Books of 2013

This is just for personal record-keeping. These are the 57 books I read in 2013. Divided by category. I find it fascinating that I’m about equally spread between young adult, nonfiction, and erotica books.

Nonfiction

  1. Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister, Nonfiction – Psychology
  2. Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel, Nonfiction – Professional, Women’s Issues
  3. Sway: The Irrational Pull of Irresistible Behavior by Ori Brafman, Nonfiction – Psychology
  4. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (mostly failed) Attempts at Adulthood by Alida Nugent, Nonfiction – Memoir
  5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling, Nonfiction – Memoir
  6. How to Be Interesting: An Instruction Manual by Jessica Hagy, Nonfiction – Self Improvement
  7. 101 Secrets for Your Twenties by Paul Angone, Nonfiction
  8. The Geek’s Guide to Dating by Eric Smith, Nonfiction – Dating
  9. The Centrist Manifesto by Charles Wheelan, Nonfiction – Political
  10. Adulting: How to be a grown up in 468 steps by Kelly Williams Brown, Nonfiction
  11. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayad, Nonfiction
  12. A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Sai Gaddam, Nonfiction
  13. Fat Sex: The Naked Truth by Rebecca Jane Weinstein, Nonfiction
  14. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Nonfiction – Psychology
  15. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, Nonfiction – Professional, Women’s Issues
  16. You Lost Him at Hello by Jess McCann, Nonfiction – Dating
  17. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Nonfiction – Self Improvement
  18. Bossypants by Tina Fey, Nonfiction – Memoir

Young Adult

  1. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, YA
  2. Dare Me by Megan Abbott, YA
  3. Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys by Kate Brian, YA
  4. The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal, YA
  5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, YA
  6. Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles, YA
  7. The Elite by Kiera Cass, YA
  8. The Selection by Kiera Cass, YA
  9. Divergent by Veronica Roth, YA
  10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, YA
  11. By the Time You Read This, I’ll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters, YA
  12. Deadline by Chris Crutcher, YA
  13. Replay by Robin Brande, YA

Miscellaneous Fiction

  1. The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn, Fiction – Romance
  2. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, Fiction
  3. Brilliance by Marcus Sakey, Fiction
  4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Fiction
  5. Defending Jacob by William Landay, Fiction – Legal Mystery
  6. Penelope by Rebecca Harrington, Fiction
  7. Easy by Tammara Weber, Fiction – Romance
  8. What in God’s Name by Simon Rich, Fiction

Erotica

  1. Bonds of Need by Lynda Aicher, Erotica
  2. Bonds of Trust by Lynda Aicher, Erotica
  3. Sanctum by Lexi Blake, Erotica
  4. Roped, Burned, Whipped, Displayed – BDSM Bundle by Eliza Gayle, Erotica
  5. If Only (Masters of the Shadowlands #8) by Cherise Sinclair, Erotica
  6. Kaylee’s Keeper by Maren Smith, Erotica
  7. Voluptuous by Natasha Moore, Erotica
  8. This is Who I Am (Masters of the Shadowlands #7) by Cherise Sinclair, Erotica
  9. Together in Cyn by Jennifer Kacey, Erotica
  10. Restrained and Willing by Tiffany Bryan, Erotica
  11. Blushing Violet by Ann Mayburn, Erotica
  12. What She’s Looking For by Trent Evans, Erotica

Didn’t Finish

  1. On Being Certain: Believing You’re Right Even When You’re Not by Robert A. Burton, Nonfiction – Psychology, Didn’t Finish
  2. Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson, Nonfiction – Evolutionary Psychology, Didn’t Finish
  3. Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy, Nonfiction – Psychology, Didn’t Finish

Rereads

  1. Waterfalls by Robin Jones Gunn, Fiction – Christian Romance, Reread
  2. Sunsets by Robin Jones Gunn, Fiction – Christian Romance, Reread
  3. The Dom’s Dungeon by Cherise Sinclair, Erotica, Reread

Two Nonfiction Books that Were Mediocre

Never Have I Ever: My Life (so far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney

I expected more from this book. It’s a memoir by a 25 year old, and it recaps every potential romantic interlude and flirtation or crush from birth to now. The beginning was torturously slow. It was mildly more entertaining in the later years, but I kept expecting more humor. It didn’t make me laugh, and I’d give it a 2/5 stars. The quotes I liked:

