All the Books I’ve Read in Korea (16-30)

52 Books, Books, Korea, Weatherly Reviews

Here’s part two (Books 16-30) of “All the Books I’ve Read in Korea,” a thrilling series that only one person in the entire world cares about (me.) Enjoy!

16. The Bad Beginning – Lemony Snicket. I suddenly got the urge to read the first Series of Unfortunate Events book, because despite knowing the stories well I don’t remember ever reading them as a child. Also because I realized at this point that I was behind on my book count for my reading challenge, and children’s books are always the way to go for quick catchups. I think I read this in one sitting, and it was the same sort of feeling I got from not reading it in childhood: the idea is totally for me, but the book itself isn’t.

17. Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay. I listened to this while getting my classroom ready before school started, I think? I have memories of climbing onto the cabinets to take some truly horrendous paper vines down off the bulletin board at the same time as Gay is talking about Green Girl and the need for truly feminist media. It was empowering, but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. Mostly, I think, because it was too long in parts.

18. Why Not Me – Mindy Kaling. Oh. This book. This book may have very well saved my life. Well, or my sanity. Definitely one of those, maybe both. So let me tell you a story. This is a story about a girl who, despite being naturally fairly durable with quick reflexes, does not like to exercise. Or go outside. Or, you know, be active in general. This girl thought it would be fun to go on a light hiking trip to one of the most beautiful places in Facebook photos, Seoraksan, a very tall mountain in Korea. This girl thought that, for the trip to be open to the public and publicized as a casual hike with some options for more experienced hikers, the way would be, if a bit sweaty, still doable. This girl then went hiking with a group of people who were obviously masochistic psychopaths parading as casual hikers, including her trip-buddy, a military trained outdoors hiker from Finland who decided to do the 12-hour hike up to the very highest peak of the mountain “just because.” That girl, if you didn’t already know, was a pitiable Past Weatherly, who had no idea that Korea is the Land of the Morning Calm, the Country of Kimchi, and the Nation of the Worst Mountains in the History of Mountains Seriously Who the Fuck Decided to Make This Torture a Pastime?

Basically, I separated myself from the group of crazies, turned on my Mindy Kaling audiobook, and took frequent stone naps, starting at 3am and progressing to 4pm. It was a learning experience wherein the thing I learned was that I refuse to ever experience that again.

The book was hilarious, though.

18. Carry On – Rainbow Rowell. I’m a big fan of Rowell’s other work (see Fangirl, my comfort read to end all comfort reads), but this one was just ok. It felt like a novelty. I mean, it was sort of a novelty, but the best novelties feel important, at least in the moment. I guess that made it a novel novelty. heh.

19. Devil in the White City – Erik Larson. Because nothing says “relax into a cozy chilly November” than reading about serial killers. What, that doesn’t work for you? huh.

20. Tampa – Alissa Nutting. To be perfectly honest, reading about a teacher who sleeps with her young students while being a teacher constantly surrounded by young students was one of the most disturbing reading experiences of my life. This book was super difficult to read (I think it took me four months in total, actually), and the comparisons to Lolita stop at the pedophilia– the writing isn’t anything gorgeous. It’s straightforward, though, and it definitely does its job in crafting a truly horrifying villain in the main character. So… good job? I guess? *Rushes to take 1,000 showers*

21. Julie & Julia – Julie Powell. This is another comfort read for me, and I read it more as a motivational book than a memoir. The idea of doing something every single day for a year and documenting it is something I’m SUPER INTO, though of course you’d never know it by my complete lack of blog… Whenever I read this book, I also get the completely unfounded notion that I might be a culinary genius. This high lasts for about as long as it takes me to fail at baking a potato, or burn a grilled cheese that I have put expensive cheese on, for the flavor palate. 

22. Blue is the Warmest Color – Julie Maroh. This broke my heart into a thousand pieces. I read this as a substitute for watching the movie, which I am self aware enough to realize will deliver an emotional blow from which I will never recover.

