Life: A Stack of Books

Image of a stack of five books described in further detail in the text
That statistic about ten percent of people buying ninety percent of the books may be about me.

There… was a book sale in a bookshop-turned-different-bookshop (popup, maybe?), and I did not resist. Plus, a special order came in for me at Dog Eared Books, where I shop and take friends visiting from out of town (and where most of my recently reviewed books came from).

I’m currently making very loud, positive sounds while reading Elie Mystal’s Allow Me to Retort. Snyder’s thoughtful and ominous book is too heavy for me this week – I’m too busy being angry about the Supreme Court to cope – but was already growing heavy with ‘bookdarts’ until I switched, as even his introduction brilliantly encapsulates alarmingly relevant ways of viewing our current political crises.

There are more books virtually in this stack: I have a digital stack of purchased audiobooks from awaiting my attention also.

Do I have time to read these? No, I don’t even have time to get seven hours of sleep each night, don’t be silly. I will find/make the time, eventually.

Life: Pajama Weekend

So, it turns out four months is too long to go without a vacation. Who knew?

What? [conversational sounds] Oh. Oh, really? Everyone knew? [conversational sounds] I see. [takes notes, breaks pencil lead from pressing into notebook too hard, tosses notebook across desk.]

I used this weekend to rest. Read, eat, and rest. I am still wearing the very soft clothes I slept in, and I am not ashamed.

I’m reading more [written things] than I write about here. Also, I’m intentionally not writing about much of what I read, because I write to share / endorse / celebrate / promote things I enjoy, and if I’m not that enthused, I don’t want to waste my energy.

I’m not writing about webcomics that spend too much time discussing agriculture. It sounds like a weird bias, but if someone was tortured in a dungeon by their family and uses magic to time travel to avenge themselves, only to spend their days giving expositions about strategic crops, I feel like they are avenging themselves on me, somehow. Another webcomic with a hotly drawn villain somehow led to the lovely heroine making dramatic statements about the berry industry, and I nearly threw my phone. (I’m enjoying one now that involves a secret mission to secure a port, but it is just a side thing, not something I have to pay attention to! The world and characters are well established, and the story doesn’t require this – it’s just a footnote. World-building such details by footnote is FINE!)

I’m not writing about webcomics centered on rivalries between two female-led religious institutions. One of the women is a fraud whose powers are being faked by manipulative men (yes, in more than one comic), and it is getting predictable.

I’m not writing about religious instructional texts I’m dipping into, because those are only interesting if you are in the same sect, and any subjective criticism of such texts is unlikely to be welcome.

I’m not writing about the audiobooks I can’t hear properly in the train or the eBooks on my phone that are in progress.

I’m not writing about current event news, because such news is uniformly awful at the moment, and might encourage you to live under a rock. You might upset a sweet octopus or eel living under that rock, so just leave them and their hidden home alone, deal with humans as much as the rest of us must, and whip a few humans into shape, please.

I do love the magic of scheduling posts in advance, and will try to use this magic more often to spread my infrequent-yet-enthusiastic output more evenly.

Life: Working too much, reading too little

So, the usual.

I’ve been entertaining myself during times when I can stay awake. I took a ferry ride, and observed that the usual boat was in the shop, so one of the giant commuter boats took its place. I texted a friend about this, with the note, “I like big boats and I cannot lie,” and he found it hilarious. (This is a Sir Mix-a-lot reference, for you young people.)

I am enjoying pleasant cross-employer camaraderie during my commute, and enjoy speaking with my solution-oriented allies at the office.


I’m reading multiple new manga which are published serially and are incomplete, so it is difficult to know WHEN to write about them. I may invent a rule about reviewing them at the end of each season, or perhaps 100 chapters? (I’ll need a similar rule if and when I ever write about The Second Sex, which is complete but very, very long. And filled with book flags/darts that I’ve left there for points I want to dwell on.)

I continue to avoid comics which are creepy about female characters’ bodies (groin close-ups on underdressed female characters during battle scenes? No, thank you!), while the men are covered to such an extreme that you can’t see their hands without gloves. That is just weird. If men are that uncomfortable with men showing skin, they should really work on their issues.

