We’re in the middle of exam season so I’m trying to not read much else, because I lose too much time at once, hahha. I have the bookshelf of high fantasy books I want to read when sometime maybe finally vacation comes around.
Added to TBR:
Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. Memoir.
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. Thriller, crime.
I Don’t Want To Kill You (John Cleaver #3) by Dan Wells. Exactly the type of horror/thriller book it sounds like
Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Nonfiction, memoir, true crime. Recommendation by Naty’s Bookshelf made me want to read it!
Comradely Greetings by Slavoj Žižek and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Nonfiction, philosophy, politics. Based on letters between philosopher Žižek and pussy riot member Tolokonnikova as she was in jail in Russia.
Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space by Kevin Peter Hand. Nonfiction, science, astrobiology.
Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #2) by Tamsyn Muir. Queer fantasy/sci-fi.
A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson. Fantasy, horror, vampires. lgbt; bi/pan characters.
Let’s start with a light-hearted, fun thing. I’m looking into which science communicators and scientists (within math and physics mainly) to bring into our university’s science festival. And we already have a list to take from, but I can message whoever I want for the most part and that’s one of the reasons I suddenly found more science books to read again.
I’m kind of tired of myself lately.But life doesn’t stop being weird, and I’ve had some of the most surreal days. So many hospital visits, so little studying in comparison even though exams are just around the corner. Doctors who can’t keep things straight, like the one medicine I was put on and there to talk about? My mom, on the other side of the country, had an allergic reaction and no one would treat her for too long?? Had she not have extensive medical experience with two sick kids and the help of a very frightened young doctor, her anaphylactic shock could have gone very badly. It’s all been very strange and nervewracking. On the bright side, I will get to see a very nice nurse every month moving forward. Also, as I’m writing this I might have circled into my strangest sleep schedule yet with falling asleep at 7pm and waking up numerous times before giving up around 3 am, for the last three days in a row. It’s better than waking up at 4 pm in some aspects, until you realize that the grocery store doesn’t open until 10 am and you’ve ran out of food. I’m so hungry right now, hahha.
*Trigger warning for anything bad mental health and suicidal ideation* Have any other college students taken surveys about mental health during the pandemic? Because our massive one just dropped and 1/2 of students reported major psychological symptoms and around 1/4 of students had seriously considered taking their own lives. What maybe surprised me most was that while other symptoms had a massive jump, suicidal thoughts were already close to that level in 2018. Seems like there’s both an accute problem and an underlying one that never was discussed enough. There seems to be some money being thrown at the problem, but from what I’ve heard lately any mental health programs dealing with those more serious symptoms have issues getting to everyone within a decent time. It isn’t like this wasn’t a predictable result of a year of pandemic? It’s so concerning, because for students we’ve had these low-entry “are you experiencing exam stress?” type of help, but very little else. I was in the system pre-covid and has had therapy throughout it, only online, but everyone should’ve had that chance at any point.
The Shadow and Bones tv series is – well, a thing. I have seen it, after much back and forth about whether I wanted to. I’m not sure what I think other than that I didn’t originally connect with the Grisha books so it could only make that part better for me and they didn’t have enough of the Six of Crows gang to ruin anything bad for me. So would watch again, I guess? It is pretty great to see certain parts in such a visual way, but I feel I have to rewatch it a second time to not just sit there nervous that the show runners will ruin something. Also I’m still worried about the potential second season? But also want to see what they would do? Would love your thoughts if you got any on whether you like the series or not! One thing I’m certain of; I’m loving all the new content about the crows because of the series.
Give at least one recommendation for each of the prompts below
If you don’t have a recommendation, talk about a book you want to read
Tag your friends
A book about friendship
I always look for books about friendship, but somehow all the recommendations I have is heist related? That’s without including all the YA books with too-young characters having to bond because there’s no adults around, of course. Honestly I prefer found-family or platonic relationships to romantic ones in general in books.
But I think of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt as a story about friendship, as much as it has lonely elements as well. I guess also “The Secret History”. I need more not-gloomy-murder recommendations, is what I’m figuring out.
A translated book
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. For once I’m standing by my first language and choosing a norwegian book. I know this book that’s a mix of children’s and philosophy is really well-known, but it’s kind of strange trying to get if people know of it elsewhere in the world. I grew up with the author’s book, but I really want to reread this and see how (or if) different I would understand it now. It’s philosophy made so accessible, even for someone who is forced to take a university philosophy course right now and hating it.
A diverse romance
I’m so bad at reading pure romance books without stopping half-way through. I just finished Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas and while it felt very middle-school and not young adult, it’s the queer romance between a Latino trans boy and a gay boy that I would’ve loved growing up.
A fast-paced book
I rarely remember the pace of a book unless it was horrible one way or another?? I think the sequel A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green had a fast pace in that the set-up of the first book (with strange giant robots that might be alien) needed a lot to tie up and it all managed to happen in this book, through multiple points of view and a group of friends collaborating by working on each of their part of the bigger problem.
