merry christmas & all that | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

NOne. I took somewhat of an unexpected vacation.

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • 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?

End of Year TBR (2020)

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

Audiobooks

  • 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)

Science

  • 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)

Etc.

  • 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)
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

new tbr books; mythology, queer, science | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic, author is familiar with Navajo culture through her husband & the protagonist is Navajo) & the second book Storm of Locusts
  • Sweetdark by Savannah Brown (poetry)
  • Elysium by Nora Sakavic (urban fantasy, lgbt characters)

Added to TBR:

  • Mythology by Edith Hamilton (mythology, classics)
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (mythology, historical fiction)
  • What We See in the Stars: An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky by Kelsey Oseid (mythology, graphic novel)
  • Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik (science)
  • World Without Fish by Mark Kurlandsky (science, graphic novel, middle grade)
  • The Art of Heikala by Heikala (nonfiction: art)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (sci-fi, time travel, enemies to lovers, lgbt: f/f)
  • Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh (fantasy, lgbt: m/m, short story)
  • Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin (fantasy, sci-fi, anthology)
  • Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (urban fantasy, sci-fi, time travel)
  • Anyone by Charles Soule (sci-fi; tech, thriller)
  • The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht (horror, gothic, lgbt; m/m)
  • Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes (fantasy)
  • Gravity by Tess Gerritsen (thriller, sci-fi)
  • Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen (sci-fi, time travel)
  • Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria (fantasy, heist, lgbt; asexual, bi)
  • Imaginary Numbers by Seanan McGuire (urban fantasy)
  • The Future of Humanity, Physics of the Future, The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku (science)
  • Ironheart vol. 1 by Ewing, Libranda, Vecchio, Geoffo (graphic novel, sci-fi; superhero)
  • 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.

Reading, Nerdy & College Gifts

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”.

Pins & Jewellery

  • 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.

The book stand in question, the one I hope will save my neck from pain going forward

how to (not) do your first year at uni (physics major)

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!

The Eleven Books I Never Seem to Finish (Part Two)

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.

The Eleven Books I Never Seem to Finish (Part One)

So 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? Like sometimes I dive into them again, sometimes there’s good reasons, sometimes I’ve just forgotten to read the last two chapters. This happens way more with nonfiction, but also poetry collections and classics. So here’s those books, from ‘oldest to newest’ in when I first picked them up, so that maybe I will guilt myself into starting the new school year with a empty currently reading shelf and less loose threads in my head.

Einstein biography by Walter Isaacson

When I started reading the book: June 2017

Have I picked it up since? yes, I read about half and then read some more in 2018, so I think I’ve only got a few chapters left I just never finished it

You think you know Einstein’s life, but if you haven’t read an in-depth account of his life – you don’t. I truly love this biography, but it was heavy for two years younger me and I was constantly searching up things to learn more. It’s got so many highlights and notes in it by now.

Why am I not reading it? Truly just because I’m separated from my physical copy bc of corona

We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson

When I started reading the book: January 2018

Have I picked it up since? Yes, several times

This book is truly trying to learn you everything you want about what we know and don’t know about the cosmos through funny and original graphs and cute illustrations (!!!). Mostly quarks, black holes, gravitational waves, whatever dark energy and dark matter is and why it’s dark. It’s meant to be humorous and peak your interest. I got at least 25% in, I guess. Some of my problem was the balance of skimming what I did know already, but then not wanting to miss out on the rest. Would be fun to see how much more different I would approach it now, one year into a physics degree. But it’s really appropriate for someone without much knowledge on the matter (haha) already as well.

Why am I not reading it? I forgot I guess???

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

When I started reading the book: March 2018

Have I picked it up since? Yes, I read poems here and there for about a year. Got 50% through it.

Big poetry collections of a particular poet are strange because you might like on era of their poetry more than another, and that takes time to figure out. Especially with a 200 pages ebook filled to the brim with classical short poems. Thankfully most of them are pretty understandable without a knowledge of the time or much of Dickinson’s life.

