The Sunday Post is a weekly feature hosted by Kimberly of Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s an opportunity to share news, recap the week, showcase books and things we have received, talk about what’s coming up next week, and anything else you’d like! In addition, I feature what I’m reading, playing, watching, and/or listening to, showcase new additions to my TBR shelf, and discuss any other general geekery that I want to share.
For the past several months I have been taking a long, unscheduled break from — well, everything! As I explain here, my infant son Oliver took over all my time, to the point that I wasn’t even reading (cue gasps of shock and horror from anyone who has ever met me). To be quite honest, I still have not figured out any semblance of routine beyond deciding to let his needs guide what I get up to at any given moment, and the only time I have for things like writing and blogging is that strange, liminal hour between the time he falls asleep and the time when my eyelids will no longer stay open. I’m playing it by ear and that’s perfectly alright with me!
Book-Traveling Thursdays: A Book Recommended to Everyone – 94% of Americans have or hope to have children, and yet America ranks 34th in neonatal mortality rates and 41st in maternal mortality rates. My book recommendation delves into why that is and what we can do to change that.
Around the Internets
“Swedish Politician Proposes Mandatory Paid Sex Breaks” (video) by The Young Turks – As if Sweden wasn’t awesome already.
“A Doctor Created a New Term to Describe the Pain Syrian Children Are Experiencing” by Charles Davis for ATTN: – What Syrian children are experiencing and why they need our help.
“In pictures: The men competing for love in the deserts of Chad” by Tariq Zaidi for BBC News – Zaidi captures a colorful courting ritual unique to the Wodaabe people of Chad, in which the men “flaunt their goods” and hope to be chosen by a woman for marriage.
True Islam – A website dedicated to increasing religious tolerance through education about what Islam is really about. Common questions and assumptions about Islam are answered and explained, and you can even find a place near you where you can have coffee and a bite to eat with a Muslim and have your questions answered in person!
Books are my weakness and guilty pleasure. I’ll forego a great deal of comfort in exchange for the pleasure of a new stack of books to enjoy. For instance, I keep telling myself there isn’t money for new clothes and continue to wear my maternity clothes eight months after giving birth, but have dropped several hundred on books since my little one was born.
This week Oliver and I took a trip to our wonderful local bookstore and splurged on a few awesome new purchases. My favorite of our haul this week is A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins. It’s a cheeky book with wonderful illustrations and a funny and clever little story that will amuse you as much as it will your little one. I admit, I probably bought it more for my amusement than for Oliver’s!
Another wonderful picture book we picked up was If I Had a Little Dream by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon. The illustrations in this pick are absolutely stunning, with so much hidden detail that you’ll find yourself entranced and daydreaming in no time, which is appropriate because it is a rhyming poem about the power of imagination. I really love this one and am looking forward to enjoying it even more in a few years with Oliver when he can really appreciate it.
Oliver’s favorite this week is Baby Babble: A Book of Baby’s First Words by Kate Merritt, which is part of the Indestructibles series, baby books that claim to be “baby-proof.” Oliver really e
njoys crunchy things and was instantly interested in putting the book in his mouth when I pointed it out to him at the store, so I decided to be put it to the test — and as you can see, so did Oliver! He has tasted it, chewed it, crunched it, crawled around the bedroom with it, and it has proven resilient against his book-abuse; it hasn’t got a single tear (it is, however, very crinkly). Admittedly, Oliver is probably more gentle with books than the average baby, as I have always let him handle my books, and he pulls many of the books he can reach off my shelves every day, but I think he recognizes that Baby Babble is his and that it is okay to be rough with it, and so he treats it a bit more like a toy than a book.
