weekend open thread – April 15-16, 2023

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Helpline, by Katherine Collette. A woman who’s better with numbers than with people gets pushed into a job answering a senior citizens helpline. What follows includes the mayor’s feud with a local golf club, intrigue with a disgraced Sudoko champion, and a cookie-related scandal.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,212 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion — think dinner party or office break room — and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. Aphrodite*

    I live in zone 10, Santa Barbara, CA. If you live in the same zone, what kind of gorgeous plants and fruit trees do you have? I hate what I term “scrubby,” plants. I couldn’t wait to get rid of the ugly juniper bush as soon as I moved in. And I do not like succulents or cactus or stones or other “dry” stuff. Alas, I love the Connecticut look, lots of soft green lawn and trees that drape and swoon, my favorite being the weeping willow. But I have to go with what works for this area. So, do you have any unusual fruit trees?

    1. Filosofickle*

      I’m also in zone 10, a handful of hours north of you. My weeping birches and japanese maples grow happily in my yard and all over my neighborhood! My yard came with a lot of lilies — canna, agapantha, day and those have a nice amount of graceful floof. And I don’t know if they’re too scrubby for you, but I really like lantana bushes and plan to put in those for coverage. They have blooms most of the time and don’t seem to get all woody the way so many bushes do. (Junipers / cypress / evergreen are horrible IMO.)

    2. KatEnigma*

      9b, and lived in 9b previously, so close enough?

      Bougainvillea. In fact, streetview shows me that the bougainvillea I planted 12 years ago in a rental in South San Jose is still thriving. Here in Houston, they commonly sell it in different colors. Jasmine and honeysuckle will do well. We currently have a fig tree. We’ve had lime and lemon and peach trees in California. Our California neighbors had some lovely wisteria that was trying to take down the fence between us. Magnolia trees are beautiful and there’s the Jacaranda tree that I’ve only seen all over San Jose that has the prettiest purple flowers! (google says it’s good to zone 11) Plus roses. Lots and lots of roses.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Oh, and to replace those scraggly junipers? Azaleas. They bloom in early March, but they stay full and don’t need much pruning/trimming the rest of the year. We’ve lived here almost a year and a half now, and ours only needed trimmed once, and didn’t look scraggly when trimmed like too many bushes do!

    3. RLC*

      Gardened in 9b for years, just a bit colder than zone 10, and agree with all the suggestions so far and have a few to add: Cape Plumbago, heavenly bamboo (but avoid actual bamboo as it can become invasive), wisteria, kerria japonica. For edible garden, grapes and genetic dwarf peaches are fun and manageable. I avoid juniper and anything “scrubby” given the fire risk of any resin-rich plants. It’s a challenge to conserve water and minimize wildfire risk but definitely achievable. For inspiration consider taking a walk around the oldest neighborhoods in town, see what the “survivor” plants are that may have grown there through nearly a century of weather challenges and neglect.

    4. JSPA*

      loquats are common as anything there, grow like weeds, and if you get a good cultivar, the fruit, when just picked, is incomparable. Similar love for the (very spiky) natal plum. You’re unlikely to find something truly weepy because fewer and glossier leaves and a more upright stance are going to serve better against drying out in an arid climate.

      I love bougainvilia, but it is RAMPANT, spikey, and any of the bracts and leaves that do not drop on the ground (and in your gutters) compact between the spikey branches, and host nests for a range of four footed critters, as well as being tinder for brushfires. And when you try to knock the dead bits out, you have to be careful not to displace hummingbird nests. Lantana is very cheery, But pay attention to species, subspecies and cultivars. The ones that set berries are an invasive problem…and some lantana will grow as big as your house, while others are modest shrubs.

      I also love jacaranda, but the fallen flowers will eat into car paint. (Ficus is bad for that, too– and they are both common street trees… go figure.)

      “california” (peruvian) pink Pepper tree is madly invasive, which is a pity because it’s the weepingest thing you’re likely to find for the climate.

      There’s a horrible citrus disease spreading throughout the southland so I would probably avoid citrus (unless you know it to be one of the rare resistant strains, or are prepared to do some pretty intensive treatment on a schedule for its entire lifetime.)

    5. MM*

      I have Mamey, sopadilla, Jamaican strawberry tree, peanut butter fruit tree, black sapote, gurichama, in my 10a yard, along with a bunch of more common fruit trees like lychee, starfruit, fig, muscadine, avocado, various citrus etc.

      But as I’m on the other side of the US, I don’t know if these would work for you.

      One tip, when I was designing my gardens I found a native plant nursery in my area. The owners were very knowledgeable and helpful. When you plant native to your area plants, they don’t need a lot of care from humans, plus they tend to attract more butterflies and birds etc. I haven’t used exclusively native plants, but I’m adding more and more as I find them in nurseries.

      Following up on the citrus, if citrus greening disease is in your area, finger limes and sugar belle oranges are resistant to it. I’ll add that although I have citrus, I don’t think they are attractive plants, except finger lime. Finger limes are pretty attractive plants.

      1. JSPA*

        Finger limes come in a variety of flavors and colors. They have to be picked ripe (won’t ripen off the tree) so one that has fairly dramatic color change when ripe is a good bet (plus the reddening varieties are generally sweeter). They’re also fairly light on water use.

    6. the Viking Diva*

      MM is right on with advice to look at native plants. They will thrive better with less care, attract birds and butterflies, and better resist drought and fire – both real hazards where you are. (Getting the junipers out was a good move; they are oily and very flammable. Look into local advice about fire-aware planting, before planting other fuels near your home. )
      Attend a local garden club, look for garden tours, check out pollinator gardens and pollinator-friendly gardening classes – the local Audubon Society chapter often has these. Santa Barbara has a good botanical garden, I think. Often the state extension service has demonstration gardens that you can visit, and plant recommendations on their website.

    7. the Viking Diva*

      MM is right on with advice to look at native plants. They will thrive better with less care, attract birds and butterflies, and better resist drought and fire – both real hazards where you are. (Getting the junipers out was a good move; they are oily and very flammable. Look into local advice about fire-aware planting, before planting other fuels near your home. )
      Attend a local garden club, look for garden tours, check out pollinator gardens and pollinator-friendly gardening classes. The local Audubon Society chapter may offer these, as well as garden shops and greenhouses. Santa Barbara has a good botanical garden, as I recall. Often the state extension service has demonstration gardens that you can visit, and plant recommendations on their website.

    8. Once too often*

      With all the suggestions of native plants, if those appeal to you consider also looking for plants that support native pollinators. With all the enthusiasm for honey bee hives, native pollinators have more competition than they did costing their own populations & the plants they pollinate.
      Enjoy creating your garden!

    9. nobadcats*

      Look at what’s native to your zone.

      A LOT of people moved to southwestern states on doctors’ orders for their health in the 1900s, til relatively recently. New residents tried to recreate the gardens they had up north added to the stress and pollen issues.

      Look into low succulents and a gravel yard/garden to use less water. Think about sustainable gardening practices in a low water zone. One can make an absolutely gorgeous garden without using much more than grey water (if your HOA allows it).

      And juniper bushes? They are definitely fugly and poison the soil of all the plants around and under them. But without juniper, we wouldn’t have gin, and that would make my bestie really happy.

    10. WestsideStory*

      Long time west coast zone 10 gardener here. Surprised no one has mentioned the Sunset Book series which are available at any hardware chain in SoCal. I (and they) would recommend plants that are drought tolerant as they need very little supplemental watering after the first year. Native and Mediterranean plants fit the bill.
      For lots of color to recreate that east coast cottage garden look, check out salvias, lions tail, pentstemons and all types of lavender, ornamental oreganos and bearded iris for the spring. Native ceanothus comes in dwarf and tree forms, all with glorious bright blue flowers.
      Someone mentioned loquat and they are a taste sensation; less so strawberry tree (arbutus unedo) but both hardy as dirt. California currant (Ribes) has beautiful spring flowers too. I’ve seen a hedge made from sheared guava; pink flowers and edible fruit (it’s the main flavor in Hawaiian Punch I have been told).
      Just a sampling – check out the Sunset books they are full color and very reliable as plant info sources.

    11. WestsideStory*

      Oh for weepy type trees you might look at calliandra (powderpuff) and Russian olive…

    12. MeepMeep123*

      I’m in 9b, so at least kinda sorta close (Sacramento). I love fruit trees, so in my tiny little yard I have: an apricot tree, a cherry tree, a fig tree, a lemon tree, blueberry bushes, pomegranate bushes, and a raspberry twig (I just planted it a month ago). The apricot tree and the blueberry bushes gave me great harvests last year. This year, the lemon tree and cherry tree might also join them – the cherry tree already has little green cherries on it, and the lemon tree is about to bloom.

    13. Cedrus Libani*

      I am a Zone 10 gardener also (in the SF Bay Area). The great thing about gardening in a frost-free zone is that you can grow all sorts of tropical plants. The bad thing is that most tropical plants like water in summer. Which is not a thing we do lightly around here. I am a practical sort; my plants must be delicious or utterly gorgeous, or I’m not wasting the water. (To my mind, lawns are neither, so I don’t have one.)

      I have two young avocado trees. I love avocados, they grow well here, it’s a no brainer even though I’ll have to trim them hard every year to keep them in my tiny yard. I have a citrus hedge along a sunny wall. I have a small herb garden, and some space for vegetables. That’s what I have space for.

      I considered, but did not have a suitable place for, a pomegranate. It’s a Mediterranean plant that works well in coastal California. If you like weeping fruit trees, you might also consider a weeping Santa Rosa plum; it’s very low chill and should be suitable.

      For a non-edible shrub, one of my favorites is Correa (that’s a genus with several cultivated species). They’re from Australia, which has a similar summer-dry climate. They stay green year-round and bloom all winter.

  3. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    (Trying this again. Sorry, Alison!)

    Last week I made a post about how frustrated I felt with not being able to move my 60 pound air conditioner unit up three flights of stairs. (In hindsight idk how I thought I could ever…! Took two people to move that thing up.)

    You all really helped me feel better that night, and that weekend. Letting me know that it’s okay I couldn’t move it, that most people, even the pros, would have issues. And that it’s okay to ask for help, we’re human and cannot do it all.

    The air conditioner install did not go smoothly. At all. So now I have to do essentially the same thing again, because the fan is broken and they’re sending me a new unit. I’m really glad I’m not trying to do this in June! And thank you to apps like dolly and task rabbit that can help and do the literal heavy lifting for me.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you all for your support last weekend. I was feeling pretty bad about myself. A lot of what was said in your responses is echoing in my head even with this new unit coming in next week, and I can’t tell you how helpful that is. I feel like the universe is telling me that it’s okay to ask for help, which echos what the rest of you said last week! :) we are only human and this is a good reminder of that (she types, while still continuing to haul up way more groceries than she needs to in one go)

    1. anon24*

      Ah! I’m so sorry this happened, but hopefully your new unit comes in soon and the install goes smoothly. Think of this as a trial run :) I hope you stay cool this weekend.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Yeahhhhh I’m not exactly excited excited for the 80 degree weather Chicago is going to have this weekend, but I’m more concerned from an uncomfortable standpoint, not an actual health concern. Thankfully I have a tall standing fan (his name is Fred) to help. And it’ll cool off next week (eyes emoji at the snow we might get on Monday).

        1. anon24*

          When our AC broke in our windowless station at my last job in the middle of July, I took paper towels, soaked them in cold water, draped them on the back of our standing fan, and re-wet as needed (the paper towels were thin and light enough not to mess up the movement of the fan and allowed the air to flow through). It wasn’t the greatest solution, but it was better than no ac or just the fan. It was my poor attempt at a swamp cooler when all I had was cool water and a fan.

          I also am a fan of sleeping with ice packs in my bed, stuffing ice cubes down my shirt and if you have long hair I tie my hair up in a pony tail and stick an ice cube in my hair in such a way that it s secured but isn’t touching my skin but slowly melts and the cool water runs down the back of my head and neck.

        2. nobadcats*

          I’m in Milwaukee and the wunderground weather app is showing that we might get snow flurries tonight. I live less than a mile away from the lake, but would have to hike down a very steep bluff to get to the beach.

          I have a little desktop ac unit, which uses a fan and three compact bottles of water that you can freeze (it comes with six so you can rotate). The last two nights, I’ve set it on my new dresser, and left my door ajar, so that the kittycat and I can get in and out. Bedroom was wonderfully cool, and I slept much better than I have been. Might just use it all year.

          It’s really hard to ask for help, I know. Just two months ago, I spent an entire day on my apartment floor because of a fall down half of flight of stairs. I couldn’t get up because both my shoulders were sprained, two fingers were also sprained, my legs were imprinted with zebra stripe bruises, big shiner on my left eye, and my glasses were broken. I couldn’t stand up without using my shoulders/hands. Finally called my Bestie with the last of my phone battery (I was trying to get to the phone charger all damned day). Bestie and her husband are the only people who have keys to my apartment. They came over, hoisted me up, and forcefully said that if I wasn’t able to be mobile by the next morning, Bestie would drag me downstairs by my hair and take me to the ER all by herself. (Trust me, she would’ve.)

          Although I felt guilty and weak asking for help, there’s no shame in it when you need it. The people who love you, or even just care a little bit about you as a friend, would rather you reach out for help than suffer in silence. Even if it entails using an app if your people are far from you.

    2. Double A*

      It’s funny, I don’t have trouble asking for help with physical stuff because a) it seems obvious that a lot of physical things are much safer and easier with more than one person and b) I know the consequences of injuring stuff. Mental health and life management stuff, though, I have a very, very hard time asking for help with even though my previous two points apply just as well.

  4. Stitch Fix*

    Is anyone using Stitch Fix or similar styling services and are you happy with it? I’m interested in trying it but have been reading mixed reviews.

    1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      I’ve tried both Stitch Fix & Nadine West but didn’t stick with either for more than 6 months. Nadine West was more affordable but half the items I purchased didn’t last a year. Stitch Fix had better quality but was well above my budget for the items I liked. I also didn’t feel like they really customized items based on my feedback. I used these services to update my business casual outfits for a return to office that never came.

      For context, I’d buy all my clothes at Target, Old Navy or H&M & live in jeans if I could. I think it’s ridiculous to spend more than $40 for most articles of clothing & I don’t care a whit for fashion.

      1. o_gal*

        I have done Stitch Fix for years. Ther are periods where the “stylists” don’t have much to work with, so the choices tend to be the same type of clothing for months. Then there will be some periods where I love all the choices. It’s been good enough for me to keep going. My last purchase was a periwinkle blue Columbia fleece jacket, at a steal of a price!

    2. Brunch with Sylvia*

      I tried Stitch Fix about 5+ years ago and similar to VLookups, I found the individual pieces more expensive than what I typically purchase. But….I still have and regularly wear the pieces that I kept and am really happy with the quality. I probably used the service for 4 months back then. This year, I am trying Wantable and it is ok. I don’t think the edits are well curated or that my comments are heeded but I have kept pieces from most of the edits that I have been sent. The individual pieces are expensive to me ($40-60 for a top) but if you keep 5 or more, then you get a 20% discount. They have added a little pop to my work and weekend wardrobe and I get complements on what I have worn. I’ll probably continue for another couple of months and then pause again

    3. Plantfan*

      I’ve found Stitch Fix helpful to broaden my wardrobe a bit, particularly since I live in an area with limited shopping. Left on my own I’d buy the same boring basics over and over. I ordinarily shop at places like Talbots, and am ok with higher prices for better quality. That said, I’ve had issues with quality for the price with some of their clothing. I don’t wear polyester tops, which is limiting. On the other hand, I have lots of clothes from there that are wardrobe staples, which have lasted well and garner compliments.

      1. Sorrischian*

        When I was doing Stitch Fix, I could really tell which boxes had been put together by someone who’d paid attention to my comments and which hadn’t – I’d get a box full of stuff I love and wear regularly, and then two more full of stuff I’d specifically asked not to get. I gave up after I got too many dud boxes in a row, but I’m periodically tempted to try again

    4. acmx*

      Stitch Fix is okay. I typically like 3-4 of the pieces but my preferences are pretty limited (I live in Florida, don’t send me a sweater or jacket). I order clothes from them more than I get a box now. Price is okay for me. A little higher than I like but it seems to be good quality (lasted a year so far)
      I tried Wantable and didn’t like it much.

    5. Bluebell*

      I used stitch fix for about 4-5 years pre-Covid. It worked pretty well for me, though I rarely kept all 5 pieces. Yes, many of the pieces were more than I would have paid in store, but it was worth the convenience, especially since I could see how the new pieces integrated with my wardrobe. I generally had good luck with the stylists. It definitely works better the more specific you can be.

    6. Elle*

      A lot of my wardrobe has come from Stitch Fix. I took a break because, as other have said, they tend to send the same things after a while. I restarted this week for a clothing refresh and we’ll see what I get. A good box from them is a gem. They’ll send stuff that looks good in me that I wouldn’t have chosen otherwise.

    7. Jenni Levy*

      I used StitchFix and Wantable. I liked the pieces from StitchFix better – I am wearing a blouse now! I stopped because I didn’t need more clothes.

    8. Danish*

      I was a huge stitch fix fan about five years ago when they still had humans doing most of the work. Unfortunately it is now pretty obviously algorithm based, so once you like one item you basically only get iteration of that. Since I was using it to find new styles I wouldn’t think to pick up on my own, it sadly became pretty useless to me. However if you’re looking for reasonably nice looking clothes in popular styles and get fatigued by store shopping, it is good for that. Prices are a bit on the higher side for the construction quality but that’s not unique to sf

    9. J Jonah Jameson*

      I’ve been reasonably happy with it. I hate shopping and don’t know where to find anything I like wearing, so it really helped having someone find some stuff that generally fits my style. I get the most compliments on the things I was kind of borderline about whether I liked.

    10. Perplexed Pigeon*

      I shop Stitch Fix in the men’s section (I’m a woman), and those clothes are so much better made than the women’s clothing my wife gets! It was worth doing for awhile, but like others have said, eventually I started getting the same type of pieces so I stopped for a bit. But my wife still find them useful, even knowing the pieces generally won’t last more than 8 months to a year.

  5. Filosofickle*

    Feeling philosophical! Ideas like “life’s too short” or “you only live once” are in the eye of the beholder. What does “making the most of it” mean to you?

    YOLO, so hustle and go after big dreams. Or, YOLO, so take it easy and enjoy the ride.

    YOLO, so focus on wise choices to maximize opportunities. Or, YOLO, so focus on what feels good to maximize enjoyment.

    YOLO, so plan for tomorrow and thrive for a lifetime. Or, YOLO, so seize the day and thrive in this moment.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think about this a lot in the context of right now I am healthy and able to do things (have some money / have some time off) whereas in the future I don’t know if any of those three things will be true. So, although I’m really passionate about lying around doing nothing, I use it to motivate myself to do things that may not always be possible. Travel, taking risks, pushing myself to lead a bigger life.

    2. Double A*

      Just recently I read somewhere the line that “Happiness is a consumerist emotion” (I wish I could remember where!), the idea being sustained happiness is something consumerist culture tries to sell you and it’s not possible. Chasing it will only lead to disappointment because it’s fleeting, and then hopefully you’ll buy more stuff to make you happy again.

      This has me thinking that happiness should not in any way be a goal, any more than sadness or guilt or excitement should be goals — each of these are emotions we will experience at different times, but none can be nor should be permanent. I’ve also realized that I’ve been the same amount depressed my whole life, which is to say a little bit. So maybe I just need to accept this is baseline and realize that no matter what happens, I’ll return to about this amount of melancholy. Both of these thoughts are leading me to look at the bigger picture, which is to want a life that is rich and meaningful. So right now I’m considering what that looks like. For me, it almost certainly involves periods of hard work and also periods of rest. I think I have a lot of good ideas for making things better, but I could never grind with no breaks. Reflection and quiet time are necessary to a life well lived, I think.

      1. allathian*

        I don’t aim for happiness, contentment is a much more reachable goal for me. Happiness, even ecstasy, are emotions that come and go, as a are unhappiness and abject misery.

        1. Double A*

          I definitely think about the difference between contentment and happiness, but even contentment is an emotion that comes and goes.

          1. allathian*

            Oh yes, that’s true, too. It’s unrealistic to expect either to last forever. But I prioritize contentment over happiness in the sense that I’m contented to drive a 15-year-old second-hand car that my husband can do the maintenance on because the warranty’s run out and use the money that I’d otherwise use to finance a new car into retirement savings because the idea of a financially secure retirement even if my husband dies before me or we divorce (not a high risk at this point, but life’s too uncertain to know for sure) is a high priority for me and a key element in my long-term contentment. A new car would bring me happiness for a few months or a year at most, after that I’d take it for granted.

    3. Old Plant Woman*

      You only live once is a bit too much pressure for me. l prefer to be a little more casual about my mortality. I enjoy the hell out of my life. Not gonna blow the savings for a party or trip, but I sure like to go out for a pint with my man.

      1. allathian*

        This, too. I try to find joy in small things because it helps with long-term contentment.

    4. Ally*

      My uncle who is a bit older recently sent me a message about enjoying life when you’re young, as he is now a bit sick and can’t travel/ move around as easily. So I think of it in terms of what is physically or mentally possible now, that might not be later. Not always necessarily lining it up with fun vs. hustle.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      To me, it basically means not living your life based on expectations or what you are “supposed” to want.

      I do think it’s important to plan for the future and go after any big dreams you have, but I don’t see that as involving hustling for most people. Big dreams don’t even have to involve money. They could be to run a marathon is less than three hours or to have 6 children.

      I guess to me, it means focussing on what is important to you and not letting others put you into a box.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Post cancer and pandemic, it’s mostly not waiting until some future optimal time. We went to Italy with our grown kids this Xmas–oldest had a flexible grad student schedule, youngest a long winter break from undergrad, two things that will not be true next year, so we really wanted to do something. It was great. My health was okay but not as strong as I would have liked–again, not waiting for some future health improvement that might not even happen.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      A while back there was an NPR story from a world-traveling photographer who had an insight one night in a very spiritual place: He could die a year from now. Not that he would, but it was like a powerful message that it was possible. And he realized what he would want to do if he knew he had a year: Go home and see his parents, see his siblings. So he did that. But he also described how at loose ends he felt during that year, even as he checked off stuff that was important to him–that “well, this might be your last day” is not a way to live because you can’t really plan for a future. When the year was up, and he was still alive, it was a huge relief that he felt he could go forth and make long-range plans again.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Justified had an assassin-for-hire who called himself YOLO, and rarely have I rooted so hard for a character to be killed. He perfectly embodied every quirky, navel-gazing aspect of the phrase.

    9. jasmine tea*

      I refuse to adopt any YOLO behaviors that would be unkind to my future self. She does not deserve reckless spending, unhealthy habits, or lost employment. Outside of sabotaging her future, I am open to the idea of seizing moments as they appear.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really like this framing about caring for your future self, and Veronica Mars’s below.

        I think it gets at a negative stereotype of YOLO people, that some of them seize the day with YOLO and then when it surprisingly turns out they have no money for rent, other less joyful relatives should step in to rescue them. Your YOLOing should not set up problems for your future self.

    10. Veronica Mars*

      My husband and I have changed this saying to YOLA, “you only live awhile” and use it when we’re doing something responsible that contributes to future health/future contentment. So things like contributing to savings/retirement, eating vegetables, getting in a workout, etc. are all YOLA activities.

      So for me it’s about balancing planning for the long term where I hope to be reasonably healthy and have enough money to be comfortable, while not focusing so much on that I’m not enjoying right now. We do as much travel as we can, try to spend lots of time with friends/family, and build in time for enjoying our house like gardening, reading, etc. For me it’s about looking at the life I want to cultivate (one that involves close relationships, adventures in other places, delicious food, and time relaxing and focusing on the little things I love) and taking steps towards that life.

    11. Crooked Bird*

      YOLO, so get enough sleep, so that you can do your best work when it’s time for work and enjoy things fully when it’s time to do that.

  6. Trixie*

    As we start the weekend, what do you do transition between that-which-we-do- not-mention and the weekend or weekday evening? I am trying to be more intentional by maybe walking right at end of day to transition to evening time. Or on the weekends, I’m up first thing on Saturday mornings to make the most of the weekend.

    During the week, if I’m waking up early and unable to go back to sleep, I’m trying to walk in the morning before work day starts. In theory, I would sleep that much better or easily that evening. That happens this morning, and I’m struggling to stay awake.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I order pizza every Friday night, sometimes with brownies. Then I have a brownie for breakfast on Saturday. :)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Similarly, Friday is my sushi day, and then I eat sushi for breakfast, which I weirdly love, on Saturday. I think I eat more brownies etc during the week due to workday stress!

      2. Glazed Donut*

        yes! I order out 90% of the time on Fridays. For some reason it doesn’t make sense time-wise for me to do it during the week. I look forward to picking out the restaurant and what I’ll get during the day (today was sushi!).

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Friday evening is our takeout evening – we normally cook dinner. So we put some beer in the fridge in the morning, and stop on the way home to pick up some something we wouldn’t cook at home (pizza, burgers, sushi, fried chicken, tempura, etc).

        It’s harder when I have late Friday evening telecons, though.

      4. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        Can I please be you? That is the very definition of ‘living your best life’!

      5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I did not order brownies last night so I am eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast instead.

      6. Donkey Hotey*

        Ayup. My partner and I cook six nights a week, but Friday is beer and stupid movies night. Not date night, per se. More often than not, we order takeout and watch something silly. It’s a definite transition between work week stuff and weekend.

    2. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      I find that maybe not going to sleep as early as I do on the weekdays to be a good transition. I like my sleep, and my routine even more, so it might only be an hour or so later but it’s nice. I also set my alarm for a little later on the weekends.

    3. Filosofickle*

      Friday is still part of the work week, so I struggle to do anything with it except curl up on the couch. Saturday morning is when the transition happens, I ease into the weekend by reading in bed. It is the most restorative thing I do, and it really resets my brain.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I work on the actual weekends, but every Saturday I watch Svengoolie for a nice chill pill.

      On my days off/personal weekend (Tuesday/Wednesday) I spend a lot of it cleaning and running errands. Husband and I try to go out to lunch every third Wednesday or so to relax and eat something we didn’t cook.

    5. Derivative Poster*

      This was decades ago now, but at one point I was a regular at a Friday evening yoga class near my office. So the class was my relaxing transition to the weekend. I still look back on it fondly although I’ve not had a similar routine since.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We have Shabbat dinner on Friday nights. We’re not observant of Shabbat and I still find the dinner ritual to be a lovely transition.

    7. carcinization*

      My husband and I usually watch RuPaul’s Drag Race if it’s on/if we have a season to watch, and make cocktails at home, on Friday evenings. Fridays are usually the only days we make cocktails at home.

    8. I take tea*

      We try to do something cultural in the town on Fridays: go to the theatre or a movie, or visit a museum or gallery. It’s a nice transition and gives us something to talk about for the weekend that isn’t work, which is a plus.

  7. Galumpher*

    My spouse and I are about to start trying to have a baby – does anyone have good book resources for how to be pregnant other than “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”? Preferably written by someone with an MD/PhD and which reflects the latest science.

    1. AY*

      35 weeks pregnant! Emily Oster’s Expecting Better is great about identifying some common pregnancy “don’ts” that really lack any scientific basis.

      1. OyHiOh*

        Me too. I found it very calm and matter of fact and gave equal weight and factual information to unmedicated options without overplaying the benefit of one choice over another.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      The classic is “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. I didn’t read the whole thing, but I skimmed it, and it gives a lot of helpful information about the phases of the ovulation cycle.

      My bit of unsolicited advice is to buy ovulation tests! No need to worry about taking your basal body temperature if you have a guideline. I liked the numerical scale ones from Pregmate because they give a little more nuance than “yes/no” for if you’re ovulation.

      Good luck, and have fun!

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        I liked doing the BBT! I nerdily made my own graphs and I quite liked the advance warning of my temp going down, rather than getting into the toilet one day and…oh.

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      Expecting Better by Emily Oster. My boss had twins earlier this year and she was telling me about this book. It’s a book that distills all the studies and info about what pregnant people should and shouldn’t do during their pregnancy. Maybe useful since so much of that info is conflicting.

    4. Library Lady*

      I know a lot of people are recommending Expecting Better, just a heads up that it’s written by an economist, not a medical doctor (although she does have a PhD in economics). My friends fall into two camps about that book: some have loved it and some have HATED it (one who hated it felt like it was just disregarding medical science and doctor’s recommendations and was borderline dangerous, but those who have loved it have felt that it made them feel more empowered and less scared of everything during pregnancy). I just like to point that out with that book as I feel like you’re either in the love it or hate it camp, and if you’re looking for something by a medical doctor, it’s not that.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah I did like Expecting Better but I don’t know that it fills the brief of what the OP is looking for.

        Honestly I think a whole book about pregnancy might be overkill? I liked following along with the NHS’s week by week pregnancy guide. Any book I looked at, I mostly skimmed (and I love to read.) It ends up being a lot of lists and symptoms like reading WebMD for 200 pages.

        1. Washi*

          And by any book, I mean any “science” based book (honestly a lot is still questionable because it’s so hard to do research on pregnant people)

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I’m sort of torn on that because yeah, she’s an economist, but she also cites her sources. Like, a lot. She does a good job of explaining why she questions certain studies that resulted in common advice: way too small a sample size, or lare but uniformsample sizes, etc. She doesn’t just disregard science on a whim or anything. Not saying some folks can’t still want to run with the conclusions of said studies, but I feel like dismissing her out of hand because she’s not a medical doctor is just as bad as believing everything someone else says because they are a medical doctor – who could just as easily be using extremely outdated advice. The sources do matter.

      3. Cambridge Comma*

        Yes, I am very familiar with a small area of what she writes about through my own work and she makes a lot of mistakes there so I would assume elsewhere too. Just because she cites her sources doesn’t mean she fully understands them. Otherwise we could read some economics papers and have the same insights as she does. Great concept for a book, just should have been written by someone in the field.

