One Big Huge TBR 2018 post

I have had a shockingly bad year in the review stakes. And I haven’t posted a single time for SuperWendy’s TBR challenge for 2018. And I think the only way I will be able to get back in her TBR good books so as to take part in TBR 2019 is to do one big TBR post to cover the whole of 2018. So here goes!

January 17 – We Love Short Shorts! (shorter reads)

This is not necessarily a romance, however it is about the love and broken hearts and breakups and wonderful couples separated due to someone dying. The Museum of Broken Relationships: Modern Love in 203 Everyday Objects by Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic. Using one of my favourite writing styles, the epistolary nature of this book with a few pages and photographs of objects held now at two permanent museums – on in Zagreb, Croatia and one in Los Angeles, California. There is also a touring collection. I adored this book. And I really hope that there is a sequel for unbroken relationships.

February 21 – Backlist Glom (author with multiple books in your TBR)

Molly O'Keefe covers with naked headless men showing pecs and abs.

Molly O’Keefe’ You Can’t Hurry Love and You Can’t Buy Me Love

I adore Molly O’Keefe but I rarely stumble upon her books so when I do find them, I read them straightaway. Though I don’t consider 2 books a glom, I am sneaking O’Keefe in here.

Continue reading

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Observations: Notes 1-17

It has been a long time since I blogged so I have decided to write about my past 8 months in a series of notes. It is a long read without a photo in sight. The TL;DR is that lots has happened and I can’t guarantee regular blogging in the future.

Now for the long read:

Note 1: Offspring. In late January, my oldest son bought a one way ticket to the other side of the world. His plan was to spend anywhere from 6 months to a year overseas.

Note 2: Time. Like most people with an online presence, I try to manage the amount of time I spend online.

Note 3: Mediums of engagement. Since my son has been overseas, he has been communicating with me on a number of online social media (SM) platforms – both public and private messaging – on a daily (and sometimes several times a day) basis. He seems to love sharing his experiences with me which I like (except for when he is having a crisis and I am receiving panicked phone calls in the middle of the night and sure, one day they will make great stories to tell everyone when he comes home but I really don’t want the real-time tension of missed ferries and scary falling asleep on public transport just to wake up and find your wallet missing moments. Just give me the freakin’ funny story after the crisis is over, already!).

All this (lovely and makes this mother’s heart happy) communicating had to have a fall guy because, like all other social media interactions, it is a time suck. The fall guys: My blog, facebook (which I hate hence non-deserving of capitals) and to a slightly lesser degree, Twitter. The standup guy however is my Instagram which is my son’s SM platform of choice.

Note 4: Oh Twitter. So much promise. So much poison.

Note 5: Lurking is the new Tweeting. I lurve both LibraryLand and RomanceLandia on Twitter and I used to be fully engaged in discussion about all things relevant, irrelevant and irreverant in both these spheres as well as some scope creep into other corners of interest like travel, all things bookish and readerly, Greece, funny thingymajobs, politics and whatnots. However, life has changed and I have slowly become a lurker with occasional interactions. Where Twitter used to be a place where you could find your tribe and then spend time exploring and discussing your interests, this has all shifted and Twitter now is a place that has politics and protest at the forefront. Politics in 2018 is a toxic and shocking place. A place where I find myself constantly aghast at the temerity of politicians lying and manipulating and their terrifying hate-filled supporters and enablers. I find myself having to compartmentalise tweets as they come through: Fact, Opinion, Falsehood, Hatred. Each 280 characters becomes a stalled moment where I consider the impact of each word, where I need to undertake a source analysis so I can ascertain the credibility of the Tweeter and not only their particular life lens, but also how they may potentially react. To anyone. To me. Which explains my new tendency towards lurking.

