2016: My Year

2016 is over in just a few short hours for us here in the Western Hemisphere. It’s already 2017 in much of the world. A perfect time to look back.

In 2016 I didn’t read enough. I almost let my blog completely die. I quit multiple jobs. And I’m on the verge of rejecting multiple job offers at once. Sounds wonderful.

But there are some positives to come out of this year. I bought my first DSLR, which I’ve wanted for quite some time. I proceeded to take my new camera to Washington, DC during my first real vacation as an adult. I visited the Library of Congress. I visited Austin for the first time on my own. I made some long overdue personal decisions that I’m looking forward to.

Everyone wants to talk about how 2016 has been the year of celebrity deaths. I don’t see the point of this. It sounds to me like people are worried about the wrong things. Old people die. It isn’t surprising. Especially when the world as a whole has actual problems affecting the lives of every human alive today, and those not yet born.

Maybe my year wasn’t ideal and a few celebrities died, but I refuse to complain. There are people without food, shelter, and clothing. How about all these people worried about the deaths of celebrities actually worry about something a little less glamorous?

That’s what 2016 really boils down to. People focused on such trivial things. Instead of making memes about Harambe, why not support an animal rescue organization? Instead of focusing on how many celebrities have died in 2016, why not support some of their favorite charitable causes and organizations? And instead of complaining about how rough you have it, why not think of the people who have to walk miles just to have access to water?

I know my 2016 didn’t go according to plan, but you won’t find me feeling sorry for myself.

What were some of the highlights of your year?

A Letter to America

Dear America,

America is me. When people hear me identify as “Mexican-American” most think nothing of it. But some think of me as being a part of “other”, as being different from them. I’m not. Both of my parents were born in Texas. My grandparents were born in Texas. My great grandparents were not. Which means I’m exactly the same as nearly every other American in that I’m a descendant of immigrants.

I point this out because I must. The next president of the United States has said things and proposed actions that make me as a Mexican-American feel disrespected, hated, and alarmed. He’s done the same to women, African-Americans, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and just about every group of people that looks differently than he does.

Donald Trump is not my president. He doesn’t represent or stand for anything I do. I know I’m not the only one acknowledging this. But something we must understand is that now is not the time to sit down in shock at what has transpired. Now is more important than ever to stand up for what we believe in, to make sure our voices are louder than ever. Yes, Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States of America. But don’t believe for one second that hate, racism, homophobia, or xenophobia won last night. Those things will never truly win as long as we, the people continue to stand up and speak out about the things we hold dear.

I’m shocked just as millions of others are, but this is not the end. We’re headed toward a better, more tolerant future. Even if we face a minor setback along the way.

A college educated, Mexican-American millennial,

John Guillen

I’m a Millennial and #ImWithHer

Obviously this isn’t a blog on politics. And obviously I don’t expect people to have the same viewpoint as I do. But election day is less than a week away. Millions of people have already cast their ballot during early voting. The 45th president of the United States is on the verge of being elected. So I decided to make this video to stress the importance of voting in our democracy. Sure I talk about Hillary, but I also discuss the significance of simply having the right to vote as we do.

The important thing isn’t for you to agree with me or the candidate I’m voting for, but rather that you have a say in who leads the country and community in which you live.

Saturday Selects: Trump is Exactly Who We Think he is

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I usually write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss something outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today I’m writing about Trump, again.

I’m sure you’re well aware by now of the recording that surfaced yesterday in which Donald Trump talks about sexually harassing and assaulting women. If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, then I’ve got you covered. Here’s the video. There is lots of graphic language.

I can’t tell you how many people have actually defended his comments on social media and on TV. These people are the reason he feels he can say or do any thing he pleases. There’s no consequence. He says Mexicans are criminals. Meh. He says ban all Muslims from the US. Meh. He says women are disgusting. Meh. He says African Americans are living in hell. Meh. And now video surfaces of him sexually assaulting women because he’s a star and they let him do it.

There is no excuse. Republican. Democrat. Independent. White. Latino. College educated. Asian. African American. Middle class. 1%. It does not matter what you look like or where you live. A reasonable, respectful human being has no justification for supporting this man in ANY THING he does. And yet, he’ll still receive millions of votes on November 8th.

Amazon Launches Prime Reading

If you have a Prime account like I do, then you’re likely already aware of the many perks associated with the subscription. And now Amazon adds to it again.

Prime Reading is exactly what you’d expect it to be. You get to read any book that’s included in the service. I believe it’s currently over a thousand titles at launch. You also get free access to current magazines. I haven’t subscribed to a magazine in about a decade, but I’ve really been considering subscribing to Sports Illustrated or National Geographic. And they’re both included!

There is no subscription service that gives you greater value for your money than an Amazon Prime menbership. There’s books, movies, TV shows, two-day shipping, Prime Now, and I bet members will one day get to fly into space before nonmembers. HA!

Does Prime Reading make you want a Prime membership any more than before? Or if you’re already a Prime member, will you take advantage of the new program?

Elie Wiesel has Died

Elie Wiesel died yesterday at the age of 87. I immediately realized there are countless ways to describe this man. Survivor. Activist. Advocate. Nobel Laureate. Author. And the list goes on and on. He impacted the world and affected people like few before him ever have. Today the light shining over humanity is just a little bit dimmer than yesterday because we’ve lost one of our greatest voices.

