Bookworm Blogging, Discussions

Empathy, Emotions, and Reading [discussion]

This is my first real discussion post in just over a year! I don’t do a lot of these, because I feel like other bloggers have more to say and say things more succinctly than I do. However! This is something I haven’t seen a lot of and it’s been on my mind lately.

First of all, let’s define what empathy actually is. Dictionary.com refers to empathy as “[…] the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another, experiencing the emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person.” This is distinguished from sympathy in the following way: “sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.”

That being said, I am an extremely empathetic person. I can attribute this to about a thousand things, but what it means for me is that other people’s emotions impact me pretty strongly. I literally find emotions to be contagious, no matter what form they come in. Whether it’s from a friend, an article I’m reading online, a movie I’m watching, or a book I’m reading, I find myself taking on those feelings.

There are benefits to this: I’m pretty conscious about my friends emotions and behaviors indicating their emotions and I can be a good listener. There are also plenty of cons: I have to disengage from people sometimes so I don’t become overwhelmed, I have to consume emotional media fairly slowly to avoid slipping into a depressive episode, and I can sometimes blur the line between fiction and reality.

This comes up a lot during my reading. What prompted this post was actually my experience reading The Pisces. The main character falls into a depressive episode at the start of the book and I found it to be an emotionally intense experience because it was so real. I could identify the triggers, the symptoms, the disordered thinking. It put me into a mood, which I luckily realized quickly, and I had to put it down after a short session. I’ve been reading it slowly, in bits and pieces, in order to avoid getting dragged down by it.

It’s difficult sometimes, having to navigate my reading so carefully, but I like to think it helps make me a more compassionate and sensitive person. Anyway, here’s my question for you: do any of you also struggle with keeping your empathy in check while reading (or even watching TV/movies)? How do you deal with this so that it doesn’t negatively impact your mental health? If it was something you could just turn off, would you?

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say on this! Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Bookworm Blogging

Series I Need to Finish

I am… very bad at finishing series, so I figured I’d make a post detailing some of the series I need to finish! These are all series that I’ve read at least one book out of, but have yet to complete.

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The Southern Reach Trilogy
So I’ve read Annihilation and Authority and I’m FINALLY getting to Acceptance. I’ll have this one in the bag soon.

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The Raven Cycle
I’m halfway through and I have Blue Lily, Lily Blue sitting on my shelf begging me to read it. Soon.

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth
I’ve actually read The Forest of Hands and Teeth twice, so I really need to work on completing this series at some point!

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Warriors
Y’all please don’t judge me, but my friends and I are doing a Warriors buddy read. We’ve gotten through the first one and are hopefully moving to the second soon!

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Protector of the Small
Tammy is one of my favorite writers and I have no idea how I haven’t finished this series yet, tbh.

So! There y’all have it. Just a handful of the many series I’ve begun but have yet to commit to finishing. Hopefully someday soon I will no longer have these books looming over me. 🙂

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Favorite Lesser-Known Books

After doing my Most Popular/Highest Rated TBR post recently, I got to thinking: what are the least well-known 5-star books I’ve read? To figure this out, I ordered my “read” shelf on Goodreads by number of ratings ascending and picked out the ones I had rated five stars. Below are my results!

Lessons from a Child by Lucy McCormick Calkins.
35 ratings, 4.17 average.

Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman.
163 ratings, 3.98 average, review.

A Cat Named Darwin by William Jordan.
193 ratings, 3.67 average.

The Bird Market of Paris by Nikki Moustaki.
253 ratings, 3.84 average.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos.
344 ratings, 3.73 average, review.

It’s always fun to see how your thoughts compare to the thoughts of others, and how well-known the books you’ve read are! Please tag me if you decide to do this as well, I’d love to see what your favorite lesser-known books are. 🙂

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(Covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2017 Wrap-Up

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Books:

  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. DNF.
  • Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. DNF.
  • The Slow Regard or Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. 4/5 stars.
  • These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung. 3/5 stars, review.
  • There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. 4/5 stars, review to come.
  • The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreason. 3/5 stars, review to come.
  • Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. 4/5 stars, review to come.
  • Like Water by Rebecca Podos5/5 stars, review to come.
  • Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block. 2.5/5 stars, review to come.
  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill. 5/5 stars, review to come.

