Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What I Read: Otto and the Flying Twins

I picked up Otto and the Flying Twins at a library sale some months ago, and in an odd coincidence (given the book's subject matter) I had it in my bag while I was stranded in town during the Asshole With A Beer Delivery Truck Incident at the beginning of the month. I finished it while I waited for the city to open up so I could go back home.




On the surface, Otto and the Flying Twins a whimsical fantasy story about an evil queen (though in an updated form of an evil councilwoman) trying to eradicate magic from the city, and the young boy and his magical friends who stop her. But dig a little deeper and it's hard to deny the parallels with pre-World War II Germany: the "magicos" are declared inferior and a threat to the city's well-being, relegated to ghettos or sent to work in moonstone mines.

It's hard to strike a balance between light whimsy and serious hardship, and my only complaint with the book is that Haptie never finds a good balance; despite some serious moments, the mood tilts very heavily towards "fun fantasy." Rather than address the very real problem that hatred and prejudice is built up over lifetimes and generations, Haptie compresses what was probably two or three centuries of anti-Semitic sentiment that contributed to the Holocaust into just a couple of years and the flimsiest of pretenses—essentially, one individual's personal grudge. (And greed, but arguably it's something like greed that drives people to blame The Other for economic woes, so that's not so unrealistic after all.)

But it's a fantasy book for middle grade readers, not Holocaust scholarship. I realize this is a very high-level nitpick, and I'm willing to overlook it because everything else about the book was delightful.

Anyone familiar with YA and middle grade tropes will see some of them refreshingly subverted or avoided. The titular Otto isn't The Chosen One; that's actually his dad, Albert who does much of the heroics (if off-screen). Otto is, of course, gifted with what everyone considers The Best Power Ever, but it's well-balanced: neither over-powerful enough to render his friends useless, nor so under-powered that we wonder why anyone values such a power in the first place.

When his mom finds out that Albert hid his magical heritage from her, she lashes out at him and spends most of the rest of the book angry at him, for ugly reasons (internalized prejudice) as well as respectable ones (building a life with someone only to find out they've lied about a very important part of themselves is bound to be a shocker). It's a response that feels very human, especially because she balances it with protecting her family. There's nothing worse than conflict driven by one or more parties being willfully stupid. Instead, Dolores does what she can to protect her undeniably magical family and keeps her frustration with Albert separate.

Otto's obligatory female sidekick, Mab, isn't presented as a love interest, which is refreshing—but this might be due to the target audience (the story feels and reads much more middle grade than YA). She's not entirely useful, it feels like, except to explain things to Otto (and by extension, the reader).

The language in this book is something to behold. There is an air of genuine whimsy in this that I found lacking in Harry Potter. (Well, either lacking or totally oppressive.) Normal Police, widges, dammerung, an Impossible List . . . Haptie takes well-worn fantasy tropes and adds her own unique spin to them.

Otto and the Flying Twins is the first in a trilogy of books. I get the impression that they were meant to be a longer series, but seeing as the last one was published in 2006, I think it's safe to say that the series stops at three books. If you can find it, get it. Otto and the Flying Twins is a great example of middle grade fantasy at its finest. More than that, it's a great jumping-off point to discuss prejudice and resistance—topics that are going to be quite relevant for the next few years.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Science Saturday: MARCH!



I'm marching for science today, and so can you! You can find a local march at the official March for Science website. If you're in Stockholm, I'll be a volunteer with the activities at Medborgarplatsen at the end of the march. Come say hi, listen to some awesome and knowledgeable speakers, and try some cool science stuff!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday 5: Nor Any Drop to Drink

Image courtesy Superfamous Images


What’s a memory you have of a nearby stream?

At some point during my elementary school years, our church congregation (or maybe just us kids) realized that the church's property didn't extend to the edge of the parking lot, but all the way across a neighboring field. We took this as a license to immediately tear through the long grass and down to the tree line to see if we could find anything, and were pleasantly surprised to find a crick we didn't know about. It was full of mint leaves and skunk cabbage and interesting rocks, and the whole thing felt distinctly magical.

We never went exploring there again, as far as I can remember. Something about it not being entirely church property. Or maybe parents told us that to keep us from running off and playing unattended.


What’s a good film scene or song lyric involving a river?

Hm. A two-fer first.



I have a great track by the indie band Brother called "River," but it's not on YouTube so that gem will just have to stay hidden for now.





What fond memory do you have of a lake?

My family spent a week at a hunting cabin in Vermont for maybe a dozen summers, right on Tinmouth Pond (officially Lake Chapman). No TV, no Internet, just the woods and the water. We always spent a day or two at the nearby Emerald Lake state park as well. I LOVERMONT!


What’s the most fascinating sea creature?

I was obsessed with dolphins for years, but as an adult I have to admit that they are . . . kind of assholes? The same goes for orcas (which apparently are technically dolphins, not whales?). So I don't know what to think about sea animals anymore. How about octopuses? They're cool.


What’s something that caused you to cry tears of laughter?

The only times I end up crying with laughter are those times where I'm laughing at how much I/someone else is laughing, usually over something not that funny, which then makes it even funnier, and then I'm laughing at myself laughing at someone laughing at the unfunny joke, and it just keeps snowballing. Like, for example, one time it was a really cheesy Weekly World News cover image of a fish with . . . hands? a human face? Something like that.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday 5: Gimme One Reason



This is the Friday 5 from April 7, which I didn't get around to answering for pretty obvious reasons.

Now I'm a week behind on Friday 5 posts, but that works out for me. The questions sometimes go up relatively late in the day (at least here in Stockholm), so it used to be a bit of a rush to get them out on time. Now I have a whole week to answer them!

First, some appropriate tunes:







What makes you unreasonably irritated?

I like to think that most of the things that irritate me are reasonable. ;)

What are you unreasonably particular about?

Punctuation! Spelling! Grammar! Language usage! But then, only if you pay me to be. Or if I think you're someone who should know better. (A book I was otherwise enjoying from Kindle Press talked about a "heart-warming antidote." I hope someone will fix that in an updated edition, because the author and the rest of the story deserve better!)

What’s something that’s unreasonably complicated?

