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April 2017

Edward McClelland's How to Speak Midwestern.

So here's what I got read in Edward McClelland's book How to Speak Midwestern:

The intro;

the chapter on North Central (arguably my region, although I might also qualify as Inland North accents;

and the "Wisconsin" portion of the glossary.

I should just have read the whole thing (I still might)--it's only 147 pages long.

Speak midwesternI particularly liked the bits where McClelland explained why Midwesterners often think they "don't have an accent,"* although of course they do. And I really, really enjoyed this bit, about how Midwesterners mostly like to do their criticizing passive-aggressively:

"In the Midwest, you're never certain whether you're being complimented or insulted. Midwesterners don't like to sound critical or hurt anyone's feelings, so we've developed code words that allow us to avoid stating an opinion altogether. The most important words to know are 'interesting' and 'different.' If something has merit, but you don't personally care for it, it's 'interesting.'

'What do you think of the Vikings' new stadium?'

'It's interesting.'

(The story is told of a consultant who presented an idea to a group of Minnesotans, and thought it was going over well because they all said it was interesting.)

'What do you think of the mural under the Wilson Avenue viaduct of three dolphins copulating with the Queen of the Nile?'

'It's pretty different.'" (p. 15.)

I've never thought of myself as a particularly passive-aggressive person, but I think I've used both "interesting" and "different" several times in conversation this past week alone.

I didn't read the whole thing, and I don't know that all of it rang true to me, but it's a good solid effort on an interesting topic. Do check it out sometime.

*I know I have an accent because a few years back my college roommate and I got together after not seeing each other for a few years. She had moved to Virginia and was back for a visit, and when we each got out of our cars and I shouted an exuberant greeting, she tipped her head to the side and smiled at me and said, "Oh, the accent..." I do try to sit on the accent sometimes but when I yell exuberantly it tends to come out.



Joan Didion's South and West.

Friends, I am in a bit of a MOOD.

Do you have times like that? My house is a mess and yet I'm not happy when I'm out of it; I feel overwhelmed by the very few adult responsibilities I have; I kind of wish I weren't feeling like a broken-down heap in my early 40s. I think Mr. CR sensed I'm very close to going off the rails last week when I went on a tirade about CRjr's swimming lessons. I don't swim, I hate pools, I'm annoyed at the pool where we go because they can't decide when they open or when you should be there to get in line to sign up for lessons. Or, as I said to Mr. CR: "Jesus God, if we spent half as much time in this country teaching everyone a second language, as we do teaching them to swim, we'd all be bilingual by now."*

Mr. CR is a smart person and did the nonverbal equivalent of "Yes, dear," and then got the hell out of the room.

South and westSo. Where was I? Oh yes, Joan Didion's new collection of notes (it's literally subtitled "From a Notebook"): South and West. Well, of course I read the whole thing, even though I can't finish anything lately. I finished it because it's short and I love Didion and even Didion not at her best (which she is not here; they're just notes, although Didion's notes are like a million times better than most people's finished product) is always a very intense reading experience for me. These two pieces, on the American South and West, were written in 1970 (for the South) and 1976 (for the West, or, more specifically, during the Patty Hearst trial in California).

You really just have to read the whole thing to get the flavor of it, particularly if you are at all interested in the American South. But here's one of my very favorite tidbits, it just seems so quintessentially Didion:

"NOTE: On being asked for identification when I ordered a drink in the rural South. Before I came south I had not been taken for seventeen in considerable years, but several times in that month I had to prove I was eighteen. It is assumed that grown women will have their hair done, is all I could think." (p. 61.)

I just love that. It made me remember a trip I took to Houston when I was blown away by the hair, make-up, and clothing (all very carefully done for maximum effect) of all the women there.

This isn't really specific to this collection, but my favorite thing about Didion is how she gives you what seems like a lot of personal information and a lot of glimpses into her psyche, and yet you still come away feeling like you don't really know Joan Didion at all. She can surprise you. This is one of my very favorite aspects of my closest interpersonal relationships: when people I know really well surprise me. (And it's not always with good surprises.) But still. I find it oddly thrilling to be surprised. I'm explaining it poorly, but gosh, Joan Didion is interesting. I don't ever have any idea what is going on in her head but I always, ALWAYS want to hear about it. Right down to her pictures: why is the author picture on the back of this book, for instance, of her and her daughter Quintana, when Quintana was only a small girl? Why put that picture here?

