Notions, December 2019 Edition

I don’t intend for this blog to become a links dumping ground but sometimes I do get overrun with fun, interesting, thought-provoking things to share! So here goes.


Not only are we nearing the end of a year but also the end of a decade so I expect we’ll see double or triple the amount of retrospecting listing we usually do.

  • The Tournament of Books 2020 long list is out. I’ve actually read some of these!
  • Entertainment Weekly came early to the party with their list of the 10 best books of the decade, with Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad winning the 20-teens. All I can say about that is I read it only last year, loved it, went to the bookstore to buy copies as Christmas gifts. The bookseller picked up one and said, “I still haven’t read it.” To which I replied, “I hadn’t either. It’s actually as good as they said it was.” And he said, “I’ve found that a decade is about the right amount of time to see if a book holds up to the buzz it got when it was first released.”
  • Looking to the future, TOR released the most anticipated SFF releases coming up in 2020. A lot of these sound so good!

Us and our Hurting World

  • I’ve been thinking in the past year how we need narratives that move beyond apocalypse and its aftermath to imagine futures both plausible and hopeful. Hopepunk and Solarpunk essentially do this work. (I haven’t read anything officially designated “hopepunk” but based on the description I can only imagine that Butler’s “Parable” series fits in, or is at least a progenitor.) The author argues she needs these kinds of narratives to move her young students to action, which, fair enough. But I think the low hanging fruit here are Gen-Xers who seem the most, “Eh, sorry about that but maybe humanity should go away anyway?”
  • Feeling overwhelmed by the climate crisis? You’re not alone. A few weeks ago a global body of psychiatrists signed a statement testifying to the reality of eco-anxiety and pledging to address the mental health effects of the climate crisis, and the APA recently drafted their own statement recognizing its reality. Oxford Dictionaries declared “climate emergency” the word of the year. Read about one woman’s steps to address her eco-anxiety and eco-grief and how Mindful recommends working with it. Some suggest that a little bit of humor may also help.


  • Typos got you down? Blame Titivillus, the medieval typo demon. I first heard about him on the podcast The Allusionist, devoted to delightful word-nerdery. Just think, medievals found typos such a problem that they made it into a sin and invented a demon who tricks scribes into messing up. Remember Titivillus next time the squiggle line is screaming at you from underneath a word and send a prayer of thanks for spell-check.
  • Alain de Botton always brings the insight and Brain Picking’s Maria Popova pulls out some lovely highlights from his newest book on what it really means to grow up.

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