Oh man, doing taxes. I don't mind paying them, because I understand they're a necessary part of a functioning society, but all of the surrounding paperwork is nightmarish, and I don't think it needs to be. The US, compared to many other countries, has a nightmarish and needlessly complicated tax-paying process (as opposed to needless or oppressive taxes). In Sweden, for example, most people can just pay their taxes by SMS. It's not quite that easy for me, as a freelancer, but it's also not so bad. There are also multiple umbrella companies out there whose sole purpose is to make the whole tax process easier for freelancers; I just made life harder for myself for no good reason.

I think if we revamped the tax-filing and tax-paying system and made it easier and less of a hassle, more Americans wouldn't be so incensed about paying taxes.

What are the best reasons for working in your field?

As far as teaching goes, it's immensely satisfying to feel like you are immediately and concretely making someone's life better. Your work isn't useless or pointless. Unfortunately, this idealism is too often leveraged against teachers, effectively bullying them into working beyond their paygrade or the original scope of their work, because how dare they prioritize something like money above their students?

My feelings about copyediting are similar. You're helping someone create the best product possible. You can see the results of your work immediately and you know that it matters (to the author, if no one else!). People at least seem to value copyeditors a little more than teachers—at least, their commitment to helping others isn't used as a bargaining chip to deny copyeditors the pay or resources they deserve and need to do their job.

When it concerns my #sciart dabbling, it's the wide array of awesome scientists, artists, and scientist-artists (or artist-scientists?) I've Internet-met since I started. So many cool projects and Kickstarters and people out there! But do I want to kick my STEM jewelry into higher gear? I don't know. I don't need to be running three different "businesses," I don't think.

What are some good reasons for the most recent silly purchase you made?

I don't typically make "silly" purchases. The closest thing to a silly purchase that I've made at all recently was some shredded cauliflower marketed as "cauliflower rice." I know it's a marketing tactic ("cauliflower rice" sounds more appealing than "shredded cauliflower"; people generally like rice more than they like cauliflower), but I just wanted some pre-shredded cauliflower. I knew it wasn't going to taste like rice, and I wasn't buying it because I thought it would, so I don't know if that really counts.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What I Read: The View From Flyover Country


Sarah Kendzior is a national treasure and we do not deserve her. I follow her on TwitterAcademia.edu, and The Correspondent. The View From Flyover Country is a collection of previously-published essays, but it's a solid collection that saves you trouble of scurrying hither and yon to find her work. The only issue is that they're from 2013 to 2015. Not too long ago, normally, but suddenly that feels like decades rather than years. And if you want her more recent work, well, see above.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Talky Tuesday: April 7, 2017

I wasn't expecting to do another Talky Tuesday post so soon after my last one, but then some asshole hijacked a beer delivery truck and drove it down a popular pedestrian thoroughfare in Stockholm so here we are!

Obviously, I'm fine. I wasn't particularly close to Drottninggatan when this happened, so I was never in danger and I was spared having to witness real-life violence and gore. That said, it's a part of Stockholm I know well and have walked many times before, so it is a little surreal. Minimally so, but it's there.

I'm worried about the near future of Sweden, and the rise of white nationalism. I'm worried about my friends who are fellow immigrants but with the bad luck to be from the "wrong" countries and to have "wrong" names. I want their children to grow up safe and happy in the same Sweden I do, and I don't know how much I can do to ensure that.  I'm worried about refugee quarters being terrorized and burned, in Sweden and elsewhere.

Here's an image from a "love demonstration" on the following Sunday. I'm in there, somewhere, maybe. (I showed up late so I only made the tail end.) Maybe there's hope.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What I Read: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

I received The Radium Girls in a free ebook form from NetGalley, which is both good and bad. Good, because I was possibly spared pictures of jawbones rotting out of women's mouths. Bad, because an ebook means I had a harder time tracking all the names and dates (and also that I read it while commuting and so often got misty-eyed in public, which is not something I feel totally comfortable with!). And I also didn't get to see all the before photos of the radium girls, which is probably how they would prefer to be remembered.



I knew about the radium girls in the vaguest of senses thanks to an offhand mention in The Radioactive Boy Scout. Silverstein mentions that scores of workers (women, mostly) in the dial-painting factories became ill and even died from their work, but since that's largely a footnote in the story of David Hahn, Silverstein doesn't go into much detail about it. I didn't think about it any further until last year, when I saw that an available book on NetGalley was Kate Moore's The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women, adapted from and inspired by Melanie March's play These Shining Lives.

I received the book in December and just finished it a week ago. That's unusually slow going for me, I have to admit. Part of it was life (I was busy with Swedish), part of it was the format (ebooks are not great for me when there are lots of names and dates to keep track of), and part of it was the ghastly content.

I have to admit, I was not entirely prepared for what I read. I know enough about radiation poisoning to know that the women employed in these factories suffered, and suffered a lot. That's a biological reality I knew going in. It was how steadfastly the companies refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing that was the most shocking and the most viscerally upsetting. Their legal battles dragged on for years—over a decade. It's one thing to lose an arm or the use of your legs and have a workman's comp case take a few years. It's another thing for the case to go on for 13 years when you're dying of cancer. Not to mention these companies did the most in trying to dodge responsibility, both in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. They insisted that the sick, dying, and dead women were already in poor health when they started work; they refused to release medical examination records; they insisted that the cause of death in a few cases was syphilis, not radium poisoning, thereby adding an extra dose of slut-shaming indignity to it all. They claimed in one case that radium was a poison and therefore not covered by existing workman's compensation laws; after the law was changed to include poison, they turned around in another case and claimed that radium wasn't poisonous at all.

People talking about #resisting in this weird new era we live in also talk about the importance of surrounding yourself with stories of people being courageous and doing the right thing. I think that makes The Radium Girls a book we should all be reading, especially given that organizations like the EPA and OSHA seem to be on the public's shit list. Yet these are the organizations that cleaned up the mess that United States Radium left in Orange, NJ (the clean-up cost the equivalent of millions of dollars; USR paid a few hundred thousand); that protected all future employees who handled radium or other dangerous substances in their work.

The more things change, the more things stay the same. If there's any takeaway from The Radium Girls, surely it's that. The profit motive will squelch all but the strongest moral imperative, whether it's a luminous watch factory in New Jersey or sweatshop labor in Bangladesh. Robust worker protection and compensation laws are a society's most effective protection against large-scale corporate injustice; "a shield to protect, and not a sword to destroy" the humanity of workers, in the words of the Ottawa plaintiffs' lawyer, Lev Grossman.

