I wrote about my feelings towards the end of my #readharder2016 journey last year. I have some thoughts and feelings about this year’s challenge as well.
I should preface this by saying that I added a layer of complexity to my own version of the reading challenge for 2017. Inspired by the dominance of xenophonia and hate with the election of you-know-who, I decided I would no longer consume media written by straight, white men. And I would limit the number of white women on the list to four. I did cave a few times this year (The Gift of Fear being the stand out example, worth it in my opinion and a parenting book, co-written by a straight white couple).
But for my Read Harder, I sought out authors of color and I tried to purchase those books whenever I could. I also tried to take the time to review all the books by authors of color on Goodreads – these reviews are vitally important to feeding the Big Data Machine. I want there to be more stories from all these voices; from gender non-conforming individuals, to black women and men and for writing in translation. I did fall short of limiting my number of white women, I have 5 books I consider to be by white women (one is a native French woman) or I cannot tell from author bios on Amazon or Goodreads.
I know that I would never have read as much as I have this year without this challenge. I’ve read 46 books and it’s only the first week of November! But I have also joined a monthly feminist book club locally and the idea of having some sort of assigned reading next year that amounts to 36 books…is daunting to say the least. I was given a book by a good friend in the spring and I still have not picked it up yet. That’s a travesty! In 2018, I’d like to try to find a balance between pushing myself, growing in my understanding of feminism and reading as and for pleasure.
Watching Elijah (Fall Short North #1) by Amy Spector: This short story was for the ‘Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location’ task for Read Harder. It’s a simple story about moving past the terrible things that life throws at you and finding happiness on the other side. Set in my city, this short story was a breeze to read and engaging. I loved all the little details that screamed The Short North to me! I’d highly recommend this novella!
The House of the Spirits by Isabell Allende: Oh man, The House of the Spirits. I chose this as my ‘reread’ task for Read Harder because I remember loving this translated novel when I first read it in high school and then when I read it in the original Spanish in college. Well, I have to say that I’m not sure this holds up for me anymore. I know that my politics have changed and I’ve become even more strident with age and parenthood but the actions some of the main characters take I cannot support and the class issues are impossible to ignore. All in all, I’m a bit disappointed I reread this and the varnish of memory is gone. Island Beneath the Sea and Daughter of Fortune are Allende books I have read more recently and I’d recommend.
Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova: Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power; which, of course does not go as planned. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be really inventive in the fantasy genre. There’s a bisexual love triangle that is smartly, and normally, handled.
Let The Words by Yona Wallach: My LAST Read Harder 2017 book! I am so glad to have finished this challenge for this year! However, I do regret leaving the genre I connect with the absolute least, poetry, to last. I really struggled with this free form collection of poetry, but as always, am glad for this genre which helped me stretch.
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde: This was something I suggested for book club but I ended up missing it as I had the date wrong. What a bummer! I enjoyed reading this classic collection of feminist essays and value Lorde’s perspective on the intersection of race and gender in American society (and how it needs to be radically altered).
The upstairs of our house has this weird landing area outside the main bedroom. It’s too small for an office (and with the knee wall, it would have meant all new furniture) but it’s too large to just walk through on the way to the bedroom. I wanted to make use of the attic space on either side and had M build in some book cases. I originally wanted something wider but that would have required cutting load bearing 2x4s and we weren’t sure we knew enough to properly re-enforce them yet. We ended up with 3 smaller, more modern looking shadow boxes and I love them! They would also be more versatile if we ever want to change up how we use this space (I can see it becoming an office when we save up for new furniture).
What we did:
Removed the old spindles over the half wall up the stairs
Built in 3 bookcases into the pony wall
Switch the light fixture for something lighter and more modern
Add in a new chaise lounge
Hang plants from ceiling
Sew and hang curtains
Gah! My first big road race in many years. I had not started this running season in April thinking a half marathon was in the cards for me this year. I had considered myself still ‘newly postpartum’ (which, now is no longer true!). A good friend hooked me up with the Columbus chapter of Moms Run This Town and I was soon back up to running three or four times a week. Through those early morning runs, I found two running partners with whom I started regularly running long with on the weekends. They completely talked me into running the Columbus Half with them. I had a BLAST.
Packet pick up at the convention center was crowded and a bit overwhelming (which really surprised me, since I used to work the Chicago convention for years). But we made a day of it downtown and it was energizing for the race. On race day we got dropped off early and had plenty of time to find our way around. The corrals were marshaled by volunteers from the Charity Newsies and I felt all the logistics where very well done. Crowd support was really great for the whole half but I do think it would have been hard to do the full at Columbus since you have to pass the finish line when you are just at 13 miles.
This is the marquee race for Columbus and I can see why. My running club does volunteer as well; so I expect to be back next year, either running or volunteering at the split.
I ran this race with one of my running partners and I had originally signed up for this to be my longest race of the year.
The course was on a public running path and the field was really limited – it only felt crowded at the beginning of the race. Due to the heat, they changed the course so that the 20 milers doubled back on the 10 mile loop we were running. It made for a cheerful atmosphere and let us runners cheer each other on more.
I was very happy with how this race went – we only slowed down from goal 15 seconds a mile due to the heat. It was very well organized and I would absolutely run another Columbus Running Company race.
(sorry there’s no photo but this was de-licious)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4pounds well-marbled beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 1/2 pounds pumpkin peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks (~4 cups)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
15 oz can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a 5 or 6-quart Dutch oven. Dredge the meat in the flour, shaking off the excess. Working in batches, add the beef and cook until browned all over, about 7 minutes. As you work, transfer the meat to a bowl.
Add the garlic, onions and bell peppers and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the cocoa powder, cumin, paprika and ancho chili powder. Return the meat to the pan and stir until well coated. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water, the pumpkin, tomato paste and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until the meat is tender, about an 1 to 1 hour 30 minutes.
Stir in the beans, return to the oven, and bake for 10 more minutes.
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart: I found this at our library and I remember loving the other book I read by Stewart. This was a quick read and I really enjoyed it but it isn’t earth shattering YA work.
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay: This was a book selection for a new book club I’m attending (or…trying to) locally. It’s a collection of essays from Gay that was published in 2014 and some of it was hard to read, as things are very different now politically. Essay collections are not my favorite genre but I enjoyed her commentary on media and representation.
Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott: I found Jennifer online first and decided to pick up one of her books from the library. I love her idea of a 10 item wardrobe so I thought I’d really enjoy this book. While I laud Ms. Scott for turning a run of the mill study aboard experience into a writing career, I found this book reductionist and overly simplistic. She presents all Americans as sloppy, fat and ill-mannered and all the French she encountered as chic, formal and perfectly well-cultured. Skip this book.
I’ve decided that doing these quarterly for the next year or so makes the most sense to capture where we’re at with our beloved little dude and giving him some privacy as he continues to grow.
Likes: cottage cheese, playing outside, riding [read: being pushed on] your trike, climbing on the furniture
Dislikes: diaper changes, not being able to type on a computer or phone,
Who You Saw: one of Mama’s friends and her wee one came for a visit, the eclipse!
Where We Went: so many parks, Chicago for 1 day, the Ohio State Fair!
Milestones: you are running with abandon, saying dada/mama, feeding your with a spoon or fork, stacking toys and cups, starting to follow directions