Digital Housework

"No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved, y'know, for a little bit. I fee like the maid: 'I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for ten minutes? Please?' " - Mr. Incredible starting at 0:55 in this clip from The Incredibles

I can't keep entropy at bay. The tendency toward randomness and disorder keeps creeping back in. Today I'm dealing with the equivalent of that mountain of laundry that needs to be done. Or more aptly, the garage you need to clean that holds all the boxes you've moved from place to place without ever opening and sorting them. Today, I'm cleaning up digital files.

In How to Do Nothing Jenny O'Dell wrote about the attention economy's logic "that 'disruption' is more productive than the work of maintenance--of keeping ourselves and others alive and well." She wasn't referring to digital maintenance--if I really do what she calls for I'd have a lot less to maintain--but her point still applies.

It's so much more exciting to start something new than to clean up something old, right? To heck with Marie Kondo; in a consumer economy the thrill of buying a new set of shelves far outweighs the tedium of sorting the things we'll set on them and making a run to donate the items we no longer need or want, let alone dusting those shelves in a couple of weeks after they're no longer new and exciting. In the digital context it's more fun to take today's pictures than to review yesterday's pictures, delete the ones we don't want, and organize them in some useful way.

I appreciate and am inspired by O'Dell's deep thinking about the ways in which we have given away our ability to pay attention, to concentrate, to notice what really matters. We are creating enormous economic value for nothing, doing unpaid digital labor that Facebook or Twitter or Google Ad Services monetizes and sells to shareholders. If we are to extract any true value for ourselves, we're going to have to give some thought to maintenance, not just creation.

I have the digital footprint (and attention span) of an early adopter of some, but not all, of the many shiny-object services of the digital age. I've been on Twitter for over a decade, Facebook about that long. I got interviewed as an early user of LinkedIn in my former hometown because I had so many connections before others were using it regularly. I let a TV station follow me around when I was checking in on Foursquare when that was still a thing. I have an Instagram account I never post to and no doubt dozens of dusty spaces on the web with my name on them created for some forgotten reason. When I changed jobs I had to do at least 59 things to deal with my online presence.

There's no way I can track down and delete all these things I'm not maintaining. I do wonder at times about the amount of server space being held for neglected accounts. How long do you suppose my old "burner" email accounts will be available?

I'm not even going to try to find and delete everything I don't use. I'm going to start by cleaning up what I do use. I'll try to define some rules for what I do and don't save that may make maintenance easier going forward.

Take Dropbox, for example. Handy utility. I have that and Google Drive and wherever the images go that are all automatically saved by my cellular service. How much cloud storage does one person need? Not as much as I have access to. Yet I managed to fill the free Dropbox space and start paying for more a few years ago when I was taking lots of pictures in my work as executive director of Washington Bikes. Every bike ride, ribbon-cutting, Bike to Work Day Energizer Station got captured with multiple images.

And they're all still sitting there.

I keep meaning to go in and clean up. Every time I start, I get a few images deleted, then get side-tracked into thinking about whether I want to save some, renaming a few so they have a more meaningful filename than the date they were taken, opening several to determine which one is the best in a series (and I'm no photographer so none of these are very good to begin with), thinking about whether someday I may want to be able to illustrate this particular historic moment for some reason and no one else has any pictures of this, and and and.... You can understand why my Dropbox is so full it will no longer sync across devices and they want me to pay more to get more storage space.

No. It's maintenance time. By which I primarily mean, be bold and hit DELETE, at least on some of those folders.

Like housework in the real world AFK (Away From Keyboard), this may not stay done. The dust bunnies will creep back in. I'll lose track of my good intentions about not saving everything as files when I could simply bookmark a report I want to refer to.

(Oh no, my bookmarks--those need organizing and clean-up too. Or maybe not. My maintenance energy only extends so far and I need to prioritize. Focus, Chamberlain, focus.)

A while back thanks to Twitter, which I do find valuable as a place to give and receive information from people who are still better value filters than a Google search, I encountered The Maintainers, "a global research network interested in the concepts of maintenance, infrastructure, repair, and the myriad forms of labor and expertise that sustain our human-built world."

