There's an exercise program called Couch Potato to 5K that I've attempted 3 or 4 times but never completed. In fact, after my last attempt I stopped jogging completely and vowed never again. But Pandemics Change Everything, so with my personal trainer trapped at home with me (hi Alexander!) I restarted.
There were a few bumps along the way, but last week I managed to actually complete 4. This morning I managed the first day of Week 5. That is farther than I've ever gotten before, and I feel better doing it than on any of my other attempts. I mean, I doubt if I'll ever be doing half marathons or crazy stuff like that, but this is farther than I ever thought I'd go. Wow!
I'm also still meeting up with a friend to walk in a nearby park every week or so. It was drizzling but I still showed up, which is a miracle almost on the same level as me jogging for 5 minutes without calling for medical help at the end. Just call me a late-blooming athlete. It was good I've been getting in shape, because I needed all my endurance for a day-long wrestling match with Chase bank. So far I'm ahead on points, but the round isn't over yet. The sad thing is they agree with me on everything, but between long holds, dropped calls, and a failed process they are having dealing with my problem. But I'm hoping it will be resolved in a week or so, and maybe they will make a note of a few bad policies so no other customers fall into the booby trap they somehow constructed for their customers.
Good dinners this week. We were alone for one meal, so Paulos made a few quick changes so it was all-vegetarian and Alexander was happy. He saved the leftovers so that when the shrimp dish came out on Friday he and my sister were able to have an alternative. And another delicious salad came out. I don't even pretend to give him salad recipes anymore; I just send him to the farmer's market and tell him to get what he needs.
Lots of book clubs this week. I found a library one for Braiding Sweetgrass, which was fun and I want to go back. I also saw that the Northwest African American Museum had a discussion of Parable of the Sower up, so I called in for that. My Tuesday group met again, and we had our sushi dinner with the friends we established a family book club with. Daringly we met in person over a picnic table outside to discuss Howl's Moving Castle.
I also listened in to a discussion of where WorldCon should be held in two years (Chicago or Riyadh). If we are back to having international travel by then. And we attempted another Trivia Night, acing the Children's Book Category and doing strongly in 1960s, stumbling a bit on PJ the Clown, and then crashing and burning in the R&B category. Sunday I got to see all my siblings, my mom and my aunt on our Family Call, so it was a good week.
My currently reading exploded a bit (22), but everything is a good read so I'm happy with it. (Three of which I probably won't touch this week so they won't appear on this blog.) I suddenly noticed that the Hugo voting is in a few weeks, so I have to read a lot of stuff.
The Book Date does a weekly roundup of what people are reading, want to read, or have read each week called "It's Monday! What Are You Reading" so I'll sign up there. Ditto for the children's lit version at either Teach Mentor Texts or Unleashing Readers. My CYBIL reading and winner's luck make me eligible this week.
Wolfpack, Abby Wambach. For my Torchers & Pitchforks book club.
New Kid, Jerry Craft. Book from my shelves. That I won! Because that's how lucky I am. Thank you to Completely Full Bookshelf for hosting the 2020 Books By Black Voice Giveaway, and then chasing me down when I left a very obscure identification.
New Suns, edited by Nisi Shawl. For my Cloudy book club.
A Longer Fall, Charlaine Harris. Library book. I picked the us the day before the library closed and I've been hoarding it ever since.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alex E. Harrow. I suddenly realized I have to vote on the Hugo finalists soon, so I'm trying to read some.
A Properly Unhaunted Place, William Alexander. A Cybils finalist.
The City in the Middle of the Night, Charlie Jane Anders. Another Hugo book. They gave it to me as part of the Hugo packet.
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler. Reread. For another book club I found online.
Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling. I'm listening to celebrities read this to me. Daniel Radcliffe was particularly good.
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones. For our family book club.
Die Vol 1, Kieron Gillen. Hugo Graphic book finalist.
The Heiress Effect, Courtney Milan. Reread, because I reread the prior book. Again I enjoyed this book. The woman was cooler than the guy, who actually came off better as a minor character in the previous story. But he was motivated to step up to be more deserving of the wonderful Jane, whose fashion sense should live forever. Now I have to find time to reread Violet's story, although that may be tough for a few weeks.
Wolfpack, Abby Wambach. For my Torchers & Pitchforks book club. I thought the metaphor was muddled but the message itself was clear. The beginning talks about the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, and says it's time to move beyond the timid girl punished for stepping off the path and become the WOLF, bold and determined. And then it moves through a lot of good ideas about daring to and learning from failure, trusting in your peers and working as a team (a pack!), with examples from her own life and the world around her. It's a good motivation book, but I kept being annoying and trying for force every point into the original fairy tale, which doesn't really work.
