july 18

hello again friends! another week has gone by, and here we are again, looking down the barrel of a new week. This week wore me out pretty well—I’m trying to figure out better ways to get done what I want to get done, namely how and when to write when I need to write—“need” of course being a loose phrase. But I DID do a pretty good amount of reading—when it rains it pours, but I guess in a positive way, like in a drought? I don’t know, like I said, it’s been a long week so I might not be making the most sense.

I’m in another cycle of job hunting where I’ve kind of started just throwing things at the wall and hoping they stick. It’s exhausting and deeply demoralizing and I’m very tired of it. I’ve filled out exactly eight job applications in the last two days and I would just like a job very much now, thank you—one that gives me space to continue going to therapy and any other medical appointments I have to make. Also, and I don’t know if I’ve said this before in the newsletter though I’ve said it MANY other places, if you’re doing any hiring it would be GREAT of you to inform applicants that they didn’t make it to the interview round. I know, I know, hedge your bets, but if you don’t find the applicant from your first group in interviews are you REALLY gonna go back and scoop up someone you didn’t pick from that first round? No you will repost the job. Trust me, I’ve been on the job market for a year and a half. Hire me at least to inform your applicants that they didn’t make it to the first interview round.

But you know, we’re still treading water out here I guess. And I’m having a very cozy moment in my bedroom where the shades are drawn all the time to keep out as much sun as possible—I’m listening to an ‘oldies in another room’ video, I lit a candle because it’s not too hot with the air conditioning on, and the only other light besides my computer screen is a soft bedside reading light that I have on. I’m trying to relax despite all the stress, and it’s going okay now. So let’s move on from my Stress to

Books I Wrote About This Week

Network Effect, by Martha Wells

You know when you read a book in a series and you’re just like “yes, this is the pinnacle of the series, this is everything I’ve ever wanted from these books?” This book was that for me, at least so far. (Apparently there’s something like 9 books planned in this series, and this is book 6? 7?)

I’m just. Bowled over about how good it was. Was some of that because the plot moved SO TIGHTLY, I really never felt any downtime in there? Was it because we were mostly with character I already knew, so it didn’t feel like I was trying to get to know that many new people (though there definitely were new characters, who I LOVED!)? Was it because Wells hit this magical balance between tight action sequences (which she’s SO GOOD AT, I’m so impressed every time frankly,) and Murderbot’s interpersonal conflicts (including internal conflicts)? I don’t know! But it’s all so good, and it frankly feels all the richer for me having read the previous five novellas—supposedly this is a standalone, but I feel like I wouldn’t have loved it as much as I did if I hadn’t read the previous book, and really if this book wasn’t immediately available to me after I read the last one.

I just was so delighted even when things were tense, and that was often! The book was just so tightly constructed, using every inch of the space provided just as much as she uses the space in novellas and I find that so, so impressive. I don’t know that it hugely got to every part of the story—there’s the larger narrative about agency etc which maybe feels a little more neatly wrapped up here than when we last left it in the previous novella—but obviously larger questions were also raised. by this book and I am so upset I have to wait ~11 weeks (according to Libby) to get the next novella.

Mysterious Skin, by Scott Heim

Sometimes my determination to finish a book really bites me in the ass. This book took me a long time to read not just because I went on vacation in the middle (though obviously that was a big part of it) but also because it was so difficult to read. If you didn’t know (and I didn’t going in!) this book has multiple graphic sequences depicting the sexual abuse of children—not in a way that I would describe as titillating exactly, but deeply, deeply disturbing nonetheless.

I could have—probably should have—put the book down and just not finished it, though the ending is deeply moving and cinematic (this was made into a movie apparently and though I definitely will not be watching it any time soon, I can basically see how the last scene would translate beautifully to film.) But I don’t like not finishing books, because I like the nice numbers it leaves, and because I like finishing things. But it did a real number on me emotionally and mentally, and made me feel absolutely terrible. Maybe if I had kept it to 30 minutes at a time, cut it up more, it would have had less of an impact but I instead decided to plow through the last ~100ish pages in one day, and that certainly was a mistake.

So I guess the lesson from this is: respect your own boundaries! Listen to your brain when a book makes you “feel weird.” And I’ll practice doing that too.

The Reading Situation

  • 100 books: at the time of this writing, I’ve completed (for better or for worse) 65 out of 100 books! Yes, I finished four books this week, though I only had the chance to write about two. It felt very good to get through those books after what felt like a brief desert of book finishing, and I’m excited to move onto what’s next!

  • Author identity challenge: still at 11/18 or 61%! Still reading a lot of books by white people! But we’ll see what happens next, especially because a lot of my books from the library are about to have to go back (renewals! They expire now! who knew?) so maybe I can refocus and be more strategic about my holds than I was when I was just requesting every single thing that occurred to me.

  • Currently reading: in the midst of (and hoping to finish very soon) Dispatch, a collection of poems; need to get back to Radical Sacrifice before the renews on it truly run out, and am slowly making my way through What Doesn’t Kill You. And looking forward to starting more!

HMU

And that’s it for this week! I hope you are stretching out your summer as much as you can—it seems to be flying by right before my eyes! Not that it means much to me, as a person who is still unemployed (did I make that clear above?) but I do have many friends and loved ones in education and academia for whom this time is precious and so, so fleeting (and I’m sure any parents with children in school are DYING for it to come to an end!) I hope, if you are in an area experiencing extreme heat (we’re in for a week in the upper 80s and low 90s here, oof,) that you can keep yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors (including your unhoused neighbors!) safe and cool. I’m going to be giving the reusable ice packs that come with my medicine to local camps this week, so investigate if you have anything like that you don’t need. Take care of yourselves, and each other! <3