july 11

hello again my friends! another week has gone by, and hey! I’ve read books! I finished TWO books this week! It feels good to get back to more regular reading, and I’m excited to do more of it—I LIKE reading, a thing I sometimes forget when things feel like a chore.

This is the balance with many things I’m trying to strike—building consistency in habits of things I enjoy doing without it becoming All About the Streak. One thing vacation was good for (apart from social time with people I enjoy!) was forcibly breaking the streaks for me on reading and writing and making me evaluate my relationship to them. Sometimes I’d “cheat” (especially on writing) just to keep the streak going, which like: at that point, it’s about the streak, not actually about the practice of writing. Which is the other part that vacation was good for: I want to write more! I want to actually write about feminism in forms that aren’t just tweets! I want to write ORIGINAL FICTION! (About what, eh, that’s for me to find out.) Before I decided to be An Historian, I was going to very much be A Writer (yes, historians write, I just pivoted kinds of writing,) and I want to return to this—not so much in a sense of professionalized work, but for FUN and sharing with friends.

And yes, okay, much of this is the Optimistic Sunday Evening feeling coursing through me, where EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN THE COMING WEEK! But these are long term practices I want to do—committing to these things without being married to the streak! So hopefully stating it here, I can return to these practices! But for now let’s turn to the writing I am currently doing anyway, which is

Books I Wrote About This Week

“Prisons Make Us Safer”: And 20 Other Myths about Mass Incarceration, by Victoria Law

“ai you read so many books about prisons, do you learn anything new?” WELL YES I DO IN FACT. Even in this which is deliberately meant to be a kind of 101 primer to the first place. This is what I love about learning! There are always people out there who know more than me, who have done work longer, and I still learn new things from them. And I think this especially is great in this book—Law writes about, for example, the idea that prisons exist to provide free enslaved labor to companies (something that you see repeated a LOT,) but goes on to expound about how few incarcerated people are able to get jobs, and how that can be a way of controlling incarcerated people to keep them from participating in uprisings or otherwise rebelling.

There’s just so much in here that I don’t like want to “spoil” because I want you to check it out for yourself, but I love that we’re getting all of these very accessible books about prisons—it is a sign that we’re in a moment where this is becoming more mainstream and there are more opportunities to plug in. And even if you aren’t an abolitionist, I’d encourage you to read this book and think seriously about the myths you’ve been taught, the amount of misinformation we just accept, and how we might begin to tackle that misinformation. These books (Law also cowrote Prison by Any Other Name which I read recently, and STRONGLY recommend you read, probably after this) are a great entry point and I really am excited by how accessible they are and how much good work has gone into them and will undoubtedly come out of folks who read them!

Exit Strategy, by Martha Wells

Another Murderbot book, as I work my way through the series! This felt much more in line with previous books which some people might be like “what’s the point of a book in a series being the same as other books” well 1) IT’S THE VIBES and 2) it’s not actually the SAME the same, because these are all really well paced in terms of Murderbot’s growth as a character and learning their wants and navigating their ambivalences.

I think this book worked so much better for me than the previous one in part because it did remind me of what the overall plot was—I first read Murderbot last summer, so it’s been basically a year between when I read the third and fourth books, and I had no idea what was going on, which meant that the general importance plot-wise of the last book was Fairly Lost on Me, and that was rectified with reading this one. But I think also what is brilliant is this return to the original team (or most of them); I think my complaints about the previous book still stand in that there was really no nuance to the Miki situation, and here there’s a great deal of nuance. I’m SO into watching Murderbot learn boundaries and I also love watching the team be responsive to that. And I know that there is more to unpack there, and that we will probably explore more of this (Murderbot is Special and so that complicates how we extrapolate this larger situation, because of course you treat the [insert whatever here] that you LIKE as a friend) but I also appreciate the care that each character shows (Ratthi for president of my heart,) and that it’s so uneven across the group. There’s a richness here in the relationships that really felt like was missing from the last book, and I’m excited about the next book—it’s novel-length so there will be so much more space to dig into the nitty gritty stuff, and I really think the story will flourish there in a totally different but exciting way!

The Reading Situation

  • 100 books: at the time of this writing, I’ve finished 61 out of 100 books! Yes that’s only two books but it’s two more books than where I was at last week, and I’m still chipping away at reading! I’m excited to keep that going as I really recommit to spending TIME reading.

  • Author identity challenge: still sitting at 11/18, or 61%! Still reading lots of books by white people somehow, but I guess this just continues to show that actually it DOES take work, or that we need more SERIES by authors of color because that’s what’s really shaping my numbers I think.

  • Currently reading: Mostly focused on Network Effect (more Murderbot!) and more Menopause Manifesto. But hoping to go back to incorporating more books overall! I can do it!

HMU

And that’s it for this week! I hope, if you also experience Sunday Night Energy Bursts, you can carry that energy through the week, and if you don’t experience them, that you can get some of my energy and get yourself at least set to go for the week. I’m excited to try to go to a NEW local public library for Monday and Tuesday (when my usual branch is closed or has weird hours) so wish me luck and I will report back! You can probably see my reports first over on twitter @fadesintointent where you can see the things I just say mostly to myself, and you can see me not post very often at all on Instagram @sonofahurricane. Otherwise, hopefully I will be back next week with more books and more words written down! Take care of yourselves, and each other. <3