Books read: 8
Books DNF’d: 2
Average Rating: 3.81

Movies:

  • 1922 [2017] directed by Zak Hilditch. 3/5 stars, review.
  • The Break-Up [2006] directed by Peyton Reed. Rewatch, 3/5 stars.
  • 13th [2016] directed by Ava DuVernay. 5/5 stars.
  • Lady Bird [2017] directed by Greta Gerwig. 5/5 stars, review.

Movies watched: 4
Average Rating: 4.00

Other Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

This month was VERY productive for me as far as reading goes, thanks to a spreadsheet that my friend Rachel created. I might give this spreadsheet its own post, detailing how it’s helped me prioritize my reading to get more done! This puts me at 64 books for the year, which is 14 books ahead of my goal of 50 and at 128%. I’m thinking I’ll probably get another 8-10 read in December, I have a few graphic novels I’d really like to get to and I have some shorter novels on this month’s TBR!

Personal Highlights (aka a photo dump of things I did this month):

Thanks for reading! How was November for you? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

The Fall for Books Tag

Hey, I got tagged in another thing! This time by Rachel @ pace, amore, libri. I guess it’s a week of tags for me, oh well. 😉

THE RULES

  • Please link back to this post so I can see your answers!
  • Have fun!

One of the first books you fell in love with

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There are a zillion books I could put here, but when I think about reading into the night as a kid, I definitely think about The Boxcar Children. I absolutely loved this series!!

A book you knew you were going to love from the first page

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[heart eyes emoji] Emily Carroll’s writing and illustrations are INCREDIBLE so I knew immediately that I’d adore this.

A book you didn’t think you would love as much as you do

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I honestly picked up this collection of short stories on a whim because the eBook was on sale and it had a Neil Gaiman story in it and honestly it ended up being the best short story collection that I’ve literally ever read.

The character who will always have a place in your heart

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Daine from Wild Magic has been one of my favorite characters for years, since I first read the book. The series is a quartet and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read it. I actually might be due for a reread soon…

Character you love on the page, but would never want to meet in real life

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I’m sure I’m the millionth person to say this, but: Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. He’s such an asshole, but on paper he’s such a loveable asshole.

Literary couple you will ship until the day you die

Y’all I’m so sorry, but… I don’t have an otp. There are plenty of ships that I love, but there are none that I am absolutely burning up about.

An author whose writing style you fell in love with

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Joe Hill! I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him so far.

A book recommended to you by a friend/family member that you quickly fell for too

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A friend suggested the Wool series to me and I think I read the entire thing in around a week… this also deserves a reread, for sure.

Piece of book-related merchandise that you had to own

I honestly… don’t have very much book-related merchandise! My best friend got me a Ravenclaw keychain when she went to Harry Potter World, so that’s probably the closest thing I can think of.

An author whose works you love so much that you auto-buy/borrow their new releases

Again… Joe Hill. And Stephen King. There’s a theme here.

I tag:

Wendy @ what the log had to say
Rachel @ Rachel Reading
Destiny @ Howling Libraries
Kathy @ Books & Munches
Elizabeth @ Mountains of Books

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Where Do My Books Come From?

This is such a fun meme, I love it! It was originally created by Laura @ Reading in Bed and I pulled it from Rachel @ Pace, Amore, Libri. You go through the last 30 books you’ve read and note where they came from. Let’s see if I can actually remember where all of these came from…

1. Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson. Library.
2. At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. Postal Book Club.
3. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Library.
4. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Siefvater. Physical ARC.
5. Fen: Stories by Daisy Johnson. Library.
6. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Gift.
7. Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood. Postal Book Club.
8. Warcross by Marie Lu. Library.
9. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Purchased from Amazon, eBook.
10. The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy. Library.
11. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1 by Hayao Miyazaki. Gift.
12. Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan. Gift.
13. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. Postal Book Club.
14. Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz. Purchased from Amazon, eBook.
15. A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett. Library.
16. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. eARC.
17. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. Library.
18. Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus. Purchased at used book sale.
19. Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Gift.
20. The Education of a Coroner by John Bateson. eARC.
21. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Library.
22. Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka. eARC.
23. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Library.
24. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
Library.
25. The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud. Library, eBook.
26. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey. Gift.
27. The Stranger by Albert Camus. Library, eBook.
28. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Gift.
29. The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry. Purchased from Amazon, eBook.
30. Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis. eARC.

