Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Author Archive: Jana

Charlottesville

My blog is my safe space and I'm in no mood to argue with people on FB so if you wanted to know my thoughts on Charlottesville, well, here you go.

I don't need to recap in detail what happened in Charlottesville over the weekend. Everyone's already aware that a bunch of neo-Nazi white supremacist racist assholes protested in a "Unite the Right" gathering the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. But let's be clear. That wasn't what they were doing.

And we all know it.

What happened wasn't about a statue or uniting a political party. No. It was about attempting to instill fear and oppression into groups that are already institutionally marginalized in this country. And it could have worked too if more people were ambivalent and didn't give a shit. But, surprise, motherfuckers! We've progressed to the point that overt Nazism and racism will be met with loud, outspoken opposition. LOVE TRUMPS HATE. Because if it doesn't, if we stay silent, we're aiding and abetting.

I could spend time commenting on 45's lack of condemnation and vague words and how ineffective he is in every capacity and how his subtle and blatant anti-Semitism and racism and xenophobia have emboldened and empowered the white supremacists but I'm not going to do that. He gets too much attention as it is. Rather, what I'm going to say is this.

If you want to be a racist, FINE. If you want to be anti-Semitic, FINE. If you want to spend your weekends spreading messages of hate and invoking the first amendment so you can do so, FINE. I can't stop you. But do not FOR ONE MINUTE expect that your words will not be met with resistance and that we will not do so with the same protections you covet despite your and your White House ally's attempts to silence us.

Because we will not be silenced.

We speak loud and clear and far.

There is no room in this country for that kind of hate. There simply isn't.

And we're going to keep reminding you.

In the name of Heather and everyone else who stood up to you and your hate in Charlottesville. We owe it to her and them.

Weekly six-pack, 2017, v22

Nothing makes me really just how boring I truly am like these weekly recaps. But they're fun and a good reminder of my life so there's that.

Reading. Ill Will by Dan Chaon. Picked up The Readymade Thief, added a few to the library holds list, and my TBR is bursting at the seams. A culling is in order. Thanks to everyone who joined us for Show Us Your Books and the next one is September 12.

Drinking. Iced coffee. Gallons of iced coffee. It's becoming an issue.

Listening. Dylan Marron's Conversations with People Who Hate Me is fucking phenomenal. There's only 2 episodes thus far and I implore you to listen.

Diving. Right back into cheer mom responsibilities. The 6 week reprieve was lovely. I miss it already.

Raging. Let's get petty, shall we? Because I can't with the playground meet me at 3:00 after school fight between the two manchildren madmen that's currently compromising the safety and security of our entire planet. Rather, let's focus on WHY THE FUCK supermarkets have Halloween displays. This is ridiculous and inappropriate and unnecessary. Why are we in such a damn rush to get to the next thing? We haven't even started school yet! Look. I am a planner. I like to be prepared and I hate surprises. But this is bullshit. With all the talk of slowing down and living in the moment, retail works in complete opposition to that. All for a dollar or two. And it makes me so fucking angry.

Laughing.

Have a great weekend! I'll see you back on Tuesday with another round of bookish questions I stole borrowed from Litsy!

Show Us Your Books, August 2017

This was a bizarre month for reading. In the beginning, I read a whole bunch of books very quickly. Then I started A Brief History of Seven Killings and it all went to shit because that book is killing ME. It’s so, so good but so, so dense and each chapter is like 4 pages and written in a different character’s voice and there’s about 97 characters (literally. There’s a cast of characters at the beginning to help you keep track) and it hurts my brain to read. I tried to quit 3 times but it keeps sucking me back in because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. But also I can’t take it. I’m really torn about what to do. Usually I can DNF a book without thinking but I can’t let this one go. WHAT’S A BOOKWORM TO DO?