A nonfiction (not memoir)
Naty’s Bookshelf mentioned The End of Everything by Katie Mack which I just read and very much agree with her take! It was such an experience reading, written with so much passion about astrophysics and the existential questions. In that way it does have a lot of perspective and personality from Mack and even though I am in university for physics, you don’t need any background to enjoy reading it. She goes briefly through the smaller things you need to follow the theories of how the world will end and what that means.
An underrated memoir
A truly underrated one is “A Woman in the Polar Night” by Christiane Ritter about a german upper-class (or at least comfortable) woman who in 1934 travels to the Arctic to spend a year there. It goes very quickly from “ah, a relaxing, but challenging trip” to “boredom and life & death”. Her writing is stunning as well and really delves into aspects of life that I’ve never had described to me this way, but rings as clear as the snow surrounding her for miles and miles.
A book with fewer than 10.000 ratings on Goodreads
Somehow the first I thought of was (Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn, which was one of those books that was on my TBR for FIVE LONG YEARS with no idea of what it was about. It had such a powerful story of facing reality and dealing with it or continuing making the easy decision of running from it. As a story it’s also on the line between fantasy, magical realism and dystopia in a way I haven’t seen before, set in a “paradise” where no one ever get sick or seem to die. It’s currently at 2171 ratings.
A book with a LGTBQ+ protagonist
I just bought City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault in physical form as I loved it so much and wanted to reread it before reading the rest of this high fantasy series. It has several asexual characters, including the main character (who is also aromantic) and is written by an asexual and aromantic author. All the characters are queer; bisexual, demi, pan, poly, gender fluid, agender, as well as asexual and aromantic is all represented in an overall badass magical city. Really, this book should be underneath the ‘friends’ recommendation as well as I might have a big weakness for main characters who observes everything all the time as a thief or assassin, but also cares deeply for their friends. And the plot builds so naturally on the personalities and choices made by these characters, and the way their lives intertwines by living in the same city. This book just gave me a lovely, fun and exciting experience reading it with characters I squeal over, but also feel comforted by. Without sacrificing any of the heavyness or high fantasy elements usual to the genre.
A book by a trans or non-binary author
I’ve got so many books I want to read that fits here, so these are on my TBR (and hopefully I can get to them after exams):
Freshwater, Pet or basically any other book by Akwaeke Emezi. I’m really interested in how Freshwater protrays mental illness , identity and the protagonist develops separate selves within her as she moves from Nigeria to America for college. But it all in this magical realism/fantasy type of story. Pet is also magical realism/fantasy for somewhat of a younger audience centered around a black, transgender girl who meets a monster and all the adults around her are in denial of their existence.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo also has a transgender girl main character who deals with being new in high school and everything that comes with. Relationships, mental illness, conflicts around gender – it seems like a really honest book.
A book with more than 500 pages
The longest book I’ve read and enjoyed is apparently now the popular fanfic All The Young Dudes by MsKingBean89 with its 527k words. And while I do recommend it for all its glorious scenarios as the whole fanfic follows the Harry Potter Marauders through Hogwarts and until the end, giving you everything queer J. K. FUcking Rowling would never – don’t start reading it without having the next few days completely free. The platonic relationships and the different twist on Remus’ character and life all wrecked me.
Besides that, it’s The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson which is one of my favourite fantasy books of all time and also 1283 pages long. It’s a struggle of wanting to write reviews for all my fav books, but then also having too much to say about them and never getting to it. It’s just the best, although I always recommend Mistborn by Sanderson if you’re looking for an easier way into his work and not to dive into this epic fantasy chaos of greatness as it has as much of same brilliant elements in an easier to digest format and size.
A short story collection
Both The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu are supreme. Just the paper menagerie collection has stories about “The bookmaking habit of select species”, an AI utopia that you might actually want to live in, hujing; beings who are both fox and human, chinese calligraphy and deadly fear of communism / plain racism, being chinese in america, simulacrums; illusions of people stuck in time, aliens, Guan Yu the chinese god of war visiting America (American Gods vibes from that one, it was awesome). Also immense sacrifices and a few stories that willl make you sob inclung about unit 731 and the biological warfare and experimentation in China during WW2.
A book you want everyone to read
In general, the books that had the most impact on me heavily depends on the situation and context in which I read it. Not to mention my on-going struggle of finding a general recommendations list for people in my real life who ask. Because it’s always so much better to tailor them to their interest and like level of understanding of any given genre. For example the already mentioned A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter I find myself automatically recommending, but I get that it will be a slow-paced and quite boring book if it doesn’t match with the person.
So I think the best answer is the poetry collection BRANCHES and the new release Grocery List Poems (when it comes out in june, I’ve yet to read it) by Rhiannon McGavin! The writing is easy to follow for those who “aren’t (yet) into poetry”, but I also think McGavin always brings really interesting takes and beautiful writing. She started out as a spoken word poet so a lot of her work is on youtube. I’ve followed her for years, but in general I find that among the younger poets those who already stands out in how clearly they follow their own, more unique path is the ones that grows the most. Of course, easiest way to get into poetry is to start out with someone that speaks about things you are interested in, which sounds obvious, but sometimes needs a reminder.
