Sep 16

Fall Favorites

Yesterday was the first day of fall, and I would be remiss in my bloggerly duties if I didn’t share my fall favorites.

A list of my fall favorites

But let’s be clear, here. Nowhere on my fall favorites will you see the pumpkin spice latte. Why? Because I’m not a huge Starbucks fan since I live in a college town with a ton of independent coffee shops. But also because the PSL isn’t even the best seasonal latte that Starbucks offers. That would be the gingerbread latte. I will not argue this point. It’s a fact, and any who wish to say otherwise are fooling themselves.

The gingerbread latte is the best seasonal drink at Starbucks. DON'T @ ME. Click To Tweet

I think it should also be noted that the gingerbread latte can’t hold a candle to the Sherlock Holmes at Michelangelo’s on Main Street. If you’re ever in Norman, you should have one.

Anyway, inflammatory latte opinions aside, I have a list of fall favorites for you. These are all the things I love about fall, and all the things I will always associate with the season.

Dark Lipsticks
I’m so excited for dark lipsticks. The vampier, the better. Now that we’re all done with the bright and happy summer colors, we can finally get a little more Wednesday Addams with our color selections. So, if you happen to see me during the fall, I’ll be wearing Burt’s Bees Ruby Ripple, Mary Kay Liquid Lip Color in Cherry Coffee, L’Oréal Infallible in Bold Bordeaux, and I’ll probably line them all with Rimmel’s Exaggerate Lip Liner in Obsession.

So, even though I own several light summer scarves, I typically don’t wear them until fall. Because Oklahoma weather is so damn hot all summer, I just can’t stand the extra fabric around my neck. But in the fall, when it cools down to like a high of 80-degrees, I can finally swathe myself in whatever plaid pattern happens to strike my fancy that day.

Listening to Music With My Headphones
I have been told that people can actually do this all year long. Not me. Headphones are for fall. And so is introspective music listening. In fact, if you have a playlist/mix cd for me full of all the songs that will make me feel artistic and 10-years younger, you should send it my way. I need that type of vibe for all the writing I like to do in the fall.

Frito Chili Pie
I suppose this could also be eaten all year round, but nothing says fall to me like chili. And now that there isn’t a restaurant in my immediate vicinity that serves Frito chili pie anymore, I’m left waiting until fall when I have a hug crockpot of chili at my disposal. I don’t know why, but Chris and I pretty much subsist on crockpots of chili during the fall. And I’m so excited that I’m about to have Frito chili pie in my lunchbox almost every day.

Halloween-Inspired Reading and Watching Lists
The fall is when I feel the need to read and watch every spooky thing to prepare for Halloween. And even though Chris and I aren’t very big on Halloween, we do like the movies and books that go with it. This year, I’ll be reading the Harrow County graphic novels Countless Haints and Twice Told. I’ve heard so many good things about these, and I’m a pretty big fan of Dark Horse stuff as well as creepy stuff happening in the American South. And even though I’ve tried to read it like 3 times, this may be the year that I actually get through Danielewski’s House of Leaves. But I make no promises. As for watching, Chris and I already agreed to re-watch any and all shows and movies pertaining to Hannibal Lecter, so I’m really excited to have some more impure thoughts about Mads Mikkelsen feeding me my own leg at the dinner table.

My Ravenclaw Cardigan
Last January, Chris and I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. We both had a lot of fun, and if I’m being real, the process of finding out what my patronus was on Pottermore totally made me want to go back so bad. (Side note: My patronus is a marsh harrier.) And while I don’t think another vacation like that is in the cards for a while, I still have my wool Ravenclaw cardigan I purchased while we were there. (It’s hella weird to buy wool sweaters in Florida.) I’m so happy that very soon the weather will cool down for me to wear it, because there is nothing more fun than wearing something to work that you bought at an amusement park.

Sitting in My Favorite Place on Campus
Imagine this: You’re sipping a hot, black coffee on a bench that’s dedicated to the memory of Ralph Ellison. Gripped firmly in your hands is your favorite pen and notebook just waiting for you to scritch-scratch your heart out across those blank, unlined pages. The leaves on the trees above you fall intermittently, and the fountain made of rocks from all 77 counties across the state bubbles quietly. On your right, you can hear the sounds of tap shoes and opera singers coming from Carpenter Hall — the windows open as if to send those sounds directly to you. The breeze rustles through the pages of your notebook, but you don’t mind because you’ve got a nice warm Ravenclaw cardigan and a nigh-impossible to manage blanket scarf to keep you warm.

