Sunday, October 31, 2021

A Month In The Life: October 2021


October is always my favorite month! It's the one with my birthday and my husband's birthday, after all. And, now that I live in Nevada, Nevada Day (which is technically today but we celebrate on the last Friday of the month to make a three-day weekend). Usually we can count on October for some lovely weather in the upper 60s and low 70s to enjoy the last of the long days, but once the heat broke, it plunged firmly into the 50s and 60s so it's definitely been a properly "fall" fall.

In Books...

  • Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth was the first child of Teddy Roosevelt, and his only child with his first wife, who died within days of her birth. She had a fascinating life, exerting a lot of soft power in Washington, DC, with her background as a First Daughter and wife of the man who would one day become Speaker, but dealt with plenty of darkness as well. This biography is competent enough and definitely provides a solid overview of her life, but has a hard time sustaining itself and kind of drags by the end.
  • French Concession: This was a noir thriller set in 1930s Hong Kong, and was the first book translated into English of a successful Chinese writer so I decided to try it despite not being a particular devotee of the genre. This was a mistake, I found it needlessly complicated with characters too thinly sketched to actually care about.
  • Land of Big Numbers: I think this is the last time I read short stories for book club, y'all. I just don't like them. This collection set mostly in China or featuring Chinese characters, written by a Chinese-American journalist who spent several years living in China, is fine. I found none of the stories interesting, either in a good or bad way. They were all just kind of there.
  • Uprooted: I had high hopes for this book, which I've had recommended to me several times, and they were mostly satisfied. It's a standalone adult fantasy (adult here in the sense of "not-young adult", not "x-rated") based in Eastern Europe, rooted in the journey of a young woman, Agnesiezka, discovering her magic under the tutelage of a wizard known as The Dragon, who finds herself having to fight to save her home and kingdom. There's a little too much plot here, I wish just a bit had been edited out to make room for a couple character moments to fully develop, but it's very good and I enjoyed reading it.
  • The Night The Lights Went Out: Drew Magary is one of my favorite writers on the internet, and I remember following along with reports on Twitter when he had a bad accident in late 2018 that it seemed like he might not recover from. He did recover, though, and wrote this memoir about his experience with traumatic brain injury and the long process of recovery. I found it strongest in the first half, but Magary's skill with words makes the second half (in which he tries to cope with the fallout of a loss of his senses of hearing, smell, and taste) work despite being often repetitious. It's definitely something to read if you like him/his work, but otherwise might not be especially compelling. 
  • Cleopatra's Shadows: This is an unusual take on a Cleopatra-era historical fiction about Ancient Egypt, in that Cleopatra herself barely features as a player in the drama. Instead, it concerns itself with the story of her older sister, Berenice, and younger sister, Arsinoe, during the brief reign of the former prior to the death of Cleopatra's father. I appreciated that it was a side of the story we rarely see considered, and it was written well enough to keep my attention and interest though wasn't more than solid-to-good. 

In Life...

  • I turned 36: Birthdays do get much less exciting as we get older, don't they? Turning 36 felt like the opposite of a big deal, so we just watched college football and ordered Mexican food take-out. This is the first major milestone where I keep thinking that the next time this one rolls around we'll have a kid!
  • I went to Skate America: My best friend and I love figure skating, so we went to Las Vegas for Skate America, the first major international competition of the season that will end with Worlds in March (though few but the hardcore will pay much attention once the Olympics are over). It was super fun, we got to watch some incredible skating from everyone from Russian teenage phenoms to 30something multiple-time Olympians. This was our second time going and we definitely want to make it a tradition!

One Thing:

I'm trying to stay healthy and at least somewhat active during this pregnancy, which feels increasingly important but also increasingly challenging as I approach the third trimester. I'm too paranoid to go to the gym and risk COVID exposure (at least until I get my booster shot in a week!) so I've been working out from home and really appreciate the workouts put together by BodyFit by Amy. She has a TON of home workouts for every kind of fitness need, but it's surprisingly hard to find good pregnancy-friendly workouts that I like so I especially appreciate her list of workouts for those of us growing tiny humans. I definitely intend to continue using her material even after I have evicted my passenger!

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

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