Yesika Salgado (with the collections Corazón, Tesoro and Hermosa) is another great recommendation for a poet to ‘start with’, but also in general really fantastic. I’ve been rereading the poetry collections and wanted to do a short post on them, but it’s taken a while because each is so powerful and filled with messages connected to its theme that I need to like take a breath in between them. I think my favourite is Tesoro as it’s about family, the women in Salgado’s life and survival.
I really love these posts personally because it makes me so excited for other’s & my TBR. But – latst time I did this it took closer to ten months for me to get around to reading all the books. It will hopefully be a lot sooner this time, as I made the list shorter. I already have a lot of these books on my shelf as well, so they’ll stare at me as a constant reminder.
The Hidden Girl & Other Stories by Ken Liu: I loved “The Paper Menagerie & other stories” by the same author, but it’s been years since I read the collection of short stories for the first time. It’s just stories that live in my head now. Just the day I remembered so I found this new release and then happened to walk right past it by accident in the (norwegian) library – my luck! I snatched it so fast. This collection is of sixteen fantasy & sci-fi short stories and a novelette.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: The cover is awesome, but so is the description of “a trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave”. Trying to find a murderer, queer & trans people, cool ghosts! Brujos! I’ve seen both very positive and slighly let-down reviews, so I’m still a bit nervous because I’m so ready to love it.
Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by Edward Frenkel: I’ve somewhat started reading this already, on a very scenic train-ride, before forgetting it in my pile of physics textbooks. So I already know that it’s such a good writing and narrative about how we think about math, and felt very approchable to both the math student (young and older) and the ones that are just interested. I rally loved the points on reconfiguring how kids learn about math, like introducing category theory eariler, because it’s just boxes we put math things in, but gives the first step to the why’s that seem to rarely get answered in learning kids math.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: Ocean Vuong’s writing is already stunning and gets deep under your skin, that I know. I can’t imagine this debut novel – about being an immigrant, trauma, queer, family dynamics and love – being any less than his poetry.
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe (web comic link): I’ve always loved mythology and gods being modernized or otherwise rewritten, and I just got back into web comics so this very much loved web comic on greek gods seem like the perfect next one for me.
So, I’ve started buying more physical books (in comparison to none) and then I never do book hauls, so here they all are gathered up. Honestly, a few of these books are from a year ago, but too nice-looking to not include.
Astrobiology: a very short introduction by David C. Catling
Kant: a very short introduction by Roger Scruton
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
Robin Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (penguin english library edition)
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (penguin english library edition)
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (penguin vintage classics)
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart (bught used, panther granada publishing edition from 1978)
how to: absurd scientific advice for common real-world problems by randall munroe
A Separate Peace by John Knowles (simon and schuester edition)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher`s Stone (scottish edition)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (slytherin edition)
Dune by Frank Herbert (penguin edition)
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
War on Peace by Ronan Farrow
The Iliad by Homer (penguin classics edition)
Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (david fickling edition)
Maya by Josten Gaarder (found for free)
The Library Book Haul (aka books I promised to return a month ago, but have not read yet)
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Story of More by Hope Jahren
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
The City We Became by N. K. Jemish
The Notebook Haul (mostly gifts)
Floral (green) notebook from Paperblank (called poetry in bloom)
Flowers (dark) notebook from Paperchase
Edinburgh illustration notebook by Libby Walker
New book posts:
Other books I’ve been reading:
Currently reading Winter Hours by Mary Oliver (poetry/prose/essays)
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
World Without Fish by (graphic novel, nonfiction, enviromental science) by Mark Kurlansky
Added to TBR:
A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design by Frank Wilczek (science)
Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality by Frank Wilczek (science)
The Queen`s Gambit by Walter Tevis (chess, fiction)
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (fantasy, superheros, lgbt; bi mc, nonbinary)
The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2) by Seth Dickinson (fantasy, lgbt; lesbian mc)
The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters (contemporary YA, lgbt; m/m)
Tell Me by Kim Addonizio (poetry)
Bound by Claire Schwartz (poetry)
Hours Inside Out by Isabella Presiz (poetry)
Three things on my mind:
About physical books; it’s funny how much taking photos of books is would boost my book posts more than anything. My short review of graffiti by Savannah Brown is a perfect example, it gets too many views each day solely from google image searches. I’m using the library more this year and in general have bought more physical books, so I hope to also take more photos, because I do love that aspect as well. I definitely did a lot when living at home, to the point where we would rarely get good natural light in winter and it annoyed me because book photos were worse, hahha. Physical books are just more expensive and less convenient. You’re talking about the girl who at the age of 10 years old chose to learn books in english instead of the translated norwegian copies because they cost so much. But I do prefer having physical copies of science and poetry books a lot over digital ones, because it’s so much easier to refer to and really sit down and take time with reading the book. I would love to have a copy of all my favourite books on hand in case friends are looking for recommendations, but I just don’t have the money for all the fantasy series that would include, as the student I am.
I started writing a short thing about how I’ve been thinking about gender for a while, as I did put off an imminent gender crisis during the first season of covid-19 lockdown. But then it turned into its own whole thing, and I think it will just be a post on its own because it fits nowhere else. Not that it has any conclusion, it’s more of an on-going discussion with myself.