My true reason for going to the bookstore was to get the beautiful hardcover of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay. I wasn’t able to make it to the theatre to see Fantastic Beasts because Oliver is fully dependent on me, but I am so excited to see it once I finish rereading the series and read the screenplay! No spoilers, please! ♥
What I’m Reading
I’m making my way through the Harry Potter series for the first time in many years! I’ve read it so many times that I’ve lost count, but this is the first time I’ve read it from beginning to end since I was a minor; and it’s my first time reading it aloud to someone else! I’m reading it aloud to Oliver, who is enjoying it as much as I am and gives me a great big grin every time I reach for one of the books. It’s a blast for me because there are so many opportunities for fun inflections and accents. We finished Chamber of Secrets this week and are nearly through Prisoner of Azkaban. I’ve been in a rush to get through Prisoner of Azkaban because the Marauders are my favorite characters — quite possibly of all time — so I’m eager for the (bittersweet) reunion that’s coming!
What I’m Watching
I adored the clever wit and friendly characters of Gilmore Girls growing up, but at some point my mother stopped paying for the television so I never got to see the last two seasons. So it was only logical when I found out Netflix was picking the show back up with a spin-off mini-series, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, that I binge-watch Gilmore Girls from the very beginning… right? Somehow I’ve finally finished doing so and am on the third episode of A Year in the Life. I admit I’m a little disappointed; where Gilmore Girls seemed to me to be primarily about wit, cleverness, and youthful exuberance, A Year in the Life is heavy with life’s disappointments and that awful feeling that you’re just spinning your wheels. I’m not really digging it, but I am sticking through it!
It’s worth watching just to see Kirk’s second film and the Stars Hallow musical, though. So worth it.
When I decided to reread the Harry Potter series, I also decided to watch each of the films, so Oliver and I have been doing just that! I thought they might frighten him a bit, but the only part he hasn’t liked so far was Harry’s fight with the basilisk in Chamber of Secrets. Perhaps he enjoys them because they’re just as magical for a toddler as they are for a grown-up, or perhaps because I become extremely giddy while watching them, shivering when Snape gives a Gryffindor student the evil eye, clinging to the edge of my seat when Harry narrowly dodges death at Voldemort’s hand yet again, cheering and clapping along with the crowds at Quidditch matches, and giggling with excitement during those stunning sweeping views of the Hogwarts castle. Don’t judge me, Muggle.
New Additions to the TBR Shelf
Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s by Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez
During the Great Depression, a sense of total despair plagued the United States. Americans sought a convenient scapegoat and found it in the Mexican community. Laws forbidding employment of Mexicans were accompanied by the hue and cry to “get rid of the Mexicans!” The hysteria led pandemic repatriation drives and one million Mexicans and their children were illegally shipped to Mexico.
Despite their horrific treatment and traumatic experiences, the American born children never gave up hope of returning to the United States. Upon attaining legal age, they badgered their parents to let them return home. Repatriation survivors who came back worked diligently to get their lives back together. Due to their sense of shame, few of them ever told their children about their tragic ordeal.
Decade of Betrayal recounts the injustice and suffering endured by the Mexican community during the 1930s. It focuses on the experiences of individuals forced to undergo the tragic ordeal of betrayal, deprivation, and adjustment. This revised edition also addresses the inclusion of the event in the educational curriculum, the issuance of a formal apology, and the question of fiscal remuneration.
I listened to an interview with Dr. Balderrama on Democracy Now! this week regarding Hispanophobia in the United States and the recent surge in deportations. ICE is detaining and deporting students, hardworking members of the labor force, parents, U.S. military veterans, asylum-seekers, and DACA DREAMers — many of whom, despite what Trump claims, have no criminal record. This is shocking and frightening, but my jaw dropped when I learned about the Hispanophobic hysteria during the Great Depression. I thought that I received a pretty thorough education in social justice growing up, and yet I had never heard about the mass deportations and forced repatriations of the 1920s and 30s. The most disturbing part is that about 60% of those forced to leave this country were legal U.S. citizens, many of whom had been in the U.S. from birth. Rodriguez himself witnessed his father get arrested and taken away as a child; his father was deported and he never saw him again.
The more we know about our history as a species, the better chance we have of avoiding the mistakes and horrors of the past and creating a brighter future.
Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
This stunning epic fantasy debut introduces two exciting new authors — and a world brimming with natural and man-made wonders, extraordinary events, and a crisis that will test the mettle of men, the boundaries of magic, and the heart and soul of a kingdom.
