Archive | January, 2019

2018 In Books, Books, Books

21 Jan

In 2018 I saw the Red Sox win the World Series. Like I was in Dodger Stadium standing next to Rob, Mr. Boston Sports Guy when it happened.

It was a moment.

I never wrote about it, though. That moment.

I never wrote about a lot of 2018.

But here we go. I’m going to try to write this one.

BOOKS.

Books and 2018.

 

My favorite series

Books that swept me up, made me feel things, made me believe in reading second chances:

The To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

The book I recommend constantly that absolutely everyone I’ve given it to loves:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

(No really, read it if you haven’t)

The nonfiction book I tell everyone about because it reads like a juicy page-turning thriller and we can talk about it for months on end:

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

If you love romance

My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan (my favorite romance novel this year)

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Shonda is turning this into at television series for Netflix! It follows eight siblings as they each fall in love. The tagline says it all: Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?

Also! The author is starting a podcast with my very favorite feminist podcaster from Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It’s all about the joy of romance novels and called Hot and Bothered.

My favorite children’s book:

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

My favorite memoir:

Educated by Tara Brach, really because it led to so much further discussion and thought.

Fiction:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (the author of A Man Called Ove.) (I put myself on hold for the second book in this series, which is actually pretty rare for me.)

This is how it always is by Laurie Frankel 

A visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Power by Naomi Alderman

 

Beach Reads

The book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

 

Nonfiction

In Conclusion, don’t worry about it by Lauren Graham (Lauren Graham’s graduation speech. I’ve reread it a few times.)

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

 

Children’s Books

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

The adventures of a girl called bicycle by Christina Uss

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

 

Young Adult

A very large expanse of sea by Taherah Mafi

One of us is lying by Karen M. McManus

 

Fantasy/Sci Fi (I know these two are different, but I just don’t read enough of them to really separate them out)

Into the drowning deep by Mira Grant

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

 

Graphic novels

Chi’s sweet home by Kanata Konami

A children’s graphic novel from the perspective of a cat. I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed this before this year, but now I couldn’t help but think of Dolly. Couldn’t help but meep meep.

 

Thrillers:

Listen, I’m just listing all the thrillers I read this year. It just so happened every one I read this year I enjoyed. None of them changed my life, but that’s not really what I’m looking for with a thriller:

Then she was gone by Lisa Jewell

The last time I lied by Riley Sager

The secrets she keeps by Michael Robotham

The wife between us by Greer Hendricks

 

Memoir:

The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks

We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby (Do the audiobook version! It was such a treat.)

Real American by Julie Lythcott-Haims

And now we have everything by Meaghan O’Connell

Flunking sainthood by Jana Reiss (I’m now a huge, huge Jana Reiss fan. Jana to write everything about Mormonism, please.)

Make Something Good Today by Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV’s Hometown

This was a surprisingly poignant read for me, it went far beyond “Oh I like their TV show let’s see behind the scenes!”

Take this quote, for instance:

It might look as if those of us from small towns who move back home are mkaing a safe bet or no bet at all. But I disagree: it takes effort to rediscover what you think you already know, and that’s an unsung bravery at work. We may find nothing. Or, if we shift our perspectives, we allow for the possibility that life can crack open with wonder and we can find magic in the familiar.

 

Spirituality

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by the one and only Anne Lamott

Walking on water: reflections on faith and art by Madeleine L’Engle

Radical acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of the Buddha by Tara Brach (she also has a great podcast)

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little pep talks for me & you by Lin Manuel Miranda

(I didn’t know what to put this under, but I read and approached this book like I do other spirirtual books. The reading of it became a spiritual practice for me.)

Tattoos on the heart: the power of boundless compassion by Gregory Boyle

Here We Are In 2019

10 Jan

Image

In 2019 I want to get into making salads. The big, hearty kind full of nutrients and wild rice, sunflower seeds and nuts.

I want to draw more.

I want to speak up and ask for what I need.

I want to record what makes me happy.

I want to record what makes me unhappy.

This feels like a life-changer?

This feels like why haven’t I always been doing it?

In 2019 I want to start a morning routine, one that does not begin and end with social media.

I want to use social media intentionally, in general.

I want to live intentionally, in general.

In 2019 I want to finish writing my book.

That one. The one I’ve been playing with for three years, the one I gave a real go at last year before realizing, oh those are some big problems.

In 2019 what I’d really, really like to do most is finish writing my book.