See? Interesting.

*Come on. Does the majority of the population ever go swimming again, once they're out of high school? No they don't--until they have to take their kids to water parks and lessons. So then they do that, and after that they never get in the pool again. It's a totally silly system. See? This is the MOOD I'm in.

Citizen Reading: 17 April 2017

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

The X-Files and its stars will be back in an audiobook based on an X-Files graphic novel series. I have no idea why this excites me. I didn't even watch the latest season of The X-Files on TV (although I still mean to), and I really don't get the time to read any graphic novels. But somehow whenever I see the names "David Duchovny" and "Gillian Anderson" together I still get the warm fuzzies.

"How Google Book Search got lost."

Fast-growing independent publishers.

Well, shit, I totally missed National Library Week. I do every year. Can we get Neil Gaiman's publicist, who seems to place about eighty stories about Neil Gaiman on the Internet every week, to do some pro bono work drumming up interest in National Library Week?

Dear Reader: Meet Your Match.

In praise of Agatha Christie's accidental sleuths.

Shared collections: taking your book budget further.

The New York Times is broadening its book coverage.

Audiobook webinars abound!

How a former police officer reached out to a minority population in Appleton, WI.

American Library Association: has revealed the books that Americans most wanted banned in 2016. That reminds me, I still need to read Eleanor & Park.

Children's author Patricia McKissack: Obituary.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: publishing two books this summer.

George R.R. Martin wins Twitter with this one.

International Dublin Literary Award: Shortlist.

This year's Pulitzer Prizes: Winners.

PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award: Winner.

The BBC will adapt The Miniaturist. (And: China Mieville's The City & The City.)

Oh God, now we're going to have Hillbilly Elegy, the movie. I am officially tired of Hillbilly Elegy.


Oh my God, I totally must see this book RIGHT NOW. Except I must also get this book about New York City and its near-bankruptcy in the 1970s RIGHT NOW. There are literally not enough hours in the day. Except wait...True Crime as written by Calvin Trillin? I must have it RIGHT NOW. This is not fair, Nonfiction Publishing World. Too many awesome-looking books, too little time.

The graduation books are starting to come in. If there's anything I hate, it's a horrible graduation book.

Oh Christ, now we are supposed to treat happiness as a math equation. As if making something mathy makes it at all easier for me to understand.

A new book on Isaac Newton.

Joe Biden and his wife have signed a book deal.

Series nonfiction for kids, on sustainability.

Finally understand the Danish concept of Hygge? Good, now you can learn about the Swedish equivalent.

I really want to look at this memoir of a marriage, by novelist Dani Shapiro. Although a part of me suspects it is going to bug the shit out of me.

New York Times: A Prince fan looks back at the iconic singer; a new book on Adam and Eve by Bruce Feiler; America and Russia, post-1990s: where did we go wrong?; on the legacy of David Letterman;a list of food-related memoirs; a book by Anne-Marie Slaughter on "strategies of connection in a networked world"; two new books about race and crime; a new biography of Martin Luther; and the threat of crop devastation.


IndieBound: Bestselling books the week of April 13.

School Library Journal: 37 superb new titles.

LibraryReads: May 2017. Well, at least there's some nonfiction on it this time.

Poetry picks: new books for young readers.

Notable nonfiction for teen readers on the transgender experience (and other topics).

Top ten books about the Russian Revolution.


My inability to finish anything continues. Weirdly enough the only thing I have been returning to is David Shields's Other People: Takes and Mistakes. This is weird because I do not really enjoy David Shields.

CRjr continues to sound out words like a champ. The Easter Bunny brought him a new book on sharks so he's motivated.


A review of Neil Gaiman's The View from the Cheap Seats that I quite enjoyed. The review, that is. Haven't read The View from the Cheap Seats yet.

Michael Finkel's The Stranger in the Woods.

It's been a couple of weeks since I read a book I wasn't able to put down. The last book with which I had that experience was Michael Finkel's investigative/character portrait The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.

