Category Archives: Books

My Favorite Christmas Present

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Most awesome present ever!

I totally cheated on this one, and picked it out myself, had the store wrap it, and told the kids they bought me a present when I got home.* How could a book called The Big-Ass Book of Crafts go wrong? Ok, the kids were a bit appalled that they bought me a book with a bad word in the title, but they got over it, since they didn’t actually have to lay out any cash, ;).

I want to make approximately 20 crafts in this book RIGHT NOW, but since I will have to gather supplies first, I have to content myself with making a list of the crafts I want to do as soon as possible.

Lace Glass Plates
Drag Art
3-D Blossom Box
Art Switch Plates
Fabric-Covered Salt and Pepper Shakers
Kid Art Napkins
Bathroom Tile Coasters
Seashell Encrusted Bookends
Kitchen Art Tray
Bubble Stationary
Tin Can Luminaries
Rolled Magazine Bowl and Basket

I could go on, but this is probably enough to keep me busy for a while. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that there is a second book in the series, and a home decor book by the same author, so the crafts will never end! Hooray!

Pictures to come, no doubt until everyone is sick of them.

* What, did you think I was going to say something about my kids’ love or something sentimental like that? No, not when there are crafts to talk about!

On Reading Actual Books

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I used to read all the time. I would meet people at work, people I could not recall ever seeing before, and they would say “Oh yes, you are the one with a book all the time,” because I would keep reading as I walked in the building, until I got to my desk, then start again as soon as I left my desk in the afternoon. In fact, I read so much, I kept a spreadsheet to keep track of it all for a few years.

This is an idea I got from a friend at work. He and his wife started tracking book completions in order to try to encourage his stepson to read more. That didn’t really work, but he kept the list anyway. When we were both keeping a list, he read an average of 30 books per year vs. my average of 80 or so. I remember telling him one day that the reason I read so much more was that I didn’t write regularly like he did, and as a single person, I don’t have another adult in my house that expects me to talk to them all the time, unlike him with his wife. I am still single, but I recently told him that I was totally right on the writing thing. Since I have gotten more serious about writing, I read a LOT less.

Part of this is due to the sheer amount of time available to me in a day. I have spent a lot of time this year rearranging my daily patterns in a lot of ways. More writing, definitely, but also better housekeeping routines, more cooking at home, more exercise, and making a point of doing more social activities out of the home so I don’t turn into a hermit.* All of these things take away some of the time I used to devote to reading.

But it is also due to all the things I can do and read online. When I post my menu to Menu Plan Mondays, I like to look at what everyone else is doing, too. Twitter is hard to break away from–there are so many interesting people to follow, and they link to so many interesting articles. I learn a lot of things about topics I wouldn’t have even known to search out this way, and lots more about topics in which I am already interested. I have a problem, in that I follow people in many areas–books, writing, science fiction, feminism, economics, gardening, DIY, environmentalism–all of these topics having thriving online communities that can suck up hours of my time every time I go online.

I do love learning all of these things, but lately I am missing my longer form reading. I have been carrying books on the train with me for my commute, but then using all my time to try to catch up on Twitter, as if that is possible. This morning I was determined to read my book, not my phone, and that is what I did. It was a much more relaxing commute, I have to say. I’ve also been putting the phone down at night and reading a bit before I go to sleep, which makes for a much more relaxing transition. I even had the whole family reading for awhile yesterday afternoon. I took inspiration from my son’s school and declared it was SQUIRT time–Super Quiet Uninterrupted Reading Time. It was so nice with all of us hanging out in the living room reading.

Right now, I am reading The House on Durrow Street, by Galen Beckett. What are you reading?

* As an aside, I would totally turn into a crazy cat lady except for one thing–I am so very allergic to cats, 😦

Aside

..and read the book. I am co-moderating the #FeministSF Twitter chat next week on Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Even if you can’t make the chat, I highly recommend that you read the book, because it is one of my favorite books ever. It is a compelling thought experiment on how to set up a planned society, and how it is  human nature settle into rule following, even when the rules are cultural rather than legal. The chat is next Sunday, 11/6, at 1:00 Central time.

