Let’s Read Some Things & Other Stuff – in the Land of Quarantine ! Blog #1. 5.6.2020

Hi friends, welcome to my little blog about the things I’m reading, watching, listening to, etc., etc. Apologies for any typos and grammar issues. I’m writing this blog for fun; so while I read it through once after writing, I don’t want to become perfectionistic about it and take away the fun — though, again, apologies for technical errors. I hope you enjoy.

Books read in the past couple weeks:

“Dept of Speculation” by: Jenny Offill

“The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heap” by: H.G. Parry

A healthfood book by an author that I will not name – out of respect

Short stories: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by: Truman Capote (a reread) & “Gooseberries” by: Anton Chekov

In process of reading: “Ten Years in the Tub” by: Nick Hornby & “Exhalation” by: Ted Chiang (listening to on audio)

Watched/watching:

“High Fidelity” on Hulu. Watched twice in a row.

“Top Chef” rewatching. I know that watching cooking shows is definitely part of my food obsessed eating disordered brain – but whatever – but I’m enjoying it right now, in time of quarantine. I started rewatching the seasons because Top Chef is currently airing a new season, an Allstars, and I wanted to be reminded of some of these badasses. After I finish the current season I’m rewatching, I intend to switch to watching “Mrs. America”.  (Also, who else has a crush on Padma Laskmi? Millions of you do, right? Yeah, stupid question.)

Tried to watch “Ozark”. I’ve seen three episodes – it is definitely well-acted and written, but I can’t really get into shows about drugs and violence right now. (I’m not opposed to them — “The Wire” and “The Sopranos” are in my Top 5 tv shows.) Right now, I need a bit more escapism via tv, at the moment – judge me how you will. I’m fine with it.

Listening to:

“High Fidelity” soundtrack. Both the OG and the current.

Frank Ocean

Fiona Apple’s “Fetch the Boltcutters”

Hello all, welcome to my little blog, my name is Corey. And, yeah, I’m writing a blog because it’s the coronavirus pandemic. The choice is either between a blog, a podcast, or going LIVE on things like Instagram; trust me, you’re glad that the choice is a blog. I realize that logic says I do not have to do any of these things – but whatever, I live alone and it’s the coronavirus pandemic (my cats and I have extensive conversations these days) and feel the need to write some things; so I will. I don’t expect you, or anyone for that matter, to read the things; so, hereby, I feel fine in my choice to write a blog. Well, I don’t actually feel that okay about it; I feel fairly judgmental about sharing my thoughts and feelings anytime I choose to do so; it feels like exhibitionism. But, whatever whatever, I’m doing the thing.

