What’s on Your Nightstand, is a monthly meme hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the last Tuesday of every month that summarizes what you’ve read for the month, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan to read next. For my posts, I also include articles, music, art, TV shows, and whatever else I did in the month.
May was such an eventful and busy month, but a great one as well. My reading is back on track and life is full of bustling fun. I am happy and am looking toward the future with high hopes about what I can accomplish.
In this month, I noticed an improvement in my driving skills (I’m learning how to drive), made new friends, saved some money, and took a leap of faith that turned out well at the beginning of June (I’m vague here, but I’ll mention it some more in my June wrap-up).
I also committed to a natural journey for my hair (though at this moment, as I’m typing this post, I’m tempted to book an appointment to relax my hair and throw in some purple highlights), but it’s hard to remain committed so we’ll see what happens by the end of June. Anyway, here’s what happened this month:
I’m still rereading the first five books of the Wheel of Time series via audio book. There are 14 books in the series, the majority of which were written by Robert Jordan and later by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan died. The audio books are narrated by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, who are okay but it took a while for me to get used to their style.
In May, I completed the second and third books, The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn, respectively, and I was surprised that my reaction to both books were similar to how I felt when I first read them. I was more amazed and paid closer attention to the introduction of Loial in The Great Hunt on this reading and I enjoyed that story a bit more this time through. I also appreciated certain things that annoyed me on my first reading. For example, Nynaeve, who is still often unnecessarily angry, but I now realize that she is very caring and is afraid of being vulnerable so she chooses to expel her worry and fear through anger.
And though the relations between men and women is still annoying, after discussing it with a friend, I realized that such is how the sexes often regard each other (though it’s over simplified here, which is probably why it annoys me). Each one thinks it’s better and more efficient than the other.
Another thing that stood out in this reading of The Great Hunt is that when courting in WOT, women sort of act like the men in our society. The women in WOT rake the men with their gaze and in some WOT cultures, it’s the women who propose marriage (such as with the ogiers) and men have no say on whether or not they want to go along with it. It’s interesting that Jordan includes this sift in gender dynamics to reveal how we interact in the real world and also how silly some things we do, or did, are.
Much as I find these things interesting now, my interest in the series began to dwindle about halfway through The Dragon Reborn (and even more so now that I’m listening to The Shadow Rising). It’s more glaring, in audio format, that Jordan overwrites, includes unnecessary descriptions and is very repetitive. As such, it’s best, I think, to consume his books in audio because reading these long, unnecessary passages are often tedious and a bore.
Anyway, here are the other books I read in May:
Mad Ship by Robin Hobb is the second book in the Liveship Traders series, which I am buddy-reading with Emily at Embuhlee liest. The series is about a merchant family whose fortune and future is peril. The story dragged in some parts, but overall, I enjoyed this installment and am eager to read the next book. I love that the heroes in this story are mostly the women.
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromonaco is a memoir about how Mastromonaco became deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House during President Barack Obama’s administration. She was the youngest woman to serve in that position. Mastromonaco humbly and humorously shares her journey with us and imparts career advice along the way.
I then completed the illustrated copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, illus. by Jim Dale, which I read aloud to myself because what else are you to do with a book that you’re reading for the kajillionth time? I enjoyed the story, of course, and the illustrations are good but not very appealing to me. However, I do like the illustrations of the buildings in Diagon Alley and of Hogwarts. Reading this book also made me realize that I suck at reading aloud. My mouth can’t keep up with my eyes so I stumble over everything. It took FOREVER to complete the book.
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones was completed next. It’s a YA fantasy novel about a girl who must save her sister from becoming the Goblin King’s bride. The story is inspired by fairytales and Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market,” which is one of my favorite poems. I liked the premise of the story and the first half of it, which focuses more on the adventure, but the romance in the second part bored me and I almost DNF’d the book.
I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young (illus.) is a fantasy comic book about a 6-year-old girl who has been trapped in fairyland for 30 years. Everyone says it’s enjoyable and fun and it is, but I also think the hype killed much of my interest in it so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have.
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez, trans. by Megan McDowell, is a book of short stories that are all set in Argentina. It’s a great collection and I thoroughly enjoyed it despite how dark and unsettling the stories are.
The darkness in Enriquez’s stories pushed me toward Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid, illus. by Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and Veronica Fish. I knew this would be light and fun, which it is is, but it was also immensely boring. I loved most of the illustrations, but the story wasn’t great. It almost put me to sleep.
I then read Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan, which is a memoir about a month Cahalan spent mentally unstable. Cahalan had forgotten much of that month so much of the book’s content was culled from interviews with her family and the medical practitioners and video footage of the hospital room she was in for the month, as well as fragments of memory Cahalan could recall. It is an absorbing read and a little unsettling too.
The River by Alessandro Sanna (illus.) is a sweet illustrated book that tracks the seasonal changes of a river. I’m not overly fond of the illustrations, but I love the use of color, especially for the autumn and winter seasons.
Other things consumed in May:
Ai Weiwei: How Censorship Works (nytimes.com)
“People who willingly censor themselves are vulnerable to moral challenges of many kinds. They have never been victims and never will be, despite their occasional show of tear wiping. Each time they display their servility, they bring warmth to the hearts of the authoritarians and harm to people who protest. Their craven stance, as it becomes widespread, also becomes the deeper reason for the moral collapse of our society. If these people believe that their choice to cooperate is the only way to avoid victimhood, they are embarking on an ill-fated journey in the dark.”