23. Flora and the Flamingo – Molly Idle. Look, I was behind on my book count so I read a children’s book alright? Sue me.

24. Under the Banner of Heaven Jon Krakauer. Being completely non-religious myself, I find great joy in learning about religious practices leading to a violent, crazed end. Plus, you know, Mormons. I can’t get enough of Mormons.

25. One More Thing – BJ Novak. This was a reread, and is one of my favorite short story collections of all time. My dad hates it because when we listened to the audiobook in the car, the first two minutes had the word ‘fuck’ maybe 16 times. It’s an acquired taste, I guess.

26. Pixies – Sean Patrick O’Reilly. Pass.

27. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak. So I read several children’s books. SUE ME AGAIN, THEN. MY LAWYER’S NUMBER CAN BE FOUND ON A BILLBOARD IN LOWER ALABAMA.

28. Powerpuff Girls, Various– Troy Little. I mean. It’s the Powerpuff Girls. (Whenever a series of comics comes up, I’m just going to count them as one, because I probably have no idea which individual book is which anyways, and you probably don’t care. It’s a win-win, if by “win” I meant “arbitrary decision.”

29. Adventure Time, Various. I mean. It’s Adventure Time. (Actually, no, these weren’t my favorite, I read them to catch on my lagging book count, and because they was free on Scribd. I really like the TV series, but I find the comics to be a little dull, except for the ones about Marceline x PB, and the ones about Fionna and Cake.)

30. Conversation #1 – James Kochalka. This is a conversation about philosophy and what art means and other deep stuff, that takes place between two artists in the medium of art. It’s pretty neat.

 

The next 15 contain a lot of chick books and a lot of comic books. What joy.

W

 

All the Books I’ve Read in Korea (1-15)

52 Books, Books, Korea

One of my habits when I start a new physical book is to make a note in the front of when I start reading it and where I am at that moment. This past year I’ve had the (honestly too intense) pleasure of being able to write “Started in Korea” on a lot of inside covers, hopefully to be found sometime in the future, when my future self will be amazed that that object was once in a foreign country, and the body holding it was there with it.

Then again, maybe I’ll continue my well-established habit, and never ever pick up any of these books again. *Shrug* whatevskies. Here are the books I read in Korea (part 1.)

2015:

  1. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair – Nina Sankovitch. This one, to be fair was started in the US and finished, I think, either at the airport or on the plane. Still, I’ll count it for nostalgia’s sake.)
  2. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro. I read this book in the week when I had no wifi in my house, and was pretty sure I’d just made the biggest mistake of my life moving to a random country on the opposite side of the globe. I felt completely cut off from everyone I knew, from everyone I didn’t know, from life in general. I cried a lot. I loved this book.
  3. The Bees – Laline Paull. I have distinct memories of listening to this audiobook in the very, very long taxi ride from my first hotel to my school (before every seeing my apartment.) I remember feeling equal parts incredibly calm (oh look, a bridge over a body of water! Where I’m from, there’s also a bridge over a body of water! I’m practically in Alabama!) and incredibly panicky (why did my recruiter not pick me up? Why am I going to the school already? Am I going to have to teach? If I run away now and somehow hitch a ride back to America would it be possible to fake being in Korea for a year to hide my shame?) It probably goes without saying, but I probably would have enjoyed this book if I could have found any room in my head at all to give an iota of a shit about bees.
  4. Boy Meets Boy – David Levithan. See The Bees-era freak out. I honestly don’t even remember reading this book.
  5. You’re Never Weird on the Internet – Felicia Day. This is the book that both brought me down from a panic attack (s. Multiple. Maybe a week’s worth…) and also motivated me to get out of my house to find the elusive “PC Bang” down the street. I would have walked for an entire day listening to this audiobook, for five minutes of uninterrupted wifi. Thankfully, it’s about a mile away, and the man took pity on me/possibly had never seen a white girl in his entire life, and gave me wifi for free. Ahh, Felicia Day. This book is why I love you so so much.
  6. Forever – Judy Blume. This was when I started getting my bearings just a *bit* more (though possibly still in the WifiLess Week Hellscape of 2015, hard to say), and I thought I should probably read some Judy Blume, because I’d somehow managed to go through prepubescence as a girl and not done so. This was alright. I think I missed the right age for Judy Blume. By a decade and a half.
  7. Fangirl – Rainbow RowellThis was pure comfort reading, and I loved it. I read this anytime my brain needs a break, it works similarly to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, minus having to encounter all of those characters who are now dead.
  8. Mishka and the Sea Devil – Xenia Pamfil. Pass.
  9. The Woods Volume 1, The Arrow – James Tynion IVPass.
  10. All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven. Literally one of the top 5 worst books I’ve ever read, including every math textbook since 9th grade.
  11. Bird by BirdAnne Lamott. I liked a lot of this, especially some of the things she had to say about writing. I don’t like that she has white lady dreadlocks. That throws me off a lot.
  12. Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins. Another comfort read. You can see I’m trying to adjust myself to Korea by reading things that make me feel happy, rather than things that challenge me in any way. I’m pretty proud of myself for going this route of self-comfort, rather than screaming in emotional agony in public or jumping in front of public transport. You read all the YA romance you want, Past Weatherly, you’re doing fine.
  13. The Hours – Michael Cunningham. I suddenly became self-aware enough to realize all I was reading was comfort books and picked this up at What the Book, the English language bookstore in Seoul. I started reading it while eating by myself at Vatos Tacos in Itaewon, where I ended up talking to a girl from -I think- Australia who’d gone to the DMZ the day before, and was traveling around Asia by herself for a while before going back down under. Suddenly had the realization that I am better at socializing with people than I was when I left for Korea. Must be all of the forced talking I have to do at my job. Don’t remember much about this book, except that the language was so beautiful that I underlined everything, and the story so unmemorable that I can only think of typing “someone had AIDS and someone was Virginia Woolf.” Riveting.
  14. Locke & Key series – Joe Hill. I think this might be the first time I realized how awesome Scribd was, and started using it regularly. I read this whole series over the course of maybe three weeks, and it was awesome. I finished the last one while at work and only just managed to refrain from crying like a baby.
  15. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – Caitlin Doughty. This sparked in me an insane interest in cremation and burial traditions that lasted about a week and, (I think?) lead me to one of my still-favorite Youtubers, Catguts. It also made me 100% convinced that being buried in a casket is the dumbest thing you can do while already dead.

So those are the first 15 books I read while in Korea, I’m going to keep wrapping up all of the books I’ve read here in these little blurbs because my blog my rules. This is a nice trip down memory lane (for me.) It totally makes up for being a shit blogger for an entire year, right? RIGHT?

W

 

 

24 Days Left in the ROK.

Korea, Personal

So. Here we are. July. Arguably the worst month of the year, as an adult (arguably because I assume there are other people in the world with less grumpy outlooks on being hot and sweaty and having to go to work despite being trained for the first 18 years of life that July is Summer Vacation and is not good for anything other than eating popsicles, pretending to read the summer reading list while actually watching Law and Order, and wishing you were back at school.

I have 24 days left of being in Korea. 24. It’s freaking me out a little, I’ll be totally honest. It’s strange, on one hand, because I still have a week and half of classes left, and often I feel like every day is a tiny infinity  of children screaming Ooedehrree! (the Korean pronunciation of Weatherly) that I have to get through before coming home to the quiet of my apartment to try and do as much nothing as possible before falling asleep and doing it all over again.

It’s strange on the other hand because holy shit, 24 days left of living in this country and then I’ll go back to America?!? I’ve already been here a year?!? I can clearly remember the day I left, every detail, including being upset I had to leave my ukulele at home and not being able to sleep the night before, thinking I was going to cry at the airport when leaving my family but not actually doing so, feeling like I was actually only leaving for a weekend holiday and therefore being completely calm, reading Tank Girl at the airport in New York and thinking this was going to be a breeze, and then getting through half of the 12 hour plane ride before falling into an unimaginable sense of panic that would last for, oh, the next two months.