His son, Len Grossman, has scanned and made public his father's scrapbook surrounding the case. It's worth browsing.

The Radium Girls is set to be published in the US in May this year (it's already out in the UK). If you can't get a preview copy from NetGalley or from the UK now, I really hope you'll pick The Radium Girls in May. Until then, there are a couple other books on the subject:

Deadly Glow: The Radium Dial Worker Tragedy
Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform

Other books touch on the radium girls tangentially:

Romancing the Atom
The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

There's also the documentary Radium City, which focuses on the history of the Radium Dial Company in Ottawa, IL.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Talky Tuesday: How I Facebook




I should be listing things in the store, but it's a little slow going right now. There is kind of a lot of other stuff going on, I guess? So, without much new stock to post about, I figured now would be a good time to talk about Facebook. Specifically: how I use Facebook, and how I've changed my interaction patterns with it.

Facebook, once the place where you creeped on your roommates, high school classmates, and party hook-ups, is now the de facto social networking site for much of the English-speaking world. It's also become the de facto news site for much of the English-speaking world, for better and worse.

I don't want to talk about "real news" versus "fake news" today. I want to talk about something a little less partisan and a little more sinister: "social feed" versus "news/entertainment feed."

A while ago, I thought long and hard about why I use Facebook. A short list:

  • To keep in touch with friends and family that are far away. (And I have many that are all over the world.)
  • To keep in touch with nearby friends when I'm too busy to see them in person.
  • To find out about, attend, or organize events, large and small. 
  • To network and pose questions to professionals in my field.
  • To find support and encouragement.
  • To have an easy-to-find, organized online gallery of my jewelry.


Weird, what's not on there? Cat pictures, puns from George Takei, and news.

But every time I "like" a cat picture, a George Takei pun, or a news story, I tell Facebook show me more of this!. And so the posts I probably really want to see, more than cats or George Takei, get de-prioritized. Which defeats the whole point of why I want to use Facebook in the first place.

Math Babe is probably who got me thinking about my Facebook usage from a machine learning perspective. After some reflection, I decided:

Facebook is for people, not for consumerism.

(The hypocrisy of my saying this while also having a Facebook page for my jewelry does not escape me.)

This boils down to three large shifts in my Facebook-using behavior.

(Less) Sharing is Caring

I still follow Facebook pages of businesses, blogs, or people I like, of course. And if they share something I really like, I'll still share or like it, if I'm in the mood—but only if it's original content from the person, business, or blog itself. I don't follow you on Facebook so I can learn what you think is funny; I follow you on Facebook because I like you.

So I no longer like or share memes from huuuuuuuuge meme factory pages. I invest more likes and shares into the things that you, my friend, the person I care about wrote yourself. If I don't know, or at least know of, the person who made the original post, I'll pass.

Filter via Address Bar

I also made this URL my default Facebook bookmark: https://www.facebook.com/?sk=friends. This is subtly different from the URL you get when you click on the "Home" button, which is this: https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr. The latter includes posts from groups, pages, and bumps up old stories that a friend of yours shared or even just commented on every time it gets a new comment. The former is just posts from your friends (that you've opted to follow) in the order they post them. No pages, no groups.

If I want to get down to business (and defeat the Huns) (I haven't even seen Mulan, guys), then I check https://www.facebook.com/?sk=groups, and I see only posts from my assorted groups: social, work, support, whatever. If I want to catch up on the blogs, cool musicians, and art projects I follow, I check https://www.facebook.com/?sk=pages. There's not a lot you can control on Facebook, but being able to control that much is something. It's nice to be able to say, "Right now I want to check in with my friends" or "I'm in the mood to chat with some activists" or "I wonder what my fellow sword-swallowers are talking about" and then be able to navigate more or less straight to that discussion.

Tinfoil Hattery

I'm also wary (not "weary"!) of the new "reactions" you can have to a story: angry, sad, funny, and love, in addition to like. I'm sure Facebook wouldn't roll out something like that without plans to use the data to further tweak their algorithms. Tempting as it is to click the "sad" reaction button on a post, if it really is a tragic incident, I take the extra time to post a comment with a sentiment or hell, even a smiley. (Same if it's a really happy post. One of my friends just had a baby and I've been making creative use of the Prickly Pear stickers in the comments.) Facebook is probably tracking that content as well, but by using half a second more thought to engage with the content, I'm hopefully at least being a better friend? (And supplying something like data noise. I hope.)

Bonus: The Cavalry

I also use AdBlock, AdBlockPlus, and Fluff-Busting Purity to deal with "suggested" posts and the sidebar advertising, but you either already know how to use them, or someone else has told you about them. (If you don't know, comment or Tweet at me, and I'll be glad to help you out!)



So. I hope you like me enough that you've liked me on Facebook. You don't have to; I'm kind of bad at posting there, anyway. But even if you don't, I hope you'll think a little more carefully about how you interact with Facebook, and that this post helped you have an even marginally better Facebook experience?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday 5: Quarters



The first quarter of 2017 is now behind us. How has it been?

I guess not as awful as it could have been.


How has this past quarter of your life been surprisingly good?

JV spontaneously decided to clean up (and clean out) the apartment.


When did you last drop quarters into a vending machine?

I think I used coins at a vending machine at some point this year, but I can't remember when.


How do you feel about your state’s twenty-five-cent coin? If you’re not in the U.S., which of the coins do you think is especially striking?

I'm originally from Pennsylvania, and our state quarter leaves much to be desired.







There's a Gettysburg quarter that's slightly better:



Our license plates are uninspiring, too. When I was a kid, we had the gold on blue (or blue on gold) "Keystone State"/"You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania" tags. Now there's no quip or state nickname, just an advertisement for the commonwealth's official tourism web page. Ugly. You can look at them all here, if you want.

Our state slogan was mediocre for a while, too. I still think we should bring "You've got a friend in Pennsylvania" out of retirement, but I'll admit that "Pursue your happiness" (current slogan) beats out "State of independence" (previous slogan).


Google’s corporate headquarters is called the Googleplex. What would be a good name for the corporate headquarters of your life?

The Kitchen. Since that's where I actually do most of my work. Stay humble, never forget your roots, etc.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday 5: Food Me Once; Food Me Twice



What do you like on your frozen yogurt?

