Oct 7, 2015

Reims, France

Hello, friends. I’m now done with travelling for the rest of the year, and getting ready to resume normality — though I suspect that will take me considerably longer than I’d anticipated. My mind and heart are still very much on my trip, and will be for some time to come; in addition to that, I need to get the house ready for my parents’ arrival this weekend, not to mention actually spend time with them when they’re over here. I’m very glad they get to come — I look forward to pretty autumn colours at Kew Gardens on Saturday, assuming the weather cooperates — but the timing is a challenge.

I have two more travel posts to do after this one (Barcelona and Madrid), and after that I hope I’ll be ready to live up to this blog’s subtitle again and, you know, actually write about my reading. As I said recently, I read some of my favourite books of the year in late August and early September, and it would be a shame not to discuss them. I also really, really hope I get to do one or two posts for A More Diverse Universe before this fortnight is over. I did read plenty of books that would fit the bill — now it’s only a matter of finding the time, energy, and emotional availability to write about them.
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Sep 24, 2015

See you soon!

Casa Batllo, Barcelona
Photo Credit

I’m off again very soon, this time for a week in Barcelona and Madrid (with a quick French detour). The books I’m taking to read on my holiday are Christopher Barzak’s Wonders of The Invisible World and Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere. My requirement was simple: “books with all the feels”. I think these will fit the bill.

I confess I’m not exactly looking forward to coming back, admitting summer is over, and settling into everyday reality for good, but I do take comfort in the fact that the autumn book releases I’ve been looking forward to all year will be here or almost here by the time my trip is over: there’s The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last, Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, the Bitch Planet trade paperback, Zeroes by Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti and Scott Westerfeld, etc. Also, I promise that once I return I’ll make every effort to get back on track when it comes to actual book blogging.

Have a lovely rest of September, friends, and I’ll see you soon!

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Sep 20, 2015

Sunday Links: In which I reassure you this hasn’t become a travel blog

The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett, The Rest of us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, The Little Gentleman by Philippa Pearce, Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa, Goodbye Stanger by Rebecca Stead, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Good morning, friends. I’m currently in between big, exciting trips, which means it doesn’t quite feel like I’m living in real time. It’s an odd feeling: I’ve gone back to normal life, but I know that as soon finish dwelling on the recent bout of excitement there will be more to plan and look forward to. The knowledge has been shielding me from everyday life’s small frustrations, and it’s put me in an emotional space I’d like to hold on to if I can. After all, even after my current plans are all behind me the world will continue to contain plenty of amazing things. Life has the potential to feel this amazing, and it would be great to be able to keep sight of that during less than pleasant times.

Also, I’ve been reading a lot this month, even if I haven’t quite had the headspace to blog about any of it. I read a bunch of books in a row that are likely to make my best of the year list, which is a wonderful feeling. It’ll be a few weeks still until I’m ready to blog about my reading again, but oh, I have so much to tell you when I do. I especially want to talk about Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger, which just might be my favourite read of what has proved a very strong year so far.

As a reminder to myself that I do care about things other than ambling around Europe and going to gigs, here are some links of interest:
  • This piece about the financial toll of mass incarceration on prisoners’ families and loved ones is heartbreaking and necessary.

  • Maureen started a Pinterest board for diverse storytime books, which is such an awesome resource to have.

  • Laurie Penny on What the Corbyn moment means for the left.

  • Girl Monsters: Sofia Samatar interviews Sarah McCarry. This is everything, friends. Everything.
    I assumed, growing up, that you had to be a boy to live the kind of life I wanted, and so I spent most of my time with boys; meeting women who were trouble, who were monsters making their own lives, was like falling into magic. I was one of those girls for a while. I’ve had those girls in my life since I left home. I think monster stories are fundamentally about living freely, about the desire for an autonomous life when your own story doesn’t correspond with what the dominant culture identifies as deserving of that kind of autonomy. Nobody fucks with the Gorgon. She might be lonely sometimes, but she makes the rules.
  • Making while brown: Texas schoolchild arrested for bringing homemade clock to school. “It made me feel like I wasn’t human. It made me feel like a criminal.” Also, here’s Ahmed being awesome at a press conference.

  • Zen Cho discusses Sorcerer to the Crown at Scalzi’s. I’m finally reading this book and it’s so adorable, so smart, and so much fun.

  • Via Clare: “Or to put it all another way: I feel like friendship (and friendship parts of other sorts of relationships more broadly) is stuck in Guess Culture, and I think it would be really great to have the option of conducting friendship in Ask Culture.

  • Mel Morrow reviews Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa, which I’ve been thinking about a lot.

  • I absolutely need to get my hands on Miya Tokumitsu’s book:
    Do what you love is the ultimate individualist myth, one that normalizes a world in which most people have jobs that are just barely this side of tolerable, because if we are special enough, hardworking enough, and love the work enough, we will make our way to the top. The flip side of this, Tokumitsu notes, is that those who didn’t make it didn’t love the work enough. Or just plain weren’t special enough. “In order to maintain the belief that go-getterism really works,” she writes, “we must turn away from workers for whom it doesn’t.”
  • Mother Jones on The Secret History of Black Chefs in America.

