Sunday, January 29, 2017

News and Things: January Favorites

Wow, that was fast. The first month of 2017 is almost over!

Resolutions are holding tough... for the most part. Checking Twitter to see what's going on in the world has become a dangerous game of Jack in the Box, where Jack is all too happy to punch me right in the heart. I've read a good set of books that I'm happy to have read, and I'm re-evaluating places where my Bookish Resolution might need a little readjustment.

Besides all that, there's been a lot of News. There's been a lot of Things. So, even though they're not all exactly bookish, I'm going to tell you about the articles, videos, food, podcasts, and more, that have grabbed my attention this month, in the first installment of a new monthly format called "News and Things"!

1. Seattle is well-known as a sort of nerd mecca, but even we residents couldn't have predicted its  place in the saga of the rising popularity of bookish bars. (Shout-out to Little Oddfellows, inside of Elliot Bay Book Company!)

2. A term I learned throughout my diversity credits in college: "food desert," existing in areas where low-income families have little to no access to purchasing healthy or unprocessed food. A term I learned this month: "book desert," where low-income areas have little to no access to purchasing printed literary resources, like bookstores. The Bronx is now one of them.

3. Here's a geographical breakdown of the most popular fiction, nonfiction, and children's books requested from libraries in 2016! What does your city like to read?

4. As a self-described "glossy girl" who once had seven magazine subscriptions going at once, you can bet that I signed up as soon as I heard about Eye Level, a new online "literary lifestyle" magazine.

5. You might have guessed from one of my more recent blog posts that I'm pretty worried about the current political climate, especially our new President's disinterest in reading material (but more on that in #8). This editorial from Vanity Fair's Hive discusses how the words the President uses themselves not only obfuscate meaning and subvert truth, but they actually damage the language. 

6. This structural breakdown by The Nerdwriter on YouTube - analyzing how gifted comedian Louis C. K. builds a joke - kept me enthralled the whole time. From the expert placement of emphasis to the formalized importance of comedic beats, this guy's got it all down to a science.

7. "Henry David Thoreau was the original hipster minimalist": come for the truly amazing title, stay for the interesting commentary on contemporary obsessions with anti-materialism, like Marie Kondo books and tiny homes. (Originally found via Beth at Fuelled by Fiction!)

8. Like I mentioned before, our new President is definitely not a fan of - or friend to - books. Literary Hub took it upon itself to launch an informal investigation as to whether he can even read at all. 

9. And so, of course, has Samantha Bee. If anything, my most frequently-watched YouTube video of this past month was actually from December, when she skillfully mocked Trump's partiality for deliberately provocative speculation, with "A Total Real, 100% Valid Theory" about how he can't actually read. 

10. Are you partial to any famous first lines from literature? How about views of the night sky? Here's a brilliant way to marry those two interests: star maps constructed from the sentence diagrams of iconic initial lines from books like Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, called "Literary Constellations," from artist Nick Rougeux. 

1. I'm a simple girl with simple tastes, and Trader Joe's Balela is simply my favorite fix for snacks, meals, and random fridge drive-bys. It's chickpeas, black beans, red onions, and tomatoes, and I could probably learn how to make it myself, but why bother when they make it so simple?

2. All praise the reality TV gods: The Bachelor is finally back on Monday nights. I was converted to the show after a four-year stint in my beloved sorority, and have had the pleasure of wooing my parents over to the rose-tinted side now that I'm back home. Besides, there's never been a better reason to hate-watch, being that I really freaking despise Nick Viall. (And Corinne.)

3. After the demise of the original Tarte "Lights, Camera, Splashes!" waterproof mascara formula a while ago - RIP - I've been left going through a steady rotation of alternatives. The only constant? The Urban Decay "Subversion" mascara primer: it not only helps lengthen and strengthen individual lashes, but it helps prevent flake-off, too!

4. Thanks to a New Year's Resolution and having almost nothing else to do on my weekday afternoons, you can find me hitting the treadmill multiple times a week nowadays. It's getting easier to convince myself to work out, by downloading several TED Talks through their free app before each trip. By measuring out my times in Talks, I can clock in between 45 minutes to an hour, and learn a few new things along the way!

5. On the days I can't make it to the gym, I grab my headphones, and make my way out the door with Grace Helbig's Not Too Deep. Each hour-long episode follows Grace's casual conversations with famous Internet personas - like Pentatonix superstars Superfruit - and they're the perfect length for a nice, long walk.

6. The word "probiotic" sounds weirdly intimidating, which is why when I initially proposed starting a short cleanse to ring in the new year, I avoided everything with that word in the title. Still, Good Belly's smiling plastic face on the top of their PlusShot juice shots won me over.

7. It turns out that once you get over your irrational fear of your family's gigantic blender, anything is possible! Especially if you love smoothies. These Jamba Juice smoothie packs make having a delicious smoothie easier than ever!

8. I'm a devotee of most Seattle fan favorites - see also: Rachel's Ginger Beer, Ellenos Greek yogurt - but my favorite has got to be Seattle Chocolate's "jcoco" brand. Not only does it taste good - with unexpected and usual flavors sourced from all over the world - but it does good, too: every product purchased helps donate a serving of food to someone in need! (My beautiful cousin works for the parent company, so there's always plenty at my house.)

9. Due to the increasingly strained and chaotic relationship between the current government and its citizens, there's really no one I'd rather have at my side than a Brooding YA Hero. This satirical Twitter account - ran by YA author Carrie Ann DiRisio - has kept me in stitches for the past year, but now that we're officially entering dystopia status, his tweets have gotten a little more serious:
That's the sort of thing I really hope kids are reading these days.

What are some of the News and Things you've enjoyed yourself this month? Do you like any of the ones included here? Let me know, in the comments below! 

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