Working in transportation as I do, I know our maintenance backlog is enormous and still growing. The belief that something new is more important than taking care of what we have is evident there as in other sectors of public policy and our economic structures. Lack of maintenance carries a hidden cost to all of us, from repairs to personal vehicles shaken by rough roads and potholes to the broken elbow I received crashing on a trail thanks to a broken surface I tried to avoid on my bike.

One of the costs of failure to maintain my digital space is direct: I'll be charged another year's storage on Dropbox if I don't get my usage down. Another is indirect; if I try to find something in those files I'm digging through all the clutter, just like going through boxes in my garage in search of a specific item time after time.

Maintenance protects, sustains and adds real value in the real world. We need more of it. It may not be shiny, but it's essential.

And here I sit, writing a shiny new blog post instead of digging into those dusty old cloud files.



What I'm Reading: July-August 2019

How I spent my summer (including some vacation)--Well, for one thing July absolutely whizzed past. So did August.

That's in no small part because in early August I headed to a fantabulous weeklong study tour in Copenhagen that I could participate in thanks to a scholarship from the Scan Design Foundation.

Followed immediately by vacation days in London with family.

Followed quasi-immediately by the better part of a week at the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals conference and an FHWA meeting in Portland. (I got one day at home to sleep 15 hours straight and do laundry, then back on the train.)

That last bit accompanied by a vicious head cold that started tickling my throat on the plane home from London. Still sick, in fact, and tired of blowing my brain matter out my sinuses, but you can't have everything.

I spent July cramming in all the work I could get done (and still not enough) to hit deadlines that would come up while I was on the road in one of the premier bicycling cities on the planet, plus doing the homework to prep since the "study" part was quite serious. Our agenda ran a solid 11-12 hours most days since we had dinners on the agenda and spent that time processing what we saw and heard each day.

For more on the study trip, vacation time, and conference you can check out my tweet threads:

Copenhagen masterclass


London vacation


#APBP2019
I got a surprising amount of reading done despite all of this. All those hours on the planes and trains, for one thing, and then being sick enough that I couldn't think or work but not so sick I couldn't lie on the sofa with my Kindle and power through. I read really, really fast too. Books in these two months represent a mix of working on the backlog waiting on my Kindle and making some impulse buys along the way.

