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Tag: Politics

Reading Update 07/15/20 – Too Much, and Just Enough

Sorry for the topical pun, which will cease to make sense within a week. But as I am halfway through Mary Trump’s unflattering and devastatingly empathetic portrait of her uncle, the title has been percolating in my head. This post is about something else however.

I have been reading a lot lately. My life is in the middle of some significant changes. For good and for bad, alas, but both aspects amount to more reading time. It’s a borderline feverish state of ingesting books, and it feels amazing! Reading has always been therapeutic for me, and working at a bookstore, it also makes me feel connected to my job.

On that note, apparently I am good at hyping up things and making people buy them. Who knew!

A bit of housekeeping. Last week I mentioned reading Sam Lansky’s Broken People. I ended up absolutely loving the book, but the reasons for that are a tad too personal to really talk about in a coherent review format. His story resonated with my own current circumstances, underlying mental health issues, and overall life experience in a way that never really matched, but at the same time informed them. I don’t even know if I could recommend it to people, because the experience was so personal.

Anyway, here’s to reading, and having complicated experiences with books!

Wear a Mask

There is really nothing literary, or punny about this post.

AMC Theaters and assorted other chains have publicly announced that they won’t be enforcing masks when they reopen, because they don’t want to be “mired in politics”. Well, I won’t be going to their theaters, because I don’t want to be mired in COVID-19. With their businesses already flailing, this is the worst possible decision they could have made.

As more and more businesses take our mobster toddler of a president’s cue, wearing a mask has apparently become a POLITICAL issue. It’s not. Protecting yourself and — far more importantly — others, is NOT politics. It’s healthcare. It’s a public health issue.

Again, for all three of you reading this: wear a mask.

That’s it. That’s the post.

Reading Update 06/17/20 – Racism

Unlike many of my attempts at puns, this time the title is plain and simple. I realized it was way past time I put my reading where my online mouth was. Protests about police brutality and racism are shaking the foundations (I hope) of this country. As a liberal progressive gay dude, I always considered myself sufficiently “woke”. I assumed that if I could not always avoid racist behavior, at least I was fully aware of it.

Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.

The first book I read on the subject was Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility. And it was certainly an eye-opener. I think that, coming from a predominantly white Eastern European country, I had an easier time with the premise. It has been literal decades since I thought of racism as “actively hating others for the color of their skin”. I know it’s far more pernicious, and that it has metastasized into society’s structures in ways that many people would struggle to recognize.

What I did not expect to learn, was that most white people refuse to recognize them. And how much the recognition feels like a powerful assault to their sense of self. I am excluding myself from this statement, but I likely shouldn’t. Even if I am partially an outsider to this culture, I am also a part of it. And I have no doubt that I share many of its failings. Suffice to say, I learned a lot.

Currently powering through Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, and following that, I will get to Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. Will report on progress next week.

Reading Update 04/08/20 – Staying on Course

If self-quarantine is good for one thing, it is curbing my “squirrel!” instinct of going to bookstores, allowing random books to catch my eye, and deciding I MUST read them IMMEDIATELY. Staying home and only making the occasional online purchase, I have been able to keep up with my reading goals. I am nearly done with “political non-fiction book 1/3” (as per my previously stated plan): Un-Trumping America by Dan Pfeiffer of Pod Save America (and, yunno, the Obama Administration) fame. It is giving me exactly what I need in these grueling times when we have malicious mobster toddlers at the helm — a systematic analysis of our current political reality, with proposed pathways to get out of it and stay out. It’s mostly things I am already aware of, as an avid PSA listener, but it is weirdly calming just the same.

Meanwhile, my pile of ARCs (the only ones I am likely to ever get, since apparently the outside world has been abolished) is slowly melting. I have arranged them by release date, and I plan on reviewing most of them when they are about to come out. I am, of course, open to requests and recommendations.

And in the mean time, happy reading, and stay home!

Reading Update: 01/29/20 – New Year’s Resolutions

Not much to report since last time (except, stay tuned for a review of Seanan McGuire’s Come Tumbling Down soon) , so instead, I wanted to talk about my New Year’s resolutions in terms of reading. And yes, I recognize that the very notion of “New Year’s resolutions” smells of giving up at the gym around January 20th, but I promise this is slightly less sad!

First of all, last year I decided to set myself the goal of 52 books. It was a nice number, a book a week, except I didn’t set it until about September. The unexpected result of that was my falling in love with the novella, but I digress. My first resolution is to repeat this number, and if possible — to surpass it. Goodreads says I am 5 books ahead of my goal, but with a wedding coming up in the summer, and a potential move to another state, things might grow dicey in the second half of the year.

Goal #1: Read at least 52 books (no cheating with comic TPBs!).

Next goal: short stories. I have always struggled with those. It’s embarrassing for an aspiring writer of speculative fiction, considering not only the origins of these genres, but also what used to be the traditional path to publishing in the era of print magazines. With that said, I just can’t make myself read short form. Some silly mental block prevents me from starting a story, and when I do finish one, I’m thoroughly unmotivated to begin another. Which sucks, because there are a ton of authors I want to read, many of whom thrive in this medium. So:

Goal #2: Read at least 3 short story collections, be they by one author, or anthologies.

Last, and certainly not least, it is 2020 (yeah, hi. I have mastered the calendar!). I am a foreigner on a path to citizenship. The world is on fire. American political structures are on fire. The US constitution is on fire. Even if I wanted to stay away, I know too much about current politics to do so. Which brings me to my third goal. Political non-fiction to me has always been like Yoga, in that I have never done Yoga, but I like to think of myself as someone who would do Yoga. Well, that might not be in the cards for this year, but I want to finally read some of the books by the people who I listen to on podcasts.

Goal #3: Read at least 3 non-fiction books on current politics.

It is all doable, I am already on it, and I am using this platform to keep myself accountable. Hopefully, you stick around for it all!