Jimmies and crumbled Oreos, mostly. I don't actually care for chocolate syrup on frozen yogurt or ice cream. I can't explain what it is, but I don't like it.

When patronizing those frozen yogurt establishments with an overwhelming buffet of possible toppings, I have been known to add Fruity Pebbles. I don't consider that an essential frozen yogurt topping, though.


How do you feel about hot breakfast cereals?

In theory I like them a lot; in practice I can't be bothered with the extra step of warming them up so I never have them. If I need something warm in the morning, I Just have extra tea.


What did you last put brown sugar in or on?

When was the last time I made chocolate chip cookies? Brown sugar is one of those items that I end up (shamefacedly!) wasting a lot of because I need it infrequently, but you can only buy it in relatively large quantities.


What’s a food item you willingly overpay for?

Pre-chopped frozen vegetables. Sure, I know how to cut a bell pepper, but it's worth the time saved to just get them in little pieces already.

I also have an obsession with Celestial Seasonings brand tea. In the US this isn't too much of a problem, but in Stockholm that can get a little ridiculous.


What did you last add vinegar to?

I only use vinegar (balsamic) sparingly on salads. My preferences lean heavily towards the "oil" part of "oil and vinegar."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Talky Tuesday: A Year of Running


I've been largely absent here, because things have picked up elsewhere. I haven't been reading a lot (a lot that would be of interest here, anyway), I've been slacking on listing new items, and I've been even worse about making new things.

But this is a post about how it's been around one year of running for me.

It hasn't been a proper 12 months; during winter I opted for water aerobics rather than running, because of cold temperatures and icy sidewalks. There were times when the weather was fine but I was ill, or I was just too busy. But overall I have been running (or training for running) for around a year now. This may be my longest stretch of continuous focus on cardio to date. I don't know.

I'm not any less fat, and I'm still frustratingly slow. I could have hacked my regime and made it something a little more aggressive and maybe I'd be faster, I don't know, but I probably still wouldn't be running a year later.

After a year of improvising with the Galloway method (30 seconds of running/30 seconds of walking, or 30 seconds of sprinting with 2 minutes of recovery) I'm giving the Couch to 5K another shot. The big difference is that I'm not shooting for 20 minutes of non-stop jogging in Week 5 or so (20 minutes of 4 minutes of jogging and 35 seconds of walking instead).

The weirdest thing is now that I like it. I like the running in a way that I didn't when I was thinner and faster and fitter. I'll take "Things I'd Never Thought I'd Say" for $500, Alex!

Since I started, I went to a running store and got proper running shoes. They're amazing and I love them, and big ups to Aardvark Running Store in Bethlehem, PA for not side-eyeing me and my fat ass and just . . . selling me some shoes. (Also big ups to them for carrying a variety of shoes in wide sizes.)

I like it, and I'm glad I decided to give running a second or third (or fourth?) shot. I finally figured out how to do it in a way that I enjoy, and the motivation to do it for its own sake rather than OMG CALORIES. Maybe this time next year I'll be running in actual races. ;)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday 5: Picture This



What’s your favorite monster movie?
Oh, goodness. I've seen a respectable amount of off-brand monster movies, thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000, RiffTrax, and Cinematic Titanic. Can I pick a favorite? If I had to, I'd say The Horror of Party Beach and The Wasp Woman.
What’s your favorite social issues movie?
I'm not sure what would qualify as a social issues movie? It can be hard to tackle complex social issues elegantly in the space of (more or less) two hours. Off the top of my head, I'd say: P. K. (religious dogma and prejudice), Lilies of the Field (race relations in mid-century America), and Ship of Fools (anti-Semitism in the run-up to World War II).
What’s a movie you dislike in a genre you love?
There are too many bad comedies to name.
What’s a movie you like in a genre you dislike?
There aren't too many film genres I outright dislike. I admit to not liking slasher movies a whole lot, but I didn't mind the House of Wax reboot? remake? that came out a few years ago. (I still prefer the original Vincent Price version, of course.)
What’s a movie everyone else has seen but you have not seen?
Up until a couple of years ago, my first answer to this question was  Bladerunner (extra shameful because my final project in philosophy was on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). Now, I'm not sure what that would be. The first one that comes to mind is Saving Private Ryan, but I'm sure there are others.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What I Read: The White Giraffe

In my other life, I'm an EFL teacher. I work with kids with a range of ages, and so that means once in a while I dip my toes into the YA, middle grade, and picture book pool. The White Giraffe is my first middle grade read of 2017.

Image courtesy Dial
It's a book that seems to be popular with its target demographic (the East Sussex Children's Book award is voted on by students, not teachers), but as an adult it left me underwhelmed.

It's clear that St. John knows and cares a lot about animals, including the unique wildlife of sub-Saharan Africa. According to her biography, she grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe with a host of exotic pets, and frankly that's a memoir I would read! It's also clear that her background was a big influence on The White Giraffe. I just wish that her knowledge, passion, and background had faced a little more scrutiny and gone through a few more revisions before they ended up as The White Giraffe, as it falls a little too close to the White Savior narrative structure for me to really get into.

I also admit that as an adult, I'm hardly the middle grade target audience, but a hallmark of good children's writing is that adult readers can enjoy the book as much as younger readers. In The White Giraffe, the writing felt a little flat and some elements of the plot seemed rushed or thrown in for the sake of . . . I'm not sure what. But as I mentioned earlier, it won the East Sussex Children's Book Award, voted on by students, so I guess the target demo likes it well enough!

The White Giraffe is the first in a series that includes (as of this blog post) four other books: Dolphin Song, The Last Leopard, The Elephant's Tale, and Operation Rhino. Hopefully St. John has found her stride and ironed out the above issues in The White Giraffe, as I think her passion for conservation and the natural world is one worth sharing and cultivating in young readers.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday 5: Count All the Bees in the Hive

Which of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters do you most relate to?

Rabbit, I suppose? I like to read, I can be bossy, and I find real-life Tiggers to be very trying.



The original Winnie the Pooh toys

Which of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters has qualities you’d find most attractive in a romantic partner?

My own partner is very much a Piglet, if that's any indication!


In what way have you “wandered much further” today than you should?

I'm only answering this in the morning, so the day has hardly begun, really. I'll admit to sleeping in a little, but only a little.