A huge part of my desire to write a blog is because I’m currently reading Nick Hornby’s “Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books”. It is a collection of Hornby’s monthly column for Believer, chronicling what he has been reading each month. It is a love letter to books, authors, and the art of reading. It is excellent and I’m only a fraction of the way through. The book is nearly 500 pages and not something that I feel the urge to binge all at once – but I’m greatly enjoying reading a couple columns a day. I love all of Hornby’s books. They are my favorite type of fun read, yet where I don’t feel like my brain turns to mush. (Yes, “High Fidelity” is my favorite, by far. But I enjoy them all.) But, also, I do overly identify with Horby’s characters – or I see the people I love/have loved most in the characters; those of us who become a bit obsessive about the things we love/ our passions (he also makes fun of that that obsessiveness in most of his books, particularly “Juliet, Naked” – which is another reason I love his books – it’s important to make fun of ourselves, too). However, I was inspired to read “Ten Years in the Tub” because it is the only “book” (it’s really a collection of columns) of his that I haven’t read, I think, and after I found the new “High Fidelity” on Hulu, and binge watched it twice in a row (don’t judge – it’s quarantine. But, yeah, I do that anyways with things I love – regardless of quarantine… so my excuse doesn’t hold up.)  – I felt the need to read some Hornby. Let me just take this moment to discuss how excellent the new “High Fidelity” is on Hulu. It is excellent. I love “High Fidelity”. When I first read Hornby’s book, arguably his most well-beloved, it shattered my brain. He had captured people like me – those of us who fall in love with art: music, books, films, etc. – so deeply that we wrap our arms around our love and ingest it until it fills every single part of us absolutely. (That makes sense, right?) But, also, his protagonist: Rob Fleming, captured all of the men I tended to fall in love with – those that had great passions for things like art, and had great passions for their lovers, — but when it came to sustaining that passion for actual people, they didn’t know how to do it – the loved the idea of “forever”, but were actually terrified of commitment. It was like, holy fucking hell, I’m reading the inner monologue of the men I tend to fall for; they don’t know how to verbalize their feelings to me, but I can read their intense feelings here. (I like to believe I’ve grown in my taste for people, since my early and mid-twenties, but that’s only partially true. I’m working on it.) I also loved the movie, with John Cusack, when I was still on the high of reading the book for the first time. But, I rewatched it about a year and a half ago, and it does not hold up all that well. It has much sexism; which was a deep bummer. It makes me nervous about ever rereading the book. I should’ve seen that more when I first saw it/read it in my mid-twenties, slightly embarrassed that I didn’t – but anyways…  (But, man, that soundtrack is still everything.) So, when I found the new rendition of “High Fidelity” on Hulu, it was everything a geek girl like me could want. It was all the things I loved about the book and the OG movie, the obsessive passionate geek culture of music, distilled in a way that I’ve seen few other pieces be able to capture; as well as a take on relationships, with lovers and friends, that I can deeply identify with –about love, passion, and desire; but also about so much confusion, heartache, never being satisfied, and making stupid mistakes from that mixture of passion and confusion. Except this time it is told with potentially the hottest woman alive, Zoe Kravitz, in the lead role of Rob – oh yes, beyond being hot, Kravitz is fantastic in this role as an actor, her talent is evident — and a cast that is racially diverse (yeah the first cast was very white – except Zoe Kravitz’s babe of a mom – man they look so similar – Lisa Bonet – playing the role of the musician heartbreaker; but one woman of color does not offset an otherwise extremely white cast.). The new casting is so important in continuing to break the mythology that nerd/geek culture is reserved for the white, it is very much not; but no one needs me to say that – I’m glad that POC are telling of their geekdom. The new “High Fidelity” is really working to fight against the sexism in the original; while still capturing all that was great in the book and OG movie. Man, it is so good. Whenever I watch something that resonates on a personal deep level with me, I fall in love head over heels. I can’t help it. Watch it, if you haven’t. Also, read the book. And the soundtrack is amazing, listen to that, too, please. Just do all the things.

Anyways, that takes me back to wanting to read some Hornby. So, I’m reading this collection of Hornby’s columns, all about books, and it is excellent. Hornby is hilarious; but also a passionate fan. In a world that tries to play it cool all the time; that always tries to be ironic and sarcastic about passions/ a too-cool-for-school attitude (yes, I am sixty and say things like that)/ don’t ever wear let people know you genuinely enjoy things – I just love someone who doesn’t hide what they love – and in his columns, what he loves are books. He ingests books at a rate that I hope to someday. If I ever become a full-time writer, without the need to take away time for rent paying professions, I hope to read 100 books a year. That’s the dream. That’s the dream. Anyways, his column makes me not only want to read everything – but also copycat him, and write about what I am reading, and like him, write about the other things I’m finding as the month goes along – movies, tv, and music I love – and since I also care about my current profession, I’ll probably write a bit about yoga, and maybe politics – but I spend too much time reading the news and it mostly makes me want to pull my eyes out and cry alone cowered in my bedroom closet’s corner, so I may not write too much about politics, as I’d rather write about the things I love. But, we’ll see, we’ll see. I may give up the blog after this post. Who knows? Time will tell. I commit to nothing (just like most of the men I’ve dated); I’m doing this for my pure enjoyment. I’m mostly writing this because it is fun and I want to, that’s enough for right now.

Anyways, “Ten Years in the Tub” is excellent. I’m only a fraction of the way through – so if I continue writing this blog, you’ll probably hear about it in the future. But it is exceptionally quotable, funny, and you can read just a column or two a day and it scratches that itch of hearing someone talk about books they love; warning, it will make you want to read everything.

What else have I read these past couple weeks? I reread “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote. I am working on writing some fiction; which, ugh, I won’t go into detail on right now. But, I do have a tendency of trying to write these expansive plots, but then get bogged down in how to cover it all and make it connected. I read this short story (sometimes categorized as a novella – I don’t know, how long does a short story have to be before it is a novella?), because I remember loving it, and it is a beautiful story about something small, just a relationship between these two people (yeah, I’m sure you’ve seen the movie – which is also excellent – though I find it a bummer that they turned Capote’s beautiful real ending into a happy ending for the movie – which sure, is satisfying – but Capote’s ending is more realistic, life doesn’t usually end the way romcoms want us to believe. Yadayadayada, you know this —  I won’t keep jammering and give away Capote’s ending. Read the short story! – It is, y’know, short.). Anyways, what was I saying? Oh yes, I reread the short story because I wanted to be reminded of how an author can write beautifully about a single story, but in doing so, tell so much about the human experience. It is as beautiful and melancholy of a story as I remember. There is definitely some racism in it, which boils my blood. But anytime you read a book by a white man pre-1960s, it tends to come out. Which fucking sucks, because I want to read books from all eras, but yeah, you’re going to come across some infuriating shit. Anyways, something I don’t remember from my first reading, forever ago, was that Holly Golightly, talks about all women being kinda gay; I enjoyed that little tidbit that I had forgotten. It is a beautiful melancholy story; and it does capture so much of human experience by narrowing its focus on one relationship; it fulfilled what I was looking for when I picked it up.

