Confession: I Dog Ear Books

Oh, book art. What would I do without you?

Oh, book art. What would I do without you?

I dog ear the pages of books. I do it to save my place or to mark a favorite section. I also have about a million bookmarks, store-bought, friend-made, receipts from foreign countries, train tickets, cool pieces of paper or ribbon, and anything else that can conceivably be used as a bookmark. But sometimes I dog ear instead, because sometimes that’s what feels right.

I write in the margins. Marginalia is one of my favorite words. Isn’t it beautiful? I bracket my favorite passages and underline beautiful sentences. I draw hearts and sad faces. I often wish I could keymash. Sometimes “asglkhasgl;akhsglaks” says more than real words can.

I bend paperbacks when I’m reading. I leave them open page-down on a table when I get up for a moment. I don’t see it as breaking their spines. I see it as breaking them in, like shoes you’re going to rely on for years, shoes that will take you places. I relish the long white lines on the spines of well-read books.

And you know what? I feel no shame.

All the time, I see people talk about how horrifying it is to do such a thing to a book. They could never do that! It’s disrespectful or hurtful. And that’s fine. If your method of showing love to a book is to keep it pristine, I respect that.

But I believe that books should be interacted with. I love going back to a book and seeing all the little things left behind by me or another reader entirely. What did that last reader (even past me) love and hate? What did they have to say? Where did they stop reading? Which page corners were so often folded that they’re almost coming off?

It’s a journey, just like the story. Well-read and well-marked books are one of my favorite things. I would like it it other book-lovers would stop acting like dog-earing pages makes me some heathen. I’m an avid reader, just like you. I just read a little differently.

Note: This post was originally posted on my Tumblr, but this topic has been on my mind and I decided to edit it and post it here.

And now a quick writing check-in. From 1/23 to 1/29 I wrote 5090 words, with two zero days. Both stats are way better than last week. Let’s hope that’s not a fluke.

Tuesday Reads: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

tlp_coverBen Winters was my favorite speaker at the 2012 Gathering of Writers, but at the time I’d never read anything of his. I’d only heard of Android Karenina. It was Cathy Day that introduced me to The Last Policeman, and oh god I’m glad she did.

If you’re anything like me, all you need is a little bit of the summary to be convinced to read it:

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?

Yep, there, done, I’m in. Let’s see the rest of the summary, anyway:

Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

It’s a murder mystery set with an imminent apocalypse at hand. What.

If you dig murder mysteries, you’ll like this. If you dig apocalyptic stories, you’ll like this. Sure, the apocalypse hasn’t quite happened yet during this book (it’s the first in a trilogy, so we may see the apocalypse yet), but when the entire world knows that they’re about to die you start to see the affects. People quit their jobs to go fulfill their bucket lists. Only the military and police get gasoline rations. Alcohol and drug prices go through the roof. Most prices go through the roof. And, most importantly to the story, a hell of a lot of people start killing themselves.

Pretty much every death in that time is a suicide. They happen all the time. It wasn’t unusual to find a man hanged in the bathroom of what used to be a McDonalds. But Detective Palace thinks something’s hinky, and against the advice of his colleagues and senior officers, he decides to investigate the death as a murder. Six months to go, and he still believes it’s important to solve murders. Do you already love this character? I do. He’s far from perfect, but that’s kind of what tends to make characters really good. I wanted to keep reading about him. When I finished the book and realized it was a trilogy (the next one, Disasterland, is due out this July), I just sort of flopped on my bed and agonized over having to wait for more.

I also proposed to Ben Winters on Twitter, as is my habit when a book particularly captures me. So far I’ve had my proposal accepted by Holly Black. Ben has yet to reply, probably because he’s busy being married and also being an insanely awesome writer. Go read him.

Medium: paperback

Stars: 4/5

Roller Derby and Body Positivity

roller derbyFor a long time, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to really live because I’m fat. I kept thinking, “Oh, when I’m skinny, I’ll…” It was all in the future with this mythical tiny body. I believed that being fat meant that there was very little I could do. I thought it held me back.

If you’re ever feeling like that, go to a roller derby bout. Seriously.

I went to my first bout on Saturday night. It was a home game for the Naptown Roller Girls. There’s a whole lot that’s awesome about roller derby, and I’m pretty sure it might become a sport that I actually follow. It’s a sport dominated by women and, even better, these women come in all shapes and sizes. They run all across from short to tall, skinny to fat. If you can skate, you can be a derby girl, and each body type comes with its own advantages. Little girls can slip around the other skaters. Big girls can easily block the opposing team or slam through the pack.

Watching the bout made me feel kind of amazing. I don’t know if I could personally ever do roller derby because I bruise easily and don’t always have the best balance, but neither of those have to do with my weight. If I wanted to ignore the bruising and learn to skate, I could be a derby girl and my weight wouldn’t be holding me back. It would even give me advantages that the skinnier girls wouldn’t have – just like they’d have advantages over me.

If you struggle with body image issues, go to a bout. If you aren’t sure what this whole body positivity thing is about, go to a bout. See those women of all sizes working as a team and kicking ass, and you’ll start to feel a lot better and find a great understanding of body positivity.

Writing in a Funk

This is the saddest sloth I could find. Sloths don't get gloomy. What is your secret to eternal happiness, sloths?

This is the saddest sloth I could find. Sloths don’t get gloomy. What is your secret to eternal happiness, sloths?

One of the most difficult things for me to do is write when I’m gloomy, and that’s been me this week. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s because I didn’t get the job I wanted, maybe it’s because I really miss Game of Thrones. Whatever it is, it has me in a considerable funk. I can barely get myself to do homework, much less write.

This week’s writing check in proves it. I only wrote 837 words between 1/16 and 1/22, and I had five zero days. That’s worse than last week on both counts, and most of those words were written yesterday when I was trying to sleep. Not the best writing routine in the world.

I try to write in this mood, sure. I open Scrivener and stare at my chosen story, but my brain just empties out. I am inexorably drawn to iPhone games or the sweet, sweet release of the midday nap. I think that if I can just start writing, if I can just get a few words down, those words will turn into sentences and into paragraphs and pages and I’ll feel better.

This post isn’t about me having a magic answer to this problem. I’m still trying to find it. I know that I need to learn to power through these moods and write. If I want to write for a living – which I do – then I have to learn that I can’t be so prone to skipping writing for a week just because I’m blah. Writing is what I love, yes, and it can be fun and exhilarating and magical – but it’s also work. I need to be able to write even when the magic’s not quite there.

Lazy Blogger

ImageFirst, some general business.

I haven’t done Just One Thing in a couple weeks. It’s sort of on hiatus until I figure out whether or not I really want it on the blog.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to post about more than writing and book reviews. It’s very important to me to educate people on topics such as body positivity, sex positivity, rape awareness, and suicide awareness. Every blog post that has those more difficult topics will have trigger warnings, so if you’d rather not read about it, you have the choice.

But what do I talk about today? Well, I really have no clue. I have this huge list of ideas for blog posts and it’s actually making me feel overwhelmed. Where the hell do I start? I stare at my list and think, “No, that’s too serious, no, that’s too silly, no, I should talk about that when I have more readers.”

Fellow bloggers, what do you do on days like this? Do you make yourself blog, do you skip a day, do you close your eyes and pick a topic at random?

Well, if I’m not going to blog, I guess I’d better do homework.