Sunday’s Sundries: 4 Years of Blogging

On April 4th, I celebrated my 4th blogiversary.  I had intended on writing something about this special occasion, but a whole lot has been going on in my life outside of this little world of books I created four years ago.  I didn’t have the emotional energy to write anything.

I’ve only talked very briefly about my mental illness, and I’ve only ever mentioned a small part of it.  Frankly, I didn’t see my Depression and Anxiety as anything to talk about.  My view was that what I was dealing with, while requiring medication, was still your average, run of the mill, Depression and Anxiety.  However, what I never said out loud is that I also have Dermatillomania.  I never mentioned it because I didn’t admit it to myself for quite some time, and I wasn’t even aware of it being a thing for even longer.

It turns out that for most of my life, I’ve had some type of BFRB (Body Focused Repetitive Behavior) or other.  I didn’t truly notice any of it or understand that the things I was doing weren’t “normal” until I went on Paroxetine.  It was like I was seeing myself from a slightly distanced point of view and I suddenly began realizing so many things that I had been living with as if everyone else does too.

My denial, or blind spot, for my Dermatillomania was so bad that whenever I read something on The Bloggess, I could relate to a lot of what Jenny Lawson has been through in regards to mental illness, but all I thought when she wrote about her BFRBs was that I was grateful I didn’t have it “that bad.”  So when I realized that I did have it “that bad,” I also realized that I needed to get care that involved more than just medication.

Well, that sounds great, doesn’t it?  It would have been great if my mind didn’t immediately get defensive and convince me that I was ok, my skin picking wasn’t creating scars, I didn’t do it very often, no one else ever brought it to my attention, I just needed to stay on the medication, and everything would be alright. *sigh*

Fast forward to the Boyfriend and I moving out to San Francisco.  I went to the VA to get a new primary doctor, and what I thought was just a formality turned into me not only seeing her but also having an appointment with a psychologist immediately after.  While the VA in Austin is amazing, the VA here in SF takes health care to a whole new integrated level.  Anyone I have an appointment with there is in communication with my primary so nothing gets overlooked.

To make a long story short, my psychologist has a way of getting things out of me that I didn’t even know were in my brain.  While that’s amazing, and extremely helpful in my progress towards better mental health, it’s also caused my Anxiety to spike.  With my increased anxiousness, the skin-picking has increased as well, and battling with all of this uses up a lot of spoons.  Hence, the lack of a proper celebratory blogiversary post.

Sunday’s Sundries: Damn Early Days

“Sunday’s Sundries” is my chance to discuss things that are going on in my life but might not be book or blog related.

Months ago I wrote about how I wanted to get back into regular blogging and posting book reviews instead of the two or three weekly posts I’ve been doing lately.  I don’t know what happened, but I definitely didn’t do what I planned.  The Boyfriend brought to my attention several times that I hadn’t written a review in quite awhile.  I had tons of excuses: I was tired, I was working a lot and didn’t have time, I didn’t know what to write, I didn’t want to review a particular book I had just finished reading, I was too busy finishing books from my TBR, etc.

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the sh*t that weighs you down.” – Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

That’s going to change.  I signed up for Damn Early Days, the 21 day program to get back to what matters by getting up before the butt crack of dawn and working on one or two goals before doing anything else.  The sign up is still open, but I don’t know for how long.  They recommend 4:30 am, but I convinced The Boyfriend to do this crazy thing with me and he takes issue with going to bed prior to 9 pm as if he’s a 6 year old on a school night.  I tend to agree, and the program does allow you to choose the time you’re going to get up.  So, starting October 2nd, we’ll be getting up at 5 am…every morning…for 21 days.

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen, quoted in Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts by Peter McWilliams

My primary goal is to write at least one blog post every morning and get it scheduled.  There won’t necessarily be a post to read from me every single day, but by time I’m done, there will 21 blog posts scheduled and/or posted.  My secondary goal is all about walking.  Since I started working from home, I haven’t gone walking during any of my breaks; mostly because I’m still in my pajamas, but whatever.  After I get my writing done, I will put my shoes on and get out the door for at least 30 minutes of walking.  I’ll either head over to the fitness center and get on a treadmill or I’ll walk around the apartment complex, but regardless of how I do it, I’m getting as many steps as I can before I have to get ready for work.

To prep for October 2nd, I’m playing around with a possible schedule to successfully get me through each day.  I’m also reading Do It! Let’s Get Off Our Buts by Peter McWilliams.  Do you want to know something hilarious?  I’ve owned this motivational “get stuff done” book for over a decade (since 2003, in fact) and I have never once opened it!  I think that makes me the Queen of Procrastination.  Hopefully Damn Early Days will help me abdicate the thrown.

Sunday’s Sundries: Becoming A Warrior

A warrior begins to take responsibility for the direction of her life. It’s as if we are lugging around unnecessary baggage. Our training encourages us to open the bags and look closely at what we are carrying. In doing this we begin to understand that much of it isn’t needed anymore.” – Pema Chödrön,  “The Places That Scare You.”
Though this quote has more to do with emotions than with things, it struck me as fitting in regards to my life right now.  First I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo back in January and promptly emptied my apartment of a ridiculous amount of stuff.  Then I began working my way through everything that remains: using it, reading it, completing it, etc.  I’m finally finishing projects that have been sitting around idle for years.
I’m continuing to get rid of stuff I don’t need anymore.  I realized that I simply do not use Facebook on my phone, so when I found out that LibraryThing finally came out with their Android app, I made room for it by uninstalling Facebook.  I started participating in Down the TBR Hole as an opportunity to purge more books I know I’ll never read.  I also deleted my SuperBetter account.  I vaguely remember mentioning SuperBetter in one of my #FitReaders check-ins, and I enjoyed it while it was helping me.  However, I recently started using Habitica, and that’s much more useful and fun.  Why I continued to use SuperBetter is beyond me, but I realized earlier this week that it was taking up valuable time logging into my account and checking off stuff I’ve done when I’m also doing that on Habitica every day.
These deletions and updates in my life may seem like peanuts, but I find that as I get rid of unnecessary stuff or finish a lingering project, I have more energy.  I also have more space and time for the beginnings of new projects and things that make me happy; including writing posts for this blog.

