What I Read | APRIL 2017

28092902Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson

Bryson, known mainly for his European travelogues, here documents his return to the USA through a series of newspaper essays.  Having tasted life in Europe, his musings about his home country are mostly exasperated.  Occasionally, usually at the prodding of his British wife, he remembers something lovely about the United States, which just goes to show that it’s easiest to love greener grass elsewhere than to love what we were given.

NorseMythology_Hardback_1473940163Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

The first creation stories were not especially amazing, and I almost lost hope for this book!  But once we dive into character-driven narratives, there is a distinct Gaiman-sparkle that elevated the book and helped the story feel more cohesive.  I’m becoming more and more interested in Norse mythology, especially because the gods seem especially unfair, and unrepentantly so.

51nBwU944QL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

A true memoir of one guy’s journey of Not Dating, and how this could have happened.  It’s funny, and there is meaningful growth, which is good because I spent most of the book yelling “you’re self-sabotaging!” at him until he heard me and said so himself towards the end.  The premise is even more fun because he frames each story through the lens of a scientific hypothesis to be proved or disproved.  It was fun to see that he was mostly wrong, and had to learn that we see what we want and/or fear, not what is really there.

28588459Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King

King is one of my all time favorite authors because she walks a fascinating “is this mental illness OR magic OR reality” line that she refuses to clarify.  This book in particular dealt with a subject I haven’t really seen represented before.  King confidently asserts that abuse, big or small, endured or witnessed, is traumatizing and deserves to be acknowledged, addressed, and healed.  Through the lens of a teenager girl meeting other-aged versions of herself.  Fun!

25528801Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

This book is a little more PSA-y, telling the “ideal” rape scenario in which the victim knows it’s not her fault and is believed and supported by everyone.  It’s not very realistic, but it’s very encouraging to see a future to work toward.  Secondarily, I was very impressed that Johnston made me question my cheerleader-stereotypes, and by the end I really admired the sport.

51vR3C-ZWpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

I don’t usually like books written in the form of diary entries, but Schlitz pulled the form off wonderfully.  The break between entries, and how the time in between is explained either in a rush or with embarrassment, really added to the narrative.  It’s set in the early 1900s, and the journey from country (which felt vaguely Little House on the Prairie) to city (which felt modern…ish) highlighted just how drastically technology changed people’s lives during that time period.  It was a fun read!

27230789Honestly Ben by Bill Konigberg

This is a sequel to Openly Straight, now told from Ben’s perspective.  And thank goodness, because Ben is so good!  He’s so lovely!  He’s thoughtful and deliberate, and we all need a Ben in our lives.  There was also so much good gender and sexuality talk going on in this book, with a gender fluid character who is almost immediately embraced by their all-male high school (if only!) and a main character who is something like demisexual…but not really?  I hope there’s a third book from Hannah’s perspective.

41d41DLmZwL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

I LOVE St. Francis, so reading a fictional book about a Protestant pastor who goes to Assisi and also falls in love with the saint was right up my alley.  I mean, it’s history/travel/theology all in one!  It was actually a little heavy-handed for a novel in the way that it presented a model for how the Church could be remade, but I found it quite inspirational.  Definitely a book for the postmodern mystic/skeptic.

25665016The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

A seriously uplifting book about four teenagers struggling with mental disorders (rage, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia) inside a mental health hospital.  I loved how they helped each other in their brokenness WITH their brokenness.  Stork’s amazing ability to write about depression and suicide attempts is apparently based on his personal experience, but his ability to write female teenagers believably is all skill.

 

 

 

 

 

Online Dating as an INFJ (aka Tinder Update)

About a month ago, I wrote about my half-hearted attempt to try Tinder.  Since then, I have kept my account…quarter-heartedly?  Eighth-heartedly?  What I mean is, I open the app every couple days, swipe left on everyone, and close out again.