With appreciation for the authors and those who recommend good books, here's what I read in July.
  • Starless by Jacqueline Carey (@JCareyAuthor). Really wonderful story of a strong young person who fights, protects and loves. Gender identity and the strictures placed around women's behavior by their culture are dominant themes in this quest and love story.
  • Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, Kim Scott (@KimballScott). Recommended by friend and colleague Ida van Schalkwyk, @RoadSafetyPhD on Twitter. Great advice for being a boss -- being clear is not unkind. Scott does write from the perspective of someone who has had large teams to manage and from her tech sector experience. Those of us with a tiny staff in a public agency can nonetheless apply her principles.
  • Rick Steves London 2019 (@RickSteves): Had to read this to prepare for my tourist time in London after the Copenhagen study tour. Lots of great detailed advice, some of which I even took.
  • The Magic of Unkindness, The Grave Raven, and The Halls of Midnight (Books of Conjury trilogy), Kevan Dale (@DaleKevan). First in his trilogy The Books of Conjury. Really enjoyed his tough, resilient one-eyed heroine in this alternate history. She's a witch and Salem's witches died long ago in the battle against demons. Now she has to learn how to use her magic in time to stop the demons from rising again.
  • Sorcery of the Stony Heart by Kevan Dale. A prequel to The Books of Conjury.
  • The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (@CNHolmberg): Another in her series in which magical practice means the ability to use a particular material, whether that's paper or stone or this new-fangled stuff "plastic", to embed and carry out spells.
  • The Green Man's Heir, Juliet E. McKenna (@JulietEMcKenna): As a child I loved works grounded in Celtic myths such as Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. This work shares that background but puts its central character, a woodworker and laborer whose mom isn't human, into the list of suspects for the murder of young women.
  • Native Tongue trilogyNative Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin and Susan Squier; The Judas Rose and Earthsong by Suzette Haden Elgin and Julie Vedder. How on earth did I miss these when they first came out! Native Tongue was published in 1984, the year I graduated from WSU with degrees in English and Linguistics. These are works of feminist science fiction with linguistics at the very heart of their plot. If you enjoyed Arrival (based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang) and its grounding in the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (very roughly, the idea that the language we uses shapes our perceptions and understanding of the world around us and the world is genuinely different if you use a different language) then you should check these out. The editions I read had extended scholarly essays at the back to place these in context and point to other novels and resources.
What I read in August:
  • Storywalker, David Bridger (@DavidBridger): You're a best-selling author with a well-beloved central character in your fantasy series. Come to find out he's your twin and you're living in parallel worlds and now those worlds have touched.
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward (@JesMimi): Her writing is so strong, unflinching, beautiful, stark. A story of ghosts, pain, imperfect humans, racism, the brutality of incarceration, love.
  • The Mermaid's Sister, by Carrie Anne Noble (@NobleBat): I enjoyed The Gold-Son by Noble (leprechauns are not so cute after all) so when this one popped up as a suggestion for Kindle Unlimited I grabbed it. A wonderful story of the love of sisters grounded in fairy tales without feeling like a retelling.
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit: Didn't actually finish this. I started it on the plane to Copenhagen, knowing that if I actually should be sleeping to reset my body clock to the new time zone then nonfiction is better than fiction. A dense and well-researched work, this, and deeply philosophical about the places walking holds in our societies, cultures, literature, and more. Once I was in the heart of Copenhagen walking everywhere, though, and being pretty continuously lectured at about everything we saw, if I read anything it needed to be some fiction.
  • True Places: A Novel, Sonja Yoerg (@SonjaYoerg): I used to read more books like this, in which a woman stifled by an unfulfilling life has a breakthrough and finds herself. This one has more to recommend it than many with the character of Iris, a young girl raised in the forest by parents who wanted to keep her away from the contaminations of modern society, and what she endures in losing them and entering "civilization" with all its shallowness. If you like Ann Patchett, for example, you'll like this.
  • Storm of Locusts, Rebecca Roanhorse (@RoanhorseBex): Preordered because I so enjoyed her Trail of Lightning, with a kick-ass young Native woman, Maggie Hoskie, as the central character and the grounding in Indian traditions. Another great read in which Maggie wrestles with what her clan powers make her, and what they don't.
  • The Book of Flora, by Meg Elison (@MegElison): Another preorder because the first two works in this series, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and The Book of Etta, were gripping, amazing, terrifying. Post-apocalyptic dystopian worlds are absolute shit for women and those are gay, lesbian, nonbinary, boundary-breaking in any way. Although not a major plot element, living in the Seattle area as I do I enjoy the way the action in this one ends up at "Settle" (post-apocalypse Seattle) and "Bambritch Island" (Bainbridge Island).
  • Gabriel's Road, by Laura Anne Gilman (@LAGilman): I love Gilman's Devil's West series. This is another in that -- I'll keep getting these as long as she keeps writing them. This work gives us insights into Gabriel both before and after he mentors Isobel.
  • Rosewater and Rosewater Insurrection, by Tade Thompson (@TadeThompson): Found thanks to Twitter recommendations (which I generally supplement by looking at reviews -- a good way to find out you're picking up an award-winning book). Put together a science fiction premise (weird alien thing growing in Nigeria that generates free electricity, heals humans, endows some people with a mindreading capability, may have an agenda....) with the politics of a breakaway city, secretive government agencies, imperfect people who do what they can as things fall apart. Can't wait to see where Thompson takes the story in Rosewater Redemption -- preordered. Read these. 
  • The Rewind Files, by Claire Willett (@ClaireWillett): Popped up as a recommendation and that algorithm knows me. Time traveler who works for the government agency tasked with keeping the "real" timeline intact isn't a brand-new concept but this is fast-paced with enjoyable characters. Playwright Willett, who lives in Portland, plans two sequels -- yay!
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood, Rena Rossner (@RenaRossner): A beautiful work of fairytale retelling grounded in Jewish traditions that brings together several stories including the shapeshifter who puts on and takes off a cloak of fur or feathers. If you're a girl growing into womanhood do you really want to become a bear?
  • Torn and its sequel Fray, Rowenna Miller (@RowennaM): I used to sew quite a bit (made my own clothes and matching dresses for Eldest Daughter and Second Daughter every Christmas when they were little), so I liked the premise of magic stitchery in this. It's much more than that, with a class struggle between the nobility and the working class and international politics and trade agreements. Hmmm, now I wonder if someone has a list of science fiction and fantasy works that do a good job of highlighting the implications of political structures and philosophies. 
  • The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette): I loved her novella The Lady Astronaut of Mars; that led me to this and now I'm starting on the sequel The Fated Sky. I stayed up until after 2 a.m. to tear through this on the very last day of August. Evolving understanding of racism, the double family losses of the Holocaust and then a terrible meteorite strike endangering survival of the human species, the greenhouse effect creating urgency to get off this rock and colonize space, homage to the women who worked as "computers" and made space flight possible that you may have learned of from Hidden Figures, true, passionate love between two people who make each other laugh and admire each other's intellectual brilliance -- so much here! No wonder it just won the Hugo Award. This also led to a NY Times article and quite the Twitter thread on peeing in space.