      4. Observer*

        not a medical doctor

        Which may not be a bad thing- the Mayo guide that someone else references is a absolute outlier in not referencing the highly medical without actual basis.

        one who hated it felt like it was just disregarding medical science and doctor’s recommendations

        I’m not Oster’s biggest fan, but here is a real issue she addresses – “doctor’s recommendations” and “medical *science*” are not the same thing. Conflating the two is not useful and doesn’t give you a good basis for actually evaluating the usefulness and safety of her advice.

        I’m curious which advice your friend felt was “borderline dangerous”?

      5. MeepMeep123*

        Yeah, I hated it personally. I did read it when I was pregnant, I found it to be along the lines of “twist the science to justify the conclusion you want to come to”, and I would not take it seriously as pregnancy advice.

        Now that I’ve heard her on COVID advice (she was big on reopening schools with no mitigations), I’m even more convinced that she should not be taken seriously.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

          Seconding on her covid advice. As someone who has had to teach in rooms with no ventilation and unmasked students, I feel like her widely reported covid arguments have put me personally at risk.

    5. Waffles*

      You could try a subscription to Up to Date, which is a service medical doctors use to get summaries of current evidence and clinical practice. A library will also likely have a textbook you can check out which could scratch the evidence itch. As someone mentioned Emily Oster is not a medical professional, though I generally found the book interesting and it’s very popular. You can also ask your gyn!

    6. Erica*

      For conceiving, you might want to try “Making Babies”. Some of it is a little woo woo. I’ve also heard “it starts with the egg” is good. I was glad for the caveat above about Emily Oster’s book — when we had trouble conceiving, I found her approach completely unhelpful. Also there’s not that much about actually trying to get pregnant which sounds like the stage you’re at.

      But in short, the main steps are: cut out booze and drugs, start a prenatal vitamin with folic acid even before you’re pregnant, if you have a male partner he should dial back bike riding/drinking/smoking as well, make sure the lube you use is conception-friendly, and learn to time your ovulation to try in the right window (the strips are the easiest, if a little pricey). If you don’t get pregnant in one year if <35 or 6 mos if 35+, see a doc. There isn't really evidence for all the other things problem say like position, "just relaxing", etc.

    7. Cambridge Comma*

      Not a book but for pregnancy, baby and childcare I haven’t found anything that beats the NHS advice pages. It’s evidence based and written in plain English, lots of images, very clear on when to seek medical attention and when you can wait and see (it’s not just illnesses though, there’s also a lot of general lifestyle information). If you are in a another country you might have to google a couple of medication names and double-check the food restrictions (e.g. British eggs are safe in pregnancy but in other countries eggs aren’t ).

    8. Savannah Banana*

      My favorite book was “The Mommy Docs’ Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth,” which was written by 3 OB/GYN doctors who are also moms. I found it to be informative, measured, and helpful. I don’t remember any medical information to be glaringly out of date (I was pregnant in 2021).

      My advice is to stop reading pregnancy books halfway through the pregnancy and switch to reading about baby sleep and what to do with an infant. When the baby is here, you won’t have time for it!

  8. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Want to help me figure out language for a new rule I plan to set here? I’ve seen enough victim-blaming fanfic showing up in the comments that I want a rule against it, and I’d like find a word or phrase that will easily sum up what I mean. I’m talking about comments that are, essentially, “While the facts of your letter may make it look like person X was wronged, I’m betting that they are the actual villain here.” (For example, on the post from someone whose boyfriend’s manager, who was clearly horrible, told her she could do better, a couple of people immediately leapt to “your boyfriend is obviously a terrible person and probably cheating on you, and the manager was just trying to warn you” — with zero in the letter to support that.)

    In writing a rule about it, it would really help to have a memorable or at least easily-understood way to describe it. Maybe “victim-blaming fanfic” is descriptive enough but I thought I’d see if y’all have any creative brainstorms that are better!

    1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      I mean, as a person who has read lots of fanfic and written some, “victim blaming fanfic” is creative and gets the point across for me just fine! :) sorry, I know that’s not exactly helpful.

    2. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Just spitballing here, but a few phrases come to mind…

      Hot take
      Hear me out
      Unpopular opinion
      Objection, assumes facts not in evidence

      Basically, it seems like these kinds of comments are attempts to showcase a new, unique, or special angle on the situation that reads as self-serving. Like, “check out how special I am for daring to have this completely unfounded conclusion unlike all you basic folk.”

      I also love victim-blaming fan-fic!!

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I like the Perry-Mason-like “objection, assumes facts not in evidence!”

        1. Double A*

          I like this! I have to say if the rule said “No victim blaming fan fic,” I wouldn’t really know what that meant. However, a guideline that says “Don’t speculate about facts not supported by the letter” is more clear. I mean…I don’t think you’ll ever fully eliminate people’s tendency to speculate, and sometimes it can be legitimately helpful if someone recognizes a similarity to something they’ve experienced and can share something the letter writer might consider.

          “Don’t speculate far afield from the facts presented in the letter” seems to be what you’re getting at?

          1. Anonymous cat*

            I think “Don’t speculate about facts not supported by the letter” is a good way to put it!

            After reading this column for a while, I know what “victim blaming fanfic” means, and it’s a good description!, but I would have been really puzzled when I first started reading.

            “Fanfic? I thought this column was real life?….”

            Unless Allison wanted to include an example right after the fanfic phrase?

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              Yeah, it’s a lovely phrase but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have known what it meant when I first started reading.

              1. LG*

                Yeah, I learned that phrase here too. I think you could say both- no victim-blaming fanfic AND don’t assume facts not in evidence.

                1. skadhu*

                  I agree. Use “victim-blaming fanfic” as the shorthand description but provide a definition as well: (please do not speculate based on assumptions or possibilities not supported by evidence) or (please do not invent explanations/scenarios not supported by evidence in the OP’s letter)

                  Or something like that.

                2. Observer*

                  I’m with @skadhu

                  The phrase is excellent because it’s descriptive, pithy and memorable. But no short phrase is going to really explain what Allison is after, so there needs to be an explanation and an example. And this one was a really good (and infuriating) example.

              2. the Viking Diva*

                I have hung around here long enough to figure it out, but it’s not intuitive. To me blaming the victim doesn’t sound like being a “fan.”

                1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

                  To me that’s why ‘fanfic’ is perfect – it’s people who are not the author making up details that don’t exist in the original work.

          2. Ellis Bell*

            Speculation can be okay though if it’s done as a mild suggestion of something not yet considered; it’s more that people forget who they’re supposed to be helping! It’s as though they forget that out of all the people in the letter, the OP is the only one reading along and that they have feelings which matter. They aren’t some kind of virtual entertainment puppet to be cross examined and disbelieved. Even when the OP has clearly been in the wrong, Alison’s taken them at their word about what’s going on. I like “victim blaming fanfic” just fine and think it gets to the heart of the matter; people are showing off and trying to be entertaining, or they’re in the habit of narrative predictions. I might also say “don’t assert that you know the basic facts presented better than the OP does”.

      2. Mid*

        I think those could be used as “examples that might be used if you’re unsure if your post will be victim-blaming fanfic or not” but probably shouldn’t be fully banned phrases.

      3. IT Manager*

        Hot Take sums it up well to me… fanfic works but only after you explain it, while you could easily say – no “hot take” responses, we believe the letter writer’s facts as stated and don’t invent additional context to justify a Hot Take comment”. It seems like a more widely known term that nights stick.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I like this as part of the explanation, but on it’s own, as a new commenter I wouldn’t be sure if any new / original idea is a “hot take” versus Alison’s concern specifically about ones that blame the victim or assume facts not in evidence.

    3. KatEnigma*

      In other agony aunt comment sections, it’s not a rule (because the inmates are alone in the asylum) but but some of us long-termers like to speak aloud that we can only answer to the information that’s in the letter.

      There’s a lot of creative writing and people filling in details based on their own trauma in all directions- in support of LWs and against them. It’s hard, though, because people’s experiences will lead them to legitimately see things in a letter that aren’t there, without realizing they are doing that.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I wrote in to Carolyn Hax once, about a minor thing with my husband that I was curious for perspective on, and had the comment section assume all kinds of things because I hadn’t specifically stated otherwise in my fairly brief question.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Not to mention Dear Abby *heavily* edits the letters. So people get caught up on “LW used this word. They wouldn’t have used that specific word unless” fill in wild story. It’s like please, who knows what word the LW actually used?!?

        2. Janet Pinkerton*

          I find that comment section particularly toxic. I wish they’d turn off comments entirely, tbh.

          1. KatEnigma*

            I’m sure it’s toxic, but it brings in ad revenue. I never click into the comment section for Hax.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Eh, comment sections are usually just a fraction of a site’s traffic. But I know there is a loyal commentariat there.

              1. KatEnigma*

                It’s a fraction, but it’s an important fraction- the one that sticks around and has to scroll past all your annoying ads.

              2. Janet Pinkerton*

                Yeah it took me a very long time to realize that, despite being a regular commenter for several sites (different username), I and my compatriots were a very small portion of the readership. And when we all left, the site still went on just fine.

                (That said, sometimes I wonder how Katie the Fed is doing.)

                1. anonnie*

                  I found it interesting that several people on the salary survey post this week were shocked by how many responses it got so quickly and asked if they were all from that day. Alison has always said the commenters make up only a small fraction of overall readership and that survey filling up so fast in the first couple hours really demonstrated it!

        3. Annie May*

          Wild!! I wrote in once too (for a chat, and it ended up being used as a “regular” letter). I understand editing letters for length and clarity, but I think the comments on my letter may have been different had all of the background been given, as I submitted. Most commenters were okay, but a few were really something else.

      2. Observer*

        It’s hard, though, because people’s experiences will lead them to legitimately see things in a letter that aren’t there, without realizing they are doing that.

        That’s true, and that’s a tricky issue to deal with. But the example Allison gave doesn’t really lend itself to that explanation. I mean, sure it’s possible that someone was traumatized in a certain way that totally distorts their view of the world, to the point that they can’t even see when they have fallen off edge and into the very deep end. But that’s most often not the most likely conclusion.

        1. KatEnigma*

          All it takes is one cheated on person whose coworkers tried to warn them in this way, and that person is 100% convinced that’s what was going on in this case, and doesn’t realize they are projecting. That’s way more common than you are allowing.

    4. Mstr*

      I think this might already be covered in some language you have somewhere about “we believe the writer” and don’t speculate on various details/other circumstances not included in the letter?

      1. AGD*

        I’d support reinforcing this rule with “victim-blaming fanfic” for sure – the term made me chuckle and I knew what it meant immediately.

        1. Jackalope*

          I think victim-blaming fanfic works *if* there’s an example given; otherwise those who are new might not get it.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It doesn’t quite cover it on its own. I’m fine with “have you considered that Possible Thing X could be happening, and if so you could try Y.” I’m not fine with “X is definitely happening.” And this thing has its own special twist of randomly seeing someone in the letter as a villain with no cause (sometimes the letter-writer but not always, as with the boyfriend letter example). So the existing rules don’t quite cover it. It really is a very specific sort of victim-blaming fanfic. (And ideally when removing a rule-breaking comment I’d like to be able to just write “removed, rule 7” or whatever.)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I was thinking that the other potential phrases to use would be devil’s advocacy or villain creation, but I don’t think either perfectly captures that specific type of comment. I do think that people (in general) like clear-cut, easily understood narratives and if there’s no moustache-twirling villain to point to and say “See, it’s all that person’s fault!”, that often makes people uncomfortable, hence the need to create a villain.

        2. Shandra*

          Would something like this work: “No unsupported assertions about the letter writer, or another person being affected by the conduct described.”

          This could apply to other situations, such as a parent protecting their teenager at their after-school job. Or mentor Peter wants to help his mentee Michaela, who’s being undermined by her peer colleague Jack.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          I really value many comments that are along the lines “If X is happening, then the events described would be a likely outcome.” And then the facts in the letter suddenly shift from weird, to a predictable outcome of an obscure Excel setting.

          See also “If your manager makes you pay your Bad Employee Punishment fines to him in cash, he is probably pocketing the money and it is not in fact a company policy.”

        4. fueled by coffee*

          Not sure if this quite covers it (it doesn’t get at the victim-blaming angle), but when I grade student papers, one of my standard comments is “If you don’t have a source to back up this claim, make sure to frame it as clearly speculative.”

          So maybe something like that (with “content of the letter” replacing “source”), coupled with something like “Please don’t blame characters in the letter (including the letter writer) for other people’s bad behavior – i.e., no victim-blaming fanfic.” (A little wordy, though).

        5. skadhu*

          What about:

          No victim-blaming fanfic: in other words, please do not invent explanations unsupported by evidence that assume that someone who is not the problem being written in about is the villain in the story.

        6. Professional Writer*

          Not everyone will understand this. Many commenter below have provided clearer alternatives.

        7. SG*

          As a fairly regular reader and sometimes-open-thread-peruser/commenter, I wouldn’t understand what what this means. Perhaps it is my lack of famiarity with how the term “fanfic” is used, but I think of fanfic strictly as fiction writing which is intended to be fictional, about popular characters that someone else created, and not as an response to a situation that is centered around unsupported claims. Even with a full explanation as you posted here, I had to read this post a few times to even understand what you were getting at.
          I liked another commenter’s suggestion, “No unsupported assertions about the letter writer, or another person being affected by the conduct described,” or similar, such as, “No unsupported assertions that blame the letter writer or anyone else, and as such are based on details that are: 1) not included in the letter; or 2) contrary to the narrative described in the letter.”

          1. slashgirl*

            There is a thing called real people fanfic–fictional stories written about real people, usually celebrities. Generally written by fans of that celebrity. That’s why this would be considered fanfic–someone is creating a fictional situation about the LW or someone else in the letter–based on nothing in that letter (it’s real people still even if not celebrities). And they’re not prefacing it with something along the lines of “I/a friend/family member were in this situation and this is why x happened”. They’re stating things outright that don’t have any support….

            Sounds like (fan)fictional to me. (And it’d be “fan” fic cus folks on this site who enjoy it can be considered fans).

            My source? About 25 years of writing & reading various types of fanfic and being involved in multiple fandoms.

            1. Velociraptor Attack*

              I think this is exactly the issue with referring to it as “fanfic” though. Of course there’s a group of people who will know exactly what it means and not question it but there’s also a huge group of people who will vary from not knowing what fanfic means at all to not realizing that real people fanfic exists and that’s a recipe for not understanding the rule.

        8. SofiaDeo*

          It seems to me the fanfic stuff is merely breaking multiple existing rules at the same time, with the result being a fanfic-like posting. Do you really need a new rule for this? “Removed; multiple rule break” should suffice.

        9. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I don’t like “victim-blaming” because it sounds like this phenomenon is also happening with people in the letters who are not the victim or the villain, just others involved in the scenario… right? I’m not sure if this kind of thing is what you are talking about, but I remember a letter where coworker C was sharing information between LW A and her boss B which was exacerbating issues between them, and several commenters said C was actually the problem moreso than A or B. In that case, there was evidence that C was meddling, but if there hadn’t been that evidence, then this would be an example of making a villain out of a non-villanous person, but it’s not “victim blaming” because C is not the victim. That being said, I honestly think this is covered by “take the letter writer at their word” and maybe the sub example of NOT taking them at their word is making them or another person in their letter the villain without support.

    5. Samwise*

      I like, “no victim-blaming fanfic allowed”

      Short, clear, and with your gift for a turn of phrase.

        1. Aphrodite*

          Well, I admit I had no idea what fanfic had to do with this site. I thought it was stuff written by fans of an author, essentially stealing the writer’s ideas and characters and writing their own stories. With the above explanations above I see (at least I think I see) what you mean. However, it’s still confusing to me. I feel as though something like “no comments assuming facts not in evidence” might work but softer somehow to allow, as you noted, “have you considered the possibility . . . “.

          1. Viette*

            It’s true that while “fanfic” has some assumed connotations for Very Online people, it’s maybe not a universally understood term?

            “Victim-blaming supposition”?

            “Unsupported and uncharitable supposition”?

      1. Mstr*

        I actually hate that “victim-blaming fanfic” implies that every letter writer is a VICTIM of their workplace. Even if many are being inconvenienced at work, we all have jobs and it’s not inherently victimizing to have to go to work and deal with all the ins and outs of doing so.

        1. Observer*

          Except that that’s not what the “victim-hood” portion is about – it’s about the problem that the person is writing about. Like the LW that Allison mentions, and her boyfriend, are the victim of a terribly intrusive manager.

      2. Myrin*

        I’m pretty sure it was then-regular commenter Snark who coined the phrase “advice column fanfic” a few years ago and it caught on, but I hadn’t really seen the “victim-blaming” spin yet – can’t believe that fact that I’m in a busy fulltime job now is leading to my missing new AAM vocabulary, ha!

    6. Pdxer*

      The “change my mind” meme immediately comes to mind, but I’m also not all that clear on how to word that.

    7. Pink Flamingo*

      What about, “no embellishing the imaginary”? Because often people will make assumptions to fill gaps to make the story fit the narrative they’re telling themselves (or how their prior experience can be connected to the story).

    8. Flipperty*

      Oh god yes! This is badly needed. But I worry because people always interpret things differently and assume their interpretation is the correct one. And sometimes letters do have very obvious holes in them, or try to make themselves out to be be victims when the facts maybe don’t support that (think “I played an innocent prank and how everyone’s mad at me” – it’s reasonable to want to know what LW considers “innocent.”)

      For example the recent letter about the convicted child sex offender who wasn’t legally allowed in the same room as any child, who was befriending and flirting with a single mom – almost every comment was inventing the wildest fanfic to paint him as the innocent victim and demonize the LW. I’d count that as the absolute archetype of “victim blaming fanfic” but I’m sure they would disagree, because they genuinely believe that the sex offender is the victim.

      Or the letter about the woman who stole her employee’s airline seat, ostensibly because she was fat and had no choice because she needed two seats. There was a ton of victim-blaming fanfic aimed at the stranded employee due to LW playing the FA card, then she later admitted that she’d been committing financial fraud (returning their airline tickets, buying cheaper ones, and pocketing the difference) and stranded the employee in a foreign country with no credit card, wallet or phone, that he’d had to spend 2 days in the airport with no food, and that he’d finally had to call his sister who’d been forced to take out a payday loan to get him home. That was a case where the LW portrayed herself as a victim but there were clearly holes in her story, and she wound up very obviously being a major villain.

      1. anonnie*

        You should go back and look at those 2 examples because the majority reaction was the opposite of what you said! I think the rule is still needed to deal with the minority who do what you said but they were not the majority and it is strange to see it painted like that….

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It was in a Friday workplace thread, where she posted asking how to avoid being in trouble now that this was coming to light. (A Friday thread also had the immortal Juice Guy, Andrew, who tried to argue that not framing housekeeping for theft is proof that someone is not a thief.)

          I agree with anonnie that for both of those, the overwhelming commenter reaction was “the person described was in the wrong.”

      2. Observer*

        . And sometimes letters do have very obvious holes in them, or try to make themselves out to be be victims when the facts maybe don’t support that

        Except that that’s NOT what Allison is describing. The example she gives had ZERO holes that would lend any sort of credence to the ridiculous speculation. On the other hand, as you yourself note, there were a huge number of holes in the examples you pose that required people to fill in some holes – things just didn’t add up.

        But, in fact, your sub-example of all the people who were saying terrible things about the other employee is a perfect example of the kind of inexcusable thing that Allison is trying to get rid of. NONE of the speculation about that worker had any basis in anything that the OP (it wasn’t a letter, it was an Open Thread posting) wrote even in the original post. So, none of that should have been allowed. Not that I blame Allison for that – moderating the open posts is hard enough, and I’m not even sure how practical it is to delete subthreads. But the point is that this is exactly the kind of thing that should not happen.

        Now, the speculation about the *poster* was all based in what the poster wrote and the obvious gaps (not “things that I didn’t mention because I didn’t realize it was relevant or was trying to keep my post concise”) that their original post left.

    9. Hot Water Bottle*

      It sounds like problem in those cases was not really the fanfiction or even necessarily the victim blaming, but that the commenter catastrophized… immediately jumped to the most extreme conclusions… like a parent accusing the kid of being a drug dealer if they come home a half hour late.

      So what about something like: “Do not speculate lurid scenarios (violence, sex, criminal activity, etc.) out of proportion to the letter’s content.”

      1. Qwerty*

        I really like this suggestion, though probably as its own rule in addition to the no victim blaming rule that AAM is writing

      2. Observer*

        It sounds like problem in those cases was not really the fanfiction or even necessarily the victim blaming, but that the commenter catastrophized

        Not really. I don’t think that the accusation that the boyfriend is a problem is “catastrophizing.” And it’s certainly is not “lurid.” But it’s ugly and out of bounds.

    10. kina lillet*

      The letter writer and their loved ones aren’t characters in a story—don’t cast them as the villains.

      Don’t rewrite the letter with your own twist.

      Declaring that the LW or their loved ones are doing wrong based only on speculation are victims blaming and are not welcome here.

      Omissions by the LW are not an opportunity to present speculation as fact. It’s not allowed to comment with victim-blaming speculation that the LW or their loved ones are the true villains.

    11. Irish Teacher*

      Maybe something like “don’t make negative assumptions about anybody mentioned in the letters unless there is evidence to support it and/or it changes your advice to the letter writer.”

      I think there’s already a rule about limiting speculation on facts not in the letters, so perhaps you could add something to that, like “in particular, do not assume negative motivation on the part of anybody” or “in particular, avoid assuming somebody who appears to have been wronged or to be a bystander, is the true villain of the piece” (OK, that one might be a bit melodramatic).

    12. The Other Dawn*

      Maybe just a rule saying “no creative writing exercises.” The weekday posts very often devolve into creative writing based on almost nothing.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This could be a good framing.

          I’ve come to view “devil’s advocate” as synonymous with a bad-faith argument that carries no emotional toll for the speaker, but does for the person they want to listen.

    13. ecnaseener*

      Maybe “no inventing villains” or “no twisting the story around to blame the victim” – since not everyone groks the fanfic thing.

      1. Celeste*

        And related to this… I often wish people weren’t so quick to try to find a villain, because sometimes there isn’t one. Just because a letter writer is in a bad situation, it doesn’t mean someone else is intentionally causing that situation.

        Maybe there was a misunderstanding or the other person is looking at things a different way, or the other person just doesn’t realize how their behavior is affecting other people.

        It’s not always a Hero vs. Villain story and suggesting it is isn’t great for the letter writer.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      “Villain fanfic”? Since the problem is casting someone as a villain with no evidence.

      I should note that one of the things I’ve really appreciated in the comments here is that an OP will describe a weird thing, and about 10 comments in someone has a rational explanation for it. Like “If you try to do this thing in Office with this setting on, it could accidentally create a group like this.” A context where the weird thing suddenly makes sense. So I wouldn’t want to go with “no fanfic” as some of that speculation is really helpful.

      Like assuming that someone no-called no-showed because something awful happened, rather than because they are a bad person who wants to hurt you. And then you aren’t leaving a rage-filled voicemail for a person who didn’t call in because they are dead.

    15. Come On Eileen*

      I would have NO idea what you mean if you implemented a rule against “victim-blaming fanfic.” I think you need to use plainer language. It could be as simple as “we ask that you not play devil’s advocate to argue the other side of the letter writer’s question.”

    16. Courageous cat*

      I even like a simple “no fanfic”. The amount of stretching some people do to assume a set of likely facts, whether victim-blaming or not, that we simply have no reason to believe is true… it isn’t helpful.

    17. Jean (just Jean)*

      Based on my quick reading of all previous comments to date (and to hour: 10:05 am Eastern Daylight Time in the US):

      Use a two-part statement, such as “Please don’t introduce victim-blaming fanfic aka blaming the letter writer or other parties actually or presumably related to the original question.”

      I admit I chuckled at some of the more creative equivalents of “victim-blaming fanfic” such as “adversarial speculation” submitted by M. from P.

      P.S. I also did not really understand the term “fanfic” when I first started reading AAM many years ago. We learn a lot here!

    18. MassChick*

      “Comments should be based on (limited to?) details provided by LW. Please don’t crash land on conclusions.”
      :-)

    19. Donkey Hotey*

      If this is about jumping to conclusions, perhaps “victim blaming hopscotch”? Something that brings in physical action of jumping. (Although i wonder if hopscotch is too much of a regionalism from the US.)

    20. SuprisinglyADHD*

      How about something along the lines of “hypothetical explanations must be based on facts in the letter. Do not create elaborate backstories for anyone mentioned in the letter. do not invent extreme scenarios to play devils advocate. Do not accuse people in the letter of nefarious motives based purely in speculation. “

      1. DD*

        I like this. I think it’s very clear and it covers both of the things you are trying to tamp down: the facts-not-in-evidence part and the judginess part.

      2. Myrin*

        Ooooh, I like this a lot! The whole thing is a subset of the already-existing “Limit speculation on facts not presented by letter-writers to reasonable assumptions based on the information provided” rule but I really like how your last three sentences hammer home the absurdity of the specific scenarios Alison is referring to here.

    21. Prospect gone bad*

      If you’re adding rules, I would propose one that we need to be more understanding of managers writing in.

      I’ve noticed that commenters can be really harsh when a manager writes in, which makes others less likely to write in. There’s also this assumption that if a manager is not good at one thing that they’re also bad at everything else and are generally a horrible manager, even though that’s just not true and we don’t do the same with employees

      I’d also like a rule that people don’t comment on industries that they know nothing about. For example, when somebody works in a high paying field like investment banking, telling them that they should push back on overtime is bad advice. I’ve seen loads of bad advice in open threads for my field but don’t want to get into litigating it, or I notice it too late to comment. I’ve noticed that most calls for advice these days will attract loads of comments that are some variation of, do the bare minimum, and push back on everything. But it’s not good advice in many fields and also doesn’t even make sense in some. For example, if you generate the work, there is no one to push back on.

    22. Myrin*

      It’s possible I’m missing something but I don’t see why you can’t just write it the way you did right here (in a more concise, “formal” way, of course) – none of the current commenting rules are just one phrase or sentence, they’re always accompanied by a more in-depth explanation (often with examples), so I don’t think there’ll be too much confusion even if you “officially” choose a term that’s not immediately understandable to everyone.

      After all, it’s not called “The Sandwich Rule” either and yet commenters regularly say “this is getting into sandwich territory” or “sounds sandwich-y to me” and if someone is confused by that – understandably! That phrase is much more site-specific and much less self-explanatory than “advice column fanfic”! – people eiher explain it or refer to the rules, where it’s used as a very illustrative example; nevermind that a lot of the time, people don’t use the “informal” shorthand anyway but just say plainly what they’re saying and that it’s against commenting rules.

    23. Danish*

      No speculative writing? I also like “no creative writing exercises” which is think is a little more accessible than “fanfic” as a term

      1. JSPA*

        That would get rid of far too many comments from “I live on a hellmouth” (which should be collected into their own volume) and several other people whose comments mary solid insight with excellent (entertaining) writing.

        The problem, as I understand it, lies primarily in being mean-spirited and dismissive towards the poster, their families and friends, and their understanding of the world. Not, broadly, “people are using words to explore ideas more expansively,” which is….kinda the point of a comments section.

    24. eeeek*

      As my mother (rest her soul) aged, she would only catch part of a story…and would proceed to fill in the rest with a well-developed fiction often at odds with what had been revealed. She didn’t mean any ill intent – she was just trying to figure out the story (much like commenters here). And her versions would generate circular discussions of challenge and verification and re-explanation and trying to get back to what really was what…which is also like the spinning that sometimes happens in comments here.

      So I propose “confabulation,” which is the term I’ve adopted to describe “facts not in evidence” that people are convinced really are there.

      I think the “victim blaming fanfic” evokes the whole action, but it presumes that there’s a victim and ill intent (or secret delight in being ultra clever in cracking the hidden code). I think most of it’s caused by people filling in holes with their own narrative.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I like “confabulation” too! I think that really captures the issue in a way that “victim blaming fanfic” doesn’t quite get all of.

        Maybe something along the lines of:

        No confabulation of facts, motives or circumstances far beyond the situation presented in letters – it’s derailing and unhelpful. Please share alternative perspectives based on your own lived experience in similar situations. But stick to what you know; don’t invent and insist on possibilities simply because you could imagine them to be within the remote realm of plausibility.

    25. JSPA*

      As someone who tends to think in literal examples, I sometimes get blamed for “fanfic” (even when sticking scrupulously to the facts) for comments that illustrate “the gamut from A to Z” by saying, “sure, it could be A, K, P, V or Z, but regardless, [general rule or conclusion] still holds.” Is there a way to word the ban without punishing “concrete example thinkers”?

      I’m thanked often enough for being concrete without being reductionist (or judgemental) that clearly a fair percentage of people are reading the comments as intended (instead of hitting the first example in a series, and immediately writing off the whole comment as fanfic).

      maybe, “no insisting on uncharitable reinterpretations of the facts, no matter how relevant your personal experience may seem”?

      ( From what I remember, most of the worst cases are when someone has had a traumatic experience with some modest degree of factual overlap with the LW, and they are projecting by way of working out their own response to their own pain. That’s also the hardest version to shut down, because you don’t want to invalidate somebody’s own experience and pain… even if it is uncharitable, counterfactual and/or irrelevant.)

    26. 653-CXK*

      I would say “When responding, please do not speculate on the situation or blame the LW/OP for happening; please stick to the facts/statements made.”

    27. Observer*

      Maybe “victim-blaming fanfic” is descriptive enough

      In my opinion, more than enough – I think it’s excellent.

      It covers the two real problems with this kind of stuff. It makes the person writing in feel bad for no reason, and it’s totally not based on anything. Not just no facts, but no real clues at all. Totally out of thin air.

    28. NaoNao*

      I think if it’s phrased in the positive, not negative, that will help. Like “remarks should focus on helping the OP/LW, should be even handed and fair, and assume the best intent/give benefit of the doubt for all parties in the letter.” Clarify the objective of comments–it’s to help the OP/LW with the situation, so limit the scope of what’s being said. You can also add language “this should be interpreted widely not narrowly or specifically.”

    29. Cookie Monster*

      I wonder if you could call it “The Contrarian Rule,” and explain that if you feel the urge to be contrarian to what’s stated in the letter/being asked for, etc., please rethink your approach or restrain yourself altogether.

