Ally Box!

Greetings! About a month ago, I saw that Fulton Street Books and Coffee was putting together an ally box, containing books to help folks wanting to learn more about race, racism, and white supremacy in America. So, to further my education (and to be a better and more informed teacher) I signed up. The subscription is running for three months (and there are still some subscriptions available through Fulton Street Books website! Click through on that link above!)

In this first box, there are flash cards with key terms that you’ve seen popping up in the media and two books. They’re both books that are on my to-read pile and I am super excited about them. The first book is So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo. I think this will be an overview to some of the issues in the current moment.

The second book is The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. As someone who grew up in largely white communities, I think this one will probably contain a lot of information to help me better understand how I have benefited from our current systems that harm Black citizens and other citizens of color. Despite what I said about the first book probably being a good overview text, I think I’m going to start with the second one.

These look like they’re both going to be good reads, and I can’t wait to see what’s in the next box!

Top Posts of 2019

These are the Posts from this year that you all really loved! Let’s revisit them, shall we?

  1. Review: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare – This was a fun series from two great authors.
  2. Quick Review: Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro – Another great series with a new take on some favorite characters.
  3. Review: The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson – I love a good mystery and this has been top notch.
  4. Quick Review: The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jennifer Gunter – Twitter’s gynecologist answers all your questions about women’s health and demystifies some long standing myths that really need to go.
  5. Quick Review: Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard – Short story collection from the world of Red Queen.
  6. Reading Challenges – Who doesn’t love a challenge?
  7. What I’m Reading Now: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes) by Lorna Landvik – Such a great title.
  8. Reality is Stranger than Fiction – This post by author Sherrilyn Kenyon was hard to believe. It’s like a novel.
  9. 24 in 48 – Kate attempted to read 24 books in 48 hours.
  10. Not a Review: Circe by Madeline Miller -” This isn’t a review so much as a scream into the void ” maybe the best line ever written on this blog ever.

Quick Review: The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jen Gunter

This is embarrassing to admit but there is some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who thought this but *sigh* I didn’t realize there was a difference between the Vulva and the Vagina. I kinda thought they were the same thing. The words were interchangeable. It really is sad how little we know about women’s body and how for centuries the medical profession didn’t really feel it necessary to study women’s bodies and health the same way they study men’s. That’s where Dr. Jen Gunter comes in. Twitter’s doctor as she is known spells out the fact from the fiction. What we know to be true and what isn’t and really what works for her. She lays everything out in a very straightforward way. Her explanations are easy to understand and makes perfect sense to me. She has set it up in a way that you can jump around and read on what you want to know. Sure you can read from front to back and I’m sure it’s beneficial. I started it that way but then skipped forward to later chapters as they pertained more to my own personal questions. I did go back to the chapters I missed but I didn’t bother me that I didn’t read it order. I like to think of it as my own choose your own adventure book. The real strength is that as I have more questions as time goes on, I can always go back to reference. So ladies, I do recommend adding this book to your library. All of our lives, we have been told misleading or even out right lies about our anatomy that continue to do us harm. It’s time to take that knowledge back.

Review: The Last Speakers by K. David Harrison

9781426204616_p0_v2_s550x406 My pop culture assignment from Kate is to delve into her world as a linguist. Linguistics has been referred to as a social science.  What does that mean exactly?  The first book, What Language is by John McWhorter was more of the scientific side of the linguistics, explaining what they look for when they study languages.  How languages are built and how they became to be and continue to develop. The Last Speakers is the social side of linguistics by discussing why the study of languages are important to understanding who we are and the world around us.  Both aspects are important to discover how we communicate to each other.  K. David Harrison set out to study endangered languages because the knowledge of the natural world they contain that we have lost by no longer speaking them.  He learns from indigenous people words that describes the world around us.  How they can speak or sing to animals to get them do what they need them to do.  Plant life that are now extinct.  Medicinal methods that have vanished in the wake of modern medicine.  If we lose these last speakers we lose more than just a language being spoken.  We lose a great deal of our own knowledge of our world that we will never get back.  The book reads like a travel memoir as he details his work around the globe but it’s also a plea to the world to not abandon these languages.  He and his team document these languages and do everything then can to keep these languages alive long after the last speakers pass away but also bring to light new or remembered words of our past.  I like that he isn’t to be the white savior.  He goes to observe and document and help where he can.  He defers to the people in how they want to documented.  Not all people want their languages to be shared with outsiders and he understands their reasoning without judgment.  It’s their language and culture and they should have the final say on who gets to know it and learn it.  It was an interesting book, with some great stories and I’m fully support more documentation of last speakers from all over the world.  We have so much more to learn.

What I’m Reading Now: What Language is by John McWhorter

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Well Kate is almost finished with her homework assignment so I guess I better get going on mine.  Pretty excited to dive into my sister’s world.

Pop Culture Homework Assignment for Beth: Language

This summer, I am sharing with Beth something that has been a passion and a profession for me: the study of language. At the end of the month, I will defend my dissertation. If it all goes well, I will have a PhD in linguistics. Language and its study have been a huge part of my life for a long time now, but the details of it haven’t really been something that I have shared with my family. I know that they know what I do, but I worry that they find the discussion of it way too boring. To be honest with you, coming up with this list felt a little self-indulgent and unfair. (So much so that I have a back up assignment, in case she protests and boycotts this one.) But, I love the work that I do and find it exciting, so I have decided to share a little bit of general linguistics with my sister (and anyone who wants to join the challenge!) this summer. The four books I have picked are half non-fiction and half fiction (huge hat-tip is Jessi Grieser on twitter for asking for book suggestions and Gretchen McCulloch for this blog post! It helped me pick the fiction on this list!).

  1. What Language Is: and What it isn’t and what it could be by John McWhorter

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John McWhorter has written a number of pop science on language and I’ve found them to be quite enjoyable. I haven’t read this one, but the reviews suggest that it will be a good introduction to what linguistics is, while also providing some fun trivia about language.

2. Left hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

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I couldn’t resist adding an Ursula K. Le Guin book to the list following our read along last February.  Le Guin uses language in interesting ways in this novel. I look forward to hearing Beth’s thoughts on the book, after having read McWhorter’s thoughts on language.

3. The Last Speakers by K. David Harrison

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Depending on how you count, there are between roughly 6,0007,000 languages in the world. For many of them, the possibility that they will still be spoken in one hundred years is slim. This book highlights that and brings attention to speakers of some vanishing languages.

4.  Embassytown by China Miéville

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Language is at the center of my final selection. Living figures of speech, a unique language humans must be modified to speak. Danger! Catastrophe! Hard choices! So fun. I can’t wait for her to read this.

In fact, I can’t wait to hear what Beth thinks about all of them!