I'm going to skip this month's additions to my TBR (to be read) list and instead will publish an updated long list of everything waiting to be read eventually as an update to the list from February.

The importance of online reviews for the author: The numbers matter as much as the content of your review so don't stress out over your writing ability -- just praise what you like about theirs.

A note on local economies and these links: You should shop at a local, independently owned bookstore. Or check these out through your local library -- did you know they can do that with e-books too, if that's how you read? Links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links unless otherwise noted. I've never made a penny from Amazon but these links give you access to more information and reader reviews. If I ever do make anything I'll donate it to a local nonprofit that helps people who need it most.

Writers on Twitter: I have a Writers list on Twitter. It isn't everyone I read/enjoy but it's a good starting place if you find your tastes and mine overlap. I so appreciate the chances I get to interact with people directly to tell them I enjoy their work.

Related Reading on Reading

Did you spot the Easter egg? Yes, "things fall apart" was a deliberate reference to the work by Chinua Achebe. Not that the works are directly parallel, simply couldn't resist.

What I'm Reading: June 2019

I'm not one of those readers who underlines, highlights, makes marginal notations, or otherwise defaces a book. This goes back even before I was buying used books in college and resenting the over-highlighters before me who thought everything in a paragraph was important.

While I'm willing to turn down the corner of a page to mark my place if I don't have a bookmark handy (which is why I finally bought a little tin of book darts, those handy metal pointers that slide onto the edge of a page), I don't want to destroy the book's raw contents for someone else in the future who will bring a different perspective and find different things important if I don't get in the way. I know some people find those fingerprints of past readers interesting. I get that, I just don't do that.

In grad school I used Post-it notes on the edges of pages, with a brief keyword and the page number in case the stick-um came loose. That gave me a fast way to find something interesting or to go back to all the points that related to a paper I was working on, but at the same time made it harder to stack books with all those flaps hanging off the sides.

Quotations in a journal with highlighter: "...to persuade an adversary, talk to them in their language and tell them the story they want to hear." - Nicola Griffith, So Lucky. "Learn what you can, then improvise." - Nicola Griffith, So Lucky.Enter my Kindle and the ability to highlight something, then go to the list of highlighted items any time you like. I combine this with the practice of writing the real keepers in my bullet journal on pages I set aside for quotations, with color blocks to make each quotation its own bright spot on the page. Some books inspire a lot of quote-capturing, others none -- not because they're bad books, just because the kinds of things I like to capture are the ones that can live independent of the book's context and that speak to me for some reason.