  9. Dark Macadamia*

    Seahorse posted this in the interview questions thread this morning and I thought it would be fun to discuss here!

    “What was a popular or highly regarded book that you read and disliked?”

    My top one is Catch-22. It took 3 attempts over several years for me to get through it and I hated it every time. I’m also a feminist English major who hated Jane Eyre (I think that one took 2 tries?) but I feel like I should read it again.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Probably Moby Dick. I just couldn’t get through it. The style was different back then.

      1. Double A*

        Moby Dick is a very amusing novella interspersed with a long and detailed 19th century whaling manual.

        I did read and enjoy the whole thing, but it is definitely an odd book.

        1. Lilo*

          I actually really love Moby Dick. This comes super early but I love the weird sailor church with the Jonah sermon.

          The funny thing is at the time it was published reviewers basically said “there’s all this weird philosophical stuff, but some great whaling!” and today everyone talks about the philosophical stuff but dislikes the whaling.

          I personally don’t think you could cut all the whaling and keep the same book.

          1. Clisby*

            I once told my husband the only way I made it through Moby Dick in a college class was to skip all the chapters about whales. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “You SKIPPED the chapters on WHALES?”

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              My husband has a degree in Eng Lit and the professor who assigned him to read Moby Dick basically said “since you all have a lot of other books to read, skip the whaling stuff if you want.”

      2. Pdxer*

        I had a hard time getting through moby dick until a literature teacher turned me onto the idea that it’s satire. That mindset completely changed the experience for me.

    2. Skates*

      Feminist English professor here who despised Jane Eyre in my teens/20s. I have come around on it as just a wonderfully wild (and actually quite… sapphic) story and teach it regularly. The cool feminists in the class reliably hate it, and I always encourage them to reread it in 10 years but I haven’t been teaching it long enough for any of them to have done so and reported back yet :) but I’m genuinely not sure why my feelings about it changed so dramatically!

      1. RunShaker*

        I couldn’t read Don Quixote (for World Lit). We had to write a summary as to why or why not on if we liked the book as part of final. Even not reading it, I guess I supported my arguement as to why I hated it and received a B on final and in overall class.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I read that more as a “pure” love as defined by Bronte’s day, but yes, the passionate attachment is definitely a first hint of the strength of Jane’s love when she meets a “kindred spirit”–she has no shame or reluctance in declaring how far she’s willing to go to earn Helen’s affection, and later with Rochester that same trait is front and center.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                It’s framed as “I shall accept my role as a humble dormouse and I AM NOT JEAOUS, SHUT UP” because Blanche is everything someone in Rochester’s sphere should want, but it’s certainly possible to read a tinge of hate-crushing (but Blanche is such a snobby b***h it’s hard to really see it.)

              2. JSPA*

                Dislike Pynchon, never got into Austen, not much patience for Dickens, visceral dislike of Hemmingway. But loved Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, and Catch-22. Would be super interesting to look at correlations (or even see if there are semi-mutually exclusive camps).

      2. Lilo*

        I actually quite like Jane Eyre, except the ending. Jane finally gets her freedom both financially and in the form of developing her spine, both with her awful aunt and the religious cousin who tries to corrce her into marriage and she… goes back to the guy who lied to her? Yes the power dynamic is different, but just, why?

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I think the ending quiet suits her character. She is a righteous savior, and Rochester needs to be saved, now that he’s been sufficiently punished.

        2. Jane Elliott*

          Having had a Mr. Rochester in my life once, and wishing I had behaved like Jane instead of how I did, I can offer the simple and embarrassing explanation that she was irrationally in love with him.

        3. Observer*

          she… goes back to the guy who lied to her? Yes the power dynamic is different, but just, why?

          Because she loves him and people are complicated. She knows that there are asepcts of him that she can’t trust, so she’s protecting herself from the most dangerous parts. And also, the different power dynamic seriously changes the relationship dynamic – even if he weren’t blind, he’d never be able to behave in some of the worse ways he had done previously, because she could walk away. She would no longer be a “hanger on”, as she put it.

      3. carcinization*

        Interesting. I was in Academic Decathlon in high school (circa the turn of the millennium) and we had to read Jane Eyre, and I wrote a piece about how she was actually a feminist heroine and got some kind of medal at the state competition. Haven’t really thought of the book much since!

        1. Observer*

          I didn’t much like Jane Eyre when I first read it many years ago. But I’ve come to realize that she is a perfect example of how complex people are and how feminism (and to be honest mot *isms) are rarely simple and straightforward. In many ways, Jane is very feminist. In others? At least by today’s standards not at all. But the other stuff still exists and is still valuable.

    3. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      Classic – anything by Dickens. nope

      Current – Where the Crawdads Sing – it felt like like pandering & not the “empowering female” story it was billed to be

      1. KatEnigma*

        The only Dickens I have read and enjoyed(aside from A Christmas Carol) was David Copperfield. I’ve tried the other big titles- Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations- nope, I just can’t. But David Copperfield is somehow different. I’ve heard other people say the same.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I like a lot of Dickens but some of his later Christmas novellas definitely felt kind of “Cash Cow of the Season” in the shadow of the Carol.

          The toughest read for me so far was Little Dorritt, I may need to reread soon!

        2. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

          Have you tried Nicholas Nickleby? I feel like that bears some similarities to David Copperfield (and has happy endings for some characters).

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I am trying Nickleby but I don’t like my physical copy–I ordered it from Amazon and it’s one of those “printed off with as few breaks in the script as possible” so it’s very blocky with no real separation between chapters (when chapter 5 ends, chapter 6 starts on the very next line.) I think I’ll go to the actual bookstore and get something easier on my brain.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        I have a lot of trouble finishing anything by Dickens too. People are so @!#$*ing mean (to kids, yet!) in some of those novels, and I guess I find that stressful.

        I like my villainy more cartoonish but gentlemanly, like in Wilkie Collins, I guess. Count Fosco isn’t really *mean*, just suavely evil.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I think one of the reasons Dickens was such a hit in his time and ours is that he could create caricatures of people that were just broad enough that his points about the savage neglect and treatment of kids was highlighted and not so blunt that the reader quit.

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          I don’t mind Dickens, but I do think a lot of the problems with his writing stem from the fact that much of it was published in serial format – so he really had an incentive to pad things out and come up with endless cliffhangers.

          1. Atheist Nun*

            I agree! I had to read David Copperfield in high school and was so bored with it that I skipped 10 chapters so I could finish the assignment on time. I wound up earning an A on my final essay anyway which, to me, proved that most of that book was serialized filler.

      3. tangerineRose*

        I had to read Great Expectations in school. but I disliked the book so much, I’ve avoided reading any of Dickens’ other books. The whole thing was sad, and lots of unpleasant people. He wrote so vividly, and in some ways that made it worse because it was more real. I think he was a great writer as far as skill was concerned, but I didn’t want to spend time in places that he created.

        1. Observer*

          Great Expectations was one of my least favorite or Dickens’ work that I read. A lot of negativity, with not too much point, imo. Whatever you want t0 say about most of the others, it’s clear what socials ills he was attacking. Now, it could be the even with Great Expectations, that could be the case and it’s just that I’m not familiar enough with the era, but that’s the way it feels to me.

      4. Katiekins*

        I immediately thought “Where the crawdads Sing” when I read the question in the Friday open thread. Liked the nature writing, disliked how it was wild child! Then romance! Now a murder mystery! Now a courtroom drama! Now an unrealistic last minute, nay, posthumous twist!

        1. Cordelia*

          me too! We read it in my book club and no-one particularly liked it, but we all had different reasons for disliking it.

          1. Retired Accountant*

            Everyone in my book club loved it. I loathed it. I never bought into any of the characters as being plausible actual human beings.

        2. PhyllisB*

          I liked Crawfordsville, but I must confess it took me about a hundred pages to get into it (only because some folks in my Facebook book group encouraged me to keep going) then I couldn’t put it down.
          The part that I thought didn’t really fit was her telling her boyfriend she wanted to dress up and go to parties. Considering how she grew up, that just seems unlikely. But of course, we’re dealing with fiction, so…

      5. Ellen D*

        I deeply dislike Dickens. I’ve read him. It took three goes to complete Great Expectations and I started Bleak House several times. I’ve read others by him, but life is too short to read his books. I don’t have a problem with other 19th century authors just Dickens.

        1. matcha123*

          Great Expectations is the only book I’ve literally fell asleep reading. I would read anything, Parenting, National Geographic, Newsweek, etc. But reading that book in high school was awful. I think it’s also the only book where I just read the Cliff Notes.

      6. Lilo*

        I remember thinking that Tale of Two Cities was cheating. Everyone remembers the final chapter and third of the book because it is brilliant, but the book does a lot of meandering before it gets there.

      7. Donkey Hotey*

        oy, Where The Crawdads Sing.
        Last year, my mom came to visit. I picked her up at the airport and drive her to my house. Everything was fine. I get home, I walk from the garage to my bedroom, and on my way back, I hear my partner say in a loud, terse voice, “Not in my house!” to my mom.
        Apparently, mom had been reading WTCS and decided to add “colored” back into her vocabulary. BIPOC wife was not amused.

      8. Taki*

        The only good part of WTCS was the nature writing, which is understandable. Unfortunately I think nature writing is incredibly boring. And if I wanted the mystery/courtroom elements, I would read something by a writer from those genres.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Hate hate hated reading Hemingway. Specifically For Whom the Bell Tolls. Found Grapes of Wrath pretty dull/a slog too.

      1. Lilo*

        A Farewell to Arms was just way too much misery.

        I did enjoy the scene in Silver Linings Playbook where Bradley Cooper throws the book out the window.

      2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I cannot read Hemingway. Those short, choppy sentences drive me crazy. I’ll watch movie adaptations, but the books bring out my worst Reader Bitch attitude.

      3. Danish*

        Grapes of Wrath was rough on me too. I don’t even remember most of the book now, but the overall feeling that stuck with me was “misery porn”. I know it’s about the great depression in the dust bowl so I wasn’t expecting a happy ending or even a happy story, but at a certain point it’s just like… Doesn’t every single thing have to go the worst way possible?

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yes, my complaint after reading it was that I don’t think one good thing happened to those poor people. And yes, I get it, it was called the Great Depression for a reason but. Come on.

    5. KatEnigma*

      The Lord of the Rings.

      Don’t tell me “It speeds up after chapter 4”- as I’ve been assured over and over. I’m not going to devote that much time to being bored. I’ve tried, I really have. On paper, I should love it. I DO love Epic Fantasy. I love the Hobbit. But I just can’t get past about chapter 3 of Lord of the Rings, so have never read the trilogy or even seen the movies.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        You might consider the movies as I don’t think you’ll have the same experience at all! They skip a lot of the slow stuff at the beginning.

        1. SarahKay*

          Nooo, the movies were worse. Much like the books, I enjoyed Fellowship of The Ring, just about made it to the end of The Two Towers (so much padding as Gimli complains he’s not made for running, plus endless dull battle scenes), and failed completely at The Return of The King.
          Book Return of The King I read about two chapters at the start, rapidly skipped to the bit with Mount Doom, happily read the scourging of the shire, and called it a day. For the film version I just didn’t bother at all. Even when it was offered on a transatlantic flight, I decided I’d rather watch the infographic of the plane flying across the sea.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            The only non-slow film version was the 1970s animated Lord of the Rings (much better than the recent versions, I think).

            1. SarahKay*

              Yes, that version was much better, not least because the Nazgul were deeply scary to eight-year-old me and my younger sister – those black shadows with red eyes.
              We lived out in the countryside at the time and we didn’t get home until after dark – and in the countryside, that meant very dark indeed. My sister and I flatly refused to get out of the car and walk into the house; my parents had to carry us both in.

      2. ThatGirl*

        The books were slowly paced. There’s a whole chapter about trees in Two Towers! But the movies are much more entertaining and plotted well.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        Possibly the only example where I’ve liked the movies better than the book. I LOVE the movies so much, but the books are a slog! I think I abandoned Return of the King halfway through lol.

        The Hobbit movies are real bad though, none of the magic of LOTR. I saw a meme of Bilbo saying “I feel thin, like one book spread across three movies” and that about sums it up for me.

        1. allathian*

          Agreed. I’ve read the book a few times and I enjoy most of it, but I must say that I skip the poems and skim the most boring bits.

          I’ve seen the same meme and I had a fit of the giggles, it was so apt.

      4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, I just said this! I hate the books but the movies are among my favorites.

      5. Llama Llama*

        I just read these books with my 10 year old daughter. There are some points that I really liked but others pieces dragged on and on and on and on.

        I also hate the movies. Disliked them when they came out (one of the few movies I have turned off). Gave it a fair try when my husband wanted to watch them. Rewatched them again with my daughter.

      6. Sloanicota*

        He had a specific scholarly style that … doesn’t work for everyone. When my mom tried to read it to me as a kid, we had the rule that she had to skip every song / poem just to keep it moving.

      7. Children's Librarian*

        This is my exact feeling about The Lord of the Rings trilogy! I LOVED The Hobbit. Read it as a child with a parent so it’s imprinted on me and is absolutely one of my favorite books and the one I’ve reread the most. But I cannot stand Lord of the Rings. Have made it about halfway through the second book and that’s as far as I can get.

      8. Donkey Hotey*

        I hear you on that one, KatEnigma.
        I received the H/LOTR set around 5th grade. every year for about the next 10, I would read the Hobbit, get psyched up, and crack open Fellowship. I usually gave up somewhere between three barrow wights and Lothlorien. Just couldn’t get through it and just gave up.

        Speaking for myself, at 30 I tried it again, this time without reading the Hobbit first. That time I finished the trilogy in three weeks. I never need to read it again, but skipping Hobbit got my brain over the hump.

      9. Nitpicker*

        I think the thing with LOTR is either you’re into heroic fantasy or you aren’t. I am and I’ve no intention of ever seeing the films because it’s inevitable that the legendary quality would be lost.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yeah, but I am into Epic Fantasy. There are times when I’m reading the Belgariad where I’ve joked that I felt like I was saddle sore just from reading about them wandering the countryside. I don’t mind poetry or all the words, as I’ve read the unabridged Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I’d crack it up to “just don’t like his voice” (it happens) except I do love The Hobbit.

          Still just can’t.

      10. Qwerty*

        LOTR is a history textbook disguised as a fiction novel. Apparently Tolkein was planning to rewrite The Hobbit in the style of LOTR, but I would love to read a version where he redid LOTR in the style of The Hobbit.

        I couldn’t make it past chapter 1 of the books until after I saw The Fellowship movie and was able to import the actors voices (and humor) into reading the books.

      11. Myrin*

        Oh yeah, I did read the whole trilogy and I found everything about it so, so, so boring. I think Tolkien was an absolute genius when it comes to worldbuilding and I really enjoy all the background information and lore on its own but the books themselves? Boring.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes. I don’t think he wrote with a view to entertaining people. I think he probably built the world and the languages and had ideas and concepts he wanted to convey about war and change and the decline of rural society, but what happened to the people on the ground was a bit less important to him than making the world he had in mind.

          That said I did enjoy LOTR very much because I really liked the friendship between Frodo and Sam and the growth in rapport between Legolas and Gimli. Also unlike others I loved the songs and poems and my mother and I still quote them to each other especially the Bath Song in praise of hot water when we’ve been out and come in and want a bath. I like the way he picked words with care and think the language was sometimes beautiful.

        2. Jackalope*

          One of my friends had a useful point; she pointed out that it helps to consider the landscape one of the main characters. This happens super directly in some bits, like the Ents, but it also helps make some of the other bits make more sense.

          I personally am a big LOTR fan, but it took me a long time to get there. So I can totally understand how people might not enjoy it. Although his poems were great for teaching intermediate English students (ESL, not English lit in the US) vocab. He tried to make sure to use as many specific Anglo-Saxon origin words as he could, and used really concrete words, and so they are much more understandable than a lot of poems.

    6. Filosofickle*

      I dislike all Austen, but for the sake of this I’ll choose Pride and Prejudice specfiically. (Please don’t throw things. A friend of mine once told me if she was writing a villain character, she’d use that as a tell — hates Austen.) I don’t like her style OR the characters or the plot.

      1. Ally*

        I love P&P but saw a joke review once that I had to agree with, something like:

        “One star. Just a bunch of people going to each others’ houses.”

        I mean it’s not NOT true.

      2. Lilo*

        I think Austen makes a lot more sense if you read her in context. It’s a lot clearer in Sense and Sensibility but Austen’s books are critical of the sentimentalism movement that dominated literature before her. I took a “development of the novel” class (I can’t remember all of the books we read but they included Pamela and Robinson Crusoe) that ended with Jane Austen.

      3. Seahorse*

        When asked this question in an interview for a library job, that was my answer. Jane Austen was an excellent writer, but I hate almost all of the characters. I got through Emma by force, but I’ve tried P&P twice and just can’t.

        Thanks for reposting this, Dark Macadamia!

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I read Emma expecting something interesting to happen. I remember being sure that guy who fancied her (can’t remember the details now; I read it about 20 years ago when my brother was doing it at school) was going to turn out to be a stalker or something but he just…goes away when she turns him down. Then I expected a huge bust up between Emma and her protegé but…that doesn’t happen either. It just felt like it all ended up going nowhere.

          But then I hate romance anyway, so I’m not really the target audience, I guess.

          1. KatEnigma*

            Mr Elton doesn’t just go away. LOL He marries a mean girl who “puts on airs” and then they do their best to make her miserable, ineffectively from their lower social standing, but manage to make Harriet fairly miserable until Mr Bingley “saves” her at the party. Mostly they make Jane Fairfax THE most miserable though, without trying.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Yeah, but he doesn’t really do anything to get back at Emma, like stalking her or assaulting her or spreading rumours that she came on to him to destroy her reputation or any of the sort of things one would expect when a man like that is turned down.

              1. UKDancer*

                I think the fact is that Mr Elton isn’t sufficiently interested or caring about Emma enough to want to ruin her life. He’s selfish and ambitious and thinks about himself and getting money and preferment. When it’s clear that Emma won’t give him that, his sole preoccupation turns to finding someone who will. To want to make Emma miserable would require him to care what she thinks. Once she’s no longer useful, he’s no longer interested.

                Also it’s worth remembering that Emma is significantly further up in the society of Eltham than he is. She has money and standing and that mattered a lot then. That’s why he and Mrs Elton are horrible to those who are in their view beneath them (Jane Fairfax) but not directly to Emma. I guess it’s the old maxim “kiss up and kick down.”

                1. KatEnigma*

                  All going after Emma would have done is very swiftly find his church given to another vicar. Either Bingley or Mr Woodhouse owned it. The Church didn’t assign clergy back then- the landowners did (A plot point in both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.)

          2. Dark Macadamia*

            I love this lol. I’m a HUGE P&P fan (it was my senior thesis topic in college) and generally love Jane Austen but didn’t like Emma at all.

            1. Nitpicker*

              Didn’t Austen say something to the effect that she was writing about a heroine that nobody but herself would like?

              1. Observer*

                Yes. In a way that was the point of the novel. She was pushing back on a lot of the tropes of the novels of her time.

                She skillfully writes a character who is unlikable while still being a fundamentally decent person. And who is, ultimately, capable of some growth. That the heroine was someone who NEEDED to do a fair bit of growing up was a fairly subversive idea in her time.

            2. Myrin*

              I don’t like Emma the person/character but I think “Emma” the book is absolutely hilarious.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          The reason I love Mansfield Park is that Austen A) develops Fanny as a very hard to love heroine (she’s so shy it’s hard for even the reader to get to know her) and B) just about every other character in that book is a tool. She has no problem pointing out that romanticizing either wealth or poverty is a bad idea and it’s completely possible for every single person you grew up with to be a huge jerk!

      4. Sloanicota*

        Aww I’m sad to see so much Austen / Bronte hate here. I loved all those books, even Villette. I guess we’re a bit hard on female authors if they’re not everything to everybody.

        1. Seahorse*

          I think that’s part of why I feel so strongly about Austen. I’m not into Dickens or Hemingway either, but nobody tries to make me feel like a failed feminist for that literary preference. Being told I just *had* to love P&P or else I was uncultured and didn’t understand it is likely what really cemented my dislike.

        2. KatEnigma*

          I love most Austen, but it’s pretty out there to call it misogyny because I hate Persuasion as much as I love Emma- or that the reason I dislike Northanger Abbey is the same reason I dislike the Bronte sisters (although, I don’t hate Jane Eyre) – I don’t like Gothic romance in almost any form, not even when Austen is satirizing it.

          1. Felis alwayshungryis*

            This is so interesting to me, because I adore Jane Eyre (don’t like Wuthering Heights though, just awful toxic people being awful and toxic to each other) and find Jane Austen vastly overrated – except Northanger Abbey, which I actually enjoyed. Then again, the Victorian Literature paper I did at university was among my favourites.

        3. Person from the Resume*

          Don’t forget the point of the question is that most people love it and it’s highly regarded.

          I don’t want to read Austen. I think the problem is the language is archaic, but I have (in my younger years) enjoyed the hell out of P&P mini-series and fanfic. And I’ve got the plot from the mini-series.

          OTOH, now, I am really annoyed by dumb misunderstanding and lack of communication as plot drivers in any media I consume so running across P&P now I’d be pretty frustrated by the MCs.

          But maybe I just have low brow tastes because I’ve got no desire to read classics. Disliked Moby Dick (pretty sure I read the kids abridged version which was plot heavy). Dickens is dire and depressing.

          OTOH I’m hard pressed to pick something famously beloved that I’ve actually read because for example I know Harry Potter is not my thing (don’t like high fantasy/magic or chosen one stories) so I’m not going to even start reading it.

        4. Dark Macadamia*

          Come on, that’s not what this post is for. And I guess you scrolled past the many, many posts about male authors in this thread.

      5. Not Totally Subclinical*

        I adore Austen, but as someone whose favorite Austen novel is Mansfield Park, I totally get that she won’t work for everyone. She’s writing about a narrow slice of Regency-era English society where the options for women of that class were extremely limited, and the snark is high in this one. (Austen and snark is like Shakespeare and dirty jokes; if you’re reading and go “wait, was that ….?”, yes, yes it was.)

        What she does, she does extremely well; that doesn’t mean everyone will enjoy reading it.

        1. KatEnigma*

          I remember reading Anthony and Cleopatra in college for Freshman English and giggling all the way through. My roommate looked at me like I was crazy. Shakespeare was written for the low brow!

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            You don’t want oranges flung at your head, do ya? Then break out the dirty jokes, sirrah!

          2. Observer*

            Shakespeare was written for the low brow!

            Indeed, it was! Keep in mind that a lot of the nobility (including the people who would have been the sponsors of most theater troupes) were quite low brow in their tastes.

        2. WestsideStory*

          Yes it’s important to read Austin in context. This has certainly become easier with so many more contemporary historical romance novel authors going that extra mile to explain the many nuances that marked that era for women especially.
          I feel context maybe my problem with Moby Dick – got though almost 200 pages and just gave up. I honestly don’t know that much about eastern seaboard seafaring to really make it come alive for me.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Oof, she suffered horrific abuse. I can understand the book wasn’t for everyone but that seems harsh.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, this. She went through a pretty horrific childhood and had to work really hard to climb out of it. And she tried really hard to make her writing as fair as she could to her family. You don’t have to like it, but “get over yourself” seems unkind here.

      2. Scout*

        I agree with that one. I couldn’t finish it. I also felt that way about “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Ooohhh, I think you reminded me of one. I ended up disliking Cheryl Strayed but I finished the book Wild. She was unprepared to be hiking, and that not something to celebrate or encourage.

          Glennon Doyle could maybe be on my list but I only made it through about 15% of one of her audiobooks. I found her tone that she had the answers now (in her 3rd book) super-annoying and condescending.

          1. Retired Accountant*

            I didn’t read Wild for a lot of reasons, and was surprised at how much I loved her Tiny Beautiful Things collection. Still not going to read Wild, though.

          2. Taki*

            I read a Glennon Doyle book just to figure out how a Catholic mommy blogger could wind up married to a WUSNT superstar. She said something so stupid about responding to tragedy that I was surprised she had ANY friends. But woo-woo empowerment self help books just aren’t my thing anyway.

        2. Bluebell*

          I was ok with Educated but hated Wild – we get it, you’re hot and you like sex even when hiking. The movie was less annoying.

    7. Rara Avis*

      Catcher in the Rye. I have learned that what grabs me in a book is connecting to the character, and I could not stand Holden Caufield.

      1. Holden the Phony*

        YES. I was scrolling through hoping somebody would mention this book. We read it in high school, and I had the same opinion. Recently I found a copy on a library free table and decided, what the heck, maybe now that I’m an adult I’ll be old enough to understand what it’s really about and find it to be a stunning work of literature…nope! If anything, now with a more feminist perspective on the world, I found it to be a *more* terrible book than I did in high school. I honestly was surprised that they had us teenagers read it!

          1. EdgarAllenCat*

            Ugh, ugh, ugh to Confederacy of Dunces. Blech. Also blech and ugh to Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

            1. The OG Sleepless*

              I’m with you on both of those. My mother knows that I have a snarky sense of humor and sometimes she lends me books that she thinks I will like, with hit or miss results. Confederacy of Dunces was one of those, and I loathed it. I’ve tried to read Cryptonomicon a bunch of times because it sounded so darn interesting, and I just can’t.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah I couldn’t stand it. I see the talent in the writing, but I just had no curiosity or interest in the character at all.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I also hated that one. Guy in college told me “well, you were never a teenage boy”… yes, isn’t that fairly obvious?

      4. Llellayena*

        This is the ONLY book in high school that I picked up cliff notes for and faked reading it. Most of the time I’d finish the book well before the ready of the class. On this one I couldn’t stand to read past the first chapter.

      5. UKDancer*

        I was going to mention this. I had to study that at school and just hated it. Caufield was miserable, dull and depressing. Nothing of note happened in the book and I was so bored. I wrote some very critical essays on that for my GCSE and got very good marks. So I guess everything has a bright side. We had to do that and Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure in English and if you weren’t depressed at the start of the year, you certainly were by the end of it.

      6. Donkey Hotey*

        Agreed. Author John Scalzi had a great article awhile back about how modern readers totally bounce off of Holden Caulfield. Not to cause too much generational infighting, but it IS a generational feeling that just isn’t there anymore.

        1. UKDancer*

          I think it was more that it was really boring, the characters were unsympathetic and nothing happened. I just wanted Holden to stop whining, appreciate what he had and realise he didn’t have much to complain about. I think I have a low tolerance for existential angst and tend to prefer books where people actually accomplish things. I was so bored at the end of it I celebrated it being over.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Like, on one hand I think Catcher both really framed a very specific time and place (WASPy New York City family and such) and the breathtaking self-centeredness that is Holden the teenage self-sabotaging brat, but every time I reread the urge to slap him upside the head and see how he liked supporting his spoiled butt on a gas station job grows. A LOT.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes. I guess growing up in a middle class family in a small town in Northern England didn’t give me much in common with his background and class. That said, I managed to empathise a lot with people in fantasy books despite having no shared experiences. So I think definitely it was the endless whining that put me off.

        2. Zarniwoop*

          I’m older than Scalzi and I bailed after the first chapter because I hated the main character.

      7. Girasol*

        Stephen R Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was my first thought, but Catcher in the Rye a close second. If the main character starts out wildly unlikable and remains so at the end of the story, it’s not my kind of story. But many highly acclaimed novels seem to be like that. At the start it’s “Life’s nasty, brutal, and short” and at the end, when the main characters have gone through whatever trials and tribulations that are supposed to develop them, the story ends at “Anyway, life’s still nasty brutal and short.” I am not cut out for sophisticated literature.

      8. Nightengale*

        YES!

        I had to read it for summer reading in school. We read 4 boys coming of age novels that summer. When I had to write about the book in the fall it boiled down to “I can’t relate to the character and I feel like everyone is telling me I have to.” It didn’t help that my father vaguely remembered having read it, years earlier, and kept talking about it positively as a great adventure book.

        But I do have the book to thank for getting me into murder mysteries. I brought it to my grandparents house for the summer and purposefully did not bring any books I wanted to read, to make myself read it. Stuck with nothing to read but The Catcher in the Rye and my grandmother’s pile of murder mysteries from the library, a genre I had not previously been interested in. . . .

    8. ItsTheFinalCountdown*

      The Iliad was impossible to get through. To me it was paragraph after paragraph of “this person lived, fought valiantly, and died”. I felt no connection or story. I read spark notes, got a B- in my class, and called it a win.

      1. JustForThis*

        The Iliad is paragraph after paragraph of people dying. To me, however, this really drives home the brutal cost of war. There is a difference between “thousands fell on the battlefield” and the many, many brief accounts of every death as that of an individual, with their own interests and special talents and friends and family who are going to miss them:

        He fell and slept an iron sleep; wretched young man, he died,
        Far from his newly-married wife, in aid of foreign pride,
        And saw no pleasure of his love; yet was her jointure great,
        An hundred oxen gave he her, and vow’d in his retreat
        Two thousand head of sheep and goats, of which he store did leave.
        Much gave he of his love’s first-fruits, and nothing did receive.

        It touches me.

        1. WestsideStory*

          Yes it is like they ring the bell and name the names at the 9/11 memorial every year in New York City. It is reminder that these were people, the poem attempts to make sure these people were people and not to be forgotten.
          As you say, it is a comment on the horror of war.

    9. Chestnut Mare*

      I just finished ‘Hello, Beautiful’ by Ann Napolitano and didn’t enjoy it at all. It was very slow-moving and I wanted to slap several of the main characters silly.

    10. Double A*

      I read it in college and hated “The Sorrows of Young Werther.” I just remember Werther as an insufferable abusive sad sack. His horrible treatment of Lotte was hard for me to see past, and it seemed like we were supposed to sympathize with him. But maybe I’d get something out of it if I read it again 20 years later.

      I slogged through “As I Lay Dying” by Faulkner and it was like it was about aliens. I didn’t understand anything that was going on.

      1. Claritza*

        Agree about Werther. I read it in college too, and don’t imagine rereading it would change my mind!

    11. Anonymous cat*

      I didn’t enjoy “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. I loved the musical, but just didn’t like the book.
      For anyone who hasn’t read it, the book and musical are VERY different.

