2017 Top Books, January-June

My 2016 top books post got very long, and I’m on track to read more this year, so I thought I’d write one post now, about halfway through the year, covering my favorite books of the year up to this point. (Note: many of my comments below draw liberally from my Goodreads reviews.)

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Park Reviews: Kennywood

This was my second trip to Kennywood, but the last one was in May 2005, so it had been a while, to say the very least. They’ve only added one new coaster, Sky Rocket, in the meantime, so that was my top priority.

It’s funny. That’s 2005 trip included a couple of days at Cedar Point and a day at Kennywood. When I went back to Cedar Point last year, it felt like coming home; the layout of the park seemed deeply familiar. I knew the park. I didn’t need a map. That’s not how Kennywood was at all. The coasters were familiar, Phantom’s Revenge in particular, but I remembered nothing about the park itself. (You’d think I’d remember walking through the tunnel under the road, but nope.)

If I were to go back again, I think I would remember it better now, but I still don’t think it’s a place that’s every going to give me the feeling that Cedar Point does, that feeling of slipping into my right and natural place. That’s not a negative to Kennywood, but it’s an interesting contrast.

On to the rides! Continue reading

Reading Challenge Update 2

We’re now halfway through the year, so I thought I’d give another update on my reading challenges. My Goodreads reading goal for the year is 250 books, and I’m at 163, so I’m definitely in good shape there.

Read Harder

I’ve read at least one book for seventeen of the twenty-four categories. For two of those, the only books I’ve read for the category are short-ish, illustrated poetry books. It would be nice to read other books for those two categories.

2017 Diversity Bingo

I’ve read at least one book for twenty-eight of the thirty-six categories. If you include memoir as satisfying an own-voices requirement, then I get twenty-nine. I do have to double count in one instance to get all of those, though; I’m currently satisfying “West Asia setting” and “Non-western real world setting” with a single book. I even have two lines of bingo now! 😛

Queer 52

I’d read four books on this list previously, so I’ve added four to it to get back up to 52. Those four are Corinne Duyvis’s Otherbound, Riley Redgate’s Noteworthy, Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence, and Jaye Robin Brown’s Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruits. 

So far, I’ve read Otherbound, NoteworthyRadio Silence, and twenty-two books from the main list. That means I’m at twenty-five books out of fifty-two, so I’m only about a book behind! That’s a huge improvement over the last update, when I’d only read eight out of fifty-two. I’ve read a bunch from the library, but there are still nine or ten more books on the list that I can get from Overdrive without having to request it myself, so I’m in good shape.

Reading What’s Currently On My Kindle

When I started paying attention to this, I had 75 unread books in English on my Kindle. I now have 83. I’ve read 19 books on my Kindle in the meantime. (I’ve been doing a lot of Overdrive reading recently.) Yeah. Umm. Did I mention that I acquire ebooks at a mildly alarming rate? Right.

Ramadan Readathon

The idea behind Ramadan Readathon was to read books by Muslim authors during Ramadan. I read Thorn by Intisar Khanani, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan, and Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan. I also read It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel and Rooftops of Tehran, which might or might not really count.

United Methodist Women Reading Program

I’ve still only read one book on the list. My goal was ten, at least two from each category. This… might not happen.

Reading for Pride

Happy Pride Month, y’all! I thought I would share some resources for finding queer books as well as highlighting a few recent queer books that I’ve enjoyed.

I had originally planned to post something like this on Facebook, but I’m still a little nervous about being out as demisexual and (probably) gray-romantic there. I also worried that parts of this would come off as too promotional. So I’m writing it as a post here instead.

Without further ado, here are the lists (below the fold)! Continue reading

School Updates

I’ve been relatively quiet recently, and that’s mostly because my qualifying exams were a couple of weeks ago. My program is structured so that we take 30 credit hours our first year and then quals in mid May. I’m very happy to say that I passed quals with distinction!

This summer, I’ll be staying here at Columbia, mostly doing research. My project currently is about the relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the 11 year solar cycle. I’m going to hold off on saying too much about this for now, but I’ll probably write a good deal about it in a few months.

Remembering Beginnings

I’m working on writing up my math autobiography. It’s a significant task because the story spans so many years and different types of experiences, so it’s far from done. However, it meant that I noticed that this past week included the eight year and seven year anniversaries of two pretty big milestones in my academic development. I wanted to commemorate those here. Continue reading

April 19th: Bearing Witness

You ask me why I wear black today, why I mourn today, why I keep a time of silence today.

You ask me why, and you don’t know what I mean when I say, “I’m from Oklahoma City.”

What I mean is that I grew up in the shadow. In the shadow of a tree that still stands. In the shadow of 168 white chairs across a lawn. In the shadow of two gates that mark before and after: 9:01 am, 9:03 am.

I grew up in the shadow of the Memorial; I grew up in the shadow of the bombing.

I was a girl who held onto numbers tightly, and among the numbers that I learned from childhood were these: 168 lives, 19 children, 9:02 am. There are 168 chairs for 168 lives, 19 of them smaller for the 19 children. There are 168 seconds of silence, every year, 9:02 am Central time.

That is when the bomb went off; that is when Oklahoma City changed forever.

Two years ago, at his speech at the 20th Anniversary Memorial Service, FBI Director James Comey said, “But it is not the moment that defines us. It is not the act itself that shapes our destiny. It is what comes next.”

I grew up in the shadow, but I also grew up in the light. The light of what came next. The light of what still comes next.

This is the story of my city, light emerging from darkness. And by virtue of this being the story of my city, it is my story.

And so today I remember. I remember the scar, though it heals. I wear the scar on this day. I honor what was lost; I honor what has grown in my lifetime.

This is for you, OKC. Continue reading