This month gave me a lot of quotations.

And now for the June list, with thanks to these fine authors for their talents--
      • How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell (@the_jennitaur): Heard her interviewed on the podcast Call Your Girlfriend. The content sounded somewhat similar to Digital Minimalism, which I read in March, but with a different take on why we should reclaim our attention span. Turned out to be even deeper than I had anticipated. If you wonder why and how we got stuck in a rat race that monetizes the space in our brains and how you might step aside and think more deeply about how we save ourselves and the world around us, this is the book for you. Just a few of Odell's insights that will stay with me:
        • Realities are, after all, inhabitable. If we can render a new reality together--with attention--perhaps we can meet each other there.
        • It is with acts of attention that we decide who to hear, who to see, and who in our world has agency. In this way, attention forms the ground not just for love, but for ethics.
        • Context is what appears when you hold your attention open for long enough; the longer you hold it, the more context appears.
        • Given that all of the issues that face us demand an understanding of complexity, interrelationship, and nuance, the ability to seek and understand context is nothing less than a collective survival skill.
      • V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone, by Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog): One of those books I bought a while ago that has been lurking under the coffee table. I first read Godin's ideas years ago when he was an early social media expert. A couple of quotes from Godin:
        • A knife works best when it has an edge. To take the edge off, to back off, to play it safe, to smooth it out, to please the uninterested masses--it's not what the knife is for.
        • No feels safe, while yes is dangerous indeed. Yes to possibility and yes to risk and yes to looking someone in the eye and telling her the truth.
      • An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ort (@RDunbarO). Like Warmth of Other Suns, a book I've been meaning to get that came up in a Twitter thread (see below in TBR). Not what I was taught in grade school as a white girl growing up in rural Idaho on the lands of the Nez Perce, then suburban eastern Washington on the lands of the Spokan(e), and an essential corrective to the epic and triumphalist mythologizing of settler colonialism.
      • So Lucky, Nicola Griffith (@NicolaZ): Achingly brilliant. I've loved every one of her other books. Read this essay by Dr. Griffith in the New York Times on implicit ableist bias in literature. Reading this so soon after reading Women Rowing North reinforces my plan to move into a one-level house with universal design located in a neighborhood with essential services nearby, transit service, complete sidewalks, and good bike infrastructure. I can't count on remaining able to get around with active transportation, but I can sure as hell not condemn myself to being trapped in a car-dependent place long after I can't drive. Our current neighborhood has transit service but the house has stairs. A couple of the quotations I captured:
        • ...to persuade an adversary, talk to them in their language and tell them the story they want to hear.
        • Learn what you can, then improvise.
      • Here and Now and Then, by Mike Chen (@MikeChenWriter): Found this as a deal thanks to following SF Signal on Twitter. Description got me: A time-travel paradox in which a man has to choose between two families in different timelines. If you're into SF you know the "grandfather paradox" (can't travel back in time and kill your own grandpa or you won't be born to travel back in time to kill your own grandpa). This work deals with that and carries a message that I live by, which is that we can only go forward from where we are, as who we are -- we can't go back (even with time travel). 
      • Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age, by Mary Pipher: This author and I are apparently living the same timeline. Her work Reviving Ophelia informed me as a mother of daughters. I bought a copy of  Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders for every one of my siblings as our mother slipped into vascular dementia and our dad aged alongside her. And now this. Not that I'm aging, exactly -- just adding years of lived experience. Just some of the quotations I captured, all by Mary Pipher unless otherwise noted; Pipher herself writes quotable lines and introduced each chapter with quotations from other women.
        • When we act for the good, we move into our own power and into more authentic and connected lives.
        • Almost everything that happens in the universe is not about us.
        • I think that somehow we learn who we truly are and then live with that decision. - Eleanor Roosevelt
        • The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. - Madeleine L'Engle
        • Old age is not an illness. It is a timeless ascent. As power diminishes, we grow toward more light. - May Sarton
        • Bliss doesn't happen because we are perfect or problem-free but rather because over the years we have become wise enough to occasionally be present for the moment.
      • True Evil, by Greg Iles (@GregIles): I read his Penn Cage novels a while back and enjoyed them so I grabbed this when it popped up in Kindle Unlimited. Also set in Natchez, Mississippi, but with a different central character although Penn makes a brief appearance. FBI agent investigating a murder-for-hire conspiracy with a super-creepy scientist conducting human experimentation as a bonus.
      This month's additions to TBR, with notes on how I found the book. Found a few more physical books stashed in various spots around the house, which is a good problem.
      For a list of what's already waiting patiently on my Kindle, check out What I'm Reading Eventually, which was as of the end of February, and each month's post with what I added that month. I'll post another "eventually" list in a while to keep track as I read and add new books.

