Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Month In The Life: May 2018

It's after Memorial Day weekend now, which as far as I'm concerned marks the start of summer regardless of what the calendar says. And the mercury (well, the app on my phone) agrees! It's been quite warm already, which gives me dread for the real heat of summer coming up. Also heating up is the political world, with Primary Day here in just a couple weeks. Since Nevada is a state where you can vote early, I've actually already cast my ballot and I'm just waiting to see how it all shakes out. And in more personal news, my family suffered a loss when my grandfather passed away.

In Books...

  • The Book of Unknown Americans: This book, about Mexican immigrants who leave their comfortable life to come to America when their daughter suffers a significant brain injury in the hope of giving her a better life, has an interesting perspective, but doesn't come together really until the end, which is very good. I wanted it to be more consistently better than it was, though.
  • Game of Crowns: I figured this was the perfect time to read this book with the Royal Wedding and everything. Turns out it's basically a very long People article, and a total hit job on Charles and Camilla. I did not think it was worth my time. 
  • On Trails: This was our book club selection for this month, and I really did not like it. It was scattered and engaged in only superficial analysis of the more interesting aspects of its subject matter, the making and use of trails. It ended up being mostly an "in the wilderness" book about the Appalachian Trail, and I could not possibly have been less interested. 
  • Children of Blood and Bone: This was a super-hyped release that I enjoyed more as I reminded myself that it was YA and I needed to adjust my frame of reference accordingly. Set in a fantasy version of Nigeria and playing on the mythology of the area, the plot is dynamic and propulsive and the world-building intriguing, but the characterization is shallow. That being said, though, I'm curious to see what the next volume in the trilogy brings! 
  • Far From The Madding Crowd: This is my second Thomas Hardy novel, and I think I've discovered a new classics author I enjoy! Sure, he's a little biased in his glowing portrayals of rural life, but I like his warmth and humor and the characters he creates, and Bathsheba Everdene is a wonderful, complicated heroine. 
  • The Heart of Everything That Is: This book focuses on the fight led by the Lakota warrior Red Cloud against the US government in the Great Plains, culminating in the "Fetterman Massacre" in Montana. He managed to win unprecedented victories for his people...but we all know how this story ends and that those hard-won victories didn't last. It was interesting and informative, if rather dry.
  • Landline: I've heard amazing things about Rainbow Rowell, but I'd also heard that this was her least enjoyable book, and I was glad I had the latter feedback to temper my expectations. Parts of this time-travel telephone story were delightful and fun, but I thought it suffered from some inconsistent tone issues and just didn't quite come together.
  • How to Love Wine: This book from the NYT's Chief Wine Critic is competently written enough, but at the end of the day boils down to "drink it, with people you love, and good food, and don't worry about the rest of it" spread over 200+ pages. 

In Life...

  • I started taking Tai Chi: As a certified High Strung Person, I'm always looking for ways to manage my anxiety. I saw a local community college offered an extension class to learn Tai Chi and it's something I'm really enjoying.
  • RiverFest: This is one of our favorite local events and we've been going to it for years now! This time around we bought tickets to the craft beer village AND the limited releases tent so there were lots of delicious samples. Unfortunately, it was held on what must have been the least nice day of the month, only in the 50s and raining, so we didn't linger as long as we might have.
  • My grandpa passed away: I usually try to keep things pretty chipper around here, but life isn't always as smooth as I wish it was. My paternal grandpa, who was my last surviving grandparent, passed away this month after about a year of declining health. He lived a full life and was married to my grandmother for decades before her death, had six kids, and was active enough to be driving four-wheelers around until his mid-80s. I will miss him. 

One Thing:

The distinction between art and artist is a thorny one to navigate. Resolving to never again watch Rosemary's Baby or Chinatown again is a greater loss to me than it is to Roman Polanski, an unquestionably garbage person. But the extent to which we're willing to excuse "genius" men, like Polanski, their awfulness, and indeed, conceive of genius as a masculine trait, is the subject of this very interesting article by Megan Garber, which gave me a lot to think about.

Gratuitous Pug Photo:


  1. I read the article as you suggested and "the beat goes on." Good blog post--thanks.

    1. It's really interesting to think about ALL the chances dudes get to mess up when we call them geniuses...and how few women get that distinction, and how quick we are to cast them down if they do so.

  2. Sorry about your grandpa. *Hugs.* I’m glad you mostly liked Children of Blood and Bone. The hype has me curious about that one. Have a good June!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Thank you. I'll think of him every time I have a Squirt, because Grandpa and I were the only two people I know who liked grapefruit soda! If you're curious about Blood and Bone, I'd definitely adjust the hype meter downward. Trying to manage my level of expectations for a book with wild hype is something that's been interesting to deal with the longer I'm immersed in the bookish online world...some titles I think I would appreciate more without the buzz getting my hopes for something mind-blowing up! Blood and Bone is fast-paced and exciting but has very real weaknesses.