Hello, strangelings!

So usually I’m slightly less behind but I had a small mental breakdown that set me back a bit. BUT! I’m feeling a lot better and actually today I even feel great, which is freaking wonderful. So now I’m catching up on everything including opening up discussion for October’s Fantastic Strangelings book club pick, Sistersong by Lucy Holland.

I’ll open up a discussion thread on the FS facebook page but as always, I’m leaving my thoughts in the comments in case you don’t do Facebook. And no worries if you haven’t read it. There are no deadlines in book club.

Also, in case you missed it, this month’s book will be flying to your homes this week and I am so excited about it because it is one of my favorite books I’ve read all year and I already want to reread it:

It’s Still Life by Sarah Winman. It’s an amazing, character-driven historical fiction novel set in Tuscany and in London that follows a group of people from the 1940s to the 1970s and I fell so in love with all of the eccentric characters that it hurt my heart when it finished. Each chapter was like a new episode in my favorite, most comfortingly bingeable show and I immediately wanted to start it all over again, which is always the sign of a fabulous book. It’s a slow, bear hug/warm bath sort of a book…an ode to chosen families and the stories that we weave and to the wonderful and complicated people who fall into our lives, and I couldn’t think of a better book to share with you, an amazing community of people I adore.
And for those of you who (like me) need several books to get you through the month, here are some November releases I read and enjoyed that you might enjoy too:


Blue-Skinned Gods by S. J. Sindu (A novel about a Tamil boy born with blue skin attempting to be the 10th human incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. Complicated and profound.)
God of Mercy by Okezie Nwoka (A novel reimagining the nature of tradition and cultural heritage and establishing a folklore of the uncolonized. Plus, demons.)
Chouette by Claire Oshetsky (A woman gives birth to an owl. Sort of. It’s weird as hell but really good. Reminds me of Bunny)
Sex Cult Nun by Faith Jones (An absolutely insane memoir about a woman growing up in and breaking free from the Children of God cult)
Noor by Nnedi Okorafor (Sci-fi Afrofuturistic novel about biotech, destiny and humanity set in a near-future Nigeria)
Murder Book by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell (A graphic novel memoir about true crime and why we’re all so obsessed with it. If I say “stay sexy” and you automatically respond “don’t get murdered” then you will love this book.)
You Feel it Just Below the Ribs by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson (A dystopian novel about family, memory and grief set in the Within the Wires podcast universe)
These Silent Woods by Kimi Cunningham Grant (A darkly atmospheric and poignant novel of survival, sacrifice, and how far a father will go when faced with losing it all.)
The Collective by Alison Gaylin (a psychological thriller about revenge and justice)

PS. Did you know that some books have strange magic embedded into them and Sistersong is one of them? (Download the google app and then look at your book covers with google lens. There are more than you think, including last year’s Fantastic Strangelings pick, The Bone Shard Daughter.)

My thoughts on Sistersong are in the comments. Happy reading! ~Jenny

“Maybe you should just smile more.”

So this week was hard mentally for no particular reason other than my brain is an asshole. Yesterday I felt incredibly low and my shrink was like, “Go get a ketamine booster right now” so the clinic fit me in late last night, which was really nice, but then I had a full-blown panic attack complete with projectile vomiting in the middle of a psychedelic trip where I was pretty sure I was stuck forever in another plane of existence, so basically I paid hundreds of dollars for the privilege of throwing up while off my tits on a bad drug trip.

And I will do it again and consider myself lucky.

Earlier this week I tweeted about my struggles to keep upright mentally and I was flooded (thank you!) with sympathetic people who either are going through the same bullshit or who feel empathy even though they don’t understand it, but there are always a few DMs of people telling me that it’s probably all because of too much gluten, too little praying, a lack of whatever they are selling (so much herbalife), psychosomatic, 5G-based (what), or caused because I’m “just not smiling enough”.

The smiling one is particularly interesting since so many people I know with depression are the smiliest bitches you ever met because you actually can laugh and smile while depressed. In fact, humor is one of my great defenses against depression. That’s the tricky part of the lies depression tells…that depression only looks a certain way. It doesn’t. It can look like lots of things.

And for me it looks like a woman who has her shit together on paper but is pretty sure that she’s failing at everything and that everyone is mad at her. It looks like someone who has moments of great joy and moments of great sorrow and moments of utterly blankness. It looks like someone who doesn’t entirely recognize the depressed person she sometimes is when she’s out of a depression. And someone who doesn’t remember the happy person she usually is when she’s in a depression.

