June 2020, fave media

June was a weird month for me. Two of my fave authors, Nalini Singh & Joey W. Hill, both released new books that I was looking forward to… but I just wasn’t in the right mood to enjoy them. Finding the right book for the moods I was in was difficult. So, while I read a ton of books, this list is heavy on short stories on articles.

Books

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso (Rooks and Ruin #1)

With flawed magic, Ryx’s sole charge is to make sure the Obsidian Tower is never opened. But warring diplomats, a group of traveling spies with their own agenda, and Ryx’s own family throw everything into chaos.

I was ambivalent about Caruso’s The Tethered Mage, but I loved The Obsidian Tower. I was hooked from the get-go. Mystery! Power! A heroine who can’t touch people but longs to! Bad-ass grandmother! Queer people everywhere! A mystery talking cat!


Short Fiction

Sun, Moon, and Wretched Stars” by Ashley Deng

An inheritance of magic after the Revolution.

Trying to find Chinese magic, I wish this were my story.

Little Free Library” by Naomi Kritzer

The narrator puts up a little free library, and her borrowers might not be from this universe.

I need to know what happens next!

The Mermaid Astronaut” by Yoon Ha Lee

What the tin says. Also a variation on The Little Mermaid, where the mermaid trades her fins for legs so she can travel the stars.

Magical, bittersweet.

The Starship and the Temple Cat” by Yoon Ha Lee

What the tin says.

Apparently I have a soft spot for cats boarding spaceships.

Gender and Other Faulty Software” by Josh Wiswell

A story through one side of data logs about gender and spaceships. Audio of the story included.


Podcasts

Jennifer Egan & Susan Choi in conversation on Bookable

Despite having read neither of these authors, I found this super heartening and validating to my own writing process. Especially outlining after having finished a work.


Articles

A University of California regent, a sex harassment accusation and what an investigator found by Nanette Asimov

A look into how “he said/she said” cases are decided. Appalling and fascinating in equal parts.

my employer says they’re committed to diversity — how can I hold them to accountable to that? on AskAManager.org

Read the comments on this one. Really fascinating to see what policies companies put into place that worked.

What #PublishingPaidMe reveals about publishing’s biases by Constance Grady

While I didn’t get to delve into the hashtag as much as I wanted to, this article gets at the jist of it. Anytime we openly talk about money is valuable. Plus it links to this fascinating spreadsheet.

The boss who put everyone on 70K by Stephanie Hegarty

“Before the $70,000 minimum wage, we were having between zero and two babies born per year amongst the team,” he says.

“And since the announcement – and it’s been only about four-and-a-half years – we’ve had more than 40 babies.””

“He thinks it is why Gravity is making more money than ever.

Raising salaries didn’t change people’s motivation – he says staff were already motivated to work hard – but it increased what he calls their capability.”

When black people are in pain, white people just join book clubs by Tre Johnson

“Book clubs, for instance, are comfortable gatherings of friends who are unlikely to nudge one another to the places of discomfort that these books, at their best, demand. Who wants to damage a relationship over something as abstract and removed as racism? Learning about new perspectives and the ideas underlying them is great; wanting to discuss them among friends in safe spaces is understandable. But outside the window are people marching to the beat of a different drum.”

“The right acknowledgment of black justice, humanity, freedom and happiness won’t be found in your book clubs, protest signs, chalk talks or organizational statements. It will be found in your earnest willingness to dismantle systems that stand in our way — be they at your job, in your social network, your neighborhood associations, your family or your home. It’s not just about amplifying our voices, it’s about investing in them and in our businesses, education, political representation, power, housing and art. It starts, also, with reflection on the harm you’ve probably caused in a black person’s life. It may have happened when you were 10, 16, 22, 36 or 42. Comforting as it may be to read and discuss the big questions about race and justice and America, making up for past wrongs means starting with the fact that you’ve done wrong in the past, perhaps without realizing it at the time: in the old workplace, neighborhood, classroom, softball field. Maybe even the book club.”

Soft Parts by Sarah Kasbeer

There’s something soft (no pun intended) about this personal essay about loving stuffed animals as an adult.

How to Feed Crowds in a Protest or Pandemic? The Sikhs Know by Priya Krishna

“The Sikhs’ biggest challenge isn’t keeping up with demand. It’s letting people know that they’re here — without making a big show of it or proselytizing, which is forbidden.”

“While these Sikh volunteers, known as sevadars, are experts in mass-meal preparation, they aren’t as accustomed to spreading the word. The Fremont kitchen has produced 15,000 to 20,000 meals a day on holidays like New Year’s Eve, said Dr. Pritpal Singh, a member of the gurdwara. But now, the gurdwara is serving just 100 to 150 people each day.

Dr. Singh said he hoped that more people in need would come pick up food. “We could do hundreds of thousands of meals if given the task,” he said.””

How to Write the Story of Your Life by Terese Mailhot

“To paraphrase a writer I love, Danielle Evans, “What is the narrative question” in your work, and “What will keep them up at night?” I think of these things. Ask yourself what of your life keeps you up at night, and if you are to impart a story, make it one where you risk something in the telling.”

Hot Allotastic Load by Porpentine

“Feminist/queer spaces are more willing to criticize people than abusive systems because they want to reserve the right to use those systems for their own purposes.”

“— A common enemy isn’t the same as loving each other.

— Don’t be part of spaces that place an ideal or “community leader” above people.”

Confessions of a Terminally Single Romance Novelist by Alisha Rai

“Love, and kindness, and respect—and yes, orgasms—are not asking for too much. Feeling secure and happy is the bare minimum of what any relationship should deliver. Returning texts and not ghosting and showing general interest are good things, but if they are the bar, then my baby brother is right: It is subterranean.”

Podcasts and Tarot Reading Showed Me How to Be Real Instead of “Good” by Sarah Lyn Rodgers

I’m not sure how to describe this essay, but her childhood rings true for me.

“The lesson was this: that if I were deemed a nuisance by people I loved, they would demonstrate for me how little power I had (to explain myself, to get what I needed, to escape); they would overpower me and enjoy it. Or maybe this: That even people who seemed “safe” because they loved and liked me were just waiting for an invitation to bully and shame me, and me being “too much” was the invitation.

How was I supposed to know what it could mean to “hold space” for someone else’s big emotions when there had never been any space for mine?”

Gargoyles Was Nearly the Center of a Vast Disney Cinematic Universe Tasha Robinson interviews Greg Weisman

Having been unaware of all of this when I first saw the series, this was fascinating.

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