When Reading Isn’t Challenging: Discussion

We read for a variety of reasons; to escape, to experience dangerous things safely, and clichely, to expand our minds. So my question to you is this: what do you do when books just don’t surprise you as often as they used to? When you feel like you’ve read this before, or that this book just isn’t at the reading level you want it to be?

I’ve tried a couple things. The Rory Gilmore Reading list is something I’ve been chipping away at for years, and I’ve found some gems. Others just aren’t my type. I’ve also expanded the variety of books I read, mostly because I only have access to the uni library during the pandemic and they are selective in the books they get. So I’ve read a lot more nonfiction and adult fiction, and found my new favourite but not strictly classified genre: the speculative fiction literary, non American… Yeah, just think Margret Atwood, M.R. Carey, and Never Let Me Go. Usually British/Canadian/Japanese fiction that has an element of dystopia but has more passive MCs than Katniss or Tris. If you have recs please let me know!

I’ve also looked at summer reading and bestseller lists. These are lists designed to combat the Summer slide- the theory that low-income students come back to school in a worse place academically than they were when school was let out. They basically loose the learning gains they made in the last month of the last school year. Only these lists usually stop after grade 12- while there may be lists of recommendations for college kids or reading lists for specific classes, there aren’t really age and skill specific rankings like you get in k-12.

(not really) fun fact- most American adults have an 8th grade reading level. Our education system sucks. And maths is worse.

But at least we’re in the bookish community and we take charge of our education, right?

Thanks for any recs you have! I’d love to know your thoughts- what can adults do to keep our books challenging?

Can We Do A Book Exchange?

I’ll make it short: I have two queer books in good condition that I don’t want to reread and I desperately want to read The Taking Of Jake Livingston. I want to do this because I am low on cash and space, and the local bookstore currently isn’t taking in any books due to overstock. If you can pay for shipping and Jake Livingston, I’ll make sure the books get to you soon!

I am being vague about what the books are in case you want to do a mystery book thing, but I’ll say they both released in the past year, one is a mlm romance and the other a YA contemporary.

If you are interested please contact me at brittainagof@gmail.com. Thanks!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Mid-Year Freakout Tag!

Best Book of 2021

And yes, this is the book I waited until two days after the actual mid-year to finish (Not bc of the book, I was just finishing up a summer class)

It’s none other than Never Let Me Go, a british novel published in 2005 and set in the 1900s. It reads as if it’s set sometime later in the future, and would’ve been helpful to know it wasn’t the case as I was squinting at all of the old-timey references from old times (Is Judy Bridgewater a real person?)

A friend that has all the best recommendations brought it up after I mentioned The Promised Neverland, a manga following children at an orphanage fated to be harvested to aliens. I only got my paws on volume one, but it’s made a lasting impression.

Best Sequel

Dude, I don’t read sequels. The sequels I want to read have never been written. Although I did see that my library has that President Snow book, which I will probably read even though I don’t really want to.

New Release You Need To Read

Ah, Well, How Many Gigabytes Do You Have?

Off the top of my head (The ones that come up first on my goodreads tbr) Cool For The Summer, Darling, The Maidens, and Ace Of Spades. I orignally wasn’t going to pick up Darling because some people labelled it as fantasy and I really don’t read it nowadays. But the author came out and said that it’s a contemporary thriller, which has propelled it from “not interested” to “would read if the library had it.”

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year

If This Gets Out, that’s it, that’s the only book, all the other books already came out or don’t come out until next year. I’d say I need to pay more attention to new releases but I already don’t have enough attention for school.

Biggest Disappointment

Life.

Biggest Surprise

Maurice. I wasn’t expecting that much Pure Gay in a classic, and there is a horrible twist involving a love interest that had me S C R E A M I N G. I watched the movie later and please. For the love of Satan, don’t put 35+ years olds to try and pass them off as late teens.

Favourite New Author

Hmm, do I have one? Ahh, yes, Leo Tolstoy. I hated everything he wrote except for The Death Of Ivan Ilyich, which paralleled his own death and closetism.

Why can’t I spell, and more importantly, why does WP tell me I can’t spell and proceed to not tell me how to correct it?

Newest Fictional Crush

I’m biromantic. Everyone’s a crush. Except Clive. Fuck Clive.

Newest Favourite Character

No one immediately comes to mind, unless Mobius counts.

(Instert Mobius fancam)

Book That Made You Cry

Maurice made me cry in frustration. Four Letter Word made me cry from eyestrain. But I don’t generally read sad books? There are some with a melancholy tone, but they’re not necessarily invoke-tears sad.

