Here are my favorite reads from the last 30 days!

Science, sustainability and veganism

  • My top thrifty charity shop finds: I absolutely live for secondhand shops, it’s probably about over half of the clothes I buy and a lot of them end up lasting longer than my Target impulse-buys even though I spent a fraction of the cost. In fact, most everything I’m wearing right now is from a charity shop: raccoon pajama pants and a hockey pajama shirt that I got way back in 2015 and still wear it most nights.

General travel

Travel destinations

Lifestyle, blogging and entertainment

Photo by Alex Read.

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As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. My dates may not be completely accurate as I have limited Internet access to update my progress.

Hunger by Roxane Gay

FE23HUNGER.jpgRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir, feminism

GoodReads rating: 4.19 / 5 (59,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Warning: This book (and this review) talks about sexual assault.

Summary: Famed feminist writer opens up about her relationship with food and self-image and how is has shaped her opportunities, relationships and mental health.

Thoughts: I read Bad Feminist a while ago and can’t quite remember if I particularly liked it or not, all I remember about the book is her talking for what seemed like volumes about her Scrabble games. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. As someone who has been slim to average their whole life, it was eye-opening to learn about what fat people go through both within themselves and physical barriers.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

51e0ngIgQ8LRating: ★★★★

Genre: Historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.36 / 5 (96,500 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: Lives of four individuals cross paths when they seek refuge on the Wilhelm Gustloff. When a Russian submarine threatens to sink the ship of over nine thousand people, they all must fight for survival.

Thoughts: I love a good historical fiction book and although The Storyteller still takes the cake for WWII-era, this book was pretty damn good. I also really enjoy multiple-perspective books and this author does a great job of portraying four totally different universes while remaining relevant to one another. As someone who works at sea, I am very ashamed to admit that I have never even heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff: the greatest loss of human life from a single ship sinking in history. I hope I’m not the only one!

Other adaptations: In development at Universal Studios with accredited directors Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

jonronson-soyouvebeenpubliclyshamedRating: ★★★★½

Genre: Non-fiction, psychology, sociology

GoodReads rating: 3.94 / 5 (41,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: The extreme taboo of shame is explored in light of a new age of social media where seemingly everyone has a say in transgressions of total strangers. In an age where someone can be fired before they land at their destination over a tweet they sent before they boarded their flight, its important to be mindful about online mob mentality.

Thoughts: This book was really interesting. As someone who has been using some form of social media most everyday since I was in my early teens, I haven’t thought much about its larger implications. I’ve been watching a lot of commentary YouTube channels who seemingly pick and prod at everything other, usually more famous social media stars, do, which 95% of the time won’t matter by the end of the week, but we “cancel” them anyway. The way the Internet delivers justice is becoming more and more absurd and this book offers a good commentary about this strange phenomenon.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

817VE4lKPzLRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, race

GoodReads rating:  4.51 / 5 (12,900 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.”

Thoughts: If you’ve been following this blog for a minute, you’d know I don’t give out five stars generously. In fact, this is maybe the 5th book out of about 70 that I’ve read so far this year, so kind of a big deal. Every white person needs to read this book, especially if you were offended in any way by the title or description. Save the foreword, the language is easy to understand, often using bullet points at the end of the chapter to sum up. I know I’m far from perfect and always learning, but I consider myself slightly more aware than the average person on race relations and yet, this book still blew my mind with new perspectives. Not only is it important not to be shitty towards people of color, but it’s also important to know how to take criticism and how to tell your coworker Chad that his racist joke wasn’t cool.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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Inspired by this video I saw a while ago talking about strangers you still remember, it got me thinking about a stranger in my own life that had a profound impact on me.

I never knew their names, or at least don’t remember. We’re not Facebook friends and hell, I probably wouldn’t even recognize them if I saw them again, but they have stuck with me all these years.