      The importance of online reviews for the author: The numbers matter as much as the content of your review so don't stress out over your writing ability -- just praise what you like about theirs.

      A note on local economies and these links: You should shop at a local, independently owned bookstore. Or check these out through your local library -- did you know they can do that with e-books too, if that's how you read? Links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links unless otherwise noted. I've never made a penny from Amazon but these links give you access to more information and reader reviews. If I ever do make anything I'll donate it to a local nonprofit that helps people who need it most.

      Writers on Twitter: I have a Writers list on Twitter. It isn't everyone I read/enjoy but it's a good starting place if you find your tastes and mine overlap. I so appreciate the chances I get to interact with people directly to tell them I enjoy their work.

      Related Reading on Reading

      What I'm Reading; May 2019

      May could be the month I take a pledge to stop getting more books. For a while, anyway. The TBR list just keeps getting longer. I get more than I read each month. Add in the fact that a couple of sequels have shown up and I need to reread the first books in the series to re-engage, and the backlog will easily take me through the summer. What a wonderful problem!

      In looking at just how many books I purchased in the last 12 months because it's sooooo easy, I also decided I am long overdue in getting my King County library card so I can check out ones I don't really need to own.

      And now for the May list, with thanks to these fine authors for their talents--
      • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, by Julie C. Dao (@jules_writes): Started in April, finished in May. As I wrote last month -- How to describe this?? Beautiful, for starters. You can detect a strand of a certain European fairy tale or two but I'm not going to give it away -- better to let the realization creep up on you. You will long for Xifeng to make good decisions. This is a massive book and I didn't finish it in April, but before I was finished I got the sequel Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix and preordered the third, Song of the Crimson Flower.
      • Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, by Julie C. Dao: Yep, started, lived in, and finished this wonderful second book. New main character who has to learn, grow, make difficult decisions.
      • One Word Kill, by Mark Lawrence (@Mark__Lawrence). Teenage boy in England finds out he has leukemia, starts chemo, then his time-traveling future self shows up. I was never a Dungeons and Dragons player, but between this and Stranger Things I'm kind of sorry about that. Looking forward to the other two in this trilogy. 
      • The Fever King, by Victoria Lee (@SoSaidVictoria). Dystopian future with the United States broken apart into small countries due to a virus that gives you magic powers -- if it doesn't kill you. Main character is a bisexual Jewish boy from the part of the country that's regarded as inferior. Themes of hatred of the other, discrimination against refugees, and coming of age. Another of the many young-adult fantasy books I've read and enjoyed over the past few years. Looking forward to the sequels to this one too.
        Stack of books with Kindle leaning up against the right side of the stack, red candle on tall candle holder in background. Book titles mostly about bicycling.This month's additions to TBR, with notes on how I found the book. This month's list includes a stash of physical books from my headboard that I realized I hadn't captured earlier. Most of those are the result of an impulse buy on a vacation or a bike-ride date to nearby downtown Burien. Even with all my Kindle reading I love bookstores so much. A town without a bookstore isn't a town worth visiting.
        • Here and Now and Then, by Mike Chen (@MikeChenWriter): Found this as a deal thanks to following SF Signal on Twitter. Description got me: A time-travel paradox in which a man has to choose between two families in different timelines. If it's as much of a heartbreaker as The Time Traveler's Wife, which continues to haunt me many years after reading it, I'm going to love-hate it.
        • Where the Forest Meets the Stars, by Glendy Vanderah: Available right now on Kindle Unlimited. Sounds like another heartbreaker with a lost child at the center of the story. I don't think I'll read it back to back with Here and Now and Then.
        • Followed by Frost, by Charlie N. Holmberg (@CNHolmberg): Circling back to pick up this 2015 work by an author whose other books I've enjoyed: her Paper Magician series and the more recent one that started with Smoke and Summons.
