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Many of us feel both hopeless and helpless after the Presidential election results. We don’t have to. I have been incredibly encouraged by groups like Pantsuit Nation (abbreviated as PSN in this post) which has united MILLIONS of Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters who are fired up and ready to fight back. I’ve seen numerous posts in national, state, and local PSN groups about creating days of service, holding rallies, starting organizations, and to your enthusiasm and dedication I say “RIGHT ON!” As an alum of AmeriCorps and a former Volunteer Coordinator I would like to make a few suggestions on how to make your service as impactful as possible.

    1. WWHRC do? – Review Secretary Clinton’s issues page and see what kinds of organizations, movements, and issues she supports. One is just service in general, so taking action in itself is supporting HRC. -


    1. Find existing programs and projects*- Check to see if an organization with a similar focus and mission exists before starting a new one. Combine resources and support existing infrastructure to ensure lasting and far-reaching support. Make sure you’re doing what the community needs.


    1. Do your research before you give your money- Look up organizations on the free directory GuideStar to find out more about their mission and financials before donating.


    1. Take advantage of an incredible resource – If you DO decide to create your own organization or want to find grant funding, check out the Foundation Center for free access to rare databases and resources. We are incredibly lucky to have a local center right here in Austin.


  1. Be a good volunteer – Show up on time, don’t flake, find one-day or short-term opportunities if that works best, but if you’re saying you’re in for the long haul – commit to it (especially if they have to pay for a background check or do extensive training). Volunteers are incredibly important resources, but remember they do also cause work for the organization. They require training and supervision. Many nonprofits are able to support this but some may not be at this time. Please be understanding and flexible.

Take action. Fight back. Harness your energy. And do it in the best way possible.

Erma Bombeck quote on volunteers

* While these resources focus on Austin, Texas most are national. You can use them to find opportunities in your region as well.

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We’re about 70% of the way through this year, and I’m only 50% done with my 2015 Read Harder Challenge. I started the year strong and then hit a serious reading rut. (As evidenced by my Goodreads profile which also lists my overall Goodreads challenge that I’m now 60% done with.)

I don’t remember the last time I read a paper book, and even eBooks are fading for me. I’ve been pretty much all audiobook. It’s an easy transition from audiobooks to podcasts (which I’ve loved for years), and I listen to one that has a long (90 minute) episode a week and four mini episodes in addition to the long list of 60-minute weeklies.

I also spent a lot of time listening to Cleveland baseball via the MLB app, and I had to watch all of Friends, the Gilmore Girls (which was pretty much a live-tweeted hate watch), and I just wrapped up Felicity last weekend. Now it’s college football season, and I watched literally 10+ hours of football on Saturdays. Honestly, I am a-ok with my TV watching. I don’t really find it problematic as TV and reading aren’t mutually exclusive, but my ratio has been a bit off.

Anyway, below is the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder Challenge list. I’ve been shifting around the books that fit into multiple categories a bit, but here’s what I have as of today (9/13/2015).

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✓ A book written by someone when they were under 25

I just started finished reading The DUFF. It was much better than my last attempt in this category, Less Than Zero. Why? Why, would I do that to myself? Rich, narcissistic, Angelenos? Nope. Not my thing. I’ll take angsty middle-class kids any day.

✓ A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7) by Alan Bradley

— A collection of short stories

(either by one person or an anthology by many people)

I bought Interpreter of Maladies but haven’t listened to it yet.

— A book published by an indie press

This one should NOT be hard for me. Just point me toward the Seal catalog.

✓ A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

✓ A book by a person whose gender is different from your own

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

— A book that takes place in Asia

I’m thinking about The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I read a lot of Amy Tan at one point and fell out of the habit. But I’m also thinking I should branch out and read someone I’ve never read and/or explore other parts of Asia. 

— A book by an author from Africa

I keep starting and stopping Americanah. It’s been too long since I’ve listened to it, and I’ll have to start over. 

— A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture

(Native Americans,Aboriginals, etc.)

I think I’m going to take the opportunity to read something from Sherman Alexie that I missed. 

— A microhistory

I’m stuck on this one. I have Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes which I’ve started and stopped. I’ve loved all her other nonfiction, but this one isn’t grabbing me. There’s one on the OED and another on pigeons that I’m considering. Who knows. I started Everybody Loves Our Town, but I’m not sure the format is going to work for me. We’ll see, because I do love music/”grunge”/anecdotes. 

✓ A YA novel

Cress: The Lunar Chronicles #3 by Marissa Meyer

— A sci-fi novel

This will be Winter (available November 10th). Three Marissa Meyer books this year, but my niece and I read them and discuss them because we’re adorable.

✓ A romance novel

Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid

✓ A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or

Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

✓ A book that is a retelling of a classic story

(fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)

Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5 by Marissa Meyer

✓ An audiobook

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

— A collection of poetry


✓ A book that someone else has recommended to you

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

— A book that was originally published in another language

Does re-reading count? I think it’s time to read Candide again. I thought about Tolstoy, but since I’m already behind I need to not force myself through things. I’m back to square one on this one. 

✓ A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics

of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?)

How Mirka Got Her Sword (Hereville #1) by Barry Deutsch and Jake Richmond

✓ A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure

(Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over)

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

— A book published before 1850

*crickets* I’m looking at the stuff I put on my list in January, and I’m “eh” on all of it.

Update: I read a tweet the other day about Colin Firth’s “tear your clothes off eyes”, so I think I might actually read Pride and Prejudice and then watch the movie. (I’m coming off a Bridget Jones Nostalgia Romp)

— A book published this year

Many of the things I read/will read this year are 2015ers, but holy crap, October 20th, Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) – I’m so ready.

— A self-improvement book

(can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”)

I was going to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but it got too popular, and I’m an asshole and don’t want to read it now. It’s not that I don’t want to EVER read it, I just don’t want to read it NOW.

I just finished Modern Romance and Blackout – I think loosely defined those could fit here, BUT when I was browsing on OverDrive the other day I realized that I only thought of this as like mental health/psychology – a self-help slant. But then I started thinking about things I could learn that would make me smarter/cooler/better at a thing and put holds on a few books about languages, drawing, and one on how to stop clenching your jaw. That would be some real self-improvement right there.


* Since I started writing this post a week ago I finished four books. Nothing like a good public confession to force me out of a reading rut.

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