In the interest of reaching even one of my meager writing goals set this week, here is your Friday Five:

  1. I’ve been writing as much as I can on my NaNoWriMo project, but that process is turning out to be molasses slow. It is clearer than ever that I need a computer at home if I’m going to have a book published before I’m 50. How did people even make this happen before computers? I’m in awe of them.
  2. There’s so much sadness and terribleness in the world. But it’s not just “out there.” It’s here. It’s in our country and in our hearts. I am saddened to know that the freedom of many citizens to practice their religions by welcoming the outcast has been denied them this week. I am sadder to understand what that means for the outcasts. I want to be angry, but then I look at my own couch, empty of any refugees or people in need, and I am force to look at my own practices. Am I welcoming people as I ought? My favorite post of the week is from A’Driane Nieves – We ARE the threat.
  3. I love superheroes, but I especially love this.
  4. My favorite couple on my current favorite show are a real couple in real life, and they’re having another baby.  *fangirl squee*
  5. Send more cat pictures. Especially ones where they don’t realize they’re being adorable. And  for those who wonder why cats gravitate to people who don’t want their love – finally an explanation.

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Because Fall.

Fall food is my favorite food. October didn’t have quite the sharp coolness that I wanted, but I feel like I ushered in the season in my heart with food and habits.

I made so much beer bread last month. I used a slight variation of my friend Mel’s recipe, which is super easy – Mix 3 cups self-rising flour and one beer (I use Corona or a similar beverage), put it in a greased loaf pan (that’s right – no kneading necessary), pour half a stick of melted butter on top, and bake it for about an hour at 350 degrees. It is good with soup (and also with gravy, but we won’t talk about that).

I also made a lot of lasagna and stacked enchiladas, and I quite possibly ate my weight in kettle corn. It was not a health food month.

For someone who spent almost every day blogging about books, I certainly did not read that many. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones was nice. I enjoyed that.

I spent most of my TV hours watching My Boys (ah, that takes me back) at home and Once Upon A Time at my sister’s house. Whoever told me that I would loooooove OUAT? You were utterly correct. It’s so clever and awesome, and I want all of the evil queen’s clothes/costumes. Also…Hook. I don’t care if he’s bad, I am a big, big fan.

But the main thing I was into this October? Knitting. I knitted like a madwoman.

I finished a blanket that I started over three years ago:

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I started and finished a whole new lap blanket:

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I made several scarves:

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All of these projects barely made a dent in my yarn stash. I don’t know what triggers these knitting frenzies, but I’m glad I have them every once in a while. My house would be overrun with yarn.

What have you been into this October

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – come join us!

What I'm Into button


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This was originally going to be the background to my 31 Days icon. I look sneaky. I like that, but I couldn’t get the right color of text that would show up in front of the books and the dark space. The writing group at Andilit helped me in my hour of visually challenged need to pick a better picture, a better font, and better spacing.

Large Icon With Text 2

Ah, yes. Much better.

I also received a lot of encouragement from my other online writing group, the Coterie at Awake the Bones. We had several people participating in the 31-day challenge, so we had a thread every day to help us keep up with each other’s posts.

I am thankful for my friend Michelle, my librarian friend and star of my Fandom Friends post. She will read anything I hand her, and she’s done so for as long as we’ve known each other. I need to clear out a place on my shelf where her books will go someday. You’re all going to love them. Also, I am pretty sure I got the idea of taking shelfies from her. I distinctly remember a picture of her with library shelves in the background, and I thought, “Shelfies. That would be a cute series.” So I’m officially giving you credit, Michelle.

Dear Maggie – here is another post where you are mentioned. It happens so often because, even though you are far away, you are still one of my main sounding boards for rants and stories, and a lot of those turn into longer rants and stories of book-ish length. Thanks for loving my rants and reading my stories and for being my partner in crime for NoHoNoPro (No Honor, No Problem) that one time.

I love being friends with Margarett, and I love that this series is sprinkled with stories from our friendship, from our one shelf of sanity to our obsession with Ethiopian food to our compulsion to acquire large numbers of books in a single bound. Thanks for never telling me I have too many books.

This month has made me especially grateful for my parents. My earliest memory is my mom reading Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer to me. She took me to libraries, encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on, and made me look up answers for myself. My parents insisted that I go to college, and that experience was instrumental in forming me into the person I am today.

Thank you, dear readers. Thanks for your likes and your comments and your emails and your encouragement. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. You make me make this face:

Excited party face

I wrote 31 Days of Shelfies!

Today, we will be taking a look at one of my virtual shelves – the Goodreads Reading Challenge shelf (ignore how far behind I am).

I was originally going to talk today about my five favorite books I’ve read this year, but then the video of the assault at Spring Valley High School changed my mind.

And before we launch into you-don’t-know-the-whole-story rhetoric, let me be clear on my position. No other possible side to this story justifies his behavior, so don’t even try it. No matter what she did, he was wrong.

Earlier this week, I shared this post – The Assault at Spring Valley Would Not Have Happened if the Girl was White -with a friend who was telling me that this assault wasn’t about race. His only response after he read (I presume he read it) the article? “Well, of course they think so. They’re black.”

Okay, then. Let me be clearer. I am saying that this assault would not have happened to me in high school. Even if I had been doing whatever it was she had done before the video. Even if I refused to get up. Even if I refused to go with the man who was threatening me.

It wouldn’t have happened. Not because of anything I did or did not do, but simply because I’m white and because of who my parents are.

“But you didn’t act the way she probably acted to get the cops called on her.”

What way? Sitting in my chair, minding my own business? Or even mouthing off and giving zero damns about people who disrespected me? No matter how you spin it – actually, I almost always acted that way. Still do. And it has never ended in my being thrown on the floor by someone who was supposed to protect me.