  • (Some girls are lighthouses – they attract sailors over and over, easily. Other girls are Bermuda Triangles.) “It’s just that Bermuda doesn’t know how to handle itself when somebody sails into its territory, because that hardly ever happens. It hasn’t had much chance to practice, and it’s used to things going a certain way. So if a sailor DOES come around, it gets a little nervous, freaks the fuck out, and creates hurricane-like devastation in every direction around it. And then it gets embarrassed and sad and calls its friends.”
  • “Guys who would make fun of girls for sexual inexperience are terrible people, and when girls do it to other girls it feels even shittier. Guys who shame girls who haven’t had sex want them to feel like they aren’t doing their job, which is to be sexually available and attractive to guys.”

There were a few other instances where she describes a friend’s behavior, or talks about a weird quirk (parking is her go-to stressor about dates…yes!), where I felt like I was reading about myself. For the most part, I feel like I could chronicle the crushes and dating endeavors in my life and it’d be far more interesting and comical. It’s like, if she can do it, why can’t I? (Except for that whole time thing, and ruining my professional life…)

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

This is a book about biases. I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but it was the selection for my kinky book club.  I’d give this a 3/5 stars.  Interesting notes/quotes:

  • “Diagnosis bias – in other words, the moment we label a person or a situation, we put on blinders to all evidence that contradicts our diagnosis.”
  • “We experience the pain associated with a loss much more vividly than we do the joy of experiencing a gain.”  — This is why keeping a gratitude journal is so helpful for retaining positive memories and maximizing joy from gains.
  • “‘Some men,’ LBJ once said, ‘want power simply to strut around the world and to hear the tune of ‘Hail to the Chief.’ Others want it simply to build prestige, to collect antiques, and to buy pretty things. Well, I wanted power to give things to people — all sorts of things to all sorts of people.”
  • Dan Ariely “expectations change the reality we live in.”
  • Draft selection order influences playing time more than talent – why peer pressure and popularity influences perspective more than who people actually are.
  • “We use diagnostic labels to organize and simplify. But any classification that you come up with has got to work by ignoring a lot of other things–with the hope that the things you are ignoring don’t make a difference. And that’s where the rub is. Once you get a label in mind, you don’t notice things that don’t fit within the categories that do make a difference.”
  • Adrenaline makes you more romantically attracted. Kink releases adrenaline, so more likely to be romantically interested.
  • “How we are treated –the fairness of the procedure– has as much to do with our satisfaction as the ultimate outcome.”
  • The pleasure center and altruism centers of the brain cannot function at the same time.

Kinky Book Reviews

Bonds of Trust by Lynda Aicher

This is the first of a series surrounding the owners at a club. This particular book is about a woman in her early 40s, recently divorced, who is pursuing sexual freedom and fun for the first time in her life. These quotes stuck out to me as representing a dynamic I’d like to have, or as being especially hot or provoking.

  • “She glanced down, his sharp gaze just a bit too insightful for her to handle at the moment. ‘Look at me, Cali.’ There it was. That calm command that had her inhaling against the flash of burning desire rushing through her system.”
  • “The slight pressure of Master Jake’s hand at the small of her back kept her grounded.”
  • “Cali’s hand came up to grip Jake’s forearm, but she didn’t stop his slow, sensual movements over her stomach. It was as if she were searching for something to hang on to, to keep her grounded. And she’d reached for him. Good.” —> This is why I like it when a man maintains physical contact while hurting or dominating me.
  • “‘Don’t,’ he commanded, his grip flexing on her sides. ‘Don’t hide what you’re feeling for me. I want to hear everything. Every sound, every moan, every desire you feel. Understand?'” –> I need this type of encouragement, as I’m really quiet/tend to hold back noises with people.
  • “She felt no shame in begging. Not with him. He would give her what she craved. It was so freeing to be able to ask for what she desired and know she’d get it.”

Bonds of Need by Lynda Aicher

This book was about another partner in owning a BDSM club and a girl with an abusive ex. She’s trying to suppress her masochism because of her negative experiences with pain in the past.  There was a lot that rung true to me in this book, but only one quote that stood out above all others:

There is no pleasure in being beaten. That’s an act of violence. And I would never be violent toward you. No real Dom would. The pleasure comes in submitting and trusting. In finding release in the freedom you get from letting go. The pain only heightens the feelings, releases the endorphins and reaffirms the trust you’ve given away.

Exactly.