I also read Chekhov’s “Gooseberries”. I picked up the short story because I read The New York Times review of a collection of Chekhov’s short stories; and I realized that I haven’t read many of Chekhov’s most famous short stories – including “Gooseberries”. It is a beautiful short story with much philosophy embedded. I don’t know how long it took me to read, but it was barely anything, like the amount of time it takes me to read an investigative news article. I recommend it; short stories are great in that they take so little time to read, they’re fun and often deeply contemplative, and they make you feel accomplished for the day – I may’ve not done much worth talking about today – but I did read a complete classic story! That’s always something worthwhile.

This past weekend I read Jenny Offill’s “Dept of Spectulation” in one afternoon. It is a slim gorgeous heartbreaking novel about a marriage. Another excellent example of telling big truths on the human condition, while focusing on a single storyline. It is much like prose poetry. You may’ve heard of this well-known book. It is famous because it reinvents form, in a way that many writers are now trying to copy. I listen to the New York Times Book Review podcast every week; and they talk about Offill’s book seemingly every other week. I figured it was high time I read it – and man, I am glad that I did. I said in an Instagram story, where I gushed about the book, that Offill writes the way my heart thinks – and I still feel that way. It is heartbreaking and unlike any other novel I’ve ever read, in terms of how she writes. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Yesterday I finished reading a book that a dear friend, who shares my love for fantasy, loaned me, “The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep” by H.G. Parry. It is a book about a man who can pull characters into reality from books. For book nerds, it is enjoyable, because it very much nerds out on literature. I won’t lie, it took me awhile to get into. I think I struggle with “into the pot” books, where they immediately throw you into the action. There’s a difference between an epilogue that throws you into the pot to make the beginning exciting, but then takes a step back once the chapters begin and sets everything up. But books that just throw you into the pot and keep you there – I’m almost always like “wait? What? Why the hell do I care about these characters? I need exposition and character development! Get me to care!”. Because I was multi-tasking with reading other stuff, and yes watching “High Fidelity” twice, it took me about a week and a half to get through the first 130 pages. But then something clicked at a point and I became hooked. I did start to care about the characters, particularly the main character “Charley”, who is very loveable,  and what happened to them (it is ultimately a book about the relationship between these brothers, at the heart of it).  It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did, I blew through the last 300+ pages in a couple days. It is a very fun book. It is a very white book (btws I am  white! But, the world around me is not predominantly white by any marker – even if literature overarchingly represents it that way — and as a person with a conscience, I care about social justice issues – how the world is represented in literature, it needs to move away from white writers only writing white worlds. We have quite enough of that through the history of literature – current writers need to make sure that their stories are multiracial  — and diverse across storylines. None of what I just said is groundbreaking, which makes it all the more frustrating when current white writers have immensely white books.) – the fact that the viewpoint was not very diverse, I think was part of what made me struggle with it for the first bit. Almost all the characters that come out of books are from Victorian literature – Bronte, Dickens, Austen, etc., — which, truly, I love Victorian literature as much as the next bookworm – but if Parry’s set-up holds true, that when a reader intrinsically identifies with a character, that person comes into existence – then people are going to identify with a much wider array of characters than just white English people from Victorian literature. But, anyways, it isn’t  a perfect book. But Parry does write characters well – you can see them, feel them – and if you are a bookworm – it is very fun because it nerds out on so many books and beloved characters come alive(!) – and like Hornby’s book, it does remind you why you love reading – as well as make you want to read everything. Both Hornby and Parry talk at length about Dickens, describing him as the best novelist, as well as discuss all the social justice issues his books detailed. I haven’t read Dickens since my high school AP Lit classes; meaning I barely remember anything. So, I do feel called to read some Dickens in the very near future. The story between the brothers is also satisfying and enjoyable; it does discuss sibling love and the ties that bind in a way that I haven’t read in awhile. It isn’t a perfect book – it’s pretty damn white – when literature does contain so much more than just English Victorian literature, thank goodness — it could’ve done better in that respect —  and the beginning did drag for me – but once I got into it, it was a quite a page turner – it is action-packed in a way that doesn’t feel forced – and for a 452 page book, it moves quickly. Any book that makes me want to stay up past my old lady bedtime to keep reading, has a worthy quality. If, during this quarantine time, you don’t really want to read a heartbreaking story about the human condition (the Offill) but would rather read some fun, but not weightless or without meaning, fantasy – I recommend the Parry.

