Rad Reads 2020: Week 1

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Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

As a writer, I do not read enough. I spend too much time getting sucked into Twitter threads and not enough time appreciating the literary community. Plus, I’m a firm believer that your craft suffers if you’re not actively reading and learning from others. So, 2020 rolled in, I set up daily time limits on all my social apps, and I started reading some neat things. No better way to start the new year (and new decade) than with a reading challenge. Welcome to Rad Reads 2020.

My goal is to read at least 30 minutes every day in January and then to read consistently throughout the year. My boyfriend, Anthony, is also joining me on the adventure. We’re putting $1 into a shared fund on Qapital for every day we read (and $5 for any day we break the January goal…*ahem, Anthony*). At the end of the year, we’ll take all the money we set aside and have a cute date day. It’s lit(erary).

Week 1 Overview:

Not only am I notorious for getting lost in a novel, but I also like to bounce around a lot when I read. Catch me getting lost in a poetry frenzy, think piece, or any culturally relevant piece of writing. This week’s reads consisted of a lot of these random, cool things. Here we go:

Jan 1

New York Times articles. One about suspicious drones that felt like the start of a dystopian novel. Strange, untraceable technology buzzing overhead? Yikes! In the second article, I followed the NYT 52 Places Traveler, as he embarked on his last two (and very different) trips of the year. Tahiti and Canada. Hot and cold. Captivating at every turn. I plan on following the 2020 traveler much more closely!

Minutes read: 30.

Jan 2

Only Orange”, a fictional short story from The New Yorker about an irritating and jealous older sister dead set on undermining her brother’s girlfriend. Plus, the entire Wikipedia article on King Henry VIII, to catch up on some history. I had a lot of downtime. Today’s unique mix of literature was chaotic — somehow both ego-centric characters (one very obviously real and one quite fake) don’t get their way and cause commotion.

Minutes read: 60.

Jan 3

Well, Trump ordered an attack on an Iranian military leader in Baghdad, thus prompting serious threats from Iran. To stay informed, I read this article about everything going on and why. To tune it all out, I read a quick interview with US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Then I read some of her poems. My favorites were Deer Dancer, Anchorage, and Grace. Her unique perspective as a Native American woman is refreshing in today’s political climate.

Minutes read: 60.

Jan 4

An article about T.S Eliot’s letters to Emily Hale. Contradictions to what appeared to be unrequited love have come to the surface, 50 years after Hale’s death. The summary was brief as the letters are only available at Princeton University and won’t be available online until 2035. Next, I read a beautiful, bittersweet story called “The Strangeness of Grief” — a personal story about the death of and love for a pet. Oh man, did the latter make me cry! Love is weird, love is wild, love is wonderful.

Minutes read: 45.

Jan 5

The first half of Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros. I wondered how her poetry would compare to her short stories (I was enamored with Woman Hollering Creek last year) and I was not disappointed. Her short-length free verse poems pack a punch and are brimming with personality. Cisneros is sexy, raw, and jarring in her work. I’m hooked!

Minutes read: 30.

Jan 6

The second half of Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros. I couldn’t get enough. “Bay Poem from Berkely”, “Little Clown, My Heart”, and “You Bring Out the Mexican in Me” stuck with me like gum on a shoe (I’m still thinking about them days later as I edit this article). I hope she publishes another book of poetry soon. Loose Woman was her last poetry release and that was way back in 1994.

Minutes read: 30.

Jan 7

“The Mechanical Muse” — a fascinating (kind of unnerving) article from The New Yorker about machines writing poetry. The big theme: could robots replicate the nuances of human emotion in writing done by code? Next: several poems in the Jan 2020 issue of Poetry Magazine. My favorite was a chilling block of prose titled “Bird” by Emily Berry. It read like a recurring nightmare and I want MORE. After reading that, I’m almost certain robots could not envoke emotion like humans.

Minutes read: 30.

Jan 8

One week into Rad Reads 2020! Today I read more poems from Poetry Magazine’s Jan 2020 issue. Plus, the NYT article about Megan Markle and Prince Harry and their renunciation of senior royal duties (okay, okay, not a “stimulating” read but I just love them and I’m counting it) and, lastly, the summation article from the 2019 52 Places Traveler. NYT just announced their 52 Places to Go in 2020 article, so you know what I’ll be reading next!

Minutes read: 45.

Recap

  • I’m surprised by how easy it is to read for only 30 minutes every day (seeing how I read more than that four times this week). There are plenty of interesting topics out there.

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