I guess while I continue to wrestle with that, we can review all the books I did read this month. As always, my reviews are copied and sometimes embellished from my Litsy reviews

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy. Whenever an author or band or actor produces something spectacular, it’s hard to imagine what the follow up will be like and it’s hard not to compare it to the previous work (did that make sense?). So it was hard to read this one, the one after Dumplin’, which is AMAZING, with no expectations but it lived up to all of them. Her take on sexuality, class, family, and obligations hit me in all the places and gave me the gamut of feels. You hate some characters, you love others, and you root for Ramona the whole time. Julie Murphy is an incredible storyteller and I love how she makes teenagers real, complex people rather than caricatures. I wish so hard her books existed when I was a teenager. They would have made such a difference to me. 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Every idea, every anecdote, every thought is bigger than the 47 pages allow for and it is such an amazing conversation started around the ideas of feminism, culture, and gender roles that it should be required reading for everyone. It takes about 30 minutes to read but you will be thinking about it for hours afterwards. 

The GrownUp by Gillian Flynn. The fuck did I read? This book (does it even qualify as a book?) is simultaneously fucked up and not horrifying at all. I liked the progression of the story from normalish weird to REALLY BIZARRE and it MESSES with your head but I loathed and detested the ending. I would have read this as a full length novel, so there’s that. And it’s short so it’s hard to say not to read it but just know that the ending is a cop out. A big steaming cop out.

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler. So. This book is probably one of the saddest, most depressing books I have ever read (it gave The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a run for its money and if you’ve read that one, you know it’s a HIGH HIGH bar) but it was also beautiful in its own way. The story of a man’s promising future marred by loss, penance, and familial obligation, it’s told over multiple decades that’s confusing to follow at first but you get used to it. The religious overtones were a bit much but necessary to the overall plot and in the end, they become background noise to the rest of the story. 

August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones. The thriller portion of this book is average, standard, and mostly predictable. What makes this book above average is the writing. It’s gorgeous and poetic and his descriptions of setting make you feel like you’re there. Like, I legit smelled Mexican food the entire time I read this book. I loved how he made Detroit a character as much as the people (like The Wire did with Baltimore) and he address class and racism and gentrification in a way that makes a point without being preachy.

The Half-Life of Remorse by Grant Jarrett. This was an ARC from NetGalley I finally got around to. This book about choices and trying to make things right when you’ve really fucked them up and how actions have bigger consequences than we imagine and loss and the tragic effect of one incident on multiple people is perfectly sad in all the right ways. The alternating POVs didn’t even get on my nerves! and when they all converged into one story, my heart broke. His storytelling is excellent and the simple yet huge plot made for a great read. 

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting. I adore Alissa Nutting as a writer (and independent of her marriage to Dean Bakopoulos because they are two separate and distinct people). She is smart and funny and engaging about topics that are unpleasant and taboo. She has such a way with words that you can’t stop reading. And this book is funny, sad, dark, and social commentary all at once. It was also WEIRD AS FUCK. Like “am I really reading this shit” weird. But good. However, if sex in books bothers you, don’t read it. If it doesn’t then this one is a keeper and a definite add to ye old TBR.

In progress: Ill Will by Dan Chaon 

TL; DR: Ramona Blue, Made for Love, and We Should All Be Feminists are must-adds. August Snow and The Half-Life of Remorse are also good choices but if you prefer lighter reading over the summer, save them for the fall and winter. The others I don’t not recommend but I don’t think they’re high priority reading either. 

Now it’s your turn! Link up or let me know in the comments what you’ve read lately. Don’t forget to visit my co-host, Steph, and some of the other bloggers joining us. Next one is September 12 and in October we’ll be celebrating THREE YEARS of Show Us Your Books!

