Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Short Stack: February Favorites


Originally posted on the University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. Visit it here: The Short Stack: February Favorites

Personally, this was a rough month for me. It’s not something I talked to many people outside of my family about, but my dog and actual best friend Dwight had cancer for a year and we had to say goodbye this month. If you’d like to imagine what my life is currently like, imagine walking around with your internal organs hanging out of your body and trying to pretend you’re fine. So this month’s recommendations were my escape and my distraction from real life.

1. Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

This juvenile graphic novel will take about five minutes to read, but it is a good use of those five minutes. Sadie is a typical damsel/princess in distress, locked in a tower by her older sister who doesn’t want to rule their kingdom together. Amira is less typical, an adventuring princess who would rather be the rescuer than the rescued. When Amira finds Sadie, she frees her from the tower and they work together to rescue others. In perfect storytelling tradition, they both get their happily ever after. In trying to avoid spoilers, I won’t say how BUT IT IS SO CUTE.

2.  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I don’t typically read mysteries because they’re a little too obvious or gritty for me most of the time. But this mystery held my attention and, while I was close, I got it wrong. Lo Blacklock is robbed a few nights before she’s expected to board the Aurora Borealis, a boutique cruise ship with only ten cabins. She isn’t sleeping well and drinking more than usual, a problem when she hears a scream in middle of her first night on board. She looks over her balcony and sees a bloody handprint on the glass door into the room next to hers, but nothing is amiss by the time the ship’s security officer begins his investigation. Until the end, I wasn’t sure if Lo was confused like many of today’s unreliable narrators or if she was a victim of gaslighting or simply being lied to by others on the boat. If you want to feel similarly confused or mildly crazed, read it!

3. A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman

Since I could use a really good day at this point, I picked this memoir up in hopes that it contained a secret that I could easily replicate. I probably can’t, but reading about Waldman’s 30-day experiment with LSD microdosing proved to be enjoyable and enlightening. While LSD studies and the drug itself are illegal, there is a protocol available to willing volunteers that cycles through ten three-day periods. On day one, you take a small dose of LSD, roughly 10 milligrams or 1/10th the dose that would cause hallucinations. Then there’s two days without LSD before another dose. This memoir is mostly about how the drug impacted Waldman’s life (and if you’d like a glimpse into her life with Michael Chabon, it’s definitely in there), but she also uses the pages to inform the reader about drug-related studies and regulations. As more states get closer to legalizing marijuana at least for medical use, it’s especially interesting to consider the impact of marijuana legalization on other substances. While I am not the type to search out illegal substances, I am left wondering if we’re missing out on some benefits because we won’t study them. Disclaimer time: I am not advocating microdosing; I’m advocating reading about microdosing.

I hope that you enjoy these books as much as I did, but without the need to hide within a book because your real life is depressing. And if it is, let me know or at least let somebody in your life know. Nobody needs to be sad alone.


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