I’ve listened to & loved the podcast Reply All from Gimlet Media for years. To the point that when company after company was revealed to have racist practices and similiar recently, I actually thought about if these (until now seemingly empathic) white guys behind Gimlet Media would disappoint me to. But instead they’ve hired and otherwise given platform to producers of color with a purpose to cover a more diverse range of topics. And it’s really brought things to my feed that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, I think. A very recent addition to this is a series on the Bon Apetit test kitchenwhich had a “online reckoning” last summer with being exposed for being racist. Told by reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni, she goes hard in the first episode by calling a huge number of past and current employees over a period of twenty years and highlights the many people of color that has quit already way back because they were devalued in different ways because of the color of their skin and them not coming from the same background or looking the same as every other white person in the kitchen. She does an expert job by pointing out other possible causes for situation as well, many of these people struggled at the time to understand it themselves, but overall it shows a pattern. Especially in comparison to the newest known scandals that made so many very-much-loved-by-the-audience cast members quit. Absolutely worth listening to, I’m sure the next episodes are going to be great as well.
Resistanceis another new podcast by Gimlet Media hosted by Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. all about the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement. The third episode “Shake the Room” was the first I listened to, and the story of how american police targeted protesters months later, and this example of how they showed up at the house of the Warriors in the Garden protestor Derrick Ingram in particular, really shook me to my core in its injustice and the potential and threat of violence.
I bought and started to read The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus until I realized I was truly not in the right head-space to read about the philosophy behind taking your own life right before Christmas, which I think is fair.
Sweetdark by Savannah Brown!!! It’s so good!!! If you’re looking for a poetry collection, this is it. Review will be out sometime soon.
I might have read the whole, very popular hp marauders fanfic All The Young Dudes by MsKingBean89 and then added it as a book to my goodreads because it’s … 520k words. It is breath-takingly amazing, the writing only gets better as the years pass for the marauders. Remus and Sirius are both queer, but not in a forced way. Everything in the story just makes sense and gives hp fans everything they deserve, I am just late to the party here. All praise to MsKingBean89, must you have a wonderful christmas and a wonderful life. Someone yell it from the sky at me if they publishes writing of their own.
I read Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett the night I was awake before my train home for christmas, then the whole train-ride home. It was amazing fantasy.
Added to TBR:
Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett (fantasy, lgbt; f/f romance, found-family trope, heist book). The first book of the series Foundryside was not perfect, but it was really good.
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (nonfiction; science, physics, illustrated). Made by the same author as the great & nerdy webcomic xkcd, also a former physicist and NASA robotics employee, so this book got to be good.
Three things on my mind:
I have never needed a good amount of time to not do anything, with nearly-free-conscience, this much before. Exams went to hell, not because I did bad, but because I didn’t do them at all. (You can’t fail me if I do not participate and all that). It’s very on-brand in that I have a tendency to do something completely or not at all, which is the mind-set I truly had pre-university. Abandoned it at uni this far for a reason. Sometimes things start out as irony and develop into a part of yourself, as with that one. Anyway, exams failed because of bad health and chronic illness flare-up. Surprisingly, when you go home from the hospital after doctors haven’t found out what the fuck is wrong with you this time, you can’t suddenly expect to get better the next day, or week, or month? I really pushed myself through all those medical things (and there were many), went home to my mom for a break, failed to study for exams, failed to go back to my university city at scheduled time because I was feeling too unwell for the train-ride. Then finally got back to the city a week later, failed to study even more and then did more medical things while being on the brink of exhaustion. That last medical procedure felt like torture, just because my body was so done with it all, while it might be the easiest of them all overall. In many ways, I did get the whole exam period stress and then the relief-from-completion experience, only with a lot more shittier steps to it. 2/10 won’t recommend, with the plus point for having been worse before.
I bought myself a couple jewellery items as a gift from my mom this christmas, which is very rare for me, but I got so excited over them and have been for months. We were all feeling bad because of getting to the christmas shopping too late in the middle of this chaos and no one really knew what to do. Ended up with getting her more gifts than usual in fear of nothing making it before christmas, my favorite of them all being the very useful hairbrush, but with Frozen Elsa motive because what else do they sell online here? Nothing else, I can assure you. (When Amazon rarely/expensively sends to your country). As I write this, I haven’t gotten the jewellery yet but loooook –
IT’S THE DAGGER EAR THING OF MY DREAMS. I might just go ahead and use the rest of my gifted money on actually getting piercings this new year, when corona hopefully sometimes calms down, that would be cool.
I should have said this already, but I hope you are having as good of a christmas or holiday season as you can! I am so sorry if your area is hit badly with COVID-19 right now. As someone who is in the risk group; I am so deeply tired, I understand and I feel so much sympathy. From the tone of this post, it might not be a surprise to find out my christmas has been rocky. Here’s some of my things I’m really grateful for this season, that I do not take for granted; I am with my mom & brother, who means the world to me. I am on a never-ending quest to text the people I care about, who I might not have stayed in touch with as much this past year, and wish them well. Photos of people getting the corona vaccine are making me happy every time I see them. My 17 year old brother have not out-grown or gotten too embarrassed to dance to old Nicki Minaj songs on Just Dance on our very old, but newly found Wii console. I have to learn how to make christmas dinner, because we do not have access to our family of chefs this year, even though they’re literally across the street. I am grateful that no one of the affected by COVID that is close to me have been at particular at risk or hit hard by it.
Soooo merry christmas, happy holidays and let’s all stay safe, also over new years?
Last year, 2019, I made a TBR for the whole year, with very varying results as I did not take enough into account the fact that I was going to university for the first time, hahha. I knew I would have less time, but the actual time I did have to myself, let alone to read for fun, was still so much less than expected.
This year I’ve only made two smaller TBR lists; Spring TBR! & Queer TBR of June for #PrideLibrary20. I want to make a summary update of this years TBR posts at the end of the year as well, but before that – why don’t I make another TBR with the books I might read between now and next semester start in early january? Take into account that it’s exam season, but it finished up early for me this year. So I don’t think any of these books will get started before 10th of December, at the very least. I’ll probably need even more downtime to recover, as I expect the time until exams to be extra dramatic this covid-riddled year.
The End of Year TBR
We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman (memoir, nonfiction; history, war, politics)
We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai (nonfiction; memoir, feminism, politics)
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (poetry, YA contemporary, lgbt; queer girls)
Poetry & graphic novels
Sweetdark by Savannah Brown (poetry)
Paper Girls vol. 3 – 6 (graphic novel)
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (graphic novel, lgbt; f/f, sci-fi)
The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go From Here by Hope Jahren (science; climate change)
Love and Math by Edward Frenkel (science; math)
Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku (science; physics)
Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction by David C. Catling (science)
The Body in Pain by Elaine Scarry (was also on 2019 TBR oops, philosophy; disability)
Fantasy & sci-fi
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (fantasy)
The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman (fantasy)
Dune by Frank Herbert (read for bookclub, a classic sci-fi)
Kant: A Very Short Introduction by Roger Scruton (nonfiction; philosophy – preparing for obligatory philosophy class in spring)
The Trial by Franz Kafka (reread for bookclub, classic)
A norwegian collection of debut poets – Signaler 2019
Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman (politics)
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (nonfiction; poetry writing)
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby (science, biography, feminism)
Reaching for the Moon by Katherine G. Johnson (biography, science; space)
Goddess of the Hunt by Shelby Eileen (poetry, mythology, lgbt; ownvoices aromantic-asexual)
The Perfect Assassin by K. A. Doore (high fantasy, lgbt; asexual mc, lesbian assassins)
Slayer by Kiersten White (urban fantasy, vampires, supernatural boarding school)
A Vampire’s Redemption (The Inquisition Trilogy #2) by Casey Wolfe (fantasy, vampires, lgbt; m/m romance)
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey (fantasy, sci-fi, political, lgbt)
The Hidden Girl and Other Short Stories by Ken Liu (short stories): the author’s other book The Paper Menagerie is my all-time favourite collection of short stories!
Three things on my mind:
Wine nights brings me too much joy. At least when you have them with one of your roommate’s adorable family who is visiting, then after they leave (and leave four bottles of wine behind) just end up talking with the rest of the roommates far into the night; I might’ve woken up at 5 am for once, but I was certainly going to sleep at 6 am, like the night-creature I truly am. On exactly that topic I’m going to apply to be the leader (there’s always two; night and day-shift) of our math/physics students wine club, because there’s minimal work and a maximum of finding out strange traditions and making people feel welcome, no matter if they drink alcohol/wine or not. I love the vibe of that group. And I will not take slander that I should not be the nightly leader if I get it; the night is always my time.
The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is such a fantastic show. I have so many thoughts, but no time to write them all out – maybe I’ll do a round-up of tv series/movies I loved at the end of the year. But a chess-but-truly-personal story of a genius orphan girl that grows up and struggles with navigating abandonment issues, drug-problems, friendship and any type of relatioship. It has its problems, but I would’ve watched it just for the great actors, the fashion and the lighting to be honest.
I’ve been writing more again, on the too-long project that never seem to end. I’ve got a lot of exams around the corner (if my physical health is up to it, that is), so I find myself not being able to turn off my brain for a break without going to these already-known methods; creating stories being one of them. It’s strange how that works. Hopefully, over christmas break even though I have a lot of other projects planned, I can get it edited into at least a coherent work in progress as there’s a lot of blank scenes needed for some type of plot to make sense. I think I would truly feel some type of achievement just having finished it, even though no one is going to read it for a long long time, if ever.
Have I scoured etsy for christmas gifts for my nerdy friends? And other literature-related ones for me? Of course, so why not make a lists of them. I’ve gotten so many good-spirited, but ultimately useless book gifts over the years – reading lights are on top of that list as “seems practical, but so many bad designs”.
Fighting invisible battles pin from fairycakes (also available as a charm) for the chronically ill or those otherwise fighting invisible battles. I want this so badly. There’s a similar one with the text “coping admirably” for a cute, heart-warming gift as well. They also have a very cute “feminist killjoy” heart-shaped charm and several trans rights and rainbow ones.
This I just bought! It’s space rainbows from ProudScience, and they’re just as lovely as the photo. Great as a physics/stem student, but also if you simply are a space-loving queer person. They also have a very popular rainbow chemistry glass set.
College / university
And finally what’s on top of my wishlist of practical book gifts; a book support for heavy textbooks (and other books of course). Also honestly, if you’re looking for a gift for a college/uni student in particular, I would cry for a gift card for a medium-fancy grocery store at this point, we’re poor and think way to much on how to limit food budget.
Also a reusable flask or thermo cup is likely the most used school item of mine that sometimes need to be switched out. I didn’t think about how much I drank the free coffee at school either, before I had to buy coffee myself, and currently I’m at least thinking about buying a better coffee-setup than my one-cup aeropress (no matter how practical it is to bring with me places), so I think many coffee-lovers would be interested in some kind of gift card there as well; either for equipment for coffee or the actual coffee.
When I come to think of it, with home-office, I suspect many students have pretty shitty setups for working, so if a family member is currently sitting on a non-office chair, that’s the gift to begin with. Even if it’s used, it’s so worth getting an office chair if you spend any time working from home as a college student.
Because I’m not going to pretend I can give advice, especially not as my circumstances will be vastly different as my first year was cut short because of corona, but now everyone is dealing with it from the start. Since the world is in widely different stages of having been through corona, this list is mostly unrelated to that.
I’ve made many “mistakes” this first year, but at some point you realize you just didn’t have the knowledge to make the better decisions at the time. But I have accomplished the things I was most worried about not being able to going into university, especially as a queer woman in a high-percetage male STEM program that is physics; to get a good group of friends. And we have reflected on and discussed our first year a lot. So here’s me summing up the conclusions we’ve arrived at for hopefully someone else to find some use of, or at the very least I will as I go into my second year.
1. Expect to do everything perfectly, already in the first semester you will achieve absolute balance
It just won’t happen. I’ve not talked to one person that’s got their whole life together and means it, you always feel lacking in one area or another. Think about what you need in your life to function, then what you would like to achieve and then whatever extra you could do to improve your life. You might have achieved really good grades in high school, but recognize that you need to find friends or another form of support network (or both) to be able to get through a whole uni programme. You might be neurodivergent or disabled or have mental health issues that you should dedicate time to get acommodation for or get a new doctor/hospital doctor/therapist/contact at disability office and figuring all that will take its toll and new coping strategies. New routines! Making food! It’s not as stressful if you go into it mentally prepared and not already overwhelmed.
What you can do; go into the first semester very aware of your priorities, observe how much time everything takes in a week, reconsider your plan & priorities the second semester. Understand it’s a learning process and about personal growth. Have compassion with yourself.
2. Change who you are to fit in or fit with an idea you have an uni student of X program
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Because I and many others realize that we got the chance to reinvent ourselves going into uni. But the whole dark academia aesthetics reminds me that some first years come into physics ready to “fake it ‘til they make it” in shaping their life and style and persona and I would advice – no matter how much you love the idea of academia or any other aesthetic – to let that aesthetic/goal compliment you as a person instead of trying to show yourself off as some (WRONG and honestly toxic) idea of a physics student/professor. This goes for any area of study. Don’t change ur clothes, dress more modest in every setting, hide questioning of sexual orientation or gender, not ask dumb questions, pretend you’re more introverted or extroverted, change ‘not mainstream’ interests or shame people for anything like this just to fit into this perception of an aesthetic necessary for success. I’ve seen all of those happen this year. Most common one is to drink to feel less socially awkward; it’s not worth it! Do it because you want to, not feel pressured into it.
3. Hang on to only the first people you meet and not spend time with a wider array of people.
This particularly includes starting to date someone the first week/month and not attending any social gatherings. I’ve seen people do this and reappear three months into the year or more being like ‘oops I got a boyfriend’ and having to reintroduce themselves only to disappear again. Take into consideration how dependant you’re going to be on your partner (or bff really) for a while as it might be your only friend, and whether they’re also spending time with friends and creating a network or if you’re spending all free-time together. It’s okay to state those concerns out loud to someone before you two getting involved at all.
The new people I find easiest to talk to is a smaller friend-group that is trying to be inclusive because the flow of a conversation, teasing and topics of interests are already known. But where I come from people usually all move to the same place, as a friendgroup, and never learn to really include others that way because they don’t need to and it’s a sad thing because so many potential people you might love to talk to and you’re basically shutting them all out before they get a chance. If I hear one more ‘so hard to date’ I will punch them bc the problem is so obvious, they only know other people from back home.
What you can do; wait to date and state concerns or remember to spend time with possible new friends as well, maybe especially in a group with the potential partner if that’s natural. don’t hang on to one person, but try to decide to split up and find potential friends to introduce to each other or go make friends together.
4. Believe that you’re going to find your eternal friend group the first week.
Maybe you had a good group in high school, maybe you’re finally ready to discuss interesting things with like-minded, interesting people. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out as quickly as hoped.
What you can do; see it as a way to get to learn to speak with many different types of people, seeing who you vibe the best with. Become casual friends with a couple people only increases the chances of having a familiar face in a lecture or someone to ask for help when stuck or simply study side by side in a room.
5. To shame people hooking up. Or who dress less or more revealing than you. And to not keep an eye out for others experiencing unwanted sexual advances.
And of course most of all, should go without saying; never make unwanted advances when someone is saying no or clearly uncomfortable or too drunk. Actually, even if you think of yourself as a good person, get a very clear ‘yes’ to any sexual advances. If it’s one thing I’ve learned it is that you should never underestimate the trauma a person can already be carrying with them around sex (and then how they react in certain situaitons), and so thread carefully and be on the safe side.
It’s a time for people to start experimenting in all aspects of their identity, keep your judgement to yourself pls. I heard a guy make a critical comment on an older female student’s low neckline and I wanted both to kick him and it struck me how much it just emphasizes my idea of him as insecure, no matter if that is true. Don’t be that person.
6. Forget the due date for signing up for lab partners or times.
Ours was at 7 am the only free day we got! The first two weeks our schedule was insane because we didn’t have normal lectures yet, so my program the day before went from 8 am to 8 pm, I have to make dinner and am deeply tired getting to know roommates and go to sleep at 1 am, then remembering I need a lab partner for the day afterwards. I sent so many texts at 1:30 am, waking up at 6:30 to see if anyone had responded. A lab partner you know don’t matter that much, but it truly was good to have one I didn’t know, but knew I could at least be civil with. This year it was the same damn thing only we had to choose the people of our corona-friendly groups to be with the whole year, without warning. It was one stressful hour.
7. Feel like you need to participate in all aspects of student culture or be on your own. Or go the other way and think you need to focus too much on studies the first month, which is very busy.
Clubs! Interest groups! Sports! Volunteering! Each uni program’s society. I don’t know what your university offers, but you should after the first week! They’re all there to be a support and a place to meet people, spend the first month wisely by trying out which places of the university/college you feel like you are most comfortable and like. But also don’t feel like you need to drink, or that you need to drink to attend parties. It’s okay to be sober in any situation, do you think college drunk people notice your potential higher awkwardness? Mostly not. Personally, I went into the physics programme from the real world being considered someone who liked the occassional party, but not really. But I just don’t like that many people around anyway. The moment someone started talking about physics stuff at an after-party, I was in love with that aspect of the culture. If you find your people, you might find that the ‘parties’ and their conversation is a lot more interesting as well. Or not, and then you might want to do some daytime activities with a club/sports team. And again – you don’t need to drink.
8. Not look for one older, very active student’s name that you write down, (befriend on facebook) and is ready to ask if you got questions which needs to be answered quickly. Or elected student representative.
Often councellors are inaccessible in the beginning of the year and even through they’re supposed to be there every mail seem to go missing. Not to mention the professors. Usually a STEM class will have layers of people with responsibility and even knowing someone to ask who to turn to or where to look it up is truly valuable. Cue me trying to reschedule an obligatory lab time for a Germany trip and not realizing there’s one certain person resposible for all the labs among the many names of ‘lab assistants’. I had time, but if say you’re ill and can’t join – especially in corona times – have that name and a plan ready.
What you can also do: Generally familiarize yourself with what to do if ill or not able to attend obligatory work and the consequences. You think you won’t need it and suddenly you got a fever. Or just need motivation to get your hungover self out of bed and get to that 8 am thing.
9. Feel like you don’t belong in certain rooms.
I have a strange background (school-wise), making me feel like I definitely do not fit in with all these smart people I’m surrounded with. You just have to be uncomfortable sometimes, of course that’s a long way away from unsafe. Looking back there’s certain people I’ve met & gotten help from and actually courses I’ve switched out because I went into those rooms; I once joined a group of guys arguing loudly in a room only to find out that they were discussing how awful matrix calculations are by hand are with older students and I joined in after some truly shy thirty minutes. I joined a party the first day where I wanted to leave the first five minutes, near panic, but a girl took my hand bascially and introduced me – making me take inspiration from that the rest of the year. After a few weeks two older girls, separately, noted that I was the only other girl in the room (kind of like a break-room, but at 1 am and filled with older students, it’s fun & weird) and if that bothered me – at that point I’d gotten enough familiar faces that I was surprised it didn’t. (Like obviously in a working for gender equality kind of way, but not in a personal anxiety level way hahha.)
What you can do; fake a bit of courage if necessary, stay in a room for ten-fifteen minutes before fleeing, don’t do anything that’s actually unsafe, but not let anxiety/self-confidence hold you back. Only you know what you want, only you know where you belong and not let anyone tell you otherwise.
10. Not explore early on what modules/classes you want to take, even if two seem very similar
Here the older student advisor comes into good use. I briefly mentioned how I changed one of my courses the first week, it was a difficult, but good decision. There’s always the ones that take too many classes or have already taken some in high school (an offer I never got??). You don’t need to know what you want to do or which special field you like the first year, but perhaps ask anyone in your major what they would’ve done differently. My physics friends mostly agree on how we should have had one year of pure maths before then going into a physics bachelor course, because it would’ve gone pretty seamlessly at my particular university, but we didn’t know about that possibility. It’s still not something I would recommend randomly, but if you do really care about getting good in a programme, the A4 solution given might not be the best way for everyone. Or it might be a good reason behind the set-up, but now you’ll know.
11. Not go to lectures
This is straight off the press (tongue) of my math major roommate who was ahead of all of us even as first years; “my first advice to new students would be to go to lectures, even if I barely did.” I had a laugh, because if someone was way worse than me to show up; it was him. Give it a good two months’ worth of trying. Even if the lecturer is terrible, you can bond over that with other students and find out a strategy to create some kind of plan together. I didn’t attend lectures at all after the first few times in two courses; first semester’s intro programming course because it was truly annoying to sit through (but I should’ve stayed even if doing something completely different, just to pick up on possible exam questions) and second semester’s wave & fluid mechanics. The second one I had learned my lesson, but I had a weekly appointment I had to go to and it was the only day I could – let’s just say I recently retook the exam and it went better this time :)))
I hope this was useful to someone, it was at the very least useful for me to think through new students arriving! Stay safe in the corona season we are suffering through. Think about the people in the risk groups (like me) that have to be super careful, and will suffer greatly for you not participating in that work of being careful. Wish you the best of luck and please feel free to add something!
I’ve got a currently-reading shelf on goodreads that always contains too many books that I picked up and never really finished or stopped reading. And then I made a post all about my excuses and what I liked or didn’t like about them, which got way to long and this is the second part of that. Here’s part one.
Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
When I started reading the book: September 2019
Have I picked it up since? No
I listened to Edward Snowden’s voice in the audiobook go through every aspect of how he turned out a whistle-blower, about mass surveillance, how intelligence agencies work, how his experiences has made him into an expert the last six years. It’s about growing up online, morality and that’s how far I got. I think I found some pieces truly interesting, but was a bit bored by the background of the person that is Edward Snowden (it is part memoir after all) just because I’m less interested in that than what he thinks about the digital now and future. Which I’m sure he would’ve gotten to eventually.
Why am I not reading it? I don’t quite know? But it’s that type of book that you want to dive into and do your own research as well, and it’s a bit thought and time consuming, which I’m not up for right now.
Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku
When I started reading the book: December 2019
Have I picked it up since? No
I truly can’t say much about this book as I got 50 pages into a 300 page book and hadn’t made up my mind quite. It’s supposed to be about the science needed to mmake impossible things like death rays or force fields or invisibility cloaks real.
Why am I not reading it? I don’t know why I never got back to it
A collection of norwegian debut poems
When I started reading the book: February 2020
Have I picked it up since? No
Here I am trying to become a better person by reading more norwegian – my first language – which I haven’t done much of the last decade and only because of being forced to through high school.
Why am I not reading it? have you ever borrowed a book from the library and then … left town leaving it there? It’s somewhat of a pain to have to extend the return date for half a year (blaming corona again). I would just get a new copy of this one, the problem being that it’s a bit difficult to get my hands on. Poetry and ebooks aren’t always a thing, I’ve recently come to learn.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
When I started reading the book: February 2020
Have I picked it up since? No
I read Ocean’s poetry and felt a strong need to read his newer fiction as well. It’s as strikingly beautiful and vulnerable, but I picked it up at a highly-anxious time and found that it wasn’t the mindset I wanted to be in reading this book. It’s synopsis explains it truly well actually; “Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.”
Why am I not reading it? too powerful in its pain and violence in a time where I unfortunately wasn’t up for that
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart
When I started reading the book: March 2020
Have I picked it up since? No
I truly am mad about not finishing this book because it’s only 128 pages. It’s not that complex, to be real, even if it is a good story. And I was about to finish it in one sitting, as I was literally sitting on the floor in front of the oven waiting for my food to cook. And into the empty kitchen comes one of the many people I live with and comments on it in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. As if I was sitting there crossed-legged and disheveled reading an old book for the quirky ~aesthetic~ of it, even though no one else was there. I don’t even know now why it made me so suddenly furious, but it was a generally bad time for me, on the verge of deciding whether to leave town because of corona and being very sick from migraines. Simply put, if commenting on what someone is reading, don’t be an asshole about it.
It is a pretty cute, worn edicition though, I picked it up form an Edinburgh used book shop extremely cheap.
Why am I not reading it? I can still feel the ghost of the fury I felt every time I try to finish it
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
When I started reading the book: June 2020
Have I picked it up since? Yes
Why am I not reading it? Each summer I seem to bring with me one ‘heavy’ physical book absolutely everywhere, and never get to it until my patience runs out and I just sit down and get through it, finding myself enjoying it a lot. I think this is this years book, as I do truly like Woolf’s writing, even if her style is what makes this particular book ‘heavy’, while last year it was the physics of ‘Six Easy Pieces’ by Richard Feynman.