Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

This will be a short one.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion is a collection of essays, each of which delves into a specific aspect of the culture in which Jia Tolentino grew up. For the most part, I got the references. I didn’t watch reality tv shows growing up, but my friends made me watch a few episodes of Jersey Shore back in 2019—found it weird, but it was good for context. Even then, the essays fell short for me. Perhaps I wasn’t too into the topics of choice; I only enjoyed reading two of them: “Ecstasy” and “The Cult of the Difficult Woman.” Everything else simply reminded me of how disadvantageous it is to be a woman. No thanks.

The writing, on the other hand, is a different story. It was impeccable. Despite my aversion to the essay topics, I continued reading because I liked Jia Tolentino’s writing. Her points were clear written and based on fact, and, equally important, her tone was not shrill. So the bright side of having read Trick Mirror was that I was introduced to Jia Tolentino’s writing. If I see her name on some article in the future, I’ll most likely read it.

Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

It’s been years since I last chose to read instead of to sleep. I was captivated, consumed by this new world. Mistborn isn’t simply a world of magic and wonder; no, it’s full of logic and physics and politics and religion. I wanted to know how this world worked, and I could not stop thinking about how everything in the Mistborn world simply made sense. I read the whole trilogy in a span of two weeks, which is very, very fast for me. It could have been only one week, too, but I had to resume work after the new year and could no longer spend the whole day reading.

World building aside, a major selling point for me was that each book in the trilogy was complete on its own. There was just enough of a cliffhanger at the end of each book, enticing readers such as myself to read the next one, without sacrificing the conclusion and wholeness of the current book. This is a big deal. Some trilogies have books that seemed to be written simply as a lead into the final book. (I’m talking about you, Catching Fire, even if I did inhale The Hunger Games trilogy.) Brandon Sanderson made sure each book had its own complete plotline, all of which kept me hooked.

I also loved the characters. I fell in love with Elend Venture right away, and I loved his character development. I also liked how every main character got their fair share of screen (or page) time, and I was particularly interested in reading Marsh’s plotline. I don’t think there was any character in Mistborn that I didn’t quite like, yet all of them were so different that it was interesting to read how they interacted. This includes the humor thrown around in the trilogy. Even when the world was falling apart and all hope seemed lost, the characters found some humor in their situations. I thought this was a nice reprieve from impending doom that the characters were definitely going to face.

Final thoughts: I am so glad I read this series. If I’d read this a few years ago, I might not have appreciated it as much I do now. I feel that high fantasy is a genre I’d work towards reading, so I would not recommend this to someone who has only started dabbling with fantasy. (Case in point: I read Eragon in high school and could not appreciate it then. Only after reading several Neil Gaiman and VE Schwab books did I start appreciating other worlds outside of Harry Potter. My friends recommended Mistborn to me after I’d told them I was reading The Name of the Wind.) What next? A newfound friend recommended the Wax and Wane series and another recommended The Stormlight Archive. I could go deeper into this world or search out new ones by the same writer. Til next time.

It’s 2021?!

2020 was one long year. Some might argue that it’s still March 2020, but my calendar claims it’s already January 2021, so I guess 2020 is finally over. Usually I tell myself something along the lines of ‘I’m ready for you, new year,’ but 2020 humbled me. Now I’m thinking, ‘it doesn’t matter if I’m ready—it’s 2021.’

And 2021 it is. Before I write down my hopes and dreams for the year, I want to acknowledge the things I have learned in and appreciated about 2020:

  • I developed a new hobby, gardening, which helped me appreciate the home more. I planted both ornamental and edible plants, and I’m always happy to see them grow. At the end of the year, I acquired some carnivorous plants, and I’m hoping they flourish as well.
  • I read some amazing books this year. Despite missing my 2020 goal of 30 books (I read 21), I’m happy with the books I’d read last year. I intentionally read more nonfiction (my book buying ban only applies to fiction), two of which—Atomic Habits and Educated—have become favorites of mine. I also delved deeper into fantasy. While I did not fall in love with The Kingkiller Chronicle, I would not have discovered (through recommendations) Mistborn, which I now cannot stop thinking about.
  • I learned that some things I deemed frivolous are quite important to self-care. 2020 was a year full of anxiety, and at first I used productivity as my coping mechanism. I worked out regularly, joined wine tasting classes, propagated new plants, and did anything to distract myself during the quarantine. By the end of the year, I’d learned to accept that it’s also okay to simply slow down. I listened to more music (the Crash Landing on You soundtrack is relaxing) and used 15-minute face masks. I also finally used the sleeping/eye mask that I’d received for Christmas 2019.

So here are three things I plan to take with me to 2021:

  1. To continue reading amazing books, exploring other genres and finishing my TBR along the way;
  2. To be mindful/intentional about what I do and why I do them; and
  3. To keep going no matter what.

These aren’t very grand, but I’m not going to let 2021 be another year forgotten. I’m going to make this year matter.