August has been kind to me. And it has also been a little hectic.
I thought I would bring back my monthly recaps. I did them for awhile – I think I called them the Non-Bookish Updates – but I stopped because, er, BLOG IDENTITY CRISES (and I realized I was a boring person). So now, I’ll be writing about my month of books, life, and anything worth mentioning. So, without further ado!
Books read in August (and my thoughts in three words)
1. In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park – harrowing but humanizing
2. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – awesome; ships everywhere
3. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima – enjoyable, missing something
4. The Rose and Dagger by Renee Ahdieh – first was better
5. Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester – earnest; important narrative
6. Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar – feminist but disjointed
Reviews and blog posts in August
1. REVIEW: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith – The awesome team at Hachette NZ provided me with a review copy, and this book blew me away. I loved its introspective narrative and subtle discourse on relationships, love, and what it means to leave.
2. REVIEW: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – Pretentious, long, and dull, unfortunately I was not a fan. But my many friends have encouraged me to read the second one, so… the things I do for you guys. ;)
3. REVIEW: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Fluffy and adorable, Simon Vs. is a sweet romance about a not-so-closeted gay boy as he tries to navigate friendships, high school, and the strange thing called love.
4. DISCUSSION: My Problem with the Word ‘Diverse’ – I received so many positive responses for this post, and I want to thank you for all of your support! I appreciated every single comment – all were so thoughtful and contributed to the dialogue around diversity and language. All of you prove why the bookish community is the absolute best.
5. BOOK RECS: You’re Portraying It Right – Mental Illnesses in YA – I recommended some books that portray mental illness in an accurate, sensitive, non-sensationalist manner, and where the mental illness is not solved by romance.
6. REVIEW: The Selection by Kiera Cass – It is downright silly and is socio-politically obtuse, but… hell, it was a lot of fun to read. Come for the false promise of a ‘dystopia’, stay for the fluff.
7. REVIEW: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski – Finally, a series finale that didn’t let me down. The Winner’s Kiss is satisfying ending to one of my favourite YA series ever.
Joint Discussions now has a new name: Discusstopia!
As you probably noticed, I have changed my blog feature, Joint Discussions, to Discusstopia. First, because Joint Discussions is a boring (albeit practical) name that doesn’t inspire any sort of excitement. I chose Discusstopia, because there is something very utopian about meaningful and honest discussions, especially when those in the discussion are genuinely aspiring to share ideas, learn from each other, understand each other, and come to an agreement. (The name was somewhat inspired by Habermas and his discussions about the public sphere.)
On that note, I am currently writing six joint discussion posts with six other very lovely bloggers! They may not be posted for awhile since we are writing at our own pace, but expect some awesome discussions in the future!
Snapshots of my life
1. An anniversary – and a pleasant surprise
In the middle of August, it was my two year work anniversary. Time has really flown. And I think about this, and thought, is this how fly flies right by you? Is this what it feels like?
It was an ordinary work day and I told my employer about it. I said, did you know, two years ago, I started my first day of work? She and I started reminiscing about it, and she said she remembered interviewing me. It was kinda nice that I could do this with her – sometimes I complain about my job but I am grateful that my employers genuinely care about my wellbeing and little things like this.
My manager then left during lunchtime, and returned with a cake to celebrate my work anniversary! It was a chocolate raspberry and cranberry cake – and it was delicious. Of course, I shared the cake with everyone in the office (food is best shared!), and it was just a very pleasant day.
2. If it was an ultimatum: relationship or career?
I have talked about this ad nauseam with my friends already, but something happened recently that really made me think: if I was presented with an ultimatum and I had to choose between my relationship or career, which would I choose?
If you had asked me three years ago when I was in university, I would have picked career – easily. I thought back to why I would’ve picked that all those years ago. A part of me recognizes that it was a youthful ambition, but another part of me thought it would’ve been the ‘feminist’ thing to do – and the idea of choosing a career over a boy seemed terribly romantic at the time.
In saying this though, I wouldn’t ever fault someone for choosing either. People have their reasons, their goals, their dreams, their desires and they should do what is best for them. But now that I’m in my almost-mid-20’s, I would choose my relationship. I understand who I am and what I want in my life better than I did three years ago. (But who knows – I will inevitably change and grow more in the future.) We’re all fluid and changing, even as adults, and realizing this has been important in my ‘growing up’. (Anyway, ultimatums are fun to contemplate but they are nothing more than silly thought experiments; life is sometimes more complex than it seems.)
3. New things!
I’ve also started reading non-fiction. I don’t typically read non-fiction (not since my university days anyway), so I am trying to get back into reading sociological books or bibliographies. This August, I completed In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park, and am making my way through books on Critical Theory and Marcuse! I guess we will see how far this reading goes?