      I also tried the original “Wizard of Oz” by Baum, but I think I was just too old for it at that point. I might have enjoyed it when I was much younger.

    12. Goldfeesh*

      The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This is back when it first came out. My mom, who I trust on books, recommended it to me and spoke of it glowingly.

      I read it, seriously questioning my Mom’s normally great judgment as I do. I finish it, return the book to her, and she says, “Wasn’t that a horrible book? Why is everyone saying it’s so good??” I’m like, “WTF, Mom!” She then explains she hated it but wanted someone else to read it so she had someone to discuss how terrible it was with. LOL, Mom- you got me.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      Hmmm, I have never been able to get into Helen Oyeyemi. I should love her, she writes the kind of fiction I normally really enjoy! But for some reason I just can’t get hooked.

      I really love Jane Eyre, mainly because I spot something new every single time I read it. Like, the last time I realized the reason Rochester was pulling all that ridiculous chain yanking stuff with Jane (dress as a gypsy fortuneteller, kids! All the cool kids are doing it!) wasn’t to test her, but to test himself.

      If you go through and read his history as he relates it, you realize that he has never had a relationship where he could trust his own emotions to be the real thing and not family prompting, infatuation or sexual allure. There was Bertha, of course, but even after her there was Celine, then Giacinta and Clara–all hotties who, consecutively, cheated on him, terrorized him with their tempers, or bored him silly. Each seemed to be a real “catch” by his super-rich societal level standards, and all of them were simply reenactments of the horrors of his terrible marriage (to lesser degrees, but still.)

      So when he meets Jane he’s not afraid of her being after his money like Blanche Ingram (another echo of his past; marrying for wealth and position) but that he A) doesn’t know if what he feels is real and B) totally screwing things up by being the Asshat Rich Employer hitting on a dependent. All his silly games and hot/cold switchups are coming from a place of total insecurity, which isn’t the first trait you associate with him, at all.

    14. Aphrodite*

      *takes deep breath* (cause this might not go over too well with some people)

      The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

      1. Sassafras*

        I disliked this too – in fact I never finished it! There was way too much about the author and her relationship with the family.

      2. Manders*

        I didn’t care for that book either, but I work with HeLa cells so I felt I should read it.

    15. Jackalope*

      Okay, a couple of examples. First of all, as far as classics go, I HATED Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I just have nothing good to say about the guys in this story at all, and the whole purity culture that surrounded this story was both infuriating and frustrating.

      The Poisonwood Bible was another one I couldn’t stand. I was living abroad at the time or had just returned, and seeing this family move overseas and be such jerks to the nationals went against everything I believed in and had tried to live out during my time abroad. It didn’t help that I knew other ex-pats who acted like the father in this story, which had been rough during my time abroad and was still too tender when I read this book.

      Lastly, Children of Blood and Bone just didn’t work for me. It was written by the author in a place of deep rage against racism. I read it during the summer of 2020 when the BLM protests were at their most substantial. I have never read a book that ostensibly avoided mentioning one of the big issues at the time of its publishing while also so thoroughly reflecting the FEEL of what was going on. All well and good, but youall may remember how stressful 2020 was, and I just couldn’t handle a book stressing me out. I was regularly engaged in discussions on racism both online and in-person, was trying to figure out how I could help while in the middle of a pandemic, and was trying to stay present in my desire to make a difference, and having a fictional for-fun book be so full of rage and bitterness was a kind of stress that I couldn’t handle. I also tend to read books primarily for the characters, and in book 2 the main theme seemed to be that everyone is a jerk and all of the main characters were doing awful things to each other and the people around them.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Oh man, Children of Blood and Bone was AWFUL. I just remember feeling like it had a lot of potential and then just became a really trope-y mess. I was so disappointed.

        I loved The Poisonwood Bible as a teen, so much that I’m afraid to reread it now because I don’t want to ruin it for myself. It was one of the first “grown up” books I ever read and I wonder if part of my reaction was just like oh, this is a smart book for smart people because it’s not written for kids lol. I haven’t really cared for any of her other books that I’ve read.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Thank you, you two! I heard so many good things about Children of B&B. It was a struggle to get through 50 pages. Glad I’m not the only one.

      2. Ally*

        Re: poisonwood bible; I would say the same thing except I read it several years after returning home from working with missionaries. I think if I tried to read it then I’d feel the same way as you. But currently I love it.

        1. Ally*

          Sorry that didn’t make sense- I meant, I can understand how it was a difficult read immediately after coming home from working abroad. I worked abroad with missionaries too, but I didn’t read Poisonwood till 7 or 8 years later, and by that point it I had enough distance from it to enjoy the book.

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        I also hate Tess of the D’urbervilles. My high school English teacher tried very hard to convince me that it was a grand statement of feminist allyship. I was, and remain, entirely unconvinced.

        1. Morrigan Crow*

          My 9th grade English class all HATED Tess so much. In 12th grade we were dreading reading The Mayor of Casterbridge, but were surprised that it was actually not bad! Such a relief.

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          My last attempt at rereading Tess of the D’Urbervilles resulted in a blend of feminist rage and deep depression. All circumstances were set up to make life impossible for Tess!

          It didn’t help when I tried to view the book as a metaphor for the rape of the agricultural English countryside by the Industrial age. Grrrr. So I quit reading. I also tried to tell myself that this was just fiction. Any real-life woman who might have inspired Thomas Hardy was now long dead. Hopefully she had been at peace for all of those years. This self-persuasion calms me down mostly, but not completely.

      4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Well, the whole point of Tess was to show how dreadful that purity culture was. I’m fond of Hardy, but Tess isn’t my favorite because it’s such a downer. Same with Jude the Obscure, where he took such potentially great characters and went all Dickens-Hard-Times on them until they became caricatures. But I adore Far From the Madding Crowd and several others. Hardy wrote some wonderful “intelligent rustic” characters.

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      Mine is 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I see it routinely called a masterpiece but it was a slog and I never finished. I don’t think it’s an issue of being translated from the original Spanish, it just didn’t engage me.

      1. once anon a time*

        total agree, even though on paper it’s exactly the sort of novel I’d like to read. Read it once in late middle school or high school, hated it. read it for a college class, with more of the world under my belt, and hated it even more.

      2. allathian*

        I enjoyed it, in the original Spanish no less. My language skills have rusted so much that I’d have to make a serious effort in relearning the language before attempting to do so again, though. It helped that my one of Spanish teachers in college happened to be Colombian like the author. That said, the only thing that I remember from the book are the pig tailed kids.

    17. Pdxer*

      I was a creative writing minor in college – “Jesus’ son” by Denis Johnson, and “the red and the black” by Stendhal were books we were all expected to like, and I just detested them both. The whole idea of making your protagonist just a vile, dislikable person opens the door to all sorts of stories that really don’t need to be told, in my opinion.

      1. Jackalope*

        I read The Red and the Black along with several other similar French literature pieces from the same time period, and I remember that my opinion as a high schooler was basically: go get a job! They talked about a bunch of young French aristocracy members who were bored all the time and so ran around getting into trouble, and I just felt that they needed something more useful to do with their lives. It was especially infuriating given what I knew of the lives of impoverished French people at the time, who could have really used all that money they were throwing around. I mean, I know that’s always the case but I felt it more keenly at that point about the French poor because I was also reading about them.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I remember in AS Byatt’s Frederica quartet, the main character gets a job reviewing slush pile novels for a publisher (in Babel Tower) and reads what is a mishmash of then fashionable “angry young man” tropes about some smelly punk kid who keeps getting picked up hitchhiking by beautiful rich women who can’t wait to sleep with him. Her understated Brit version of eye-rolling is classic.

    18. Firebird*

      In high school we had to read “Lord of the Flies” and I still feel traumatized. I was bullied in school and my family wasn’t much better. It made me feel like there was no place safe in the world.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. Maybe it’s uncultured but I expected a happy / hopeful ending and was very much disappointed that it didn’t go that way.

        I grew up reading science fiction ( especially classic juvenile SF) and those books had the heroes ending up on top and surviving and overcoming the odds.

        LoTF circumvented all that. Maybe books I had to read in high school seemed to have the theme that people suck and I am just, like, why?

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          My favorite part of “Lord of the Flies” is that he was a teacher and wrote it inspired by his students. Can you imagine reading that book and being like this horrible character sounds a lot like… me…?

            1. Patty Mayonnaise*

              Yellowjackets is brilliant, it doesn’t deserve to be even mentioned in the same sentence as LotF.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Did you ever find the article on the real life Lord of the Flies situation? 6 boys were stranded alone on a deserted island for over a year. They all survived, worked together well, and were in good health when rescued. Kept the fire burning.

          1. Firebird*

            Thanks, I looked it up and I feel better. I still hate the book and regret ever reading it. I don’t understand why teachers thought it appropriate to make it Required reading.

            1. Observer*

              Often it’s not the teachers, but people above them who make the curriculum

              Still a truly confounding choice in my opinion.

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        These days, I lump LOTF and the Stanford Protein Experiment in the same category: young, over-privileged, white boys living consequence free lives.

      3. slashgirl*

        I hated this book. It is the only book I had to read in HS that I bought Coles notes for–and I’m an avid reader. I’m not even sure I got through the first chapter.

        Horrible book.

      4. Observer*

        In high school we had to read “Lord of the Flies” and I still feel traumatized.

        It’s also a pretty poor book in a lot of other ways. The whole “This is SUCH an accurate description of humanity” is not true for one thing. For another, there are just too many other ridiculous and inconsistent with the constraints of the book itself,

    19. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I couldn’t finish Catch-22, so I’m right with you on that one.

      Well-meaning friends keep recommending me Murakami novels: they seem to be the first recommendation that comes to mind when I describe my taste in books to others. In fact, I can’t stand the ones I read. Norwegian Wood left me utterly perplexed: I found it pretentious, and realised I didn’t like the way he wrote the women characters (or sex altogether). When I gave Murakami another chance years later (After Dark, if memory serves me well), those feelings held firm. Enough for me.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I tried reading 1Q84 and it was on Kindle so I didn’t have a clear sense of how LONG it was the way I would’ve with a physical book. I kept thinking it has to get better at some point, it has to be nearly over, and finally realized I was less than halfway done. Haven’t even considered reading him since!

      2. Double A*

        I’ve read a lot of Murakami books and while I enjoy them while I read them, they don’t stick with me at all. I couldn’t tell you the first thing that any of them are about other than a couple of images. They’re like cotton candy, enjoyable at the time but then just vanish.

      3. londonedit*

        Everyone recommended Murakami to me, so I decided to read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and I really just hated it. Plus there’s a scene that’s so horrific I still randomly think about it years later. So I’m definitely not a fan.

    20. The Prettiest Curse*

      The Thomas Hardy books I was forced to read at school – Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’urbervilles. I hate the way he tortures his characters in such an over-the-top way to try and make his readership have empathy for their situations. Hardy has recently gone out of fashion somewhat, and deservedly so.

      I also had to read a bit of both Freud and Jung at university and quickly realised that both of them were absolutely full of it, Sigmund more than Carl.

    21. Emma2*

      I absolutely hated A Little Life by Hanya Yanaghara (it made me angry and still does years after I read it). The phrase that kept going through my mind while reading it was “misery porn”, a phrase I first heard applied to a trend of books in the early-00s by former foster parents about all the awful things their foster kids had lived through. It was a book that felt to me like it was revelling in its descriptions of abuse and exploiting an audience’s salacious interest in the details. It felt exploitative rather than profound or insightful.
      Also, it heaped one horrendous form of abuse after another on the main character and it felt in some ways to be suggesting that some lower number of abusive incidents may not be “ bad enough” to have a profound impact; it felt to me like it devalued the experience of survivors.

    22. Zentist*

      “Daisy Jones & The Six.” UGH. My book club read it and I was so relieved to find I was not the only person who couldn’t stand it. I really liked the format (some folks don’t), but I soon found I couldn’t wait for the book to end. We also read a Philip Roth novel (I can’t remember which one) which bugged me so much I actually threw it in the garbage so no one else would be subjected to it. In my family, books were sacred, so that’s a measure of how much I hated it.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I too liked the format of Daisy Jones but couldn’t see what else was so special about it. A decent beach read, sure, but nothing I’d recommend to my friends or think I’ll remember in a year’s time. I’m not keen to read anything else by the author, the cover blurbs promising multi point of view narratives make all the novels sound so similar.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Daisy Jones was fun as an audiobook because they had a full cast so it really felt like an oral history. But the whole time I was thinking “this gossip would be cool if these were real people whose music I cared about, but where’s the story?”

        Cookies, this is the only book by this author that didn’t impress me. Evelyn Hugo was AMAZING and Malibu Rising was pretty good too.

        1. M&M Mom*

          I agree regarding Evelyn Hugo. I had picked it up a few times and didn’t seem like something I would like, but then a friend gave it to me and I thought it was great.

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          This is interesting to me because I LOVED Daisy (I just pretended it was literally about Fleetwood Mac and that made me care about it haha) but I got bored with Evelyn Hugo pretty much immediately. I did read Daisy on a beach so that may have helped!

      3. londonedit*

        I quite enjoyed Daisy Jones as a bit of fluff, but it’s basically Fleetwood Mac in novel form. I seem to hate about 90% of the books my book club choose to read – you can especially guarantee that if the woman who organises the book club loves a particular book, I’ll hate it! I quite enjoy reading things I’d never normally choose, but I do tend to feel like I’ve got two heads when everyone else is raving about something and I thought it was incredibly dull. Or when the reverse happens, and I love a book that everyone else is perplexed by.

    23. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Lord of the Rings. I love the stories but hate the books because of the writing style, so I am 100% on team “movies were better” :-P even without Tom Bombadil.

      I am in the same boat with anything by Jane Austen.

      1. Texas Teacher*

        I loved the Hobbit as a kid, so I started the trilogy and somewhere in the middle of the second book, I realized I was Not Enjoying it. So I stopped. I was 13 and had never not finished a book; it was liberating.
        Never have seen the movies.

    24. Zebydeb*

      Elena Ferrante! I read My Brilliant Friend and it did nothing for me at all. Some of my family have read the entire series twice, and I feel like such a cultural philistine when they rave about it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh man I need to read these because everyone recommends them to me but it’s quite a commitment at this point!

      2. Retired Accountant*

        Hated all four of those books. (I think I read all of them because the first three ended in cliffhangers.). After I finished them I remembered a line early in the first book about the narrator having no affection for her childhood; it was all violence” and I thought maybe that was the point of the whole series. I hate it when people say this but there were really no likeable characters in those books.

        1. Retired Accountant*

          Edited to add I don’t need characters to be likeable, but if they’re not they need to be interesting. I found these characters to be completely tedious, but I’ve often wondered if that was a translation issue.

          1. Cookies For Breakfast*

            I suspect it might be. Part of what makes the series so good, in my opinion, is its depiction of Italian society, and how its view of women, family and education changed over the course of 60 years. I learnt lots in a way I found more engaging than any history lesson at school. Then again, I’m Italian, and the daughter of a mother who is the same age as the protagonists, so I had some background knowledge. I’ve always wondered whether the series would hold up when read in translation, or by an audience that doesn’t have first-hand experience of what Italy is like.

            I read another novel by Ferrante (The Lying Life of Adults), and found it way too bleak. The brooding main character and over-the-top introspection didn’t work for me. But I’m a huge Neapolitan Novels fan, even though some of those things are definitely present in the series.

    25. Lilo*

      Historical: Dracula. I even read it for class so I get all the context. It’s just not for me.

      Modern: I don’t get the love for A Walk in the Woods. I’m even a hiker but it’s just kind of the story of a guy who doesn’t really do the hike? I’m just not sure why it’s so popular.

    26. Irish Teacher*

      Anything by James Joyce probably tops the list for me. We had to read Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man at college and I was massively unimpressed by both.

      I also once started Lord of the Rings and only got to about page 3 before giving up, but I think being aphantasic might have played a part there.

      Jane Eyre is rather an odd one for me, because I loved the first part where she was at school and so on, but once she left…I really didn’t enjoy the second half. I first started reading it when I was about 8 and gave up sometimes during her time as a governess and throughout my childhood, I kept going back to it, thinking “the start was so good, clearly I was just too young to identify with an adult character the last time I read it. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it all now that I’m older” and then getting to the part where she is an adult and deciding “nope, it does go downhill” and giving up again.

      I finally completed it when I was about 17 and still stand by my 8 year old opinion.

      Oh, by the way, there’s a Sherlock Holmes story that pretty much reads as a mockery of Jane Eyre. I have no idea whether that is Conan Doyle’s intention or not but there is a wealthy man married to a South American woman but in love with his child’s governess. He asks Holmes “do you blame me?” and Holmes basically says he doesn’t blame him for fancying her but he would blame him if he acted on it due to the power differential. Of course, he doesn’t use those words, it being the late 19th century, but that is clearly what he means. He says something like “as the young woman is, in a sense, under your protection,” but it’s pretty clear he means, “she isn’t necessarily in a position to refuse you.”

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes, Conan Doyle was a weird mixture of deeply “period” views on the frailty of women and and some shockingly astute and surprisingly up to date sentiments on the inequalities he saw around him. He (through Holmes) was pretty lacerating in his views of men who take advantage of the women in their protection and vulnerable to abuse both in that story and in the Solitary Cyclist where a man falls in love with a governess.

        He also wrote one called “The Yellow Face” about a white American woman who had married an African American and had a child which she was hiding from her second husband because she worried he’d react badly. There is a surprisingly sweet happy ending where the chap finds out and welcomes the child as his daughter.

        So he’s always been interesting and sometimes surprisingly critical of Victorian society.

        1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          “The Yellow Face” is so lovely, and gave us a glimpse of better Victorian-era mentalities than we usually get. It’s a good reminder that not everyone fits the bad stereotypes of an era.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I actually did enjoy Dubliners, but I think that may be because I saw and loved the film based on The Dead first.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        SAME on Portrait of the Artist – I read this for high school English class but could not stand the writing.

        I never got past the first chapter of Catcher in the Rye.

    27. Buni*

      I love every single thing any Bronte has ever written (yes, even some of Bramwell’s poetry) EXCEPT ‘Wuthering Heights’. I have read it, maybe even more than once, but the Russian-dolls of nesting stories and the endless phonetic dialect just gets on my wick. And I hate the two main characters!

      Jane Eyre on the other hand is my go-to comfort book.

      1. Lilo*

        I took a class in college where we just read Bronte novels and the whole class just hated Wuthering Heights. A group of English majors/minors who’d elected to take a Bronte class still hated that one.

        (We read Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Vilette, plus some poetry I can’t remember).

          1. UKDancer*

            Tenant of Wildfell Hall is my favourite. It’s such a brilliant portrayal of a domestic abuse situation and has a really brilliant, strong female protagonist. I really think Anne would have written some other remarkable things if she’d lived longer.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I LOVE Tenant. It’s so clear and vivid in its portrayal of both being in a relationship with an active addict and the way society conspires to keep a woman trapped as caregiver so said society doesn’t have to deal with or pay for said addict.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Wuthering Heights is the only one I’ve kind of liked! It’s good if you view it as the equivalent of trashy reality TV, full of terrible people being terrible with no redeeming qualities. I’m here for the drama and I hope everyone loses, lol

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I always say there’s two types of bookish women–the ones who read Jane Eyre at an impressionable age, and the ones who read Wuthering Heights at an impressionable age.

        I’m a Jane, not having read Heights until I was an adult, and was confused not by the story but by people who crushed on Heathcliff or the “love” story between him and Cathy, as both these people were aggressively horrible at all times!

        1. Buni*

          I was about 13/14 for JE, we read it in class. I was already loving it but when we were about half way through our teacher started showing the BBC tv serialisation with Timothy Dalton, and then I was SOLD.

          I must have been in my 20s for WH, and just wanted to slap everyone.

      4. Zarniwoop*

        I found the nesting stories interesting. It was hating all(*) the characters that ruined it for me. (*) Except the old nurse, who was only partly awful.

    28. UKDancer*

      Anything by Thomas Hardy. His works are uniformly miserable. I had to do Jude the Obscure and Mayor of Casterbridge at school and found them both depressing and without anything to engage the audience. I don’t know why they inflict these books on school children.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Hello, fellow Hardy-hater! I also had to read The Mayor of Casterbridge at school and had tried to erase it from my memory till now since it has absolutely no redeeming features. So with Jude and Tess, that’s 3 crappy Hardy books that I had to read at school while I could’ve been reading something better instead.

    29. Not my usual name*

      Wuthering Heights. I’ve had to read it three times for various courses.

      The only way I could get through it the second time was to imagine it was a black comedy. And then my research indicates that much of the really black stuff was based on real events and people…

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Have you read the Hark! A Vagrant comic strip series on Heights? It is hilarious and brilliant.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          well this is BLITHERING heights and you’ve got the wrong idea entirely haven’t you

    30. Falling Diphthong*

      The Red Badge of Courage. Honestly admitting this on an assignment earned me my only “B” grade on an English assignment, and I am still salty about it. (It was the teacher’s favorite book.)

    31. RussianInTexas*

      Wolf Hall. I read All Things Tudor. I loved the Wolf Hall miniseries.
      I gave up on the book about 10% in, something about the writing style just grated on me.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        oh! And War and Peace. I had to read it in high school, and boy it’s a neverending slog.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I could never get through any of the Russian classics I tried except Anna Karenina. Such big books featuring unpleasant people. At least you have the advantage of understanding Russian patronymics and nicknames, I got confused by the way they referred to the same character by different names.

          I enjoy LotR, but The Silmarillion is beyond me, for a similar reason. The same name is recycled for different characters while the same character has several names used by different people. At least in LotR, only Gandalf/Mithrandir/Láthspell/Stormcrow had several names/nicknames.

      2. londonedit*

        I didn’t mind Wolf Hall, but it might help that I read it in the first Covid lockdown and had literally nothing else to do. There are, however, far too many people called Thomas in that book. And it wasn’t exactly fun reading about the mystery fever illness that was sweeping through and killing everyone.

    32. Iolkia*

      Song of Achilles. I don’t care where myth retellings fall on the scale of fantastical/realistic, but this one made major errors when it came to geography and the realities of living in that time/place, and it constantly kicked me out of the story.

      Like, Phthia was traditionally landlocked, and Madeline Miller sets it on a beach, but oh well, historically, cities tend to move around. BUT! Then the characters go from there to Mount Pelion, and…they go straight there! With the geography of this region, if you’re on the coast, and you’re not on the side of a mountain, the only way to get to Mount Pelion is through Iolkos (the home of Jason and the Argonauts) and…there’s no city in the way!

      Like writing a novel where someone drives from Baltimore to New York City and Philadelphia doesn’t exist. What???

    33. Courageous cat*

      Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. I enjoyed it juuuust enough to finish it, mainly the plot, but the narrator was both unreliable and, eventually, utterly insufferable to me.

    34. Emily Elizabeth*

      Only popular perhaps in my circle of fantasy loving friends and exposure to book social media – but I did not enjoy at all Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I’m reading ACOTAR now and liking it more, so maybe the hype was just misplaced for me, but Throne of Glass felt full of half baked tropes and didn’t flesh out anything interesting about the competition, characters, or kingdom lore.

      1. Seahorse*

        I felt the same way. I generally like fantasy and YA, but I just couldn’t get into that one despite its general popularity. It felt like it would make a better movie – all action, drama, and striking visuals.

      2. Random Bystander*

        I actually read Throne of Glass a long time ago when she had it up on fictionpress (Since pulled down because she got the publishing contract). I don’t know what changes were made for the published version, but I felt like it was full of ridiculous names, bizarre storylines that really didn’t hold up to scrutiny (the whole best assassin ever!), and an attempt to really shoehorn in Cinderella.

    35. Texas Teacher*

      I didn’t like Lonesome Dove because of the ending, and griped about it to my poor husband, who was trapped on an airplane with me when I finished the book.
      Never read another Larry McMurtry book after that!

    36. acmx*

      The House by the Cerulean Sea and the Goblin Emperor.

      I’ll probably be shunned here for saying that :)

      1. Seahorse*

        Haha, those two and Lord of the Rings are among my absolute favorites. Honestly, I can see how any of them would be off-putting though. It’s interesting to get answers outside of the US high school canon because many people dislike books they’re forced to read.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Yeah this thread and some friends who studied Hardy in school have made me glad I’ve never studied him in class. Far from the Madding Crowd is an early look at stalking and negging compared to a truly romantic and unselfish attitude; it’s an unusually independent heroine, with her own land too. I also love Tess and the Mayor of Casterbridge; I’ve never known anyone to enjoy Hardy after studying him though! I will admit that A Pair of Blue Eyes is quite bad though and no one should bother with that.

      2. AGD*

        ‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’ also left me cold. I loved the premise and appreciated what it was trying to do, but I guess I didn’t really feel it.

        I also didn’t like ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’. I can see why others liked it, but I thought it was all over the place, didn’t get interested in the characters, and basically didn’t start caring at any point.

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I thought “House by the Cerulean Sea” was fine but didn’t love it like a lot of people here. It felt like the literary version of cotton candy, so sweet you kind of feel sick and then you’re still hungry when you’re done.

        1. Morrigan Crow*

          I also didn’t really like it – I thought the children were very 1-dimensional (compared to, say, “The Mysterious Benedict Society”)

          1. AGD*

            Very interesting comparison! I liked Mysterious Benedict Society, and I wonder if this helps explain the contrast for me.

      4. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I also didn’t like House (and I stopped reading it about a quarter of the way through). But I also don’t think it was Written For Me, and the demographic who it was written for really needs those kinds of stories, so I wouldn’t say it’s a bad book overall.

    37. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Jane Eyre was the one and only assigned book in school I ever noped out and got Cliff’s Notes for.

    38. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      The Great Gatsby. I think it has done appeal if you idealize the life of the rich? Strangely, I feel like I don’t care about any of the characters snd nothing interesting happens. I mean, I know there are murders but they are do boring. Similarly Talented Me Rickey was a snooze fest, and I didn’t even try A Secret History.

      Also couldn’t get into Hilary Mantels Cromwell books.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I almost had a friendship breakup over The Secret History. He recommended it to me as his favorite book, one that he re-reads every year. I found it absolutely terrible–so pretentious. I wanted to murder every entitled twat character in it.

    39. Generic Name*

      The Help. Everyone gushed about it, and it was a good story, but people were falling over themselves talking about how great it was for race relations, and I just couldn’t get past the fact that the author is a white woman who didn’t even live through the time and place she wrote about. I thought it was gross that people thought a white lady had all these important things to say about Black lives. So tone deaf.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yes, yes, yes and yes. A friend who loved it pretty much shoved it into my hands and it left me cold for these exact reasons. My cynical side can see how it may have got published with a view to making it a commercial success, but as far as I’m concerned, the marketing it got is all there is to it.

      2. Prospect gone bad*

        I can agree, but the movie is a classic. I usually can’t sit through a movie but that’s one of the few where I sat down, and forgot about where I was, and felt like I went back in time. All of the actors and actresses are perfect in their roles and carried them out flawlessly, every single one of them. It wasn’t like some other movies where you occasionally get the feeling their going through the motions and reading a script

    40. Chaordic One*

      Being of a certain age, I just hated “A Separate Peace,” “The Red Badge of Courage,” and “The Outsiders,” in highschool. (But, as we’ve discussed on this site, “Stay gold,” is a great e-mail signature.)

      1. Jackalope*

        Hah! I actually enjoyed A Separate Peace, but I got so annoyed with my English teacher who tried to teach us that the pov character was a metaphor for Satan and his best friend was a metaphor for Jesus. (I loved her very much and she was a wonderful teacher, but we disagreed pretty strongly on this.) The idea that making a stupid, selfish decision in the moment that had unintended consequences meant that you represented Satan was…. a bit much for me. (Not that I’m trying to justify the main character, just that this wasn’t a good understanding of what happened in my mind.) Many years later that’s still my strongest memory of the book – arguing with her in class about the supposed symbolism.

        1. Observer*

          Your teacher had a very strange take on the situation.

          But it’s also pretty clear that what the main character did was not really a “decision in the moment.” True, he didn’t PLAN this, but it was clearly an outgrowth of his total inability to wrap his head around someone who is genuinely unselfish and also an ACTUAL friend without motivation to cut the other person down, much less without motivation without ulterior motives.

          1. Jackalope*

            That’s a really fair point. (Both of them, actually; my teacher found random Christ figures in other books as well and it never made sense to me.) I guess some of my issue with that is that as a teenager I was just starting to get to the point where I was making more potentially life-changing decisions. It was a big deal (I mean, still is but I’m used to it now), and it was a bit nerve-wracking as someone raised in a very Christian home with a strong set of beliefs around Satan to think that if I messed up and hurt one of my friends, I WOULD BE JUST LIKE SATAN. I mean, I never hurt any of my friends like that, and we all either went our separate ways amiably or in a handful of cases are still in touch, so apparently I did alright, but that was a lot of pressure to be put on any mistakes I made. Not that I thought it through quite like that, but I remember having thoughts vaguely along those lines at the time.

            1. Observer*

              That’s a really heavy burden to put on a kid.

              It seems to me that if she were such a good teacher, she should have been able to see and explain that the fundamental problem was not the action that he took, but the REASON for it, and the fact that this was not something that flashed within him in the moment.

              I can see why one would see the main character as evil, but that rests not on the one impulsive action. Rather it’s the sequence:

              Un-examined negative assumption about his friend and friendship + jealousy –> His strong negative reaction to the revelation that his assumptions were flat out wrong and that there are genuinely good people in the world –> His unwillingness / inability to come to terms with this realization — > His action.

              Maybe that’s overstating the case, but you simply cannot take the single action out of its context.

      2. Observer*

        I’m with you on A Separate Peace. I’ve read it more than once, and not only does it not grow on me, I liked it less that last time I read it.

    41. Chaordic One*

      I also actively loathe the nonfiction works of George Plimpton who, for reasons that escape me, was highly regarded when I was in highschool. Plimpton was famous for competing in professional sporting events and then writing about the experiences from the point of view of an amateur. I continue to find him boring and maudlin, although he was apparently very amiable.