Stranger in the woodsFinkel relates the story of Christopher Knight, who walked away from his job, car, and life in 1986, and did not really reappear among society until he was arrested for multiple thefts in 2013. Where did he go? Well, into the woods in central Maine, but the fascinating part of the story is that he didn't really go very far; there were numerous cabins and people within walking distance:

"...Knight chose to disappear well within the bounds of society. Towns and roads and houses surround his site; he could overhear canoeists' conversations on North Pond. He wasn't so much removed from humanity as sitting on the sidelines. From the nearest cabin to his hiding spot is a three-minute walk, if you know where you're going." (p. 53.)

So how did he survive nearly twenty-seven years sleeping outside in Maine, when he had walked to his campsite carrying nothing? Well, he stole. A lot. His tent, his tarps, his supplies, his food, his clothing, everything came from the cabins and a summer camp facility not far away. He even stole National Geographics and used them (and other magazines) as a sort of floor for his site. He did not hunt or grow any food; that probably would have drawn notice long before his other activities. Nonetheless, the residents of the nearby cabins were more than a bit spooked about break-ins and supplies gone missing over the course of more than twenty-five years.

So what did Knight do? Well, in addition to stealing enough food and other necessaries to eat, he sat by himself and enjoyed the woods. A lot. This is a man who has sheer dedication to living outside, and to living apart from other people. You can see that when you read about how he survived some of the Maine winters:

"It's natural to assume that Knight just slept all the time during the cold season, a human hibernation, but this is wrong. 'It is dangerous to sleep too long in winter,' he said. It was essential for him to know precisely how cold it was, his brain demanded it, so he always kept three thermometers in camp: one mercury, one digital, one spring-loaded. He couldn't trust just a single thermometer, and preferred a consensus.

When frigid weather descended, he went to sleep at seven-thirty p.m. He'd cocoon himself in multiple layers of sleeping bags and cinch a tie-down strap near his feet to prevent the covers from slipping off. If he needed to pee, it was too cumbersome to undo his bedding, so he used a wide-mouthed jug with a good lid. No matter what he tried, he couldn't keep his feet warm. 'Thick socks. Multiple socks. Boot liners. Thin socks, thinking it was better to have my feet together, using the mitten theory. I never found a perfect solution.' Still, he did not lose a toe or a finger to frostbite. Once in bed, he'd sleep six and a half hours, and arise at two a.m.

That way, at the depth of cold, he was awake...The first thing he'd do at two a.m. was light his stove and start melting snow. To get his blood circulating, he'd walk the perimeter of his camp..." (p. 118-119.)

The author, Michael Finkel*, originally made contact with Knight by writing a letter to him in prison (Knight was convicted of several felony burglaries--although it is estimated that he performed more than a thousand break-ins over the course of his self-exile) and was surprised when Knight wrote back and agreed to let Finkel come to Maine to speak with him in jail. It's not a perfect book; at times I found Finkel's voice and persona a bit irritating, and I was never quite sure why Knight was allowing him to tell the story. But overall it was a good read. And I liked that Knight didn't really offer any explanation or justification for what he did (although Finkel tries to tie his story to historical examples of hermits and solitude-seekers); it seems that he really just wanted to sit around by himself, a lot, and that's what he went and did. Anyone looking for greater understanding than that will not really get it from this narrative, because Finkel didn't really get a whole lot of introspective answers from Knight.

I liked it. It's drawing a lot of comparison's to Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild, but that one was a lot longer and the main character died, so I much preferred this very odd story.

*Finkel admits to Knight and in this book that he has erred in his journalism ways; he was fired by the New York Times for creating a "composite character" based on interviews with numerous individuals.

Citizen Reading: 10 April 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

On "the rise of social reading." I found this article super depressing. Anyone else? (Or am I proving this author's point that reading and sharing online is taking away from the time we have available to read something in a more solitary and detailed way?)

Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness is back...and she'll be BACK with a new book per day for 100 days! (That link is to her blog; her 100 books for 100 days are at her Instagram account.)

Marvel's vice president of sales suggests the comic book company's sales are slumping due to their increased attention to diversity. Or, I don't know, could it be that Marvel is now simply pumping out more superhero product than even the most dedicated of comics fans can possibly have money to buy and time to read? Nothing against comics (although they're not really my thing), but honestly, trying to keep up with comics news is unbelievably hard. They seem to create like twenty new characters and storylines per day. (Yeah, I'll admit. I'm totally sick of superheroes. They're so BORING. It's right in their name. They're super. Is it really that hard to be a hero when you're super?)