Note 6: Being a fuck up in a knee-jerk world. I often think (worry) about how will people react if/when I say/tweet something ill-informed or something wrong. See, I live with my foot in my mouth. I say stupid things that in retrospect horrify me. I look back at things I have done and said throughout my life and cringe and wish I could take the words back. Things that I said at 16. At 26. At 36. Things that I said last month. Things that I said today. Getting older has not necessarily made me any wiser when I start prattling. I get a stupid nervous energy and I forget to just shut the fuck up. It is an affliction that many extroverts have. I like to think that there isn’t anything unique about me feeling this way. Which means that if I can fuck up, so can everyone else. We are all fuck ups together. If I see someone say weird, out of line shit, I like to think that I just shrug and wait to see if it is a hill they are willing to die on or if they just go “Ooops! Sorry!” or if they make an effort to change. However, I have seen people harassed, I have seen them torn down, I have seen (several) people I liked hounded and bullied to the point that they have left their online spaces forever due to things that they have done. And I don’t know if they are OK. And I worry about them. And true – what they were hounded or called out on was not good behaviour and there are consequences to bad behaviour. But frankly, no-one is perfect. Good people can sometimes do bad things and make mistakes. But we all learn as we go along and it is imperative that we are measured in our responses. Humans fuck up. I don’t know anyone, ANYONE, who hasn’t at some time in their life fucked up both big and small. I also think every person has the capacity to unfuckup in the future.

Example: A person I grew up with went to gaol for doing some pretty hardcore crimes. She has been out for over a decade. I bumped into her several months back. We chatted. We laughed. We talked about our kids. Where we live. What we do now. The big elephant in the room was totally ignored. As it needed to be. It was a polite, and rather warm conversation (from someone who was never ever warm in any exchanges that I recall from our youth). At the time that the elephant was happening, none of us abused her or trolled her. There was some talk amongst friends about the situation, and there was one incredibly kind friend who without falter visited her every single week despite having been victim to some of the crimes. So, after our short hellos, this person and I did not swap details or promise to catch up. That would not have been honest. But I was really glad she came over and spoke to me. It was a lovely and genuine exchange. It feels good to know that she changed her life over. And she is a nicer person from what I can see.

So the moral to Note 6 is that I can’t bear to see online attacks. They are not OK. They unnerve me. They are performed with such pious ferocity that I have noted the people who seem to relish in leading them and I keep farfarfar away from them. I don’t subscribe to behaviour being a good/bad binary. Humanity is too complex for that. Also, I am an idealist. I believe in HEAs and redemptive arcs. R U OK day is coming up. It is a day that people are encouraged to remember to check in on friends who may have mental health issues. If any of you personally have contact with someone who used to be engaged in the online communities that I am on (libraries and romance) who has been hounded to getting offline, please check in on them and ask if they are OK.

Note 6.1: I wrote this note on the 21/8. That night, I was in a Twitter exchange where I frankly put my foot in my judgmental, unthinking mouth once again. I was taken to task in the nicest possible way. I apologised. We all laughed. We moved on. Twitter trust in humanity is being incrementally restored.

Note 6.2: Activism, protest and calling out bad behaviour is important to our society. It is important to be able to voice our concerns. But there is a thin line between this and turning into trolls. We must all take care in observing where that line is and not have a knee-jerk reaction and fuck up in a way that we may later regret.

Note 7: I still like Twitter. It still remains my regular social media platform of choice. At least, for now.

Note 8: Thesis and well-being. My 7 months of not blogging coincided with a slump (but not a complete standstill) in my doctoral writing, too. From February through to May, my elderly mum was crisis ill, and in and out of hospital for the majority of that period. Thankfully, I am one of four daughters, and we all had our own area of care and support that we tried to balance between us. I say this, because I would never claim that I carried a full care load. However, the assistance that I gave impacted my own time management with my studies. The consequences being, that I am only now recovering and slowly unravelling the complexity of my thesis work. In the next fortnight, I have to make several structural and conceptual framework decisions that I have been in discussion with my supervisor over. Returning to the blog seems to be giving me a way to work through these problems. On the mum front, she is much better. She is cooking complex meals again, and she is snarky, full of irony along with being all kind and giving, once again. I wouldn’t say that she has fully recovered, but she is certainly a lot more like her usual, contradictory self.

