I’ve debated over and over with myself whether or not I wanted to participate in this year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve made a goal every year since 2011 and have reached it every year. (I made an adjustment to my goal midway last year because things only just barely made it) Last year was my lowest book count in ten years and even though I’m back to work and such doing more commuting to work where I do most of my reading, I’m only going in to work 3 or 4 days a week. The other days I’m working from home. Also it maybe a new year but the troubles of 2020 didn’t just go away when the calendar changed and the events of the world can be make things hard to concentrate. (See Re: yesterday) So do I make a reading goal this year or not? On one hand, it’s good to have a goal and to have something to work towards but it also can add extra stress that we all don’t need. I only read 20 books last year which is good considering last year but I also can’t help but think that is some kind of a failure when I usually read twice as many. In 2012, I read 90 books! Over the last couple of years, I’ve scaled back my goals. Allowing myself more time to really read them but also have a life. I do feel like it has given me a little more of a life balance. I could go a couple of days without reading and not freak out that I was now 2 books behind in my goal. So what should I do this year? I think it would be understandable to just take the year off. It’s not like you get a prize for making your goal. It is after all supposed to be fun and if it just adding stress then it’s not worth it right. I’m going to read anyways, so why do I need to set a certain number of books I have to read? However it is an easy way to keep track of what I’m reading and what I’ve read. I use my challenge when I do my year end lists to remind myself what books I really loved and were a disappointed. In the end I decided to set my goal at 20 like last year. I think this is fair. If I can somehow manage 20 last year I should be able to do this year right? If I don’t make it I don’t make it.
What about you? Are you making any reading goals or participating in any challenges this year? I want to hear what your reading plans are.
I write this knowing that I will not able to truly express how I feel about this novel. It is equal parts breathtaking, heartbreaking and infuriating. I was drawn to this book by the title. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Kate and I have an interest in Korea and I was born in 1982. You add the feminist storyline and it had me. Kim Jiyoung quit her job that she liked to be a full time mother and wife. She starts speaking in other women’s voices which not surprisingly concerned her husband so he enlist the help of a male therapist to treat her. The novel plays out out a narrative her life as she explains it to her therapist during their sessions. Through this we see the hardships she endures throughout her life and everything that has led her to today. Like so many women of our generation, Jiyoung was encouraged to follow her dreams and pursue a career that she wanted but also expected to give it all up once marriage and children come into the picture. As the novel progresses and she gets older I could see of how the toll of constantly being undervalued, dismissed and harassed by a misogynistic society has taken on her. There are the all too familiar stories of having expectations of taking care of ones family over yourself. The expectation that her brother should get cherished because he will be the one to bring the family honor and not the sisters. The expectations that women have to do just deal with being harassed and belittled at the work place. That she will always come in second to the wants and needs to the men in her life. Every woman knows how this all feels. Growing up in the US during a time of mostly prosperity, there were things about her childhood I could not identify with but what I could was being told that the boy teasing you/bulling you means that they secretly like you. The assumption that the boys are just smarter and some how more mature and more immature then you too. I remember a specific incident in college getting a grade two points below my fellow male student even though it was a group project and we both did equal amount of the work. At least twice I was passed over for promotions in favor of a less experience male coworker. As a single woman living in New York City. I am constantly aware of my surroundings and cautious of what I say and do when I’m around men. On the occasion I went out with friends, we always make sure to text each other when we get home to check in that we all got home safely. It’s exhausting to be a woman. Admittingly, Kim Jiyoung had it harder then I did. I do admit that I have a certain amount of privilege that has allowed me to live an easier life than most. I have had some sense that Korea is a very patriarchal society based on the amount of Kdramas and Kpop I’ve consumed but how it’s illustrated here makes it feel so oppressive. It seems to be getting better but you can’t change thousands of years of thinking and traditions overnight. Jiyoung is constantly trying to find the balance of sticking up for herself but also not rocking the boat. She sees that what she is being told and taught is unfair but doesn’t what to to say or do about it. When she does stand up for herself it is often her that gets in trouble and not the man in question. Again all too familiar. It really is a wonder that after a lifetime of this abuse and oppression that all women don’t just snap. The sense of dread I began to feel as the narrative came closer and closer to her getting married was just heavy. I wished I could tell her no. Don’t do it. Don’t quit your job. Insist more that your husband give up more of his time once the baby is born. At the end we get to read the therapist diagnosis and like so many good intention men he gets so close to getting to the truth and understanding what she is really going through but in the end fails to comprehend. Mostly because it would mean he would have to start to actually see women as something other then just their wives, mothers, daughters and human beings and to do that he would have to make them people, equal and that is just too hard for too many men. So nothing changes and we all suffer for it.