“An artist is a mover, a political participant. Especially in times of historic change, aesthetic values will always have an advantage. A society that persecutes people who persist in cleaving to individual values is an uncivilized society that has no future.”
The Mythology of the Black Man in ‘American Gods’ (blacknerdproblems.com)
Why I’m Absolutely an Angry Black Woman (huffingtonpost.com)
Intimidation Is the New Normal on Campus (chronicle.com)
“But the tribal mind is incompatible with scholarship, open-minded thinking, toleration of dissent, and the search for truth. When tribal sentiments are activated within an academic community, some members start to believe that their noble collective ends justify almost any means, including the demonization of inconvenient research and researchers, false accusations, character assassination, and sometimes even violence. Anyone not with the movement is against it, and its enemies — students, faculty members, administrators — are often intimidated into acquiescence. This is how professors and students are increasingly describing their campus climate, at least at elite four-year residential colleges.”
Why Gods Are Usually Better Left Off-Stage in Fantasy (thoughtsonfantasy.com)
ODWABD & Perfect Timing with Books | Discussion (youtube.com)
— This is a review by booktuber Rincey Reads of Scaachi Koul’s novel One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter. Rincey also talks about her experiences as a second-generation immigrant and the daughter of Indian immigrants.
Lil dude killed it on the dancefloor! Boom BAM! 😀
— NPR is conducting a reader poll for comics and graphic novels so make sure to submit your favs!! I recommended Monstress and Saga and couple others.
Pottermore to Launch Wizarding World Book Club (shelf-awareness.com)
Amazon Books to Open in Georgetown in D.C. (shelf-awareness.com)
Other awesome ‘ish
— I learned about this comic book in March when I read a review of it on Rich in Color. I immediately decided to get it and was informed by its publisher, Stranger Comics, on Twitter that they’re planning to have a Kickstarter to publish all the issues in a hardcover-bound copy. I immediately decided I’ll back it and I did! 😀
The Kickstarter is live and the illustrations are awesome. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of it to read. Here are some more articles about the comic book:
Gallery: An intriguing sci-fi vision of a megacity (ideas.ted.com)
— Features the artwork of Olalekan Jeyifous, who I think I’ve mentioned before on here or maybe on Facebook. Pretty cool stuff. Check it out.
The Life and Times of Albus Dumbledore (pottermore.com)
— An illustration that explores Dumbledore’s life
Download 200 Free Art Books, Courtesy of the Guggenheim (smithsonianmag.com)
Harry Potter Cocktail Pairings (bookriot.com)
Video break, again
As I mentioned in my April post, I went to see Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. The video below is of The Obliteration Room, which was entirely white but quickly filled up with color as patrons placed colorful circle stickers the staff gave them on the walls, ground, and the furniture.
Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, #78: Bryan Cranston (earwolf.com)
— I’m hooked on Breaking Bad, so I looked up podcasts on the show and its actors to listen to at work. In this podcast, Cranston discussed how he got the role on Breaking Bad and how he directed and crafted some of its episodes. The quote below is from Cranston when he recounted his experiences in the business. I included it here because I agree with him.
“[You] need to have crazy luck to succeed. You can’t account for it, but you can be ready for it by being available and knowing your craft.”
The Atlantic podcasts (theatlantic.com)
— The Atlantic has a new feature where you can listen to their articles instead of reading them. I guess they realized that podcasts are becoming more popular and people have less time to read long-form articles. This works perfectly for me, and I listened to the two podcasts below at work. I highly recommend that you check them out.
The link above will take you to an archive of narrated articles on The Atlantic’s website. The links in the archives take you to the articles in which the podcast is embedded so you read and listen. The podcasts are also available on SoundCloud.
When Your Child Is a Psychopath (theatlantic.com)
This Article Won’t Change Your Mind (theatlantic.com)
— The article’s title got me. It made me wonder why not, as if I wanted it to change my mind.
Shows I’m hooked on
— Yo. YOOO!!! This show is the shit. I’m so hooked! It creeps me out too. Despite the sunniness of its setting in New Mexico, the show is so dark and emotionally unsettling that I have to watch a cartoon or something after bingeing on a few episodes. I think Mr. White has gone dark side now. He just watched someone die who he could’ve saved, though the person was blackmailing him so he did it to protect himself and his family, but still, that wasn’t cool.
I absolutely love the character development in this and the characters’ internal struggles. I was so curious about the show that I had to google it and I found this slideshow on Vulture that rates Mr. White’s evil deeds:
Then I wanted to learn about Jesse Pinkman too without knowing too much, so I checked out this post on the evolution of his fashion style:
The Evolution of Jesse Pinkman (shirts.com)
Other stuff I did
So I’ve forgotten much of what I did in May, but a major thing was that I grabbed drinks after work with two lovely book bloggers on here: Deb at the Book Stop and Grace at Books Without Any Pictures.
It was a fun and I’m glad I got to meet them. I’ve never before met another book blogger in person, so it was cool to hang for a bit in a bar in a bookstore. I hope we’ll get to link up again soon.
I just remembered that I participated in Bout of Books readathon and that was okay. I think I was sick then but still managed to read a lot of stuff.
Party, or just hang out somewhere
Travel, or just go visit family
Figure out my hair