Note 9: Work. I still work as a librarian and I have once again turned down teaching. In the long run, I don’t know how turning down teaching will play out for me. University teaching is hard to come by but I will go crazy if I have 2 jobs, the thesis, being present for my youngest son who is in his last 3 months of his HSC (for the non-Australian readers – this is our state university entrance exams and compulsory secondary education leaving certificate), as well as helping my mum. I don’t have the competitive fire-in-the-belly and willingness to give up my sleeping and resting time that seems to be necessary to make it in academia, so I will need to worry about all that is my future after I finish the thesis. In the meantime, I continue to public-library to get through the study cave necessities.

Note 10: Library cards and library membership. When my Note 1 son went to England, he was given instructions to get himself a library card as soon he was settled and to share his details with me so I could borrow ebooks and eaudiobooks. As all good sons do, he ignored me. His girlfriend though gave me access to her library card. And I felt vexed. How could I use someone else’s card? Even though I had her permission, I felt that I shouldn’t be breaching library rules in such a way. It has made me reconsider library memberships and family access points and password sharing and privacy issues. When I pointed this breach out to her, she responded with a “Huh? But I have your Netflix account logged into my computer. How is this any different?” and I had a lightbolt moment and saw it her way. The library access, by the way, has been great.

Note 10: Narrative in my life. I will leave it to another blog post to discuss what I have been watching and reading but I do have some teaser notes.

Note 10.1: Netflix and TV: I love watching.

Note 10.2: I have not purchased a book since August 2017.

Note 10.3: The reading slump may be over, baby!

Note 11: Conferences. I decided at the beginning of the year to not present at anymore conferences until I finished my thesis. This has not been a decision that I have followed through on. Thankfully. I submitted an abstract to the Popular Romance Studies, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance IASPR 2018 conference and I am so grateful that I was accepted. Even a week before the conference I felt that I needed to withdraw my paper as my debacle of a year had kept me from comprehensively formulating my argument but  I am so glad that I presented my paper. It was called “Nobody puts romance fiction in the corner: the cognitive dalliance of physical places and digital spaces in public libraries”. I am now trying to write it up so I can submit it for publication. Two weeks prior to IASPR, I also presented a seminar on my research for my university. I will eventually add both of these to my Journals page, but here is the link to Romance in the Margins should you want to watch it on Youtube. I have since also submitted to an Information and Library Science conference. All the submitting and writing and panicking about my content during June and July ended up energising me. I started downloading eaudiobooks to listen to on my commute to work. I listened to 12 novels in the space of 6 weeks. I also read a couple but that hasn’t been as easy as more of my reading time has been focused upon theory and research rather than leisure time.

Note 12: I miss my weekly swimming. I can’t swim in pools due to the chlorine, so I haven’t had a swim since May. One day, I may brave the elements and go swimming in Sydney’s (relatively mild) cold. But it won’t be happening this year. When I grow up to be retired, I will never Winter again. I will spend every June through to September in the Northern Hemisphere. Life goals!

Note 13: I am fucking grumpy. I continue to attend my reading group. We are 17 years strong and I still enjoy attending. We just did Happy as a topic and, in line with all our reading decisions, we have thoughtfully decided to base our next 6 meetings on the rest of the seven dwarfs. Grumpy is up for September which suits me just fine as I have become a really grumpy person. Really really grumpy. Just ask the kids who catch my bus after school. I’m a fuckin’ grump. I growl at teenagers. I shush kids in the library making noise (dammit – the high school kids are studying and they really don’t want to deal with 3 year old playing chasings while their carers give zero shits). I could blame grumpy on the thesis. I could blame grumpy on being tired of parenting. But as a good friend pointed out to me, maybe I am just grumpy and no one else needs to be scapegoated.

Note 14: How on earth did I become a dog person: I now accidently own 2 dogs. We have owned Cleo – a mini fox/Jack Russell terrier who is crazy wired up and very clingy. Then we had an emergency foster dog come to us through a friend six weeks ago. His name is Beau and he is a chihuahua/Jack Russell terrier who is also crazy wired up and very clingy. And since we found out that he is now going to stay with us forever, we have renamed (?) him to Bo. Beau is too highbrow for plebian me. Bee-Oh is much more my pace. Bo as in Bo and Hope. Bo and Luke Duke. Sydney FC has Bobô – not Deyvison Rogério da Silva. Bo is popular culture. Beau needs pampering whereas Bo does not pretend to be anything other than a dog with a propensity for destroying pillows.