Book That Made You Happy

Most books?

Most Beautiful Book

So all the ones from the library have this strap on them so you can’t see the cover, only the spine. But Maurice has a sort of beautiful simplicity to it; I bought it at a used bookshop after I finished my library copy and I should probably reccommend another book. The Anthropocene Reviewed has a similar quality in a different way.

What Books Do You Need To Read By The End Of The Year

Try every book in existence. But seriously, I need to get to Cicero’s On The Good Life and Little Badger’s Elatsoe. Which is also a contender for Beautiful Book.

Book 2 Movie Adaptation

I was just about to watch Benedict Society but was interrupted in the opening credits. I suppose I could say Maurice again, unless School Of Rock was based on a book or something.

T10T ~ Summer ’21 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Ahhhh I have a shelf of library books- and with summer classes my reading is not as fast as I’d like. Reading fiction, that is. I’m blazing through these textbooks.

But what would I read if I had the time? Well…

Getting cheap books is tight

As you can see, I recently went to Target and can’t do that without perusing the book selection. Outlawed follows sapphic cowgirls and Playing The Palace looks like a rip-off of Red, White, & Royal Blue at face value but reviews say it’s a strong misdirection.

My professor rec’d The Gutenberg Galaxy and it’s some kind of editing/ history of type book. She said it aligns with some of my nihilistic views so we’ll see.

A semi-related book om my TBR is Adventures In Screen Trade, a somewhat chunky book that I picked up at the general rec of some DreamWorks employees that were doing a presentation for graphic designers in a zoom filled with mostly writers.

Dahlia Adler is one of my favourite bloggers and Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favourite aesthetics. (Minus his weird and pedo relationship with his cousin.)

Not related, but still weird is Never Let Me Go, which a friend rec’d after I rec’d The Promised Neverland, a manga about orphans at risk of getting harvested. Fun times.

This is vainly called The World’s 100 Best Stories, which they might be but given the subjectivity and white male supremacy that tends to go along with of this kind of thing, I’m a little wary. I requested it from the library and they sent me an extremely old and fragile copy from 1927. Cool for me, questionable for them. I wanted to read The Most Dangerous Game bc I hate humanity, but I opened it and am intrigued by The Reporter Who Made Himself King. As a journalist who wouldn’t mind the king’s money, I’m going to approach it as a to-do list.

I’ve actually gotten a decent amount through, but another collection is Tolstoy’s The Death Of Ivan Ilych & Other Stories. We had to read excerpts of Ivan for a class next semester, which tripped my gay senses and made me fall in love with him. Still too scared to pick up Anna Karina tho.

Cicero’s On The Good Life and Deval Sessions’ Deep Ecology are both presumably philosophy books. I’m currently pursuing a double philosophy minor and by advisor gave them to me for my birthday six months ago. Keep in mind that philosophy has was more reading than journalism before you sentence me.

Destiel ~ 7 Month Anniversary Of Despair

Hug

~Supernatural spoilers for 15×18 and 15×20~

“You are the most caring man on Earth. You are the most selfless, loving human being I will ever know. You know, ever since we met, ever since I pulled you out of Hell, knowing you has changed me. Because you cared, I cared. I cared about you. I cared about Sam, I cared about Jack. But I cared about the whole world because of you. You changed me, Dean”

“Why does this sound like a goodbye?”

Because it is. I love you.”

Seven months ago, Castiel Winchester came out and then promptly died. I had many theories at the time, most of them infinitely better than the one we got. They all had the basic premise that this would not be the end of the Empty arc, and barring the CW’s homophobia, would have some response to Cass coming out, preferably Dean’s coming out and a wedding. If a several-times dead guy fugitive and immigrant from Heaven can even marry. But it’s Supernatural- nothing makes sense.

Not a single day has gone by when I don’t think about Destiel. I am certified as mentally ill. But it’s more than that; Supernatural has been an enormous comfort for me during some of the hardest times of my life. It showed me a way to keep moving. Every time Dean didn’t give up, he told me to find a way. Over the years he let himself be happy and began to accept his femininity and bisexuality. He showed me what a man could be.

Cass showed me that some things are worth fighting for. It may not be the thing you were expecting to fight for, but when you know that something is right, you must listen.

There’s so many others. I love Crowley. I would have loved a Wayward Sisters spinoff. I love Gabriel. I can’t love Sam because Jared, but I love the idea of Sam.

But we got great news today- Jensen’s Soldier Boy suit was revealed, and damn, I need to work out more. It’s beautiful shades of green and blue, and looks waaaay better than any version of Captain America, and yes, even Captain Falcon America.