Are you up for the Reading without Walls challenge?

Trend alert: Novellas are hot!

Amazon bookstores: Creepy. This should come as no surprise. Jeff Bezos is creepy, and so is his company.

Call for papers: The future academic librarian's toolkit.

Some reasons you can use if you're applying for audiobook grant money for your library.

On library fines and fees.

Library Journal webcast on Sleeper Hits for Summer 2017. It's free, and it's tomorrow (Tuesday, April 11).

Results of a reading survey, courtesy of Publishing Perspectives. I expected them to find that women read more than men, but I did not expect to learn that The Netherlands harbors the largest group of non-readers (in a tie with South Korea).

Joanne Kyger, "Beat generation poet": Obituary.

Like Eric Jerome Dickey? USA TODAY is hosting a live chat with him on April 18.

Netflix has ordered a third season of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events."

Remember: Before "Boss Baby" was a movie, it was a picture book.

Society of Midland Authors: Awards for best books by Midwestern authors.


An interview with Jessa Crispin about her new book, Why I Am Not a Feminist.

Rebecca Solnit has a new book of essays out.

I'd like to read this new history about Lenin, but my TBR list is out of control.

Oh gosh, when they get a little older, my boys are going to eat this book up with a spoon.

News about this book was all over my Yahoo page last week, because the only Internet links I click on are about the Royal family and most entertainment news. With enough frothy clicks I hope never to be served up actual real or political news again.

Naomi Klein will publish a book about Trump's politics.

Even news of sexual harassment case settlements can't dent Bill O'Reilly's stellar book sales.

"Telling Trump's story to children."

On the other hand, if you're interested in the inner workings of the White House, this might be the book for you.

A collection of stories/essays first told on the radio program The Moth is now being published as a book.

New York Times: Mary Gaitskill has published a collection of essays; Ron Powers has written a book about his sons' struggles with schizophrenia (I'll probably get this one even though it seems like it could be heartbreaking); a book how about how American health care became big business that I'd really like to read; a journalist spends a year celebrating all of the Jewish holidays; a history of "America's involvement in Asia and China"; two new books explore the furor over rape on campuses and how it can be a dangerous time for those wrongly accused of sexual assault (and here's another review of one of these books, the one by Laura Kipnis). Yeah. I don't even know what to comment there. I still rather feel that until all men have to stay in for one night per week on every campus and in every city in America, just so women could go out in peace (and yes, that would include a moratorium on dates), I'm not overly outraged about the "rape furor" on campus. That said, it is not good to be falsely accused in these days of the Internet keeping every single piece of your personal information alive for ever and ever. It's a tough one. I will probably have to read that Kipnis book just to better understand the subject.


EarlyWord highlights some new Spring Book Lists.

GQ Magazine: Best Books of April. Actually, I want to read all of the books on this list. I really like GQ's books coverage.

"15 best books on fundamental analysis of stocks." Wow. Only for the most hardcore of business/investing readers. This list might be of interest to the more generalist business reader: 9 business books of 2017 that will change how America does business.

IndieBound: bestselling books the week of April 6.

PopCrush: Most anticipated YA books of April.

"Dishing up spring cookbooks."

Celebrate April as Poetry Month with these YA books.

The "best second novels of all time."

Amazon: Best Books of April.

Wow, who knew there were enough novels about phone sex to make a booklist of them? There are! (And, because I can't resist throwing this in there: Do you really need a wi-fi connected sex toy?)


I started seemingly a million books this week and nothing stuck. I tried the novel Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, by Faith Sullivan, and the essay collection, Things That Are, by Amy Leach, because I wanted to read a book published by Milkweed Editions, but neither of them were for me. Likewise, I started Kathleen McAuliffe's This Is Your Brain On Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society. I think it's an okay science book but I'm not in the mood right now.

I am sticking with Joan Didion's very short new collection South and West, but I think that's because it won't take me long and I do so love Joan Didion. It's not really setting me on fire but even at her most disjointed I am always interested in what Didion observes about the world.

CRjr is actually learning to read, and it is thrilling. He went from fighting it (I suspect he thought if he learned to read we would stop reading to him) to being pretty good at it, and this week he spent some time teaching CRjr the Littlest to read also. Which went fine until Littlest decided he was done learning for the time being and showed that by clocking his brother with the book. He is definitely related to me on the "lack of subtlety" scale.


