Link

Here’s the anti-paywall link to my review of the book When Books Went to War.

It’s a USA-centric book. That probably explains why it’s only available in the United States (since I included it in an international giveaway, I looked into the option of buying books in the winner’s country… ha ha, too few copies of this book exist outside the USA for that to work). For those of you who aren’t part of U.S. society, I don’t know whether that’s a plus or minus.

Though I didn’t time this for Memorial Day, it’s a fitting piece for Memorial Day weekend.

How people print, distribute, and read books during an event as extreme as a world war reveals much about books in any context.

Again, here’s an anti-paywall link.

Is My Age Why I Find It So Hard to Enjoy Fiction?

I Do No Finish (DNF) most novels I try these days. It makes me wonder… why is it so hard to find novels I want to complete?

Part of it is that I’m more honest with myself when I don’t enjoy a novel. Or maybe, because I DNF so many books these days, I expect most novels I pick up to be not worth finishing, and I find what I expect…

Somewhere, I read that when people get older, they prefer nonfiction over fiction. Obviously, this isn’t true for everyone. But I can’t help noticing that I’m much more likely to read a nonfiction book cover-to-cover these days. I think about them more after I put them down.

Yes, I pick nonfiction based on what interests me… but that applies to fiction too, doesn’t it?

Continue reading

How can anyone believe that we are “after the pandemic”?

The other day, a local organization sent me an email which had a recap of their first in-person event “after the pandemic.”

Um, what?

I’m not against outdoor gatherings. Heck, I considered going to this organization’s outdoor gathering (and decided not to for reasons unrelated to covid). But… “after the pandemic”?

In San Francisco (where both I and this organization are located) official covid case counts are rising, hospitalizations are rising, test positivity rates are rising, and wastewater covid levels are rising. One testing location in the city reported a 19% positivity rate this month.

How is this compatible with being ‘after the pandemic’?

Deaths aren’t rising—yet—but that’s a lagging indicator. Long covid data sucks so bad we can’t track it.

Anecdotally, among locals I talk to… covid still makes people sick.

Continue reading

I’m now a columnist at The Writing Cooperative. Also, I’m giving away books (international shipping available)

First, here’s the book giveaway. Yep, it’s international.

These books aren’t famous. They’re only popular within a particular niche, or not popular at all. To explain why people would want these books cluttering their bookshelf space, I wrote reviews. I submitted them to The Writing Cooperative to get extra exposure.

I didn’t expect Justin Cox, the editor, to like my reviews so much that he invited me to become a regular columnist.

I said yes.

Here are anti-paywall links to the book reviews which have already been published. More are coming.

“Publishers (Including Self-Published Authors) Need This Book’s Message”

“Even This Book’s Mistakes Show You How to Write Better Blurbs”

“This Book Flopped. Seize Its Bestseller Insights Anyway.”

I hope these reviews bring you something of value (the books themselves contain much more value).

I start out talking about a fun song, then this post gets dark.

For over a decade, I’ve been a person of good taste who didn’t fall for that Kpop crap. Yes, I may have stared at the Kpop music videos playing in the electronics stores a little long (this was in Taiwan, where all the electronics stores use Kpop music videos to show the quality of their screens), but I chose music based on what sounded good, and the local Taiwanese pop music sounded better.

In the past year, something in me snapped.

Here’s the evidence of my downfall:

That’s right, I watched a music video for a debut Kpop group as soon as it dropped.

That’s a screenshot of me watching “Shut Down” when it had only one official view on YouTube

If the person I was ten years ago saw that, she’d be ashamed of her future self.

I’ve even… horror of horrors… bought the album. But only one copy.

I like this group’s mix of voices. That’s how I justified the purchase. But I’ll be honest. There’s more.

Continue reading

Black & White Morality Blended with Cynicism: The Downfall of Abortion Rights in the United States

I’ve tried to understand the anti-abortion perspective in the United States, particularly the thinking behind ‘crisis pregnancy centers.’ Even in California, I’ve stumbled upon two (in small towns) without making any attempt to find them.

This is an excellent description of American grassroots anti-abortion activists:

For many of these women, supporting the Right to Life movement had become a means of defining and expressing their femininity. Giving to the baby center reinforced their beliefs and allowed them to put their faith into action. Acting on their beliefs demonstrated to others their love, generosity and kindness. Actively opposing abortion could not be separated from their sense of self as loving Christian women.

I came to realize that these true believers were embracing Christian values by giving to others, loving babies and publicly opposing what they saw as sin. Volunteering at the center enhanced their social standing in their church community. It was a public declaration of faith and was the quintessential statement of self-worth. It was ladylike and appropriate. How could I suggest anything to the contrary that might challenge or endanger that?

– Kathleen A. Coakley, Huffpost

Yes, the woman who wrote that supports abortion rights, but it’s consistent with what I’ve read on anti-abortion websites (no, I don’t want to link them).

The True Believers have a binary mindset in which babies are Good and abortionists are Evil. This makes it easy to decide what to do, figure out who are your allies and enemies, and feel like a hero in a Hollywood movie. It justifies lying to pregnant people about their options. It justifies bullying pregnant people. It justifies murdering abortion providers.

Continue reading