My one stranger I still remember is actually two strangers. It was one of my very first days in the U.K. back in 2015. It was a whirlwind: I arrived to Heathrow, was dropped off at my friend’s house in Worthing, travelled to Ireland and Denmark, came back to Worthing to get my stuff and then checked in to a hotel in Brighton. Before I moved into my accommodation and met up with my dad, I had tickets to a concert in north London: Brand New at Alexandra Palace.

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I’ve been to Ally Pally quite a few times now and it’s never fun to get to even as an honorary local: National Rail, two tubes and a bus that are usually packed. Now, imagine navigating all that as a first-timer in London in peak hours.

I got to the venue alright and had a great time at the gig, but getting home is even harder trying to make the last train home, it still gives me anxiety. Luckily, I found the train and got settled in, but there was an announcement that the train was splitting, with one end going to east Sussex and the other going to west Sussex. I had no idea where I needed to be and which carriage I was on.

Two guys maybe in their late 20’s with a six pack on the table between them saw the lost look on my face and Brand New shirt and thought I was in need of some help. They offered that I was on the correct carriage headed for Brighton and to have a seat. with them We talked about gigs past, present and future I’m sure, but I can’t remember exactly.

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Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett

But what I do remember is their kindness. I know it was a small gesture, but as a little lost girl in the big city, it meant a lot. I was told British people are cold and aloof but this changed my expectations entirely. These men were friendly, talkative (I’m sure the six pack had something to do with that) and eager to help. They definitely made my first time navigating London less intimidating and started out my year abroad on a fantastic note.

Who is one stranger you still remember?

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As I did in August and most of July, I spent the entire month working. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, first of all, shame on you (just kidding!)… I have been working in Alaska as a fisheries biologist. I take field data and send it to the big guys that monitor fisheries and make catch quotas. This job is seasonal, with this first contract being three months (from when I got here in late July) and subsequent contracts being when I want and for how long I want, but typical seasons are two-three months on, two-three months off. You can read more about my training in this post.

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Akutan

At the beginning of the month, I got on my second boat after being on my previous boat for a month. I am in the same fishery, so not much has changed in the way of my sampling methods, but this boat offloads at a different factory and is a bit different. As I mentioned in my last month’s post, I have my own room with a TV on this boat, Internet, great vegetarian food (thanks, Rob!) and an especially lovely crew. Rather than offloading in Dutch Harbor, my new boat offloads in Akutan, where not much else is there but the fish factory. It’s kind of a bummer having nothing to do on land, but hell, I’m saving a lot of money without the temptation of bars and restaurants.

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Akutan

Fortunately, we have recently made the odd trip to Dutch Harbor and I have been lucky enough to see some friends from my training class every so often. In Dutch Harbor, I also had a mid-assignment meeting where they review my methods and progress. It went well but I got a few feedback points to work on.

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Sand Point

We have been tendering  in Sand Point for the last week, meaning we are taking fish from smaller boats to deliver to our usual plant and I haven’t sampled in almost a week. At first, I didn’t believe prior observers when they said one of the hardest parts about this job is the boredom, but I can only watch so much Breaking Bad and go for so many walks around this small port before I’m ready for a change.

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Sand Point sunset

Luckily (or perhaps not), I just got word that my boat is done fishing and I’m flying back to Seattle today. As I understand, I will review my data from my first two boats and chill in Seattle for about a week until they have a new boat for me, likely based out of Kodiak, where I will spend the rest of my contract, which amounts to a few weeks by the time I embark. I’m looking forward to a little break with takeaway pizza, more company (90% of conversations here are dominated by fishing, I think I forgot how to talk about anything else) and a chance to reset.

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Sand Point

I can’t believe my first contract is almost up. With the three weeks of training I had before this three-month contract, I’m more than ready to go home and spend some of my money on travel before returning for another season in January.

September in Review 2018 || September in Review 2017 || September in Review 2016

What I’ve been watching: 50/50

What I’ve been listening to: Withdrawls by Landon Tewers, ZUU by Denzel Curry, Fight the Good Fight by The Interrupters, Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie, Norman fucking Rockwell by Lana del Rey

What I’ve been readingSo much! Check out my reading reviews index or this month’s posts, wrap ups #13, #14 (Twilight edition) and #15

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Oh boy, these are getting hard to keep up with. Bear with me.