Stats:

  • 4/30 (13%) Purchased by Me
  • 12/30 (40%) Borrowed from Library
  • 3/30 (10%) From Postal Book Club
  • 5/30 (17%) ARCs (1 physical, 4 eARCs)
  • 5/30 (17%) Gifts
  • 9/30 (30%) eBooks

This was pretty cool! I was actually expecting more library books, and more eBooks, so I guess my unofficial estimates were a little off. The books were all purchased prior to May, which is around when I got my library card. I’ve been surprisingly good about not spending money on books, although I did buy the hardcover version of Strange Weather at the Joe Hill signing (definitely worth it) and I do have a short list of books I am positive I want to own a physical copy of.

Please ping back if you do this, because I wanna see everyone else’s stats, too! It might be cool for me to start putting these stats into my monthly wrap-ups, what do you think?

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Where Am I Now? [review]

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Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Published by Penguin Books on September 13, 2016
259 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: 
maternal death, anxiety, OCD

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads IndieBound Author’s Website

Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab.

Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity.

But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now? introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

I’ve been a fan of Mara Wilson for ages now. Like almost everyone else, I loved her in Matilda, but I kind of lost track of her after that. A few years ago, I ended up following her on Twitter and found myself deeply admiring the person she had grown into. She’s witty, deeply into social justice, and has a take-no-shit attitude that I love. So when I heard Where Am I Now? was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Of course, it took me a while to actually get to it, but I’m really glad I did!

Being a celebrity meant being vulnerable. It meant my face, my body, even my death were for public consumption — none of them was mine alone.

Where Am I Now? is a series of stories and essays about Mara’s life. Each chapter has a theme, usually one that revolves around something specific that she experienced. She covers everything from child acting, to high school girls, to the death of her mother. Somehow she’s managed to capture the perfect mix of humor and solemnity, speaking about grave topics with grace.

There must have been days when I did more, but I have no memory of them.

The sections that resonated most with me were about Mara’s experiences with mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While I don’t have any personal experience with OCD, my depression and anxiety both began in childhood and while reading, I kept gaping at sentences that I felt described my past self perfectly.

This ended up being a very quick read for me (two or three days?) and I can see this becoming one of my most highly-recommended books. I think that Mara’s writing is very accessible, and that this is something that can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Definitely pick it up if you get a chance!

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance [review]

**Note: This book was received through NetGalley. Review was written May 12, 2017.


Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
To be published by St. Martin’s Press on November 7, 2017
Kindle NetGalley Edition, 352 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-250-11204-0

I downloaded Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance off NetGalley by chance. My account there had been languishing for, well, years. I decided to hop back on and see if I could find anything worth reading. And after just a few minutes, I stumbled across BoEC. I loved the cover and thought the synopsis seemed intriguing, so I downloaded my copy and set off.

To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy the book as I was starting out! It took me a bit to get used to the first-person POV and the writing seemed a little infantile. I did note that the characters we heard from at first were children, so infantile was realistic. And I’m glad I pushed through and gave it a chance, because it just got better and better.

BoEC is a story set in modern America about a boy named Weylyn Grey who has inexplicable abilities, namely communicating with animals and influencing the weather. The book is a story of his life, told almost entirely through the perspective of others. The POV switches frequently, and we get to see Weylyn through many different eyes, though almost never through his own. I don’t want to get too much into the plot because it’s easy to give things away, but I will say that it kept me interested and that I was never quite sure what was going to happen next.

