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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2019 TBR

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

As I mentioned in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, my TBR list depends a lot on when I reach the top of the request list for the various library books I’m in queue for.

Based on the ratio of requests to library copies of these books, I believe they will all become available for me over the next two to three months. There is a lot of nonfiction coming my way this summer if all goes as planned. I’m excited about that.

You’ll notice that a few of these titles won’t be available until September. I decided to count anything that I expect to have my hands on before the official end of summer at the autumn equinox since southern Ontario typically remains quite hot, humid, and summer-like until late September or early October.

Title: They Were Her Property: White Women and the Economy of American Slavery by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

I hope to have it: Any day now.

Why I want to read it: I don’t know much about the role wealthy white women played in slavery in the American south. I’m incredibly curious to learn more about that.

 

Title: 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin

I hope to have it: In the first week of July

Why I want to read it: I’m intrigued by the feminist spin to this self-help book and would like to see what connection she makes between the #MeToo movement and taking charge of your own destiny. Those aren’t topics that I’d necessarily ever think to join together.

 

Title: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I hope to have it: In the second week of July.

Why I want to read it: I loved her first book, The Hate U Give, and after mentioning this one on several Top Ten Tuesday posts I’m quite excited to finally see if On the Come Up will be as thought-provoking. It’s been such a long wait that I can hardly believe I’m finally almost at the top of the library queue for it.

 

TitleOnce a Wolf: The Science Behind Our Dogs’ Astonishing Genetic Evolution by Bryan Sykes

I hope to have it: In the second week of July

Why I want to read it: Sometimes when I see someone walking around with a tiny little dog here in Toronto I like to imagine how a wolf would react to being stuffed into a purse or dressed in a tutu.  On a more serious note, I love dogs and have often wondered how humans took something as gigantic and fearsome as a wolf and gradually bred that gene pool into toy poodles and chihuahuas. Learning more about this is going to be a great way to spend part of my summer.

 

Title: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

I hope to have it: In the first week of August.

Why I want to read it: Psychology fascinates me in general. I studied attachment theory in a few of my college courses, and I’m curious to see if there’s any new research on the various types of attachment and how they affect you in adulthood.

 

TitleInvisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez

I hope to have it: In the second week of August

Why I want to read it: As a short and petite woman, I’ve had some struggles adjusting to stuff that is designed for “average” people that are much taller and bigger than me. For example, some chairs are too big and high off the ground for me to sit in while also touching my feet to the floor. I’ve had issues with seatbelts not quite fitting me properly, too, which could be really dangerous in a crash. It’s going to be super interesting to find out why so many designers make cisgender men the standard instead of taking a wider variety of body sizes and shapes into account.

 

 

TitleWhy We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths—And How We Can Stop! by Bill Eddy

I hope to have it: In the third week of August.

Why I want to read it: With a federal election coming up here in Canada this autumn and another federal election coming up the United States, my birth country, next year, I’m quite interested in why voters in many different countries can become so enamoured with Narcissistic politicians.

 

TitleCharlotte: A Novel by David Foenkinos and Sam Taylor

I hope to have it: In the first week of September

Why I want to read it: World War II was such a horrific war. This book of poetry was written about one of the many innocent people who died in a concentration camp during the course of it. I’d never heard of this painter before, and I’d like to know who she was before her life ended far too soon.

 

TitleThe Ghost Garden: Inside the Lives of Schizophrenia’s Feared and Forgotten by Susan Doherty

I hope to have it: In the second week of September

Why I want to read it: While they don’t have this specific diagnosis, there are a few people in my life who live with serious mental illnesses that have very negative impacts on their daily lives. I’m always on the lookout for books that talk about this topic, especially if they explore the lives of people who are not high functioning.

This is a sensitive and difficult issue, but I think there needs to be much more awareness of the many different ways mental illness can impact someone’s life. Some people absolutely can and do cope well with their illnesses. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Update on Autumn Goals

Last autumn I blogged about four goals I wanted to accomplish. Originally, I was planning to revisit it in the winter, but it turned out I needed more time than I originally thought for a wide variety of reasons.

