What I Read in May

Friday, July 22, 2016

In May I finally settled in to my new home in the Pacific Northwest and got acquainted with my new local library with tons of branches across the city and apps like Hoopla, Zinio, and the 3M Cloud Library which allow me to download music, audiobooks, magazines and e-books without ever leaving home. This allowed me to read even more books.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Since I was busy moving in April, I didn't get to start April's Our Shared Shelf book club pick until May. I didn't love the previous book club selection, so I was excited to read Caitlin Moran's book which promised to be funny and feminist. Although I couldn't relate to her stories about being a mom (since I'm not a mom yet), there was a lot that could relate to, several laugh out loud moments, and in the end I wished Caitlin was one of my best friends.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero  One of the headaches of moving to a new city is job-hunting. I'm not usually one to pick up a self-help book, but when I was browsing the online audio-book shelves on Hoopla I decided to listen to You Are a Badass for some motivation. This was a good self esteem booster and I still catch myself telling myself "you are a badass" several times a week.

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson The May Our Shared Shelf book club read was one part memoir, one part academic feminist theory, with a bit of a love story mixed in as she talks about meeting, falling in love and living her life with her partner who is gender fluid. This book seemed very poignant at the time I read it because the news was full of stories about people boycotting Target stores over their transgender bathroom policies. The pacing of this book made it difficult to follow at times, but I felt like I gained valuable insight into the LGBTQ world and the people that love them and it helped re-affirm my belief that love is love.

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfilment by Tal Ben-Shahari This book had been on my "To Read" list for several years- since the author talked to Jon Stewart about positive psychology on The Daily Show. So when I saw the audiobook on Hoopla, I decided to give it a listen. I learned a few tips on being happier and it re-affirmed a lot of my values.

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales by Franz Xavier von Schonwerth I was interested in creating some artwork based off of fairy tales, so finding this book of newly discovered fairy tales was fortuitous. Yes, there were a few stories that were similar to other classic tales like Cinderella and Thumbelina, but most were tales that I had never head before- leaning more towards Grimms fairy tales than Disney.

Bee and Puppycat, Vol. 1 by Natasha Allegri I discovered this comic book series via Hoopla (which is the best way to read it IMO because one book contains interactive links to songs via YouTube). The cutie pop drawings tell the story of Bee, a lazy, indulgent, unemployed young adult that can't seem to get her life together. When she takes in a stray creature named Puppycat she gets connected to an intergalactic temp agency and together her and Puppycat completed odd jobs. Such fun!

What I'm Listening To: PJ Harvey at Glastonbury 2016

Saturday, July 16, 2016
It's safe to say that I'm a little bit homesick for my former home in England. Last summer I avoided the crowds and streamed Glastonbury on my BBC iPlayer while painting and knitting and this year I found some of the sets on YouTube. PJ Harvey's set was the one I wanted to see the most this year and she didn't disappoint. Check out her performance of "This Glorious Land" below. 


When Good Ideas Happen (But Someone Else Had The Idea First)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Has this ever happened to you? You suddenly are struck with a great idea to create something and you're totally jazzed about it and then you Google it and learn that somebody has already done it. 

Earlier this month I discovered that the Joy of Painting is on Netflix. I loved watching Bob Ross and the Joy of Painting on my local PBS station when I was little. I used to stumble across it on the weekend like it was a happy accident and I'd be transfixed until the show was over. I'd also recently read a lot of facts about Bob Ross's life- like he used to be an Air Force Master Sergeant in Alaska and he painted at least 3 versions of every painting he did on the show (See more at Mental Floss). So, naturally I dove in and started watching the shows again on Netflix and, being a painter myself, I thought to myself "what if I sat down and attempted to paint all of Bob Ross's paintings myself". I was jazzed!

A few days later I was browsing on the internet to try to find some more art shows to watch, when I found this article from the Huffington Post about a lady who is painting along with all 403 of Bob Ross's The Joy of Painting series. 


I know there's nothing really stopping me from going ahead and painting through the television series myself, but it doesn't seem nearly as novel after learning that someone else has already done it first. 

Time to think up some new ideas. 


What I'm Listening To: Titus Andronicus- 'A More Perfect Union'

Saturday, July 9, 2016
Hello, everyone! I'm back in The States and last weekend America celebrated its Independence Day. I personally celebrated by enjoying some BBQ, local beer, some classic American films, and the most patriotic music I could find. 

One of the songs I listened to on Independence Day was 'A More Perfect Union' by Titus Andronicus (who's band name will always make me think of "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"). The song's lyrics feature: quotes from Abraham Lincoln, a smattering of Bruce Springsteen references, and references to Civil War songs. You can't get much more patriotic than that!

P.S. In case you're wondering, yes, I also listened to the theme song from Team America: World Police on the 4th of July. 

What I've been Reading in February and March

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I'd been eyeing this book on my library's book shelves for several weeks and finally decided to pick it up, and I'm so glad I did. It's a great "slice of life" story about a girl coming of age in poor, turn of the century Brooklyn. It's nearly an autobiographical tale based on the author, Betty Smith's, life and it left me wondering if Mrs. Smith would recognise her old neighbourhood today?

The Color Purple by Alice Walker In January I mentioned that I decided to join Emma Watson's feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads, and this was the book selected for February. I knew a little bit about the story, but had not read it before and was excited to see what made this story such a classic.It's a story of enduring terrible and unfair circumstances, learning to accept and love oneself, and learning to accept and forgive others. I loved it!

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien I originally attempted to read The Hobbit when I was in high school, but I never made it past the prologue. However, my husband encouraged me to give it another go, and assured me that I would like the story if I skipped past the prologue. He was right- I liked it better than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff One of the perks of working is a school is that teachers are constantly giving old classroom supplies away. I picked this book up out of a pile of books a 1st grade teacher was giving way. This book compares the themes found in the Winnie the Pooh stories to Taoist philosophy. It was probably too complicated for the 1st graders, but I found it very interesting.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks This was the March book selection for the Our Shared Shelf book club and it's probably one I would not have read otherwise. The book is a series of essays and strong opinions discussing What is Love. It was a challenge to get through as I didn't agree with all of her opinions and I found her style a bit preachy.

FYI: I didn't read any new books in April because I moved, so my next reading post will have my May and June reads. 
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