Month in Review: November

November 2018

Busy month with some time off, but sadly did not produce the word count like I wanted, unlike all the Novel Writers out there for this month. I did get a lot of headway into the plot to make next month more easy sailing and hope with my class soon ending to see more.

Books Read

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First up, an audio book, Looking for Calvin and Hobbes. I chose this because I was a big fan, like many. While right away the author explains how much a recluse Watterson is and how he eschewed the public at all costs, the likelihood of an interview with him would probably not cross this book didn’t damper my expectations. What was really thrilling was the detailed account of why he was this way and his personal attack against an unknown corner of the marketing and creative world that resounds very much like the book-publishing world. Fun and wistful.

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Then I gleefully traipsed into Natural Born Heroes, the follow up to Born to Run. Although it came with the same narrative sense of a novel like its predecessor, the threads he wove this time were a bit tangled and slow moving. I enjoyed all the research the author did about various odd balls in the world of fitness and healthy eating, and just like Born to Run, have changed my lifestyle because of it. So although not the ‘wow’ book like before, it is definitely interesting in many aspects.

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Finding a YA book at my local library, I decided to read We Are Okay. It starts out light and has a nice flow as well as writing style, but quickly it gets to be the normal, everything-has-meaning-and-is-greater-than-it-really-is that all YA books assume. Along with that common peccadillo, the plot was barely there and for the hell of it they tossed in some lesbianism for—well—why the fuck not. YA—what can I say?

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Desiring something uplifting, I read the Bill Gates backed Factfulness. Toted as the book for clear thinking in the modern world, I had high hopes for this book, which may be why it didn’t exactly hit the mark I was hoping. Still, nonetheless, it was a shockingly concise and good book, one in the vein of Rational Optimist—a book I can never recommend enough. Both parade the idea of looking to the future with hope, which I like, but the fact that the author sits staunchly in his belief of global warming did offset me a bit. Overall, good

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Then I tackled another library book Evicted. I particularly wanted to see what it was about as it took place in Milwaukee, a city I resided in for nearly three years. True, the neighborhoods it describes are none of the ones I sauntered through, still the environment was not entirely foreign to me, and a lot of the landmarks, streets, and buildings hit home. Along with amazing research and an unbiased view, I loved what this author did to show the faulty way or renting and homing sector of America now works, and how it needs a major overhaul.

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Another fast listen was The Girl with the Back Tattoo. It’s Amy Schumer’s book about stories in her life and her rise to fame. I didn’t know she was on Last Comic Standing, which was interesting. And of course, her ideas and beliefs are riddled throughout the book, sometimes abrasively so. Her humor was fun, but not the out loud type, and at the end of it, I found it loosely redolent of Olivia Munn’s narration in both voice, cadence, and expression. It really makes me wonder if most modern American women have coalesced into similar sounding automatons. I hope not.

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This next one, with all the hype surrounding it, really had me going, at least for the first 100 pages. The Three Body Problem petered out after that. The beginning had strong characterization, conflicting plot that revealed so much in the actors, and strong science that could be extrapolated to our own world. And then it sank into your normal run of the mill Aliens take over the world, traveling at light speed, other planets have problems too sort of book. I will not be reading the follow up, nor am I that enthusiastic for the possible Amazon series if they ever get the rights from China.

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After my boss in Chicago told me about it, I found this one in the bargain bin on the internet and decided to give it a try. Ella Minnow Pea (LMNOP) has a basic premise and follows it pretty straight. I loved the language, and anyone who loves good vocabulary and word play with get a kick out of it, but the overall reasoning for the slow loss of letters here is ludicrous. The idea that languages naturally change and lose letters is much better done in ‘A Void,’ and comes of with much more intellectual sparkle than this did. Supposedly it got itself a little bit of notice when it came out, so good for it.

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My last listen this month was Leah Rimini’s Troublemaker. This was one hundred percent not in the normal voice of current America girls if anyone’s ever heard her speak. I loved how it melded both her rising career which really painted her as nothing more than a normal everyday person, and mixed that with the introduction of Scientology to her life, showing it infiltrate everything and how she didn’t exactly fit even way at the beginning. I’m a sucker for this strange religion and its obvious cult like aspects, or at least those that pertain to the monolith that is paraded around with Tom Cruise as its figurehead. Those guys are crazy.

Progress on 2018 goals

1) Finish Brief Lives / Query / Synopsis: Done / 2 letters / halfway: Done

2) Chewy Noh (graphic novel): Done (with outline)

3) Student workbook: Done

4) Spring Reading:

                  J.R.: Done!!!

                  Quixote: 750 pages (close to finishing!)

5) Read 125 books: 126—over my total!

6) American Snowflakes: 80,000 words done—sad, I wanted more!

Next Month’s Agenda

I want to toss down enough words to hit 100,000 on my new project and maybe start another workbook for my students. My book count will probably die somewhere in the 130’s before the start of the new year. With that I hope to get this book done. My next one’s already boring a hole through my head to be written.

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