    42. Forrest Rhodes*

      William Faulker, particularly The Sound and the Fury. Tried many times to read it, unsuccessfully. I neither liked nor cared for any of the charaters, and among other things, became genuinely frustrated and annoyed at his changing narrator in the middle of a paragraph, sometimes in the middle of a sentence! (Guess I’m just not a sufficiently smart or sophisticated reader to appreciate that.)

      Can’t count the number of times that book was flang against the wall before I finally gave up.

      I did like some parts of his Nobel acceptance speech, though—does that count?

    43. Misha*

      I similarly don’t really like Jane Eyre, but if you’re going to give it another go and like audiobooks, I highly recommend the Audible one read by Thandiwe Newton. I’m still ambivalent about the story, but she did an amazing read.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Through the years there have been some great parodies of Jane Eyre. My favorite is “Jane Airhead,” which appeared on an episode of SCTV and feature Andrea Martin in the title role. I’m pretty sure it’s still on YouTube and you can find it if you google it.

    44. Donkey Hotey*

      Thoreau’s Walden.
      Dude lived literally in his mother’s back yard and visited her regularly where she would do his laundry and make him sandwiches. All while writing about how individual he was.

      1. Biff Chippington*

        The Stranger in the Woods, about the hermit in Maine made me so mad, because the author was fawning all over Thoreau and the hermit for their rugged aloneness or whatever. Meanwhile, you’ve already mentioned issues with Thoreau and the hermit was stealing “what he knew people could spare”- bull poopy! He might be living alone but he was not self sufficient. That book made me soooo mad.

    45. SarahKay*

      Magician by Raymond Feist. I like sci-fi and fantasy, and this came highly recommened by several similar-minded friends but to me it was just… bleh.
      All my friends talked about the incredible new ideas on magic that Feist had wanted to show and I was just bored. I didn’t care about any of the characters – possibly because the book was more about ideas than people? Anyway, I found it vey dull.
      Unlike LoTR I did make it to the end, but only because I was stuck on a fairly grim weekend trip with a boyfriend who was about to become an ex (not least because the weekend had made it clear to both of us that it just wasn’t working), nothing else to read, and a six-hour train journey home.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        Oh, yes, my husband was a huge fan of Raymond E. Feist when he was younger and he pushed me to read it. I was underwhelmed.

    46. Anonymous Educator*

      The Harry Potter series. Even before everyone knew how trans-hating Rowling was, I just didn’t like the writing, but my grad school professors gushed endlessly about it. I got 100 pages into the first book and was bored.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I read 2 or 3 of the Harry Potter books as an adult, then gave up. Not ever going to go back to them because I don’t want to give a single penny to the author. Plus all of the boarding school stuff is a shameless rip-off of series like Malory Towers, just with the addition of magic.

        1. SarahKay*

          “…shameless rip-off of series like Malory Towers” was exactly my feeling about them too, especially the first book. So glad to find someone else who thinks that.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            It’s interesting how the total lack of originality in the boarding school stuff is an under-discussed aspect of the Harry Potter books. I do wonder if the books were successful inside the UK because parents who’d grown up reading Malory Towers and other series were familiar with those tropes and wanted to give their kids a contemporary version – but were successful outside the UK because the previous boarding school book series weren’t as well-known internationally and therefore that aspect is fresher and has more novelty to an international readership.

      2. slashgirl*

        Wasn’t for HS but I had it in my school library (I have now withdrawn all copies) and took the first book home, read it in a day and it didn’t make me want to read anymore, but then I’m not really big on fantasy as a genre.

      3. londonedit*

        I don’t like Harry Potter either. I think I was too old when the first books came out, and then when everyone suddenly went mad over them as adults I gave the first couple of books a go and didn’t really get the hype. They were just children’s books! Then I read the last one and it was so long and bloated and I was so annoyed by the fact that she clearly hadn’t allowed anything to be edited that the whole thing just irritated me.

    47. OtterB*

      This is an interesting question. My high school reading didn’t require a lot of classics being mentioned, so I haven’t tried many of them. I disliked Wuthering Heights (and dislike it even more now), and Lord of the Flies. The first Steinbeck I read as a young teen was Travels With Charley, which is different from anything else he wrote, and probably as a result I didn’t like and mostly didn’t finish anything else by him. Most of the other things I didn’t like are more “meh” than active dislike. I’m pretty sure I read The Great Gatsby, for example, but I don’t remember much about it and don’t remember having much of a reaction.

      Now I just don’t finish things I’m not enjoying (no class or book club to encourage me to see it through). I read mostly fantasy & science fiction and sometimes romance, and occasionally I run across things that are loved by people whose recommendations usually match with my taste and I just … can’t. I have bounced off Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell several times and probably won’t try again. Lots of people loved Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall and I quit it not terribly far in.

      I have noticed that there are a few plot tropes that are just not for me. “Innocent person is accused of murder” is one. Sometimes I can get past it, sometimes not.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I share your disdain for Steinbeck. Loved “Travels with Charley,” but, as you note, it was different from everything else he wrote. The subject matter of his novels just seems so dark and depressing and they weren’t anything I could really relate to. That said, as I grew older I did come to appreciate his writing style and technique, his directness and unaffectedness. He did indeed write well, even if his subject matter was unappealing to me.

        When I first read “The Great Gatsby,” I was quite taken up by it and it seemed very romantic to me. There was a movie version (starring Warren Beatty and Mia Farrow) that came out about the same time that it was assigned in highschool. But as time has gone by, I find my opinion of the book to be diminishing. (I’m old and crabby, I guess.)

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes I agree about Great Gatsby, I don’t think it’s a great book but it’s not a terrible one. That said Northern Ballet did quite a good version of it as a ballet and it works much better that way.

        2. Chaordic One*

          Oops, I was wrong about the Great Gatsby cast. It starred Robert Redford. Warren Beatty was offered the role and turned it down.

    48. Clisby*

      Not sure how popular or highly regarded it is, but Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton) was made into a movie with Liam Neeson, so maybe it qualifies, but … it is the most depressing book I’ve ever read. And, generally speaking, I like Edith Wharton’s work.

      1. Clisby*

        The Crucible, which won a Pulitzer, has to be one of the most boring plays I have ever read. I had never read it until it was assigned to my 7th grade son. Why in the world any teacher thought this was a middle-school level play is beyond me. Not that I found anything in the content objectionable – it just seemed highly unlikely to me that a bunch of 7th graders would like anything about it. (Also, I’m not a fan of reading plays – I want to see them performed.)

        Later, I told him I was impressed that he soldiered through it. He said, “Mom, I have to admit, I read the last half in SparkNotes.” I said, “I wish I’d thought of that.”

        1. Nightengale*

          I fell in love with The Crucible in 8th grade after doing a scene from it in drama class. I went and read the whole play on my own and then down a rabbit hole of looking into the historical accuracy of the characters. I knew huge hunks of it by heart at one point. However I don’t make any claim that my likes as a 7-8th grader were at all typical. . .

    49. Prospect gone bad*

      The Alchemist. It wasn’t bad per se but it got write ups like it was a deep work and to me it was a bit superficial and forgettable. Reading it is when my inner cynic started getting louder. I’ve read other books that were so much better and when I saw how popular the alchemist got I realized how powerful the marketing side of the book world must be

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Big “I’m 14 and this is deep” energy lol. I loved it when I was, well, around 14 and thought it was very profound. Now it just feels like a bland self-help book dressed up as a fairy tale. I was talking recently to some adults (fellow English teachers) who were raving about how meaningful it is and I felt very awkward. I don’t doubt it’s fun to teach to teens but I wouldn’t find myself that captivated by it anymore.

        1. Prospect gone bad*

          Ow that would be awkward! It’s not even the most interesting story of its kind! I’ve read random biographies of “nobodies” that were actually deep. It’s always interesting what books a given hive mind will pretend to love

      1. Observer*

        In a way, this is an early example of the genre of “let’s find a reason to excuse terrible behavior because someone had a bad childhood.”

    50. AY*

      White Noise by Don DeLillo. I didn’t find it funny or insightful, and I remember being profoundly annoyed by the number of times he remarked on the plumpness of the wife.

      The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. Absolutely zero interest in or attempt at conveying women as real human beings.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Yeah, I like mysteries in general and some hardboiled stuff in particular, but Chandler . . . Yikes.

    51. The OG Sleepless*

      I think I read three paragraphs of Eat, Pray, Love before I noped out. I could not stand the author’s calmly superior voice.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        The film critic Mark Kermode hated the film of that book so much that he refers to it as Eat, Pray, Vomit. I never understood why the book was on the bestseller list for so long, merely reading about the concept of it got on my nerves!

        1. Retired Accountant*

          Slate’s Audio Book Club podcast had a great episode about EPL. One woman liked it a lot, one woman thought it was okay, and the man thought it was “completely indefensible.” He asked the woman if they knew any men who liked the book and one woman said “Yes, but they are men who have been on yoga retreats.”

          I thought the book was entertaining and funny, but didn’t have strong feelings on it either way.

      2. Generic Name*

        I read the whole thing. You made a wise choice. It was for a ladies book club at a Unitarian Universalist church, and everyone except me and my friend looooved it. For me it wasn’t just that she sounded superior, but I thought she was incredibly self-centered and I could muster zero sympathy for her. She blew up her marriage for vague and undisclosed reasons (I later read she was actually cheating on her husband. Oops), and then acted like the injured party and faffed around in Italy on what was basically a paid vacation. I’ll stop there. She’s seen as some sort of an enlightened guru by white ladies in their fifties and older, and I think she’s just a boring narcissist.

    52. Random Bystander*

      Doctor Zhivago.

      I probably should give it another try now, but at the time I first read it, it became one of the first books that I ever allowed myself to not finish. I kept trying for a bit but could not get over the hump of what I have since called the deadly phrase with respect to fiction: “I don’t care what happens”.

    53. carcinization*

      Consider Phlebas, definitely. This book is in one of my preferred genres, and the author was a apparently a really good guy, but I couldn’t even get through 100 pages of it when usually a 700-800 page book is just fine with me.

      1. carcinization*

        Two others I just remembered are Geek Love, and The Library at Mount Char. Both of them seemed to me like the authors were just trying to write awful shocking stuff and pretend it was also interesting or deep, but failing. I read plenty of other stuff with “dark” imagery/happenstance (this is a dumb example because it couldn’t be more different, but I thought Gormenghast was a fun read), but those two books just really didn’t strike me the right way.

      2. Saddy Hour*

        Oh man, yeah. I almost noped out of Consider Phlebas, but stuck it out because Banks is the favorite author of a very good friend of mine (who bought me the book on a special trip to visit me, so I felt guilty). It was simultaneously gross/weirdly provocative AND boring all at once. I still don’t care for it.

        I have read other books from the Culture series since and enjoyed them, enough to rank them high on my list of favorites. I’m not sure if you ever gave him another shot but you might like “Player of Games” or “Surface Detail” more. They’re still weirdly gross in some places and Banks is still Banks, but they both felt a lot more relatably human to me (though Surface Detail is long and covers a ridiculous cast of characters).

        1. carcinization*

          I remember Consider Phlebas being more boring than gross, but to be fair I think this was around 15 years ago (I’m in my 40s, and was a precocious reader anyway, so it wasn’t a case of not being “old enough” for the book). I’m sure I’ve read plenty of things with parts others might consider “weirdly gross” (again, not the best day to try to think of examples, but some stuff in Gene Wolfe’s Solar Cycle does come to mind), so I don’t think that was it, I think I just bounced hard off of the fellow’s writing style. May give the Culture books a try again someday via the library, may not.

    54. What the ??*

      Olive Kittridge. Loathed that book. Kept reading it hoping the unmitigated misery would be leavened by the end. I already suffer from depression, and that book made it worse. Can’t imagine why people love it so much.

    55. Angstrom*

      Anything by John Updike. Everything I’ve read starts out well enough, but partway through I stop caring what happens to the characters.

    56. allathian*

      I’m not sure how popular or highly regarded it was, but the one Midsomer Murders book by Caroline Graham that I’ve read left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. I really enjoyed Troy’s character in the TV series, but in the book I read he was a horrible person, very racist and probably misogynistic as well. I have no interest in reading any of the other books.

      It’s a shame, because I really like detective fiction, particularly English detective fiction. My favorites include Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Dick Francis & Felix Francis, etc. so it should’ve been right up my alley, but it just wasn’t.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah I don’t think Midsomer Murders books are very good. They’re incredibly dated and not entirely well written. I think the TV series is probably better than the books largely because Anthony Horowitz (who adapted the earlier seasons) is a really good screenwriter.

        That said, given some of the evidence emerging about misogyny and racism in the police at the moment, I’m not sure she’s entirely wrong with Troy’s character especially at the time when it was written (which was 20 years ago at least). I think it may be a fair reflection of some of the people in the police force.

    57. allathian*

      Game of Thrones is another series that I just can’t read. I’ve seen it as well as the first season of House of the Dragon, and I can deal with gore on screen pretty well because I know it’s all faked and I don’t get immersed in it, but I don’t want to read about unpleasant things happening to people, especially women and children, in graphic detail.

      I got about halfway through the first book before abandoning it in disgust.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yeah. I abandoned that one as well. I didn’t find it very engaging and the style didn’t work for me, neither did the way he wrote women. I couldn’t get on with the TV series either, not so much the violence but the use of naked women as backdrop and the insistence that women like Emilia Clarke did more nudity than they were comfortable with. So scenes were carried on with women wandering around with nothing on in the background and it was just offputting and didn’t add anything or make me engage more.

        I’d have liked a whole series of Tywin teaching Arya how to survive politics and rise to the top but without the rest of it which was dull.. If they could have dumped the rest of the plot and just had a series about the two of them I’d have enjoyed it more.

      2. londonedit*

        I’ve never even wanted to read Game of Thrones. I hate fantasy as a genre and I particularly hate fantasy where everyone has stupid names with loads of extra vowels.

    58. slashgirl*

      We had to read To Kill a Mockingbird in grade 10. I hated it, absolutely loathed having to read it. It just didn’t appeal to me. Then we had to watch the movie in class. *teenage eye roll* But at least I didn’t need Coles notes for it. I did for Lord of the Flies, only book I had to do that for. I was a voracious reader but just couldn’t do it.

    59. Once too often*

      I couldn’t read Jane Austin til my mid 30s. Before that the social norms she portrayed infuriated me. Once I could read her books as social reporting I really enjoyed them.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        For me, the most fun thing about Jane Austen is to imagine her sitting in the corner of a drawing room, thinking about how ridiculous all the romantic rituals she was witnessing were and writing them down, in all their ridiculousness, while everyone thought she was just writing another letter to her sister.

  10. Teapot Translator*

    Does anyone know of any in-depth article or book that explains why people do extreme sports? I just read an article about the Spanish woman who spent 500 days in a cave by herself and my reaction was, “Well, this is obviously someone whose life has been too comfortable. Go volunteer or something. People are suffering everywhere!” So, I need to understand what drives them (maybe it’ll change my mind, maybe not).

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      A very good question. I think the cave lady was participating in a larger study, but yeah, when I read stuff like Into Thin Air or other “here’s the Huge And Terrible Thing we put ourselves through” I just hear Crow T Robot in my head saying “You know, that just seemed completely avoidable.”

      1. anxiousGrad*

        My 11th grade English class all felt very much that way about Into Thin Air. Especially because he was largely inspired to go to the Alaskan wilderness because of Jack London, but Jack London stories are very clear that the Alaskan wilderness is not a fun place. But I do think that Into Thin Air does a good job of examining what that guy was looking for by pushing himself to physical extremes. So it might be a good read for Teapot Translator.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            You mean Into the Wild where he so bravely burned his money and his car (at least he did in the movie) to prove how independent and self reliant he was? But – any time he wanted, he could have called his parents to rescue him.

            I hated that movie. I hated it so much. He risked nothing. NOTHING. He was a rich kid who had always had a safety net.

            1. Sudden Cat*

              That’s the one. But if I’m remembering correctly, he did legitimately get stuck out there with no way to call for help. Not like it wasn’t his own fault.

            2. PoolLounger*

              His parents (father, specifically) were abusive. That aspect was kept out of the book, but it’s now known. So not going back to his family was a major part of why he did what he did.

            3. PoolLounger*

              There’s a recent episode of the podcast You’re Wrong About all about Into the Wild, and it really dives in to what we’ve learned since the book was written and why some people love Chris and why others seem to hate him. If you have strong feelings either way I highly recommend a listen. Not only the abuse he suffered from his father, but there’s further info about his death and why he couldn’t get out from his bus, and more info on his actual plans—he wasn’t planning to stay in the wilderness forever. To me, the guy from the Werner Herzog bear documentary deserves much more ire than Chris.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I love these books about how people do stuff they are warned not to do and have a bad time. Living a normal life is beyond my limits so I’m amazed at people who are like ‘ I need a new challenge. I’ll climb mount everest ‘

      3. Teapot Translator*

        As I said in replied to RagingADHD, the article fails completely at mentioning that this was done as part of an experiment.
        But my point still stands that I don’t understand why people do extreme sports and I want to try and understand.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Beatriz Flamini was participating in an experiment called Project Timewave, to study circadian rhythms and brain patterns, like the perception of time. It wasn’t a sport or a stunt. They chose a highly trained athlete because it was such physically demanding circumstances.

      Having had a loved one experience ICU psychosis from disrupted circadian rhythm / lack of day and night, I think volunteering for such an experiment was a very valuable thing to do that could potentially alleviate a lot of suffering, if they make some useful discoveries from it.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for that information. The article I read either didn’t mention it or mentioned it only in passing.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I’m going to link to the article in a second comment, but I just reread the article and it fails completely at explaining why Beatriz Flamini did it. They make it sound like she did it just to break a record.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I am just confused about why you would only read one article if you were curious about something. It has been all over the news, there are dozens of articles.

      2. Invisible fish*

        RagingADHD, I hear you. I was/am the go to person for my mother’s hospital stays, and some nights were bad enough that I was reduced to begging for/demanding haldol for her so we could get the “crazy” down to a manageable level. (I’m not mocking her or anyone dealing with this or any other mental health issue of any sort, but there comes a point when you can’t handle another night of convincing someone no one is coming to get her, we’re not in a hotel waiting to check out, we’re not in danger, nothing is hiding in the hall, etc., etc., etc.)

        I am *not* a highly trained athlete, and being *just* her night time care giver almost sent me over the edge … Big shout out to anyone who can figure out how to improve things for folks in situations that provoke this sort of psychosis!! (Also, I’m still salty about other family members waltzing in at 8 or 9 am to complain about penny ante things like her bedding or breakfast while I’m over there in the corner looking like I survived a criminal attack because I’ve spent 12 hours without sleep calming her and anticipating her next unsafe plan to “escape” the ICU or cardiac recovery …)

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I don’t have that drive, like at all, but it makes sense to me. They are challenging themselves, testing to see what their limits are. Do you have what it takes?

      One of my favorite vacation memories was the time I was pushed probably the closest I’ve ever been to my physical limits. We were trying to canoe into a headwind and barely able to keep from going backwards. Turning back wasn’t really an option. It was miserable. It was far beyond any challenge I would have ever voluntarily chosen. It was, at the time, a thoroughly unpleasant experience. But you know what? I didn’t quit. When I had to, I found that strength and kept paddling. That’s a good thing to know about yourself. That if you have to, you can.

      Also, with some extreme sports, adrenaline. It doesn’t appeal to me, but some people enjoy the rush of it.

    4. LG*

      One of the best books I ever read on the subject of why people risk their lives climbing mountains was “Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow” by Maria Coffey.

      1. Reba*

        I would probably be interested in that!

        I do remember thinking, when watching “Free Solo” (documentary about Alex Honnold) and also “The Walk” (film about the high wire walk between the towers of the WTC) that like, these people are just not like most people. And then there was a lot of coverage of Alex Honnold’s brain scans and how he does have an unusual neurological makeup.

        I see these outliers as part of the huge variability of human aptitudes and experiences!

        I also watched some of the news coverage and I think a doc about the Kipchoge “Under 2” marathon project (I know there are some criticisms of how this was done). It was much more fascinating than I expected! What was most interesting to me was actually the pace setters and the whole team who was supporting the attempt — the sense of meaning and excitement they found in being a part of the effort.

      2. Reba*

        I also liked the documentary “Blindsight” (2006). It’s about blind Tibetan teenagers and blind foreigners who attempt to climb Everest together. As a film I think it leans rather weakly on “heartwarming-ness” but in it they do have to openly grapple with the motives of the whole project and what the participants are getting out of it.

      3. GoryDetails*

        “Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow” is a good one! And I also recommend Joe Simpson’s “The Beckoning Silence” – which he mentions in an interview with Coffey in her book. Simpson’s a hazard-seeker in the extreme, and writes very well about his growing realizations as to his compulsion to put himself in harm’s way.

        Simpson’s book focuses mainly on his own views and feelings; Coffey interviews many people, from the climbers and adventurers themselves to their spouses, children, and friends.

        1. Cendol*

          Ooh, thanks for the rec! I’d read Coffey but hadn’t heard of the Simpson book. Adding to my list…

        2. LG*

          I love Joe Simpson. I first read “Touching the Void” and then read all his other books. He’s an excellent writer.

    5. Angstrom*

      “If I have learned one thing in my 54 years, it is that it is very good for the character to engage in sports which put your life in danger from time to time. It breeds a saneness in dealing with day to day trivialities which probably cannot be got in any other way, and a habit of quick decisions.”
      Nevil Shute

      Doing risky things can be wonderfully relaxing because of the focus required. If one is, for example, skiing fast, the only thing that matters is getting the next turn right. One is not thinking about the paying the rent, or doing the laundry, or what to make for dinner. Risk is one way forcing one’s self to be totally in the moment.

      1. Former Adventurer*

        I agree with you and Nevil Shute, Angstrom, and at 78 I can think back on my share of (not always intentionally) life-threatening adventures.

        I always appreciated a friend’s comment that “Paradise is under the shadow of the sword.” Of course, he’d always then add, “And it’s even better when the sword is no longer a danger.”

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I recently read a book recommended here by a reader – “Endure” by Alex Hutchison (I think) that goes into some of the why but also the physiology behind it. Not exactly what you’re asking but an interesting read.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! I’ve added it to the list. I’m just going to try different material (docs, books). I want to try and understand.

    7. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I sometimes wonder if part of it is sensory-seeking behaviour. Like maybe ordinary life doesn’t cause them to feel intense enough emotion so they feel a drive to do something extreme.

    8. Chi chan*

      I wonder if you have read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I think she gives several reasons indirectly why people do such things. To stare fear down, to simplify life, to become self reliant and independent, to deal with death and mortality, to put things in perspective and to forget emotional pain in physical pain which goes away by healing.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I read Wild years ago. I couldn’t really identify with the author, but I remember finding it interesting. However, she wasn’t an extreme sports enthusiast, so her book probably didn’t push the buttons I apparently have.

    9. Courageous cat*

      I do think it may be worth turning the question inward, when you’re tempted to think that, and ask what is it that *you* also do that suggests a comfortable life, when people are suffering. I feel this can be said of most hobbies/travel/etc. (My point isn’t that you should feel bad about it, my point is that no one should feel bad about it. And suffering is relative.)

      1. Reba*

        Agree. Teapot, I do understand your reaction about the apparent kind of pointlessness of some exercises, but we can see it’s a pretty uncharitable way of thinking. People are allowed to pursue things that interest and excite them! For some people it’s baking and for some it’s swimming across huge bodies of open water or whatever.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          But baking or knitting do not endanger our lives. It’s the whole endangering your life/body that I can’t understand. Like people endangering their lives to save others, I can understand. Not everyone can do it (mentally or physically). But just deciding to climb K2…

          1. Reba*

            Sure, sure! I was (possibly over-) reacting to the moral hierarchy suggested by your OP (that they should be volunteering instead).

      2. Teapot Translator*

        It does push a button somewhere inside me, and I think the way for me to understand it (and myself) is to understand the other person (and so read books about why people do what they do).

    10. Can't think of a funny name*

      I do Ironman triathlons…not exactly an extreme sport given how many people do them, but along the same lines I think…it does take a lot of training and I always get comments like, “I don’t like to drive 100 miles, how do you bike that?!” I like the challenge of doing something I didn’t think I could and I need a goal to focus on…exercising just for health doesn’t do it for me, lol. And I enjoy being out in nature training. I read about more extreme things and have goals to do them but don’t say out loud b/c pretty sure my friends and family would think I had really lost it…like 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days or climbing Mt. Everest (even I don’t understand that one b/c I get altitude sickness and hate the cold, haha). But yes, my life is comfortable.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’ll echo this. I’m not doing an extreme sport but my CrossFit gym just had a 6-8 week session where we worked towards improving our max on 4 different lifts. You work your way up to lifting more weight for only 1 lift through each week, take a break (from adding more weight but still going to the gym) and then one week go for your one rep max.

        I loved the challenge of working toward a very measurable goal. I’m still new (under a year at CrossFit) and this was my second time doing it so there’s definitely still room for improvement. I posted about it on social media and people are surprised and say how impressed they are. Thing is: I’m not particularly genetically gifted or predisposed to be good at this and don’t have years of training. Many people could do the same if they wanted to and had the time to. ( I am devoting a good percentage of my non-working time to the training.)

        But I’m working hard at something challenging and seeing measurable improvement. I like that.

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for sharing! I sincerely want to understand, so that’s why I’m asking for resources. I hope you get to achieve your more ambitious goals! Even I don’t understand. :-D
        (I must say I don’t get the appeal of marathons, even less so of triathlons. But yes, their popularity makes them look less extreme than other sports.)

    11. PoolLounger*

      There’s a documentary called Free Solo, about a rock climber who doesnt use ropes. They do a brain scan on him and turns out he doesn’t feel fear the way the rest of us do. Seems like he does extreme sports because, to him, it’s like riding a roller coaster. And actually riding a roller coaster is nothing. If you google “free solo brain scan” there are articles about it.

    12. Angstrom*

      More thoughts…
      For some it’s trying to reach a “flow state”, which is not just an adrenaline rush. The senses expand, time slows, and everything you do works at a high level of unconscious competence. Some people can get there on a yoga mat, some on a dance floor, some writing code, and for others it’s during a whitewater run or a mountain bike descent. We are all wired differently.

      I talked with a young hang-glider pilot who said he was more nervous asking someone for a date than he was running off a cliff with his glider. Our perceptions of risk are often irrational.

      Ultra-endurance athletes know that their events may take them to a dark place somewhere along the way. They know that “If things are going well, they’ll get worse. If things are going badly, they’ll get better.” Experiencing that, and knowing things will get better, can be a powerful lesson to carry into everyday life.

    13. RMNPgirl*

      The Wave by Susan Casey is very good. It’s about huge waves, rogue waves, and it goes into how they form and what they do (we lose cargo ships to them every year). But she also weaves in stories of surfers who seek out these giant waves. Reading some of the stories, it is just terrifying, what they’re potentially subjecting themselves to.

    14. skadhu*

      I think there are different contextual factors involved. One is the level of risk relative to the level of reward: do the benefits outweighs the hazards? This varies between individuals, as do the kinds of rewards. There’s also the qualifier of risk mitigation: can things be set up so that risk is minimized? At the top end of hazard there’s likely little that can be done, at the lower end lots, and that affects the risk/benefit analysis for any given individual.

      I can only talk about my own experience and reasons for doing things, none of it at high levels of hazard. But some of those reasons likely apply at higher levels as well.

      I tried rock climbing, did some backcountry skiing, and did a lot of whitewater canoeing. All of these have levels of risk and none can be made perfectly safe. But people make decisions about what they’re prepared to do based on their assessment of how well the risk FOR THEM can be mitigated and what rewards they get out of it.

      I did the rock climbing for a year or two because friends did it and I wanted to see if it would help mitigate my fear of heights. However, I only did top-roping, which is where you are tied in to a harness with a rope that runs through a fixed anchor at the top of the climbing route, and down to a person who belays you and keeps the rope taut; if you fall off, the mechanical advantage of the system means that the person belaying can easily “catch” you and prevent you from falling any distance. You just hang there until you regain your holds and carry on. There is no kind of rock climbing that can be made absolutely safe, but this is the safest level.

      What I found was that as the climbs I tried got more difficult, I felt less and less fear, simply because the puzzle of figuring out how to place feet and hands and the directional pressures that would keep you pasted to the rock were so interesting to figure out. Stop, look at the next ten feet or so, make a plan, try it out, and then either move on to the next section or look for another solution if that one didn’t work out. I loved the puzzle and intense focus of it. I did things that I would never in my life imagined could be possible for me, as someone who had always been classified as the furthest thing from an athlete. It was a BRILLIANT experience and did so much to improve my sense of capability and competence, and I loved it. I eventually stopped climbing because I was busy with paddling and didn’t have time to commit to both, but I’m so glad I tried.

      (It did not in any way make me less afraid of heights when I was off-rope, though. I am still a total wuss near a cliff edge and can’t even approach it.)

      I did the whitewater paddling at a much higher level, at what would have been classed as upper intermediate. On an intermediate level stretch of whitewater the risks are not really high, but they’re certainly there, and on any moving water there is ALWAYS risk: fall out of your canoe, put a foot down and get it caught between rocks and you will die if someone isn’t right there to rescue you. In two feet of water or less. So even on the calmest river, we always had a lot of risk mitigation procedures in place, including set procedures for rescues (of self or by others), and we did lots of training and practicing.

      What happened for me at this higher level of activity was that I still had the puzzles—okay, we can do an eddy turn behind that rock, peel out and ferry across to the next one, tight peel out and down that narrow channel—but the intensity and speed of it all gets ramped up. You look at the tricky bit you’re going to do, figure out the plan, and then execute the plan at full speed.

      This is where people talk about flow or being in the moment. You don’t have time to think much about what you’re going to do, beyond “right, there’s the next rock.” It is an absolute internal focus that integrates physical and mental activity in balance. It also mixes in the need for you to have a focused relationship to your immediate external environment, which may or may not react to your actions in unpredictable ways (obviously water in a river is fluid and dynamic, but even a crack in a rock may turn out to be a bit different than you expected) so that you have to also be prepared to respond to your environment in real time. I used to say that running a rapid was like dancing with the river, and I’m sure rock climbers would say the same thing about climbing.