So much has happened in my life since last year. I’ve finally had the chance to sit down and write a proper update for all of you.

For anyone who hasn’t read that post yet, these were the goals I set then:

 

 – Spend one hour a week lifting weights. 

 – Meditate for 20 minutes a day.

 – Join new social groups.

– Write my second sci-fi novel. 

  So how did I do? Let’s go through the original goals one by one.

Spend One Hour a Week Lifting Weights.

Progress: Accomplished.

While I did need to take a few temporary breaks from weightlifting for medical reasons, I have been lifting weights for an hour a week as often as I could. I count this as a success!

For those of you who haven’t met me in real life, know that I’m a short, petite woman. People have often assumed that this means I’m not physically strong. There have been a few times over the last nine months when folks were surprised when I didn’t need help lifting something up or carrying it.

I do appreciate friendly offers of assistance. With that being said, there is something amusing about seeing the way people react when they realize that I’m stronger than I look. Their eyes grow wide for a split second, and they don’t know what to say next.

This definitely wasn’t my original reasons for getting into weightlifting, but the feeling of accomplishment and independence that comes from being able to rely on yourself to lift heavy stuff is a real perk of it.

 Meditate for 20 Minutes a Day.

Progress: Modified but accomplished.

Sitting meditation was a good idea during some of the medical stuff I dealt last year and this year. Walking meditation was more helpful at other times.

I have not been keeping strict tabs on how often I meditate, but I am doing it much more regularly and for longer periods of time these days. The only caveat to this is that much of it involves me going for a walk and drinking in my surroundings instead of sitting perfectly still every single time.

There’s something about the act of walking that makes it much easier for me to acknowledge and then release my thoughts as they bubble up.

 Join New Social Groups.

Progress: Accomplished and still ongoing.

Based on everything else that happened in my life over the past year, I’m proud of myself for working on this goal as much as I did.

I have checked out new social groups since last September and had a good time getting a feel for who they are and what they’re about.

There are other groups I still want to visit, so this goal is something I will continue to pursue in the future.

I believe in in taking your time when getting to know any group. Not every organization will be a good fit for everyone, but it’s also not always possible to know immediately if you should keep attending or find a different social outlet.

So I will continue to dip my toes into various meetings and events to see what I think of them.

  Write My Second Sci-fi Novel.

Progress: Ongoing but looking good.

Why is it so easy to knock out a 1,000 word blog post but so much more time consuming to write a novel? I mean, other than the fact that novels are generally at least 70,000 words long and sometimes much lengthier than that. Ha!

My second sci-fi novel is a work in progress. I did not mention the subject matter of it in last autumn’s post and will continue to keep most of it under wraps until I’m further along in the process. It’s been my experience that writing is easier when I don’t reveal too much ahead of time.

Let’s just say that it’s set somewhere other than Earth. If you recognize the red planet in this section of the post, you’ll have a clue about the setting.

I love all things connected to NASA and space exploration, and  I want to do as much justice to this story as someone from a non-technical background can do. There is a lot of research involved behind the scenes, so that is why it has taken me much longer than I originally thought it might.

Respond

What goals have you set over the last year or so? How are you doing with them?

Interview with Richard L Pastore

Welcome, Richard! He was the most recent person to my speculative fiction interview post, and I’m looking forward to sharing his answers with all of you today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. It was one of the first ‘real’ books I read as a child. Even at that age, I could tell at that point, H.G. didn’t think much of mankind. Even today as I read the news, who could blame him.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

This is the kind of question that will get you a different answer every time you ask me. I have favorite authors for different reasons. So it’s difficult for me to rank one above another. I’ve often mentioned Christopher Moore and Ray Bradbury, but today I think I’ll give a vote for Richard Russo. Whenever I read his books, I experience that common mixture of awe and envy.