Bonds of Desire by Lynda Aicher

This third book involves the third male partner of the BDSM club, and his interactions with a male switch and a female submissive. The female submissive is a control-freak attorney who is afraid of being submissive like her mother, and is brand-new to kink. The male switch was a gay whore who ended up essentially raped, and has terrible self worth. It was definitely interesting, hot, and a dynamic different than most I’m used to. There was only one quote that spoke to me, and it involved being touched by the Dom. He had a tendency to firmly grip the back of the male switch’s neck, which instilled a sense of comfort and submission. Regarding that:

Just one touch, right there, and all of the tension dripped from him, leaving behind nothing but calm compliance. Right now, he would do whatever the Dom wanted. Anything.

There are two other books in this series that I haven’t read yet, and I think more are on the way. I highly recommend them all.

Unloading Some Stress

I’ve been going through a few pretty rough weeks. On the surface, everything has been good. There’s been a bit of chaos, as is to be expected with the holidays, traveling, winter weather, and a new job, but that’s been manageable. I try to focus on the good, and be grateful for my many blessings. I have some solid friendships, and many people who care about me. The people around me have mostly been doing very well, which promotes an attitude of contentment and growth. I have a job and a good salary, and can afford the live I’m living. I can even save and pay off some debt for the first time in a long while. I have a place to live, and I live with great people in a nice location.

All that aside, though, I’ve still been feeling out of sorts. I know the primary reason, and I’ll get into that, but an aside to it all is dating. I’m sick of fooling around. I’ve had shit luck with men this past year, at least in terms of anything working out into something more serious.

I’ve been debating match.com, but I’m stupefied by trying to come up with a good username. I can use initials and my birthday, but that’s apparently “too generic.” I can’t say anything with a looks-related descriptor or I’m clearly insecure, and I can’t say anything that may indicate I’m poly or pretentious or hugely awkward. WTF, right? My hobbies don’t fit neatly into one or two word names. My friend was consoling me by pointing out that it’s a positive thing that I’m too complex to be simplified into a username. She’s probably right, and yes, I know I’m overthinking it. Blerg. In the meantime, wouldn’t SpicySexpot, VivaciousVixen, and WantonWench be great…I don’t know, pornstar or alt.com names?

The primary thing on my mind lately is stress and fear, though. My mom is having open-heart surgery next week to replace 3 of her 4 valves. They say it’s a straightforward thing, lots of recovery and pain afterwards but it will improve her quality of life, and she should be fine… But, you know, they’re cracking her chest, and the last time she had surgery like that she was dead on the table for longer than she should’ve been allowed to be. Technology advances, yadayada, but she’s high risk given other health factors, so I’m worried. I’m taking off work for a couple of days and teleworking so that I can be home for the surgery. It’s horrid timing at work, being that I just was gone for 2 weeks for the holidays, I’m new still, and I had training to reschedule, but everyone has been very understanding.

I don’t want to bring it up with people and have to talk about it, but I also am scared and want to talk about it. I don’t want people to say it’ll be fine because it pisses me off – there is no guarantee of that and it trivializes my emotions. I know they mean well, but that, or pity, seem to rub me the wrong way. I’m so afraid she’ll die. Even writing it terrifies me. It brings me near tears just thinking about it.

My mom and I have mixed history. She has a violent temper, and several mental and physical health issues that make things difficult. Our past had some…well, trying moments is an understatement. I don’t call home as much as I should, and sometimes I lose patience with her because she doesn’t understand sarcasm or what I do for work and she complains about other family members to me (which puts me in an awful place). That said, I rely on her. If something good happens, I immediately want to tell her. She’s always excited for me, and it’s unbridled, unconditional excitement. She looks out for me, and her love is a constant. Sometimes I feel her love less than her anger, sadness, or insecurity, but I know it’s there and I never forget that. The thought of going home and her not being there, of never seeing or talking to her again, or no more random hallmark cards or stuffed animals…it’s horrifying.

I am also suffering worry and guilt that I don’t live nearby and won’t be able to help with recovery. My parents don’t communicate well (another understatement) and I’m worried that my mom won’t get the care and assistance she needs post-surgery – whether because she doesn’t ask or vocalize her needs, or because my dad doesn’t have the energy or willingness to care for her properly. Who will clean and do laundry? Who will help my mom shower and get ready for the day? Who will keep her company to take her mind off the pain? Who will cook?

