Leah over at Leah’s Books indirectly tagged me on Wednesday, when she posted her answers to the Stay at Home Book Tag. Like the Netflix tag, this one’s also a fun way to reflect on how books have gotten us through this dystopian year. It’s all about literary self-care and mutual motivation. Also, three of the prompts are a perfect opportunity to review the last few books I read for Armed With a Bingo (except for Carry On, which is getting its own post).
And so! Here are my answers to…
The Stay at Home Book Tag
Laying in bed: a book you read in a day
- Bingo square: Book I meant to read last year.
As I said in my previous post, I’d been meaning to explore the Lumberjanes universe more deeply for several years now, but never got beyond the main canon until recently. The other day, while visiting one of my local comics shops, I saw this book on one of the turnstiles:
It’s an aww-dorable Mal/Molly story in which our favorite supernatural-summer-camp couple starts wondering if they’re paying a little too much attention to each other and not enough to their other friends. Which their cabin counselor Jen thinks is a perfect opportunity for some deep-woods cooperative trailblazing! A whole day out in the wild with just a map and an oddly finicky compass? What could POSSIBLY go weird?
To put it in more SPOILERy terms (skip to the next paragraph if you’d rather), it’s basically the “Remember Me” episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation.
To put it more vaguely, it’s a heartwarming one-shot, though the art style did take some getting used to. Polterink’s Lumberjanes are less cartooney than Brooke Allen’s, and the color scheme is just black-and-white, with green accents (symbolism?). Plus, Jen and all the Roanoakes except April are uncharacteristically gullible when they first meet the unnervingly “helpful” automatons.
And also, hellooo! The perfect couple name for Mal and Molly is obviously MALLY!!!
Still, though. Heartwarming.
4Snacking: a “guilty pleasure” read
Pretty much all of the Sweet Valley books, but especially the Twins and High series, with their insane melodramas and cringe-tastic 80s messages. There’s no escaping this delightful dystopia. Apparently, I actually tried that in 2013, but then the Double Love podcast came along and one thing led to another, and now there’s a new segment here @ Postcards and we might as well just sing the last verse of “Hotel California” together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be at the digital Beach Disco, voting for Queen of the Third Weekend of August or whatever.
Netflix: a series you want to start
The category name is eerily perfect, because my interest in Terry Brooks’ Shannara Chronicles ignited when my family binged the Netflix show for a few weeks last month. If you don’t want to be SPOILED, I suggest skipping to the next section.
Basically, I have this half-delightful/half-dreadful feeling that Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series is a prequel to the Shannara Chronicles. Brooks’ series apparently takes place in the distant-future ruins of San Francisco after some nuclear cataclysm or whatever. On the bright side, the humans in this world live alongside elves and other Faerie beings, all of whom (at least according to the show) have evolved to be totally queer-friendly (or at least totally nonchalant about the two bisexual characters in the realm). I’m also curious to see whether the books are as ethnically diverse as the show, or whether that was a 21st-century update.
Deep Clean: a book that’s been on my TBR for ages
I bought this back in the early 2000s (it was published in 2008) and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, promising a deep dive (ha!) into ocean science to flesh out my finfolk stories. Now that I’m seventeen chapters into my latest WIP, I’ve decided to actually start consulting this oceanic oracle for inspiration and background. And yes, I’m absolutely reading the text in David Attenborough’s voice.
Did you know that some of Earth’s seawater came from comets that crashed into the newborn planet four billion years ago? Did you know that long ago, when there were higher sea levels, there were epicontinental (inland) seas with no tides? Did you know that changes in solar radiation cause daytime breezes to flow toward the land and nighttime breezes to flow back out to sea?
As the Bill Nye narrator would say: Now you know!
Animal Crossing: a book I recently bought because of the cover
I absolutely bought Cornelia Funke’s novelization of Pan’s Labyrinth last Fall because of the shiny turquoise cover (the image above doesn’t do it justice). So far, the story itself is a loving and lovely homage to fairy tales and their most devoted fans. I’ve been putting off finishing the rest of the book, though, because I know it’s going to get preeeeetty depressing before it reaches its bittersweet end. This is the stuff of the most macabre fairy tales, rooted in real-life horrors. If you’ve seen the movie, you know things will turn out soooort of ok(ish?) in the end (ok, so it’s debatable), but it’s still not a bubble bath or hammock read.
Productivity: a book that taught me something/had an impact on me
- Bingo square: a nonfiction book
I kept seeing this book in my Instagram feed in the past few months, and finally ordered myself a copy. Nyasha Williams’ and Sofya Glushko’s What’s the Commotion in the Ocean? is a quick lesson on caring better for the seas by reducing plastic waste, eating only safe/sustainable seafood, planting trees, doing periodic beach clean-ups, and more. The story is narrated in rhyme by a mermaid who shows us some of the damage she sees in her home, from fertilizers that flow “into the seas and oceans, ending up polluting our waters like a thick, dark potion” to the oil that “sits on the surface of our home, causing the harm of animals and helping create awful dead zones.”
There were a few minor proofreading errors, but overall, it’s a gorgeous book, and it even comes with an extra-large postcard showing the mermaid gazing out at a streaming school of fish (at least, if you order the book from her website).
You can learn more about the book, and Williams’ other work, here. I’m certainly tempted by her Vitamin Sea coloring book…if only I had the patience! I’m not exactly the zentangle type, but if I was, I’d definitely download the pages.
Facetime: a book I was gifted
Another book I’ve been hoarding was a Christmas gift my cousin and grandmother bought for me in Lithuania a few years ago. It’s a collection of essays by folklorist Norbertas Vėlius on Lithuanian mythology, and it, too, is going to come in handy during my deeper research sessions. The subjects range from Lithuanian gods and faeries to figures from Indian mythology (I know! I’m curious about the connection, too!).
Self-care: what’s one thing I’ve done recently to take care of myself?
- Bingo square: an indie read. Nathan Pyle began Strange and Stranger Planet as an ongoing series of webcomics — srsly, follow him on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. It’ll significantly improve your awake-time. There are talking pigeons, too.
Besides a navasana-load* of yoga (I HIGHLY recommend the Yoga Shakti DVD, which allows you to create your own custom class with the “Yoga Matrix”) and about six CDs’ worth of meditative music from iTunes, I’ve also been buying lots of light-hearted books to keep my outlook positive for the past five months. One of these was Nathan Pyle’s second collection of amusing
alien being anecdotes: Stranger Planet.
Observe as these blue (da ba dee…) beings engage with nature, care for their offspring and household creatures, ingest mild poisons during Joyful Hour, test the sincerity of musical celebrities who claim to have completed their performances, and even (SPOILER alert!) read about eerily similar beings from a parallel planet who use “cool” expressions for everyday “stuff”!
Some of the comics are new, some will be familiar if you followed him before June, and some are extended versions of familiar episodes.
Anyone want to brainstorm the infinite variations of “Stranger” that Pyle could use for his future books? We certainly can’t have “Strangest Planet” until he’s absolutely run out of ideas!
* Navasana means boat
Bonus: an upcoming release I’m looking forward to
Well, of COURSE I pre-ordered myself the next October Daye e-book! Apparently, Toby and Tybalt are FINALLY tying the magical knot…if they can solve yet another potentially kingdom-shattering dilemma first.
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Once again, I tag all the Bookwyrms who feel like playing! What have you been reading this past year, to keep your outlook bright? What hopeful reads are you looking forward to?
“Spongebob Indoors” GIF from tenor.