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Girls Against God (paperback, 2020, Verso Fiction) 3 stars

At once a time-travelling horror story and a fugue-like feminist manifesto, this is a singular, …

anger, sure, but also frustration

3 stars

I really struggled to get through this book despite the fact that it had some resonant parts and beautiful passages. Women. Hatred. Rebelling against god, because god surrounds you and is suffocating. Understanding that you've crafted yourself as something against, but not for. Music as community and lifeblood. But I couldn't get past the editing—it sagged for me in the middle, took me months to finish despite being fairly short, and I ended up getting angry at how hard it was for me to move from page to page. There were bits that were all in the same world, but never felt like they added up. I can't tell if the difficulty came from where I'm at reading/focus-wise, the expectation I had that it would be more linear, or just the strong need for a heavy editor. Probably all three.

The History of the Standard Oil Company (Paperback, 2003, Dover Publications) 4 stars

Muckrakers — a term coined in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt — referred to American …

eyo, it's capitalism

4 stars

I read the Belt Revivals edition of this text. It's an abridged version of the 1904 original, with an introduction by Elizabeth Catte, whose What You're Getting Wrong About Appalachia I loved. The juicy details Catte gives in the introduction is that the writer, Ida Tarbell, is the son of an oil producer in addition to being an investigative reporter, which garnered much criticism at the time but Catte's suggestion is to read the text both as an investigation of monopolies and one in which the writer may have a personal stake—a personal grudge to bear. Excellent.

I picked up the book mostly because I wanted to understand the role that Standard Oil played in the area where I'm from. The area boomed with oil in the late 1800s, and my town was the birthplace of Marathon Oil (as Ohio Oil Company in 1887, purchased by Standard in 1889). I …

A Civic Technologist's Practice Guide (paperback, 2020, Five Seven Five Books) 4 stars

I’ve put every single thing I know about civic tech into this little book. It’s …

useful, insightful manual for folks interested in working on/interested in civic tech

4 stars

Cyd Harrell has worked in 'civic tech' for awhile, in many different capacities—at Code for America, a non-profit working with government (and my current employer); as Chief of Staff at 18F, the federal government's in-house consulting wing; now with the California courts; and more.

with this book she's written the guide that I think every person newly working with government should be handed before onboarding/starting a project. I think it's also useful for folks trying to understand what "civic tech" is, where they might fit in (as someone who builds technology or not), a brief account of its history and how it's changed to become more inclusive (less open data, more equity-focused and to be user/community-driven), and different ways to engage (career, contract, volunteer, etc).

and, just for context, though the book gives an honest assessment of the path and shortcomings of the civic tech movement, it's very much a …

reviewed Just Us

Jan 3 Public

Just Us (2020, Graywolf Press) 5 stars

As everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized with no clear answers at hand, how best …

uncomfortable, necessary

5 stars

unlike in past works of hers I've read, rankine herself is present in this volume, constantly questioning whiteness and engaging the people that often unthinkingly bring it into her life. it's often, frankly, uncomfortable. there is conflict and tension. it has made me think a lot about the way that I engage in discussing whiteness, and my own desire to be understood in conversation—to have us leave on the same page, or to avoid if that's an unlikely outcome.

technically, I found the footnotes/fact checking really interesting. essay has a difficult relation with fact, as has been a conversation for years. I found the side-by-side checking of the authors own assumptions and, as a result, the inclusion of images, outside sources, citations, further reading and context for the reader is a really effective approach.

I also really recommend this recent city arts and lectures conversation with her, largely about just …

Disability Visibility (paperback, 2020, Vintage) 5 stars

A groundbreaking collection of first-person writing on the joys and challenges of the modern disability …

must read collection of essays on disability by disabled folks

5 stars

a wide-ranging collection of essays from disabled folks about their lives, experience with disability and ableism, and activism. there's variety in the experiences, identities, and topics represented, and I felt the collection is well-edited (notable, because anthologies are hard!). gave me a lot to think about and reflect on. I think this is a great introduction to disability justice, and there's also a bunch of resources in the back for further reading, viewing, listening. looking forward to digging into them.

In the Watershed (Paperback, 2017, Belt Publishing) 5 stars

For several years, Ryan Schnurr watched media coverage of Lake Erie algae blooms with a …

extreeeeemely niche book that may have been written just for me

5 stars

the maumee river spans from fort wayne, indiana, to toledo, ohio, where it joins lake erie. between, it snakes through small towns and farmland. the maumee also more or less exactly covers the area where I lived my life until 18.

in this book, the author decides to walk the river (or as close as he can get, hello private land) from start to finish. while he does, he tells the story of the region as it is defined by this watershed, starting with its native peoples who were forced off the land, to the draining of the great black swamp, to more modern problems caused by that draining and industrialized agriculture. all of this is near to my heart and of deep interest—I have a haunting curiosity about home, and an ache that I feel like I never have enough facts about it (one of the many reasons I …