It is Midnight Sun’s book birthday! And…Beth and I are both still stuck in the first book of our re-read. Speaking for myself, my enthusiasm for these characters and this story has definitely waned since I first picked up the novels. Bella is kind of an unredeemable bitch. Edward is a creepy stalker. Jacob’s goodness drops off as the series goes on and he picks up some of Edward’s tactics in order to get in there with Bella. But, I plan on finishing them since it is the pop culture homework assignment (and since I did finish last year’s…in October…and then never wrote the reviews…because I am not the best blogger.)
Hey, How’s everyone doing? As we continue to live in a virus-laden world, I thought it might be nice to check in again. I am very lucky because my job can be done remotely, so I have still been working. (Teaching not-online classes online is a special kind of exhausting, but it is nice to have work.) When I haven’t been working I’ve been trying to finish projects around my house. I’ve started growing lettuce and will soon transition them outside. I started a compost bin. I’ve been doing a lot of baking (so far I’ve made bread, cinnamon rolls, donuts, brownies, more bread, danishes, and cookies). The county I live in hasn’t closed the trail heads, so I’ve been trying to get a hike in at least once a week. The cat has been sunning himself on the patio everyday. And, importantly for this blog, I’ve been reading brutal books and, as per usual, not finishing the fun/cute/uplifting books for my YA fiction book group. (Next month’s selection is Internment by Samira Ahmed, so you know I’ll finish that one.)
In addition to this, Thanks to Netflix Party, Beth and I have watched a number of K-dramas together. Here’s what we’ve been binging (using the English titles you’d search for on Netflix).
Crash Landing on You. This is the story of a South Korean woman who gets caught in a tornado and thrown over the border into North Korea and the army unit that saves her life. This was so good. The romance at the center was A+ and not at all stupid or cloying or, “Ugh, don’t marry that dude.” The army dudes are straight up my favorite, every single one of them. The North Korean women are also freaking awesome. The B plots in this were great. It was touching and funny. 10/10 would recommend.
Memories of Alhambra. Starring one of the leads from Crash Landing on You (and also featuring Chanyeol from Exo), this is about a CEO from a video gaming company getting way too into an AR game he’s trying to get to market. Honestly, it left me with so many questions that I was a little disappointed in it after the fact (like, why was there no second season???) but, while we were watching it, I was constantly trying to fix my schedule so that we could get as many episodes in a night as possible before Beth went to bed.
Bring it On, Ghost. This is a show about a college kid that can see ghosts (and send them packing), and the lady ghost who needs his help to solve the mystery of her death. This is cute, a little twee, but cute.
My first first love. We actually started this in January and finished it while Beth was here in February, but I’m putting it on the list. This is one of those, “A ragtag bunch all end up living in the same house and hijinks and romance ensue” scenarios. I liked the relationships. I liked the characters. Low key and undemanding (I mean, aside from the subtitles), this was also pretty good.
Itaewon Class. OH MY GOD THIS SHOW. I laughed! I yelled at the screen! I needed to know what happened next! The villain was so villainous! The hero so virtuous! The team of folks helping the hero achieve his dream were so delightful! I loved this so much. I also loved the styling. As Beth can attest, there are a couple of episodes where you may just want to text pictures of characters in suits to that one friend who understands how much you enjoy menswear. Not sorry, Beth. I regret nothing. SUITS.
Busted! We also started this one in January, I think. And, we only started this one because I was like, “Wait, I think that’s Oh Sehun (also of Exo).” I was right, it was. (Listen: this time last year I knew 1 (one) K-pop group. One. And, it wasn’t Exo. It was BTS. But, now, there is literally a wall of K-pop in my house. What is wrong with me? Why am I like this? But, also, I didn’t have anything on that wall before (and the other art in the house is mostly comic book related) and now I have a conversation with Min Suga every time I make coffee, so it works out for me. God, I hate self-isolating so much. I am talking to my walls.) Anyway, this is a dumb show where celebrities pretend to be detectives and play ridiculous games and puzzles to solve outlandish mysteries. And, if there is one genre of “reality” tv I can get behind, it is this one: Entertaining People doing Stupid Shit. (As opposed to Exasperating People doing Stupid Shit. An example of this genre is Love is Blind, which I am hate-watching. If Beth goes to bed at midnight, it’s only 9 pm for me. And, I could go back to work, but I already work a lot, so I’m trying not to do that. And, I can crochet while I’m yelling at Jessica to just end it with Mark already.)