And now I am leaving. Very very soon, actually. I don’t have a job that I’m going back to, and I don’t have solid plans for the future, I don’t really understand what I’ve learned (if anything) in the space of a year, except a smattering of Korean and how to properly roast broccoli. I’m actually scared that I’ll go back and it will be too familiar, that I won’t have been gone long enough for everything to seem different and special and strange. I’m scared that I won’t experience the reverse culture shock that everyone warns about, that I’m actually excited about. I’m truly, horribly, down-to-my-bones scared that I will end up in massive debt and without a job and regretting the decision to both move back to America and of moving away from it in the first place.

And I’m scared that I’ll never get to come back. Or go anywhere else. That this was my one chance to explore.

 

Mostly, though, I’m just excited to eat.

 

Foods I Miss

Uncategorized

Roast beef rice and gravy

Chicken broccoli casserole

Ham and potato salad

White queso dip

Real Mexican food

Thick cheeseburgers with cheddar cheese

Cheese, full stop

Homemade pizza

Olives

Hummus

Tomato pie

Velveeta and beef queso

Easy salads with pumpernickel croutons

 

 

 

This has been a completely useless blog post, born out of there being an insane amount of food I miss from America.

T-minus 73 days until my flight leaves, how would you rate my blogging in Korea? 0/10? Negatives? “Is this a blog I thought it was an aggregator of useless shit”? Let me know in the comments!

 

-W

Getting my shnocks together

Personal

These past few days I’ve been getting my life together. I’ve done yoga twice a day (10 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes and a TRICK 50 minutes at night. Sneaky video, I see your time stamp.) I’ve set out my outfit before I fall asleep, so Morning Weatherly doesn’t make me show up to work in five different patterns, half of which are pajamas (I like patterns, but come on Morning Weatherly, we’re trying to teach English not give out seizures like candy.) I’ve set out breakfast fixings with a cute little note and actually eaten breakfast before going to work, something I can safely say I’ve done… maybe 10 times in the three (four??) years I’ve been out of college. I’ve even started thinking about a budget, and like… time management and shit. Seriously guys, it’s a little revolting. Am I becoming an adult? And if so… can I make it stop?

In all seriousness, i have about six months until I leave Korea. I know, it’s kind of weird for me too. (What, you weren’t going to say it’s weird because it’s hard to really invest in the timelines of strangers?)

The thing is, I’m actually shit at the adult things that really count. It’s been less than a year *cough* month* that my bank account has been withdrawn. My student loans are all a mess. I’m paying for my car from overseas, but I take full advantage of the several day grace period before late payments are penalized (yeah but when are they really due? *twirls hair*) I have been eating vegetarian at home… because I spent too much money on my Japan trip and therefore have zero money to spend on groceries (actually JUST got paid, thank GOD.) It’s like half of my brain has moved up to Fix it Felix while the other half is still stuck in Sugar Rush. (Yes, I just watched Wreck it Ralph, ok? Not my fault the high-minded cultural references are lost on you…)

I’ve made some good decisions, though. Some about grad school, some about life in general. I’ve felt a lot more motivated to do things. I hope it lasts.

Here are some things that have been inspiring me, in this crazed self improvement

What a disappointment.

Personal

Just found out the movie isn’t Tinker Taylor, Soldier Spy, about a super clever, militarily involved adventure seeker with an alliterative name…

But is actually Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy about… some boring crap that isn’t Tinker Taylor, the James Bond Harry Potter.

I’m honestly much more upset by this than I was expecting.

 

 

 

P.S. I’ll post my Japan pictures soon. I’m the slowest/worst/busy.

W

Movies I Watched in January

50 Movies 2016, Film

In keeping with my 50 Movies in 2016 challenge, I made an effort to watch more movies than usual this month. I usually have a habit of bingeing on tv shows (and I definitely did that too), but for some reason when I sit down to watch a movie I just get so easily distracted, no matter how good it is. Sometimes I’ll have to pause it and come back to it after surfing the internet or getting something to eat. What can I say? I’m a product of the digital age– I like constant, ever-changing stimuli.