        • The Girl in the Tower, by Katherine Arden (@Arden_Katherine): Sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale, which I loved. I don't know Russian fairy tales well enough to know how much it echoes and how much it departs from source material. Didn't matter. Great choice for those who love Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik as much as I do.
        • Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences, by Ursula K. LeGuin: LeGuin has long been one of my favorite authors. Reading short-story collections by T. Kingfisher reminded me of this book, as I wrote about in my March reading post. I was lucky enough to find a copy of a real, actual book online.
        • How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh, from his Mindfulness Essential series: A souvenir of a bookstore stop while at a conference -- I think possibly this is from DC while I was there for the gigantic Transportation Research Board annual meeting. Over the years I've owned and read many books on Buddhism and mindfulness meditation, including some of his. The deceptively simple precepts help me slow down and pay attention.
        • The Bicycle Effect: Cycling as Meditation, by Juan Carlos Kreimer: Picked this one up on vacation somewhere -- maybe on our 2018 bike tour. It reminds me of the blog posts on bicycling meditation by Seattle riding writer Claire Petersky, which I discovered online before I moved to Seattle and headed a bike nonprofit, which then gave me the opportunity to meet Claire through a nonprofit executive directors' group when we both arrived on our bicycles at the same time.
        • Einstein & the Art of Mindful Cycling: Achieving Balance in the Modern World, by Ben Irvine (@BenIrvineAuthor): Definitely picked this up on that bike tour. I remember going to the bookstore on Lopez Island, correctly answering their trivia contest with a quotation source (A Wrinkle in Time), and getting some coffee next door.
        • Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, by Adonia Lugo (@UrbanAdonia): Long overdue to read this one ordered from friends at Microcosm Publishing, who put out a lot of great books and zines on bicycling (disclaimer: I've written pieces that were published in a couple of the zines; this link to Microcosm isn't an affiliate link). I'm privileged to know Dr. Lugo and appreciate her insights into the intersections of culture, bicycling, identity, and politics.
        • The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs, by Tristan Gooley (@NaturalNav): This is one of those book purchases reflecting "the kind of person I once was and kind of think I might want to be again, if I ever get around to it." As a kid I had books that showed me animal tracks, plant identification and more. I'd drag my little sister and the babysitter out to marvel at worm castings and what I fervently believed were the entrances to burrows dug by fascinating animals resembling those from The Wind in the Willows. It's also a book purchase reflecting my darker dystopian thoughts, sparked in part by current events and in part by decades of reading science fiction -- it's a real book that won't require batteries so I can still access the information if the grid goes down, and it's on a topic I would need at that point.
        For a list of what's already waiting patiently on my Kindle, check out What I'm Reading Eventually, which was as of the end of February, and each month's post with what I added that month. I'll post another "eventually" list in a while to keep track as I read and add new books.

        The importance of online reviews for the author: The numbers matter as much as the content of your review so don't stress out over your writing ability -- just praise what you like about theirs.

        A note on local economies and these links: You should shop at a local, independently owned bookstore. Or check these out through your local library -- did you know they can do that with e-books too, if that's how you read? Links on this page are Amazon Affiliate links unless otherwise noted. I've never made a penny from Amazon but these links give you access to more information and reader reviews. If I ever do make anything I'll donate it to a local nonprofit that helps people who need it most.

        Writers on Twitter: I have a Writers list on Twitter. It isn't everyone I read/enjoy but it's a good starting place if you find your tastes and mine overlap. I so appreciate the chances I get to interact with people directly to tell them I enjoy their work.
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