11 things you need to know about Neil Gaiman's "American Gods."

God, how I do love Jessa Crispin.

I get the distinct feeling that, on many points, I am Jessa Crispin's polar opposite. She is a successful, intellectual author who ran an internationally renowned literary blog, she travels widely, she worked for Planned Parenthood and is vocally pro-choice. I am not successful, not intellectual, I largely stay put, I am living in what most people would term the most traditional and regressive of personal situations (married with children in the suburbs), and I am anti-abortion.

Why i am not a feministBut, I gotta tell you this, and I mean it: I love Jessa Crispin from the bottom of my soul. I just read her new book Why I Am Not a Feminist. It's a great read. Crispin is so smart and such a tidy nonfiction writer that she can showcase her well-read understanding of her subject matter without making you feel like an idiot. That's not easy to do. Rather than name-dropping to scare you with what she knows, or to spin ever more detailed theses, she presents just enough of others' thoughts and works to make YOU want to go read them. (And then she gives you a handy one-page bibliography at the end, no titles, no pub data, just names of authors you should read.) This is also not easy. Her crisp prose, on the other hand, is so easy to read that her chapters are over before you know it. And yet it is filled with such heat that it makes you not want to stop reading chapters until you're all done with the book.

Here's the opening salvo:

"Somewhere along the way toward female liberation, it was decided that the most effective method was for feminism to become universal. But instead of shaping a world and a philosophy that would become attractive to the masses, a world based on fairness and community and exchange, it was feminism itself that would have to be rebranded and remarketed for contemporary men and women.

They forgot that for something to be universally accepted, it must become as banal, as non-threatening and ineffective as possible. Hence the pose. People don't like change, and so feminism must be as close to the status quo--with minor modifications--in order to recruit large numbers.

In other words, it has to become entirely pointless." (p. x-xi.)

Reviews of this book have been mixed. I'm going to tell you to read it. If nothing else, because I know that Crispin is out there living the life she advocates in her nonfiction. I love her the way I love Stacy Horn: both of these women take their work seriously. It is not making them rich.* It is not making their books Oprah books. They are both just extremely talented and hard-working writers. Horn puts a lot of effort into her fact-checking (and sometimes seems to be the last nonfiction author out there who does) and Crispin doesn't say anything that you want to hear just to make you like her.

So, no: we do not always share the same opinions. But I love her because she seems willing to say some things that no one wants to hear: she particularly makes the point that it does not make a woman a feminist just to become rich and successful in our current system. She makes the further point that a lot of times people who are successful at getting ahead in someone else's system are then very good at turning around and oppressing other people. Which is not really the point. Or shouldn't be. Or, as she says, much more eloquently:

"And trust me: people will hate you if you choose freedom over money, if you decide to live a life by your values of compassion, honesty, and integrity. Because you will remind them of their own deficiencies in these areas.

It's lonely outside the system. But we need you out here." (p. 64.)

I'm always a fan of someone saying something that will not make them rich. Read this book.** Or, if you don't have time, check out this interview. Also? Go buy and read some Stacy Horn books, please. Let's start by making some authors arguably not inside the James-Pattersonesque juggernaut system of publishing a little bit more well-off.

*I am particularly touched that Crispin once noted that one of the few ways to make blogging pay was to be an Amazon associate, and she didn't care much for that.

**Back when I wasn't blogging for a while I also read Crispin's travelogue The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries. I'm sorry I never wrote about it here. There was a lot to think about in that book too, and at least one line/thought that will stay with me for a long time.

Citizen Reading: 3 April 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

Okay. Looking to learn a little bit about which political authors write from which political viewpoints? The New York Times has just started offering round-ups of political stories "from the right and left." It'll take a little clicking, but this would be a great way to learn about right/left publications, and also learn a few names of political authors. If you're interested in that sort of thing.

Publishing factual books in an age of "alternative facts."

8 ways to get more reading done in 2017.

An 11-year-old has started a book club for African American boys.

"Have you hugged your indexer today?" Evidently March 30 was National Indexing Day in the UK. As if I needed another reason to be an Anglophile. (Full disclosure: I do freelance work as an indexer. I had indexing work this weekend, including a book on the normalization of U.S.-Cuba foreign relations, written for high schoolers, mind you, that I still thought was going to kill me. A surprisingly complex topic. And yes, I could use a hug!)