Elie Wiesel will not be forgotten, not in my lifetime and hopefully not ever.

I said yesterday I wouldn’t share any more videos from the new channel on here, but I didn’t anticipate such a force (and author) dying. So here are my full thoughts on the life and death of Elie Wiesel:

Saturday Selects: Current Events

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I usually write on the first Saturday of each month to discuss topics outside the general bookish theme of the blog. Today I’m talking current events. Kind of.

I’ve wanted an outlet to discuss all kinds of different things for some time now. There are things going on in the world that I feel NEED to be discussed and addressed. Just like my opinions, my voice is only mine. But this is something I feel very strongly about. Which is how I came up with Talking Today. Talking Today is the name of my new YouTube channel. I’ve made several videos already, and chose not to share them here because I know y’all don’t come here for that.

The goal of the channel is to discuss current topics of interest. That’s it. There are no other limitations.

This is the introductory video:

I’ve also done videos on the Brexit vote, on Lionel Messi’s retirement from international soccer, and on the sit-in staged by Democrats in the US House of Representatives.

I will not be sharing any more future videos from this channel on here. I know y’all come here to read about books, but I also know from previous experience that many of y’all are interested in currents events too. It’d be nice if you watch and think maybe this is something you can get into, but I understand if you don’t.

On Alan Rickman

As you likely already know, Alan Rickman died yesterday after a bout with cancer. He was 69.

I’m going to be completely honest here. I didn’t even know his name. He was Severus Snape to me. That’s it. I guess he was known for a few other roles, but not to me he wasn’t. One of my coworkers told me early yesterday morning that he’d died. My response: “Who?” Then he said Snape.

I’m not aiming to drop him down a notch or alter your personal viewpoint of the man, but I really only knew him as Snape. But now I’m curious. I’m curious to know a little more about a man I hardly knew. Memories. Roles. Thoughts. Sure I could Google search and come up with some new information, but I’m interested to know what you’ll remember him most for. Which of his roles most impacted you. And what you initially thought upon hearing of his death. I just thought of random Snape quotes I’ve remembered from the movies.

New Donald Trump Biography Rushed to Print

Ugh.

I don’t need to mention any of the ridiculous things he’s said in recent weeks. Because I already wrote about him as a presidential candidate here. But now word has gotten out that a Trump biography originally planned for a January release will reach readers much sooner, in October.

Am I surprised by this? Of course not. He’s in the headlines right now. I bet the publisher (Thomas Dunne) would have released it this coming week if it could have been done. I’m not faulting anyone for this decision. It’s just a little surprising to me to see how many people are actually interested in this guy. Granted, many of those people are just waiting to see what idiotic thing he says next. But still.

So this new book will come out a few months early and be a surefire bestseller. Nothing surprising there. But it’s just a biography. It has nothing to do with what’s going on at the moment in the GOP presidential race, except for a release date. Oh well. Donald Trump is taking over our lives. Ha! No.

Do you have any interest in this new biography of Trump? You already know my answer to the question.


On this day in 2014 I published Ever Been to an Author Signing?.

 

Saturday Selects: The online community

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Photo Credit: SustaiNet

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month in which I discuss something completely unrelated to books and writing and all the normal stuff you see here. You can check out my previous posts here.

Something that I am constantly baffled by is how people interact with each other over the internet. I’ve gotten some pretty harsh words in the form of comments on here (a damn book blog). You absolutely positively cannot have your negative tweet retweeted by a celebrity because the wrath of their fans will come down upon your Twitter notifications. Yes, I have personal experience with this. And all I said was that I didn’t like a song and I think the tweet I was mentioned in by the celebrity was favorited something like 1500 times and I was mentioned even more. I couldn’t look at my phone because the notifications were nonstop. You also can’t comment on news articles without someone going crazy and turning a difference of opinions into a personal attack.

It’s really not a good thing to see. And I bet I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that these are just trolls who go around tweeting and commenting ignorantly on whatever they read. Uh no. Twitter is the easiest place to see that these are just regular people who have no idea how to communicate. Let’s say you make the mistake of tweeting a celebrity with maybe 3 million followers. And then they decide to retweet or quote you. The first few responses will likely respond to whatever criticism you tossed toward the celebrity. Okay. Nothing wrong there. But very, very quickly you’ll find that people have just gone through your tweets and are now on the offensive. They’re using what you said about something two weeks ago to their advantage. They’re looking at your pictures. They’re saying things that make absolutely no sense in the context. It’s bad. And it’s not only on Twitter, of course. It can happen on here, on Facebook, on a news site, just about anywhere on the internet that has some kind of comment section.

You know, it doesn’t matter if you disagree with someone or if you think this about abortion or that about the President, but there is never any reason to go into all-out attack mode over nothing. I mean, who cares what I think of that new song on the radio? Who cares if I like this sport over that? Who cares if I’m not a fan of this actor? What does any of that have to do with you tossing out a derogatory remark? Or trying to belittle me in some way.

I won’t go so far as to call it cyberbullying in most cases because it’s often just one or two things and then the other person forgets you exist once again. But the hate language that is tossed around over the internet every minute of every day is a joke. I don’t have a solution for better policing it, but I can’t be the only person who thinks something more needs to be done.