Of Winnie-the-Pooh stories you can remember (from the books, Disney cartoons, or other sources), which is your favorite?

To be honest, I don't remember much from Winnie-the-Pooh. I know I liked the Disney adaptation of "Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day" when I was younger. I was also quite enamored with the word "blustery" and immediately set about using it in real life.

I also like the Russian animated adaptations. The art is so charming! The crayon backgrounds look just like a child's drawing, which I think is very appropriate for Winnie-the-Pooh. Plus, this version of Piglet is absolutely adorable.

There are only three, but they're all freely available on YouTube. Here is the first Винни Пух adaptation: В которой мы знакомимся с Винни-Пухом и несколькими подозрительными пчелами. (In which we meet Winnie the Pooh and a few suspicious bees.)





Which quote from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories would be good for the epigraph in the book about your life?

"I've got a sort of idea, but I don't suppose it's a very good one."

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What I Read: Native Son

This is another off of my TIME Top 100 / Classics Club list. Just four left after this one! 2017 will be the year I finish this long-standing project.

Image courtesy HarperCollins


Woof, y'all. I have really complicated feelings about this book. Technically, I DNF'd it: after getting swept up in the beginning and getting to know Bigger, about halfway through the book I found myself putting off reading it.

Why? That was the important question. The quality of Wright's writing hadn't changed. And the story was some gripping Crime and Punishment "will he make it?" nail-bitery. But there was a resistance in my gut and I kept on noticing all of the other books I have on my current reading list: The Origins of Totalitarianism, Kris, some books I had grabbed from a friend's "give away" pile, more free books I had received through my local study circle . . .  why didn't I want to finish this one?

Studies show that spoilers actually increase your enjoyment of a story. I still avoid deliberately spoiling timely or serious things, because just because "studies show" something doesn't mean I need to be deliberate asshole to other people, especially with something as trivial as spoilers. But I will absolutely use that as an excuse to look up a plot summary on Wikipedia when I'm not really feeling a book to see if I want to continue.

In this case, I decided not to. I don't think it's my place, as a white reader, to bring up questions about stereotypes in the novel -- James Baldwin did that already, in "Many Thousands Gone." But I absolutely can decide that I'm not in the mood to read stories where brutality against women is an offhand plot point to further a male character's redemption arc (in as much as Bigger ever redeems himself; YMMV on that one). Justice for Bessie!

Maybe another version of me, at another point in time, can finish Native Son. But right now it's not for me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sciart Monday: Tweetstorm!



If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know we're in the middle of the third annual #sciart Tweetstorm.

The idea is simple: sciart artists (sciartists?) flood Twitter with their sciart and with others ("Share 3, Tweet 5" being the official/unofficial rule). It's a great chance to promote your own stuff and to find new artists as well. Here are some new favorites of mine, with just (sadly) one day left to go.

1. Entomological playing cards & brain cell cartoons from Dr. Immy Smith

So Smith actually put together a KS sometime last year? Two years ago? to fund the design and printing of the Cryptic deck which is better explained through pictures than with words:

Cryptic Cards from DrImmySmithArt

I couldn't really afford to back the KS project at the time but now that I have more room in my budget and they're available on Etsy, I just might splurge. I like to collect card decks, and the more unusual, the better!


2. The cover of this issue of Toxicology Research, put out by the Royal Society of Chemistry.



Here's a closeup on the illustration by Junyi Zhang:



And an excerpt from the artist's statement:
After I read the paper, I started to think about the concept of ZIP8 portrayed as a dragon, chasing and picking up the fireballs – that is, zinc and other metal ions – and breathing the fireballs towards earth, just like the process of active metal ion transport. The two figures carrying fireballs represent the transcription factors MTF1 and NF-kappaB.

3. This isometric interpretation of pi by Jason H. Moore, PhD, is relevant to my interests.


I appreciate that squares of the same value are the same color as well as the same size. Incidentally, the colors and the right angles remind me a lot of bismuth:


Bi-crystal
Image courtesy Heinrich Pniok

4. And finally, this year's Tweetstorm coincides with the brand new home of Symbiartic, the sciart blog from Scientific American that now has its own stand-alone web presence. Give them a follow in your RSS feed or on Twitter (or both!), won't you?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Friday 5 on Saturday: Something's Astir



What did you last use a spatula for?

Nothing.

One of my Swedish friends here was an exchange student in the US when he was younger, and somehow the question of kitchen implements came up often. It turned out that his host family didn't really know what to call anything, either, so any unknown kitchen implement was just immediately labeled "spatula."


What did you last use your can opener for?

We don't even have a can opener!


What did you last pick up with a pair of tongs?

I don't think we even have tongs? So probably a baked good at the store or Pressbyran.


What did you last use a ladle for?

Chili, I think.


What did you last stir with a wooden spoon?

Some boiling pasta, to get it to settle down a little.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Newly Listed: Remember the 90s? Comp Sci Earrings

What's wrong with a little harmless 90s nostalgia? Sure, "Remember the 90s?" has become a running gag on the Internet, but I don't care. The whole nation went in for retrospective nostalgia with Happy Days in the 70s, and then again with That 70s Show in the 90s, and no one was cynical about it then.

Let's be real, the only thing keeping us from reliving cultural nostalgia en masse via another TV show is that thanks to technology, we can all relive our favorite bits of the 90s whenever we like. For me, that's Oasis, The Presidents of the USA, and these rad marble art earrings, another installment in my cybertwee series.

90s hacker cybertwee computer science blogger gamer blue silver purple sciart earrings
Blue, purple, and silver cybertwee earrings by Kokoba

The purple accent beads are made from optical fibers, the backbone of high-speed Internet connections.

90s hacker cybertwee computer science blogger gamer blue silver purple sciart earrings

I could totally see Angelina Jolie sporting these in Hackers, couldn't you?

90s hacker cybertwee computer science blogger gamer blue silver purple sciart earrings

This is just one of a couple of pairs of computer science earrings featuring fiber optic beads I have in the queue. You can browse the entire collection of computer science inspired jewelry, including pieces in the cybertwee aesthetic as well as items inspired by circuit diagrams, in the Computer Science section of my Etsy shop. Blog readers can use the code BLOGGETTE for 15% off!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday 5: Rest



When did you last need a few days of complete rest and nothing else?