Why am I not reading it? I truly forgot I liked individual poems this much, even though the collection itself left me confused often

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

When I started reading the book: April 2019

Have I picked it up since? Yes, I’ve continually gotten back to it

  1. I didn’t know it had been that long since I first started it. 2. I don’t know why I wanted to read it in the first place or what I expected. 3. It’s never … well, bad or uninteresting, it just never cuts to the chase of what’s going on.

Why am I not reading it? I always think I’m reading it occassionally, but then I’m also only 35% into a 270 page book so who knows what’s happening there

Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos

When I started reading the book: July 2019

Have I picked it up since? Yes, to read a single other chapter.

With a mind-blowing first two chapters I really liked this book all about how we use maths. That might sound boring or strange, but I strikingly remember the author writing about how different groups of humans count differently depending on their need, and too a much higher degree so do animals. Like the difference between immediately recognizing the size of a herd compared to babies being able to recognize when a number change in number of objects, or something like that. And also cultural differences in how we learn children to count. Fascinating stuff, only problem was that I then started a math-heavy physics degree and then there was little interest in reading non-fiction books for a while, which I’m warning you is a theme here.

Why am I not reading it? separated from my physical copy by corona as well, but mostly lack of will to read more maths on freetime when I’ve just finished math lectures

My Favourite Podcasts 2020 Update

I used to do this series of favourite podcasts last year, and then I started uni and got friends (hahahha, more like didn’t have an hour commute anymore tbh) and stopped listening to as many. But now there’s covid-19 and well – I’m back to loving podcasts.

Podcasts previously mentioned that I still listen to a lot:

(Let me know if you want to discuss any of these, honestly! I’ve linked to where I wrote more about them. I can’t believe there’s this few now compared to before, and yet there’s so many.) Reply All by Gimlet Media, Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green, Ologies by Alie Ward, Nancy by WNYC studios (it just posted its last episode though … find me crying in the corner), the Legendarium, Cortex by CGP Grey and Myke Hurley, No Dumb Questions by Destin Sandlin and Matt Whittman, Hello Internet by CGP Grey and Brady Haran, Dear Hank & John by John & Hank Green, Delete This by Hank & Katherine Green and the Wikicast by Simon Clark and Dan Maw.

‘New’ Podcasts I Love

SciShow Tangents

  • The SciShow team: Hank Green, Ceri Riley, Stefan Chin and Sam Schulz
  • Weird and funny science facts centered around a topic, with the group (mostly Hank) going on a few weird & funny tangents as well. The group just has a great dynamic and different levels of background knowledge, making it very accessible. I still sometimes miss the video couch format of the ‘beta-version’ (in my mind) Holy Fucking Science though.

The Catch and Kill Podcast

  • by Ronan Farrow, Pineapple Street Studios
  • Made as a continuation of the book Farrow made by the same name where he goes through reporting on the revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults, but also how NBC tried to manipulate and hold him back. The book goes very much in depth on the pattern of different powerful people’s assault & manipulation, and then the cover-ups. I would recommend listening to that audiobook as well if you’re even more interested after finishing the podcast.
  • The podcast is a good ten-episode summary focusing more on just Weinstein and how the women he assaulted took brave stances to take him down, in addition to the last episode with Rose McGowan made after the verdict of Weinstein.

Two Headed Girl

  • I would probably listen to anything Alex Cox puts out tbh, but their partner Mattie Cox is so amazing in sharing his story transitioning from female to male in this podcast, taking the listener with them on every step of the way and being so vulnerable. It seems to be both a podcast to process and document this time of their life as well as explain and teach anyone who wants to listen.
  • Their own pitch is “Welcome to Two Headed Girl, a new show about gender, mental illness, and all sorts of transitions made by a couple of married queers trying to figure themselves out.” which sums it up pretty pretty good.