Note 15: Ineptness. I have two parcels sitting in my car waiting to be mailed. They have been there for over 9 months wrapped and with stamps applied. One day they will get mailed. This has nothing to do with my blog post and everything to do with my career choices. I will never commit to running an online store. This is more an aside than a note.

Note 16: The Blog. I am considering restarting Sharing my Shallows. My aim was always to get 52 responses and I am still a few short. Meanwhile, I have a wonderful one waiting waiting waiting patiently. Perhaps I will post it one Saturday.

Note 17: Home again: After 8 months away, my son is returning home in a few weeks. Let’s see if it frees up my blog writing time. I must say, I have loved that he has communicated so beautifully with me while he has been away. He has sent us photographs and livestreamed places to us. Every photo he sends, I save to my phone’s gallery. He calls as much as he writes. Postcards are overrated. Instant messaging is my friend. My chatty young child had all the chatter educated out of him through the weird system that gets called school these days. He became a very quiet boy from early on. His travels have brought him back to me. Early on in his travels, he told me he prefers talking to messaging. But those years of communicating through text alone have given him some wonderful skills in articulating his thoughts. I may have started this post discussing how I don’t want to be in the real time tension but I was wrong. I fucked up. I have changed my mind. I am glad that I get to talk to him when he has something funny to share or when he is lonely. I am glad that when he was alone in Southampton port at 10pm with no money with modern technology, his dad and I were able to help him get onto his ferry to the Isle of Wight where family was waiting for him. He was not left stranded. His funny “I survived” did not involve him being huddled up and freezing in the snow in some doorway. The internet and social media, for all its online hate and chaos is still a strong and enabling force. And it remains an important part of my life. I know that I will continue to use my blog as my online home even if the curtains are only occasionally opened, and Twitter will definitely remain as one of my online public spaces.

I thank you for reading to the end. I will aim to do a write up of my reading and watching in another future post. But looking at my track record this year, I commit to nothing.

 

Katie D the YoungLibrarian is Sharing the Shallows

Is it peculiar that my earliest memory of Katie D. on Twitter is during a live tweet out of Eurovision where she found a European embassy where she could watch it as it didn’t air on any USian TV. I remember thinking two things. 1. This librarian chick totally rocks! and 2. How is it that this hugely populated country doesn’t air Eurovision!!! (I’m Australia and just a tad obsessed with the competition). Despite this being one of my first memories of Katie D, I had been following her for a while and that is because she is one of the sun-starry gems of a librarian who also reads romance. Birds of a feather!

Katie D.

@younglibrarian

Librarian/romance author (under an alter ego that I only divulge in private/in person communications)

Can you describe yourself?

My Twitter bio says “Librarian. Writer. Knitter. Kook.” Which is all true. I’d also add in award-winning cook/baker and publishing nerd.

What is your main reading medium (books, blogs, games, news, etc) and how much time do you spend reading a week?

Books, print and ebooks, are my main reading medium. I honestly have no clue how much time I spend reading because a significant part of my job is actually reading/skimming books in order to annotate them for the library service I work for, let alone all of the leisure reading I do. I would say, minimum, 30 hours per week. Continue reading

Krystal is Sharing the Shallows

So today, for someone completely different, I have one of my former students taking the shallow plunge and answering my questions. I taught Krystal in both Information Discovery as well as Information Cultures (do I remember this correctly? I am sure she can confirm this). I really enjoyed teaching both of these classes and the whole cohort was fabfabfab. So when you have a fabfabfab cohort, you have lots of standout students, and one of those standouts is Krystal… well, what can I say but that I think she is just awesome. I am so glad she agreed to take part in my shallows.

(PS If any of my other fabfabfab students are reading and want to take part in sharing my shallows – send me an email!)