Hospital Playlist. This is about Five friends from med school getting jobs at the same Hospital. It’s like, Grey’s Anatomy only instead of being about the interns, it’s about folks much higher up the food chain. The main plot is fun (Actual Adults With Jobs Also Have Time For a Band They Started Together…which might be more enjoyable if I were more familiar with the music they played, but meh. The music is nice and I’m just going to assume that they’re playing whatever was popular when the characters would have been in college and also be thankful that it isn’t Limp Bizkit.) We’re all caught up on this one, so we actually have to wait and watch our episode a week on Thursdays. At first I was annoyed by this, but now I’m happy to have something to look forward to.
The King: The Eternal Monarch. Lee Minho from Boys over Flowers plays another standoffish dude with enough money and power to make the Pharaohs of Old weep who also doesn’t understand women. It’s about a King from a parallel universe in which Korea is a constitutional monarchy who was once saved by someone from this universe from an evil Uncle who tried to kill him and steal a magic stick. That’s the worst description ever if I’m trying to sell you on it. We’re only five episodes into this (it comes out on Fridays), so I don’t know that I am. The love interest and her friends in this universe are great. I would watch a show just about them. I’m not sold on stuffy King. But, I wasn’t sold on Gu Joon Pyo, either, so we’ll see about this one.
Prison Playbook. Pitcher about to move to the States to join an MLB team is sentenced to a year of Prison after he beats a man nearly to death for attempting to assault his sister. Aside from using the Tragic-Things-Happen-to-Lady-Family-Member-as-Main-Character-Motivation trope, I’m enjoying this so far. The other folks in prison are entertaining and likable. The guards are a mix of good and effing awful. There are some cute romantic subplots. And, dear god to I miss baseball. In the alternate universe in which there is no Coronavirus, in three weeks, Beth and I would have been seeing a baseball game together. Now, we’re settling for baseball-adjacent fiction. It’s made by the same people who did Hospital Playlist, and so a fair number of the actors overlap. Fair warning, though: go into this one knowing the episodes are about an hour and half each, sometimes longer.
We’ve also been watching episodes of Community, Kim’s Convenience, and I’ve been trying to get Beth into Letterkenny.
So, that’s what we’re up to. What have you been doing with your time? Got any netflix recs for us? Book recs? Game recs? (No puzzles, though, Beth might fly to Nevada just to murder me if I make her do another puzzle.)
So how’s it going out there ? You all staying safe and staying inside? What are you reading while self isolating? Me? Well not a whole lot. I thought when this started about a month ago (I can’t believe I’m going on my 4th week here!) that I was going to read all these books and that hasn’t really happened. I did finish two books and they were good and I enjoy them but since then I’ve really hard time focusing. I’m sure we are all feeling the same anxiety and stress of the times and it makes it really hard to concentrate. I’ve tried to start a few books but either I’m just not in the mood for them right (it turns out I have a lot of books that center around rebuilding after a global pandemic or disaster of some sort. A little bit to close to home at the moment.) or I just can’t focus long enough to comprehend what I’m reading and I end up reading the same paragraph over and over. Instead I’ve been watching a lot more on Netflix and TV. I find putting on a TV show or a movie is easier because I can be a little bit more passive. If I tune out for a bit it’s okay and still be okay. I don’t have to focus quite as much. I also wonder if the reason I’m having a hard time reading is that I used to do most of my reading on my commute to and from work. I’m obviously not commuting now. So maybe since my routine has been interrupted and I haven’t found a way to include reading in my new routine. Maybe I need to try audio books. Anyways, I hope that you all doing well and taking care of yourself. Let me know if you have any suggestions. Be safe everyone!
The last couple of days I’ve been home sick with a bad cold and while that sucks it has given me time to think about what books I’ve read would make good movies or TV shows. Why I was thinking this I don’t know. I guess I was looking through all the options you can watch TV and movies now. Netflix, Hulu AppleTV, DisneyPlus, traditional cable, etc. It seems like there is an endless number of places that need contact to fill so why not give a few suggestions.