      When it all works smoothly there is just nothing like it. You are not just in the moment, you are very much integrated as part of your world. And that balanced mix of internal mental/physical and external focus is something that I have never experienced in any other part of my life.

      I think when you get into expert levels of an inherently risky sport things do change a bit. In most cases the consequences of something going wrong are considerably more serious, so the risk mitigation procedures have to be as well. But it still comes down to a cost/benefit analysis. I have never asked anyone at this level about it, but I would assume that for them the intermediate levels are often so easy that they don’t get that in the moment focus effect, and hence have to ramp up the difficulty to receive the same benefit.

      Or maybe some people are adrenaline junkies. I like the adrenaline bump I get from executing something tricky and challenging. I do NOT like the adrenaline I get from doing something when I’m scared, and having done a few river runs that scared me I decided that I didn’t want to go there and made a conscious decision to stay an intermediate level paddler. I’m sure that most people operating at higher levels of risk don’t get scared the way I did, though. I think the fear boundary and its relationship to risk is a very personal thing, as are the perceptions of the benefits received.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks a lot for taking the time to write about your experience. It helps me understand what people maybe be feeling or seeking in those posts. I appreciate it!

    15. Hrodvitnir*

      Well, lots of reasons! People have already touched on the fact that this woman was actually part of a study, but my 2c: there’s a grain of truth that when it comes to particularly extreme sports such as mountain climbing, it’s dominated by wealthy people significantly due to both being expensive to do and having the time and energy to do/have learned to do it.

      Overall I’d say that’s a strangely uncharitable take. Muay thai makes me feel good the way no other sport does – some people certainly think voluntarily being punched in the face is extreme. I generally say if you don’t get it, I can’t explain it so you will. Some people don’t initially understand fighting, but start training for fitness and do find they do in fact get it. I love skiing and driving fast: caving uncharted territory blows my mind, and full on mountain climbing is mad to me. Everyone has their own line. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      I have lifelong depression and find it difficult to feel positive emotions, so yes, strong stimuli draw me in. Basically anything you’d call “extreme sports” is ultimately people testing themselves in a skill they’ve built. They might be inclined to go further and further because of a certain hero-worship in these communities that I think can be unhealthy. But ultimately, there’s no one answer.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks for sharing! It does help me understand.
        I don’t “get” muay thai either, but then I don’t get boxing, which is a more mainstream sport. Someone I follow on Twitter does it and they explained why they do it and while their reason is probably not everyone’s, it allowed me to understand why some people do it.

    16. connie*

      I just want to point out that in addition to being a bit uncharitable, your OP creates a binary that doesn’t exist. Lots of people who are into extreme sports or do things that seem dangerous are also involved in philanthropy in their communities or support non-profits that relate to their activities. Outdoor programs for marginalized communities or disabled kids are an example. Doing one doesn’t preclude doing the other.

      The other thing is, yes, a lot of people who do extreme sports or competitive sports at an ultra level come from a privileged background, but lots don’t. A lot of them had lives that weren’t comfy or involved serious illness or addiction, and pushing the limits of their bodies and their minds can be very healing.

    17. allathian*

      This thread’s been very interesting for me to follow as well because I don’t “get” people who find it necessary to push themselves to the point of physical exhaustion, never mind extreme sports that can endanger their health.

      That said, I’ve never really enjoyed exercise in any form, mainly because I don’t experience the post-workout high. The very most I’ll feel is relief that it’s finally over. This was true even when I was young and not fat and much fitter than I’m today. That said, I used to enjoy swimming when I was in high school and college, but now I’m so allergic to chlorine that I can’t even walk downwind from an outdoor pool without getting asthma.

      I’m just waiting for the municipality to clear the grit from our roads so that I can start riding my bike again. I enjoy that even when I get out of breath.

  11. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

    Crafting thread! What are you making?

    I finished my crochet cowl scarf, am trying to learn granny squares but finding the middle part harder than expected, and working on a glasses case that I actually need because I spilled something sticky on my old one. Also wanting to start a headband/ear warmer to help cover up some very annoying hair loss.

    1. Claritza*

      Making practice swatches of different interesting knitting patterns, like basketweave. Requires a lot of concentration!

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m finally embroidering again! I started the “Year of Birds” kit by Jessica Long this week and I’ve finished spring, started summer. I got it because I’ve never tried a double hoop before and I was having trouble choosing between the winter and autumn designs so decided to go with the combo :) It’s turning out so pretty, and it’s really fun because there’s such a variety of colors and stitches.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      I knit up the Frozen Enchantment hat by Louis Boria last weekend (kit from Kraemer), and it was a quick, fun project. I’ve had a pattern in my queue for some warm weather lounge shorts that I want to make, but I don’t have the right materials right now. The pattern calls for acrylic, but I don’t want that. I need to buy some Berroco Remix. I think that blend should work.

    4. Seahorse*

      This week, I started crocheting the four characters from my D&D group. I do a lot of amigurumi, but don’t usually deviate from the patterns this drastically. Hopefully this is a fun challenge and not an exercise in frustration!

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        That sounds so fun! I’m a long way away from being able to do something like that but now I want to consider doing my character someday…

    5. Buni*

      I’m about to start a piece of embroidered quilting, with a pattern I devised myself that started out as ‘I’ll sketch it free-hand and just tidy it up’ and ended up as ‘Sitting with my mathematician Father with isometric paper and a set of compasses crying in maths’.

    6. Lifelong student*

      Just finished the Inspired by Joy crocheted afghan- only a few more ends to weave in. It is 60″ by 60″. I am going to try to crochet socks next. One extreme to the other.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m trying to crochet two college-color blankets, one for my son and one for my niece, as high school graduation gifts. The challenge is in not letting the kids know. Normally the teens ignore the old lady crocheting, but somehow now I have become fascinating. They are both only children, a few months apart in age, and more like siblings than cousins. One or both can walk in at any second, so there is actually a third decoy blanket so I can throw it over the project in my lap with no notice. My brother keeps trying to lure them over to his house with better snacks, but they’re inexplicably drawn here.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        Hahaha! I’m thinking of trying to make a surprise axolotl amigurumi for my son but I’d definitely have the same problem trying to hide it!

    8. Frog&Toad*

      I keep buying fabric to make clothes – this weekend and next week I’m going to MAKE them. Made one top yesterday, today is going to be jeans and another top.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      I have finished, over the last year but mostly since New Years, seven quilts for my guild’s show in May. Unfortunately, I submitted eleven entries. ‍ What possessed me?
      This week’s goal is to finish quilting one that I abandoned in 2012, and I’m remembering all the reasons why I did so.
      I genuinely enjoy making quilts; I’m just not loving the design I chose to quilt this one, but have too much done to want to pick it out and do it differently.

    10. SuprisinglyADHD*

      Continuing my recreation of a plastic-and-yarn village that my mom made decades ago. It’s 5 kits, each with 4 buildings. And I’m making 6 full sets for siblings/cousins. I finally finished all the pieces for the first (smallest, simplest) building! I’m not going to assemble any of them till I have all the pieces done, much easier to store flat pieces than entire buildings.
      I also decided to leave all the detail/embroidery till the end. I have all the yarn but haven’t picked out the floss.
      I knew this was gonna be a big project but not “6 months per building” big.

    11. sewsandreads*

      I FINALLY finished basting over 1000 hexagons for an entirely hand sewn quilt! Tonight, I’m hanging out in InDesign land trying to work out the best layout for that quilt before I lose my mind.

        1. sewsandreads*

          Thank you! Last year, I told myself I’d get the whole project done in a year… unless I manage to hand sew an entire quilt in about two days, I’m dreaming — so this is just going to be a long labour of love project!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        +1,000 to what SurprisinglyADHD just said.
        Congratulations on your work so far and courage, and encouragement, for the next stages!

    12. Silence*

      I am 3/4 of the way through the lace border of my shawl it is lovely but very slow knitting

  12. Hazel*

    Does anyone use face wipes?

    I need to wipe down my face mid-day because my skin gets so oily. I’ve tried a few different brands of unscented/sensitive skin type face wipes, but they were kind of expensive and made my face sting. I’ve been using “99.9% water” baby wipes from Target for a while, but I think their ingredients changed because now the wipes leave my face red. Maybe it’s the preservative that irritates my face? I started looking into dry baby wipes that I could add plain water to, but those seem expensive and like you have to buy a lot at once.

    So I was wondering if anyone has any sort of wet wipe brands they like to use on their face, or if anyone uses any dry wipes or other disposable wipes for cleaning their face?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Is a small bottle of something and cotton rounds an option? You could even presoak some in a plastic baggie… anyway micellar water might help? I use Trader Joe’s citrus wipes on delicate under boob skin post workout but haven’t used them on my face extensively.

    2. Pearl Grey*

      I microwave a damp washcloth for 45- 60 seconds. Then I cover my entire face with the open washcloth to enjoy the steam before scrubbing my face. I really enjoy doing this, so sometimes I’ll rinse out the washcloth and repeat the process. I don’t use soap or other cleanser. Afterwards, while my face is still warm and damp, I apply a moisturizer.

    3. Mica*

      Do you know if you are allergic to aloe vera? It is more or less hidden in all sorts of things (for example: kleenex) and many people don’t know one can be allergic to that.

    4. Elf*

      Try getting reusable nursing pads. They are the right size, extremely soft, and you can wash and reuse.

    5. Hanani*

      Micellar water and a light moisturizer.

      I don’t know your skin, but sometimes very oily skin is caused/exacerbated by it actually being dry, so the skin overproduces oil in an attempt to fix that. A different washing/moisturizing routine could help as well.

      1. Once too often*

        True; I was shocked to learn that increasing moisturizer reduced oil production; same applies for hair. Once I stopped shampooing daily, my hair looked better longer. I’m down to about every 4 days, sometimes 5 or 6, between & it’s been so much better for both scalp & hair.

    6. Come On Eileen*

      I use oil-absorbing face blotter sheets (available at Target and other stores). They absorb the oil that my face produces and I really like them.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Another vote for these. I used to get them from Sephora– they had some with tea tree oil. Now that I’ll be traveling for work again I should get myself a pack or two!

        Fun fact: in a pinch, toilet seat covers are very good for blotting oil.

    7. EdgarAllenCat*

      Any chance to convince you to treat the oiliness a different way? It can be a sign that your skin is dehydrated and producing more oil to compensate. I’m a bit of a skincare obsessive and always happy to chat about it.

      1. anon for this*

        I wouldn’t mind your perspective. I have the same problem – my face gets so oily. I wash it with soap twice a day and apply a very light moisturizer right after, but by late afternoon it’s covered in oil and in the middle of the night my face wakes me up because the oil is making it itch.

        1. Voluptuousfire*

          Try using a thicker moisturizer. If your skin isn’t hydrated enough, it can kick the oil production into overdrive. I learned this years ago when I had a very bad 6 month cystic acne outbreak. Between the dehydration and stress, I had pizza face really badly abs it was extremely uncomfortable.

        2. EdgarAllenCat*

          I have oily skin and do the following to keep it in balance:

          Morning:
          – Curel Intensive Moisture Care Foaming Wash (counter-intuitive to use a cleanser geared for dry skin, but it doesn’t strip away the oil. Which in turn prevents the overproduction of same)
          – Josh Rosebrook Daily Acid Toner, 2-3 x per week, for gentle chemical exfoliation
          – Klairs Supple Preparation Unscented Facial Toner (2 layers, applying quickly after the other; adding hydration thus decreasing overproduction of oil)
          – Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate Facial Serum (3 drops mixed with a few drops of Klairs; hyaluronic acid helps retain hydration)
          – Klairs again (2 layers again)
          – Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream (light hydrating moisturizer)
          – SPF

          Evening
          – Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm (again, gentle oil based cleanser to reduce overproduction of oil by stripping it off)
          – Curel Intensive Moisture Care Foaming Wash
          – More Klairs
          – Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream
          – More Klairs
          – May Lindstrom The Youth Dew mixed with May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon (such an indulgence, but sensory treat for alleviating my anxiety)

          Believe it or not, the hydration really helped reduce oil production. Consider reading Charlotte Cho’s book, The Little Book of Skin Care (sokoglam . com) and/or Caroline Hirons’ book, Skincare (Carolinehirons . com).

          If you’d indulge me, would you post your routine & name products?

          1. vulturestalker*

            I’m curious about this too, but to be up front, I’m extremely intimidated by that long list! There’s no way I can afford that many products, nor will I be able to stick to a routine that includes more than 2 or 3.

            (I also hike/backpack a lot, and bringing more than 1-2 things on those trips is out of the question).

            Do you have any suggestions for how to develop a really simple routine, for someone like me who isn’t interested in getting super into it?

            I have a similar problem as described above–skin alternates between dry and oily, with periodic acne (likely hormonal). I strongly suspect that I have a case of over-producing oil to compensate for dryness, but all the heavier lotions i’ve tried just make the acne way worse.

            Current routine:
            Morning and evening–wash with a basic cleanser and warm/hot water. I think the one I use is a drugstore brand, maybe Cera-Ve? Then I put on lotion–before bed, just a basic Cetaphil light moisturizer, and in the morning I use Neutrogena SPF30 moisturizer/sunscreen instead.

            I kind of hate the sunscreen–leaves my face feeling really oily. But it’s like the 5th one I’ve tried and they all seem to leave either oiliness or weird matte dryness, amd this is the least bad one so far. I try to keep the lotion pretty light because when I put on more than a little, I get acne right after.

            It’s easy to get exasperated because trying new things is so expensive, and I just don’t know where to start…

            1. Emma2*

              I am not EdgarAllenCat, but if your skin may be dehydrated, I would suggest a hyaluronic acid serum. You can get one from The Ordinary that is fairly inexpensive (there are other inexpensive ones around, but that is the one I use so I know it). Also, the bottle is pretty small so easier to ravel with – it still lasts a reasonable time, the lid is an eye dropper and you only need 1-2 drops to cover your face.
              Dehydration is about a lack of water in the skin, while dryness is about a lack of oil. Sometimes skin that is dehydrated produces oil in response. Hyaluronic acid helps with the dehydration (even if your skin is not oily, it may be dehydrated).
              I am pretty basic in my skin care – cleanse, hyaluronic acid serum, moisturiser and sunscreen in the morning. Then the double cleanse, hyaluronic acid or another serum and moisturiser in the evening.

            2. EdgarAllenCat*

              Totally understand about wanting few steps. So, first question is about the Cerave – recommend only the Hydrating Cleanser, definitely not the Renewing SA Cleanser (too harsh to use every day) or get La Roche Posay Toleraine gentle cleanser (Target) or Curel Intensive Moisture Care Foaming Wash (Amazon or Ulta).

              Or try stuff from E.L.F. – cleansers, moisturizers, SPF (Target). Haven’t tried their cleansers, but look for a gentle, unscented one for dry skin cuz it’ll be more hydrating than stripping. They also have a good moisturizer, e.l.f. Superhydrate Moisturizer. I’ve used 2-3 pots of it and it’s v. light.

              Finding the right sunscreen is like finding flattering jeans. :) My sister likes e.l.f holy hydration face cream SPF 30. I use ZitSticka Mega Shade, buy it from ultra; doesn’t feel heavy or greasy. Pricey tho, $40/container.

              Agree w/Emma2. Get the The Ordinary Hyaluronic acid (HA) serum or The Inkey List equivalent. Both are affordable good products. But you should use it between layers of moisturizer or put it on while your face is damp from cleansing. Otherwise it’ll pull water directly from your skin & make it uncomfortably dry + tight.

              So you’ve got 3 products – gentle cleanser, moisturizer, HA serum, moisturizer w/SPF. Also cleanse twice in evening – 1st to remove the SPF and 2nd to cleanse skin. Then repeat moisturizer, HA, moisturizer.

    8. Anon Poster*

      I have incredibly oily, acne-prone skin, I usually just use blotting sheets during the work day so I don’t have to deal with fixing makeup. However, when I returned to work after covid shutdowns and was dealing with mask acne, I used La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Micellar Water to wipe down my face mid-day. I just kept the bottle and a package of cotton balls in a desk drawer. It wasn’t perfect, nothing is, but it was gentle and made my face feel reasonably clean. I liked it enough that once I found it, I stuck with it for about a year, until I didn’t need it anymore. I’m copy/pasting a link because this brand sells more than one kind of micellar water, this is the one they rec for oily skin. I bought the wrong type once by accident, and that was a big no for my poor face.

      https://www.laroche-posay.us/our-products/acne-oily-skin/face-wash/effaclar-micellar-water-for-oily-skin-effaclarmicellarwaterultra.html#start=2

    9. carcinization*

      I use Burt’s Bees Grapefruit Facial Cleansing Towelettes. Obviously they don’t fall into the “unscented” category, though.

    10. just another queer reader*

      Extremely low tech, but I often blot/ wipe down my face midday with a paper towel (sometimes dry, sometimes a little damp).

    11. PeteyKat*

      Don’t forget to apply (reapply) sunscreen after wiping your face. I use to have oily skin but now, as I’ve gotten older is is dry like the Mohave desert

  13. WellRed*

    Help! I just bought a new comforter that is snow white(I know) and dropped a bit if chocolate chip on it and now have three crusty chocolate stains. Best practice for stemming the damage?

    1. Aphrodite*

      To get the stains out, try OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover Spray. I love it and it works even on old stains that have gone through a hot dryer.

      Stemming the damage? A friend gave me a. large terrycloth bib for adults. Yeah, sometimes I need it.

    2. RLC*

      I’ve had success using “Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover” to get chocolate out of car upholstery and other fabrics. Don’t be deterred by the name, it works on a wide variety of textiles as long as the fabric can safely be dampened with water.

    3. Helvetica*

      Since the olden times when The Hairpin used to exist, I swear by anything and everything Ask a Clean Person (aka Jolie Kerr) recommends, so just google “Ask a clean person + chocolate” or “Jolie Kerr + chocolate”. Literally the first result talks about getting chocolate stains out of textiles.

    4. KatEnigma*

      Oxyclean, but if all else fails- it’s white, so use bleach. And leave in the sun, if you can.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Seconding Shout.

        Just had this same issue, but with pink and not white. Shout plus elbow grease got it out in one wash.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      big issue: if the comforter is down, be absolutely sure to wash only the fabric and to dry it thoroughly. Wet down will bunch up, which prevents it from dying, and wet down will quickly smell like a dead duck (or goose).

      1. I'm Done*

        You can wash down comforters and pillows. I’ve been doing it for decades, twice a year, otherwise it’s pretty gross even with the duvet cover. You just have to dry them for a good long time. I usually use 3 dryer cycles. No fabric softener and go easy on the detergent.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          sorry. didn’t mean to suggest that it couldn’t be washed. simply wanted to dress the importance of thorough drying. i worked for a natural bedding company for 14 years and this was a common complaint from customers.

  14. Goose*

    My sibling is dealing with the rigamarole of an undiagnosed chronic illness. She has an incredibly supportive partner and boss, and our family is doing what we can to help and support during this frustrating process. She knows how to ask for help and advocate for herself, but I’m wondering what she may not know how to ask for— what I’m asking is, if you or a loved one has been in this process, what some thing you or they didn’t know they needed, but was very appreciated? I already do the obvious—listen nonjudgmentally and accommodate plans (thankfully we’re all homebodies to begin with), etc. What are we not thinking of?

    1. Mstr*

      While doing all the practical things to support her as she moves forward with diagnosis and treatment, perhaps make a point to set aside some time to try to focus on enjoying life as much as possible even though circumstances aren’t ideal. Stress and worry can eat up a lot of time unnecessarily. Sometimes doing something else helps … maybe there’s a project or activity she can still do with you or maybe you can ban health talk on weekends or something. It can bring some relief in the form of distraction, and looking back on it later it can be the year you watched 20 rom-coms together vs the year that was completely lost to health concerns.

    2. Agender In Space*

      For me, food has been the biggest hurdle – cooking and cleaning. Trust her, though, and let her know you’re there for her, but don’t pressure her.

    3. anxiousGrad*

      It sounds like you’re already doing this, but when I was going through the process of getting diagnosed with a chronic illness, I really appreciated my loved ones having the patience to listen to me as I kept repeating the same anxieties. I knew I was probably being annoying, but the illness was all I could think about and for a long time I was stuck in that purgatory of not knowing for sure what was going on, or whether I would ever get better. It was nice to be able to let out those thoughts without anyone saying, “yeah you said that 10 times already.”

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

        Same goes for me. I addition to this a friend texted to see if I was having an okay day (good days weren’t happening). When I said I was she said I’ll see you in an hour and took me for a pedicure and lunch. It was simple on her end but meant so much to me.

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      You may already be doing this, but just in case: let her change the subject. Sometimes people need to talk about what they’re going through, and other times they want to talk about the turkeys mating outside the living room window, or chocolate chip cookie recipes, or any of the other things they would be interested in if they didn’t have the chronic illness to deal with.

      1. Anono-me*

        This is excellent advice.

        Also, when you make plans that are modified to accommodate your sibling, don’t talk about it that the plan is X to accommodate your sibling; rather say the plan is X which should work for everyone.

  15. Double A*

    What are some first chapter books you’d recommend for reading aloud with a 4.5 year old?

    My daughter loves stories but picture books aren’t working great with our bedtime routine anymore and I’d like to start reading some chapter books with her.

    I’ve tried some Roald Dahl (The BFG specifically) and it was a little advanced in terms of how long the plot is. I read her an Ivy & Bean book and she did seem to like that and it seemed like a good length (about 70 pages). I checked out some Ramona books last summer but she was definitely too young then, so I’m going to try those again soon. Would love more ideas!

      1. KR*

        I was going to mention Junie B Jones. Ramona Quimby is great but I think Junie might be a good stepping stone to Ramona.

    1. WellRed*

      I might agree with Junie B. I feel like Ramona is better suited for ages oh, 7 or 8? Not 4.5. Every kid is different though. Have you asked the librarian for suggestions?

      1. KatEnigma*

        It depends on the book. In Ramona the Pest, she is 4 and I think 4’s relate. As she ages, so does the intended audience. The same for the Little House books or even Harry Potter (only starts older, obviously)- the language and subject matter is simpler and gets more complex as the main character ages.

        1. Annoy-mouse*

          I would pre-read the little house books first. There is a lot of implicit and overt racism in them…. which makes sense given the historical context. I gave them to my 3rd grader to read and it was a great opening to discuss such topics but do go in with your eyes open.

          1. KatEnigma*

            I specifically didn’t mention Little House in my recommendations (just as an example of the books aging with the character) because although I’m fine with it- and I get mad that people try to cancel her when Laura and Pa’s characters are so pro-Native, ESPECIALLY for their time, but I know my audience here.

        2. Not Totally Subclinical*

          The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace do the same thing. Betsy-Tacy is set when the characters are 4 and written at a level that works for other 4-year-olds; by the time you get to Heaven to Betsy, you’re at YA reading level and topics.

          1. Clisby*

            I think I discovered the Betsy-Tacy books when I was 9 or 10 – I reread the entire series 4 or 5 years ago. It’s still good.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Winnie the Pooh

      Mrs Piggle Wiggle

      Beatrix Potter

      We have also had a lot of luck with slightly modernized versions of Just-So stories .

      Things that exist in the same universe, but are essentially short stories work well for us (now 5 1/2) instead of having to remember a plot that left off the night before.

    3. Ranon*

      Phantom Tollbooth was a hit with my kiddo. Plus it’s actually really interesting as a grown-up, the word play is great.

      1. Double A*

        I have been trying to read this with her, but it’s a little advanced because there’s so much wordplay so she’s been kind of drifting off. It’s one of my favorites so we will definitely read it eventually!

      2. tangerineRose*

        I found the word play a bit overdone and annoying when I was a kid, but it was kind of funny sometimes.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I was going to suggest Ramona, they’re such a wonderful experience to read aloud – just very funny and heartfelt.

      Some of the other ones I read to my daughter when she was around 5 were Pippi Longstocking and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. A good general rule is to look for books like 2ish grade levels above what your kid can read (so for yours, start with about 1st/2nd grade) because it’s not too simplistic, but still age appropriate.

      A Mighty Girl is a really great resource for book ideas if you’ve never tried it before, they do a lot of posts focusing on specific topics but you can also narrow your search by age!

    5. Lilo*

      I’ve read parts of The Wind in the Willows and The Hobbit to my four year old. We also did some Magic Treehouse.

      So what’s going on with the picture books? My four year old can read a bit so one thing he likes to do is read particular words out of the books. Like the animal noises in Little Blue Truck.

      1. Double A*

        We’re still doing picture books, but she wants to look at them herself and is resisting having me read them with her, which is fine! But it’s also kind of never-ending and open-ended. So I find it helps to have something that I can read to her that she’s not as tempted to snatch from me and that I can decide when we’re done.

        We’re trying to get her to sleep alone in her room so right now we need the routine to be a structured as possible and I find picture books at the moment are a point of contention. We’ll come back to them, I just need something that’s a bit more parents directed at the moment!

        1. Lilo*

          Ah yes, I’m familiar with the “I want to do it myself!” classic 4 year old.

          Do you have any duplicate books (like people gave you multiple copies of Where the Wild Things Are). Maybe if she held one while you read one?

    6. Annoy-mouse*

      mine loves Mo Willems (Dont let the pigeon drive the bus, elephant and piggie, etc) and Cynthia Rylant (Henry and Mudge, Mr Potter and Tabby). Theyre longer than the average picture book but short enough for bedtime.

    7. Llellayena*

      These might aim a tiny bit older, but The Boxcar Children. They’re mysteries, with the youngest kit at age 6, but the “mystery” isn’t anything violent. Mostly a “why are these weird things happening, oh a new neighbor!” type of vibe.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      How about “The Worst Witch” series? Or there are a lot of Enid Blytons, stuff like “The Magic Faraway Tree.” Or are the “My Naughty Little Sister” books still available.

    9. Overeducated*

      My kid was really into graphic novels aged 4-6. We had to read him all of Bone 3 or 4 times. I don’t think he understood it all, but he was INTO it. Amulet and Wings of Fire were the next favorite series, but we’d often just pick up random ones from the library.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      The Magic Treehouse books. They lack poetry, but the plots are super engaging to young kids.

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      Some that we’ve read and I’ve liked that skew a little younger:
      +1 Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
      Lulu and the Brontosaurus (and this whole series)
      Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile is shorter so might be appealing.
      Kenneth Kragel’s Sweet Honey From the Moon straddles the line between picture book and chapter book.
      The Wild Robot
      Stuart Little
      Cricket in Times Square
      Books by Dick King Smith

    12. Not that Leia*

      Mercy Watson series! They’re sort of chapter-book-lite (ie, short and very illustrated) and they were the first longer books my kids got into. There are also some longer spin-off chapter books with the same characters.
      We’ve also been reading the Secret Rescuers series, which is not as good (adult opinion relative to writing) but has magical creatures in it and my 4.5 yo loves them.

    13. Children's Librarian*

      This is one of my favorite questions that I get at the place we don’t mention on the weekends. Some of the ones I often recommend:

      -Look for the Scholastic Branches imprint. There’s a bunch of different series in Branches (Kung Pao Chicken, Dragon Masters, etc.) and they are all at a great level. They have pictures but are chapter books. They are universally beloved from about age 4-9 (great for beginning readers, too, who are moving out of easy readers but aren’t quite ready for long chapter books).
      -Mercy Watson books are silly, fun, and delightful, and another shorter chapter book.
      -Dory Fantasmagory is great, about a child with a huge imagination, and again, perfect for that age.
      -Oh, Sal by Kevin Henkes is about a 4 year old and it’s just the cutest chapter book ever, just really dealing with the issues she is feeling. It’s a companion novel to The Year of Billy Miller, but you don’t have to have read that book to enjoy Oh, Sal (Billy Miller is also great, and updated Ramona book with a boy main character).
      -Winnie the Pooh is also a good, classic choice.

      I’d say all of these are at a similar length to Ivy & Bean, some a little shorter, but all in that ballpark. Hope you find something you enjoy!

    14. GoryDetails*

      My folks started me on “Winnie-the-Pooh” and other Milne works quite early – and I still love ’em. “Now We Are Six” is a poetry collection with some really delightful entries, great fun to read aloud.

      I didn’t discover Hoban’s “Frances” books until I was grown up, but I imagine I’d have enjoyed them as a kid; little-girl-badger Frances has various domestic adventures, from having trouble sleeping (“Bedtime for Frances”, possibly my favorite) to quibbling with a friend over a miniature tea-set.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Winnie the Pooh and the others in the set are my very first book memory.

        But the younger Little House books were better, for my purposes, because my father had never read them, so he would get engaged in the story and I could talk him into reading 2-3 chapters instead of only the one before bed!

        And oh, I loved those Frances books! I’d almost forgotten! I had Bedtime for Frances and Bread and Jam for Frances!

    15. Not A Manager*

      Arnold Lobel has some charming “chapter” books that are really vaguely related short stories. Frog & Toad, Small Pig, Owl At Home, and Uncle Elephant come to mind. Oh, and Mouse Tales.

      1. all the plants*

        Came here to recommend Frog and Toad. It’s my go to rec/gift for new readers. Also, the Amelia Bedilia series by Peggy Parish is hilarious.

    16. SarahKay*

      I’d have been about that age when Mum read me Heidi, What Katy Did, and Swallows and Amazons. All of which I loved, and went on to read for myself, plus the sequels.

    17. Lcsa99*

      want to second Amelia Bedelia, though I don’t think they are chapter books and want to add Bunnicula! It is a really fun series of books with a vampire rabbit that sucks the juice out of veggies!

    18. Alex*

      B is for Betsy, and there’s a whole bunch more of those.

      Also, there’s some Ramona where she is in preschool, like Ramona and Beezus, I think? Ramona the Pest? Believe there is one for each grade at least–when she is in preschool, kinder, first, second, third, fourth, and maybe fifth? Not sure about fifth.

      Maybe Homer Price? Mrs. Piggle Wiggle? Betsy-Tacy?

      Also for Roald Dahl, maybe Charlie and the Chocolate factory would be more engaging for a 4 year old than the BFG.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Ramona the Pest.

        Ramona and Beezus is set when Ramona is still that age, but from Beezus’ perspective more than Ramona’s, so it does skew a little older.