Aside: Krystal mentions Cracked and as a Mad Magazine fan I concede that though Mad was much more superior in the 60s-90s, however the poor second cousin Cracked just came into its own in the internet age and is now the one that rules. Mad – why you make me so sad 😦

Krystal with her booksKrystal 

@k_a_m_campbell

Budding librarian and marketing assistant

Can you describe yourself:

“I have been an avid reader since childhood, and I’m a big fan of deep-diving into niche or specific topics and learning about all kinds of things- the Titanic wreck, norse mythology, the dogs of the Russian space program, you name it! I recently completed my first degree, studying Communications and majoring in Information and Media. This year I am undertaking Honours! My experiences in life and work are strange and varied- I went to art school, was a legal secretary, worked in an auction house, paid my dues in retail, and I’m currently working two positions in an academic library, redesigning a university website as a marketing and communications assistant, and undertaking my own research as a (fingers crossed!) future academic. Unlike my mother, whose true crime reading choices have resulted in a bookshelf in our house which I refer to as “the murder library,” my preferences are the dark and fantastical.”

What is your main reading medium (books, blogs, games, news, etc) and how much time do you spend reading a week?

I would say that I read physical books for any kind of long-form reading: fiction, non-fiction, textbooks, coffee-table books, and especially art books with lots of pictures. Any type of text where I feel that the experience is enhanced by the physical act of turning a page, I tend to prefer books. For shorter things- news, journal articles, online content, I am happy to read from a screen. I would say that I spend a significant amount of time reading, though it’s only recently that I’ve come to accept that I am still an avid reader. I don’t read novels and physical books as much as I used to, due to time commitments, and I often felt like it meant I wasn’t much of a reader anymore. However, in reality the opposite could not be truer- I’ve just finished a degree that relied heavily on reading and literature-searching, and have read and researched constantly for the past three years. For the past year, I have been wading my way into the world of academia in my spare time, writing my own articles and undertaking my own research. I’m even about to begin a research degree. A big part of my adult reading habits was forgiving myself for not reading all of the novels I would like to, and accepting that the amount of non-fiction reading I do still count. Nowadays I’ve come to accept short story anthology books as a convenient answer to my limits on free time.

Cracked Magazine King Kong coverWhat or who is your joyful reading (guilty or otherwise) pleasure? 

A definite guilty pleasure would have to be listicle articles online. I read them to pass time on trains, or if it’s very slow at the front desk at work. If it’s a quiet day over the summer break you can almost definitely catch me on cracked.com reading about ten ways that my favourite tv show was actually hellish behind the scenes. I can’t even place WHY I enjoy reading them, I just find them entertaining!

Do you have a favourite storyline or plot? And do you have one you will not read?

I’m a BIG lover of tropes in all media, and I spend a lot of time reading analyses of the tropes of my favourite fiction. I love a good storyline about found family, an unconventional group of people bonded over a shared experience and love for each other. However, I am not a big fan of a trope I see in media where the main character is pushed away from their group, or leaves, due to a misunderstanding or betrayal, especially if I know they’ll all be reunited for the finale anyway. I guess I’m a hyper-sensitive flower, but that type of storyline stresses me out!

Why do you/don’t you use a public library?

I definitely used the public library a lot growing up. My mum and I are both big readers, and growing up a public library was a low-cost alternative to spending money we didn’t have on books. It came especially handy for me in high school, though. My school had a large library, but it was mostly dedicated to computers rather than books. I didn’t have the internet at my house until I was almost 16, and getting research done at school meant fighting it out over the computers, or settling for a fairly small collection of books. I spent a lot of after-school time at my local library, finding and printing online materials to take home, or borrowing books to complete assignments. Even now as an adult, I don’t own a printer, so if I need something printed and I’m at home rather than at uni or work, it’s down to the public library for me to print it.

Do you RUI*. If so, what?

I’m more of a “sings loudly under the influence” than a reader.

Do you have a favourite reading spot?

At home, I like to read in my front yard. We have some seats set up, and in the afternoons on a warm day, with the breeze blowing through the trees and my dog pattering around, it’s when I feel most at peace. My dog likes when I read aloud to him- he just thinks I’m giving him attention.