Genuine Fraudby E. Lockhart Who doesn’t love a good suspense mystery. I would be interested in seeing how a filmmaker would take the unusual structure of the narrative as it’s told in part real time and partly in reverse. I think it would be true challenge to balance all the nuances right and not let too much away to soon. This would work both as a movie or as a serialized series.
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker I could see this as a movie but I think it would work best as a HBO prestige series. There is so many aspects of the story that a movie wouldn’t be able to get to it all. Not to mention, I think TV would be more willing to have an an all diverse female cast then movies would and it would have to be HBO because to do it justice it’s going to have to have a big budget. It would be great because who wouldn’t want to all a Girl Pirate Crew take on the patriarchy of the seas? Mad Max Fury Road but on a boat. It has a lot of potential.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland An historical drama with zombies Really what else do you need?. It may take place after the Civil War but it is relevant today as it ever was. Racism, Sexism and Classicism all play a part in the series. So far it only has one book out. The sequel comes out early next year. If HBO is still looking for a “What if the Civil War had ended differently” drama now that it’s ill advised Confederate show is dead because D&D of Game of Thrones left for Netflix. This is it. The Civil war didn’t end because one side won over the other but because the dead came back to life. Slaves were freed, sort of. They are now used to stop the Zombie attacks It can examine how the US is different and how slavery plays a part without the messiness of the other show’s premise. Not to mention Jane is an excellent protagonist
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I can’t be the only one who has been disappointed in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies. The first one was okay. Entertaining but the second one was a big ol’ mess. I’m not even going to mention the Johnny Depp situation. So why not make a movie of Rainbow’s Simon and Baz series? All the magical elements are there. Wizards and witches and mythological creatures. Magic schools. A mysterious and powerful villain. Rivals turned lovers. A real LGBTQ love story that is front and center and not just in context or added later. The second book expands on the world but going on a road trip through the US and series hi-jinks ensue. I feel like it’s the remedy for the bad Harry Potter content we’ve been getting lately.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro Yes, I’m aware we have had a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations recently but we haven’t had one like this one. Not only is our Holmes a teenage girl and our Watson a teenage boy but it takes place in a world where the novels exist and Holmes and Watson were real people. It’s a fun and breezy mysteries that would make excellent movies or TV shows.
The Diviner’s by Libba Bray This one would have to be a series. The amount of detail and length of each novel could not be properly shown in a movie. How lush it would look. All the glitz and glamour of 1920’s New York. Again, it may be a period piece but it is so relevant to today. It tackles racism, sexism, class and immigration with the supernatural element in the background. Not to mention all of our main characters have their own X-men like powers! The possibilities are endless.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake Game of Thrones type of series but from an all female perspective. You get all the court intrigue and magical elements without all the messiness that Game of Thrones had. Women can be just a ruthless. They have to be when to become Queen you must kill your sisters to do it. I would love to this on big or small screen.
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow Okay, I want to this as a movie only if Tilda Swinton plays Talis. The sassiest, homicidal AI in history of Artificial Intelligence. The world was in constant war so Talis was like let’s go all Medieval on you. I’m taking your heirs as Hostages. If you declare war, I kill them. That’s oversimplification but it’s awesome and tense and has LGBTQ love triangle in it that is just too good to ignore. This should be made into a movie but again only if Tilda Swinton is involved. I won’t accept anything less.
So there are few books I think need to get the big or small treatment. What do you all think> What book or book series do you want seen into a movie or TV show?
I have signed up to do 24 in 48! I have literally no hope of actually making it to 24 hours, but I would like to try. Mostly, I’d like to finish the half finished books I’ve started in the last six months so I can turn out some reviews. Are you also doing 24 in 48? Even if you aren’t, what are you excited to read this weekend?