There were a couple characters that I wish had been touched on more. First, Weylyn’s parents. They do come up, and we quickly learn that he’s an orphan, but they just sort of feel really hollow to me. It’s obvious that they were just killed in order for Weylyn to have this journey. They never really come up except when convenient to the plotline at hand. I also wish there had been more about Weylyn’s adopted mom and Mary’s dad. They both kind of just vanish after they serve their purpose, making them feel more like plot points than characters. This is true of some of the other secondary characters as well, but these folks feel like they should have been of more importance to both Mary and Weylyn’s lives.

Overall, though, I loved this book. Once I got into the rhythm of things, I didn’t want to put it down. I almost missed my T stop several times while reading. I really felt immersed in the world Ruth Emmie Lang created and sympathized so much with the characters. No spoilers, but the ending made me SO emotional and gave me so many goosebumps. Lang really knows how to thread an ending together.

Takeaway: This book is beautiful. Please read it. Please, please read it.

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Bookworm Blogging

November 2017 Releases

Obligatory “I can’t believe it’s almost November???” comment because, uh, is it seriously almost November? While I have an existential crisis over the passing of time, y’all can check out the handful of books on my TBR that are coming out soon:

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Almost Midnight
November 2, 2017

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell is a beautiful gift edition containing two wintery short stories, decorated throughout for the first time with gorgeous black and white illustrations by Simini Blocker.

Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . .

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

Midnights was previously published as part of the My True Love Gave to Me anthology, edited by Stephanie Perkins and Kindred Spirits was previously published as a World Book Day title.

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Future Home of the Living God
November 14, 2017

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity. 

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe. 

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

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The City of Brass
November 14, 2017

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass–a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

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Not Now, Not Ever
November 21, 2017

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer. 

1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

Am I missing anything good? What releases are you anticipating this month? Which of you have been lucky enough to grab ARCs of these?
(All covers and blurbs courtesy of Goodreads.)

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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

October 2017 Wrap-Up


Books:

  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater. 3/5 stars, review.
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. 5/5 stars, review.
  • A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland. DNF.
  • Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music by Nadine Hubbs. DNF.
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett. DNF.
  • At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. 4/5 stars, review to come.
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. DNF.
  • Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson. 5/5 stars, review to come.

Books read: 4
Books DNF’d: 4
Average Rating: 4.25

Movies:

  • Happy Death Day [2017] directed by Christopher B. Landon. 4/5 stars, review.
  • Professor Marston & the Wonder Women [2017] directed by Angela Robinson. 5/5 stars, review.
  • The Snowman [2017] directed by Tomas Alfredson. 1/5 stars, I was going to do a review for this but BRUNCH says everything I wanted to say better than I could, so go listen to this episode on it.
  • The Sixth Sense [1999] directed by M. Night Shyamalan. 4/5 stars, rewatch.
  • Teeth [2007] directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. 5/5 stars, rewatch.
  • The Hallow [2015] directed by Corin Hardy. 3/5 stars.

Movies watched: 6
Average Rating: 3.67 stars

Other Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

I only read four books this month, bleh. I need to start letting myself off the hook with DNFing again because I wasted a lot of time trying to push myself through FOUR(!) other books that I ended up tossing. Anyway, that puts me at 56 books, on a goal of 50. I am 15 books ahead of schedule, and at 112% of my goal. #nice

Nanowrimo Goals:

For those of you don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Essentially, the goal is to write a 50,000 page novel in one month. This ends up being 1,667 words per day. I’ve participated in Nanowrimo a few times, but have never finished. This year, I’m gonna play it a little differently. I intend to write 50,000 words, but I’m going to do a mix of fiction and non-fiction pieces. It’s essentially going to end up being a short story collection and/or a set of essays. I’m just going to go with the flow and try to write 50,000 pages of whatever I can by the end of November!

You can join me on the Nanowrimo website and also on Twitter, where I’ll surely be livetweeting my adventure.

Notable Posts by Others:

Personal Highlights (aka a photo dump of things I did this month):








Thanks for reading! How was October for you? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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