Staying Safe

Edition 22: April 2020

Hi friends,

When things feel precarious, I find comfort in this image I’ve built up in my head: If my bed (or couch or desk or whatever surface I’m currently occupying) turned into a tiny boat in open sea, I would be safe as long as I have all the things I need. Blankets, snacks, my cat, books, etc. It’s a silly thing, but it gives me that deep, warm, safe feeling.

Being told to stay home for months has only solidified that feeling. My entire home is my safe place, but I need to find those smaller places, too. Last week, I discovered how cozy my library can be if I just close the door. It becomes my own quiet space.

That feeling is what’s keeping me grounded in this time of deep uncertainty.

I hope you all are staying safe and cozy and healthy.

Is it even a bath bomb bubble bath if you don’t take a picture of the colorful water?

What I read lately

Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power by Sady Doyle: A few years ago, feminist nonfiction was the only genre I read, and I burnt myself out on it. Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers was the perfect book to break that spell. Sady Doyle digs into horror and true crime and how women factor into those genres, with tons of true (and horrific) stories about women being mistreated as mental patients when they were just, uh, having normal feelings.

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang: This is an extraordinary collection of essays about schizophrenia. Esmé Weijun Wang goes deep into her own experiences with the illness, as well as the history of mental health and psychiatry. Fascinating. Vulnerable. Beautiful.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams: When pro baseball player Gavin finds out his wife’s been faking it in bed, he turns to his teammates, who welcome him to the bromance book club. They read regency romances to learn how to be better partners. It’s super hokey and meta and eye-rolly, and I love the heck out of it.

Lupin Leaps In by Georgia Dunn: Local cats give news reports on things happening in their daily lives. The man cut his tail off! The cats upstairs are having a party with at least 100 elephants! etc. It’s a pure delight.

Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby: Y’all, this book had me laughing the ugliest laughs I didn’t know my body could produce. Classic Irby humor about gross body stuff and annoying life things. I listened to it over the first week of mandated working from home, and it was the perfect antidote.

I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but I mean, come on.

What I wrote lately

I’ve been in a sort of creative slump. My Book Riot work has been measly: a roundup of cute mugs with books and cats on ’em and some cool Hemingway-inspired goods. And this li’l piece about moving in with a reader, gleaned from my experience as the reader roommate.

But I’ve also started reviewing books for Foreword Reviews! Two of them are live: Better Off Bald, a memoir by a woman who was her little sister’s caretaker through her battle with cancer, and Man Up, a novel about coming out and playing baseball in high school. Reviewing books is SUPER HARD, y’all, but I am loving the challenge.

Take care of yourselves.


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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.

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