Save the Date…

Women in SF

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As I think I mentioned before, I am volunteering to do some statistics on women in SF for Broad Universe. We are trying to get some more detailed and current information than what is on the site now. As you can imagine, this is a very time-consuming process, but it is interesting. A few quick thoughts:

  • I am looking at the Nebula Awards now, and it is interesting to note how many years there are no female nominees at all. If there were any years with no male nominees, I wouldn’t think that was necessarily a sign of bias–maybe some years the men were just stronger. It defies belief, though, to think that could be true and it would never be the other way around.
  • I have been spending a bunch of time on Wikipedia, checking the gender of authors that are not immediately clear from the name (androgynous names like Chris or Alex, initials instead of names, vague ideas I heard that might be a woman–that sort of thing), and I find that I really wish I had more time to flesh out the entries of the female authors. There are a few stubs for male authors, but there are a lot for the women.
  • People who put up big websites with big websites with lots of information, like http://feministsf.org/ must really love what they doing–this stuff takes a lot of time! It is great to have an SF community with people who love it enough to provide all kinds of information on their own time.
I have spent a lot of time on the Nebulas alone, and there are a lot of awards out there, so I am not sure when all the data will be up to be seen on the site, but I am finding it an education to look through the nominees and winners in detail like this. I am one of those people who think that if data is good, more data is awesome, so this is a fun way to contribute for me. I will keep you posted as I get further along.

OMG! Girls read scifi?!?!?

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Look, it is yet another article expressing great surprise that the ladies like anything other than insipid romantic comedies!

First, this quote cracks me up:

Traditionally, networks — especially broadcast networks — have attempted to grab young women viewers with romantic comedies, keeping the mindset that fantasy is for boys and romance is for girls.

Reworded: The mindset is that fantasy is for boys, and fantasy is for girls (but only if it is as bland as we can possibly make it).

Another telling quote:

The anecdotal evidence is everywhere. There was “Xena: Warrior Princess,” Dana Scully on “The X-Files,” Claire Bennett on “Heroes,” and many others. More recently, “True Blood,” which features heroine Sookie Stackhouse and vampires Pam and Jessica, has become one of HBO’s hottest properties….Still, it’s an uphill battle for geek girls to get recognized as a consumer force to be reckoned with — even when it comes to HBO.

Reworded: Even though we have plenty of evidence that women like this stuff, we still can’t believe it doesn’t offend their delicate sensibilities, and besides, we know what they want better than they do.

It is laughably easy to find women who love science fiction. You don’t have to be an inspired researcher to find them. You can go to one of the many blogs for female geeks. You can hang out on the Feminist SF board at LibraryThing. You can go to a convention. You can go to your local bookstore and hang out in the sf section (just try not to look too creepy).

Another great resource is the blogs of female sf writers. A few awesome ones:

N.K. Jemisin
Chris Moriarty
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Rachel Swirsky

The problem about writing about this is that there are so many interesting things out on the internet, research degenerates into a long bout of reading interesting things that other people have to say on the topic. I had to stop at 4 examples of author blogs because I couldn’t afford to spend 30 – 60 minutes apiece reading on any more of them. I have been writing this post for two days now, ;). (Hey, did you know that female fandom began organizing isn the 1970s? Wikipedia has more information, as usual.) Plus, thinking everything I have already thought about this and trying to distill it into a coherent blog post is nearly impossible. I am all “What about Tiptree? What about all those women who loved Buffy? And Joss Whedon is amazing! And all my cool friends love sf! And what the &^$% is wrong with these people?!?”

I have been talking about sf here and elsewhere for decades now, and I have never had any real trouble finding other women who share my interest. I get so tired of finding that people are surprised that it is possible to have two X chromosomes and be interested in stories about ideas at the same time.