I know I’m not doing it right.  I’ve tried prioritizing different things:  first I opened everyone’s profile to see if they wrote anything about themselves.  If they didn’t, I automatically swiped left.  If they did, more often than not it was something like this, which also resulted in a left swipe:

  • “I’ll Channing your Tatum.”
  • “All kinds scorn SEX they is CRIME.”
  • “My last tweet was longer than my last relationship.”
  • “Pigeon King.”

Continue reading “Online Dating as an INFJ (aka Tinder Update)”

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney

I loved this book, but it also infuriated me.  Two years ago, when I was 25, I wrote 80 pages of a pseudo-memoir about how I was 25 and had so far avoided having an actual boyfriend.  Now Katie Heaney does the same thing, and SO MUCH BETTER.  I’m over my jealousy – this girl is hilarious and we are kindred spirits.  Her every observation (whether about 90s kid culture, junior high horror, or college friendships) is so accurate.  Her personality, like mine, is perfectly suited to obsessions and inaction.  Which is why she’s 25 and hasn’t had a date.

“I just don’t know how anyone ever knows what to do with their bodies.  I catch myself worrying about what my arms are doing when I’m walking alone, and that is just walking.  Alone.

So I am a basket case, generally, and picky, and have almost always had crushes on people who usually don’t have crushes on me, and it’s rare that I’m so attracted to a stranger that I could imagine having sex with him at that exact moment.  And even when that has been true, I am only able to talk about thinking about it, from a safe distance.  I have no idea what I’d actually do about it.  But generally speaking, I’d like to date someone, at least a little, first.  Add all this to my somewhat looming height, an unintentional bracing hostility toward people I don’t know well, and an end to the era in my life when I might have felt the need to do something for the first time to get it over with, and it’s not hard to end up with a twenty-five-year-old who hasn’t had sex.  I put practically no effort into it at all.”

Continue reading “Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney”

A Better Set of First Date Questions

BuzzFeed recently introduced me to the the existence of @firstdateqs, a Twitter account where people are revolutionizing first dates.  Throw out questions about careers and families of origin and ask the truly important ones, like, “Do you think birds hear their own voices and are like ‘ugh is THAT what I sound like?'”

I’ll be honest, I would be super impressed by a guy who brought his creativity A-game to the restaurant.  So, just to practice, I thought I would answer a few.  Continue reading “A Better Set of First Date Questions”

StumbleUpon Sunday (4)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Silk
    This is the coolest website that allows you to create fantastic art by messing with rotational symmetry and colors.  It’s intuitive and impossible to make something ugly.
    index
  2. 49 Locals Tell You What You Absolutely Must Not Do in Their Home Countries
    Some are helpful, some are hilarious.
  3. 5-Year-Old Little Girl with Autism Paints Stunning Masterpieces
    My cynical side often thinks these child geniuses are not all that genius, but this girl’s paintings are genuinely beautiful.
  4. Time Lapse of Snow
    Oh my gosh, as a deeply devoted fan of snow, this massive accumulation of snow is fantastic.  It’s just so much!
  5. These 20 Thoughts are So Deep Your Brain Will Drown
    “If the toys in Toy Story died the kids would keep playing with them like normal but the other toys would be playing with their dead friend.”
  6. 10 Best Places to Live for Escaping World Conflict
    Never hurts to start planning ahead for retirement.
  7. If You Really Want to Connect With Someone Then the First Date Should Cost Zero Dollars
    Compelling idea–if the first date involves no money, the focus is on creativity and getting to know a person rather than going through the motions.
  8. Greek Frappe
    This video teaches you how to make a Greek frappe and is guaranteed to make you thirsty.
  9. 25 Spectacular Movies You (Probably) Haven’t Seen
    Hopefully you’ve seen some of these movies, because based on the ones I’ve seen, I completely agree that they are spectacular recommendations!
  10. 10 Reasons to Avoid Talking on the Phone
    98% of the time, I hate talking on the phone.  For exactly these ten reasons.