Even so, I managed to watch 5 movies this month, and all of them new-to-me! A pretty good start to the challenge, I must say.

The Propaganda Game (2015) – Propaganda_ 3Poster_creditsA4_3Documentary. Longer review posted. Really enjoyed this, though I don’t think it added too much to a genre I already am pretty well versed in (North Korean ‘what it’s really like’ documentaries).

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghost Army (2013)71h29bvzqcl-_sl1500_Documentary. I’d heard about the book with the same title, and checked this out because of some good reviews, and it was wonderful. It’s about the, well, “Ghost Army,” if you hadn’t guessed, the troop of military personnel used in World War I that served in a non-combat division of the US army that specialized in diversion and deception. Artists, sound engineers, and other special forces were banded together to impersonate army battalions using fake weapons, tanks, track marks, sound effects, radio chatter, and all sorts of other tactics. Really, really interesting– more interesting than the actual war, to be honest. Definitely watch it.

 

“American Experience” The Poisoner’s Handbook poisoners_postervf-lores3-660x977(2014) – Documentary. This is a PBS documentary on the invention and rise of forensic science in Jazz Age New York. I love a good poison study, and it featured some really excellent reenactments (which is cool, because many reenactments are just garbage.) I’d say, watch it if the subject’s in your wheelhouse, or if you were planning to time travel back to the early 20th century to murder someone. Otherwise, skip it.

 

 

 

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013) the-kingdom-of-dreams-and-mDocumentary. Behind-the-scenes for one year as Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli work on The Wind Rises, and discuss animation, storytelling, and how Miyazaki’s political views and personal history affect his storytelling. It was, at times, incredibly slow, but it was supposed to be. Much of the film focuses on Miyazaki’s creative genius, and how he takes the time to think, and breathe, and enjoy nature, and take care of himself, amidst all of the hard work he does. He came off as a somewhat grumpy old man, a little sad about the world, nostalgic, and ultimately hopeful. It was a really peaceful film, and it gave me an interesting insight into Japanese creative life (at least, one Japanese creative life), that I will keep in mind on my visit. You should watch it, but only after you’ve seen at least two or three Ghibli films, as otherwise it’ll be a bit dull (though still really interesting/calming.)

 

Howl’s Moving Castle (2014) howls-moving-castle I’m still catching up on all of the Ghibli, and this is one that I hadn’t watched, for fear of it not being my thing. How. Wrong. Was. I. This movie couldn’t be more my thing. I LOVED IT. I loved it. It was, of course, absurdly beautiful, visually. The colors, the landscapes, the character designs, all stunning. Howl was strangely leaning towards anime, which at first kind of threw me off but I ended up liking. The plot, though. God. As I write this it’s currently 4:59am, and I stayed up after finishing this movie at 4:00am, just to make sure I included this movie in my post. I don’t know why I always doubt the magic of the Ghibli I haven’t seen yet, especially when they always end up leaving me speechless. I love Howl, I love Sophie, I love love LOVE Markl, and Calcifer, and the little dog Heen reminds me of Ned so much I can barely stand it. I’m glad I watched this one after seeing Miyazaki work in The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, it really made me pay attention to the details of the animation and dialogue and themes more than I may otherwise (Miyazaki= very anti-war. I think he and I would be friends). I’m hoping to catch up on a few more Ghibli movies before my trip to Japan!!!

 

 

Not a bad start to my movie watching for the year! At the time of writing I’m also halfway through Casablanca, but I paused it in favor of Howl’s, and now, well. Of all the gin joints in all the world… this one’s not open at 5am.

Here’s looking at you, February.

 

W

January Wrap-Up: Prose for Big Kids and Little Kids

100 Books 2016, Weatherly Reviews

What I Read in January (Non-imagey books)

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Ok. So I read an absurd amount in January. Just, too much really. (That’s a lie, and I said it only for effect, of course. How dare I.) But seriously, the number is at 25 at the time of posting, so I could have slowed down a little. 