He manages to squeeze humor out of everyday people in both subtle and slapstick aspects. That isn’t easy. His books are definitely worth reading for any author looking for examples where character drives humor. And, now that I think of it – I guess they’re not quite under the heading of speculative fiction. Sorry about that.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

I tend to read fantasy, SciFi, humor, and mystery, especially where the last two are mixed with the first two. I like it when my brain is stimulated, whether it be by challenging my imagination and preconceived notions, or by a clever plot with plausible twists and turns. My selection in entertainment always leans towards escapism. I can be strongly moved by real-life stories, but escapist fare allows me to relax and let down my guards. My mind is more apt to wander along the possibilities of what if?

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

Love it! As I mentioned, mix humor and/or mystery into a SciFi or Fantasy, then lead me to the cash register. I think it’s apt to call it a trend, or better yet a growing trend, since cross-genre stories have been around for quite some time. I immediately think of Isaac Asimov’s Robot Trilogy which featured a human detective learning to work with a robot partner – classic SciFi reflecting on human societal structures. I mentioned Christopher Moore earlier. He can take a mythology, shake it upside down and have you laughing all the way through.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

I had a cat I named Merlin when I live in Brooklyn. I wasn’t allowed to have pets in our tiny apartment, and I found him when he was a little less than one month old (his mother was hit by a car). So I fed him and gave him a safe place in our small yard. As he grew, he’d have this habit of vanishing for a day or two only to suddenly show up right behind me, much to my surprise and my friends. One of them remarked, I see he’s done his disappearing act again, and so I started calling him Merlin. Two years after, we moved to a house New Jersey and I was allowed to add him to our family. He still did the vanishing thing, and I had to reassure my parents he’d quietly be back in a couple of days.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Definitely not Westeros, (Easteros or any of the os’s). Way too violent, filthy and oppressive, which is to say, a legitimately and lovingly crafted Medieval world.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

Tough one, but I think I’ll go with Perelandra. CS Lewis’ version of Eden on Venus. If not there, Asimov’s Solaria (The Naked Sun), as I do enjoy solitude and unpopulated spaces.

Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

I’m not a fan of sharing spoilers (at the very least don’t make it the headline). However, there is an unknown point when you wonder, is it okay for me to discuss details now? I personally avoid writing them whenever possible, which means I have to spend more time constructing a review that can provide enough information without giving away key elements.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

I wouldn’t want to restrict it to series. One substantial book could make a decent season or even two (e.g. The Handmaid’s Tale). Although in the opposite direction, they squeezed the Earthsea books down into one animation. A good animation, but I wasn’t happy. I would have voted for that. It goes without saying “if done correctly”, but I would love to see Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, or even better, Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber. By the way, I heard rumor that his Lord of Light has been optioned.

Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

Ooh. The problem with good series is that they don’t often age well during their run. My mind first jumped to Lost, but then I thought, “Well, maybe the first season.”  So then, let’s go with Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, but with an ending that isn’t rushed by sideswiping notice of cancellation.

Bonus Questions

What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

There are two predominant ways ideas come to mind. The first is, I start with a broad concept which will bounce around in my brain for days without details. If enough bits of ideas (notably, plot elements) attach to it, I start to think about it more carefully. For instance, the other day I was thinking, “The most popular superhero stories are in an illustrated format: comic books, graphic novels. I wonder what it would be like to write a straight-up superhero novel.” I know there are quite a number out there, so if I also think of an interesting hook for it, I’m going to put it on my “to write” list. The currently book I’m writing falls into this category. I was thinking about one of my favorite Greek Myths and realized it hasn’t, to my knowledge, been done true to the original tale. I then considered if I could write it as a comedy as well, and off I went.

The second way ideas come about, strangely enough, is a bit of dialog pops into my head. Sometimes it’s a few humorous lines, others a discussion on a deep topic (My Dinner with Atilla the Hun?). I then start to think about the characters and circumstances surrounding this, which leads me to explore those characters more. If I like the complexity of characters (a.k.a. dolls, action-figures) I’m developing, I begin to consider setting and potential plots. It’s definitely a bottom-up process, and is the way I wrote my first book.

