Dear POTUS: Read a book.

“Still, Mr. Trump, who does not read books, is able to end his evenings with plenty of television.” —The New York Times, January 25, 2017

The President of the United States does not read books. This should terrify you.

Books are how we first explore our world. Even the children of jet-setters and globetrotters probably read Clifford the Big Red Dog or Spot the Dog. Whether you were an overachiever in childhood who enjoyed heavy tomes or a kid who liked Goosebumps, every time you picked up a book—or someone read a book to you—you were broadening your horizons. You got to know talking dogs and turtles and become better acquainted with magic, yes. But you also traveled to distant lands and learned about jobs you didn’t yet know existed. You learned how to make friends and what kind of fun you could have out in the world. You learned to be careful and you learned not to hate people based on their appearance. Continue reading Dear POTUS: Read a book.


Use it or lose it

I found myself a little bogged down in the book I was reading the other day and in need of something a little lighter. I had finally ordered and received Losing It by Emma Rathbone, a book I’d been looking forward to for quite awhile, so I started reading that in the early hours of Monday morning. I finished it Monday night—but that’s solely a testament to the number of pages in the book, not necessarily my enjoyment of the story.

51et4gsknjlLosing It follows Julia Greenfield, 26 years old and aimless, as she leaves behind a dead-end job and a lackluster apartment in Arlington, VA, to spend the summer with her Aunt Vivienne in Durham, NC. But what sets this book apart from the expected fare of a young woman uprooting her life to reinvent herself is the one interesting fact that really drew me to the story in the first place: Julia is a 26-year-old virgin, and she’s determined to make this the summer she finally—you guessed it—loses it.

Things get off to a rocky start in Durham for Julia. Her aunt is a hospice worker and a part-time artist who paints plates with unique scenes of everything from rural life to the legend of King Arthur, and though they clicked when Julia was a kid, they now can’t seem to get comfortable with each other. Julia gets another dead-end office job to make a little money and goes on a few dates that all end poorly (these moments, if a bit enhanced for dramatic effect, played really well). But things begin to get a little more complicated for Julia when she discovers two things: there’s an older lawyer at work who might be interested in her (despite secrets of his own) and Vivienne is also a virgin. Continue reading Use it or lose it

Can’t stop, won’t stop reading Alpha Flight

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I recently wrote up a list of helpful comics for those considering a move to Canada (for absolutely no reason whatsoever) for Book Riot. As my blog is a safe space, I can admit here that I basically reverse-engineered the entire list because I desperately needed to talk about my new favorite superhero team: Alpha Flight.

81ru-zbq4jlEven in a time when a bit overwhelmed at work, desperate to understand what’s going on with my country, trying to read as many spy books as humanly possible, and am now officially about five months behind on all the series on my pull list, I’ve been using my spare time to read, think about, or fancast Alpha Flight. For those unfamiliar, Alpha Flight is basically Canada’s answer to the Avengers (and personally, I think it’s very rude that the Avengers, a bunch of American heroes based in the U.S., claimed the title “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”). Their leader is James MacDonald Hudson, better known as Guardian, who joins the ranks of men like Captain America and Captain Britain by wearing his country’s flag proudly as a form-fitting spandex uniform. The rest of the team is made up of a distinctive cast of characters from across Canada. Continue reading Can’t stop, won’t stop reading Alpha Flight

#CloakandDagger2017: ARGO by Antonio Mendez (and Matt Baglio)

This is part of my 2017 reading challenge, Cloak and Dagger, for which I’ve pledged to read all the spy books I have stacked up in my room. Read along!

Argo fuck yourself

As I mentioned in my introductory post to this year’s reading challenge, my parents watched Argo before I did, and then insisted I would enjoy it, too, and should sit down to watch it. Being a moody twenty-something who was stuck at home post-college graduation, I was slow to take their advice. But once I watched the movie, I was in love–with the story, with spies, and, yeah, fine, okay, maybe a little bit with Ben Affleck. And then I bought Tony Mendez’s book on the mission over the Christmas holidays and read it in two days.

Continue reading #CloakandDagger2017: ARGO by Antonio Mendez (and Matt Baglio)

#CloakandDagger2017: AVENUE OF SPIES by Alex Kershaw

This is part of my 2017 reading challenge, Cloak and Dagger, for which I’ve pledged to read all the spy books I have stacked up in my room. Read along!

9780804140058A pull quote from the New York Post on the back cover of Avenue of Spies hails it as “a true story that reads like a thriller.” I don’t quite agree with that, but it’s certainly one hell of a story.

On Friday, June 14, 1940, the Nazis moved into and occupied Paris. It wasn’t long before the tricolor flag of their republic was quickly replaced with the red, white, and black swastika of the Third Reich, signaling five years of agony for those French citizens who refused to collaborate with their enemies.

But Avenue of Spies opens years earlier, when an American doctor named Sumner Jackson served in the bloody field hospitals of World War I. It was there that he met a young Swiss nurse, Toquette, who would become his wife and mother of their only son, Phillip. The trio lived in a swanky apartment on the Avenue Foch in Paris, arguably one of the most exclusive addresses in the city, if not the world, at that time.

Continue reading #CloakandDagger2017: AVENUE OF SPIES by Alex Kershaw

The People’s* President

*People (n, plural): Wealthy, white, heterosexual, cisgender men who will most likely be appointed to positions of power in the U.S. government at some point during the Trump administration

If you consider yourself a liberal in any capacity, you’ve most likely spent the last year and a half watching in horror as America descended into a state of madness. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. What happened to our country these last eighteen months is that, spurred on by a narcissistic bigot without a compassionate bone in his body, a (frighteningly large) swath of the American public stood up to let the rest of us “liberal elites” know that they felt forgotten, left behind, overlooked, discriminated against.

There is truth to this statement. But there is also…let’s say an “alternative truth.” Are farmers in rural areas struggling? Are blue-collar workers largely overlooked? Are these people—the majority of whom are white—also endowed with white privilege so blind they are literally blinded to the struggles of fellow citizens who are not also white? The answer is yes to all of these questions.

Continue reading The People’s* President

First read of 2017: A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles

For lovers of verbosity, sumptuous descriptions of meals, and magnificent tall tales (that are impossibly, magically [mostly] true).

ar-an898_towles_jv_20160830152939Technically, I started reading A Gentleman in Moscow at the tail end of 2016, sometime in mid-December. I only just finished it a few days ago, in mid-January–but that’s absolutely no indication of my enjoyment of the book. Normally, it’s a bad sign when it takes me so long to finish a novel, especially as (barring work priorities) I can usually push through a work of fiction in a few days to a week, at most. I read on the train, to and from work, and at night when I get home whenever I can.

If it takes me much longer, and I don’t have anything I should be reading, writing, or editing for work, it’s normally because I abandoned the book in favor of other reads. Sometimes, I circle back. But that’s normally a purgatory from which few books return. (I’ll come back for you, Moneypenny Diaries, I promise!)

Continue reading First read of 2017: A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles