Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: October 2021

October flew by as well! I’m starting to think we’re either in some kind of bizarre time warp, or I just don’t understand how time works anymore.

It’s been a good month in terms of quality of reading, but I’ve been reading a lot of really emotionally intense things. I’m working down my Goodreads TBR list of what’s available at my local library, and it’s a lot of harder books, subjects I’ve put off or have been waiting until things are slightly less crazy in life to get to. Well…I don’t know when or if things are ever going to truly settle down, so I’ve been diving in. It’s been a rough month in a number of ways, but the reading has helped a lot. I hope you’re hanging in there as well, and that you had a happy Halloween, if it’s something you celebrate! Welcome to November. I’m grateful for books, my library, and for you. 🙂

Let’s get this recap started, shall we?

Books I Read in October 2021

1. The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

2. Men Who Hate Women – From Incels to Pickup Artists: The Truth About Extreme Misogyny and How It Affects Us All by Laura Bates

3. Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness by Jennifer Berry Hawes

4. The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

5. A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

6. Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood by Mark Oppenheimer

7. In the Land of Believers: An Outsider’s Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church by Gina Welch

8. Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by Saadia Faruqi

9. The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism (no review)

10. Broke In America: Seeing, Understanding, and Ending U.S. Poverty by Joanne Samuel Goldblum and Colleen Shaddox

11. How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France (review to come)

12. Free: Two Years, Six Lives, and the Long Journey Home by Lauren Kessler (review to come)

So, bit of a slow month overall, but amazing in terms of quality, and not easy in terms of the emotional impact of these books. Undocumented immigrants, violent misogyny, racial hatred that led to murder, a middle grade historical fiction, the psychological effect of a mass school shooting, antisemitism that led to murder, undercover writing about Evangelical Christianity, Islamophobia, more racial hatred, extreme poverty. Once again, phew! I do have more fiction on my TBR, I promise! I WILL get to it eventually! I just enjoy nonfiction a lot, even the tough stuff. I enjoy learning about the world from someone else’s perspective and feeling like I’m using my brain (the opportunity for that doesn’t happen often these days, so I’m grasping for any chance I can get!).

My daughter and I are reading Anne of Avonlea. I don’t know that she enjoys this one as much as she did Anne of Green Gables, simply because it’s harder for her to relate to a more grown-up Anne, but I’m enjoying it! Not sure what’s next on our list.

Nine of these books came from my TBR.

Reading Challenge Updates

Not current participating in any reading challenges.

State of the Goodreads TBR

Last month, we left off at 156 books on said TBR; this month, we’re down to 150! Imagine, there once was a time when it was down to 78…It’s nice to have goals, right???

Books I Acquired in October 2021


Bookish Things I Did in October 2021

I was browsing an online calendar for virtual Jewish events at the end of September when I came across two events that I immediately wanted to attend. The first was an appearance by Mark Oppenheimer, author, journalist, and co-host of the Unorthodox podcast, to discuss his latest book, Squirrel Hill. I hadn’t read the book yet, but as luck would have it, it came in at my library that night. The interview with Mark was wonderful and illustrated his emotional ties to both the Jewish community as a whole and his ancestral neighborhood of Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh. The second event I attended happened several days later; author Dara Horn was promoting her latest book, People Love Dead Jews, which I had already read. She discussed her book and debated a few topics with another speaker; she’s wildly intelligent and I really enjoyed being able to hear her speak.

These online author presentations are one of the few gifts we’ve been given from this awful pandemic, and it’s something I hope continues long into the future.

Current Podcast Love

Still listening to and enjoying the Ologies podcast! It’s endless fun, and a fun way to learn as I’m falling asleep, or when I wake up in the middle of the night. Alie Ward is a fabulous interviewer, and even subjects I have no interest in, she makes me go, “Huh, maybe this is interesting after all…” Highly recommended!

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

Uh, yeah. No progress on that this month. I’ll talk about why below.

Real Life Stuff

Oof, what a month.

Depression and anxiety hit me HARD last month. Like, really, really hard, and it only continued to get worse this month. My heart was racing, I couldn’t focus, my stomach noped out of eating pretty much anything because it felt like it was full of pre-performance butterflies at all times…things were bad, friends. Like, finally bad enough for me to break down and call to get a same-day doctor appointment with a doctor who I’ve seen before but who is not my regular provider. Crying to someone you barely know while wearing a mask really sucks, you know? He was kind and sympathetic and agreed that I was entirely emotionally tapped out from *gestures broadly at everything* and prescribed me a low dose of antidepressants to get me over this hump. And fortunately, they kicked in after about a week and a half…

…just in time for my back to go out again! (I can’t win.) I had been doing great since my caudal injections last month, until I bent over to buckle my daughter in her car seat and something on my left side spasmed mightily, leaving me in heaps of pain, struggling to walk and once again feeling like my pelvis is trying to electrocute me when I’m in a sitting position- only this time, because of the antidepressant, I couldn’t take the gabapentin to control that like I would have before. My physiatrist’s office responded to my message on Monday; they were able to fit me in for an emergency appointment the next day, where we scheduled more caudal injections. She said if I keep flaring after this set of injections, she wants to redo my MRI and consult with the surgeon about maybe going in there and shaving off the herniated part of what’s left of my L5S1 disc. Not my ideal situation, but it would be nice to, you know, move normally again and not be in SO much pain all the time, so we’ll see. Round 2 of injections happens tomorrow, so think good thoughts for me! 🙂  (On the way out the door, my doctor saw my copy of How to Survive a Plague by David France and remarked, “Oh, that’s a really good book!” She’s got excellent taste in books, y’all!)

That’s about it! I’m crossing everything that my daughter will be able to get vaccinated this month; our local Walgreens said they were preparing to vaccinate kids in the next week or two, so here’s hoping! May your November be filled with love, warmth, light, and beautiful colors, no matter where you’re at in the world. Be safe, friends.

2 thoughts on “Monthly Roundup: October 2021

    1. Thank you! Yes, things have improved substantially. The second set of back injections helped; the meds I’m taking have helped IMMENSELY; and my daughter got her first vaccine!!!! I’ve been a busy little bee around the house lately because I’ve been feeling so much better. Not getting as much reading done as I would like, but feeling productive and being active is worth it. Plus I’m reading another kind of substantial book at the moment, so it’s slow-going there.

      Yusuf Azeem was a delight! I was so happy it was available at my library. She has another one I’d like to eventually read as well. 🙂


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