October 2022 Reading Recap

October was my first month without my main WIP. Because I’ve been in such an intense state of revision, I took October off to tap into things I’ve wanted to watch and read for a while, and honestly, it’s been quite restorative. 10/10 highly recommend. I might have a new project in the works, but it’s all joy and no stress. Book-shaped, but without all the other intensity.

Which, speaking of, it’s November. Am I doing NaNoWriMo? Who knows.

October’s blog interviews were:

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Review: THE DISAPPEARING SPOON: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Element by Sam Kean (2010)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2010
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: war crimes, human experimentation, mention of racism, misogyny

Sam Kean weaves a yarn that takes a trip through the entire periodic table. It’s mostly in order by linear history and delves into a bit about how the table itself can be a communication tool with extra-terrestrials beings (which are more likely to exist than one might think).

Much like The Icepick Surgeon, Kean delivers again on engaging storytelling with appropriate historical context, where madness isn’t as much the focus as it is an emergent property of scientific history.

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September 2022 Reading Recap

Somehow, September also saw me in New York City. We can thank the CDC for letting me reunite with my best friend from my childhood in Poland, along with several others who I haven’t seen in years even before the pandemic. This is also a reminder for folks to get the bivalent booster if you are 18 and haven’t had COVID within the last 3 months.

I finished my revision and resubmitted it, which is my big project completion that robbed me lots of reading time. Now, I’m resting an embarking on a reading adventure to learn how to write a horny goth book. Hopefully, I’ll be able recapping that in October’s post. But we’ll see.

This month’s blog interviews were:

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Review: SINKABLE: Obsession, the Deep Sea, and the Shipwreck of the Titanic by Daniel Stone (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: drowning, deaths at sea, maritime disasters, Atlantic slave trade

I was definitely one of those kids with a RMS Titanic obsession as a child, that honestly, had nothing to do with the Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet romance movie (didn’t want that until much, much later). The level of hubris and poor planning in the name of aesthetics is what captured many people’s attention, but for me, it’s the physics and aftermath that fascinated me. Humans are characters, but the focus here rests on shipwrecks in general, as a study, as a phenomenon, as a hobby, and some of the greatest tragedies that befell humans on the regular before air travel rose to prominence.

The specific lens that this book tells the tale of the fated voyage is strictly through the point of view of finding and uncovering shipwrecks. Entertaining, informative, and so focused on the final phase of a ship’s life time, rather than the story of a single ship’s demise.

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Review: RAISING LAZARUS: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis by Beth Macy (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content/trigger warnings: COVID-19, overdose, vomiting, prison, drug abuse, structural inequality, death of relatives

This book is a kind of sequel to Dopesick, in that it is a continuation of Beth Macy’s research and investigation into the impact and extent of the devastation left behind by the Sackler’s mismarketing and straight-up lying about the acute and long-term effects of their so-called miracle drug. There is some follow-up with the activists, doctors, and caregivers from the initial investigation, with several new key players in the movement to curb overdose deaths both within Appalachia and nationwide.

Though “hope” is in the subtitle, this volume reckons with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down many of the boots-on-the-ground work with regards to harm reduction and further stigmatization and rethinking addiction as a disease rather than a personal failing. It does end, however, with action items that the reader can take on personal, political, and local levels.

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August 2022 Reading Recap

August saw me flying from New York City back to Texas and spending a bunch of time recovering from psychic damage I’m not going to get into. I also did a bunch of painting, had a weird episode with my Instagram, and just. What a ride of a month it was!

I am nearing the end of my revision journey, and then I’m going to be doing more focused reading lists that I may or may not share as part of the recovery phase after finishing an intense project.

This month’s blog interviews were:

September is off to a hype start, with me getting to announce a short story with the inaugural edition of the Best Served Cold zine.

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Review: BURNOUT: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski (2019)

Genre: Adult Self-Help Nonfiction
Year Release: 2019
Source: Kindle

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The way I came across this read is via a friend who I think got it for me when I was in a particularly dark part of my professional and creative career that nearly crushed me. I’m not going to get into specifics, but I started reading this book and had to put it down multiple times over the course of the years. I finally finished it when it seemed I needed the last two chapters the most (“What Makes You Stronger” and “Grow Mighty”).

While it is very focused on the experience of woman-identified and the pressures of those assigned female at birth, there is a lot here that resonated with me as someone who grew up with the terrible combination of undiagnosed ADHD, immigrant parents pursuing the American Dream, and gifted child syndrome. The Nagoskis put together a veritable buffet of anecdotes, studies, previous research, psychology, social psychology, behavior studies, and worksheets to get a sense of your own burnout and ways to work around it. Each section comes with a TL;DR section for quick reference, making the read accessible on a short time frame.

It might not be for everyone, but I’ll be referring to it when things get difficult.

Review: I’M GLAD MY MOM DIED by Jennette McCurdy (2022)

Genre: Adult Memoir
Year Release: 2022
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: anorexia, bulimia, vomiting, child abuse, death of a parent, cancer, alcoholism, sexualization of minors

Jennette McCurdy is best known for playing Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon show iCarly. I had not grown up watching the program, so what drew me to this memoir is its evocative title. And I found an incredibly frank and intense personal story within its pages.

Exploring the pain of and recovery from being raised by a narcissistic and abusive mother, McCurdy brings humor and frankness to a discussion on the aftermath of parenthood that often gets buried under the sentiment, “Do not speak ill of the dead.”

Content note: This review will mention specifics of the abuse.

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July 2022 Reading Recap

July was…heavy, to say the least. There was some writing professional news that netted out less than positively, a meteor of a personal emergency that is still unfolding, and I think I finally figured a writing time management system that works for me (and a realization that I definitely write to run away, and there is a lot I want to run from).

I also went to NYC to see my family and catch up with some friends. Equally restful and stressful. I’ve stayed safe from disease the best I can, and wish the same for you and yours.

This month’s blog interviews were:

In August, I have four days off from my dayjob, which I intend to use for making lots of paintings

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Review: ROGUES: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks by Patrick Radden Keefe (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: terrorism, mentions of rape and child sexual assault, mentions of parental death, gun violence, colonization, suicide, drug abuse, state-sanctioned violence, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, 2016 election

Empire of Pain was among my favorite reads last year, so when I belated saw that Patrick Radden Keefe published a collection of his New Yorker articles, I knew immediately what I had to listen to next. Keefe has such a knack for contextualization and bringing the human element into stories that are known for their divisiveness and post-hoc sensationism.

I found myself enthralled by the care, research, and thought put into every snippet of some very recognizable and major cases in contemporary history, ranging from wine fraud to drug lords to pharmaceutical fraud to a beloved culinary figure.

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