My dad avoids talking about it, which doesn’t help. He’s trying his best, I think, but it’s a rough situation because he’s the breadwinner. He has to work, and his work is demanding. My mom’s attitude has been disintegrating more and more each day. Over the holidays, I even told her that I’ve never been around someone who was as much a downer as she currently is. Everything anyone does is wrong or insufficient. She expects the worst out of everyone and is quicker to snap or yell or scream than I’ve ever seen her in my life. She’s terrified, and taking it out on everyone around her. She doesn’t handle pain well – she’s had more health issues and chronic pain than most do in a lifetime, but she still complains and moans and freaks out, there’s no built up stamina or tolerance towards it. She basically needs someone to baby her and talk her down almost constantly, which is fine – everyone has different coping mechanisms – but it’s impossible for people to do that every second of every day.

Anyhow…emotional drama. And beyond it all, I’m still a bit frustrated that there can’t be a year – hell, 6 months these past few years – without someone in my family suffering a huge emotional or physical crisis. Since I was 7. I’m not shitting you.

In the meantime, trying to stay positive and busy.

2014 Goal Setting

First, some things I’d like to continue:

  • Keeping a weekly gratitude journal. This year, I’d like to capture Sunday – Saturday, instead of Tuesday – Monday.
  • Weekly game and dinner nights with my best friends.
  • Blogging regularly.
  • Using goodreads to track what I’m reading and how frequently I read.
  • Regularly utilizing my RSS reader to stay up to date on technology, design, politics, cooking, and more.

Second, my overarching theme for the year is going to be “Healthy.” I want to focus on being healthier in spirit, mind, and body.

I’ve done a lot of reading this year on habits and willpower, and it requires too much energy to successfully complete a list of goals. I want to focus on bringing health into every part of my life, and then fundamentally on working out more to get in awesome shape. That’s it – that’s my one goal. In theory, in two months, it should be a habit and then I can move on to other ways to bring health into my life.

I’m still going to make a list of things I hope to do or accomplish, but I’m not going to actively work on those things. I spent a lot of time trying new things, visiting new places, etc. with friends to cross things off lists. I had a great year, but I spent too much money, gained weight, and was at a much higher level of stress.

So, first goal: get fit. Strength train every weeknight for about 10 minutes, and do calisthenics for another 10. Go to the gym at least 3x a week. Try to do more active things with friends.

Other ways to be healthy, should I make the above a habit, or to generally keep in mind:

  • Gossip less.
  • Volunteer or donate time and money to charity – give back.
  • Cook at home more.
  • Have better posture.
  • Don’t get lazy with hair/makeup routines.
  • Use mouthwash more regularly.

Outside my theme, below are things that I’m hoping to do in the next year anyway, but am not going to freak out or constantly work towards.

  • pay off credit cards and keep them paid off
  • save enough for three months expenses and an extra $1,000 (roughly $5,500)
  • pay off my car
  • read 50 books
  • clean out all of my material possessions and organize things better
  • get matching towels to replace mismatched current ones
  • learn to cook macarons, thai curry, and coq au vin/beef (the last using my french oven)
  • get a raise at my 6 month and 12 month reviews, as I am supposed to
  • write an erotic story
  • answer texts more promptly
  • write handwritten letters to close friends on their birthdays
  • store all online passwords somewhere
  • try the church my friend’s visit on Capital Hill, or attend a universalist service.

Local things I’d like to do:

  • See a show at Ford’s Theater
  • See a show at Shakespeare Theater
  • See a concert at 9:30 club
  • Go to stand-up open mic night at Arlington Drafthouse
  • Visit the Crime Museum
  • Visit the Botanical Gardens
  • See a military band concert
  • Check out a roller derby event
  • Visit Atlantic City, Ocean City, Virginia Beach, or Williamsburg

2013 Year in Review (Part 3 – Recap)

Last year involved a lot of growth, happy memories, and challenges.

I was much more responsible last year. I worked hard to budget, save, pay down debt, and plan for my future. I upped my retirement contributions. I did my taxes all alone. I invested into my car with new tires and oil changes, and my health by making doctors appointments, dentist appointments, vision appointments.

I realized that kink is less of a thing for me, at least in terms of my social life. I’ve been attending board game evenings and events, and occasionally hosting happy hours or vanilla events (like a book club) for/with kinky folks. I have attended a couple of monthly parties that I volunteer at, but I only went to the local dungeon a handful of times. I stopped attending most kinky happy hours, conventions, classes, and parties. I had a few bad experiences, either with jealous partners, insufficient aftercare, or fuzzy consent regarding touching. I still enjoy a lot of kinky things, but I want them within a relationship or with very, very good friends. Moreover, my closest kink friends haven’t been out and about, and I haven’t been up for attending things alone anymore. 

