Current Distractions, July 2014 Edition

Honestly I have no idea where the time goes. July is already over and I’ve read a bunch of books, done a few things around the house, went to a birthday party, watched some tv, and that’s about it. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it in any other Distractions posts, but I decided not to take any holidays this summer, and I’m not sure whether that was a good decision or not, because I’m definitely a bit tired, if nothing else. Still, this coming weekend is a long one, which should be a nice extra 24 hours of relaxation and time at home.

Two slightly more notable things to report this month:
  1. I donated blood for the first time! I’m sure that everyone I know is sick of hearing about this, but it really is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and am really pleased that I finally got around to. It is somewhat scary before you’ve actually done it, but now that I have, I’m horrified that I waited so long.
  2. I’ve been going on bike rides for the first time in … ten years?! I “moved away” from home in 2004 to go to university, and I haven’t really had a bike in my possession since, although I have ridden them a few times in the intervening years, mostly while travelling. So owning a bike is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long while as well, and I finally bought one last month. It’s taking me a while to get over my self-consciousness and also worry that I will be either run over or eaten by a wildcat on a remote rural road, but it’s been happening gradually and I’m really pleased. I mention this because if you’ve ever worried that I will keel over due to being horribly out of shape before I finish this project, you can rest a tiny bit easier.
And here’s some other stuff!



My quest to watch all of Star Trek continues with Enterprise, which is slicker and has better pacing than TOS SORT OF, but is also weirdly regressive and just generally ugh. This show has more white guys in the main cast than any of the Treks since the original one, depending on whether you count Wesley Crusher as part of the main cast of TNG (and I’m not counting robots or aliens as white dudes, but I am counting holograms). That’s just the most blatant problem, though, except for the weird treatment of the character of T’Pol, who is the first female Vulcan to appear as a main character on a Trek show, and is also constantly sexualized. I’ve gotten into the second season now, and the show seems to maybe be finding a little bit of direction, but suffice it to say that I’m not enjoying it much.

Brooklyn Nine Nine

I had heard a small number of good things about this show and so I decided to randomly watch a bit of it on Netflix one day, and WOW. I thought it was hilarious.

The World Cup

This got its own category last month but now that it’s over my excitement is a bit tempered. I had a great time watching the last few Albiceleste (ah! team nicknames!) games, though, even though they didn’t quite pull off the last one. And I won some dollahs, so it was all worth it. I may be an Argentina fan 4 LYFE now, though, and I’m strangely interested in learning more about the country as well, so I guess that all worked out well?



Apparently unlike most people who got caught up in 2048 (which no I will not link to), I had actually seen Threes! before its knockoff took the internet by storm. My brother showed it to me over his February break from university, but since I had a rule not to put any games on my phone, I basically just played it on his and then didn’t think about it much. That is, until 2048 started popping up on Facebook and Twitter. I’m sad to admit that I played a ton of 2048, even going so far as to develop a strategy that got me to a high score of 4096 a few times. Having done that, though, and realizing that if there was this browser game I might as well just bite the bullet and install a game on my phone, I finally got Threes!. Let me tell you, after the weeks of looking at the comparatively bland 2048 interface, Threes! is an absolute joy. All of the tiles are adorable and they say hi to one another, and this is literally the only mobile game where I find the sound effects and music so delightful that I don’t immediately and always have them turned off, which is the highest praise I am able to give. My high score is 768 right now, and the 768 tile is a dragon sort of monster thing, and it is amazing. The gameplay is a bit more challenging, too, so if you’ve mastered 2048, or just want to play a beautifully designed tile game, I highly recommend you spend a few dollars on Threes!.


Full House Reviewed

I can’t pretend that I didn’t absolutely love Full House as a preteen. In fact, while I was a Trekkie even at that age, I never read any of the Star Trek novels, but I did have some Full House chapter books. (I also had a novelization of the movie Monkey Trouble, which I have never seen to this day.) I’ve seen some Full House as an adult, though, and while my love of Star Trek hasn’t gone away, Full House is terrible. Enter Full House Reviewed, a blog featuring humourous/scathing recaps of all the episodes. I decided to take a break about halfway through, but I'll likely be getting back to it soon. You won’t regret reading it.

I think this just became my longest Distraction post ever.

In Which The List Is Extremely Dudecentric And I Examine My Gender Bias

My apologies for the lateness of this post, everyone. Apparently I had it stuck in draft form instead of scheduled to publish as it should have yesterday. Enjoy, and I look forward to getting your recommendations! - M.R.

I've seen a few things in the last year talking about the gender breakdown of book reviews, and the latest one has inspired me to look into how I'm doing.

Of course part of this project is completely out of my hands when it comes to the genders of the authors, and I'm fairly certain that The List has come under some fire already for its lack of books by women. The other part will, I hope, be more balanced, thanks to my initial forays into the romance genre. But I'm afraid that I almost certainly choose more books by men when the choice is up to me, and that's something that I'm going to have to work on.

But instead of speculating, let's look at what the numbers are. Here are some pie charts for you (with the usual caveat that I am not a graphic artist of any kind whatsoever...).

The bad news is that, holy shit, The List doesn't even have ten books by female authors on it. Only nine. All but two of them are "crowded" into the lower 50 books, meaning that I've read many of them already, and I think that that's why I perceived the percentage being ever so slightly higher. Like, I would've expected the total number to be somewhere around 15. Of course, that's still unbelievably low, but it's better. It gets even worse when you look at the actual total number of books (a perpetual annoyance of mine). There are 18 additional books on The List* because the board are a bunch of jerks who insisted on including two trilogies, a quartet, and a series of 12 books, none of which were written by women, by the way. I think what I'm saying here is that this is just about the least perfect list around.

The good news is that thanks to the romnovs, I'm doing rather better than The List. I can't say for sure how things would have broken down if I hadn't decided to look into this right now, or if I hadn't started off reviewing romnovs before switching to whatever I felt like, because a lot of the random books lately have been written by men. Mea culpa.

As for how things add up overall here on the blog, there's nothing like a 50/50 split. Men dominate in the overall reviews so far, and will continue to dominate unless every single random/romance novel I review from now on is written by a woman. While this isn't impossible, it's not something that I'm willing to do. As you've seen, even though I'm enjoying more and more of the List books as I climb through it, it's still a bit of a chore for me to not be able to just read whatever I feel like reading all the time. That's how I read all through high school, every summer during university (I barely read at all during the school year), and throughout my university internship. That's how I'll read again ten years** or so from now when I finally finish this project. But I'm still going to commit to maintaining the proportion of my reviews of books written by women to at least one third. That means 37 of the next 68 random/romance reviews (or just under 55%) will have to be books by women. That hardly seems like a hardship.

That being said, please recommend some books written by women within the 20th century! I have three reviews coming up already (Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds, and Gabrielle Roy's The Tin Flute), and some authors to check out (Margaret Atwood, A. S. Byatt, Doris Lessing), but I'm very much open to suggestions.

And what about you? If you review books, how many of them are written by women vs men? If you're "just" a reader, how do your choices stack up when it comes to the gender of the writer?

* Actually I just discovered there is another quartet/tetralogy, Parade's End, which I failed to take into account here, but am too lazy to include in my graphs. It's also written by a dude, though, so just imagine that slice of pie occupied by the nine lady books being even smaller (9 to 121).
** I did the math on this recently. Ten years seems to be the most reasonable timeline at this point. I'll be done in 2020 if I read one List book every four weeks until then, and we all know what a likely scenario that is.