Thanks to its elite Dragon Corps, the capital city of Volstov has all but won the hundred years’ war with its neighboring enemy, the Ke-Han. The renegade airmen who fly the corps’s mechanical, magic-fueled dragons are Volstov’s greatest weapon. But now one of its members is at the center of a scandal that may turn the tide of victory. To counter the threat, four ill-assorted heroes must converge to save their kingdom: an exiled magician, a naive country boy, a young student — and the unpredictable ace who flies the city’s fiercest dragon, Havemercy. But on the eve of battle, these courageous men will face something that could make the most formidable of warriors hesitate, the most powerful of magicians weak, and the most unlikely of men allies in their quest to rise against it.
Jaida Jones is one of the authors of the Shoebox Project, an incredible work of Harry Potter fanfiction. If you opened a shoebox full of memorabilia owned by one of the Marauders, what would you find? Old letters, photographs, funny memories, and all sorts of secrets? That is exactly what fills the “chapters” of the Shoebox Project, which is so perfect at telling the story of the Marauders that it’s filed away as canon in my mind.
As soon as I saw that Jones has since published a series of steampunk fantasy, I added it to my TBR. Amazing author + fantasy + steampunk = a winning combo.
The Power by Naomi Alderman
In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power — they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.
This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.
I’m very intrigued by the political concept behind this book. What would the world be like if women were the physically stronger sex? I’m very curious to read about how Alderman envisions that world, and what she has to say about sexism and feminism in our world in the process.
It is a widespread belief among liberals that if only Democrats can continue to dominate national elections, if only those awful Republicans are beaten into submission, the country will be on the right course.
But this is to fundamentally misunderstand the modern Democratic Party. Drawing on years of research and first-hand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages keep falling, and the free-trade deals keep coming.
With his trademark sardonic wit and lacerating logic, Frank’s Listen, Liberal lays bare the essence of the Democratic Party’s philosophy and how it has changed over the years. A form of corporate and cultural elitism has largely eclipsed the party’s old working-class commitment, he finds. For certain favored groups, this has meant prosperity. But for the nation as a whole, it is a one-way ticket into the abyss of inequality. In this critical election year, Frank recalls the Democrats to their historic goals — the only way to reverse the ever-deepening rift between the rich and the poor in America.
I have been deeply disheartened by the centrist, corporatist leanings of the Democratic Party since about halfway through Obama’s first term, when I realized that this figure, in whom I had had so much faith, was not the “change” I had hoped for. When Bernie Sanders ran, I was sure we would finally have someone in the White House who couldn’t be bought, someone who was guided by his own admirable moral principles and not by greed and political pressure — so when he wasn’t chosen as the Democratic nominee, my trust in the Party took an even bigger blow. I was thoroughly heartbroken with America by the results of the election (just have to constantly remind myself that Trump lost the popular vote!), and since then have pretty much been all politics, all the time, and the more I open my eyes to everything going on in this country, the more I realize just how far to the left I and my progressive ideals are compared to the actions of Democratic politicians, and the more I wonder if I should abandon the Party altogether and become an Independent. However, I know that my progressive values are shared with many Democratic voters, so I think there is a great deal more value in “taking back the party” and ensuring the actions of the politicians representing it are aligned with what the Democratic Party is ultimately intended to achieve. I read great things about Frank’s book in a review by The New York Times and am very interested to learn about his opinions in the area, and if he suggests a course of action.
An intimate investigation of the world’s largest experiment in social engineering, revealing how its effects will shape China for decades to come, and what that means for the rest of the world.
When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China’s poorest and increase the country’s global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.
Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy’s repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China’s future: whether its “Little Emperor” cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China’s growth.
Weaving in Fong’s reflections on striving to become a mother herself, One Child offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning.
I’ve always been curious about China’s one-child policy and all the reasons behind it and objections to it, and what it means for women in a country that has a history of female infanticide. I think this book will answer my questions!