Creativity + The End of Rookie

5 Jan

Image via Rookie, of course

 

Rookie closed down last year.

Rookie as in Tavi Gevinson’s creative project. Rookie as in “look, art can exist on the internet!”

It’s a sad time for the internet.

For me.

I read Tavi’s final letter in its entirety the morning she published it. All six pages. I’ve always loved her words, her insight, her honesty. How is she 22?

Rob asked me if she was a genius and I stopped for a second.

Yeah, I said. I guess she is.

Man Repeller analyzed the ending of Rookie in its typical cerebral way.

I appreciate it and I also wonder who talks like that.

I’m surrounded by intelligent, thoughtful people!

This is another level.

My takeaway from the analysis was that Leandra (the founder of Man Repeller) derives pleasure from the internet game.

She gets that it’s a game, and yet, at her core she wants to make the game meaningful.

She doesn’t give it all up and just sell products to her followers. She wants to create community. To take what could be clickbait and make it human.

She says:

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if there was no Man Repeller, and in many ways it would be much easier, and in the short term probably more financially lucrative because I’d have more time to earn those influencer dollarz.

But what enables me to get out of bed every morning and say bye to my kids is this deep-rooted recognition that as our lives become more digitized and further isolating, and as my heart breaks over and over again watching things that I don’t care about anymore — like fluctuating traffic or a diminishing interest in “time on site,” I actually have the power to fix it by pushing our work forward. Truly connecting people. Inspiring them. Making them feel good and hopeful in a world that is largely driven by fear — fear of being irrelevant, uncool, alone.

It’s an admirable cause and I salute her.

And yet.

I am Tavi.

At the end of it all, Tavi saw Rookie as her art project. She didn’t want to play the game, and the internet requires you play the game.

I don’t want to play the game.

I get stressed out sometimes thinking I should want to play the game! Wondering if I should worry about followers or boosting or clicks. How to convert it all into something.

But I hate the game.

I’ve tried to play it and I’m terrible at it.

The game is all stress and pressure to me.

The game is no fun.

There’s a part in Big Magic where Elizabeth Gilbert talks about a woman who takes up ice skating in her middle age, not because she’s ever going to be a professional ice skater, but because it brings her joy.

There’s this strange thing that happens when you’ve pursued a creative path for your career.

That suddenly the only “success,” the only thing that counts is if you become a professional.

This becomes your full-time job.

The success of skating in your middle age just because is lost.

That’s been my big takeaway from the Great Therapy Writing Challenge.

I’ve been writing every day just because. Not to try to propel a goal, but writing as some people go to the gym. For my brain.

And as I’ve done so, my whole life has been filled with creativity.

I am making homemade cards for Christmas. Cards with individualized drawings and vintage stamps.

I did Gilmore Girls Week on Mormons in Media, a true delight.

I am spinning and buzzing and excited and it’s all because creativity, that’s what counts to me.

This is all my arts and crafts project.

I LIVE for an arts and crafts project.

I want my life to be one big, messy, delicious one.

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert recently. In the program for her talk, there’s a little message from the author.

I think it about sums it all up.

Or something close to all of it.

She says:

Sometimes I wonder why I care so much. What does it matter to me if people are making art or not? Who cares whether anyone out there is writing novels, or learning new languages, or dancing or singing or growing or transforming?

Well, in the end, I think it comes down to this: we appear to be living in a universe that is constantly creating and recreating itself. The evidence for this is literally everywhere. Nature is always changing from one form to another. All you need to do is look in a telescope and you can see galaxies being born. Look in a microscope and you’ll see bacteria evolving and adapting right before your eyes.

The whole thing reeks of a giant cosmic arts-and-crafts project — an infinite, ever-unfolding experient in constant creative response. It appears to me that energy only wants one thing: to create. And you, of course, are made of energy. So start creating! Because once you start creating, you will step into alignment with the direction that the entire universe is heading. You will be in the flow of life itself. And that will make you happy. That will make you healthy. That will make you beong.

That’s why creativity matters so much to me–because i want a healthy belonging for myself, and I want it for you too.

I was talking to a friend recently about all of this.

About Tavi and Leandra and Elizabeth.

About creativity and the internet.

She asked me where this left me. This knowledge that I’m a Tavi. That I don’t want to play the game. The internet game. 

I said:

I think that leaves me here.

PS: Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness taking up figure skating for the pure joy and drama of it is so very, very Big Magic