What I’m reading: March 2021

Some bite-sized thoughts and reflections on the items I’ve been reading, listening to, or watching this month.

Also: Did you read, watch, listen to, or play something this month that you particularly enjoyed? Feel free to share in the comments! I’m always looking for recommendations.

Note: The following post contains spoilers for The Neverending Story (both the book and the movies), the podcast Who the Hell is Hamish?, The 100 (TV series), WandaVision, and The Bridge (the HBO Max reality series).

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Research in fiction writing: Takeaways from academic writing books

Image by johns480 from Pixabay

So it took me a couple of months but I’m finally finished with the “academic” leg of my investigation into whether and how writing books talk about the role of research in fiction writing. Reading about the same subject over and over again can be exhausting and I was definitely getting a bit, um, cranky there at the end. (Actually, I was already a bit cranky at the start if you go back to my rant about The Way of the Writer, which was literally the second book I read.)

Now that it’s over and I have a little distance from it, I wanted to share a few quick takeaways.

Note: This post contains vague spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Haunting of Hill House for some reason.

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What I’m reading: January 2021

Now that I’m officially on sabbatical, I’ve been doing a lot more reading than usual. Rather than devote an entire post to reflections on each of these items, I thought I’d share some thoughts on them in smaller, bite-sized pieces.

(Note: The following contains spoilers for A Wilderness of Error, both the TV series and the book, the podcast Morally Indefensible, the Bridgerton TV series and Russian Doll)

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Gone fishing

I’m off for the holidays and won’t be posting any new content until January but I thought I’d pin a thing here highlighting some favorite posts from this past year, organized by general topic, in case you missed them.

Thanks for reading and see you in the new year!

Research in fiction writing

It’s significant that popular books on creative writing don’t talk about research

Research is a process, writing is a craft (except when it’s a process)

The true as the enemy of the good: Creative license and the ethical use of information

Research in fiction writing: What I learned from Five Things posts on Terrible Minds

Why I want to learn about the role of research in fiction writing

What I learned about creative research at the Writer’s Digest Conference

Research as a subject of study

They just keep moving the line: Peer review and the follow-up to “Research is an Activity and a Subject of Study”

Information literacy, teaching, and librarianship

In defense of “finding and evaluating information”

The annotated bibliography as establishing shot Part 1 | Part 2

The role of excitement in teaching

Title policing in libraries

Information literacy skills: Wherefore art thou?

Neil Gaiman’s famous quote about libraries: A critique

That time I participated in a Banned Books Read-Out and what I learned

Information literacy and identity negotiations

Libraries, information literacy, and pop culture

Libraries in pop culture: The Station Agent

The Circle and information literacy

Video games and failing better

What I’m reading: December 2020

Now that I’m officially on sabbatical, I’ve been doing a lot more reading than usual. Rather than devote an entire post to reflections on each of these items, I thought I’d share some thoughts on them in smaller, bite-sized pieces.

Today I’m taking a quick look at a news story about a Hollywood research library, a podcast about the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case, and doing some follow-up on Hannibal and Mr. Robot.

Note: The following post contains spoilers for the Morally Indefensible podcast, which is a companion podcast to the docuseries A Wilderness of Error, which is based on a book of the same name by Errol Morris (long way of saying: assume spoilers for all three). There are also spoilers for Hannibal and Mr. Robot. And I guess the British TV series Vicious. 

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On spoilers

Okay, so this doesn’t have anything to do with what I normally write about but the year is winding down and I’m in the mood to write about something a little more fun than usual. In a recent post on what I’m currently reading, I mentioned that I happened to know a bunch of spoilers for the TV series The 100 before I actually started watching it and how that’s been helping me manage my expectations for the show in the long term. Later this month, I’ll be talking a little about how knowing the ending for Mr. Robot was what got me to go back and watch the show after giving up on it early on (and I’m glad it did).

So let’s talk spoilers and why I like them so much.

Note: The following post contains mostly vague spoilers for Harry Potter, Avengers Infinity War, Avengers Endgame, Broadchurch, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and The Haunting of Hill House. It also contains some specific spoilers for Game of Thrones (the books and the TV series) and The Stand (the book and the old miniseries but probably also the upcoming TV series unless they’ve changed the story drastically).

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Video games and failing better

Image by DG-RA from Pixabay

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of failing.

It started with Horizon Zero Dawn. As a video game player, I am, shall we say, not talented. Up until a few years ago, the only games I had played were side scrolling platform games like Super Mario on the original Nintendo (…because I am officially old). Then I was given a PS4 as a gift, bundled with Uncharted 4, and suddenly I had to figure out how to play games with, like, camera movements and other characters yelling at me to hurry up and figure something out already. It took me about six months to get through Uncharted 4 playing in easy mode. Immediately afterward, I tackled all of the other Uncharted games and The Last of Us, which is made by the same company. The Last of Us was hard because even though it functions in ways that are very similar to Uncharted, it was the first game I ever played where I had to gather supplies and craft things. I think I only understood that I could make crude weapons out of the items I was finding three quarters of the way through the game.

I got better at these games as I went along but all of them took me quite a while to finish, even playing in easy mode (which I make no apologies for). They were all difficult at first, but I didn’t quit and eventually I made it through every single one.

Then I decided to try Horizon Zero Dawn.

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