Audiobook Brain Balm, Mostly

Edition 17: September 2019

Housekeeping note: I’ve moved over to Substack, because it’s a prettier and more user-friendly platform. This shouldn’t change anything for you, aside from looking a little nicer.

It’s almost fall, y’all! I can taste it in the air. It’s been raining for what feels like forever, but I’ve been able to comfortably wear my giant cardigans again, and that’s all that really matters. We’re making plans for apple picking and pumpkin carving and *squeals* this is just the best time of year.

Oh, and I bought…every seasonal item at Trader Joe’s yesterday. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.

My September was a continuation of the bummer of August, with not much reading or writing to report. I went through my library and filled two bags with books that weren’t serving me anymore (one stack shown above), and off they went. I feel a little bit lighter and cozier in my happy place now.

What I read

Okay, I didn’t “read” anything this month. Grief has clouded my brain and I’ve been listening to audiobooks as a balm.

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch: Because Internet is such a fun look at the way the internet has changed the ways we communicate with each other. Gretchen McCulloch does a deep dive into every aspect of language on the internet (greetings and salutations, ASCII art, all caps, no caps, memes) along with a history of the social internet. This book isn’t about how the internet is ruining language; it’s about how language evolves (and has always evolved) along with the humans who use it.

Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis: A pure delight. Do yourself a favor and listen to this little collection of humor pieces about being a polite Southern lady.

If you don’t know what to do with the rest of your life, make your bed. If you’re going to be a couch potato, at least fluff the pillows. If you can’t afford pearls, red nail polish is your best accessory. If you don’t have time to do your nails, smile and stand up straight.

—Helen Ellis, Southern Lady Code

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams: I was addicted to this story and found any excuse to continue listening to the audiobook. Rachel became friends with Anna, a socialite who was super good at scamming her friends for thousands of dollars. This book is Rachel’s tale of the downward spiral of their friendship and the months it took for her to get a scammed $62,000 back.

What I loved

Digitally Well: This is one of my favorite newsletters. The focus is making your internet life a better, healthier internet life.

Flipping my closet: Every six months or so, I turn around the hangers in my closet, and once I wear something, it gets hung up the proper way. Everything that’s turned the wrong way when the next flipping season comes faces evaluation. It’s a small but comfortable routine to make sure the things I own are truly useful.

The Hella Mega Playlist: Weezer, Green Day, and Fall Out Boy are touring together next summer, and my 14-year-old self is so amped. I’ve been bouncing around to this playlist all month and feeling really, really lucky that I’m not in high school anymore.


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Ashley Holstrom is a book person, designing them for an indie publisher and writing about them for Book Riot. She also wrote an essay for (Don't) Call Me Crazy, an anthology about mental illness. Tweet with her at @alholstrom.