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 fêted 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.


  1. I was literally JUST THINKING that it would be great to have friendship function slightly more within Ask Culture. Like with relationships, you can have the state of the union conversation where it's like "yes, we are now dating" -- but there's no comparable thing where anyone ever says "yes now we are friends because we both want to be friends with each other." It is frustrating because I am a Guess Culture girl trying to move more towards Ask Culture, and it's very hard to make that happen in the context of friend-making.

    Anyway. Rant over. :p

    1. I've been trying the same, mostly because Guess Culture and anxiety are a horrible, horrible combination (of tears and doom). Asking things comes with its own challenges, but so far it seems to beat the alternative :P (It's super hard, though. Why is life hard? Woe.)

  2. Oh, Siderea is one of my favorite bloggers! I almost never see her linked; it's exciting to see that you found something of hers. You should definitely read her series on coordinative communication, specifically in the health care field, but I found it to be a great way of thinking about a lot of the unappreciated business tasks that often fall to women.

    I have many thoughts on the friendship thing, too, but I tend to come out on the other end of things, because "friendship" is a very, very broad term, and I don't think two people always need to agree on where they stand to both be getting what they need out of it. But that's a long story for another day. Yay Siderea!

    1. That's an excellent point - things can work at different levels for different people and still be working perfectly well. Siderea's blog is new to me, but I'll definitely be reading more of it!

  3. That's ok, I didn't mind reading about your travel adventures one bit! :) These are all some great links that I'll have to come back to again. The news about the boy in Texas was all over the papers here (as I'm in TX too). Ugh. So sad and frustrated that this happened.

    1. Thank you, Iliana, that's kind of you to say! I worry about tiring people when I do so many in a row, but then again they make me happy and that's what blogging's all about :P

  4. I will say one caveat about Ask Culture is that it requires you to know what you want and need. Which is great in terms of "I want us to be friends! Would you like to do friend-like things? You would? Huzzah, we are friends now!". But I've been struggling with it in other arenas. For instance, when I'm in a particularly bad spiral, it's hard for me to discern what I need in terms of support other people can give me. So while I do want to Ask for Friend to do Comforting Thing X, I don't know what Comforting Thing X could be. (Largely because if I'm thinking about it, so is the spiral!) So I don't Ask.

    I think Ask Culture is definitely preferable, but I also think that the two could harmonize beautifully and that there's room to maneuver between those two binaries. :)

    1. "For instance, when I'm in a particularly bad spiral, it's hard for me to discern what I need in terms of support other people can give me."

      I relate to this so much. And yes, it's all about balance and harmony and being contextually sensitive and all that. Still, I've found aiming for clear communication so, so helpful when it comes to living more healthily. Thanks again for the link - it's not often that these things are discussed openly, and there's a lot of comfort in seeing that most of us struggle with the challenges and joys of being human and connected to other humans and that I'm not all alone in this. ♥ I know I'll be coming back to this post (and to Tiny Beautiful Things, which I also have you to thank for).


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.