What the Trump Budget means for school libraries.

"Outlander" the TV series is helping encourage the publication of more Outlander books.

Ways to celebrate April as National Poetry Month.

Wow, it was a tough week for authors. Here are the obituaries:

Christina Vella, history author: Obituary.

British novelist and playwright David Storey: Obituary.

Irish author Frank Delaney has died.

The man who wrote What Color is Your Parachute has died, at age 90.

And now author news that does not involve their deaths:

The most prolific author of whom you've never heard.

Emma Donoghue, best known for her novel Room, has now published a children's book.

Star Trek legend George Takei will tell his life graphic novel form.

A new Wimpy Kid book from author Jeff Kinney is due in November.

Movie news:

David Finkel's Thank You for Your Service: closer to the screen. I always meant to read this book and never got to it. Has anyone else read it?

Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad: will become a movie.

Elena Ferrante's "My Brilliant Friend" adaptation by HBO to begin filming this summer.

Netflix has a new documentary out based on Mark Harris's book Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War.

The animated movie "Ferdinand" (based on the famous picture book): Trailer.

The sequel to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth": Trailer.

"Game of Thrones" season 7: Trailer.

Cash Cab is coming back! This is not book-related, but I watched a lot of the game show Cash Cab while I nursed the eldest CRjr. Oh, how I loved Cash Cab. Sadly, I am not going to have the energy to try and have another baby to nurse just so I can watch this new version. A smarter plan would be just to plan a NYC vacation to try and be ON Cash Cab!

"Downton goes to Guernsey," dear God, I hate everything about that headline. An article about the movie adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society sharing a lot of the cast members from "Downton Abbey."

Best Translated Book Awards for Fiction and Poetry: Longlists.

Dylan Thomas Book Prize (for authors under 39?): Shortlist.

Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction: Shortlist.

An award celebrating "best Scandi crime."

7 tips for donating old books without being a jerk.


Mary Berry's cookbook is selling well.

Actress Katey Sagal has written a memoir.

Oh God, a book about DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as the agency that "has led the charge, for both good and ill, in finding ways to locate and kill people." You know I'm going to have to get that one.

A new biography of Richard Nixon.

New York Times: Whittle down your "to-do list" by doing less of it; a book about a family unlucky in its genetics (four out of five siblings have been identified as having the gene for early-onset Alzheimer's); exactly how did evangelicals become such a force to be reckoned with in American politics?; a memoir by a woman reflecting on the violent death of her mother and the alcoholism of her father (go look at the link; the book looks more interesting than the summary I just gave it); on Reagan, the New Right, and the GOP.


IndieBound: Bestselling books the week of March 30.

Flavorwire: Ten Must-reads for April.

13 books to read before they become movies in 2017.

Cultured Vultures: Best Books to Look Forward to in April. All fiction, not anything I want to read, but a list of some authors whose names I've never seen before. (Except Elizabeth Kostova, that name I know.)

Fifteen hilarious comics from the last decade.

It's baseball season! Here's ten books to celebrate. (Related: 14 new baseball books reviewed in the New York Times.)

A UK site, but still an interesting list: Best Books to help your kids learn about money.

Twelve circus novels, in honor of the end of Ringling Bros.

"A trans* and gender nonconforming reading list for all ages."


OrcaChecked out one of the many, many new books with "f&*k" in the title: Rachel Hoffman's Unf&*k Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess. There was nothing new here but it was interesting to note a very good (from a marketing standpoint) blurb on the back from Cory Doctorow: "A must-read for people who are terrified by Marie Kondo..." And that's totally what it is, a less horrifying Marie Kondo. As far as I can tell the author's main point is that you should clean up and organize in 20/10 increments: 20 minutes of work, 10 minutes of break.

I pounded Anne Tyler novels for comfort this week; I don't know why. I enjoyed my re-reads of her If Morning Ever Comes and Breathing Lessons; Earthly Possesssions, not so much.

In CRjr reading news, the eldest has returned in a hardcore way to shark books (we found a big illustrated shark encyclopedia that he has been dragging lovingly around the house). We also found this awesome book (see cover at left): Who Would Win? Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark. Awesome. I won't tell you who wins; you're just going to have to read it!


American Gods: has "unleashed" ten character posters.