SB is giving me so much gender envy. I’ve been wanting to grow a small beard, but I’m still not on T and I don’t know why. I read lips and can’t understand a lot of new people, thus can’t trust that I’ll walk into a clinic and be able to understand what I need to understand.

But I digress. Solider Boy’s suit has a small piece of Dean Winchester- a black version of his boots. While I love that Jensen is moving onto new, entirely different characters, I love that he’ll always have a little piece of Dean Winchester. The man is as demented as we are.

A Review Of Boredom

BORED!

Like most creatures, I have my habits. I wake up between 7.30-8.30 AM, make a pancake or grab cereal, and get to work on my tasks for the day. Some homework, grocery shopping, laundry. Sometimes I get slow moments and read, or more rarely, write. I play with my cat and make sure she’s fed. I go on walks a few times a week.

And sometimes, like these last few days, I get bored. There’s still homework to do or books to read, but I don’t feel like this is something that I want to do.

I don’t know if this is a me thing, a ND thing, or just a person thing, but I need to be invested in a thing to do it. Even if I don’t necessarily want to do the thing, I recognize that there is a need to do it and feel motivated.

I haven’t been feeling like that. Over the past two days I’ve gotten wander”lust,” a desire to eat something I’ve never eaten before, and general restlessness. I can’t fulfill my wanderlust for reasons, but I did pick up a pretty good sandwich at the grocery store that I’ve never eaten before. It wasn’t exotic but it was delicious. I still feel restless, but I don’t have the energy for a long walk. Yet I’m not so tired that I’ll go to bed early.

One of the greatest things that I’ve done over quarantine is GISH, the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever known. It’s impossible to be bored while participating in GISH; the tasks are too fantastical. None of the things are things that I’d do on a regular basis.

And maybe it’s making me see how bored I am on a regular day. I don’t normally put frosting on my face or write on the lawn. I don’t even have a lawn; I used a bit of gravel on my school’s ballfield for that particular task. I wouldn’t even think of doing these things.

Boredom can be good in terms of resting and uninterrupted thinking time. But it just doesn’t feel good.

So I want you to challenge me. In the comments section, please give me an unusual, socially-distanced, cheap/free thing for me to do. It can be your hobby, dance routine, or boardless game or other outlandish thing. Bonus if my cat can join in!

I’ll start- on your next trip to the grocery/work/school, take a path you hadn’t taken before!

T10T: I’m an Unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde Sort

Maurice: “I’ve had to do with the poor too,” said Maurice, taking a piece of cake. “But I can’t worry over them. One must give them a leg up for the country’s sake generally, that’s all. They haven’t our feelings. They don’t suffer as we should in their place.” p 167

My return to blogging also means my return to T10T as hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!!! This week theme is quotes that fit x theme- and as I just read Maurice most of the quotes will be from there. But first, let’s talk about our first quote- that the poor feel differently from the rich. That we’re more hardened and can handle the slings and arrows of poverty.

Well, that’s not quite true. Poverty is traumatic. An article from Psychiatric Times stresses that poverty is linked to depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, psychological distress, and suicide. While it may make sense that impoverished people have learnt to adapt to our situations, it takes a significant toll.

Ahh, there’s no easy way to transition from that, so let’s move on to the next quote.

“I’m an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort.” ~ Maurice

“Did he, the devil?”

“The indifference of the universe to man!”

“After all, is not a real Hell better than a manufactured Heaven?”

Ahhh, halfway there and I used all the quotes I wrote down. This is why you should blog before you chuck the book in the return bin.

I think you know what I’m about to do.

Dude…pie
I’m definitely gay.
Coach Sue, peeps
If you weren’t such a CLOTPOLE
I have no idea what I’m doing with my life!

Story Generators For Storied Procrastinators

Is this procrastination or research? Does it matter?

So a while back I attempted to make a wix blog because block editor is the worst. Turns out wix is an Israeli site and we don’t support genocide in this house, so I’m deleting it but saving the two whole posts I wrote here.

I hit a block in my story. I need an Incident! Something exciting to propel the story forward and compel my characters to change!


So I thought, naively, that I could find inspiration in a random generator. The first one I found was plot-generator.org.uk. It’s Mad Libs-esqe, and hilarious. They have several options, including Short Story Generator, Twist Generator, and Writer’s Block Cure Generator.

