This never-ending pandemic continues to wear us down, but here are some of the content that kept me mentally stable during the duration of July.

READING

I finished reading only two books in July—one fiction and one non-fiction—and they’re both great!

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong 

Genre: Adult contemporary, autofiction

Synopsis: This book follows a character nicknamed Little Dog, a Vietnamese-American, who is writing to his illiterate mother as he traces his family history using bittersweet vignettes about the Vietnam war, his fraught relationship with his mother, life as an immigrant, falling in love, and grappling with loss.

Trigger warnings: Addiction and drug use – animal violence – bullying – death and terminal disease – homophobia and homophobic slurs – domestic and parental abuse – racism – sexual assault – trauma – war

You will love this if you likedIn the Dream House (Carmen Maria Machado), Flights (Olga Tokarczuk), Beloved (Toni Morrison)

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir, humor, writing advice, self-help

Synopsis: This book is a life guide disguised as a writing guide for creatives. In it, Lamott dispenses advice from crafting crappy drafts and the perils of publication. Her humor and realistic takes about the writing life not only motivates but reminds readers why internal motivation and finding satisfaction in the work itself can be a saving grace for a profession as unpredictable as writing.

Trigger warnings: Cancer – death

You will love this if you liked… The Gift (Edith Eger), On Writing (Stephen King),

LISTENING

The Morning Rush

Best time to listen: During commutes, busywork, household chores, or working out

I have been listening to this morning comedy radio show for almost two decades. The show itself has gone through multiple iterations and hosts, with radio jock Chico Garcia serving as the anchor and the Top Ten topical format where listeners send in their oft-hilarious entries to the daily topic. The listeners and contributors to the Top 10 are just as funny as the hosts!

This has become part of my routine, from being my companion during long commutes to work and the never-ending lockdowns due to rona.

They now upload their episodes on Spotify so I can catch up on the show on days when I can’t listen live. It’s also a good way to keep up with the latest news and trends in the country for when I’m too preoccupied with other matters to learn about current events.

It’s honestly astounding how they’ve managed to sustain this show for 25 years and counting.

VIEWING

Bretman Rock (YouTube, Instagram)

When to watch: Watch for the lols and when you need to be hyped for life

Bretman Rock has been such an energizing and positive presence in the social media sphere, from his YouTube videos, to Twitch streams, and Instagram stories. His idyllic home in Hawaii is very aspirational, and it’s just lovely to feed off his infectious brand of non-toxic positivity. He’s just very entertaining and the perfect hype man for anyone.

Infinite Text (YouTube)

When to watch: When you’re in the mood for books or you want to get out of a reading slump

YouTuber Andrea is a librarian and a booktuber. Being a wide reader due to her education, training, and profession, she recommends a lot of under-the-radar, not necessarily mainstream, but top-notch books. She has a fondness for pirate-related books as well as atmospheric and gothic literature.

My entry into her channel is her video of unusual book formats. She may also have influenced me to buy S by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. She did not specifically tell me to buy it, nor was it a sponsored video, but she sold it so well without meaning to. I know. Capitalism wins again.

Biblio Obscura is another one I recently started watching. She recommends dark (like, really dark) books and queer literature. Translated authors are another one of her preferred genres. This means, her recommendations are for mature readers only. I personally have not picked up any of her book recommendations just because I am easily triggered these days, but I like hearing her reviews for future reference.

VIBING

Christy Anne Jones (YouTube)

When to vibe: Cozy, light academia feels for when you just want to curl in bed or get lost in thought

Christy Anne Jones piqued my attention because of her video on forgiving ourselves for the person we did not become. It is a very relatable sentiment especially during this time when all our life plans seem to have stopped on their tracks as we’re forced to shelter in place. Some of us got laid off from work or stuck with a dead-end job to make ends meet as many companies downsized and businesses closed for good.

Her filming style is very much influenced by Ghibli films and has fairytale and whimsical vibe. Just cozy, cozy, cozy. I have been following her already because of her booktube videos and reading vlogs. But it’s those self-care and self-love videos which really highlight her writing and storytelling skills.

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