Tally Monday- September 29, 2014

Checked Out

  1. Retreat by Joss Whedon
  2. Empty Mansions by Paul Dedman and Clark Rewell
  3. Fire Game by R.L. Stine
  4. Secret Bedroom by R.L. Stine
  5. Ski Weekend by R.L. Stine
  6. Lights Out by R.L. Stine
  7. Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
  8. Practical Classics by Kevin Smokler


  1. Howard’s End by E.M. Foster
  2. The Hard Way on Purpose by David Giffels
  3. The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
  4. Big Fish by Daniel Wallace


  1. A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir
  2. Retreat by Joss Whedon
  3. Twilight by Joss Whedon
  4. Ariel by Sylvia Plath



See that?  That’s how a Tally Monday should look!  Only, maybe it should have more reading on it and less TBR.  I’ve never been very good at math.

This week I have been suffering afresh from my book fever.  It seems to be something that happens around this time every year.  Last year I wrote in my journal that “I am surrounded by my piles of books to read and projects to do, surrounded by the piles that are my mess of a life.”  Wow.  Downer, right?  And it’s still true today.  I mean, I definitely feel like a mess and while my piles of books may not be the actual cause of that it certainly doesn’t help.  I feel pulled in every direction.  Does this happen to normal readers?

So, this week I will take a look at my stack again and see what needs to go and do some reorganization.  It’s time to streamline.  It’s also time to nip my spending in the bud, get healthier, and write some good shit.  Fall was always the time I year when I felt the most alive.  Best to start this kick off of clean with some Fear Street, right?  I mean, tis the season.

I am looking forward to October and everything that I have planned.  Next Monday starts the Twain Challenge!


Drunken Rachael Rant Time

So, I’ve seen this post going around on FB about “Daily Problems Women Face that Men Don’t Know About.”  Or some shit.


Lets worth through these.

1.  Totally legit.  I think about my safety all of the time.  It’s bullshit that we have to.  Bull.  Shit.

2. Why do you have white sheets?  Why do you not have an idea of when your period is?  My sheets are brown.  Before this?  Hot pink.  Before that?  Black.  Who has white sheets??

3.  Why not paint your nails before you shower?  Or, maybe you should take the time to clean that shit up.  Maybe you shouldn’t even paint your nails.  Nobody will notice.

4.  Boobs make things uncomfortable but I would rather have them than not have them.

5.  How much make up are you wearing??

6.  You know what fixes that?  Birth control.

7.  When I cut myself shaving, it’s rarely my knee.  Is that weird?  Just SLOW DOWN.

8.  Eff it.  I mean, I work with a lot of women.  I’m pretty sure they know when I’m on my period.  Take your purse.  Or just carry that pad loud and proud.

9.  Eff it.  Again.  Seriously.  Let a guy say I’m a tease.  It’s my choice what I do and don’t do, just like it’s his choice what he does and doesn’t do.  My gender should not make me feel bad about making the best choice for me.  Live and let live and if someone has something to say they can kiss my ass.

10.  Again, you care way too much what people think.  I do what I think is best in any given situation.  It’s called getting shit done and someone has to do it.

11.  Two words: Resting bitchface.  Also, again,  you care way too much.

12.  You don’t have to have eyeliner wings.  That’s a personal choice.

13.  Um, maybe it’s the birth control but I know when my period starts.  Are there seriously women walking around thinking that every gas pain is a period?

14.  You know what I do?  I use Hubby’s razor to shave my mustache.

15.  I seriously just never deal with this.  There is a guy who comes into work, a professional, who always compliments my legs.  I thank him and move on.  It never comes up again.  If someone is too complimentary, I ignore them.  It’s not worth my time.  I try to never put myself in a position where this is a problem but I also recognize that it is as legit as #1.  Some men can be pigs.

On Rereading Sylvia Plath’s Ariel

Ariel was my adult book.

