don’t know there is an imbalance then you are severely [misinformed].
We looked at fall 2010 catalogs from 13 publishing houses, big and small. Discarding the books that were unlikely to get reviewed—self-help, cooking, art—we tallied up how many were by men and how many were by women. Only one of the houses we investigated—the boutique Penguin imprint Riverhead—came close to parity, with 55 percent of its books by men and 45 percent by women. Random House came in second, with 37 percent by women. It was downhill from there, with three publishers scoring around 30 percent—Norton, Little Brown, and Harper—and the rest 25 percent and below, including the elite literary houses Knopf (23 percent) and FSG (21 percent). Harvard University Press, the sole academic press we considered, came in at just 15 percent.” A Literary Glass Ceiling? I recommend you read that article is analyzing a study that shows that the overwhelming amount of books that get review are by men review by men.
Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin. Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books? only 57 by Latinos, 69 Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans X
I’m done with this discussion, I have nothing to say to a person that thinks that a black person reading only books by POCs is racist. X."

And who knows? Maybe in another month or two, we can read books written only by people of color or by people with disabilities. The point is to draw attention to the imbalance.

In this vein, I have complied my reading list for this month accordingly:

Soundless by Richelle Mead
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
And depending on time/how I feel either Cinder by Marissa Meyer or Hunter by Mercedes Lackey or a re-listen of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern because it is winter-y.

I have also complied some recommendations for books to read:
Tamora Pierce: anything she has written is great, strong women and POC
Diana Wynne Jones
Kate Forsyth
Anne McCaffrey
Janet Evanovich
Sue Harrison: several of her books are historical fiction about native people from Alaska and the islands in the Bering Sea
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
And there are so many more out there.

Lastly, I am going to attempt to participate in the December Reading Challenge by Books and Cupcakes:
So that is that! If anyone out there wants to participate in either of these challenges (or both!) I highly encourage it!

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Series of Firsts

I ran into an old coworker the other day and she asked about my ex and I had to tell her that we were no longer together. She was astounded, but shared with me a bit of wisedom.

She said that losing her mom was the hardest thing she had gone through and that it took a full year to start getting over it. Because she had to go through all the firsts. There was the first Christmas without her mother, the first time she didn't get a birthday card from her mom, and so on.

She told me that the firsts are the hardest. But once you make it through the firsts, it gets better.

This will be my first Thanksgiving, Hannukah, birthday, Christmas, New Years since the break up. And I've been pretty torn up about it. I don't even want to celebrate with my family because it's the first time I won't have my ex with me (we had been together over nine years, it's hard to remember before that, so give me a break, yeah?).

Even worse than that, I can't stand to be surrounded by happy couples. I'm still a shitty friend who is jealous of her friends' happiness. Not that I don't want them to have that, and I am happy for them, but I am also too full of sadness for me. So I try to be happy for them while I am away from them.

But this is the first holiday season that I've been single in so long, after having had so much love and happiness and losing that. And the first is the hardest, right?

I hope you will all forgive me if I am distant this holiday season. Sometimes it's just better for the people around me and easier for me if I am by myself.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Note About the Red Cups

I'm sure by now everyone has heard about how "anti-Christmas" Starbucks is this year (as opposed to other years. We will get to that) because they are featuring simple red cups.
In the past, they had holiday/winter themed cups with pictures and sometimes cheesy sayings on them. Which were not specifically Christmas, by the way. Apparently these were a huge deal to some people. Which came as a complete surprise to this former Starbucks barista.

In the first place, Starbucks is a very "liberal" company. Did you know that? They do several different things to help the farmers who grow their crops, they organized volunteer projects in local communities, and they try to take care of their employees with all kinds of benefits. Want to know one thing they offer? Health insurance for same sex partners. Yep. Welcome to Starbucks.

I think Starbucks is, overall, a great company (even though I LOVE small, local owned coffee shops and I realize the two don't always co-exist very well...). It was the first job I worked that I felt valued as an employee.

And now there are all of these people in an uproar over cups. Of all things. Really? Christmas is ruined for you? Speaking of people who need more Christ in their lives.

First off, it's exceedingly selfish and also very hypocritical. I never heard any of these people complain about how Starbucks employees have to WORK ON CHRISTMAS. Apparently they don't care about that part, as long as they get their cups. I worked Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas every year that I was a Starbucks employee. And while I like to celebrate a little of Christmas and a little of Hannukah, there are not shortened days for Hannukah. I just feel like the Christians are already privilaged, but these particular "Christians" are so wrapped up in themselves that I doubt a Christmas cup would be enough to draw out their Christmas spirit anyway.

And those people should be ashamed of themselves.

Plus, it is people like this who give real Christians a bad name. Real Christians care more about, oh, I don't know, family, their fellow man, charity, the disasters occurring around the world, and the things they are supposed to care about.

An additional note: I cycled through several different holiday cups during my Starbucks career and I never, not once, heard someone say that the cups made their whole Christmas season. In fact, I heard way more ridicule about the pictures and especially the cheesy sayings than I ever heard compliments about them. I can't figure out where these people are coming from. But seriously, grow up.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review of Carry On

I just finished reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
Do you ever feel reluctant to finish a book because it's so good? And you are afraid that no other book could ever be as good? This was one of those for me. (I have felt this way about all of my favorite books.)

And it is soooo very nerdy. I love it.

In case some of you need the background story, here is a brief synopsis. In Rainbow Rowell's novel, Fangirl, the main character is obsessed with a series of books-the Simon Snow books. The author is getting ready to release the final volume in the series and the main character (of Fangirl, not of the Simon Snow series), Cather, is trying to finish her epic fanfiction: Carry On, Simon.

Well this book IS her fanfiction! That's right, it is a fanfictional (is that a word?) ending to a series of books that doesn't even exist. And if that isn't some sort of epitome of nerdy, I don't know what is.

Anyway, I got very attached to most of the characters. Especially Baz, Penny, and Ebb. Side note: what the hell ever happened to Nicky after he tried to help Baz?! Did I miss that? And does Simon ever find out about his parents?

I did not like Agatha. She can jump off the drawbridge for all I care.

I love the way that magic works in their world, all based on phrases, lyrics, et cetera, that hold influence and power. And that explains their need for normal people as well as spell evolution.

And I felt that the ending was kind of bitter sweet, especially for Simon. 

Overall, I loved this book, but I could see that it's definitely not for everyone. It's another of those that, I think, has a specific target audience. But for me, 5 out of 5 stars.