However, almost all of those were comic books. So. Maybe “slow down” wasn’t so much needed as “read some prose, man,” but such are the spoils. Here are my non-comics, non-graphic novel reads from this month. ENJOY. 

 

Fiction

 

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

metamorphosis-book-cover

This is not the edition I read, but I couldn’t resist this cover. This book… this book was extremely depressing. This was one of those books that I feel like I should have already read, and I knew the story of, but I’d never read the actual text. I still haven’t read the actual text, haha, because I listened to the audiobook from Librivox, which took me only a few hours. It was much, much more entertaining than I was expecting. Kafka’s writing is excessively accessible, and his characters are very relatable, very human. But the story itself was so miserable that I was quite happy to finish. From Goodreads:

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 6.12.03 PM

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

 pride-and-prejudice-book-cover-by-jessica-hische

This was a reread that I go back to every year or so. It’s such a comfort read for me that it’s almost not worth mentioning, except that I am insanely competitive and I have a competition to win, here, so IT COUNTS. I actually listened to the audiobook from Librivox. STILL COUNTS. 

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

the20importance20of20being20earnest

I’ve read this before, and this time I listened to the Librivox audiobook after finishing Pride and Prejudice because I was still in the mood for something a little light and fluffy. Although it is silly to the point of being sometimes trying, this is a hilarious play and a very quick read. I recommend it for anyone scared of being bored by the classics– the fight over Earnest is both totally ridiculous and totally entertaining. 

At the Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson

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This is a book of short stories that came with crazy high recommendations from most of the internet book people I listen to. I’m not usually a short story person, but I decided that 2016 would be my year to change that, so here I am, la ti da.             This book was an experience to read. I’m glad I read this early on in 2016, because I really feel like it will affect the way I read and choose books for the rest of this year. These stories were a huge departure from what I normally read, and I realized how much I’m missing in my reading life by not reading more short stories. I loved some of these stories, and I didn’t love others. Some of my favorites: Ponies (oh my god, Ponies. That’s one I really want to print out and send to people.), 26 Monkeys, Fox Magic, and Chenting in the Land of the Dead.
I’m definitely going to be recommending this, but I’ll be very careful who I recommend it to. I think it will appeal to a very particular type of reader– it’s weird, it’s vague, it’s an anxiety-ridden read. It’s strange to review the book as a whole when all of the stories seem to exist on their own, but I really enjoyed it.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Listened to the audiobook, my first Patrick Ness book. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I’ve been burned a few YA audiobooks before, especially when narrators try to sound like a teenager (why you gotta be like that?) But I was really impressed with this book. The premise is pretty simple and, at this point, pretty cliche (as all anti-cliche things quickly become). “What if you’re the guy that’s not the Chosen One?” It’s pretty heavily reliant on the concept and its constantly describing the “chosen ones” as “Indie Kids” was pretty silly, honestly. But the main characters, the “normal kids” this book follows, are exceptionally drawn. I felt so hard for the narrator dealing with his anxiety, trying to be good but still a slave to his emotions at times. He just felt so REAL. He was a dick sometimes because people are dicks sometimes, even if they’re the main character, and even if you feel for them, and I really liked that. I also really appreciated how sex and love were handled in the book. The characters are in high school, and I’m often so uncomfortable with how high school characters put so much emphasis on true love in YA, but the way Ness presents this idea of love not needing to be romantic, or permanent, to be real and powerful is neither condescending nor particularly dramatic and it’s EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN NEEDING from my YA. I wish I had this book in high school, I’m going to push it on my high school cousin and hope she thinks I’m cool. READ IT.