        Dahl is really so strange that I don’t intend to introduce it until my son is a little older. I must have been 8 when I read James and the Giant Peach? And I was definitely 8 when we were read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in school by my very excellent teacher (a chapter after lunch, to help us transition to learning again)

    19. OtterB*

      Somewhere between picture books, graphic novels, and early readers, Ursula Vernon’s Danny Dragonbreath series and Hamster Princess series.

      These are no longer in print, but are available used. My daughter loved the Pony Pals series by Jeanne Betancourt. She was a bit older when we read them but if she likes horses she might like them. In our case, they were a transition into reading longer books independently – I read them aloud to her, and then she’d come back later and reread on her own. They may also be too long for the routine you are trying to establish; they were a transition in read-aloud for us from “finish the book the same night you start it” to “read the book over more than one evening.”

      Have you looked at The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease? I’ve seen that there’s an updated edition.

    20. HoundMom*

      James Herriot has a children’s book where he took many of his stories from the book and made them more accessible to children. My kids (now in their 20’s) buy that book for anyone having a baby. Our version is in tatters and our kids listened to my husband reading those stories until they were 8 or 9.

    21. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I remember enjoying the Berenstein Bears chapter books, but I think I was older than when I liked Ramona.
      Other series I liked were the Magic Tree House books, and The Boxcar Children, and Junie B Jones was funny. Captain Underpants was one of my favorites!
      Have you tried any poetry? Shel Silverstein is fantastic for kids, even before they can read by themself, and Jack Prelutsky.
      My mom also encouraged us to read graphic novels, like TinTin and Asterix the Gaul.

    22. migrating coconuts*

      If she likes animals, there is a series called Puppy Place. My daughter loved them when she was little. I think they have the same thing with cats too. The Frog and Toad books are great.

    23. Purple m&m*

      Nancy Drew series. They’re old, but wholesome & have a female protagonist. I asked our librarian as we went along to recommend books with a female protagonist. She recommended Raising Dragons, Princess Academy. Also Ten Minutes ‘Till Bedtime (a picture book with very few words but you see something new every time you read it). Later, Terry Pratchett books with Tiffany Aching as the lead character: The Wee Free Men, A Hatfull of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight.

    24. Nightengale*

      the original Amelia Bedelia

      (not the new ones where the main character is a kid. The original Amelia Bedelia is shown as a competent adult woman who is a good cook and good with people and also extremely literal. I think this is really different for a kid than now that they made the main character a really literal kid, they are too real to be funny. Speaking as an adult who was a literal kid)

    25. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      The Miss Bianca books — about adventurous mice and their espionage shenanigans.

      The All of a Kind Family books — about a Jewish family in early 1900s NYC.

      Understood Betsy — about a timid city girl who blossoms on her family’s Vermont farm.

      The Mary Poppins books — P.L Travers herself re-did the original racist Bad Tuesday story, so just be sure you don’t get an older copy.

      I loved having Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang and Sky Island read to me when I was your child’s age, and having them read to me led me to being able to read them myself.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        The Saturday Club — about a group of siblings in the early 1900s who pool their money so each one can go on their own adventure one Saturday a month.

        All the Oz books are cool — L. Frank Baum was ahead of his time in his progressive thinking on some issues of ethnicity and gender. I started with *Glinda, the Good Witch of Oz*

        The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books — about a problem-solving, advice-giving neighbor who advises parents on how to cure their children of nasty habits by showing the children the natural consequences of their actions. The books are fun (illustrated by Hillary Knight!) and were quite informative to little me about how some of my habits were not that productive.

        The books by Edward Eager that start with Half-Magic (about a magic coin that only grants you half of what you wish for, if I remember right).

    26. Broken scones*

      The Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale is a fun series. I also recommend the Mango & Bambang series by Polly Faber.

    27. Imtheone*

      Frog and Toad are Friends, and others in the series.
      We found the early readers worked well as read aloud for four year olds.

    28. Double A*

      Thank you everyone for the recommendations! I have a long Note where I wrote down your recommendations. We went to the library Saturday and picked up a couple. I tried Ramona the Pest but she wasn’t really into it, so I’m going to try something with more pictures.

    29. TX_Trucker*

      The Chicken Squad series by Doreen Cronin about four backyard chickens stirring up trouble. There are six short chapter books, and two shorter “ready to read” illustrated books.

  16. Old Fart*

    When you go on dinner dates with your partner, are you a “sit next to your partner” or a “sit across from your partner” person? And why?
    I sit across from my partner so I can see them and make eye contact while we talk & eat. Unless we are with another couple, then we sit next to each other and across from the other couple.

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      Depends on what I want out of the evening. If I just want to kick back and enjoy food and atmosphere, I’ll sit across from him and hustle up some fun, light conversation. If I want to talk about something important, or steal his shrimp, or distract him from a trip to the hardware store, I’ll sit next to him.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m an across, because I have to be able to watch his lips if we’re in a noisy restaurant or somewhere that plays (blasts) music. But like you we sit next to each other and across from the people we’re eating with if we’re ever out with someone.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Ugh to restaurants that do not understand that you want to hear the people you’re sharing a table with.

        Not just music but the modern architectural style with open ceilings and pipe works that create a loud hum so that you can’t converse with your table mates.

    3. MissCoco*

      We are a next-to couple. He is the one who started it (when we met I defaulted to across the table), and now it just feels natural. Easier to swap bites, look at the same things to chat about, and I think it sort of has the effect of driving in a car where conversations seem to flow better because there’s somehow less pressure. My husband also doesn’t have excellent hearing, and I prefer being able to lean into his ear rather than having to raise my voice from across the table.

      1. BadCultureFit*

        This made me chuckle. (My spouse and I both wfh full time right now and let’s just say I’m ready for once of us to get out of the house a bit more often!)

    4. allathian*

      When we go on a date, we definitely sit across from each other, at least partly because most restaurants here have small tables for just one or two guests. If we go on a double date, we sit next to each other because the idea is to talk to the others more than your spouse. About 18 months ago my husband and I were invited to a group dinner with some of his friends (the first time we went out to eat indoors after February 2020), and the table setting was such that each couple sat facing each other but with another guest of the opposite sex on either side. The one single woman and the one single man were paired up with each other, LOL.

      It’s not exactly a dinner date, but when we go out to eat as a family, my husband and son sit on one side of the table and I sit on the other because they’re slim and I’m fat.

    5. ThatGirl*

      In a booth, across. At tables we’ll sometimes sit at right angles for easier conversation.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I had a class in grad school where the prof talked about how to set up meetings spaces. He said that research showed (this was in 1991) women found eye contact improved intimacy but men found it hostile. The recommendations were that you seat men side by side and women across from each other.

      I don’t know if that theory is valid or if it ever was, but I will say that when Mr T and I go out, he wants to sit next to me because he finds it more intimate. I would rather be able to see him than be next to him.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Across if it’s just us. Usually next to each other if we’re with other folks.

    8. Unkempt Flatware*

      Across from. I’m a personal-space person even for the person I’m intimate with. I also don’t sit next to them on the couch.

  17. tangerineRose*

    I’ve been noticing lately that shelves in the kitchen can be kind of a pain when storing cans of food in them. I like to put the new stuff in the back so that I get food in a last in first out method. It’s awkward with a deep shelf. I’m beginning to think about getting some short boxes so I can just pull the box part-way out and put the can of food in.

    Which seems like I’m basically adding a sort of shelf into the drawer. Maybe we should just use drawers for food.

    1. Pamela Adams*

      I’ve done that. It makes for a very heavy drawer. I now use risers, so I can see everything.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Shelf organisers are the way to go. There are many different types and sizes, and having the ability to stack stuff gives you extra storage space too.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do that – when I had my kitchen redone, the pantry “shelves” are all drawers and it’s wonderful. (I just went through yesterday and wrote with a sharpie on top of all the cans so I can ID them at a glance and I wish I’d done that a while ago.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Sure! I thought about it last night and was like WHY HAVE I NOT THOUGHT ABOUT THIS AT ANY POINT IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS.

      1. Tib*

        I recently saw one for the fridge that is oval and swivels in a cool way. It’s the first thing I thought of when reading this.

      2. RLC*

        We have one of those lazy Susan units, massive weight capacity (ideal for cans) built into a deep interior-corner lower cupboard. We can utilize perhaps 80% of the space with little effort and nothing is forgotten in the back. Ours was there when we moved in but I’ve seen similar units at specialist hardware shops.

    4. Red Sky*

      For cost saving reasons we got a couple of the super tall Ikea Pax wardrobe cabinets with drawers instead of regular kitchen pantry cabinets when we did a kitchen remodel and it’s been a game changer. I will never go back to shelves after experiencing the ease of use and convenience of drawers.

      1. SarahKay*

        Oh, so true. I was renting for a few years, and the kitchen came with three wide drawers rather than a double cabinet and I was deeply dubious for the first week. After which I was totally in love with them, recommend them to everyone, and will be installing them in my own home very soon.

      2. Tech writer by day*

        Any chance you could post a picture? I looked at the IKEA site but can’t quite picture it as a pantry.

        1. Red Sky*

          I don’t have a photo sharing app, but our set up is similar to this except we didn’t trim out with crown molding and we have our fridge between the 2 Pax units, which have both wood and mesh pull out drawers a bit more than 1/2 way up each unit and shelves towards the top for larger things like paper towels etc. We have our microwave in one of the units and cut a hole in the back for accessing the power outlet and replaced the particle board shelf with a sturdier plywood shelf, and then reinforced it with metal L brackets. The drawer slides are also reinforced with stronger screws to hold the weight of canned goods. If you google image search ‘Ikea Pax kitchen pantry’ you can see more ideas. The cool thing is there are so many different ways to customize the Pax system; deep drawers, shallow trays, mesh basket drawers, dividers, pull-out tray, wire shelves and more so you can really customize to suit your needs

          https://www.jennasuedesign.com/kitchen-chronicles-ikea-pax-pantry-reveal/

    5. acmx*

      They make shelves for cans for first in, first out (which means the can you’ve had the longest is used first), they’re angled so the cans roll. Or a stackable can shelf.

    6. Danish*

      I have both sliding drawers and individual boxes for the food on those drawers and it makes me way more likely to actually look at everything I have instead of just always grabbing what’s closest.

      For me it’s one of those things that sounds a little… Idk, privileged? Like oh it’s so hard to use normal shelves I need sliding ones, right. But on the other hand, one of the things I have tried to internalize lately is that life doesn’t always have to be so hard, and I don’t have to keep doing something in an inconvenient way just because that’s how it was set up. If having drawers and boxes for food is easier on you and lets you actually use the food, then that’s the way to go!

    7. ronda*

      I think drawers for lower cabinets are far superior to the regular cabinets.. but if you have some large items to store, they may not be good for that.

      my sister had a kind of wire insert thing in her pantry type cabinet. It had multiple shelves/bins you could roll out. I thought it was really nice….. but as a short person…. at a certain height it no longer makes sense.

      online I have even seen a corner cabinet thing that will kind of pull out in 2 directions to get to those areas easier. seems to maximize storage space. never seen it in person tho.

  18. tangerineRose*

    I tend to need to use throat drops, but I don’t want to hurt my teeth. If only I had the self-control to not chew on the throat drops. I’m wondering if I should use a hammer to break up the throat drops or maybe there’s some kind of gummy throat drops I haven’t heard of.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have ginger chews – They’re not exactly throat drops, but might help? The ones I have are a little zingy though, at least for me.

    2. Dancing Otter*

      I use eucalyptus menthol chips from CheckmatesCandy. The salesman at Economy Candy said they’re considered candy in Italy, where they originate, but they are definitely not sweet.
      The consistency is sort of halfway between a gummy and a traditional hard cough drop. One isn’t tempted to just chew it up immediately, but it gets softer as it dissolves. It may stick to the roof of your mouth, but you won’t crack a tooth.
      They work better on a cough or sore throat than anything I’ve ever tried.

    3. *daha**

      Pine Brothers are soft, gummy style. Also, their web site says they hope to bring them back into stock for May.

  19. Anonymous cat*

    I want to take my iphone with me to the gym to listen to music or podcasts, but I don’t want to need to set it down. I’m sure I’ll step on it or leave it behind.

    I saw an armband holder for runners that looks useful, but they’re not big enough if you’re overweight. (At least, not with a basic google search!)

    Does anyone know a brand that has these for larger people? Or have a suggestion for how to carry your iphone with you while working out?

    1. anon24*

      I have the RevereSport Universal Running armband: https://www.amazon.com/iPhone-Running-Armband-Fingerprint-Exercise/dp/B078PNLMDJ/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=2ERNJIW0IRGIK&keywords=RevereSport+Universal+iPhone+Running+Armband+%2814%2F13%2F12%2F11%2F10%2F8%2F7%2F6%2FX%2FXR%2FSE%2FPlus%2FMax%2FPro%29.+Phone+Holder+Case&qid=1681535103&sprefix=reveresport+universal+iphone+running+armband+14%2F13%2F12%2F11%2F10%2F8%2F7%2F6%2Fx%2Fxr%2Fse%2Fplus%2Fmax%2Fpro+.+phone+holder+case%2Caps%2C107&sr=8-1

      They make a Samsung version and an iPhone version, I have the Samsung one. It has an extender included, so if you have larger arms you just add that in. The base version is for arms up to 14.5″ around and the extension goes up to 21″, which is bigger than it sounds. Its sturdier and grips the phone better than it appears to in the pictures, I’ve had mine for a few years and used it when I was running for several miles almost every day and it never let me down. You can also wear one on your upper forearm rather than your upper arm if you need to.

    2. Camelid coordinator*

      I’ve tested a lot of different ways to carry my phone while running and working out. I am happiest when my tights or shorts have a sleek stretchy pocket on the side (if brand names help, in the winter I wear rainier tights from Athleta and the rest of the year I wear capris or skirts from Skirt Sports). If I am only running I like a handheld water bottle with a phone pocket (I have a couple different ones from Nathan.). The other choice, and this might work for you, is a running belt. The Spibelt is surprisingly comfortable and light and has an extended belt that easily clips on if needed. Hope this isn’t too detailed or off base, good luck and have fun at the gym!

      1. eeeek*

        Ditto all of this – I really like my leggings with pockets on the side of the thigh, or my spibelt. I was afraid the belt would dig into my waist, but I find it pretty easy to dial in how loose/tight I want it.
        I also had a Nathan “jacket” for my water bottle, but my phone outgrew it!
        ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Who would have thought women would ever find pockets to be useful? Clothing designers, do you hear us? We want pockets. Pockets. Pockets. (And sleeves.)

        1. Filosofickle*

          Sometimes I’m shopping online and I see comments complaining that an item was redesigned to have pockets and asking for no pockets. When I was starting out professionally a woman advised me never to cut the stitches holding my new blazer pockets shut so I wouldn’t be tempted to put anything in there and ruin the line. These women have very different priorities than me! I get that a lot of pockets are poorly designed and do make clothes fit differently but I just shake my head.

    3. Doctor is In*

      I have a small belt pouch that I sometimes use, lots of styles available. They can work with wired or wireless headphones. Might work for you.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      Armbands are incredibly annoying in my experience; they don’t stay in place very well and they just bug me. I’m normal weight and I have some mild sensory issues, so YMMV. Workout leggings with a pocket that a phone fits in, now, that was the game changer.

    5. acmx*

      You could try a Koala Clip. It tucks into the back of your sports bra and held in place with a magnet. You could tuck it into your waistband if you need to lay on your back for some exercises.

    6. North Wind*

      Just two days ago I bought a Treximo Fitness Running Phone Holder ($9.95). It’s like a fingerless glove (lightweight) you put over your hand and your phone fits into a pocket inside it. It’s positioned in such a way that it’s like holding your phone in the palm of your hand so you can use it, but the glove is holding it so your hand doesn’t have to. You can interact with the phone through the sheer material that makes up the pocket (though it does take a bit more effort). My phone has a chunky phone case – and it fits with the phone case.

    7. *daha**

      I wear sleeveless t-shirts with pockets. I’m a guy, and I don’t know if they make any specifically for women or not. I buy mine from the Kingsize catalog.

    8. Pocket Mouse*

      If you’re a bra-wearer, there are now bras that have pockets large enough to hold a phone! For some it’s in the front, and others in the back (racerback).

    9. Anonymous cat*

      Thank you everyone! I will check these out.
      I didn’t think of pants with pockets because my current ones don’t have any. I’ll have to check out the prices on a new pair!

    1. Bethlam*

      Absolutely. Phone and tissues in left pocket; pepper spray and small notebook and pen in right pocket.

    2. PeteyKat*

      Yes please! They can hold your phone, key, money, etc. the deeper the pocket the better

  20. Jackalope*

    Super late this week! This is a reading thread – please share whatever you’ve been reading this week, and give or request recommendations.

    I’m reading a book called Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell; it’s a nonfiction book about and for people leaving fundamentalist Christianity. I’m finding it to be interesting but dense.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Just finished Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker. It’s fascinating but has made me somewhat paranoid about my own sleep! I tend to wake up every two hours either to pee or because Peanut decides to walk on me, and have a helluva time getting back to it.

      1. Still*

        I don’t have the source right now but I remember reading a pretty thorough debunking of Why We Sleep. If you want to feel less paranoid, googling around for a bit of fact-checking might make you feel better. (Though listening to his TED talk certainly made me feel better about my preference to sleep 10 hours a day when possible!)

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I listened to “Never Let Me Go” on audiobook this week. I originally read it over a decade ago and didn’t remember much other than “it was good” but I LOVED it this time around.

      Just finished “More Happy Than Not” by Adam Silvera. I didn’t like it as much as “They Both Die at the End” but there were a few things I really didn’t see coming that made it hard to put down!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Adam Silvera: I liked “More Happy Than Not,” but would agree that “They Both Die at the End” is better – indeed, I adored that one, both on audiobook and in print. I have the prequel, “The First to Die at the End”, on my to-be-read shelf. [Shelves. Lots of shelves.]

        Re “Never Let Me Go” – that one was eerie and powerful and very distressing. For another novel with vaguely similar themes, though handled differently, maybe check out “Composite Creatures” by Caroline Hardaker.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          “They Both Die at the End” was fantastic in audiobook, probably my favorite audio performance!

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m reading Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. I’m doing one chapter a day because I’ve never had the best luck with Russian literature but I’m enjoying it so far and hoping for more Yeshua and Pontius Pilate chapters.

      I’m also reading Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins in Spanish to prepare for my language exam in July. I finished The Hunger Games the other day and surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it. It’s not a trilogy I’ve ever read and it holds up well as an adult reader; although, I could’ve done with less focus on the makeover aspects but I get that it is a young adult novel so it wasn’t too annoying.

      1. Jamie Starr*

        I read Master and Margarita a few years ago. I think it was on some list of 100 Best Books ever, or something. Overall I liked it, but iir, it got pretty strange towards the end. As I was reading, I also wished my Russian/Stalinist history knowledge was better. But as someone who isn’t well versed in the story of Pontius Pilate, I found those chapters interesting.

      2. IT Manager*

        Have you tried Collins’ other YA series Gregor the Overlander? I liked Hunger Games as an adult but I LOVED the Gregor series. Quite a different feel but just as imaginative and with wonderful characters/development.

    4. germank106*

      Dark Angel by John Sandford. This is the second Letty Davenport novel and, while I liked the entire Lucas Davenport series, I’m not sure I like this one 100%. I’m about two thirds in and Letty is portrayed as a fairly cold person.

    5. Still*

      I’m reading N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became. It’s not as good as the Broken Earth trilogy, and it’s even more explicit in all of its themes and metaphors – it really doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. But I am enjoying it. I have about 60 pages left and still don’t know if it’s going to wrap up or if it’s leading up to a sequel. On the one hand, I was hoping for a satisfying ending, but on the other, it still feels like a beginning and I want more time for all the relationships to develop.

      1. Hanani*

        I admit to really disliking this one, but loving Jemisin’s other work. I am really impressed by her ability to create remarkably different worlds and types of stories – lots of authors write broadly the same thing over and over, which isn’t bad, but her breadth is fascinating even when it doesn’t quite work.

        Have you read her Dreamblood duology? That one is my favorite.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it winds up in a satisfying spot. And probably should have been a standalone.

        I’ve been stuck a few chapters into the sequel, The World We Make, for some time. I consider picking it back up, and each time am like “Eh, I think I’ll reread something.” It could be something great happens in the second half of the book.

        1. Still*

          Well, I’ve just finished reading. The plot twist was quite satisfying – it was one of those “oh of course” moments and I can’t picture any other way the story could have been resolved in so few pages. But I have to agree, I’m not too compelled to reach for the sequel.

      3. GoryDetails*

        I loved “The City We Became” – had family who lived in Queens for a while, and I’ve been to Manhattan a time or three as well, for that little personal connection. And I adored the choice of city-as-antagonist!

        I have the sequel, “The World We Make,” on my to-be-read stack.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I happened to read The City We Became just as the pandemic really got roaring in the US, so there was this weird disconnect of “Oh no the city is in danger” meeting “these protagonists are standing too close together.”

    6. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      “Every City is Every Other City” by John McFetridge. A movie location scout does PI work on the side. Set in Canada. We like to get audio books from the library for long car trips, and I chose this one partly from the description, and also that it was only 7 hrs long, which meant we could finish it before we got home. We really enjoyed it – it had a good story and characters, and it was humorous too.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Finished the second book in the Crimson Lake series, mystery novels set in the Northwestern Australia.
      They are good, but rather violent and not cozy.
      Started A Fever In The Heartland, about the rise and fall of KKK in Indiana (and the North in general) in the 1920s. It’s a terrifying read, but very well written.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Added Fever to my library list, thank you! If you like the writing style, Egan’s “The Worst Hard Time” about the Dust Bowl was also really well done.

    8. IT Manager*

      Finally read Victory City by Salman Rushdie, and felt awed, entertained, and a little overwhelmed. My usual fare is Austin, Christie and fantasy/scifi … so this was a good and needed departure for me but I feel like I need to read it multiple times to catch everything. Not a beach read :-) but very – engaging? Engrossing? Immersive?

      1. IT Manager*

        Oh also read some Harlan Coben, which was – fine. Good plots, interesting characters, but felt the dialogue and character development were sort of forced. Entertaining but not something to return to often.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Loved The Mimicking of Known Successes (Mossa & Pleiti #1) by Malka Ann Older. A novella, set on Jupiter which reimagines Holmes and Watson as lesbian exes. Personality (personal faults/quirks for Holmes) wise they resemble Holmes and Watson, but Holmes is an investigator (ie the police) and they haven’t really seen each other other since the breakup until now. The mystery, though, is entirely based in the science fiction and the setting is very Victorian London with trains, tea and scones, and foggy weather.

      I liked Infamous by Lex Croucher is a regency era queer romantic comedy / satire. Written in modern language. Charming characters and full of anachronisms, but the plot is driven by the main character a charming, tomboy who refuses to be a proper lady being stupid for far too long. Her charisma can only go so far.

      Now onto January Fifteenth by Rachel Swirsky (a novella) which follows 4 women on the day all Americans receive their Universal Basic Income (UBI) check for the year. I don’t think the women’s path will cross at all. Don’t love any characters so far, but I might by the end. Doesn’t feel like a book I’ll live … more of a make you think book.

    10. The Other Dawn*

      I often have a long gap between new releases from my favorite authors and make it a point to read every day and/or night, so I decided to try some I haven’t read before.

      I just started reading James Rollins. So far I’ve read Subterranean and Ice Hunt. I liked Subterranean. Ice Hunt was great, but the ending, while very fitting, was disturbing and I shouldn’t have finished it right before going to bed. It kept me awake because my mind was dwelling on it. I just started Sandstorm last night, which is the first in the Sigma Force series.

      I tried a couple Michael Crichton books and they were good, too. Although, Air Frame was a bit of a slog to get through and read like someone obsessed with all things airplane.

    11. GoryDetails*

      Among my recent/current reads:

      “If We Were Villains” by M. L. Rio, about a group of students in the Shakespeare program at an arts college – whose stage loves and hates seem to be bleeding into their real lives. (Some of the descriptions of their productions are so enticing that I craved to see them – even knowing the angst going on backstage!)

      “Spring Rain: A Life Lived In Gardens”, by poet/retired-gardener Marc Hamer, alternating essays from his later life with his beloved wife and flashbacks to his childhood, mixing the discovery of the wonders of nature and the challenges of coping with his “Angry Dog” father.

      Current carrying-around book: “Something That May Shock and Discredit You” by Daniel M. Lavery, a mix of personal-memoir essays about his transition, and quirky/weird/funny pop-culture bits, some of them laugh-out-loud funny.

    12. Llama face!*

      I’ve just started an interesting book called “American Detox” by Kerri Kelly. It’s a nonfiction book addressing issues with the wellness industry. A blurb from the book jacket:

      “Wellness isn’t making us well–it’s making us worse. We don’t need juice fasts or yoga fads; we need to detox from a dominant culture rooted in perfectionism, white supremacy, and individualism and show up for our collective well-being.”

    13. Veronica Mars*

      I’m apparently on a nonfiction kick. Just finished How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur, the creator of The Good Place. It’s a book about moral philosophy, but with jokes. For me, it was the perfect amount of information on a topic I’m interested in but often find to be too dense.

      I just started An Immense World by Ed Yong, which I know has been recommended here before. I’m reading it for my book club, which my husband is also in, but I can’t stop sharing fascinating facts with him before he reads it. So interesting and well written, I’m excited to delve in more.

      I’m listening to Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, a book about The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It’s super fascinating, and something I knew very little about going in. I thought it was a true crime book, and it kind of is, but it uses the murder/disappearance of one mother as a frame to tell the much larger story of what happened during The Troubles. Would highly recommend, especially if you loved Derry Girls but realized you really didn’t understand much about the context of their world, like I did.

    14. SarahKay*

      I just finished “The Glass Hotel” by Emily St. John Mandel. I’d read Station Eleven a few years back and loved it, but not got round to reading more by her until this week.
      I enjoyed the book, but found it quietly sad; very few happy endings for most of the characters in it. I’m definitely going to read more by her, though.

    15. Anonymous Educator*

      Just finished A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo. Pretty good but not quite as good as her same-universe novel Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. For me, A Scatter of Light Felt more YA to me with the MC focused on a romance that the reader and basically anyone could see was going to end badly. Although it was very understandable why a person/teenager might pursue the object of their affection.

        Even though Telegraph Club had characters of the same age, it felt like they were dealing with more adult problems. And thus I liked it more.

    16. Tortally HareBrained*

      I finished I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon this week. Really enjoyed her version of a well-known story. It had an interesting use of timelines that I didn’t appreciate for the first half of the book, but by the end it was perfect.

    17. OtterB*

      A Thief in the Night by KJ Charles just came out. It was released in audio several months ago but just came out in ebook. It’s a novella of one of the characters mentioned in The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting. Romance between a thief and conman who’s just trying to survive, and a baronet who just inherited his title and an absolute disaster of a country house. I liked this one a lot.

      Also a new novella release, The Helios Syndrome by Vivian Shaw. I liked her Dr. Greta Helsing series about a doctor who treats nonhuman characters. This one is supposed to have a similar mix of real world and paranormal – the main character is a necromancer who works for the National Transportation Safety Board investigating accidents.

      And a re-release: Death by Silver by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold. Victorian-era London with magic, a metaphysician who has just established his own magic practice, and his old school friend who is a detective.

    18. carcinization*

      I have an omnibus Sheri Tepper book in which the 3rd part is the book Six Moon Dance; I didn’t read it when I first bought the omnibus years ago because I’d decided it was written too late in her career for me to like it, but finally decided to give it a chance. I like it so far!

    19. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      “Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell; it’s a nonfiction book about and for people leaving fundamentalist Christianity.”

      @Jackelope this has been on my list for a while, but I’m not sure I’m ready just yet – how are you finding it?

      1. Jackalope*

        Soooo…. It’s a book that’s clearly directed at people who are leaving or have left Christianity and who were in a fundamentalist branch. I’m in a slightly different place, because I left the fundamentalism behind but still want to hang on to a more progressive faith in Jesus. So some of it is relevant and some less so for me. That being said, the author is a therapist who has worked a lot with what she calls “shattered faith syndrome”, and her insights are very helpful. She’s also very kind when addressing people who are leaving/have left their faith, and has some really practical exercises to do to help work through the grief of losing one’s faith, trying to figure out a new worldview, and so on. She’s also been really spot on when talking about both the good things (why people would be drawn to a fundamentalist faith, or stay there if they were raised in it) and bad things (ways the faith structure is set up to manipulate people into staying and being scared to leave). On the other hand, because of all of that it’s a bit slow reading – definitely not a book to skim.

        So my thought would be that if you are in a place where you’ve left fundamentalist (or Evangelical) Christianity, it could be a really good read. I’m still in the middle of everything and im not finding it to be too much, largely because the author is so kind, recognizes the reality of grief, and the struggles in a way that I’ve found helpful. (It sounds like this is the place you might be given that you said you aren’t sure you’re ready yet.) If you are reading it to understand someone else’s journey (including as a therapist who deals with people experiencing “shattered faith syndrome”, then it will be good but less impactful. And if you are leaving another, similarly fundamentalist religion, you will get some good and helpful ideas and things to think about, but it will be less immediately relevant because the author is focusing specifically on her speciality which is Christianity.

        I hope that helped. If not then feel free to ask more questions and I’ll try to be more specific.

    20. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I’ve gone old school with some collections of Modesty Blaise comic strips!

  21. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing this week. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I haven’t played it yet, but a friend just gave me a French game called Crépuscule. It looks like fun, but I’m going to have to sit down with it and figure it out.

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      We’ve had an exchange student visiting from France and have been playing Dominion. I wanted to play my favorite, Forbidden Island, but the timing didn’t work out the day we were going to play. If he wasn’t leaving Monday I’d look into the game you mentioned!

      1. MEH Squared*

        Oh, you have a treat ahead of you (if you like sprawling, esoteric open world games with little guidance and loads of surprises. Plus hard boss battles and fantastic fantasy environments!). This was my favorite game in 2022 and I cannot wait for the DLC!