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Bookish habits: 7 questions

I am a fan of Litsy. I don't use it like I should but I'm REALLY good at stalking and lurking. And it pays off sometimes because I find little get to know you questionnaires and they give me post ideas since summer brain is real. These are sort of along the lines of my Interview with a Bookworm series (real question: should I bring that back?) and they're all about bookish habits and behaviors which I find fascinating because #sociologynerd and here we go:

1. Probably 15-20. Sometimes less, sometimes more
2. In general, print but digital when traveling
3. Thriller/mystery and literary fiction.
4. Romance and horror
5. I have so many but it's a tie between using movie posters as book covers and when people mark up library books. THEY ARE NOT YOURS. DO NOT DO THAT.
6. Really, I have to pick one thing? I could write a 20 point list about my favorite things and they're all equal. A sample, though: getting lost in the story, I'm never bored, and books are a perfect way to avoid people AND responsibility
7. Hmmm. This is a hard one. I'm pretty open about all things bookish but I'll admit that I've never read a Harry Potter book, never plan to, and I give zero fucks if my daughter ever does. And I am also incredibly sick of the HP obsession. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

Any of my answers surprise you? How would you answer these questions?

Weekly six-pack, 2017, v21

Hey! Remember me? I used to write regularly and then I abruptly stopped for no reason other than I have become incredibly lazy with nothing interesting to say. But I figured I'd stop by and recap a bit what's been going on. 

Reading. Lots of books. Picked up one new one from NetGalley (The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille) and have dwindled the library pile down to 3 but I think I need to let one go. It's just too…something for me right now and I can't do it. Next Show Us Your Books is August 8.

Watching. Ozark. It's a Netflix show with Jason Bateman and Laura Linney and it's absolutely excellent. If you have a chance, I highly recommend it. I've also been watching Snowfall, I'm Dying Up Here, and I am really looking forward to the new season of Ray Donovan

Eating. A new tomato sauce made with diced tomatoes, butter, a little bit of sugar, salt, and pepper. I have been purposefully making foods I can put it on almost daily. It's amazing. 

Grieving. Chester Bennington. I was on my way home from Myrtle Beach, listening to the OJ parole hearing (yes. I did) and scrolling through IG when I learned that yet another amazing and talented performer took his own life. I've written extensively about this topic but I feel the need to address it again. As someone who battles depression, it absolutely breaks my heart that someone's demons can make them feel they're not worthy of life. DEPRESSION LIES. It lies so hard. And not just to famous people. It doesn't care who you are, how much money you have, what you look like, or anything else. It's an unfortunate equalizer and I wish there was more I can do to make anyone suffering realize that they matter. Their lives matter. People want you here. I want you here, even if we've never met. I care about you. And if anything comes from Chester's death, it's more awareness of depression and suicide and hopefully it opens up avenues for discussion and awareness and education. Break the stigma. People's lives literally depend on it. 

Raging. Rehashing and recapping the horrors that 45 continues to inflict on this country is futile because as soon as you write about one thing, something new happens and it's a never ending shit cycle. You all know what's going on and I'm confident you're as appalled and disgusted as I am. Because the kind of hatred that he incites is despicable. It's beyond the pale. And it's fucking fascism. And if you don't think that what's going on smells like what happened in Germany, then we need to talk. And do not tell me that it's appropriating the term "Nazi". It's not. Nazism was born from a very specific political agenda rooted in hatred and authoritarianism and people being complicit and in denial and does that sound familiar? IT SHOULD BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE. And I cannot take it one day longer. I live outraged on a daily basis due to the incomprehensible and inexplicable hatred of anyone who's not a rich white man. I don't fucking get it. Poor people, women, LGBT people…I simply cannot wrap my head around why their existence is so offensive and means that they are undeserving of basic decency and respect and access to services like food and health care. It violates the Judeo-Christian beliefs that he and his supporters and those afraid of him so openly and conveniently use when it fits their hateful and spiteful agenda and it makes me angry and sad and frustrated. The only comfort I have is knowing I'm not the only one and those with bigger and louder voices than me are using them to openly confront this despicable behavior. And also? The fucking Mets traded Lucas Duda. There really is no justice in this world. 

Laughing. So, to offset all the rage, here's what's making me laugh:

So that's the latest. I'm hoping to get back to normal at some point soon. I miss you guys and I hope you all are doing well and I can't wait to catch up!