An example of what can be created here: Mysterious-Darth

The Writing Exercises generator is specifically prompts that writers can incorporate into their stories. They are simple, but thought provoking- “someone is arrested” Who? What for? How does this impact the protagonist and friends?
Writing Exercises

TV Tropes.orgI didn’t personally find this helpful right now, but it has a ton of tropes linked to the generator, such as “stupid boss” or “plot coupon.” It takes the tropes and puts them into a story arc that kind of makes sense in a Bizarro sort of way.

Write a 750 word story in the fairy tale genre. It’s about a warrior and should include a mysterious suitcase. Also use the sentence ‘This is delicious!’ Bonus prompt: The story takes place in a desert.

That prompt is from The Story Shack. Fair warning: It’s a bit confusing to navigate at first due to its ads. But I like it for its silliness.


Well, since I now have a new idea- a character gets arrested on the death of the protagonist’s dead girlfriend. I already established that she drowned, so now I have to figure out how to make that look like a murder.


Did you find anything useful? What do you do when you hit writer’s block?

Casting My Vote For Prom King

This is why I hate block editor

TITLE: May the Best Man Win

AUTHOR: Z.R. Ellor

PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press

RELEASE DATE: May 18th, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Contemporary, Romance

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781250625120

May The Best Man Win comes out tomorrow! Starring two messy, horrible, adorable boys, MTBMW is a lovers-to -enemies-to -lovers starring Jeremy and Lukas, a pair of exes vying for prom king.

First off, you don’t need to get into an elite college to be successful, and as much as I love this book, I hate that stereotype. At a big, elite college, you’ll have less access to professors and huge 300 person classes. There are a few large classes at my school, but for the most part it’s class discussions and workshops. Maybe something is wrong from a funding standpoint when there’s less than 20 students per class, but it’s great for learning.

But enough of that tangent!

Jeremy is… Well, think of a hormonal, antsy teenage boy. That’s Jeremy. He makes stupid, terrible decisions that hurt his friends. And that’s part of why this book is so great.

We don’t get a lot of realistic teens in YA nowadays. The vast majority of YA protagonists I can think of are bland stand-ins for the reader. Real people aren’t like that. The characters in this book aren’t like that.

Lukas. I love you. I am captain of the Lukas protection squad. I wish he could be prouder of his autism, as I am proud of mine, but his way is valid. He also does some stupid stuff, but there was a situation with a teacher where he dealt with it in a dumb, but valid way. The AP Bio teacher was horrid, and should have been fired.

On top of that, the school in general had terrible policies. But again, what school doesn’t?

In short, if you’re looking for a book about messy teens and it’s queer, this is ya book.

Rep- Jeremy trans + on his first few weeks of HRT. While I could use some more details about the T process, ig I’m not going to get it until I actually go into the clinic and sign up for it.

Lukas autistic. He’s not very proud of it, but it’s normal to have different experiences with it. Although I did get ND vibes from both of them.

BTW, my vote goes to… Lukas! Obviously.

TW: queerphobia and bullying

Z.R. Ellor

About The Author

Z. R. Ellor (he/him) is the author of MAY THE BEST MAN WIN and the forthcoming adult fantasy SILK FIRE (written as Zabé Ellor.) He holds a BA in English Lit and biology from Cornell University. When not writing, he can be found running, playing video games, and hunting the best brunch deals in Washington D.C.. Find him online at https://zrellorbooks.com/

May I just say I am so excited for his next book Acting The Part, which doesn’t come out for a whole year. Yay. It’s “a YA contemporary about a nonbinary actor fake-dating their co-star to save their on-screen f/f pairing.

Do You Like Cake?

Pride Cake w/ Suits

Do you like cake? Do you reeeeaalllly like cake? What do you like about it? The spongy texture of the cake itself, or do you prefer the melting sweetness of frosting?

While we’re on the subject of cake, Two Grooms On A Cake drops today!

The year is 1971, and Jack and Micheal are in love. “There are no recipes for weddings. But there are laws for marriage.” Through a legal loophole, they went on to become the first gay married couple in the US.

I did not know about this. I thought James Obergefell and John Arthur were the first, or at least retroactively after James died. Got to be honest, it’s been a while since I read that case too.

This just highlights how needed these books are. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if I read this book as a kid. Two men can love each other so much that one of them goes to law school for years to find a way to get married… #HusbandGoals but also, #SocietyFail.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with cake, it interspaces the gay history with a cake formula! I would never cakebait you.

If you have kids in your life, please make sure they see this! If you don’t it’s still a sweet short read for anyone wishing to learn more gay history.

I was so lucky and thankful that Hear Our Voices Tours chose me as a host!