Something that always interests me is how accents or dialects are presented in literature and how those things can act as a stand in for something else (like class or race). I’ve recently finished listening to Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm and two of the main characters, Robin and Cormoran come from places in Britain that are either known for their accents or have some very good reasons why they’d have distinct accents. The standard British accent (sometimes called RP for ‘received pronunciation’, or ‘Southern English Standard Pronunciation’ (SESP), ‘Southern British Standard English’, or ‘King’s English’) wikipedia tells us the standard in the South of England and can be heard all over England and Wales. The thing with standard accents or dialects is: they are fiction. No one speaks them. There are regionalisms everywhere. We all do our own thing. But, we operate as if we’re all doing the same thing so there is power in performing in a way that aligns with the standard. There’s also an invisibility that comes with being in line with the standard. But, I’ll circle back to that. The standard dialect is what you are used to hearing if you watch a lot of BBC television (or listen to a lot of BBC radio). The video below is from a YouTube channel that helps people practice their standard pronunciation. I picked this one because standard British is known for being ‘non-rhotic’ which means that at the ends of syllables and words, r-sounds are not pronounced.
‘Cart’ and ‘Fast’ do not have the same vowels for me. But, they do in Standard British English!
Since neither of our main characters speak this standard dialect and both of them speak a dialect that could mark them as outsiders, so lets talk about what they might sound like.
Let’s start with Cormoran.
Cormoran is said to have a Cornish accent. Cornwall and Devon are in the Southwest of England. There the little sticky-outy bit that is below Wales. So, in the map below, you can see the island of Britain to the right of Ireland. There is a red line around England and a bit in the West that is excluded by the red line. That excluded bit is Wales, Cornwall is below that.
Cornwall is pretty small as a region. It regained its Independence following the Roman exit but eventually fell under the rule of Wessex in the 1300s and was eventually fully integrated into the monarchy. (Thanks, wikipedia!) Cornish, a Celtic language, was spoken in the region and was thought to have died out. But, its undergoing a revival now.
Now, onto Robin’s accent. Ayup! (There’s no way I’m using that right.)
Yorkshire is in the North of England and includes cities Leeds and Sheffield.
Some of my favorite English-isms are apparently from Yorkshire. For example, faffing. As in, “She was taking her time, faffin’ about, not getting much done.” Faffin’ is one of my favorite words. Also, Yorkshire might be one of my favorite English accents. In my mind, Yorkshire is the quintessential Northern English accent. Speakers with this accent have an “i” sound as in “in” at the ends of words like “city” where you might have an “ee” sound. It is a dialect that is known for contractions. For example, speakers may contract the definite article “the” and so something like, “I’m going down the pub.” might sound more like, “downt pub”.
Here you can listen to Yorkshire native Harrison Fletcher discuss his accent.
So, both of these characters have non-standard accents and, in the books, they are definitely set apart from most of the people they interact with. In the first book, they are hired by John Bristow, adopted son of Sir Alec Bristow to investigate the death of his sister, Lula Landry. Throughout this novel, they meet moneyed individuals who sometimes go out of their way to make it clear that they are from a different class and their betters. Nowhere is the contrast more great than between Cormoran and his ex-fiancé Charlotte Campbell, whom he met at Oxford. Charlotte is a blue blood and, if I’m being honest, also the worst. Robin does a great job of hiding her accent, but it does come out at times. I found it a really wonderful addition to the book, reminding you that both of these characters are outsiders in the city of London, which is perfect as they investigate their cases.
As you may know, Ursula K. Le Guin died in January of this year at the age of 88. Over the next few weeks, I thought I would post a small round up of links and videos so that we can get to know the author and the influence that she’s had on the world. First up is the video of Le Guin’s acceptance of National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014. This video is only 6 minutes long, but in it she comments on why speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction is important.
In the comments below, tell us why you think science fiction and fantasy are worth reading. What have they brought to your life? Why do you keep coming back to these genres?
Today in my mailbox was a delightful email telling me about a book deal on a book that I’ve been wanting to read but have yet to buy yet. The Body Electric by Beth Revis was her follow up book to her brilliant series Across the Universe and today it’s only $0.99. I’ve been wanting to read it because I loved her first series but I also the story of sounded interesting. What can I say, I like to read people with special powers. If you are looking for great deals on ebooks, bookbub is the way to go. You can set up emails to be send you deals once a week or every day. You can also set up alerts for when deals come available from your favorite authors. It’s a economical way to keep your book habit growing and also gives you suggestions for books and authors that you might not have considered but maybe you’ll try for $0.99. Why not? So a little tip on where to find affordable ebooks, I recommend bookbub. One caveat. The deals only last for a day so if you see something that catches your eye you better act fast before the deal ends. Where do you find good book deals? Let us know in the comments below.