In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami518zeqsrfzl

This book. Man oh man. So it only took me 7 days to read (I read multiple books at once, so that doesn’t say much– it’s super short, you could probably get through it in a day if you had the stomach for it.) Despite that… it feels like I’ve been reading this book for years. It was so. hard. to. get. through. The basic premise is Kenji, a young Japanese man, has a job escorting foreigners through the red light district of Japan, to various foreigner-friendly sex shops and strip clubs and stuff. There’s this horrible, gory murder of a schoolgirl around the same time that Kenji gets a new customer, an American named Frank who’s weirder than any character Kenji (or Weatherly) has ever encountered. And the plot goes from there, getting more and more disjointed and surreal with every twist. It is so bonkers. Ryu Murakami’s prose is really lovely to read– he cuts right to the quick of every sentence so that no description is overwrought but you get a keen sense of the atmosphere and exactly what’s happening. It’s really quick reading, too, it took me *maybe* an hour to read the first half. And then 6 days of painfully pushing myself to read the rest of it, and then an actual bribe to finish the last 15 pages. It’s been compared to Silence of the Lambs, and while it was gory, it wasn’t exactly scary. Just… really depressing, and uncomfortable, and brutally honest about human nature, and Japanese and American culture. When I finished, I was so relieved but I’m also in a book slump now, because of how much uncomfortable a reading experience this was.

Click here for my more spoiler-y review of it, I go into detail about a theory I read about this book that made me like it 100 times more.

Guards! Guards!  64216

This was my first Discworld book, and my first Terry Pratchett book, and I must say I had extremely high expectations. And I also must say… it didn’t meet them. Granted, while I was reading it, I enjoyed the experience, I could see, on a surface level, that the jokes were funny and the plot was fairly engaging. But I was never really engrossed by it, and when I put it down, I found it hard to pick it back up again. I’ll be reading another Discworld novel eventually, but I’ll be more careful about which one I pick.

Non-Fiction

 

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald

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My first nonfiction title of the year, and one I started six months ago. This book made me scared to connect my computer to the internet. So before reading this, I knew about Edward Snowden and the NSA and all of the other stuff this book was about from the news, of course. Or at least… I thought I did. But this book goes into such detail into Snowden, the leaks, the underlying privacy problems in the US and other countries, and all sorts of other terrifying stuff that I really feel like even if you have a decent understanding of the situation, you’ll learn stuff that will keep you awake at night. Truly excellent, really well written. Some parts were a little dragg-y because of the sheer amount of information that had to be conveyed, but I’m glad it wasn’t cut– it’s about the truth, and everything being done to try and hide it. So good.

51pueh2cuul-_sy344_bo1204203200_We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I can’t talk about this book highly enough, and I also can’t praise it as eloquently as many people, so I’m just going to say this: You need to read this. Yes, you. “But I’m not a feminist!” You say. “But this is a new trendy thing that is the result of millenials!” You say. I don’t care. Read this. Then, if you still disagree, then you can come air your grievances. Not that I will care about them, as people who aren’t feminists are denying my right to be thought of as fully human, but like go for it. It’s less than 50 pages. Seriously, go. I’ll wait.

Notorious RBG notorious-rbg-cover

This was a late-finish, and my last book I finished in January. And let me tell you, it was excellent. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a personal hero of mine for her badassery on the court and her logical, even-keeled view of the law. This is a really interesting skim of her life leading up to becoming a Supreme Court justice, as well as what she’s been up to during her term. I really loved all of the little anecdotes about very RBG things (her collar and fashions, her relationship with her husband Marty, her grammar sticklerosity), because it made this glorious powerhouse of a woman seem that much more interesting. A definite must-read, and totally on-trend with the cooler, more accessible looks at important figures in history (I’m looking at you, Hamilton.)

Children’s Books

 

Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

go_the_fuck_to_sleep9781921758843-4

If I wasn’t sure all of my pregnant and babied friends didn’t already have this on their shelves, I would be sending copies to all of them. LOVE. Absolutely hilarious. I laughed out loud all the way through.

 

The Monster Machine by Nicola Robinson 

nicola-l-robinson-themonstermachinespread1

I don’t have much to say about this one. I picked it up after Go the F**k to Sleep because I had the stray notion of getting really knowledgable in children’s fiction this year. But then it was pretty terrible. The illustrations are glorious, truly. Great colors, interesting, lots of textures. But the writing is just… boring. And the story? Well the story is in the title. (Guess what the machine makes? I bet you won’t guess. Nah, you have no idea.) I think I’ll keep browsing for children’s books on Scribd, but I was pretty disappointed by this one.