The drama and fantasy stories often have women softening/improving violent male characters, even to the point of turning depots and recluses into engaged authority figures who actively attend to the needs of their subjects, and I don’t think that is a very safe theme to promote. The hashtag for those is #charactergrowth, and I find that funny.

I’m still mystified by the many story tangents relating to agriculture. There is a drama, someone is trying to prevent their own execution, and then there are many pages devoted to growing a crop. I… I… What?

There is a running manga in-joke that still surprises me, sometimes 100 or more chapters into a story:
a main character enters a room covered in blood
others characters express concern
the bloody character then says ‘it’s not my blood’ (the actual wording varies), suggesting that they just won a battle of some type that is not being illustrated here.
It is… very funny, in these stories – unexpected, as there hasn’t been a lot of violence until that point, or there was but it was distant. The fact that I find this funny means it is well done, but also that I am living in a culture that has normalized violence. (Oh-oh. True. Yes.)

Please be sure to work on your own #charactergrowth without waiting for a new romantic partner, and avoid being covered in ANYONE’S blood.

Life: Spring

We are still having rain, somehow, as if the brief rainy season grew accustomed to making national news with its excesses, and is performing an encore.

I am… tired. Late last week, I had the experience of nearly fainting for the first time ever after donating blood. I believe I deserved this for scoffing at others’ need to rest afterward. (Foolish and unwarranted pride is fun to try on, but not fun to wear outside the store – do not purchase it!)

The world is big, but my tired thoughts after work feels small, and I am unaccustomed to this smallness.


It’s been about 10 weeks since I relocated, and I still can’t find everything. I am too tired from work to unpack much on weeknights, and some of my furniture where I could put things away remains in storage, so my progress is slow. But it is progress, and I’ll take it!

Construction has resumed, and there is a fresh trench outside. (Yaay?)

I know where I am when I wake up. I’m delighted to be back at home.


Despite my long to-read lists of very long books, I remain preoccupied with Korean manga. (It is satisfying in small doses that I can consume before falling asleep!) I remain impressed at how many terrible traumas the heroes and heroines of these stories must overcome. I was summarizing one for my guy friend, telling him about how this young woman had survived her mother’s suicide and family’s abuse, only to escape into feudal poverty, raise her dead best friend’s children as her own, narrowly avoid the children’s trampling deaths, and be indebted to a bloodthirsty nobleman who requires her to become his live-in woman.

The increasingly horrified look on my friend’s face as I described this was superbly dramatic. And THIS IS ONE OF THE MORE CHEERFUL BACKSTORIES! It’s not all bad: she has access to a library, has a loving aunt, and remains impertinent (her spirit is unbroken); the nobleman grows fond of her, is warm, and has abs-for-miles. (That’s ‘abs-for-kilometers’ for those of you outside the U.S.) I’m rooting for her to come into her own in Season 2.

The NOVELTY of all of these Grimm Fairy Tales backstories in illustrated contexts impresses me. Also: perhaps we should send therapists to Korea.

Unfinished Reading

I have several books in storage that I started reading before the move to my temporary apartment, and will likely need to start over when I get to unpack them. I have a long reading list of newer and older things that are waiting for my attention.

But what else am I reading, aside from daily news at WaPo and the UK Guardian, plus some posts on Mastodon (which I visit weekly-ish, only to fall into various research rabbit holes)?

The book I am most likely to stay up late reading: System Collapse (the Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells. I love Murderbot!

II have finished a few manga I haven’t written about yet. (Next weekend, maybe?)

Reading in progress, in no particular order:

  • Claymore (manga on by Norihiro, a very dark dystopian fantasy with swordfighting women super-soldiers fighting monsters. I’m in chapter 51-ish, and can read through the end, as the story is complete a couple hundred chapters from now.
  • Designing Japan: A Future Built on Aesthetics (non-fiction physical book) by Kenya Hara. 1/3 of the way through.
  • I Became a Sitter for the Obsessive Villains (manga at by Seongyeong oh, Yeoram, & i singna: a classic Tappytoon woke-up-in-a-book story, ongoing serial publication.
  • I Became the Villainess in a Disastrous Novel (manga at by Hagyeoon, Geoguri, & Yoonrim (heroine wakes up in a book with a bad ending and tries to leave town), ongoing serial publication.
  • There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job (fiction physical book) by Kikuko Tsumura. A few chapters in, I’ll need to start over when I’m in the mood for reading about someone watching surveillance video!
  • To My Husband’s Mistress (manga at by Lachic, Dancingbrain, Nessa (abused young wife’s revenge plot with a hot, rich, arrogant male accomplice), ongoing serial publication, not many chapters available.

I have started and stopped several manga that are not my cup of tea. While very few aren’t drawn consistently well (rare for published work!), there are some that start well but eventually all the girls are showering for no reason that advances the plot; they are nothing but fight scenes; they are about a video game, and a bit too much like playing one in which you respawn and have to replay the same levels; or they start strongly as a revenge tale, but somehow wind up having entire chapters that are discussions about… royal politics and agriculture??!? I won’t write about those. There are more fun things to write about!

I have abandoned a few audiobooks, but subscribe to support a local bookstore, so I’ll be back on that horse soon. I have several digital books that I will read if ever my eyes aren’t so tired from staring at screens (ahem).

Reading and drinking coffee, but offline

I’m here! I really am! I’m just… adjusting to a new schedule, commute, job, and all that stuff.

I read a stack of books before work started, but haven’t yet stayed awake long enough to write about them.

I did keep up my Duolingo practice, at least!

Today, March 20th, is day 1000 for me! Yippee!

I’m quiet, but things are good. I’ll write more… soonish.

Writing about Reading: Intentional Omissions

I mentioned before that I don’t write about EVERYTHING I read recreationally, because I don’t strongly recommend everything I read. I wouldn’t feel great about spending my time dwelling on things I didn’t enjoy.

There’s a web comic site that’s been advertising on Twitter, and I eventually caved and logged in to see what they have. Their ads are promoting a tale about an abused, sheltered heroine who was married off to an ab-heavy giant who doesn’t communicate well. She is terrified by everything and requires constant rescue. That is… NOT my cup of tea – I love competence (though I’ll settle for high spirits or a good attitude). The drawings are cute, but you will not read about that here.

Likewise, there’s a well-drawn manga I’ve never mentioned here, which packed the first collection I bought with adventure, but… the story got derailed somewhere in the second collection by the artist’s obsession with looking up all the girls’ skirts and gratuitous shower scenes. Later chapters seem to be mostly shower scenes? I know the conventions of awkward falling and “it’s not what you think” physical humor, and I have laughed at good versions of that (it’s possible!), but this one is just about drawing girls’ private parts now. I’ve given up, won’t buy more, etc.

It’s still fun to write about books and stories that impress me, so I’ll stick to that! 🙂

Reading (about books)

Here I’m going to admit that when I’m not reading books, I am often… reading ABOUT books.

Setting aside my more-than-full-time job, artistic practices, Internet research rabbit holes, language study, long walks, and correspondence, there are still sometimes hours left in the day (especially if I don’t sleep) to read about books! 😀 You just have to look, and the time is THERE. (Give up television: it doesn’t lead to enough good books!)

I wind up reading about books even if I don’t plan to.

Even people I follow on Twitter are either already published authors, or they become published authors after I start following them. (Can I take credit for this somehow?) (I’ll be reviewing more of their books on this site, so I don’t have to list those now.)

Periodicals: The newspapers I subscribe to review books frequently and enthusiastically, and I often make note of their recommendations.

Washington Post Books

Guardian (UK) Books

Local Publishers: We have some!

City Lights: City Lights is a landmark local bookshop AND a publisher, especially known for poetry.

Chronicle Books: Chronicle Books is a local publisher, and their emphasis keeps shifting, so I’m unsure what their specialty is now. They published a favorite technical alternative photographic process book, and a great how-to on fabric design patterns. They currently seem big into cookbooks and lifestyle/decor.

McSweeney’s Books: I subscribe to Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (an outrageously well designed periodical packed with illustrations and short fiction), and it happens that McSweeney’s ALSO publishes books.