More so, I have been trying to engage in mindfulness with everything I do. I had this moment in early August where I felt like my mind was incoherent and fractured because I was trying to multitask and I wasn’t being ‘present’ in the moment. I was always occupied by plans or my worries for the future. I hated feeling that way – feeling like I couldn’t focus and scattered. I had read about mindfulness, so I try and have moments where I gather myself, focus, and be present in the moment. Suffice it to say, I’ve been feeling much more together lately – and it’s awesome.
Around the Blogosphere!
I’m going to do my best to keep up with everyone’s blogs. I usually finish my ‘usual day’ at around 10pm, so I only have two hours of free time during a weekday! (Thank goodness we have weekends.) But, as of today, I shall share with you some of my favourite reviews and posts of each month, as well as new bloggers and blogs I discover or have the pleasure of becoming acquainted with.
(One thing: I did a terrible job at keeping track of the great posts I’ve read this month – in September’s recap, I hope to feature more blogs and posts!)
NEW BLOGS, NEW PEOPLE:
- Bookkeepinh – Linh reached out to me in one of my blog hops and I felt like I clicked with her instantly. Her blog, Bookkeepinh, is spectacular, and her reviews are intelligent, thoughtful, and in-depth. Linh and her blog are my new faves, and you should visit her blog! (I especially love her review on Flowers for Algernon.)
- Feminists Read Love – First of all, Daisy is a fellow Kiwi, which makes her instantly awesome (and I feel like she’s my long lost soul sister). Daisy’s blog is still new, but it shows so much promise. I love her discussion on why audiobooks are awesome – and as a fellow audiobook listener, I have to agree and recommend!
- Paige’s Pages – Paige’s blog is my favourite new find. I feel like I really connect to Paige, and she is always so insightful and lovely when I talk to her. She recently recommended me The Pause by John Larkin, so of course I read her review for it – and it’s stunning.
- Words Off the Page – I didn’t discover Alexa in August per se, but I just want to share her blog with everyone. Not only is she a super awesome person, her blog and discussions are amazing too. I particularly love her post on why problematic characters are great characters and why Eleanor and Park was problematic.
AWESOME BOOKISH POSTS
- Am I Being Unfair In My Reviews? is a stunning discussion post by Lila at The Bookkeeper’s Secrets that discusses the difference between reviewing a book for its literary technique or for how it made you feel. This is something I have often think about, and I found Lila’s post very thought-provoking.
- Let’s Talk About Trigger Warnings in Books is an incredible, incredible discussion post by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks. The discussions surrounding trigger warnings flew over my head (because I was at work), but Aimal eloquently (and flawlessly!) outlines why trigger warnings are important. I have no words that could adequately describe how fantastic this post is – go read it.
- The Truth About Taking a Blogging Hiatus is something I can relate to. I was on a hiatus for three months, and my dear friend Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane captured how I felt during those three months. Her post is honest, profound, and I loved every bit of it.
- Something Needs to Change: A Feminist Rant is written by my gorgeous friend Denise at The Bibliolater. It is amazingly written and passionate, and I love how Denise’s voice shines through in the writing. She has so many important things to say – so I hope all of you will read it!
- Sara’s review for More Happy Than Not – My memory is terrible and I don’t remember how I discovered Sara’s blog, Freadom Library, but I am a fan. She publishes so much content (and her effort and tenacity is incredible in itself) and I love her reviews. After posting my August book recs on mental illness, she shared with me her review for More Happy Than Not – and I adore it! It is wonderfully written and so thoughtful – a must-read.
- Tanaz’s review of A Thousand Nights – I’m so happy that Tanaz is back from her hiatus! Her blog is wonderful and her reviews are fantastic too. I recently read her delightful review of A Thousand Nights and she has pretty much convinced me to read it. Her review is lovely and thorough, and I really enjoyed reading it.
- Reg’s review of When Michael Met Mina – Reg’s reviews are always on point, but I especially loved her review for When Michael Met Mina. I meant it when I said it – this book is going straight to my urgent to-be-read list. Her review is excellently written and I just. I just love reading her reviews.
Do you know what I’m really grateful for? ALL OF YOU. (Let me be mushy for a second.) Thank you everyone for visiting my blog, for sharing your thoughtful and lovely comments, ideas and thoughts with me, for reaching out to me and talking to me, and for your kindness. All of you are amazing. Thank you.
So friends, share with me:
- Did you get up to anything in August? Did you learn anything – about life or about something trivial or fun?
- What was your favourite August read?
- Did you post a review or discussion post that you were super proud of? If yes, SHARE WITH ME!