When I was 14 there was an outlet bookstore that I used to go to.  It had all of those Children’s Illustrated Classics and I had pretty well stocked up on, but never read, those the two years before.  When I entered high school I decided that I was time to broaden my horizons.  Since I was furiously writing really bad poetry at the time and had begun to explore the depths of it in the local library, I went straight for the poetry section.  There were masses of thin volumes marked for $1.99 to $5.99 and for some reason I selected the plain white Ariel.  Perhaps I chose it because it was written by a woman.  Perhaps I chose it because subconsciously I remembered listening the recording of Plath reading “Daddy” on my cd-rom interactive encyclopedia.  Whatever the reason, I bought it and I started reading it and I felt like an adult.

That Monday I strolled into school with my sleek, slim book of poetry.  I tucked it under my arm, on top of my books, so that everybody could see.  In class it sat on the right hand corner of my desk, where I always put whatever I was reading the teachers never said a word.  Not that day.  That day my English teacher, a super nice woman whose name I cannot even remember now because the other two teachers I had for high school English shaped the shit out of me, asked me if I was reading Plath.

“Yes, I am,” I said proudly.  Somebody had noticed.

The teacher went on to tell me how much she loved Plath and how she read The Bell Jar when she was my age and it changed her life.  Needless to say, I bought The Bell Jar soon after.  And it changed my life.


Diversity and Snobbery

I recently listened to a podcast about diversity in reading that really got me thinking about some stuff.  In case you missed it, this summer there was a huge push to make people think more about diversity in books, this after Bookcon’s original author panels appeared to be about 95% white males.  The interweb exploded with people cheering on diverse books and pushing for more diversity in publishing.  It was one of those wonderful moments when book people came together to make a better world.


I recently heard a gentleman talking about reading books that have been translated and he said that he enjoys reading books that are not necessarily translated for smooth reading.  He likes the original language to insert itself “because otherwise you are just reading a good book.”

What?  Wait a minute!

I am so for reading books by people other than white males but I also happen to love a number of white male authors.  I like to think that I read books because they sound like something I would enjoy.  I don’t pay attention to the author’s name, gender, race when I choose a book.  Isn’t reading supposed to be about enjoying the story?  In my most recent life, I want nothing more than to be carried away into someone else’s life and someone else’s problems.  I don’t choose my books to be diverse as much as I don’t chose them to not be diverse.  Does that make sense?

On the other hand, I had to ask myself if there was ever a time when I let race be the reason I didn’t read a book.  I have a confession:  I have totally done that.  In all fairness, it had nothing to do with race itself.  It had more to do with the market being flooded with books about, say, China.  After a while I felt like, “Well, just another book about China.”  It’s really the same as, “Just another dystopian YA.”  In recent months I have found China coming up on my list of books to read again but for a while I was just a little sick of the subject.

Does this make me guilty of prejudice?  I don’t think any more than any other reader.

Another thing, I don’t think that I know anyone who actually holds their monocle up and says through their twisted little mustaches, “I only read books by Caucasian males.  Har har.  Hand me the brandy, chap!”  I don’t like to hear the word “shame” associated with reading.  NO.  STOP.  Shaming people for reading what they like is what we’re supposed to be fighting against!  If you are honestly reading what grabs your attention and enjoying it and don’t want to change, don’t.

It’s a tangled wed, you know.  I want to see the world through so many different eyes and so I try to keep my reading varied.  I read widely.  Could I read wider?  Of course!  We all could!  But, as the family doctor once told me, we could all stand to lose 5 pounds, too.  Your reading life needs to be right for you.  If you want to read nothing but bodice rippers, you go on ahead, honey.  Float that boat!

A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir

“It is useless to try to integrate life and death and to behave rationally in the presence of something that is not rational:  each must manage as well as he can in the tumult of his feelings.”

Oh boy, de Beauvoir.  Oh boy.  Isn’t that the truth?