Specialty Publishers: as an artist and art book collector, I have many favorite publishers, including museums (though publishing is a sideline for them). Dedicated photo/art book publishers often have great websites and blogs (and some have their own bookshops!), which I visit just to see what they are up to, and invariably find something that fits my interests. This short list is organized based on the number of books by each I possess:

Phaidon: Based in the UK and NYC, has a bookshop in New York City, and the only time I don’t leave that shop with a bag full of books is when I’d pre-ordered their most tempting new publications. (I’m ridiculous.). I like them for fine art and art theory. There’s a special series of artist monographs that they do in a great style, and I have dreams of being featured by them someday…

Aperture: Based in New York City. Aperture is a non-profit, which publishes a great magazine and produces beautiful photography books.

Taschen: Based in Köln (Cologne), Germany. I like Taschen for their architecture compilations.

Gingko Press is based in Berkeley, California. Gingko produces books on art and design – their graphic design books in particular are especially attractive.

Be cautious: you’ll feel money trying to fly out of your bank account just by glancing at any of these sites!

On what I’m reading now

Folks were once afraid that the Internet on phones would end reading, but it feels like that’s ALL I do with my phone now…

Here’s an overview of reading activities this week, whether or not I’ve written about it elsewhere here:

-Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses (which I won’t write a review of – disoriented narrators aren’t my thing)
-T Cooper’s Real Man Adventures (which kept me up WAAAAAY past my bedtime last night, giggling and being quite moved)
-Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age
-Terry Smith’s Whitelash: Unmasking White Grievance at the Ballot Box

Guardian UK (paid supporter) (for coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, and some world news)
Johns Hopkins University & Medical Center Coronavirus Resources (for coronavirus data)
-Twitter (heavily: I follow lots of writers and journalists, and they have a LOT to say right now, especially about BLM, Americans living in denial of coronavirus, and disinformation – reading on the Supreme Court is a big focus)
US Supreme Court Decision in Bostock v. Clayton County (OH MY GODS – and yes, I have an annotated PDF version with my notes, to help me digest it)
-Washington Post (paid subscriber) (BLM, coronavirus, world news, and politics)
-Wikipedia (donor)(very random things)

SARS-CoV-2: I would spend even more time reading about the pandemic, but I am lucky enough to work at a future pharmaceutical company, and receive presentations BY DOCTORS AND PHDs who are on our staff about the mechanisms of disease, what they are learning through their professional organizations, and how this relates to their specialties. It’s AMAZING stuff, and I can’t pretend I understand all of it, but I get something valuable from each session.

SUPREME COURT: That decision in Bostock kept me up VERY late: while the decision is 30 pages long, the dissents are 140 pages long (what a ratio), and after the ladies at Rewire said in their podcast that the dissents were “spicy”, I HAD TO KNOW DIRECTLY. And once I began, I just didn’t stop. 170 pages of decision TAKES TIME, it turns out, especially if you are fanatically highlighting your copy. The decision was full of surprises (Gorsuch!?!? GORSUCH!?!?); a friend who doesn’t work in law marveled that he could understand it; the dissents were not of equal quality (Alito seemed pretty worked up, and his attempt to distinguish anti-miscegenation cases from this turned weird pretty fast; his use of labels was interesting/revealing…); a gay friend DID want the law to distinguish between sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in this particular decision (which is something for new laws to address if that is what we want – the terminology has changed so much in my lifetime, that it is no surprise to me that the laws haven’t kept up) … I came away feeling like the decision was even stronger for trans rights than for gay rights, because the court has strong view of male and female, and becoming one or the other should be within their grasp as fully covered by a law hung up on those distinctions… but this pretends that the court accepts all trans people as their new sex (like I do), which they don’t.

Yes, I am a Supreme Court geek, and used to post especially great quotes from Supreme Court decisions on my office door at the law firm. Yes, most of those quotes were from Justice Ginsburg. I love RBG’s writing – love love love it. (Yes, the RBG Movie is worth watching – it is SO EXCITING that people understand the court, and care about how it works!)

(No, I haven’t read the DACA opinion yet, just many, many interpretations of it, but I am eager to read it myself…)