Gif description: black and white image of a lightbulb turning on. Black lines appear around it to symbolize the light.

 

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

They know better. It’s their story, so who am I to argue.  Kidding aside, I feel when this happens, it’s your subconscious mind making connections and play-acting on a nonverbal (right-brain?) level, that percolates up to your conscious mind where you realize it does make more sense to go that route.

What is your favourite trope?

The anti-hero. More specifically, the Trickster archetype. Give me a golden-age Bugs Bunny cartoon any day. I’m drawn to Tricksters and love writing their dialog. The best thing, plot-wise, is that they can cause change like the gentle puff of air on a house of cards, or with all the subtlety of a boulder dropped into a koi pond.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

The twist for the sake of a twist. If I’m going to kill off a main character, or a beloved side character, it had better be for a good reason from a storytelling point of view; not as a cheap ploy to shock (yank) the reader. I think Ned Stark in Game of Thrones is a good example of the former. He’s put in the foreground as a main character, but his death both causes a chain of critical events and moves other characters to the foreground.

About Richard

Richard L Pastore is the author of the comedy-fantasy, The Devil and the Wolf (available on Amazon). His newest project is tentatively titled: Perseus Kills His Grandfather.

Born in Brooklyn New York on a sweltering summer’s day. Richard studied Cognitive Psychology in grad school, which led to a career in User Interface Design. He later switched careers to become a Business Analyst. Although having traveled across the U.S. quite a bit, he feels most at home along the eastern shore of these United States, currently residing in New Jersey.

Be forewarned, should you choose to engage him in a conversation regarding anything food-related – whether it be the history of, growing of, or cooking of – he won’t shut up.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favorite Things to Do in the Summer

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I’ve been looking forward to this prompt for ages! I can’t wait to get to know all of you a little better.

While spring is my favourite season in Toronto, the wonderful thing about summer here is how many different types of events are scheduled during it. I’m frugal and minimalistic, so everything I’ll mention in this post is either free or inexpensive.

Concerts. Pop and R&B have been my favourite types of music since childhood, but I can find something likeable about many other genres, too. Toronto has many free or low-cost concerts every summer that I enjoy checking out. There is nothing like listening to a singer or band perform on a warm day. You might even catch me dancing a little bit if no one is glancing in my direction!

Parks. As you’ve all heard in previous Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge posts, I enjoy the outdoors. Walking, trying to identify plants, playing badminton, snapping photographs, and visiting the zoo are some of the many things I’d enjoy at the park. If my husband agrees, maybe we’ll even have a picnic in the park before it gets too hot outside.

Beaches. I need to be mindful of how much sunlight I’m exposed to for medical reasons, but I still love going to the beach on occasion.  There’s nothing like building a sandcastle, going swimming, or even simply strolling down a boardwalk and doing some friendly people watching there.

Parades and Festivals. This is the time of year when Toronto has a parade or festival for almost anything you can imagine: race/ethnicity/cultural celebrations from every corner of the globe, jazz (among many other types of music), eco-friendly lifestyles, the LGBT+ community, the vegan/vegetarian community, and more. I don’t necessarily attend the same events every summer, but I do like to pick a few different things to check out depending on the weather and how much time I’ve spent in the sun lately. It’s delightful to be surrounded by so many happy people who share some sort of common experience or label.

Museums. Call me Hermione Granger, but learning is always my idea of a good time. Whether it’s art, science, history, or another topic entirely, there is definitely something to be said for spending a few hours in a nice, air-conditioned museum on a muggy day.

Volunteering. I recently began volunteering at a few new places, and I’m thrilled to help those organizations out. Summer seems like a great time of year to do this in general since so many volunteers tend to go on vacations then. Taking breaks is important and necessary, but it also means that many non-profit groups are looking for more folks to fill in the gaps in their schedules now.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.