I feel like that every day, to be honest. I had a really gnarly chest cold for most of February that kept me relatively housebound. I'm better now, but the first two weeks were unpleasant, to say the least.



How do you keep yourself occupied when you have to be in bed all day and night?

Music; reading; reviewing vocabulary on a couple of language-learning apps I use; sleeping.



Who do you most want to hear from when you have to withdraw to your bed for a few days of rest?

It depends. Whenever I have to go into self-imposed quarantine, it means I have a lot of time to just think; often, I'll remember a story or a question I had for someone in particular. But usually I can just send them a message on Gchat or Facebook, so I don't have to make immediate plans to see them when I'm feeling better.



What adverse effects have you experienced while staying in bed for a few days?

I don't like the deconditioning and loss of stamina/energy I notice when I feel better enough to go running again.



When you first notice a few symptoms, are you more likely to shut everything down right away, or try to power through until you don’t have a choice anymore?

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." I try to take it as easy as possible right from the beginning, including lots of garlic, zinc, and lemon tea.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

#TBT: Pi and Golden Ratio Multistrand Bracelet

This is one of my newer TBT posts. I made it in 2011, and I'm not entirely sure why I never listed it. I loved it then, and I still love it now. (Maybe I was being greedy and keeping it to myself?)

Math Jewelry - Pi Golden Ratio Bracelet - STEM Sciart Mathart Jewelry - Math Nerd Teacher Student Graduate Gift
Pi and Golden Ratio bracelet from Kokoba
This multistrand bracelet features the digits of pi and the Golden Ratio in blue lace agate and aventurine, with adorable faceted mookaite briolettes acting as spacers in between digits.

Math Jewelry - Pi Golden Ratio Bracelet - STEM Sciart Mathart Jewelry - Math Nerd Teacher Student Graduate Gift

I love the hell out of those briolettes. They are just the cutest thing, and perfect for bracelets and earrings! 

Math Jewelry - Pi Golden Ratio Bracelet - STEM Sciart Mathart Jewelry - Math Nerd Teacher Student Graduate Gift


The copper has a lovely patina by now, but you could also brighten it up with a quick run through a polishing cloth.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What I Read: Passing

My Internet book club is still going strong! Their selection for February was Passing, a short but powerful novel by Nella Larsen.

As I've alluded to here a couple of times, my academic background isn't in STEM, but the humanities: English and philosophy, to be more specific. Here is an incomplete but relatively comprehensive list of what I read for the English portion of that degree:

  • A bunch of poetry I don't care about because I don't get poetry and never will.
  • Oroonoko, Robinson Crusoe, Pamela, Great Expectations, Emma, Nightwood, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Paradise Lost and some assorted essays and poetry by John Milton, which is the rare exception to my distaste for poetry.
  • Edgar Huntly, Last of the Mohicans, Arthur Gordon Prym, Pudd'nhead Wilson, Benito Cereno
  • A Passage to India, Kim, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (selections), Invisible Cities
  • Winesburg Ohio, Waiting for Lefty, In Our Time, Invisible Man, Light in August, The Souls of Black Folk,* Cane
  • A Dream Play, Kallocain, Aniara, Women and Apple Trees, Money, Doctor Glass, Blackwater, The Visit of the Royal Physician, A Burnt Child, Nils Holgersson 
It's a very weird and spotty list because I was technically a Creative Writing major, not a pure English major, so I was in a lot of writing workshop classes instead of jumping too deep into critical analysis or any kind of comprehensive scope of the English literature canon. All of this is to say that despite my background, there are pretty huge gaps in my literary knowledge and I'm pretty sure that's why I'd never heard of Nella Larsen before.

This is why I love my book club. The organizers are excellent at finding classics I would otherwise have missed entirely!



Passing is the story of Irene Redfield and her high school classmate Clare Kendry. Both women are mixed race; Irene is "out" (if I can borrow the term) as a woman of color, living a life in Harlem with a black husband and black children, while Clare is currently "passing" (as in, passing for white) within white society—a big deal in 1927. A chance encounter brings Clare back into Irene's life after years apart, throwing both of their lives into disarray. One thing leads to another, until things reach their tragic, if inevitable, conclusion.

I don't want to spoil too much, because I think it's an excellent psychological thriller story. It's superbly plotted, especially in the last section—a real page-turner. 

I will say that much of the tension is built on concepts of race and passing that I don't think would be quite as relevant today. Normally that would feel dated in a book, but in this case I think it just highlights what a different time it was. Not that we've suddenly gone post-racial, of course; just that we've at least more or less abandoned the "one drop" rule and related thinking. (I hope?) The way Clare Kendry is described, she might as well be Aryan Princess Taylor Swift; someone like her being written off as black says a lot about an America still in living memory.

Of course, other elements of tension in the story are more universal: secrets and trust within relationships, motherhood, the lot of women in society, the limits of what we can know about others. Passing is a thriller but it's also a character study. While some of the specific worries about race may belong to another time, the suspense and the breakneck speed feel very modern. 

Seeing as we're in the last week of African American** History month, Passing would be a great read. It's a quick, snappy little book that you can finish in a couple days, and it's available on the Internet Archive. I hope you give it a chance, because I really enjoyed it!

*By W. E. B. DeBois, according to the DOE! #alternatefacts

Monday, February 20, 2017

Newly Listed: Spring Flower Comp Sci Earrings

Maybe a few months ago I went on a little bead box cleaning spree: I deconstructed earlier pieces I had made featuring fiber optic beads, and cannibalized some of them into newer, nicer pieces. Last night I finished the work by putting them all on ear wires, and now I'll have plenty of new items to list for the next week or so!

Today's feature is a sweet and femme-y hybrid of traditional prints and new materials:

Floral cybertwee fiber optic earrings by Kokoba

I like the contrast between the blue fiber optic accent beads and the floral pattern on the large focal beads. The new with the old!

Floral cybertwee hacker coder programmer gamer blogger computer science earrings STEM sciart jewelry

The combination of delicate florals and high tech would fit in perfectly with the soft, pastel aesthetic of the cybertwee movement. 

Floral cybertwee hacker coder programmer gamer blogger computer science earrings STEM sciart jewelry

I'm not normally a fan of floral prints and patterns, but I think they can be used in interesting and subversive new ways. These earrings are a pretty subtle example; one can absolutely go further.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday 5: Yule Never Be Alone

Photo by lauramusikanski at MorgueFile.com


About how many family Christmas photo-cards did you receive this year*?