  • From Good For Nothing:
    For some time now, one of the most successful tactics of the ruling class has been responsibilisation. Each individual member of the subordinate class is encouraged into feeling that their poverty, lack of opportunities, or unemployment, is their fault and their fault alone. Individuals will blame themselves rather than social structures, which in any case they have been induced into believing do not really exist (they are just excuses, called upon by the weak).What Smail calls ‘magical voluntarism’ – the belief that it is within every individual’s power to make themselves whatever they want to be – is the dominant ideology and unofficial religion of contemporary capitalist society, pushed by reality TV ‘experts’ and business gurus as much as by politicians. Magical voluntarism is both an effect and a cause of the currently historically low level of class consciousness. It is the flipside of depression – whose underlying conviction is that we are all uniquely responsible for our own misery and therefore deserve it. A particularly vicious double bind is imposed on the long-term unemployed in the UK now: a population that has all its life been sent the message that it is good for nothing is simultaneously told that it can do anything it wants to do.
  • ...and from another essay that really affected me, No Country for Young Women:
    The foundation of my frantic desire to get away from this stuff in fiction is that I can’t avoid it anywhere else. Even leaving aside the news, the street, and the internet, if you’re a girl who reads a lot of history, and you grow into a woman who reads a lot more, you spend your entire reading life slicing your toes on nails sticking up through the floor, because as you pick your way through the hostile territory of the past, you’ll do so via the accounts of fĂȘted men who believe half of our species is cunning but stupid, intrinsically trivial, intellectually dead.
  • Atul Gawande pays tribute to Oliver Sacks.

  • Cassandra Among the Creeps by Rebecca Solnit.

  • I’m usually woefully behind when it comes to movies, but Grandma caught my attention and it looks pretty amazing.

  • Genevieve Valentine on The rise of TV’s lady jerks.

  • Lumberjanes’ Jo Comes Out As Trans! This had been hinted at before, but it’s so great to have it confirmed.

  • Speaking of comics, how great does the upcoming Hellcat look?

  • Jackie Morris’ The Wild Swans looks gorgeous and I want it desperately. “I wanted heroines who shaped their own futures, walked their own path. So I wrote them.

  • Lastly, I'll leave you with an NPR Tiny Desk concert by a band I’ve listened to a lot in the past few weeks: Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear.
If any links caught your attention recently, do feel free to share them in the comments. I haven’t really succeeded in catching up with the Internet during these strange, in-between weeks, so I’m sure there’s plenty of things of interest that I’ve missed.

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Sep 18, 2015

Summer Travels, Part Three: The South

For the last instalment of my summer 2015 travelling adventures (until I go off to Spain, that is — I’m pretending it’s still summer until I come back), I want to tell you what I did down south after returning from Edinburgh and Manchester. This part of my trip included visits to places associated with some of my absolute favourite writers (Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones) and more feelings than I know what to do with.
To begin in, I spend a few days in London loitering around the South Bank. There I finally got to go to the Book Market under Waterloo Bridge, which I’d been hearing about for ages.

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Sep 16, 2015

Summer Travels, Part Two: Edinburgh Festivals 2015

Summer Travels, Part Two: Edinburgh Festivals 2015
I’ve been in love with Edinburgh since I first visited in December 2007. Part of it that it’s a beautiful city, of course, but at this point it’s also the fact that I have such amazing memories of all the times I’ve been there. The first time I visited I got beautiful, crisp winter days with gorgeous light; I got to climb Arthur’s Seat in the freezing cold and feel stunned that the world was so full of possibilities. After that I didn’t go back until 2011, for my first Fringe and Book festivals, and spent what was undoubtedly one of the most fun weeks of my life: I got a hug from Neil Gaiman and a handshake from Patrick Ness; I saw some of my favourite bands live, I watched a dozen excellent Fringe shows, I fell in love with the city all over again. 2012, the last time I’d visited before now, was just as great in its way.

And now I got to go back for a short visit that nevertheless managed to equal all those experiences. I’ll tell you all about the events I got to go to in a minute (four Fringe shows, two book festivals events and one International Festival gig in two days, which isn’t bad at all. Also a lot of walking around the city); before that, I just wanted to say that one of the things I like about going back to a place periodically is that you’re encouraged to pause and take stock. When I visited three years ago, I already knew I was going to move to my current location, though I had no idea what it had in store for me. In a matter of only about a month I would get the job I still have today and start the current chapter of my life. It’s nice to think that if I’d known then how things were going to turn out, I’d have been overwhelmed with joy and relief. A lot of awful things happened in the past three years, but it’s good to realise that the overall path of my life feels right.
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