 

 

Those are the non-comicy books I read in January! Stay tuned for my wrap-up of comics and graphic novels (yes, there’s more. Hold onto you hats and butts, it’s a LOT. January was a pretty crazy reading month, mostly because of how little actual work I had (desk-warming for the win!!) so I’ll probably not have a month as productive as this again for a while, but it was a great kickoff to the year!

What did you read in January?

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A Book and a Snack – Greasy House, Seoul (Restaurant Review)

A Book and a Snack, Food, Korea

On my way back from Everyday Mooonday I was famished. My original plan was to go to Little Pie, which I heard about on A Fat Girl’s Food Guide, but after going to Everyday Mooonday on an empty stomach I was exhausted and it was FREEZING OUTSIDE, and I just wasn’t in the mood to go all the way across town back to Itaewon for a chicken pot pie, as heavenly as they sounded. Walking back to the subway station, I saw the Greasy House, and since the name promised something filling and the roof promised a refuge from the land of ice outside, I checked it out.

The Atmosphere

The inside of Greasy House is set up like an English Pub, and seats about 18 people in extremely close quarters. It’s very warm, and very cozy with maroon wallpaper, wood panelling, dimmed lights, vintage pictures on the wall, and the absolutely incredible smell of the food. When I went, it was playing jazzy Christmas music and was basically just about the cheeriest little spot ever.

The Food

Greasy House

I got the hamburger, mostly because I’m not the biggest fan of barbecue, which seemed to be their main pull. Afterwards, I saw other customers with Skillets, which had eggs, meats, and veggies, and I have to say– they looked way better.

The hamburger: Good. I liked it, and it definitely filled me up. It was HUGE (!!) and the cheese and fried egg were both superb and added great flavor. The onions were delicious too, and I am usually not a huge fan of big onion slices. The problem I had with it was the sauce. It was a specialty bacon jam. I know. Most of you just started crying with glee. I knew it was on there, from the menu, and that was the thing that made it different than just an everyday hamburger, that made me really want to try it. And it was good, really– sweet and savory, kind of thick and an interesting texture. But after the first half of the burger, the jam was overpowering. It was too sweet, too heavy, it overpowered the saltiness of the meat (which wasn’t very well seasoned in the first place), and it wasn’t balanced out by anything else salty or fresh on the burger.

Granted, I go for salty above all tastes, so the sweetness wasn’t really my thing, but I think it would have been improved with a spicy mustard or perhaps fresh lettuce and tomato. As it was, I left feeling a bit too heavy. (And not just because of how massive the burger was.) It was just a little too– well, Greasy. Oh Greasy House, at least you don’t false advertise.

Greasy House2

The sides: Fries. Of course. They were Wonderful. Maybe my standards are low, because fries are my umber one favorite food and it’s hard to disappoint me in this area, but it’s hard to find really good quality steakhouse fries in Korea, and these were super super excellent. Crispy, the right thickness, just. So good. There was also some radish kimchi, which really helped balance the greasiness of the burger, though I would have preferred dill pickles. (Then again, this is Korea, not America, so I don’t resent the kimchi haha.)

 

The Book

It was pretty dark in here, and they were crazy busy (even for the random time of day I went– 2pm! Though there were only like 5 tables, so.) Instead of reading, I listened to The Black Tapes podcast, which is sci-fi/fantasy fiction podcast about a research team investigating a series of mysterious happenings that have remained unsolved by premier paranormal skeptic and investigator Dr. Strand. It’s kind of like The X-Files meets Serial, and it’s pretty addictive, though I lost my spot in the recordings thanks to the Play Next function on my phone, so I ended up listening to Season 1 out of order. Ahh, well. Season 2  launched January 19 and it’s on my to-listen list, but if you’re interested definitely start from the beginning of Season 1.

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