I get why people do the annual "family photo holiday card," and I'm happy to have photographs of my friends on hand, but it's a tradition that will never appeal to me as a sender.

This year I got at least three photo-cards. I may have gotten one or two more than that, but that's it.


About how many family Christmas newsletters did you receive this year?

This is a holiday tradition I like a little better. Not surprising, I guess, considering my penchant for words and language! I don't ever write one, though. Different people hear from me at differing intervals, so I tend to address holiday cards personally, based on how often I talk to the recipient and how much they know about what's going on in my life.

I didn't receive many "state of the friend" letters in cards this year. I know I got at least two, but there might be one or two I'm forgetting.


What do you do with the Christmas photo-cards and newsletters you get each year?

The newsletters get filed under "correspondence," along with notes from friends or family that get slipped in with care packages and the odd snail mail letter.

The photo-cards get tacked up on the wall next to my desk. This is actually the first year I've received photo-cards (in the past it's been just regular cards). I'm not sure if I'll keep them up, or if I'll file them away somewhere. The nicest cards (according to my arbitrary rules of taste) stay up on the wall. The others I hoard because one day I will make a garland or bunting with the ones that aren't quite as pretty.

I have a couple of artist friends and I love when they send doodles or drawings in the cards. I will always sacrifice a greeting card for the sake of displaying their original art!


What’s a good solution for singles who want to participate in this tradition without coming across as a loser?

Just do it, because there's nothing loser-y about sending out photo-cards or newsletters as a single person?


About how many old-school, hand-addressed Christmas cards did you receive this year?

Oh man, maybe about two dozen? I participate in an online holiday card exchange so I got a lot from strangers and near-strangers, in addition to the ones from my friends.


* Yeah, yeah. It was last year, but you know what I mean

Thursday, February 16, 2017

TBT: Root 2 Peridot Rhodonite Bloodstone Shells Necklace

This is another Kokoba beta release, so to speak. It's not among some of the very first sciart jewelry I ever made, but it's still been sitting in storage for a while—probably six or seven years, I'd say.

Nautical sciart STEM math necklace teacher graduation mother wife gift
Root 2 necklace featuring peridot, rhodonite, bloodstone, and seashells by Kokoba

Pi is usually the darling of the "math-for-the-masses" world, and it's easy to see why. It has a cool and instantly recognizable Greek letter for a symbol; it's a concept you touch on relatively early in your math career (at least in the US, I was in 6th grade when we learned about pi); you can make puns about pies and pirates.

Nautical sciart STEM math necklace teacher graduation mother wife gift

Somewhere in my calculus notes there's a doodle of a pi symbol with a tail, some paws, and a rat face in pirate costume and the caption "pi-rat." It's probably been lost to time (and by "lost to time," I mean "thrown out with the rest of my calculus notes"). I don't think anyone was celebrating Root 2 Day on January 4, 2014 (or on April 1 2014, if you're in Europe). But pi gets a day every year!

Nautical sciart STEM math necklace teacher graduation mother wife gift


So this is my tribute to poor, neglected root 2. I admit, I've played some part in neglecting it. Did you know, for example, that root 2 is the first number proven to be irrational? The Ancient Greeks actually cooked up an elegant proof on the topic



There's a lot going on in this necklace: there's chips, there's cubes, there's regular round beads, and there's shells. But it still feels fairly balanced, rather than haphazard or chaotic.

If you want to show some love for an overlooked irrational, this root 2 necklace is available in my Etsy shop. I'm thinking I should sit down and whip up some more root 2 bling. Just for variety's sake.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday 5: Hold On to the Knight

This week's Friday 5 is all about chess, a game that I'm staggeringly bad at but nonetheless somewhat fascinated by.

Photo by Alvimann at Morguefile.com


1. When and how did you learn to play chess?

I think at some point Teacher Dad tried to teach me and my brother. He had grown up playing a lot of chess with his brother and I think he wanted us to learn, too, but it never really took for either of us. I think I still have an Usborne Guide to Chess he gave me for Christmas one year somewhere. Since then, I've tried a couple times to "really learn how to play this time." It seems to be a whim that hits me every couple of years, but never really sticks.

When it comes to black-and-white strategy board games, I had a slightly better time with Othello (or Reversi, if you prefer), but only slightly. Lawyer Mom, maybe among the last people you would ever suspect of being strategic and crafty, habitually destroyed me at it. I'm sure if she had been born in another time and place, she would have been a champion Go player.


2. How is your chess game?


As you can probably imagine, not very good.


3. When did you last find yourself in a stalemate?

As a rule, I try to avoid conflict and confrontation with people. The closest thing to a stalemate would be, I guess, my critique group stalling out in scheduling an upcoming make-up meeting. Yes, not quite a stalemate, but like I said—the closest I get.


4. A gambit is a chess opening in which a player sacrifices a piece in hopes of gaining an advantageous position. What was one of your recent, real-world gambits?

I think one of the problems I have with chess is that I have a tendency to hoard pieces. Even though the mechanics of the game dictate that both players have to lose pieces in order for the board to open up and for play to really begin, I can never feel totally comfortable losing a piece. I think I maintain that attitude in real life as well.



5. Which piece on the chessboard is most like you, and why?

I suppose the bishop: I'm narrow in my interests, but within them I'm quite knowledgeable. Or maybe the knight: I eventually get to where I'm going, but my path is a little more roundabout than other people's.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What I Read: 2016 in Review

I realize we're well into February of 2017 right now, which makes this 2016 reading summary post a little late, but better late than never! I actually had it ready to go for a month, but this is the first Wednesday of the new year where I don't have any book reviews to go up.


 First of all, something weird happened since I grabbed this screenshot and today: the number of pages in Empire of Storms jumped from 693 to 701. What? What's going on with that?

Compared to 2015, I read more books and more pages, so probably more reading overall. Much like 2015, I hated the most popular book on my reading list (2016: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, 2015: The Fault in Our Stars) with a fiery passion. This is not to be confused with the highest-rated book I read, which is not pictured in this screen shot. In 2016 it was Queen of Shadows; in 2015 it was The Martian. And while I liked Queen of Shadows well enough, I thought The Martian was largely a crappy, overrated excuse for SF.

