Bookends: April 2021

Well, our foster mice weren’t (and aren’t) pregnant. Now they’re available for adoption but still living in my daughter’s bedroom. The cats have almost entirely lost interest in the new residents of that room, which is for the best. I did training to bottle feed orphaned kittens, but I won’t be taking any of those on until these little ladies find a home.

Fostering pets is one of my volunteer activities this spring. The other is editing and designing materials for Words Alive, a volunteer-run nonprofit devoted to promoting a love of learning through literature programs in San Diego and beyond. I was on the verge of volunteering for them early in 2019, but could never make it to the orientation. With Covid, the orientations went online and suddenly I was able to make it, along with hundreds of other volunteers around the world. It’s interesting to think how some organizations have been hobbled by the pandemic and some, like Words Alive, have had their reach opened up dramatically by the shift to online work. Of course, the work has had to change, too, with not being able to do in-person classroom activities, but I really appreciate watching the organization pivot so effectively.

Being involved in the development of literacy materials has reminded me how very, very much I love editing and love interacting with people who care about language and precise communication. It also reminds me how difficult it is to find editing jobs for pay since it appears that most people don’t place a very high value on language and precise communication, as is all too evident almost every time I read a book. I used to fantasize about copy editing and fact-checking a novel and then sending it to the publisher, who would be so wowed by my editing abilities, they’d offer me a job. This fantasy persisted for years despite knowing that publishers already have editors who are just too overworked and under-payed to do a decent job and that readers obviously don’t care enough to stop buying books with editorial mistakes in them. Of course, not all who buy books have any intention of reading them, but even in that scenario the market pressures are still not in favor of good editing—for a bulk purchase made to manipulate a bestseller list, you don’t really need any words at all—and therefore are not in favor of my having a paying job editing stuff.

Good thing I like editing enough to do it for free (for a good cause).

And if you’d like to support the work that Words Alive is doing, consider making a donation, volunteering (no matter where in the world you live), or purchasing your next book or puzzle at their online shop.

Now onto the books I read in April:

Finished in April (13):

Homeschool (Build Your Library Curriculum):

World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky

Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender by S. D. Nelson

The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley

Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes

March Toward the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac

For Challenges/Book Clubs:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (#lmpbc) (I really wish this title had a comma in it)

Big Four by Agatha Christie (Appointment with Agatha on Goodreads)

Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum (#NewYearWhoDis)

#GetTBR (Tailored Book Recommendation) Selection:

My Mother’s House by Francesca Momplaisir

Red Pill by Hari Kunzru

Just Because:

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Out by Natsuo Kirino

Shit, Actually by Lindy West

To-Read for May:

I feel like I’m on the verge of either jumping deeper into reading or sinking into a big old slump. Several of the books on my bingo card this month are just not that interesting to me. I can always DNF them if they don’t speak to me, but that’s not as satisfying as reading a really great book. Included here are three spaces I’ve reserved for my Tailored Book Recommendations, which are due to arrive this month. Maybe there will be some exciting ones in that bunch.

You can see my Litsy profile for status updates throughout the month and my Instagram (@ImperfectHappiness) for mostly not-book-related photos.

What’s on your TBR stack for May?

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