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. My dates may not be completely accurate as I have limited Internet access to update my progress.

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

27834600._SY475_Rating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction, suspense, thriller

GoodReads rating: 3.68 / 5 (172,200 ratings)

Medium used: Hardcover (borrowed from the Unalaska Library)

Summary: Writer Leonora gets an invite from a long-lost friend to a hen do in the middle of the Northumberland forest. When she wakes up in the hospital, someone is dead and she can’t remember the night. Who is dead, and why? Everyone, including Leonora, is a suspect, as she tries to piece the night back together.

Thoughts: I’ve come to expect a lot of the same from these kinds of books: easy, quick reads, but don’t see them changing my life. After I listened to The Woman in Cabin 10, I heard that this book of hers was better, but I’m still undecided, they’re both interesting in their own rite. There wasn’t a massive twist to any of them and they played out as expected, but they’re still exciting. I might still be a bit biased as I’ll never read another domestic thriller that comes close to Gone Girl.

Other adaptations: There has been talk about a Reese Witherspoon-driven adaptation for years now, and it appears to have gained some traction a year ago. I have a feeling we might be waiting a while yet.

Columbine by David Cullen

220px-ColumbinebookcoverRating: ★★★★

Genre: True crime

GoodReads rating:  4.28 / 5 (62,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: This is one of the most critically acclaimed and comprehensive pieces of media on the topic. From the upbringing of the killers, the massacre itself and the aftermath, this book is almost a necessary evil to understand how and why school shootings haven’t changed in 20 years.

Thoughts: As you can imagine this book on the unadulterated truth about the Columbine massacre was really hard to read, I’m glad I had the Twilight books to dilute its content. I read this book on one of my favorite author and YouTuber’s (Caitlin Doughty) recommendation in a recent video about the topic. The book highlights police shortcomings during the massacre, mental health red flags of those who are a danger to themselves and others, how this even shaped the media and active shooter protocol, religious martyrdom and how the blame of the events shifted to the parents with both shooters dead. I hope to read Sue Klebold’s book on the topic to get more information about her reconciliation on the events as well.

The BFG by Roald Dahl

51Yl65tJEvL._SX368_BO1,204,203,200_Rating: ★★★

Genre: Fictions, children’s

GoodReads rating: 4.22 / 5 (321,900 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: When Sophie gets whisked away into a magical land of man-eating giants, but when she meets the Big Friendly Giant, the BFG, he shows her that not all giants are evil. Sophie and the BFG hatch a plan to convince the Queen of England to get rid of all the evil giants.

Thoughts: This was the first Dahl book I’ve read without seeing the movie or knowing anything about it beforehand and it was… okay. It was quite slow with the BFG simply explaining everything about his world to Sophie for the first 70% of the book and in such a short book, that wasn’t doing it any favors.

Other adaptations: The 2016 movie directed by Steven Spielberg fared pretty well (76% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty

413b7oOI9KL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Death, anatomy

GoodReads rating: 4.40 / 5 (1,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (purchased for Kindle)

Summary: Internet-famous mortician Caitlin Doughty answers blunt questions about death from children with equally blunt (and whimsical) answers.

Thoughts: If you haven’t caught on by now, we are big fans of positive death culture here. I have enjoyed Caitlin’s YouTube channel for a number of years and have read all her other books (all two of them), so needless to say I was counting down the days until this book was released. One of my all-time favorite books (Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice for All Creation) follows the format of a fictional question-and-answer column from various critters about their sexual “abnormalities,” including a reply from Dr. Tatiana with an in-depth, yet interesting response with the critter’s life history and why it reproduces this way. This book has a somewhat similar feel, where kids ask somewhat goofy, but very real questions about death and the author replies with a detailed explanation. The chapters are short, which is a miracle for my attention span.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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