A Hot Mess of Hot Takes

Even though I haven't blogged regularly in a year or two, I still keep a running list of blog post ideas in OmniFocus—in the hopes that I can shame myself into writing, maybe? (I'm sorry, Brené Brown.) Some of the ideas will require many weeks of thoughtful drafting and editing to do them justice, some have long since expired and will never see the light of day, and a few are just hot takes that I will now share with reckless abandon.

  • Audiobooks are not the same as traditional books. If you love audiobooks, rock on. I have no beef with you or your audiobooks. But to say that the two things are interchangeable is a lie. I pick up so many new words by seeing them spelled out in written text, and (here is the heart of the issue) half of the fun of reading a good book for me is seeing and appreciating the punctuation. I would miss all of that with audiobooks, so as long as I have my eyesight, I will be banning all audiobooks from my library.
  • Surviving a bitter winter will make you a better person. I have a loosely developed theory that cities like San Francisco and Portland are filthy because the weather is too moderate. In Chicago, you cannot leave your mounds of dirty man-child laundry all over the damn street because Winter Is Coming™. You cannot live under a bridge forever and call it "art" or "the next start-up" because Winter Is Coming™. You have to sort your shit out at least by September every year if you are going to survive, and the result is a community of fierce—albeit slightly insane—people who have a much firmer grasp on reality (and who get to live in a clean city).
  • Self-driving cars should be focused exclusively on elderly and special needs people first. To think that able-bodied individuals will cede control to a robot without question is naïve. But if you offered my blind but independent grandmother a way to get out of the house again, she would bake you cinnamon rolls every day for the rest of your life. She's 91 years old but stubborn enough to outlive you to fulfill that promise. And the same could be said for the millions of people who are perfectly capable of navigating their everyday lives but who cannot drive due to (short-term or long-term) physical, mental, or emotional limitations.
  • Tickling is a form of torture. I had many recurring nightmares as a child, and one of them was a dream about the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, who would sneak into my bedroom and tickle me with very long fingernails until I couldn't breathe. I would wake up in a panic—sweating and screaming—which should tell you how much I hated it. (My mom eventually recommended pouring water on the witch to melt her the next time I had the dream. I did, and I never had the dream again. Thanks, Mom.)
  • People who do gross shit on airplanes should be put in sky jail. A year ago, I was on a flight back from San Francisco to Chicago. There were six seats in a row, three on either side of the aisle. The two seats closest to me were empty, but after the flight took off, a woman from across the aisle moved over and settled in. By "settled in," I mean that she took off her shoes and her socks and put her bare feet on the seat between us and then proceeded to scratch her feet and legs for two full hours—dead skin flying in every direction—while I gave her every glare and horrified, angry, murderous nonverbal signal in the book. Every single part of that is an actual crime, and I want her to pay for her crimes.

Skirts with Pockets

Welcome to Skirts with Pockets, a weekly collection of the online articles, websites, and other links that I've loved and now want to share with you. Please excuse any stray candy wrappers that fall to the ground as I empty my virtual pockets.

Daring Fireball | The Deck, Adieu

Some of my favorite sites of the last decade were supported by ads from The Deck, and I always thought well of both sides of that partnership—the authors for choosing a classy ad platform and the ad platform for being classy. It was nice to hear that so many authors valued that partnership, as well.

See One, Do One, Teach One

I subscribe to Paul's email newsletter (from two different email accounts! and I don't even mind!), and while he always has interesting stuff to share, this particular piece really stuck with me. I get stuck in the "see one" phase a lot and am too scared to "do one" and definitely not brave enough to "teach one." (In fact, I've been trying to come up with an online class or ebook I could offer to make some extra money, and I keep telling myself I don't have anything to teach.) As always, I am grateful for the reminder to do more—more succeeding and more failing.

John Coltrane Draws a Picture Illustrating the Mathematics of Music

I found joy in doing ratios with my dad long before I learned to appreciate piano lessons, but I've always loved math and music fiercely—and the fact that the two are linked.

How Poverty Changes the Brain

There is no way I can relate to someone who grew up in poverty, but I do relate to getting overwhelmed by stress and anxiety to the point where I cannot rationally break down big problems into manageable steps. Working on it. But I'm fascinated (and delighted) to learn that people are studying this phenomenon and hoping to help break the cycle of generational poverty using science.

Ethan Marcotte | Device Intervention

Until I moved to rural Tennessee, I had never experienced really bad Internet connections on a long-term basis. Do you know how fun it is to watch every frame of every animated GIF load on Twitter or Tumblr? It is zero fun. Think of me and my fellow cave trolls next time you build a site entirely out of video backgrounds and gigantic parallax images and bloated WordPress plug-ins.

Vintage Illustrations for Tolkien's The Hobbit from Around the World

This. This. This. More of this.

