October: Books Plus

October is the best month, right?  We’re finally in layers, the leaves demand your attention, and everything is starting to get extra cozy feeling.
Unfortunately, though, I’ve noticed I often feel a lot of pressure with what to read during this month because there is such a wide variety of books that feel perfect for October. I initially found myself reading lots of books at once with wandering attention while trying to plan out how to hit each type of book I thought would make for the ultimate October reading list.  This has become an unfortunate October habit for me, so once I became aware of it, I chucked it to the side and just went back to reading what I felt like reading.  If only I could do that with all life’s baggage, amirite?
Below you’ll find a list of mostly excellent reads, some really good watches, some really annoying watches, and so forth.  Some of you are going to leave forever after you see what popular movie and TV show I’m hating on.  It was nice knowing you.
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My Reads

➕ Jessica Townsend’s Wundersmith
I beg of you to read this series already.
➕  Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Ghost Boys
The story of a Black boy killed by a police officer while he was holding a toy gun who comes back as a ghost.  Heartbreaking and so powerfully rendered.
➕ Nella Larsen’s Passing
Who’s got the petition going for making this a classic taught in high schools? Love the updated cover for this one.
Randomly spotted this one at the library and it did just the Halloween trick for me.  It’s a middle grade story about a girl who starts hunting ghosts, and learns a lot of other things on the way, which means that this scaredy-cat can handle it and have some slightly spooky fun.
➕ Molly Wizenberg’s The Fixed Stars
I read and reread Molly Wizenberg’s blog posts as a bored college librarian. This book, her third, tells the story of her discovering, while married to a man and with a young child, that she was attracted to women. I do always feel sorry for the relatives of memoirists, but I’m also so grateful that writers like Wizenberg can bring us into their worlds in such a detailed, raw, illuminating way.
➕ Natalia Sylvester’s Running
The idea of following a Latina teen who’s Dad is running for President and learning what ideals he stands for is such an excellent YA concept.
➕  Kristin Cashore’s Fire
I had picked up this one after reading Graceling and was thrown off by it not being the same characters.  I guess enough time has passed (e.g. could tell you basically nothing about Graceling at this point) for me to embrace this one, because I ended up really enjoying it. It’s a slow burn at first, but then…fire.

➕  Colin Jost’s A Very Punchable Face

You may be surprised to hear an SNL head writer is funny.

➕ Kara LaReau’s Rise of ZomBert

Thank you, Chronicle! I adore Kara LaReau’s Bland Sisters series, so I was looking forward to this one, about a cat two kids find with some zombie-like traits, but nothing happens in this.  It’s an introduction that takes up a book. Meh.

➕ J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix

Let’s agree to not hate on Harry’s teenage angst when he is one of maybe twenty people who’s willing to protect the rest of the world from descending into hell. That being said, I’m curious if anyone would call this one their favorite in the series.
Not my favorite collection of poetry, but some brilliant lines and lots of timely topics.
➕  Myquillyn Smith’s Cozy Minimalist Home
Myquillyn Smith interested me as she made the rounds on many of my favorite podcasts, so I decided to pick this one up. This isn’t one that inspired me with my decorating, but I enjoyed her writing voice.

➕  T.J. Klune’s The House on the Cerulean Sea

Cristina described this book as huggable and it very much is that.  I’m always in for magical misfits and this was a wonderful escape, but it did stray to the too-polished level for me.

Podcasts

I have been intrigued by this pair ever since reading about them in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  If you have been, too, check out this wonderful episode!
➕ From the Front Porch Baby-Sitters Back, Alright!
I have never read these books, but I love the Baby-Sitters Club Club podcast and listening to Annie, Olivia, and Lucy chat about their experience with these books felt light and fun in the best way.

Music

➕ Ellie Schmidly’s “It’s You I Like
A cover of this sweetest of sweet Mr. Roger’s song that I stumbled on in a very random playlist has me melting.
➕ Graham Colton’s “Life’s What You Make It

TV and Movies

➕ Plus One
A rom-com I’d never heard of and really liked it. It’s edgy, but not in a way that bothered me, and I thought the two actors, Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine were wonderful.  Definitely recommend to most of you!
➕ The Good Place final season
A final season that did justice to a show that continually surprised me and made me think all kinds of deep thoughts that are normally not floating around in that fluff up there ; ).
➕ Schitt’s Creek final season
Moira’s outfit as the wedding officiant is alone worth it.
➕ The Great British Bake-Off Season 11
Hooray, hooooooorayyyy!
➕ The Boys Season 2
The opposite of the above, but one I also adore.
➕ The Bachelorette
It feels good having a communal watch again.
➕ Dream Home Makeover
Aside from Pinterest, I wasn’t very familiar with Studio McGee, but I love watching home makeovers. That being said, there’s a level of wealth here that felt icky and for the love of Zeus can we please stop putting giant wooden beads everywhere just because they add texture.  This show was a mixed bag for me.

What’s Not Working For Me

(This section is officially for nonsense only.)
➕ Enola Holmes
Here’s where half of you leave.  Look, I thought the first half was wonderful, but that second half felt so lacking. It felt like they were trying to mix things up, but it was all the wrong mixing for me. Like those of you who put raisins into chocolate chip cookies.
➕ Emily in Paris
I’m on the record for enjoying a good bad watch, but when you are trying to convince us the main character is charming when she is just incredibly insufferable, I can’t even hang in there for beautiful Paris. This doesn’t even get background watching space.
People who I do not want in my life who keep inserting themselves.
This clip of a White House reporter responding to a raccoon is exactly what I want to do.

Working For Me

➕ First family vacation.
We went on a socially distanced, mask-wearing, eating outside, etc. etc. vacation and it was THE BEST. It was Maeve’s first ever vacation and it was such a special time.  Of course, it now feels like ages and ages ago, but it sure was good for the soul.

➕ This account.

When I went to a Matisse exhibit with some friends a few years ago (I want you to know I am extremely sophisticated), we all found ourselves drawn to different works of his, which led to a very interesting discussion of what it is we love about art.  For me, the thing that I think ultimately makes a piece one I love versus like is one that represents a place or story I want to be a part of…cue, this feed.
➕ Never thought I’d follow an Instagram feed of Twitter posts.
This man cracks me up.
➕ I’m still not on TikTok, but…
I adore seeing people’s creativity.  When it gets past the employee…
➕ Putting happy things on the calendar.
I’ve started putting things like when my husband is off work or when a new TV show is airing  on the calendar as a way to be more intentional about joy.  As my guru Mary Oliver wrote, “Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. “

Please do join in however feels fitting to you!


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