        1. yo*

          I’ve watched multiple playthroughs so definitely am prepared and know what to look for – it’s my first souls game (I’m not super amazing at video games so I’m easing myself in)

          1. MEH Squared*

            Good planning! I’m a huge Souls fan and this was my second-favorite FromSoft game. It’s definitely more newcomer-friendly than the other games, but is still satisfyingly engaging and difficult. I’m really bad at video games, too, so if I can do it–so can you!

    2. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Chugging along doing trooper missions and tying up loose ends in chapter 11 of Like a Dragon: Ishin, clapping my hands and squealing with glee every time a new trooper with a familiar face joins up.

      Also chugging along in Dragon Quest VII and the localization team needs both a medal (the exquisitely punny monster names) and a firm smack upside the heads (the Godawful NPC accents, particularly that fake French).

      And finally I started Nanashi no Game thanks to an English romhack and it’s delightfully creepy but I’m not sure I like the controls in the real world segments and I definitely don’t care for having to flip the 3DS vertical for those.

    3. Mornington Cresent*

      Just waiting for Tears of the Kingdom here. I’ve been hype for it since they showed that very first trailer back in 2019, and now it’s barely a month away, it’s so hard to wait for it!

    4. Porch Screens*

      Still trucking along with Three Houses! I just reached Part 2 late last night/early this morning and after uh, some STUFF, I’m really curious to see how things play out on the other routes. I also managed to recruit most of the students from the other houses (thanks for the tips last week Jackalope!) with the only ones I’ve missed out on being Petra, Ferdinand, Caspar, and Linhardt. Now that I have a better handle on how things work I think I’ll be able to get all of them on my next run, barring route-specific conditions, of course. Still having fun and still, surprisingly, enjoying all of the different characters. I gotta say, I think the supports for this one are really well done and I appreciate that no one seems especially ‘one note’ in their characterization – maaaaybe Raphael is the closest but even he’s got some depth, such as his supports with Ignatz.

    5. DarthVelma*

      Still chugging along in Destiny 2. The partner and I finished a second play-through of the Lightfall campaign on our secondary characters. It was fun bashing about Neomuna as crayon-eating Titans. :-)

      Seriously though, after a second playthrough and falling down a bit of a lore hole – underneath all of the neon lights, Neomuna is a dystopia trying really hard to convince you it isn’t.

    6. Bookgarden*

      I finished Chicory earlier and wow I can’t recommends that game enough. It’s incredible! I didn’t know I needed a Zelda with painting game in my life, but now I just hope there’s a sequel or prequel.

      Playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 with my partner on the hardest difficulty level and it’s a lot of fun. We played two physical damage classes the first time so now we’re playing pure magic. I’m playing a pyromancer/aeromancer and he’s playing a geomancer/hydromancer who can throw down flammable oil. We keep setting ourselves on fire and it’s hilarious.

      Also playing Disney Dreamlight Valley with my cat. She loves watching that game!

  22. WoodswomanWrites*

    There was a request to share an update to my recent post, so here it is. Thanks to those who encouraged me and gave me tips as a senior attempting my first backpacking trip on close to two decades. I did it, and it was such a great trip!

    Seven of us joined our two guides, and I was the oldest. All of them were considerate with faster hikers in the front with one guide and the other hanging in toward the back where I was always the slowest. Not once did anyone comment on my pace other than to be validating.

    I signed up for this particular trip because they mentioned accommodating different speeds. I told the group before we started that this was my re-entry and would see how it went. When I was the last one to arrive at our break spot after a long uphill in the sun on our hike out, others in the group applauded and cheered. Every person was upbeat and good company

    We spent two nights in a stunning camp right next to the beach, hiked in the morning to a coastal waterfall, and saw lots of wildlife. Just beautiful.

    I’m so happy that even with my creaky back and knee replacement I can backpack again. I feel ready to return to going solo, knowing now what my energy is and planning routes based on that.

    And no need to worry about me going alone and being unsafe since my longstanding Wilderness First Responder training continues to benefit me. I will be attentive to the weather forecast, stay on well-traveled routes where other hikers go, carry an emergency locator beacon, and make sure to tell someone where I’m going and when I’ll return.

    I appreciate you rooting for me. It’s exciting to dream about where to go next!

    1. Jackalope*

      Huzzah! So glad it went well! May all the future backpacking trips go as well as this one did.

      You remind me that there’s a (likely solo) trip I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. It’s to a very popular spot in a national park so I need a reservation (or not that popular, but it’s a one or two site campground in an area where you’re required to camp in an official site rather than picking something so it tends to book up fast), and I never remember with enough advanced notice. Maybe this summer some time?

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Sounds like now is the time to book it then.

        For my frequent tradition of camping on the redwoods in September, I have a favorite spot in the campground. This year I marked on my calendar the first date bookings were available and got my spot for a few nights.

    2. StellaBella*

      Wow this is so great! Am glad for you – sounds like a super positive new beginning!

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Yay!! I’m so glad it went well and you’ve “tested your mettle” so to speak.
      Exciting!!

  23. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    A question about changing your first name:

    I have come to the conclusion that I do in fact identify as nonbinary. In the last couple of months I have been thinking of names, since my first name is both clearly gendered and one I never really liked.
    I have been test driving a new name informally in social situations, in Starbucks, and for online orders.

    Anyone have any experience to share about
    – actually deciding permanently/for real to make the change?
    – the process of telling people more broadly?

    (The legal process here is very easy and cheap so that’s not my concern.)
    Thanks!

    1. frystavirki*

      Edit: actually, I typed all that, reread the question to make sure I made sense, and then realized you may have already picked a name you liked and are asking about something else. I’ll leave the next paragraph up for anyone else who might want advice on the thing I thought you were asking.
      I don’t know if my advice will be helpful, but when I was picking my new name, I tried to keep in mind the things I wanted out of it.
      When I was making the decision as a teenager, I had just managed to form a nickname out of my old name, and I wanted to keep it. So I had to keep that syllable in a new name.
      I also wanted to pick a name that was easier to spell and pronounce for English speakers than my old name, which I always have to spell for people. It’s very annoying, especially since I always have to spell my last name as well.
      With those constraints I was stuck with around one name. I still don’t really use the full form, and it’s not legally my name yet (I don’t work and can’t pay for it myself at present, so I’ve had this name picked out for 12 years but can’t use it anywhere but socially) but maybe keeping things in mind like that would be helpful? Like, do you have a nickname you still want to use? Do you want it to be radically different from your current legal name or more similar? Do you want the name to be from a specific culture you have a connection to? Do you care about it being easier to spell or pronounce? Are you the kind of person who’s always gone by your middle name, and having a middle name you use and a first name you don’t feels more correct?
      Hopefully some of those questions might be useful to you? Good luck with picking a new name!
      Re: your actual question, sorry about that, I found communicating my new name was pretty simple, since I mostly use a nickname and most of my friends are online. All I’ve done is say “Actually, I go by [name] now,” and people have responded well to that and used the name?
      I can’t respond to the actually making it legal bit, since I haven’t yet. The middle name is still up in the air after 12 years. I should really pin it down one of these days.

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Oh, that’s useful too!
        I have a shortlist and have been using one that I really like despite it not meshing well with my last name. so officially I would make it firstname-secondpart last name so the meshing error doesn’t happen as much.
        my question was more like, when did you like. decide “okay, this is definitely the one”? and what did that process look like?
        I don’t want to regret it in a year. right now I feel joy whenever I think of myself as NewName. but that could be experimental euphoria. yes I am overthinking it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My process was easy – I had gone by my preferred name everywhere other than with my immediate family since I was 15 anyway, and they knew I preferred it. In fact the final impetus for me to do the change was that someone who didn’t know it wasn’t my legal name bought me a plane ticket and it was actually cheaper and less hassle in my county to do the name change than to have the ticket corrected – it was literally a same-day process almost. (I missed the cutoff by a half hour so I had to go back the next day, but it could have been same day if I had googled earlier.) So I was like “well, I’ve been mumbling about changing it for almost ten years, here’s my chance!”

      And then I just told my parents it was legal now and I expected them to get on board. My extended family fell in line pretty quickly – my cousin had changed her name when we were teens so that side of the family had precedent, and the other side was pretty much just my grandpa who was already in hospice. It took a year or so for my parents to get consistent and my brother was a snot who told me he would never call me anything but my deadname, but he grew out of that (and apologized) eventually.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I didn’t answer where my new name came from – it came out of a nickname for my deadname, suggested by my then best friend’s s sister. Also, my “new” name is Ginger and I am a redhead, though that part was actually incidental.

        Also also, I was 13, not 15. Typo.

    3. beep beep*

      My deadname was always kind of weird; no one who read my name before hearing it ever said it right. My name comes from a shortening of a username I’ve used forever; thankfully it sounds like a normal name in my part of the world, though I do get people asking what it’s short for sometimes. Even though it’s still kind of gendered-sounding, I still like it because to me, it encapsulates my identity as a person who’s grown out of the person I used to be, including my gender, if that makes sense. (I’m roughly agender). I’ve considered going by my middle name as well, which is “oppositely” gendered from how I typically present, but I haven’t tested that out much yet. We’ll see.

      I was lucky with telling people, honestly; it’s pretty common for even cis people in my family to change their names at any point in life (my mom has an old name she never uses; a second cousin was estranged and changed his name, keeping it even after the family reconnected; a first cousin has gone by several combinations of her first and middle name throughout her life; on and on like so). All I had to do was send an email and people started calling me my name, with very few slip-ups. The they/them pronoun thing is harder since many of my family are, ah, strunk & white linguists, so we’re working on it.

      I also changed my name in the transitional period between high school and Having A Job, so I just had to show up to my new workplace and say “this is what I’d like to be on my nametag” and it worked fine. Many of my high school friends are queer, so they’re pretty chill about it; I texted most of them and the next time we got together I told the rest.

      Good luck! Overall, I’d advise telling people you’re closest to first, and having them help spread the word if you’re comfortable with it. Be clear with them that you are comfortable with that, too- for a while I wasn’t sure how I wanted to deal with things, whether myself or having others help, and while it was good for me to try both ways it definitely introduced some confusion with my poor messengers.

    4. Roland*

      If the process where you live is easy and simple, then maybe the new name doesn’t have to be any more permanent than your birth name, if that makes it easier to pull the trigger. Good luck with whatever you choose to do!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        ooh, that’s a great way of thinking about it. I guess I am mostly worried about it being “the wrong name” but of course I could always change it again.

        test driving isn’t going very well since few people address me by name regardless :’)
        I am gonna give it a few weeks then make the call.

    5. Danish*

      I did it a few years ago! I had been waffling on doing it and then started a new job where they made my log in FistNameLastName and I had this just overwhelming feeling of sadness… Which was my cue that I should go through with it. Fortunately I was only a week into training, these people barely knew me, so it was fairly easy to be like “actually my name is NewName”. By the time I was released into my actual work unit I was used to the new name and nobody on my new team had known me as anything else.

      I do think it would have been harder (emotionally) to make the change at my previous job, which I’d been at for five years, both telling people and having the spine to correct people who forgot.

      The hardest was (unsurprisingly) my parents – I told them via email, along with a) the very briefest of explanations on why 2) the instruction that I knew that they would have Big Feelings about this and I respected that and was happy to talk more about my reasons, but also that I was not the appropriate person to hear their Big Feelings and c) parts of my new name have at least a minimal tie to parts of my family – a middle initial from my maternal grandma, a last name that’s a different spelling of the literal meaning of my dad’s family name – and I really hyped those elements up. I knew their biggest feelings would be around “so you don’t want the name we gave you/rejecting family” so I tried to minimize that.

  24. Taki*

    Paging Helvetica: you commented last week that you recently went to Istanbul. I’m headed there at the end of this month for work with a free weekend. Any recommendations? Anyone else feel free to chime in too!

    1. StellaBella*

      I was there for 3 days in September last year and stayed near Galati Tower. Nice cafes near there. Also went to Taksim for the day, and mainly just walked around most places, went to a couple of museums and enjoyed a lot of food. Also go to a grocery store to find cool foods and stuff for gifts like coffee etc.

    2. Helvetica*

      Page received – I did!
      So, Istanbul has a lot of things to see and do and what I would recommend, so consider these like things I observed:
      1) everything will seem expensive because the lira is very weak but if you’re from the US, the prices are actually favourable to you. 1 dollar = ca 20 lira. You don’t need cash, unless you don’t want to pay transaction fees to your bank but card payments are generally always available.
      2) go to a hammam, especially if you never have been. There are loads to choose from; I did Hürrem Sultan Hamam, which is not very cheap but is central and gorgeous. Kilic Pasa is another I was recommended.
      3) if you’re a woman, bring a scarf because you need to cover your head if you want to go to mosques. In general, would recommend dressing rather covered – Türkiye is not super religiously conservative but it felt a bit strange to see tourists in hot pants and with a lot of skin showing.
      4) if you go to Aya Sofia – as you should – remember that it is now a functioning mosque, hence the rule about covering up. Also, go there in the evening and instead of the enormous line you see early morning/during the day, you can just walk in. Also, it is free! Do not buy any skip-the-line thing – it is a scam. Instead, there will basically not be a queue from 8 pm onwards. The daylight will not make a difference to how much you can see, tbh. Just observe the praying times; it doesn’t close for those but feels more courteous to not go in there at those times.
      5) the Blue Mosque is closed for renovation but generally my feeling was that mosques are more alike in terms of design than churches, so you can just see a few – maybe also Süleymaniye in addition to Aya Sofia – and that will give you a good overview.
      6) public transport is cheap and easy to use, the tram networks are especially convenient for moving around. You can get an IstanbulKart from a machine but most of them will only take cash (the one exception to rule 1). Taxis are rather expensive, especially if you’re a tourist and get stuck in traffic, so I would not recommend using them.
      7) if you want to do one palace (given limited time), I would rather recommend Topkapi over Dolmabache.
      8) river cruises are hit or miss in terms of quality, so if you just want to experience the silhouette, I would take the regular public ferry (operated by Sehir Hatlari) from Kabatas to Kadiköy (European to Asian side). It’s so much cheaper than any cruise and you will enjoy nice views, and they run very often.
      9) there are many, many, many places to eat. If you’re in a touristy area, I would suggest not staying on the main street since that will be more expensive and not as good but check the reviews. Always accept the tea they offer at the end of a meal – it is complementary and a part of hospitality.
      10) if you have time for one art museum, I can recommend Pera Museum, which has a mix of old and contemporary art.

      In general, walk around lots, take in the gorgeous medley of architecture and life. As our hotel owner said, Istanbul is its own country :)

      1. Invisible fish*

        Now I want to go to Istanbul!!

        I have two questions now:
        1.) Suggestions for lodging? I’d be sharing a room with a female friend.
        2.) Covering up for women: if left to my own devices, I’m most comfortable in athleisure type pants; they can be form fitting, yes, but they aren’t skin tight or slinky or like leggings… how would that go over, in your opinion? I’m already a super boring dresser- those full length pants will be paired with big ol’ sneakers and a giant shirt!! Would I want to maybe aim to wear a tunic top with them? (My goal when I go anywhere is to politely and respectfully blend in and act right – I’m a guest, after all.). If those pants might be too clingy, what about loose linen trousers with relatively roomy tops?

        Thanks, y’all!! You’ve just inspired me to start planning my next trip!!

        1. Helvetica*

          Clotheswise, that seems fine to me. And it’s not like anyone will stare at you, even if you show more skin, I just would’ve felt a bit out of place, especially since many local women do cover their hair anyways. Mosques may ask you to cover up, if they think your pants are too tight but I wore skinny jeans and that was acceptable (though my butt area was also under a trench coat). I just think, especially if you go in summer, light breezy pants will make it more comfortable for you.
          Lodging – there are many hotels etc. We stayed near Aya Sofia, which has a lot of accommodation options.

      2. Taki*

        Thanks for the detail! A dinner/river cruise is actually part of the work conference so I’ll be doing that anyway (kind of dreading, it has an open bar so everyone will get really drunk and there’s no escape…). I hadn’t even thought about going to a hammam but it sounds wonderful.

        My Turkish colleague actually said cabs won’t even stop for Turkish people, only tourists, because they’re such big scams lol. Appreciate the gouge on Aya Sofia too, I am definitely planning on seeing it.

    3. Bluebell*

      I was there decades ago but I can enthusiastically recommend the hammam visit. You will feel so much lighter afterwards if you have the exfoliation . Also, the cistern is beautiful and otherworldly. Make sure you enjoy both the coffee and the mint tea.

    4. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Some random items:
      1. If you want tea, order “chai” and not “tea” or else you might get charged a lot more.
      2. If you have blue eyes, be prepared to be stared at.
      3. If you go to a hammam, you may want to check beforehand as to whether it’s one of the unisex ones. (This may be more common in touristy, resort-type areas such as Pammukale.)
      4. If you go to a bazaar, definitely haggle. It’s pretty much expected. If they’re firm on a price, they will tactfully let you know.

      1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        One more thing. Try lokum, otherwise known as Turkish Delight. It’s heavenly. So, so good!

      2. Taki*

        Any bazaar recommendations? I’ve been told some are totally touristy and to avoid.

        Turkish delight is the souvenir I plan to bring back to share at work!

      3. Helvetica*

        Not sure what you mean by unisex hammam? They have separate entrances and areas for men and women most commonly. If it has mixed entry, that is not a traditional hammam and should be avoided, especially if they would have men washing you – that would not be proper.

    5. Bagpuss*

      The Rüstem Pasha Mosque is worth visiting – it has amazing Iznik tiles.
      I third the recommendation to visit a Hamman

    6. Scrabster*

      The Karine or Chora Mosque has amazing mosaics. Check out the archaeology museums too, including the mosaics from the Imperial palace under the Blue Mosque, and the cisterns. The Spice Market is fun to wander through.

  25. Dark Macadamia*

    Any Mrs. Maisel fans here? I just watched the first 3 episodes of season 5 and don’t know anyone in person who watches it. I’ll put my thoughts in a comment for anyone avoiding spoilers!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m relieved that this season is more enjoyable than 4 so far. I remember feeling SO anxious about the way 3 ended and then Covid happened and we had to wait forever for the new season, only to have it feel very negative and not very funny.

      I liked the flash forward of Esther. She and future Ethan are both fantastic performances, I love the mannerisms you can see from both Midge and Joel. Kid Esther going back to her own bed at the end of the third episode was sad :(

      I was looking at the subreddit for the show and I’m amazed by how many people seem to really want Midge and Joel back together, and think that’s a thing that could still happen? I felt like even when they occasionally seemed to be heading that way earlier in the show it felt really obvious that they’re never going to end up together in the end. Personally I wouldn’t want them to! Do a lot of fans see this relationship as a Ross and Rachel type thing?

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The showrunner’s reputation leads me to think she wants to put Midge and Joel back together, and that that will be the Big Takeaway of the whole series. I agree that it is very unsatisfying, but I expect it.

        I don’t hate Joel, but I was may more interested in his S3 “So what if all the barriers to you doing The Thing were removed: would you do it?” than in whether or not he can win Midge back. Will-they-won’t-they bores me.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Ugh, I hope they don’t get back together. They’re better as friends and co-parents – I can’t see the romantic relationship coming back without Midge having to make herself smaller again.

        And if they want us to be on Joel’s side, this isn’t the way to do it…his actions don’t scream “mature enough to wholeheartedly embrace Midge for who she is.” Sorry bud, rough breakup, but maybe you should propose to the woman out loud with words before assuming you’re getting married!

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yes, I enjoy their friendship much better without any romance attached! I also really felt for him in the scene where Mei leaves even though I was super proud of her and don’t generally find him sympathetic. Just the yelling at Ethan, then apologizing, then having only a second to process before having to go back to his kids was so heartbreaking.

    2. Lilo*

      I actually got to episode 3 where Midge blows yet another giant opportunity because of her ego and I just can’t with the character anymore.

      I think last season was really really tough for me. She publicly outs a gay man in the 1960s and really offers no contrition for it? She put him at serious risk and acts like it was so awful she got fired for it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think an ongoing problem with the show is her brilliant social instincts, which make her a good comedienne. And yet get flipped off whenever it would be convenient for the plot.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yeah, I was shocked when she ended up so bitter about that. I know she’s meant to be selfish but jeez! This man is getting married to a woman because of you and apparently got isolated from his entire support system that we spent a whole season getting invested in… and you’re mad at HIM?

        I would’ve been okay with one or two episodes of her being a brat but then it just went on and on for the whole season…

    3. Roy G. Biv*

      Yes – but have not begun season 5 yet. I will be happy to discuss in post next week after I have watched season 5 episodes.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I hadn’t realized it was back, and will probably watch. Will read your reply to decide that.

      I found Season 4 frustrating. I remember in Episode 8 feeling like “Oh finally, the plot is going to move!” and then that was the finale. And even with a “Midge is the villain here” framework, her muffing acceptable topics at a political fundraiser was so aggravating–she’s not an idiot, she’s not new to this, she’s a charming person who is good at people managing. Handing her the idiot ball so her career can continue to stall is not enjoyable to watch.

    5. Voluptuousfire*

      I really liked the May and Joel arc. I have to watch the first 3 shows again next week.

      I absolutely love Alex Borstein as Susie Meyerson. She makes the show, IMO. I also LOVE Midge’s costumes.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes, I love Susie! Constant scene stealer in an already strong cast.

        I was so relieved with how Mei’s storyline worked out. I enjoyed the character and I wish she’d been part of the show in a way that wasn’t attached to Joel lol

    6. Elle*

      It has revived my Reid Scott crush. He can be such a turd and is so good at it. He’s one of the best parts of this season so far. The rest is hit or miss. Moishe and Shirley are grating. There’s so much going on I can’t keep track and the episodes kind of drag.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really wanted her parents to stay in Paris in Season 3, launching themselves off into a new life not centered around her. They both seemed so happy!

        Instead each got a plot about making terrible and shortsighted financial decisions.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Yeah this is one of those things where I feel like the need to keep characters on the show outweighs what the characters actually should/would do as real people. They went back to New York because of Abe’s job! When he got fired they should’ve moved back to Paris.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Definitely liking this season better than last season so far! Putting her in a writer’s room is an interesting choice but a good one, I think – they’ve covered just about every option for “a new direction for Midge’s standup career” already, so at least this is something fresh.

    8. Workerbee*

      Yes! Just watched the first 3 last night. Disjointed thoughts follow.

      -The flash-forwards: Overwhelmingly dismal, even with the sparks here and there (Esther being what sounds like a prodigy, for instance). I get that Midge is based on Joan Rivers, and so some (most?) decisions we see her make are aligned with that to some extent (and I have not looked up Joan Rivers’s full career), but…

      I guess I did want her to have it all, somehow, not alienate her kids, not look so hurt / torn in unguarded moments. Even though she shouldn’t have to be a maternal person if it’s not who she is, and had been following what was expected of her at the time, it seems that she feels the loss all the same. And the split with Susie! Noo!

      And sure, all this may be as realistic for the Midge character as anything in this show is, but it still was a bummer.

      Full props to the actress channeling Midge in her daughter, though I’d think that if her daughter wanted to get away from her as soon as possible (lo, the foreshadowing with tiny Esther crawling back out of the shared bed), and with Midge not really around anyway, having the same mannerisms is a bit of a stretch.

      Also, how did Ethan become a redhead?

      -The current timeline: I was glad Mei left. I’d read that her character was never supposed to be permanent anyway, so they were writing her out before the actress got super busy elsewhere, but – it’s like they’d changed her from this wise-cracking, confident, self-assured person to a wibbling mess even before she got pregnant (I think). It made her difficult to watch. Her decision to divest herself of everything and head to Chicago was at once both abrupt and taking too long to get her off-screen.

      Also a part of me does think Midge and Joel click so well together – the way Lorelai and Christopher did – but alas, in both cases, their characters got sabotaged too, so _that_ was never going to happen for real.

      I really wanted Midge to hug Lenny, or Lenny to hug Midge, or a passerby to knock them into each other, something, anything. It was also surprised to me to see him alone in the airport; surely he’d have a person. A handler. Somebody.

      I loved the diner scene with this apparent tradition of everyone bringing in a dish to pass. And Susie’s ‘muscle’ that she didn’t even ask for to go after the matchmakers, who are very good at interpreting mumbles and decorating – I loved that so hard. She’s got herself the weirdest extended family and I think everyone would fall apart without her there, including assorted Maisels.

      Abe traumatizing his grandson was a slow trainwreck the way Joel’s Drunken Ass on Stage / Beaten Up trope was. The whole family is self-centered to an agonizing extreme.

      And yet. I still want Midge to ‘win’, I want her to stop making stupid mistakes. So I’m in it to the end of this series because it might just happen! :)

  26. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I have some clothes (mostly wool jumpers) that have become bobbly in places. They still look great otherwise, so I’d like to try and fix them.

    What would you recommend to do the job in a safe and straightforward way? Looking online, I can see lots of variations of the same battery-operated machine, and can’t tell if one brand is better than another, or if any are best avoided.

    I worry one of those would be too drastic a solution, and shave off fabric it shouldn’t, but perhaps and hopefully I’m overthinking it.

    1. BeeJiddy*

      I own a Phillips fabric shaver and it works really well to remove the pilling from jumpers etc. I think you’d really have to work hard to destroy something, or hurt yourself. I just use mine by lightly pressing and moving in circles over the fabric I’m trying to tidy up and it works great. Works better if you frequently empty the fuzz trap.

      1. carcinization*

        I probably have the same machine, and I agree that it’d be extremely difficult if not impossible to shave off the fabric rather than the pilling (and also about emptying the trap often).

    2. Reba*

      Yeah, they have a guard over the blades part so it’s unlikely you’d cut holes. You can also try lower-tech solutions like a sweater brush or sweater stone. I have kind of elaborate one called the Gleener that has different grades of courseness you can switch out.

    3. Quincy413*

      If you’re worried about the device being too rough, I’ve used “sweater stones” basically pumice packaged in a little box…

  27. Mica*

    When is it polite to wear perfume and how much/little is enough?

    My friend wears it when with friends in small or large gatherings but I struggle with not knowing who could be allergic and tending to err on the side of caution so the polite thing would be to never wear it just in case someone else would be bothered.
    When is it discreet and polite?

    (No one has ever told my friend the perfume was bothering them.)

    1. Mica*

      Asking because their “only two puffs” which they “have worn for 15 years” and “I can’t even smell it” made me flee to open a window in our shared camper van.
      And because I would actually like to wear a /little/ perfume but I read somewhere that you should just spray one puff in the air and when walk through it and that should be enough?

      1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        Walking through a spray will definitely be enough. Your scent receptors will become accustomed to the smell but others will be able to smell it.
        As far as the discreet/polite question goes, think about whether other people will be trapped in a confined space with you (e.g. don’t put it on then immediately get into a shared car) and if the people you are going to be with have complained about smells in your hearing (they are likely to be more sensitive).

        1. Observer*

          Walking through a spray will definitely be enough.

          Absolutely not true. For some people it works, but I don’t know any of them. It’s true that your scent receptors get accustomed to the smell, but this really does not work for many people.

          <think about whether other people will be trapped in a confined space with you (e.g. don’t put it on then immediately get into a shared car)

          Very good point. I once saw a really good guideline – wait 20 minutes before going into any enclosed space. Also, check after 20 minutes and if anyone can explicitly smell your scent when they are not really close to you, you are probably wearing too much.

          if the people you are going to be with have complained about smells in your hearing (they are likely to be more sensitive)

          Another really good point.

    2. Doctor is In*

      I have pretty severe asthma triggered by many scents. In my opinion, no one but an intimate partner should be able to smell your scent. Thanks.

    3. Courageous cat*

      I feel comfortable with two sprays, sprayed into the air and then walked through, max. I have an extremely sensitive nose and this is what I do for myself. People who spray directly onto the wrists and neck are gonna generally be too strongly scented.

    4. Bunny Girl*

      I only really wear perfume when I am going all out and really dressing up. I don’t tend to wear it to just casual social gatherings. And I do one spray and that’s about it. No one has commented on it except for a friend or two that’s hugged me so I don’t think anyone else in the room can smell it unless you are in my business.

    5. RagingADHD*

      The reason not to wear scent at work is that you have a captive audience. So any voluntary situation should be fine.

      I prefer non-spray scents, when I wear them. I put a dab on each wrist, then rub them on my throat or behind my ears. I can smell it, or anyone close enough to hug me. That’s plenty.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Roll-on or dab-on oils don’t project as much, plus they don’t have the alcohol and other sharp chemical components that trigger some allergies. I wear a little scented oil at the base of my throat that I can smell and enjoy, without inflicting it on others (to the best of my ability).

    7. JustEm*

      As someone with both migraine and asthma attacks triggered by scents, I really appreciate it when people avoid wearing noticable fragrance!

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You don’t need to wear perfume, ever. Signed, someone who has problems with perfumes but doesn’t generally say anything.

    9. Observer*

      There are two different questions here.

      How much is too much generally comes down to “If someone more than arms reach from you can actually smell your scent 20 minutes after you put it on, it’s too much.” Enclosed spaces like a closed car with require a lighter touch, though because they amplify the scent load. How much actual scent that is, really depends on the scent you are using and your body chemistry.

      If you have someone with “typical” smell sensitivity who you can trust, ask them to stand back an arms length and give a sniff. It doesn’t hurt to do this periodically as both scent formulations and personal body chemistry can change.

  28. The Prettiest Curse*

    Are there any unusual local nicknames for places in your part of the world? It’s not close to where I live, but I was reminded yesterday the area in Yorkshire where rhubarb is grown is called the Rhubarb Triangle, which is presumably much less dangerous than the Bermuda Triangle.

    1. Still not picked a username*

      Hello from Yorkshire (Sheffield not Wakefield). I miss t’ole in’t road and Kamikaze roundabout. The Devil’s Arse in Castleton always makes me smile

      1. Not my usual name*

        And still in Sheffield – Cole’s Corner.

        And just down the road … The Crooked Spire in Chesterfield.

      2. Anon for this for obvious reasons*

        Hello from Wakefield not Sheffield haha!

        I still have to convince people Wetwang isn’t a nickname its the villages actual name. I wonder if their signs are still being stolen on the regular.

        Also, my favourite nicknames that are hyper local