2017 Book Reviews

For the most part, I have given up on New Year's resolutions and have come to accept the fact that it doesn't help anyone if I get in the habit of lying to myself every December. But some primal part of me cannot let go of the idea that I want to read more books in the coming year, so I always set my Goodreads goal way too high. Do I have time to read fifty books in a year? Absolutely. Do I put off reading in favor of Netflix or podcasts or Stardew Valley instead? Absolutely.

Anyway, it does not surprise me at all that I am behind on my goal, but I am pleasantly surprised to have have finished ten books before May. In celebration, I decided to do a quick review of what I've read so far.

(I've included Amazon affiliate links to each review because I'm saving up for a couch the dumbest way possible. However, none of the reviews are sponsored in any way. I got these books from the library because I wanted to read them.)

Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter: Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time

by Erin Rooney Doland

Maybe I would've liked a physical, printed version of this book better, but the Kindle version just didn't work for me. The formatting is weird, there are numerous references to page numbers from the print edition that don't match up in the digital one, and most of the book is a giant checklist that cannot be marked up electronically. I did manage to pick up several tips and ideas for organizing and uncluttering, but I still feel like Marie Kondo's book was much more effective in terms of inspiring lifelong change.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


by Rainbow Rowell

Yes, there are three Rainbow Rowell titles in this list. Her books are recommended all the time by people whose opinions I trust on these things. This particular book was a bit of a flop for me, though. I liked the plot well enough (wibbly wobbly time travel!) but just didn't really like the characters. Or maybe I just wasn't in the mood to read about someone else's complicated family dynamics. Either way, not my fave Rowell book.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

The Nest

by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Loved the storytelling, loved the plot (at least in concept), spent most of the book wanting to strangle every character except maybe Bea. The characters were written well, but at the time, I was using up all of my energy being patient with my own family and really didn't enjoy needing to extend more patience to fictional humans.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


by Rainbow Rowell

I was glad that I read Carry On first because I felt like I knew the "story within the story." Even without that, though, this was a cute and lighthearted story that I absolutely devoured. (And no, I have never written fanfic about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I never plan to. Sorry!) Someone else has described Rainbow Rowell's stories as "comfort food in book form," and that's exactly how I felt about this book.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Adulthood Is a Myth

by Sarah Andersen

Sarah Andersen perfectly captures the humor in the craziness of adulthood and its many uncomfortable moments, and I'm so glad I get to read her comics over and over in this book. If you struggle with social anxiety, PMS, procrastination, women's clothing sizing, dating, making friends as an adult, or really just being an adult, you will find something to enjoy in this collection.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Power of Habit

by Charles Duhigg

Pretty sure I'm going to purchase this book, so I can read it again later (and reference some highlighted sections regularly). I thought this was going to be a surface-level inspirational book about habits, but it really dug into the science and study of how memories work, how habits are developed, how we can overwrite bad habits with good ones, and so forth. Of course, it was still very inspiring (yo, check out these semi-regular blog posts and my new habit of meal planning), and as a bonus, I got to misread "habit" as "Hobbit" like a thousand times.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

When I first started reading this book, I thought, "Oh no, the girl named Rachel is the one who makes up stories about people she sees every day. I do the same thing. WHY." (And then I blogged about that.) But as the story progressed, I found myself way less worried about being like the fictional Rachel and way more engrossed with the tangled mess created by all of the horrifying-in-a-good-way narrators. It is not the kind of book I pick up normally, but I'm glad I did. The story stuck with me for weeks after I finished reading the last chapter.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Sun Is Also a Star

by Nicola Yoon

I read this shortly after finishing The Girl on the Train, and I was nervous to experience another story told by many, many narrators. However, this book was charming, the choice of narrators was often unexpected and refreshing, and I stayed up way too late to finish it in one night. I could not put it down.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari

First of all, I had no idea what to expect when I started this book. I assumed it'd be another "here's how I got into comedy, but also enjoy some funny stories about me and my friends!" book, but it is absolutely not that. It's a well-researched look at how texting, emailing, social media, and the Internet as a whole have changed relationships and dating and marriage. (My boyfriend and I met on Twitter, so I was not at all disappointed by this surprise.) Aziz's humor really keeps the book alive, but it still fell short for me in a few places and failed to win me over as a whole.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


by Rainbow Rowell

I had to laugh that I started reading this book at work while I had nothing to do, and a few chapters in, the main character complained about being paid to do nothing at his job (and explaining how exhausting that can be). Bro, I hear you. Also, I couldn't put this book down. The story perfectly summed up the struggles of moving out of a parents' house in your late twenties, trying to shake off the ghost of early college break-ups, making friends after college, and falling in love in a very unconventional way. Cutest story, sweetest characters, will definitely read this again.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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