You may have heard that if you want to give books for the holidays, you should order them immediately. Or even, honestly, yesterday.
Point is, thanks to the supply chain, booksellers are slammed, so you have a great excuse to start ordering the best books to give as gifts in 2021 early (AKA right now, as soon as you finish reading my list).
A lot of these bookish gifting lists focus on the big bestsellers of the year, the buzzy seem-to-be-everywhere books. And that’s a great strategy, for many people.
But the thing is, if you’re here, you’re trying to give a book to a reader. And that’s a problem, because as any friend-of-a-bookworm knows, it’s impossible to buy us something to read, because you’re never sure what we have or haven’t read. And there is a high likelihood that we’ve already read, or ruled out, those buzzy books.
Almost any reader with a library card will be familiar with the concept of library fines.
Developing the ability able to return my books on time and not incur a fine was basically the only reason I ever learned to read a calendar as a child. Here is where I confess that despite having a calendar of my very own, I was still terrible at returning books on time and often spent my entire allowance on fines.
Libraries have been collecting fines since at least the late 1800s, originally using them to generate revenue for the library and also, in an example of strict father morality, to punish those who cannot adhere to arbitrary timelines.
When researching for this article, I was surprised to learn that research on going fine-free has been published since as far back as the 1970s. Similar to other movements involved with equality and equity, it took several decades — and in this case, a global pandemic — to put the idea across the finish line.
While a great deal of science fiction involves gloom, doom, and cynicism about humanity’s fate (Apocalypse! Dystopia! Grimdark!), there are bright spots of optimism within the genre.
Meet solarpunk.What Is Solarpunk?
The overall vibe of the solarpunk genre is often described as inspired by Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Afrofuturist motifs. Illustrations of solarpunk landscapes often look hypermodern, light, airy, and colorful, but can also be rich in elegant detail.
Most of all, everything is so, so green. Just covered in leaves. Like Ewoks moved into the Watergate. Along with this visual style, the spirit of solarpunk is one of craftsmanship, egalitarianism, and optimism where technology can be put to work to solve our greatest problems.
Editor’s Note: Includes mention of classic solarpunk novels, and some newer ones.
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When I was young, I would hear people say one of the worst pains a human could experience was childbirth. I think of the hours of labor before my son was born and conclude that the pain of grief is worse.
When I was experiencing contractions, I could point to a part of my body and say, “Here. Take the pain away from here.” The anesthesiologist showed up on the 20th hour (I was trying to go without an epidural but didn’t make it).
The medicine went in, and the pain was gone, for the most part.
There is no place to point at with grief. It is an ache that drenches you completely, makes your limbs and your head heavy, too heavy to carry.
And the sting of grief does not end; it sleeps, gets quiet enough to forget about it from time to time, until it resurfaces with a song, an intersection, a park, a dream, or a corner of your house you forgot to look at with eyes from the past.