Lastly, I read a step-by-step healthfood book by an author I won’t name, because this is a blog – not the New York Times, I don’t have to call out people negatively, unless I want to, of course. Ultimately, I wish I hadn’t read it. I read it because I like this author’s other work centered around women’s holistic health – in general I respect her — and on her other women’s health work, I’d like to work with her in the future, hence my not calling her book out by name. But the book is really not for people that are recovering from eating disorders and working to eat intuitively, all of which I am. It is basically a book about food rules – and do’s and do not’s of eating. Any book that says what fruit is okay to eat and what fruit isn’t okay to eat because of sugar content, is a big “ugh”, “fuck that, … no” for me. But I read the whole thing because, yeah, I’m someone that is recovering from about a decade and a half of bulimia – so, it is hard for me to put down books with food rules. Thankfully, I’m in a stable place of recovery that I was able to dismiss what I read, saying that “no, I will not take all sugar away from my diet. No, I will not go entirely gluten-free”, etc., etc., eating with food rules only puts me on a shaky path to later binge and purge on the things I’ve outlawed from my diet (I am vegan. But that is very different for me because it is an ethical decision – not one rooted in what food is going to make me fat or skinny – so I never even think about it . Which is not what I do with things like sugar, etc.). But, I read it. I’m going to now try to stay away from health related books, it’d be best to say for forever – but at least til the end of quarantine. The world is terrifying right now, I will not add food struggles to my trying to deal with quarantine. My heart goes out to everyone that is struggling with an eating disorder or an addiction right now. I’m so sorry if that is where you are. Send me a message – I’m always here if you need to talk. Truly.

Oh wait, lastly lastly, I’m slowly moving through listening to Ted Chiang’s lovely and haunting scifi short story collection “Exhalation”. Because I’m not biking all around the city now, in-between studios, I have way less of a routine in listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I’m very backlogged on the podcasts I regularly listen to and audiobooks. But, I’m really enjoying “Exhalation”; I’ll tell you more about it when I finish!

So, I think that’s it. I’m listening to a lot of Frank Ocean right – and, of course, Fiona Apple’s new “Fetch the Boltcutters”; which is perfection. I’m trying to not wear it all out all at once and then not want to listen to it – which is a thing I do sometimes. But I’ve never become tired of any Fiona Apple – she is one of my all-time top 5 artists (“High Fidelity” throwback, you caught it , right?). I’m daily teaching a good bit of online yoga; which I’m so grateful for. I didn’t know if I would completely be out of work when the pandemic hit; I’m grateful that isn’t the case. I’m grateful for the certain studios I teach at, that are really working to take care of us; it does put into light where my loyalties lie going forward. And, I’m so grateful to my students that have been so incredibly generous to me. Thank you for your generosity – I value it beyond words.

I don’t expect anyone to have read this long diatribe about books and other things! But, that was fun. I’ll probably do it again. We’ll see.

Below is a photo of me from yesterday — getting sorted into a HP house via The Wizarding World app. Technology is fun sometimes (remind me I said that next time I’m yelling at Zoom during a yoga class.) Yes, I am thirty-four. It’s quarantine okay; no judgement is allowed. On that note, can you guess my HP house? #yesimanadulthuman

Me. A thirty-four year old human – about to be sorted.

Published by Corey Reidy

I write about books and things. I also teach yoga. Stuff and stuff.

5 thoughts on “Let’s Read Some Things & Other Stuff – in the Land of Quarantine ! Blog #1. 5.6.2020

  1. This is an eclectic list! Very cool of you to share your thoughts. I’m definitely looking for escapism in video content right now too. I’m in my second read of Gregg Levoy’s ‘Callings’ and am swimming in familiar music I’ve loved forever. I’ll take a listen to Fiona Apple..it takes a lot for me to break out of my comfort sounds.

    And you’re absolutely a Ravenclaw!

    Liked by 1 person

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