Toilet reading: 

    a) Never do it

    b) Only my own books/phone/tablet/ereader

    c) Anything goes – library books, friends books, cornflake packets.

    d) I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that I may incriminate myself.

    e) Other _________

I come from a long line of toilet readers. As a careless teen I destroyed many a paperback from leaving them in the bathroom for extended periods. Let’s just say, there’s a reason you won’t find Harry Potter in my bookshelf anymore. And that reason is that they’re all completely wrecked. Order of the Phoenix doesn’t even have a cover anymore.

Romance fiction of the Happily Ever After (not the love tragedy) kind – are you a Lover or a Hater and why?

I’m always here for a gooey happy ending. I find that it’s the most delicious type of wish-fulfillment for me.

What would you give up reading for**?

I like to think I have a measured approach to reading where I don’t read so much that it interferes with my life. I honestly don’t know if I would give up reading for any selfish reasons- reading is tied so much into who I am and what I’m doing for a living. It would be hard to be a librarian, work with computers, or do just about any of the things I do without reading! Unless we’re in a situation where you have a knife to the throat of someone I love, but I don’t think you would do that… Unless…

Can a romance/crime/super/etc hero be the driver of a hatchback?

I am here for any subversive imagery! I would accept an action protagonist riding into battle apocalyptic forces on a pushbike, out of breath, if it was amusing enough!

Danielle is Sharing the Shallows

When I first started using Twitter in 2009, I found myself meeting people all the time. As the years have passed, the amount of new people I chat with have become less and less over time. Danielle is one of the more recent people that I have met online. We both read romance, we both are librarians and we both blog. Do the similarities end there? Well, read along!

DanielleDanielle

@LibDanielleJ

https://daniellejohanesenmelb.wordpress.com/

Trained librarian and lover of Shakespeare, poetry, romance novels and reading. I’m a Richard III fan girl and wannabe writer. I’ve lived in marvellous Melbourne all my life.

 

 

What is your main reading medium (books, blogs, games, news, etc) and how much time do you spend reading a week?

Books but I love news as well – long form journalism is amazing when done well. I read about 4-5 hours per week, which is not enough. I need more time. Continue reading

Fiona and Bert Burless are Sharing the Shallows – a She Reads/He Reads special edition!

Fiona and Bert Burless are my in-laws. I first met them in 1994 when I started dating my husband, John. My first impression of them was that John was in a share-house with his sister and her husband at a time when most people were moving out and away from their families. What was instantly evident was John’s  deep affection for them. This continues to endure and has always been extended to me, too. Fi and Bert live in wine country on a farm with their son. They are involved in their community theatre, in their community school, they regularly drive long distances and aren’t afraid of snakes (they are both amused at my careful scanning of my surroundings when we go to the farm in my active avoidance of snakes. One slithered over my legs while I was sleeping back in 1998!!!!).  Our sons get on really well, with my younger son for years spending a good part of most of his school holidays up at their farm – because Fi and Bert are so fabulous and welcoming to all that way!  And yet, despite our distance (over 2 hours away), out of all our collective 7 siblings, we see Fiona the most (which is saying a lot as I live in the same ‘burb as one of my sisters and just another ‘burb over from another and I see them a lot too). Fi and Bert share with John and me a similar sense of humour,  we are all total sticklers for fact-checking with a very low tolerance for crackpot “science” and, not surprisingly, both of them are really big readers.

Nephew and his big black dog on his verandah reading his book while overlooking a lush, green farm.Fiona and Bert Burless

Bert Burless is a propmaker for the film bizniss. Theatre and TV and Ads included.

Fifi: I am short for my weight: I am young for my age; I enjoy being a mother…mostly; I enjoy being a wife…moistly; I stick my nose into other people’s business; I stick my business into other people’s noses; I am sometimes very passionate about the things I like; I am very passionate about sometimes disliking things. I am known as Fiona, Fi, Fifi, Fifi La Boom, Lucy, Darling and Muuuuuum! Continue reading