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Currently | June 6, 2016

Briefly | Happy Monday! I case you missed it last week, I’ve decided to go with a slower blogging schedule this summer, just posts on Monday and Thursday. I’m not sure if every Monday will be a Currently post, but for now I like the format and think it’ll do nicely.

Reading | Over Memorial Day weekend I finished two very different books about war — Grunt by Mary Roach and Ashley’s War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. This weekend, my reading was much slower. I managed to make it a a ways into Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, but didn’t get into much else… too much time in front of the television.

Watching | I am deep in the middle of a binge of Person of Interest. The show didn’t get on my radar until just recently, when Alan Sepinwall, a tv critic I tend to trust, wrote about how he’s revisiting the show as the final season airs. I’m deep into the series and don’t see myself coming up for air anytime soon.

Listening | I’ve got a full slate of NPR podcasts queued up each week: Code Switch, NPR Politics, and Pop Culture Happy Hour. I feel like a stereotype.

Making | You’d think that all the time spent watching tv would mean that I’m making progress in the two baby gifts I’m crocheting, but no dice… still way behind on that.

Blogging | I shared some quick thoughts on Girls and Sex and Spinster, and did a May reading wrap up.

Promoting | In case you missed it, my interview with Leigh Bardugo, author of The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows, was posted to Book Riot last week. She was a lot of fun to talk to, and shared some good stuff about her upcoming book Crooked Kingdom and plans for a YA adaptation of Wonder Woman.

Hating | I did a few behind-the-scenes blog updates on Friday night, and now everything seems to be a little bit wonky. I’m not sure which plugin isn’t cooperating with the current version of WordPress, but I fear finding out means dismantling a bunch of stuff I’ve set up. Technical maintenance is by far my least favorite part of blogging.

Loving | The weather was pretty stellar over the weekend. I got outside for long walks on both Saturday and Sunday — one with friends and one on my own. I crushed my FitBit step goal both days, which is exciting!

Anticipating | If everything goes as planned, the boyfriend and I are going to get away to the cabin once in June, and then again in July for Independence Day. The drive is about 4.5 hours, so it’s not exactly a quick trip, but even for a weekend it’s so worth it.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

The Summer Slowdown

the summer slowdown

I hope you’ll forgive a bit of navel-gazing for today’s post. Over Memorial Day weekend, I got to thinking about what to do with the blog over the summer. A couple of bloggers I read regularly are embarking on projects to post on every one of the 99 days of summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day). I love that idea so much, but when I sat down to consider it myself I immediately knew ramping up the blog for the summer is not what I need.

What I really want is a summer slowdown, a dialing back of internet-related commitments so I can enjoy the beautiful weather, spend time with friends and family, and find some space to think about what I want this blog to be going forward. I’m turning 30 this summer, and just recently celebrate eight years of blogging. I want to think about what all of that means. Plus, work is gearing up for some difficult transitions this summer, and I want to give myself some extra wiggle room in that part of my life too.

I thought about just taking the summer off — 99 days without blogging, if you will — but quickly realized that I don’t want everything to go dormant. I value this space as a reading journal and social outlet too much to just stop writing. I thought about just blogging when the mood strikes, but I also know that I’m not good at any practice without a schedule that creates accountability, even if that accountability is only in my head.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that I’m going to shift to two posts each week: a Currently/Reading Log post each Monday and another post of any topic on Thursdays. I think this will give me the combination of structure and flexibility that I need to make blogging fun for me and enjoyable for others to read.

Cheers for an awesome summer full of sunshine, fizzy drinks, grill outs and great books!

P.S. In case you missed it, my interview with Leigh Bardugo, author of The Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows, was posted to Book Riot last week. She was a lot of fun to talk to, and shared some good stuff about her upcoming book Crooked Kingdom and plans for a YA adaptation of Wonder Woman.



May 2016 Reading Wrap Up

May was a really excellent month in the life events and memories sphere. In the reading sphere, it was a little more laid back, especially compared to April and the Readathon. Between my trip to Milwaukee and Chicago for Book Expo America, then time spent with family over the last weekend, reading has felt limited. But that’s ok, life ebbs and flows and you just have to go with it. Here’s what I finished in May:

  1.  The Caped Crusade by Glen Weldon (nonfiction, audio book)
  2. LaRose by Louise Erdrich (fiction)
  3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (fiction)
  4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (fiction)
  5. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (YA fiction, egalley)
  6. Grunt by Mary Roach (nonfiction)
  7. Ashley’s War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (nonfiction)

Again, I feel like it’s hard to pick a favorite this month. Homegoing was the first book I read after Book Expo America, and it was just stellar. LaRose was great too — Louise Erdrich is amazing. And I loved Ashley’s War, a true story about women who served with special ops in Afghanistan as soldiers and cultural liaisons. It was a heart-breaker. Grunt was also quite good — not my favorite of Mary Roach’s books, but really a fun read.

A Look to June

It turns out I’m ahead on my June reading. Both Grunt and Homegoing will be out on June 7, so hopefully reading ahead means I’ll actually convince myself to write reviews of them!