Lovett or Leave It

  • by Jon Lovett, Crooked Media
  • I found this podcast, while actually already knowing about Jon Lovett before, because I was trying to find more interviews with Ronan Farrow and he happened to have made a rare recent podcast with his partner Jon Lovett because of being in quarantine together. But it’s news-related, trying to bring it with some humor where possible. These corona/Black Lives Matter days it’s more interviews and segments, with jokes in between, which is a great mix if sometimes news-related things are too much.

Wind of Change

  • by Patrick Radden Keefe, Crooked Media
  • Eight episodes in total of 1990’s rock music or more specifically how and if the CIA was involved in writing the famous “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions, the soundtrack of the revolution aka Berlin Wall falling and the Soviet Union collapsing. Really, it’s a podcast about how the CIA operates, how propaganda works and how far a journalist is willing to go to figure out if a rumor from a credible enough source is true.

The Scaredy Cats Horror Show

  • by the Reply All team Alex Goldman (horror fan) trying to convert PJ Vogt (scaredy cat) for Gimlet Media. I don’t know how I found podcasts pre-university because apparently I found a lot, but since then I’ve basically just become aware as existing podcasters I listen to have started new ones.
  • It’s basically an experiment of ‘can you gradually get used to horror movies so you’re not as afraid of the really scary ones anymore’. I’ve listened to the five episodes so far without watching any of the horror movies, and the only one I truly wanted to watch out of them was Midsommar, but I have definitely brought horror podcasts and stories into my life in a bigger way, so maybe it actually worked anyway?? I’m confused about that, but it’s great. Also fun to listen to PJ Vogt actually being really scared, sorry for laughing about that, I would be too.

The Magnus Archives

  • by Jonathan Sims and Alexander J. Newall from Rusty Quill
  • There’s a 173 episode back catalogue as of right now, but after a few days I’m 35 episodes in and hooked. It’s a horror podcast with a huge fanbase (and soo much good fanart). As far as I’ve figured, it starts out really episodic with different people coming into the magnus archive to tell about their supernatural experiences and get them investigated, and then the archive itself is attacked and it gradually becomes more of meta storytelling. Would recommend it even if you’re not such a big horror fan, like me. The stories themselves (at least at the start) are not that horrifying, but the storytelling is just amazing.

let’s hate everything for a little while | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • By grand central station I sat down and wept by Elizabeth Smart
  • An unquiet mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
  • When we collided by Emery Lord
  • The midnight lie by Marie Rutkoski

Added to TBR:

  • It’s kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini (mental illness, tw: suicidal mc)
  • The shadows between us by Tricia Levenseller (new YA fantasy release that I’ve seen a lot of praise about): also has a female mc that is trying to marry and then kill the current kind, wooo drama)
  • City of ghosts by Victoria Schwab (middle grade or YA fantasy/paranormal): set in Edinburgh and especially Mary’s Close which was my highlight of my trip there!
  • When we were magic by Sarah Gailey (new YA lgbt witch fantasy): it promises queer witch girls and a good friendgroup.
  • The story of more by Hope Jahren (science book about climate change): the author already proved she could write with the fantastic Lab Girl, so I’m really looking forward to this book
  • Catch and kill by Ronan Farrow (nonfiction; about sexual predators): I didn’t know Ronan Farrow was the journalist behind publishing the Weinstein case before recently

Three things on my mind:

  • I’m not doing good in the middle of this. I wasn’t doing good going into it. Just got in touch with therapist again after radio silence since I left the city three weeks ago, so that’s good. I might’ve also gotten corona? Or it could’ve been any awful infection or worsening of any condition I had, but I was so incredibly ill for a bit over a week. I’m currently taking it one hour at a time, trying to not force myself to see this as extra time I should use to be productive, because there’s an epidemic out there and everything is difficult for everyone. Stay safe.
  • Our exams is still on; but from home and most of our grades are changed from A-F to pass/not pass. It’s so incredibly difficult to do things, but the external university stress at least brings some degree of familiarity. It’s funny how this whole year I’ve been like “as long as university stress is my without-a-doubt biggest source of stress, I’m going to be able to do this”. I was thinking about personal mental and physical health, as well as family trouble, but well shit, who would’ve counted on a epidemic. It’s also funny how before this really went downhill, I was convinced something big was coming and that the future months looked like a dark hole and why bother planning for anything. I talked about it with my therapist, I was like “what kind of depressive anxiety is this” and then it turned out to be real.
  • Two youtube recommendations; the amazing Conan Gray dropped an album, and Hank Green conveys a connection I’d been pondering on – how his (and mine) crohn’s diagnosis and this corona outbreak changing the ordinary carries a similar feeling