13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher. I have mixed feelings about this book. I think it works for fraught teens but not for adults. As an adult, I think that anyone with the mental space to make these thirteen stories should also have the space to make a call for help. It seemed unrealistic. And then the sheer malice involved in using your suicide to make other teens feel bad for not understanding you (without really trying to understand them) was off putting. By the end (spoiler), when she confesses to watching a boy rape an unconscious girl, I had more sympathy for her not wanting to share this. That kind of failure would be hard to live with -- I understand how a kid would be too shocked and scared to move, but it's still a huge failure. But what kind of person could front load their story with the tales of boys commenting on her ass, or a friend choosing a boy over her, or even a mean prank of stealing the class validations at a time when she really need them, the kinds of things that really hurt as a teen but will be seen in better proportion later, and then add as an almost forgotten last straw that she was a silent witness to a rape? Hannah never deserved to die, but she was not a person I'd want my kids to have as a friend. Clay dodged a bullet there.
Harbor Me, Jacqueline Woodson. Cybils 2018 Middle Grade Fiction finalist. I loved the kids and their voices, as they (encouraged by their wonderful teacher) talked to each other and supported each other through some heavy problems -- jailed parents, deported parents, race, bullying, loss. It's great to see kids who act like the ones I know, kids who have high standards for themselves and compassion for others. But my suspension of disbelief stumbled a bit at their situation. I've seen the resources public schools have for special ed, and the tiny class size and the standards that this kids had made me highly dubious that they would have the chance to be there for each other. So kids are great and this book reflects that beautifully, but America is not. Sigh.
So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo. (Audio). This was a good explanation of black Americans have to wade through, and all the ways that white Americans accidentally or maliciously tilt the playing field against them. It talks about microaggressions and intersectionality and other buzzwords, and does it in a clear voice that doesn't apologize for being hurt by them.
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones. For our family book club. It was fun to get together with friends, and they had even (mostly) listened to the book. And their memories of the movie were better than mine, so we had a fun discussion ranging from details to themes. I still love this book; Sophie is a wonderful character and Jones is an artist with words.
Bookmarks Moved (Or Languished) In:
Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. 7/10 discs. Plugging along whenever I'm in the car.
Uncompromising Honor, David Weber. Baen Free Radio Hour's serial, part 19. I like the bits with Honor the best.
Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton. For my Tuesday book club. Now the siblings can get on with solving their problems.
The Aeronaut's Windlass, Jim Butcher. (Audio) Chapter 50s. Lots of exciting fights and cliffhangers.
Stamped From the Beginning, Ibram X Kendi. (Audio) For an online book club. Still plugging along, aiming at a chapter a day.
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer. I got through enough to attend the book club, but I want to finish because I'm enjoying it. But I'll be able to drop the speed now.
Picture Books / Short Stories:
Yasmin the Superhero, Saadia Faruqi. Cybils 2019 Early Reader book. This was an enticing read, with clear sentences, engaging and explanatory illustrations, and some neat touches, like the non-English words and their explanations, that would make it a good early reader and boost reading confidence. I liked the message, which didn't stoop to the level of a moral.
Fox and Chick: The Quiet Boat Ride, Sergio Ruzzier. Cybils 2019 Early Reader book. Somehow this book caught me in the wrong mood. Kids should like the contrast between impulsive Chick and long-suffering Fox, but I just felt that Fox martyred herself and that she needed to learn to set some boundaries. It's not doing Chick any good to trample over other's feelings, even if they don't complain.
I also read two Greek books, but I'm too lazy to take pictures. Both board books, one based on a song what went swimmingly since each page just added a line. The other had a Seek and Find theme and lift-the-flaps. Clearly I read this to my sons decades ago since one flap was lost, but this time I actually worked out all the vocabulary. And then I made my kids take it up to their dad's house because google translate had the kid with the sore knee searching for a cigarette and I figured that might not be right (apparently that word also means bandage).
These books I'm barely reading; I use them as palate cleansers between books I'm actually reading.
The Educated Child, William Bennett. Mathematics! My kids can still do eighth grade math, although technically neither of them took it. My mathematics majoring son objected to some of the questions as indicating a poor understanding of the underlying concept. Show-off.
Give All to Love, Patricia Veryan. Nothing like arson to bring a family together.
Wool, Hugh Howey.
The Wind Gourd of La'amaomao, Moses Nakuima.
Reading and Learning to Read, Jo Anne Vaca. Nonfiction books and their uses.
- Cybils 2017. Started Properly Unhaunted Place.
- Cybils 2018. Finished Harbor Me.
- Cybils 2019. Finished two Early Readers.
- Reading My Library. Libraries are closed. I'm stymied!
- Ten to Try. At 9/10. I now have my KCLS staff recommendation on hold.
- Where Am I Reading: 18/51 states. 16 Countries. Nothing new.
- Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. 20/24. Four left: 6 (play by PoC or queer author), 13 (food book about a new to me cuisine), 23 (literary magazine), and 24 (Indigenous author).