“What Are You Reading?” Wednesdays (February 18, 2015)

The SilmarillionWhat are you currently reading?

I’m kinda/sorta (re)reading The Silmarillion, but I will be honest with you: I’ve been in the worst reading slump. I just can’t focus on anything, and it’s awful.

What did you recently finish reading?

Since I last updated, I’ve read: In Real Life, Take Me Out to the Yakyu, The Hobbit (can you tell I’m on a Middle-earth kick?) and the online edition of Nimona. (I can’t wait for the print version this May.)

What do you think you’ll read next?

Ugh, I don’t know. I just hope I’ll find something to pull me out of this slump.

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Sunday Morning Paper: Rewriting the Future

Rewriting the Future

For all of our ability to analyze and critique, the left has become rooted in what is. We often forget to envision what could be. We forget to mine the past for solutions that show us how we can exist in other forms in the future.

That is why I believe our justice movements desperately need science fiction.

This is a Dead Mom Essay

Having grown up with my mom being sick and then dying when I was 16 feels like exactly as significant and inextricable a part of my identity as being queer or anything else. So it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that trying to hide from it took me, more than once, to a breaking point. Once I was able to step into it, I began to blossom.

Shibuya Ward Plans Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

A Tokyo ward has taken a major step toward realizing the dreams of Japan’s same-sex couples by proposing to issue certificates that recognize such relationships as “equivalent to marriage.”

Shibuya Ward pledged the measure as part of a draft statute Thursday to boost gender equality and strengthen human rights for sexual minorities.

Brands Are Not Your Friends

People tend to talk to brands on the internet like they might have lost their virginity to them. They very well may have—an empty bag of @Doritos under the mattress or in the parking lot of a @McDonalds—but it’s a one-way relationship. Your sister’s face has never appeared on a highway billboard, but Nestlé and Burger King and motherfucking Denny’s show up in the same streams as your loved ones.

This is the business model of the social web. Someone has to pay for the services we use to keep in touch with our friends, after all. On Facebook, the button to “like” a brand (like a brand!) is functionally identical to “liking” another person. The vast, awful landscape of Brand Twitter has become a playground for social media managers to act like virtual tweens. The prevailing online marketing strategy for brands in 2015 is to blend in with the children, become just another bae to fave and retweet.

Sunday Morning Paper: Hermione Granger Will Always Be an Icon

Hermione Granger久しぶり!

I’ve been away for the week while I was sick. Bummer.

What A “Racebent” Hermione Granger Really Represents

I could never get it white-girl bushy — and don’t even get me started on white-girl movie-sleek-pretending-to-be-frizzy. My hair was a whole different kind of frizzy. I loved her so much, but it took me a long time to accept that I could never be her.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hermione is introduced with a description of her bushy brown hair and her large teeth. There’s nothing there to indicate she didn’t look just like me, yet I always pictured a white face under that bushy head. I always pictured her not-me.

Joy: A Subject Schools Lack

Human lives are governed by the desire to experience joy. Becoming educated should not require giving up joy but rather lead to finding joy in new kinds of things: reading novels instead of playing with small figures, conducting experiments instead of sinking cups in the bathtub, and debating serious issues rather than stringing together nonsense words, for example. In some cases, schools should help children find new, more grown-up ways of doing the same things that are perennial sources of joy: making art, making friends, making decisions.

What’s Really Wrong with Nice Guys – Entitlement, Nerds and Neanderthals

The problem is that [he] made the same mistake that many other nerds and Nice Guys have made: he misunderstood the point of what he was reading. Specifically: he wasn’t willing or able to step outside of himself and realize that not everything was about him. It’s #notallmen all over again – seeing everything as being about him instead of about what women go through.

You see this repeatedly whenever someone brings up, say, The Gift of Fear or the essay Schrödinger’s Rapist – there will inevitably be someone complaining that it’s unfair to them, that they’re not a rapist or murderer and how are they supposed to meet women?

The History of “Loving” to Read

If anything, the fervor of the Janeites puts into relief a fact almost too obvious to notice: the world of books is a romantic world. Romance structures literary life, and to be a reader is, often, to follow its choreography, from susceptibility and discovery (“I just saw it there in the bookstore!”) to infatuation, intimacy, identification, and obsession. We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional; to say that you merely admire or respect a book is, on some level, to insult it. Feelings are so fundamental to literary life that it can be hard to imagine a way of relating to literature that doesn’t involve loving it. Without all those emotions, what would reading be?