I had no idea the subject matter when I ordered this book and I had no idea how the weeks following placing that order would go.  It was kind of nice, you know, to read another person’s experience with the death of a parent.  It was nice to see what goes through their mind, the regrets and tenderness and despair.

When Simone’s mother fell, they expected nothing more than a broken femur.  What they found instead was cancer and an inevitable death.  In the weeks leading up to the end, Simone and her sister spend their days at their mother’s side and Simone has time to consider their relationship and her mother’s life.  For me the most honest part was the end, after her mother’s death, when she talks about the silly things they feel they must hold onto and the surprising intensity of feeling.

“All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation.”

Tally Monday- September 22, 2014

Checked Out

  1. The Celts by Barry Cunliffe
  2. Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by Alice Munro
  3. Wonder Woman: Blood by Brian Azzarello


  1. Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald


  1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  2. Wonder Woman: Blood by Brian Azzarello
  3. Anthem by Ayn Rand

TBR: 29

Did I tell you guys that I am right on track with my reading for the year?  That’s right.  If I keep this up I will hit my goal of 100.  I don’t know that I’ve ever kept on track like this before.  Now, I have read a lot of graphic novels and a lot of short books and some Captain Underpants but I don’t have to defend my reading to anyone.  So nah!

I am currently reading A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir.  This is one of those random occurrences in my reading life that makes it so sacred to me.  I was working on a list of short classics that I had stumbled across on a forum.  The original request was for classics that could be read in a day.  Memories of my Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of these.  When I started that one I ordered in the next.  The de Beauvoir came before my vacation and I placed it in what I felt was a reasonable place in the TBR stack and went about my business.  I did not expect to be reading a book about the death of a parent right now.  But I am.  That is how literature works.  Needless to say I had to start it at home yesterday to gauge my emotional reaction.  I am currently working on getting past the “creepy weepies,” those tears that sneak up on you while you are doing something completely random.  I have to keep my lit in check.

Lately I have been suffering from the opposite of last Monday’s problem.  If you recall, my grief made my eyes slide from the page and I couldn’t get absorbed in anything.  This Monday I think that I could get absorbed in anything and, really, I must read everything.  I am in a devouring mood.  I must devour every book, every audio book, and all of the podcasts.  I almost have a reading fever.

Read all of the books!

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Oh, Ayn Rand.  How to handle a book that you go into absolutely reeking of bias?  Here’s my problem with Ayn Rand: Those stupid essay contests for scholarships.  What good does it do to hand a giant book full of some woman’s philosophical theory to a high school student and then ask them to write an essay about it?  It always felt a little bit like brain washing to me.  Still, every year the train of students seeking scholarships rolls into the library and every year I can’t help but roll my eyes.

Needless to say, when I pulled this slip out of my book jar I cringed but was also relieved that it wasn’t one of the longer ones.  In the end it really wasn’t that bad.  I actually kind of enjoyed bits of it.  Plus, it was nice to tear through a book in a day.

Equality 7-2521 lives in a dystopian society where everything is decided by the state and all of life is lived for the state.  Everyone is taught from birth that there is no greater good than living for their brothers.  Equality was an unusually bright boy and the elders saw this.  As a result, Equality is made into a street sweeper when he would prefer to be a scholar.  One day he stumbles across a hidden underground tunnel that he makes into his own study.  There he commits crime after crime.  He spends time alone.  He questions.  He writes.  Soon he even falls in love.  When Equality stumbles across the miracle of electricity, he thinks that he has found his way to being a scholar and that all of his transgressions will be forgotten.  However, that’s just the beginning of his journey.

Of course I had problems with this book.  The first one was Rand’s intro in which she takes the heavy handedness of the story and makes it even heavier.  Honestly, the reader can’t miss the point that is being made so there’s no reason to drill it into her head before she even starts the story.  Second, I was kind of put off by the romance line.  I mean, the woman Equality falls for is described in terms that make her seem hard and cold.  Then Equality says that he knows she will obey him.  Was being an individual and thinking for yourself only meant for him?  It just felt a little off.