I also got some good book mail from Harper Collins that I think will be fun to dive into: The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen (June 28), Greetings from Utopia Park by Claire Hoffman (June 7), and Love Wins by Jim Obergefell and Debbie Cenziper. (June 14). I think I have a couple of BEA books that also have publication dates in June, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

I don’t have any major plans for June, other than trying to soak up as much of Minnesota’s beautiful early summer as I can. Happy reading!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

I wasn’t originally planning to write about Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein and Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick in the same post, but as I was gathering my thoughts I started to see some connections between the two. Both are excellent examples of journalism and cultural criticism, and both try to convince the reader to reconsider the traditional narratives about sexuality and femininity. So, a pair of mini-reviews it is!

girls and sexGirls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein

If there’s one book I’ve read so far this year that I would consider a “must read,” it’s Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein. The book is a survey and exploration of sexuality and sexual behavior among young girls in high school and college, based extensively on interviews Orenstein conducted with young women in high school and college. Through those interviews, along with a wealth of other research, Orenstein put together a book that is wide-ranging, thoughtful, and sure to spark conversations about how we can teach girls (and boys) about sex better.

I loved the way Orenstein gave weight to the experiences the girls she interviewed shared and thought carefully about what messages they were and weren’t getting from their peers, their parents, and the other adults in their lives. I also thought her discussion of consent brought some necessary nuance to that issue – we’re at a moment when teaching women about healthy sexuality needs to go beyond “no means no,” even thought that conversation can be really difficult to have. In fact, her biggest argument is that by being reluctant to talk frankly about sex, both the good and the bad, we don’t prepare them to make healthy choices in the world. This book is an important read, highly recommended.

spinster by kate bolickSpinster by Kate Bolick

Spinster is one of those books that I had mixed feelings about. On the one hand, once I sat down to read it, I tore through this book in a single day because I was facing pressure to get it back to the library on time, and because I enjoyed reading it so much. In the book, Bolick writes about “pleasures and possibilities of remaining single,” using her own experiences and the experiences of women over time who bucked conventions of marriage and family during their own times. It’s a fascinating mix of memoir and cultural criticism that helped me think a lot about the choices I’ve made and why some of the boundaries I’ve set remain important as I think about balancing family and a flourishing creative life.

On the other hand, I think it’s important to note that Bolick has a very specific idea of who a spinster is – a woman who remains single and childless by choice – that doesn’t necessarily encompass the diversity of experiences single women have. The fact that Bolick jumped from relationship to relationship, deliberately choosing to remain single despite (I think) two chances to get married, puts her in a situation with a lot of privilege I’m not sure other women have. It doesn’t invalidate the book, it’s just one of those contexts that matters when talking about the book and one of the ways in which I feel cautious about a universal recommendation. I loved it, but because I could see so much of myself in these stories – I’m not sure if other readers will feel the same way.  

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

Currently may 22 2016

Briefly | After being away for two weekends, I’m really trying to embrace a weekend with absolutely nothing planned. It’s been wonderful — lots of time to read, catch up on chores, go to the gym, and spend time with the boyfriend and the cat. I’m feeling really grateful for life right now, even if there are some big picture things happening that are scary and hard.

Reading | I finished reading LaRose by Louise Erdrich last week, and spent most of this week making my way through Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Both of them were really incredible. I also had a couple of big library holds come in that I want to get too — The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. I also just got a copy of Mary Roach’s new book, Grunt, that I need to read in preparation for an interview this week (SO EXCITED!). It’s been a good week of reading.

Watching | Captain America: Civil War, twice! The boyfriend and I went with his mom when we were in Milwaukee, then I went again last night to our local theater with a co-worker. It is such a great movie!

Listening | My current audio book is Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy. It’s really, really good!

Cooking | We got a real grill! Yes, that’s right, we’ve upgraded from a little camp grill to an actual gas grill that you can stand at and use. It’s pretty nifty.

Blogging | This week on the blog has been all about Book Expo America — a quick look at the books I brought home and 10 highlights from the trip that weren’t about books. I’m hoping to spread out other posts from BEA through the next couple of weeks, mixed in with some other reviews and whatnot.

Promoting | Candace (Beth Fish Reads) put together an excellent selection of nonfiction coming out this month. Be prepared for your TBR pile to explode.

Hating | The only downside to the weekend is that I am fighting allergies or a cold, but I can’t tell which one. I’m leaning towards cold — I’ve never had allergies in my life — but either way it’s annoying.

Loving | Sunlight! Waking up when the sun is already out does wonders for my mood and overall energy level.

Avoiding (Sort of) | I am trying to avoid too much election nonsense, but this piece analyzing Donald Trump’s Twitter feed over the last eight months or so is fascinating.

Anticipating | If I can get motivated, I’d like to try and get all my BEA books sorted out and put away. It means taking a hard look at my review copies bookshelf, but I think I’m up to the task.

Happy Sunday, everyone! What are you reading today?

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.