(Pre-corona times) wine trip | Bi-Weekly Update

Hey, this post was created a couple weeks ago actually, and I somehow never posted it. So I’m going to create a newer one, with all this corona stuff really impacting my life as it does many right now, but enjoy this light-hearted one hahha. Also my france/germany trip was before outbreaks happened in the area.

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • The stranger by Albert Camus (currently reading)
  • On earth we’re briefly gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (currently reading)
  • Night sky with exit wounds by Ocean Vuong
  • Felicity by Mary Oliver
  • Soft science by Franny Choi
  • Ordinary beast by Nicole Sealey
  • Corazón by Yesika Salgado
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord

Added to TBR:

  • Loveless by Alice Oseman (ace! character! and fantastic author)
  • Red, white & royal blue by Casey McQuinston (gay royal romance)
  • Akata witch by Nnedi Okorafor (YA fantasy)
  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (magical realism & mental illness; fractured sense of self, set in Nigeria)
  • How to make a wish by Ashley Herring Blake (YA f/f romance)
  • Crier’s war by Nina Varela (queer fantasy; i’m promised f/f romance, bisexual and lesbians and enemies to lover trope)
  • Come to the rocks by Christin Haws (mermaids with f/f romance)
  • Storm in a teacup by Helen Czerski (science! physics! this could be very good or very bad)
  • Tesoro by Yesika Salgado (poetry)

Three things on my mind:

  • I’m still doing this physics first year of university thing, funny enough. Is it crazy that I thought I would fail before now? It’s not going great overall, but I really like the physics and uni and friends part. One reason it’s not going great overall; I’ve been sick. A bit of a physical illness. But mostly, looking back, my productivity has been greatly damaged by mental illness as well, leading to general inconsistency. Ah yes, I was also diagnosed with a mental illness this week. Which I didn’t think would happen? But it made sense and oh well, it’s going to take some time to get used to having a label on my troubles.

  • I was in France!! And Germany!! Drinking wine!! With this physics & maths wine club I’m in. I became a real wine enthusiast on one (1) trip, and two wine tastings. I also might’ve smiled too wide at the table when the last and most fancy wine expert basically GURGLED his wine, like in parodies. AND MY BOYFRIEND, GERMAN-SPEAKING, HAD TO TRANSLATE THIS GUY SAYING IN A STERN VOICE “THIS MIGHT SEEM STRANGE, AS THE YOUNG WOMAN IS LAUGHING, BUT IT HELPS TO -” (insert expand surface and tastebuds and all that explanation). I was too many glasses of wine in and too entertained to be embarassed, but it was embarassing. And beautiful – the whole trip. The most embarassing moment, for who I’m not sure, happened while we were all learning about making wine, from someone who had more humor. My best friend said what I itched to say, but decided not to; “oh we make wine too”, pointing to the leader of the group. And he had to swifly try, and fail, to explain is that our university wine club’s wine is not made from grapes picked carefully and hundreds of year’s of expertise; but y taking basically grape juice, adding yeast and trying to get a high alcohol percentage. I smiled the whole rest of the tour, while the wine expert repeatedly turned to our leader and spoke to him like he knew the process, waiting for the moment we were alone and my best friend to get yelled at. It was all I hoped for. Lesson learned; don’t expect a bunch of physics & math students to take the social cue in any situation.

  • So the trick to read more books again is to take a flight to France/Germany (it was the border, so we were both places), as well as be just sick in general and forced to relax aka read.