Lesson? I will continue to dislike around 75% of popular things! But even so, my average rating crept up from a 3.2 in 2015 to a generous 3.4 in 2016. Maybe turning 30 made me go soft?

Much like 2015, the least popular book I read in 2016 was in Swedish. This year it was a collection of essays, rather than a collection of flash fiction.

I smashed my GoodReads goal in 2016 (much like I did in 2015). Hopefully I will smash this year's goal (48) as well. Some book bloggers and BookTubers (haha, BookTubers, like y'all are potatoes or something!) read what I can only describe as a ridiculous amount of books per year. I think some of that is attributable to different tastes (you see Empire of Storms up there, but Throne of Glass is basically my only concession to YA or New Adult or whatever the marketing term du jour is), and part of is that I sometimes make an effort to read in Swedish (which slows me down), but if I'm being honest, some of it is definitely that I am a slacker. Ideally I'd like to shoot for 4 books a month (this year's GoodReads challenge), which is still no great shakes compared to what some other readers out there get through—even the ones who read heavier lifting than YA.

So far I'm doing okay on my 2017 GoodReads challenge, but only because I binged on Saga. I am here for comics and graphic novels, especially ones that opt to be anything-but-superhero, but I won't pretend that they're much quicker reading than regular books. Yeah, I sat and read three Saga trade paperbacks, so that counts as three books, but it didn't take me as long as it would to read three traditional novels. The novel my book club picked for February looks really interesting and it's available on the Internet Archive. Plus, it's short, so I have plenty of time to catch up with everyone else who has a head start!

How'd you do on your 2016 reading goals? You crush it or what? Let's talk books!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What I Read: The Moviegoer and Classics Club Update

Access to Stockholm University's library has done a lot for my Classics Club goals. This might finally be the year I finish my list! (Why do I feel like I've been saying that every year since 2011 or 2012?)

I don't have a lot to say about The Moviegoer. I liked Percy's writing and didn't mind the meandering non-plot of things, but I guess I'm not adept at understanding human subtlety because I'm not sure what happened between Binx and his aunt at the end, or how I was supposed to feel about it?



This was an interesting book to read coming off The Day of the Locust, another book that remains first and foremost a character study until a rather tumultuous climax near the end. Both books center on men and their relationship to women, but the difference between them is that The Moviegoer manages to avoid the crudest, most uninspired stereotypes. Arguably it turns around and simply engages in slightly more nuanced takes on other, less overtly hostile stereotypes (the Overbearing Family Matriarch, the Mentally Unstable Manic Pixie Dream Girl), but time for a controversial opinion: if you're a competent writer, and can create an interesting/memorable/unique character nonetheless founded in a trope or stereotype, I'll let you off the hook. The Moviegoer's Kate is (moderately) interesting; The Day of the Locust's Faye is not.

Still, I didn't connect to it the same way that other people, for example Book Slut, got from it, so . . . meh.

What is more interesting for me is the controversy surrounding The Moviegoer's National Book Award. Nothing like good ol' fashioned awards drama!



I suppose now is as good a time as any to look more closely at my Classics Club / TIME Top 100 list!

Last I posted this, I had finished 79 books. As of today, I'm at 96, including the tweaks and changes I've made over the years.

Books Left to Go

1. An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (I might substitute Sister Carrie in for this one, since it's available for free on Amazon Kindle.)

2. The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood (I just can't find this book anywhere, and I've already seen Cabaret, so maybe I should take this off the list and include something else instead?)

3. The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead (I'm slowly reading an ebook version right now, and I'm not impressed, but Adam over at Memento Mori really loved this book and I trust his taste, so . . . I'm conflicted!)

4. Play it As it Lays, Joan Didion (This one is also impossible to find, it seems!)

5. Native Son, Richard Wright (I have no excuse for this one. None.)

The Whole List
(with links to reviews when possible!)


1. The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow
2. All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
3. American Pastoral, Philip Roth
4. An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser
5. Animal Farm, George Orwell
6. Appointment in Samarra, John O'Hara
7. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Judy Blume
8. The Assistant, Bernard Malamud
9. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien
10. Atonement, Ian McEwan
11. Beloved, Toni Morrison

12. The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood
13. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
14. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
15. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
16. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
17. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder

18. The Radiance of the King, Camara Laye
19. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
20. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger


18 / 20


21. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
22. The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron
23. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
24. The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon
25. Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Patton

26. The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West
27. Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
28. A Death in the Family, James Agee

29. The House in Paris, Elizabeth Bowen
30. A House for Mr Biswas V. S. Naipaul
31. The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir
32. The House of the Spirits, Isabell Allende
33. The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles
34. Martha Quest, Doris Lessing
35.Giovanni's Rooms, James Baldwin
36. The Gravedigger's Daughter, Joyce Carol Oates
37. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
38. Please Look After Mother, Shin Kyung-sook
39. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
40. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair


20 / 20

41. The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
42. Native Speaker, Lee Chang-rae
43. The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri

44. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
45. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
46. I, Claudius, Robert Graves
47. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
48. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
49. Light in August, William Faulkner
50. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
51. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
52. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
53. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
54. Kokoro, Soseki Natsumi
55. Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis

56. The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead
57. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
58. Money, Martin Amis

59. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
60. Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

19 / 20

61. Naked Lunch, William Burroughs
62. Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco

63. Native Son, Richard Wright
64. Neuromancer, William Gibson
65. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
66. 1984, George Orwell
67. On the Road, Jack Kerouac
68. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
69. The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosinski

70. The Last Word, Hanif Kureishi
71. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
72. Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion
73. We Need New Names, NoViolet Buwayo
74. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
75. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
76. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
77. Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow

78. The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
79. Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett
80. Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

18 / 20

81. The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles
82. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
83. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

84. Possession, AS Byatt
85. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
86. Your Republic is Calling You, Kim Young-ha
87. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre
88. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
89. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
90. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
91. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
92. Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence

93. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
94. Ubik, Philip K. Dick
95. Under the Net, Iris Murdoch
96. Villa Incognito, Tom Robbins
97. Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

98. White Noise, Don DeLillo
99. White Teeth, Zadie Smith
100. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

20 / 20

95 / 100

So, there you have it! Do you have any suggestions when it comes for the books I'm thinking about replacing? A Tale for the Time Being is definitely under consideration, but other than that, I'm not sure. What should I add to my list?