What’s on Your Nightstand: December 2017

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.

December is not done yet, but it’s been great so far and since we’re so close to its end, I think it’s safe to say it’s one of my best months of this year. I had so much fun in December anticipating the holidays and planning with friends and family and celebrating new friends, old friends, who I hadn’t seen in a very long time, and co-workers. It was a month of happiness and celebration and I was glad for it. Such is usually the case at this time of year. I’m always happy when family and friends get together to celebrate. As for what else I did this month, read on.

Books read:

The first book I completed this month was an ARC of Ursula K. Le Guin’s No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which is a book of essays on a variety of topics such as writing, cats, and current social issues. Most or all the essays were taken from a blog Le Guin has maintained over the years. The book was an okay read, insightful in some spots and funny as well. If you’re a fan of Le Guin’s writing, I recommend it to you.

Then I bought and immediately started to read Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, which is an inspirational/self-help book that encourages artists and other creators to continue making art, if that’s what they wish to do. I loved this book and it’s one I highly recommend to everyone engaged in artmarking. I think it’s a book all artists can benefit from, whether a master or a novice.

I then pushed through the audio book of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien that’s narrated by Rob Inglis. It was a reread because I’m trying to read all the Lord of the Rings books by audio book since I find them all too boring, except The Hobbit, which I love. I think the audio book will make the main trilogy a bearable read, but only if I can find a narrator I can tolerate. Inglis does a good job, but I don’t like the way he narrated the story and I don’t like the BBC radio adaptation version. That one was a bit confusing.

I moved on to The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, which I started to read soon after purchasing it. It’s a horror novella that retells H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Horror at Red Hook” from the perspective of a Black man, and it’s set in 1924 in New York City. It was surprisingly good because I didn’t expect to like it, and unsettling too. I like how it ends, but I wish it was longer.

Next I completed Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess (illus.), which is a graphic novel filled with over 120 breathtaking oil paintings that accompany this sci-fi story set in a future where Earth is frozen. The story follows a man who embarks on an expedition to search for his father, who had gotten lost while searching for a lost city under the ice. This, too, was surprisingly good. I expected to get caught up in the paintings and forget the story, but I liked both equally and they both kept my interest.

And the last book I completed this year was Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman, which seems to be the first novel in a new series set in the world of her Seraphina duology. (I haven’t seen this stated anywhere, but the ending seems to hint at more adventures.) This novel follows one of Seraphina’s sisters, Tess, who runs away from home to escape the vitriol of her mother and disappointment of her other family members, but finds solace and catharsis in her travel on the road. I wanted to like the story because I liked the character at first, but the more I read, the more annoyed I became by it.

Other things consumed in December:


FML: Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression. (highline.huffingtonpost.com)

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone (theatlantic.com)

— about the current system of higher education in the U.S.

Russell Simmons, R. Kelly, and Why Black Women Can’t Say #MeToo (nytimes.com)

“The intersection of race, class, sexism and power is dangerous, and the most vulnerable women among us must navigate it alone. They are terrorized, then expected to fight for those who terrorized them because a seemingly greater predator is at large. Their faces will never grace the cover of Time magazine, and in some cases their silence will never be broken, if they hold the same false notions of power and victimhood that I once clung to when the cognitive dissonance became too strong.”

Tarana Burke Was Omitted From the Time Magazine Cover, So Let’s Celebrate the Sh*t Out of Her Today! (afropunk.com)

— I was plenty upset to see that Tarana Burke was not included on the cover. She should have been on it front and center.

The People #MeToo Leaves Behind (revealnews.org)

Weinstein’s Complicity Machine (nytimes.com)

— On how Harvey Weinstein was able to get away with sexually harassing women for years

The Book That Made Me a Feminist Was Written by an Abuser (electricliterature.com)

— The writer talks about how The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley influenced her to become a feminist.

Op-Ed: I am a Cherokee woman. Elizabeth Warren is not. (thinkprogress.org)

Diversity isn’t the goal; we must do better (blackgirlinmaine.com)

“The goal should never be diversity and tolerance, that is simply not good enough. Just having a mix of people (diversity) doesn’t mean anything fundamentally changes. And tolerance is terrible; I tolerate my annual mammogram but I certain don’t like or look forward to it. Organizations should be dedicated to creating a vision of wellness and an understanding that systemic racism is a barrier to that wellness. This barrier cannot be addressed or eliminated until a critical mass in any given system understands the systemic nature of racism and addresses it as a threat to the health of all members of the system.”

The Case Against Reading Everything (thewalrus.ca)

— A refute to the claim that novice writers should “read widely”

For Many Caribbean Immigrants, It Wouldn’t Be Christmas Without Black Cake (npr.org)

— This is so true. I’ve had black cake in my house since Thanksgiving, and now it’s all gone.

“It’s an island-mandatory thing.”

Video break

This shit looks so fucking tight! Oh my god! Love the illustrations! I wanna watch it.


Lovecraftian Horror Creeps Into AMC’s The Ballad of Black Tom (syfy.com)

— The Ballad of Black Tom, which I mentioned in the “Books read” section, will be adapted for T.V.