I was pulled over for failure to use my turn signal one night. I was guilty – I did not use my turn signal. The person following me was following closely, and I pulled into another lane to let them pass. I was annoyed with the person behind me, and it probably showed in my sudden acceleration and sudden lane change. It turned out the person was a cop. When he pulled me over, he asked why I didn’t use a signal, I replied, “I was trying to get out of the way of the jerk tailgating me.” I was snippy, and I delivered it with a look to match my tone. Did he pull me out of my car and force me facedown on the ground with my hands behind my back? Did he ask me to step out of the car at all? Did he give me a stern lecture on cooperating with law enforcement?

No. He did not. He laughed and said, “Fair enough,” and told me to have a good night. He did not even give me a ticket, despite the fact that technically he could have.  He gave my behavior – which frankly was quite rude – the best possible interpretation he could come up with and let me go with his good wishes. Now I understand that this could have been an unusually jovial fellow. It’s possible that particular cop would have responded the exact same way if I had been a woman of color. I think that’s naive, though. I’ve heard too many similar stories with different outcomes just from my friends, not to mention the stories that have made the news.

So I don’t just want to talk about great books today. I want to talk about great books that made a difference in me.

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson 

Bryan Stevenson is an attorney and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. His book is heartbreaking. We read it for my church book club in August. As aware of the world as we like to believe that we are, it shocked quite a few of us. We were dismayed that there’s still so much reform needed in our prison system. This book made me want to go to law school (that urge passed) and be more involved in the work of justice (that urge wakes me up at night).

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Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

This is one of my favorite books – and not just of this year. In her collection of essays, Roxane Gay lays out her point of view and points out exactly how it doesn’t always fit in with mainstream (or, as she admits, any) feminism. I need her voice; my feminism is incomplete without it.

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The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie weaves tales between the past and the present, between tradition and modern life. This book made me realize how many of the stories I read about other cultures are not written by people from that culture. The difference in the stories told is remarkable. I want to read more stories written by people who embody the narrative rather than people who are merely reporting it.

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Salt by Nayyirah Waheed

Nayyirah Waheed’s poetry leaves me undone. There’s not a word wasted or unintentional. Her words paint pictures of her experiences living in her body in this world.

Speaking of undone…

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Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

If I could only recommend one book of all the books I’ve read this year, this would be it. Everyone should read this book. Just read it. Claudia Rankine chronicles the treatment of people of color in the world and in the media. If you are interested at all in race relations, you need to read this book. Listen.

I made a goal at the first of the year to read at least 40 books – one third of my overall goal – written by people of color. I’ve only managed to read 17 so far, and it’s not quite a third of all the books I’ve read. I’ve learned that even when I’m being intentional about my choices, I gravitate toward the familiar and comfortable. This knowledge is humbling and helpful. I can do better.

I’m writing 31 Days of Shelfies.


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I have always been told that I’m good at languages.

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but hey – it’s something I’m good at – I’ll take it.

I took a couple of years of Spanish in high school, four semesters of Latin in undergrad, and three semesters of German in grad school. Of course, I still have all the books.

I’ve also added to them. I will often buy books in one of the languages I’ve taken to practice my skills. I will also purchase books in languages I have absolutely no training in, because I like the title (In Praise of Yiddish) or because I recently read a book (by Murakami) and thought, “That was a nice paragraph. I bet that was beautiful in its original language” (and thus had to buy a book of Japanese phrases). I have several books on Portuguese because I want to travel someday to Brazil, and I am trying to learn Italian (and they said the Latin was a waste of time!) because I not only want to travel there but also because I found a cookbook that I need to read.

I’m obsessed with Duolingo.

I know that I will probably only become marginally proficient (I can ask for the bathroom and order coffee in at least five languages), but it’s a fun pursuit.

I’m writing 31 Days of Shelfies.

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It is odd how few plays I own considering my theater experience. I guess most of them are in scripts.

But it does highlight pretty clearly who my favorite playwright is.

I love Neil Simon. I love his wit and his characters. Any time I had to choose a monologue to give, it was almost always Neil Simon.

Barefoot in the Park is my favorite. I even managed to work it into a conflict management assignment in grad school. I analyzed one of Paul and Corie’s many arguments and made the class watch it during my presentation. They know they loved it.

His most famous play is probably The Odd Couple.  I love Felix. He is one of my top five favorite TV/movie characters.

Who is your favorite playwright? What’s your favorite play?

I’m Writing 31 Days of Shelfies.

Read This Next

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There are books stacked everywhere in my house. The corner of my desk is no exception.

This is where books go when they don’t really go anywhere else. I have a general organization system, but there isn’t really a  Feminist Ryan Gosling section. I suppose it could go in the feminist theory section, but it seems dwarfed by those texts. Nor is there a Coffee: The Bean of My Existence section. Maybe if I started collecting graphic novels. It’s almost a graphic…short story?

My most used Bible also lives here. I know I could look up verses online, but my fingers are faster than my iPhone.

Read This Next is a great book to have if you’re starting a book club or have a book club. The questions in the book should only guide your discussion if a lot of drinking is involved or if you’ve known the people in your group a long time. Then again, having people answer these questions – much like playing Cards Against Humanity – is a quick way to get to know the people in your group. At any rate, they’re hilarious.

Sadly, this is also where books go when I’m “working” on them but have decided to take a “break.” Translation: I found ten other books I’d rather read, and it got put aside. I may never actually read this book. Also, I may have borrowed it from someone and forgot who that was. The Evolution of Adam, anyone?

A friend once said, “Oh, it’s like your junk drawer. It’s a junk shelf.” Rude.

Tell me you have a shelf like this in your house. You know you do.

I’m writing 31 Days of Shelfies.


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