Today I feel limp with exhaustion but slightly better than yesterday and that’s a good sign. But there’s one thing I’d like you know and that’s that people don’t put themselves through this sort of torture because they need to smile more or because they’re just lazy or because they’re weak. It takes an incredible amount of work to fight this, and that work comes from the people fighting, their friends and family who support them and the people who dedicate their lives to caring for the mentally ill. It’s not fun and it’s a hard fight but it is 100% worth it and if you are reading this now and doubting that you are worthy of fighting for, I assure you that you are not alone and you are worthy. Also, maybe you should just smile more.

Kidding.

But not kidding about the fact that you are not alone.

You’ll get through this. So will I.

(Insert unironic smiley face here)

As requested.

This isn’t a real post. It’s just a quick note to say that people are asking if I’m coming out with a 2022 calendar because they want one for Christmas or Hanukkah and the answer is, yes and it’s really unique this year because it has all of the wonderful illustrations from the Broken Oracle Deck designed by Katie Gamb.

You can get it right here and it’s even on sale today.

The royalties on the calendar help fund the The James Garfield Miracle (which helps get toys to kids in need and supports Project Night Night) so everyone wins!

And speaking of holiday shopping, you can get any of my books through Nowhere Bookshop and I will happily personalize all of them for free! (We ship everywhere.) Please be aware that if you write “Surprise me” in the section where it asks how you want it personalized I will most likely implicate you in a crime (no, seriously) or astound you with a weird fact about animal genitals. And I’ll probably draw a cat in there no matter what because I get bored easily and like to doodle.

PS. Here’s a look at the calendar. I had to mute it because someone came to the door and Dorothy Barker turned into a snarling monster.

This is why you shouldn’t live by me

So a new set of neighbors just moved in and I have not said hello because I’m socially awkward and terrified of people but I have waved to them while walking Dorothy Barker and that would normally be fine except that when I walk Dottie I listen to true crime podcasts and I’m afraid to listen with headphones because that’s how they get you so instead I listen to it really loudly as “AND THEN HE DECAPITATED THE BUS DRIVER WITH A MACHETE” echoes off the culdesac.

But technically all of my neighbors have gotten used to that because it’s just the price of living next to a weirdo. Like today when I was talking to my sister on the phone about a musical I will probably get sued about (there’s more here if I can work up the courage to record it for you in full costume) and we were talking about how so many of our old high school druggie friends on facebook have turned into insane, angry facebook people and one of them of them was like, “We’re taking the rainbow back from them gays because God gave it to us and we were using it first” and I was like, “Well, Brad, I’m taking back the lower case ‘t’ because the rest of the world was using it way the fuck before you guys were. JESUS. JUST SHARE THE FUCKING RAINBOW, CHRISTIANS. And also, isn’t the rainbow a symbol of how God isn’t going to murder us all again but only in THAT SPECIFIC WAY? AND WHY AM I EVEN TAKING THEOLOGICAL FACEBOOK ADVICE FROM THE GUY WHO SOLD ME SKUNKY WEED IN 1991?” And then I realized a neighbor was checking her mail and staring at me while I was screaming in my yard so I loudly clarified, “I mean, the shitty, judgey Christians are the ones I’m mad about. The nice Christians are great. They can totally keep their t’s,” but it was too late because she was already walking back inside.

And then that same day another neighbor slowed her car next to me while I was picking acorns off the street and stuffing them in my pockets and she was like, “Those aren’t pecans” and I was like, “Oh, I know. They’re jack-o-lanterns for fairies” and she just kind of nodded in confusion and drove off before I could explain that I was looking for acorns that resembled pumpkins so that I could paint tiny jack-o-lantern faces on them and then leave them in parks so that children think fairies are preparing for Halloween and so now I’m not sure if it would be helpful to leave tiny jack-o-lantern acorns on all of my neighbor’s porches to prove that I’m not crazy, or if it would actually prove just the opposite.

Also, I apologize to the nice Christians. Sorry those other fuckers are making you look bad.

Tell me what to listen to

My world has been a weird mix of driving and waiting in cars and hospitals and waiting rooms lately (family member had open-heart surgery but is a bad-ass so is about to be discharged after less than 4 days, which is insane to me) and that means that I have used up my backlog of podcasts and now must ask you to share with me what I should be listening to. Personally I go for true crime, bizarre stories, and humor but feel free to share whatever is getting you through because we all need something to distract us.

I have about 100 podcasts that I’m subscribed to and love but the ones I’ve been enjoying the most this month are Sidedoor of the Smithsonian, Killer Psyche, Scam Goddess, The Thing About Pam, Murder in Alliance, International Infamy, Wicked Words, One Strange Thing, Radiolab, Incredible Feats, The Poisoners Cabinet, Killer Role, Strange Year, Criminal, Ear Hustle, Strange and Unexplained and listening to reruns of Wooden Overcoats which cannot return soon enough for me.

Your turn. What podcasts can you not live without right now?

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