Netflix Grabs Hold Of John Scalzi’s Sci-Fi Novel ‘Old Man’s War’ For Jon Shestack, Madhouse (deadline.com)

— Seems like there will be a film adaptation for Scalzi’s book

Roxane Gay Signs Deal for Comic about Black Women Master Thieves (bookriot.com)

Marvel’s Launching a New Franchise of Wonderful, Diverse Superheroes (buzzfeed.com)

PRH Inks Multi-Book ‘Avatar’ Deal (publishersweekly.com)

— PRH made a deal to publish adult and children’s books based on James Cameron’s movie Avatar and its four upcoming film sequels.

Fox 2000 to Adapt John Green’s Latest Book ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ (hollywoodreporter.com)

Die Hard Has Finally Become the Christmas Book We’ve Always Wanted (nerdist.com)

Gabriel García Márquez’s Archive Freely Available Online (nytimes.com)

Other awesome ‘ish

NPR’s Book Concierge App (apps.npr.org)

— It recommends to you books published in 2017 based on the categories you select. You can also explore books published in other years, down to 2008.

Book Your Calendar (nytimes.com)

— A list of bookish events in 2018

5 Take-Aways from Yaa Gyasi’s Essay on Writing and Space (brittlepaper.com)

How to Read a Wordless Picture Book (chroniclebooks.com)

Welcome to the Home That Was Designed Around a Bookshelf (bookstr.com)

Video break, pt. 2

So funny! 😀 😀 😀

Shows I’m Hooked on

The Shape of Water

This was a pleasant surprise. I’m so I went because it was great. I really like Guillermo del Toro’s work, and the actors and actresses in the movie were all great too. I just didn’t like the antagonist much because he was a bit one-sided, but everything else I loved. I highly recommend you all go see it.

And that’s it for December. It was a great month overall and I did some awesome stuff, like visiting the Museum of the Bible, which opened in D.C. in November. I need to return there to really get a good look at its contents, but so far, I love the architecture of the building. Also this month I tried my first Moscow Mule, which was really good. I didn’t know it was so great, and I love that it’s served in a mug. Awesome!

I hope your December was great as well. 🙂

“Books showed me there were possibilities in life, that there were actually people like me living in a world I could not only aspire to but attain.” — Oprah Winfrey

(Visit Chronicle Books for more gorgeous illustrated quotes.)


13 thoughts on “What’s on Your Nightstand: December 2017

  1. Woowww I feel like I haven’t read…or done anything this December after reading this. But let’s see, the family was over for Christmas, we watched (and argued) basketball which is always fun. What did I watch this month (let’s not even get in to the books I didn’t finish)…I think I tried to catch up some on The Walking Dead and Supernatural…two shows I’m mostly done with but can’t seem to quit (probably out of habit). The biggest news of the month (way to bury the lead, me) was the launch of my new picture book (book signing held just before Christmas) Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure so I’ve been busy with promotional stuff in between work stuff and Christmas stuff. Work stuff (I’m a freelance writer, author, etc.) has included prepping a new creative writing workshop which kicks off in January. For all that stuff (new book, new workshop – open to anyone anywhere, more – including a year end video called the Year of Grace after last December’s book release, With Grace), visit my blog (http://jhohadli.wordpress.com) I have to say I lol’d at your reason why you have to listen to the Lord of the Rings books. I love the movies. But I have to agree I’ve never been able to get through the books. You’re very brave to admit it. Oh, my favourite movie of the year was Get Out… I guess technically I did see Hidden Figures this year and I really did like it (great performances from Taraji, Octavia, and Janelle) but I think of it as a last year picture, go figure. Okay, I’m going to stop here (go make your own post, me); great post.


    1. Woohoo!! Congrats on your picture book! 😀 Sounds like a very busy month for you. And yea, Get Out was a good movie. I didn’t think it was so great after I just watched it, but after reflecting on it, I had to agree it had great moments. And I haven’t seen Hidden Figures yet. I’ll make my way to it eventually.


  2. Yeah I much prefer the Hobbit to LOTR. Gosh I gotta say that article on “Read Widely” was amazing- I didn’t expect to like it cos I have pretty broad tastes, but he dropped some pretty big truth bombs there 😉 I really need to check out the Shape of Water- I’ve only seen one of Del Torro’s films, but it’s one of my favourites, so I *need* to get on and watch more!! hahaha that last jedi video!!


    1. Yea, the “Read Widely” article made some great points though I initially disagreed the author. I still kinda do.
      And yea, Shape of Water is great. I loved it and it has the vibe of Labyrinth to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get that- I still want to read widely, and I honestly won’t be told what I should/shouldn’t read- but they made a lot of great points, even if their overall message isn’t something I’d go along with (if that makes sense?) That’s great!!


    1. Omg! I watched the first Hobbit movie and was so disappointed that I didn’t bother with the other, though I’d like to see Smaug to see why everyone was so excited about his character in the movie.

      Oh yes! I’m never sure if anyone reads them, though some folks do click on the links. I hope you find something interesting there. And if you are a “millennial” with student loans, the first two will be great reads for you.


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