In the meantime, I’ve made up for less kinky-social with more vanilla-social. I was extremely social last year. I was home maybe one weeknight a week, and I tried a huge number of restaurants and drinks. I dated a lot. I put myself out there. I enriched friendships.

I had a lot of challenges with my family, but I’m in an ok-place there now. I’m trying to be less bitter and more forgiving and supportive.

A couple of lifestyle things I’m most happy with from the year:

  • Using goodreads to track my reading, and pushing myself to read more nonfiction and mainstream fiction (instead of all YA and erotica).
  • Keeping a weekly “awesomeness” or gratitude journal
  • Blogging regularly
  • Starting a tumblr and keeping it up
  • Having weekly game nights and cooking with two (sometimes more) of my closest friends
  • Learning to grill

Kink:

  • Attending Dark Odyssey: Winter Fire and Fusion
  • Attending and helping plan Board and Kinky events
  • Exploring romantic connections in more depth, both D/s, kinky, and vanilla

Social/Family:

  • Engagements and weddings of several close friends
  • All the memories in my awesomeness journal – musicals (1776, Book of Mormon, If/Then, Spamalot, Rascal Flatts and Band Perry, NSO holiday concert, Bela Fleck, Steep Canyon Rangers), adventure (whitewater rafting, florida vacation, snow tubing), a ton of new board games, many new restaurants, classes (wine and painting, knife skills, burlesque), sports events (capitals, orioles), bars (stand up comedy, science night), storytelling events, renaissance faire, museums (Mount Vernon, Newseum, Arboretum), shooting range, wineries/breweries/cider houses…
  • Weekly game and dinner nights
  • Reconnecting deeply with some friends from graduate school
  • Finding a new roommate and bonding with both of my roommates
  • Making a great friend from my old job

Professional/Real Life:

  • Finding a new job
  • Getting promoted at my old job
  • Making all my furniture and sheets match
  • Starting to drink coffee
  • Publishing a report for my last project at my old job
  • Integrating myself socially into my former office environment

2013 Year in Review (Part 2 – Resolution Update)

I didn’t keep all of my goals from this year, but I did achieve some of them, for which I’m proud. Not listed below, but I also read 57 books this year, which undershot my goal of 78 books.

Goals (resolutions):

  • Work out 156 times. A workout is a trip to the gym, an exercise class, or 30 minutes of cardio and/or weights. 
  • Complete a 5K. 
  • Pay off all of my credit cards.
  • Save at least $1,000.
  • Sign up for Mint and use to create a budget and monitor spending.
  • Collect and organize addresses, phone numbers, and contact information for all friends/family I can think of. (Done my best to contact all those I can – have 50+ addresses.)
  • Clean up the sites I follow in my google reader.
  • Compile all online passwords and store somewhere safe.
  • Organize saved documents on my computer.
  • Organize online bookmarks.
  • Take 52 photos.
  • Write at least one short erotic story.
  • Create Kinky&Awkward website or blog, fill with moments. (no longer have any desire to do this)
  • Go to at least one never-been-before destination. 
  • Learn how to tie a sommerville bowline knot, a double coin knot, and a TK harness.
  • Acquire a flogger and learn to properly use it.
  • Watch the movie Secretary,.
  • Experience wax play as a bottom.
  • Try cupping and/or fire cupping.

To-Do Activities:

  • snow tubing (NoVA Social group on 1/5)
  • kayaking
  • cooking class (LivingSocial Indian Cooking Class on 2/22)
  • racquetball
  • National Zoo
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Aquatic Gardens or National Aboretum
  • Twilight Polo
  • Williamsburg
  • Dancing at Glen Echo or Salsa Room
  • Hiking/Walking/Photography in Great Falls or Rock Creek Park
  • Military band concert
  • Ocean City/Atlantic City/Virginia Beach – visit one
  • Top Golf
  • DC Rollergirls or Charm City Rollergirls
  • The Mansion on O St
  • Spa World
  • Museum of Crime and Punishment
  • Ice skating at National Gallery/Smithsonian
  • Capitals, Redskins, Ravens, or Orioles game