Friday, December 31, 2021

The Books I Read in 2021


Of these, the best was The Whale: A Love Story by Mark Beauregard. It's the fictionalized story of the forbidden love between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. It's so good and so sad. The Hawthorne character is exactly how I always imagined Nathaniel Hawthorne would be. Herman Melville is, surprisingly, extremely relatable. 

I haven't read Moby Dick, and honestly I probably never will because I asked my dad what it was like and he said, "Boring." We both like the Last of the Mohicans novels, so if he thinks it's more boring than James Fenimore Cooper's six pages of descriptions of trees, it's probably pretty boring, even if it is an extended Symbolist metaphor for love. 

Just know, as a bit of background information, that classic American literature lives rent-free in my mind at all times. 

There are a lot of really good ones in this middle photo, but I think my absolute favorite was State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. My copy belonged to my grandma, who loved Ann Patchett, especially Bel Canto. State of Wonder knocked me for several loops and, although it may seem counterintuitive to read about diseases in the midst of a pandemic, actually a good read for the COVID-19 outbreak. I highly recommend it. 

Carmen Maria Machado's graphic novel The Low, Low Woods is excellent, and of course reading Alex Trebek's memoir was a bittersweet pleasure. I think my favorite of these was the first one I read, Ayiti, a short writing collection by Roxane Gay. Everything Gay writes is phenomenal. And I'm not even that upset that she and her wife moved (moved back, in Gay's case) to Omaha and don't live in West Lafayette, Indiana anymore (where I always hoped I would accidentally run into them. Oh well, Indianapolis still has John Green). 

What was your favorite book that you read in 2021?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

December 2021 Currentlies

Currently Watching: I'm currently watching the new Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kid on the block ("the block" in this case being Disney+): Hawkeye, starring Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton and Hailee Steinfeld as the younger Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. 

Hailee Steinfeld also stars in another current fave series, this one on Apple+, which I just got this year: Dickinson. The series is loosely based on the life of Emily Dickinson, but it uses the Civil War-era setting to comment cleverly on current events. Plots frequently revolve around the love triangle between Emily, her brother Austin, and their mutual paramour Sue. Guest stars include comedian John Mulaney as Henry David Thoreau and Billy Eichner (voice of librarian Mr. Ambrose on Bob's Burgers) as a wonderful, openly queer Walt Whitman. My favorite guest star, though, is musician Wiz Khalifa as the personification of Death, who frequently stops his phantom coach for Emily. 

Of course, as a teen, Steinfeld famously played Juliet opposite Douglas Booth's Romeo. She also has a fantastic singing voice and my little pop-loving heart appreciates her as a recording artist. 

I hope Hailee is having a happy Hanukkah 5782.

Here are some of Emily Dickinson's recipes, via LitHub, by the way

Currently Reading: Continuing with the American literature theme, I'm finally reading Mark Beauregard's The Whale: A Love Story, a fictionalized account of the relationship between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. It's so good. Hawthorne's characterization is exactly the way I always imagined Nathaniel Hawthorne to be. 

I'm also midway through Rainbow Rowell's Attachments. No, I have not read the third Snowbaz book yet. I hope to get to it...someday. 

Further, I'm reading this book I picked up at the Book Warehouse at the outlet mall my husband and I recently visited:

It's not great. I was really hoping for a more folkloric book about contemporary urban legends, but what it really is is a lot of eyewitness accounts of alleged sightings of abnormally large dogs with Anubis-like ears but surprisingly humanoid faces. This seems to be a common misperception or hallucination that apparently a lot of Americans have had, but I wanted more theory and fewer examples. 

Readers of this blog will recall that I don't literally believe in the supernatural, but I did, in real life, have a misperception experience that took the form, in my mind,  of a weird black dog. It was over by the Center for the Homeless (where I used to volunteer) in South Bend, Indiana. I looked down the street and saw what appeared to be a black dog moving very quickly away from me in a very unnatural way. It looked like a dog on a skateboard, only I didn't see a skateboard; it looked like it was floating rapidly down the road. What it probably was was a black garbage bag being blown down the street by the wind. But for the record, I did momentarily have a weird canine experience once. 

Currently Listening: These were the podcasts I mentioned in October 2020: 

Omnibus with Ken Jennings and John Roderick

FireStarters Podcast

None of This Is Real

Terrible Book Club

- Book Vs Movie Podcast

You're Wrong About

Here are some of my other top podcasts:

- Big Gay Fiction Podcast. This episode is an interview with Sara Dobie Bauer; I know her from Tumblr.


- The History of Literature

- ArtCurious

- Black History Year

- Useless Information

 I (still) listen to all of my podcasts on Spotify Free, but many of these are available across numerous platforms. Curious about what music I listen to on Spotify? Here's a snapshot of my 2021 Spotify Wrapped:

Yeah, it's mostly Lady Gaga. So sue me.

The ultimate favorite is There Might Be Cupcakes by author Carla Pettigrew Hufstedler. I get stupidly excited every time Carla has something new to say. She introduced me to the tradition of Victorian Christmas horror stories, and I'm looking forward to another spooky Victorian episode this month. 

What are your currentlies? What are you making, reading, watching, and listening to? Everyone is welcome to comment.