Sep 16

Reader Rant: 10 Reasons I Stop Reading Books

I once met someone who always finished every book they picked up. I’m not like that AT ALL. I think I’ve quit a lot of books, and always for different reasons. And while I may eventually pick those books back up again and finish them, there are some things that make me stop reading books and never go back.

Here are the 10 reasons I stop reading books.

And with that, I give you 10 reasons I stop reading books.

10 Reasons I Stop Reading Books Click To Tweet

001: The author can’t write women characters.
Look. It’s not that hard. Like, if you want to write but you don’t understand 50% of the population, then you need to reassess your path. I mean, sure, there are a ton of famous writers who get away with it, and have built huge careers (and cocaine addictions and subsequent sobriety) on it. But it’s 2016, and I like to think that readers won’t let you get away with it. I know I sure won’t.

I think Kelly Sue DeConnick said it best:

“So, there’s the Bechdel test. I’ve got another test that works just as well. The Sexy Lamp test. If you can take out a female character and replace her with a sexy lamp, YOU’RE A FUCKING HACK.”

And any book that has that sort of female character in it is absolutely not worth my time.

002: The story relies on stereotypes.
Try harder. Seriously. If you can’t make a character real and authentic, then you need to work on a new draft. And as a reader, there is nothing more boring than reading stereotypical characters or dialogue or scenes. It’s predictable and lazy. Also, when you read a stereotype, it seems like a place holder that the author put in there so they could come back and fix it late. And placeholders don’t move the story forward.

003: The book doesn’t live up to the hype.
Sometimes the hype machine gets itself all worked up and makes you think it’s totally worth paying $30 to preorder a hardcover copy of what promises to be the book that will define a generation. And then you get it, and it’s garbage. I definitely don’t preorder many books these days, just because I’ve been burned one too many times. So I’m always leery when a book is preceded by the sort of fanfare one typically reserves for a fifteenth century monarch. And if the book doesn’t deserve that fanfare, I stop reading it.

004: It’s not my cup of tea.
Sometimes a book isn’t for me. Simple as that. It’s nothing against the book itself.

005: The story is inspiration porn.
I really hate stories that tell us characters with disabilities or diseases are inspirational simply because they have disabilities or diseases. Characters with disabilities or diseases should not exist to make able-bodied readers feel inspired and good about themselves. Characters with disabilities and diseases should be in stories though, BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND DISEASES IN THE REAL WORLD.

006: It’s one of those books that the pseudo-intellectual boys from college used to talk about.
I have a whole shelf of these, and I’m thinking about doing a blog post about them, and then giving them away to blog readers. I mean, I feel bad about giving you guys books I quit reading, but I also want that shelf real estate back and maybe these books are your jam. (Does anyone want a fuck ton of Bukowski and Salinger?) I only wish I still had the terrible mix CDs from the pseudo-intellectual dudes I knew in college. That would really be fun to go through.

007: The author’s hand is way too damn heavy.
I get my preachin’ on Sundays. At least, I would if I went to church. But suffice it to say that the minute a book starts preaching to me, I’m done. Or, if the book has a hella preachy tone with the message instead of just showing me the characters and their story, I’m out.

008: I can’t identify with the motivations of any of the characters.
This is pretty much why it’s impossible for me to watch Girls on HBO. Basically, I don’t understand why any of the characters do anything. And if I don’t get that, the story doesn’t make any sense to me. And if the story doesn’t make any sense to me, then it’s really hard to keep reading.

009: I can’t figure out what’s happening.
This one kind of piggy backs off the last one, but doesn’t necessarily require the previous condition. Sometimes, I feel like writers wan’t to pack as many subplots into a story as possible. Then, instead of being exciting and complex, the story turns into a garbled mess where I need a spreadsheet and a flow chart to keep track of all the stuff that’s happening and where the information all belongs. And it’s worth noting here that I’m absolute shit with spreadsheets and flow charts.

010: The author cares about the plot more than the characters or the story.
This is a very big pet peeve of mine. To me, the plot doesn’t functionally matter. I will gladly read books with no plot at all if the characters are interesting. But what I can’t stand is a quick-paced plot that I can’t care about because the characters are basically anonymous shadows of people. If I don’t have the thing to emotionally ground me in the story, then I don’t really see a reason to keep going.


What about you? Why do you stop reading books?