Sunday’s Sundries: Anxiety

Sundries - Dominic Hartnett
Image: Dominic Hartnett

For those of you who regularly read the posts I write here at Fortified By Books, you probably noticed that this past Friday I did not post my weekly Fit Readers check-in.  It’s the first time I haven’t posted a check-in since I joined Fit Readers.  I simply didn’t have the spoons to look at my FitBit stats and write about what has been going on.  Instead, I chilled out on the couch with my cat and watched Parenthood.

As many of you know I have dealt with Anxiety and Depression for years.  I’ve considered myself lucky to not have to be on any kind of medication for over a decade.  That changed this week.

Until Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling pretty good.  I’ve got a great boyfriend who’s family is amazing.  I’ve got a job that, while it’s not my dream job, pays the bills.  I’ve got friends, and this blog, and a hundred other things in my life that are either great or at least going well.  So why did I have an anxiety attack at work?  Why did the panicky feelings continue into the evening and then on into Wednesday?  For the first time, I have no idea.  Usually, my anxiety escalates during major life changes, not when my day to day life is stable.

For the first time since my first anxiety attack when I was a teenager, I was scared for myself.  I knew I had lost control and needed help.  I called my Doctor.  I said “Yes” when I was asked if I was open to medication.  I took my new meds for the first time on Thursday morning, and while I’m doing pretty well, SSRIs are not the kind of pills you just take and then everything is magically better.  Hence the lack of spoons to write a simple weekly blog post.

While I can’t promise that I’ll definitely have a Fit Readers post up this Friday or any other post for that matter, I’m slowly adding back in all the activities I normally do as long as I feel I have the energy.  I’m not going anywhere.  This blog and the community of book bloggers I’m a part of means too much to me to shut it down.  So, I’ll see you back here as soon as I can.

Sunday’s Sundries: Lit-Cube Unboxing

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I’ve been a subscriber of Book Riot’s Quarterly box since it started, but I’ve been feeling like the quality of each box has slowly declined.  So when I found out about Lit-Cube, a monthly subscription box, I decided to try it out.  I recently cancelled a monthly music subscription, and after deducting the amount I had been spending on that, what I’d be paying for Lit-Cube would be about the same as what I was shelling out for Book Riot’s Quarterly boxes ($55, four times a year).  I would also be getting more for my buck.  However, if I hadn’t cancelled that other subscription, I wouldn’t have subscribed to Lit-Cube, since it’s $34.98 a month, and I couldn’t afford that and the other sub.  To be fair, from what I’ve seen, that’s about average for monthly subscription boxes.

Every Lit-Cube box is put together around a theme.  Book Riot’s Quarterly box does the same, but the difference is that Lit-Cube’s themes are considerably more fun.  You’re not going to get Literary Fiction with Lit-Cube, so if that’s what you’re looking for, stick with Book Riot.  For this month, Lit-Cube’s theme was titled “Immortal Kiss”.  Yep, that’s right, vampires!  I don’t think Lit-Cube could have picked a better theme for the month I decided to give it a try, since, while I love all things vampire, I’m a bit picky too.  Here is what was included in this month’s box:

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  • Hardcover Edition of Tentyrian Legacy by Elise Waters ($19.99)
  • “Only Dracula Can Truly Love You Forever…” Lit-Cube Exclusive Lined Journal ($9.99)
  • Cotton and Silk “Holiday Skulls” Infinity Scarf ($9.99)
  • Lippincott Soap Company “Bite Me” Black Cherry Lip Balm ($9.99)
  • 5×7 Dracula-Inspired Water Color Print ($6.99)
  • Book Swag including a “Time Warper” series Pocket Mirror, a Ball-Point Pen that looks like a syringe, an Erin Hayes Autographed Bookmark, and QR Coded Bookmarks for other free and discounted ebooks.

Even if I don’t end up liking the books (I haven’t read them yet), all the other stuff makes this vampire-themed box worth the money I paid for it.  December’s theme is “You’re a Mean One, Grinch.”  I’m looking forward to it 🙂

Join Lit-Cube!

Sunday’s Sundries: Fifth Dimension Books

Sundries - Dominic Hartnett
Image: Dominic Hartnett

Last night was the Boyfriend’s and my weekly date night.  On our way to a cafe that has the best fries I’ve ever tasted in my life, we came across a bookmobile called Fifth Dimension Books.  They specialize in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Weird Tales, which are exactly the kind of books the Boyfriend and I both love to read.  I can’t buy any books, but most bookstores carry more than just books, and so we got on the bus to check it out.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best local bookseller I’ve come across in Austin, TX.  The boyfriend bought a “Big Damn Heroes” pin (for those who don’t know, it’s a “Firefly” reference), a book for him, and two books for me.  One of the books he got me was a surprise (he didn’t tell me he was buying me a book). It’s a hardcover edition of The Immortal Prince by Jennifer Fallon.  The other was one he let me pick out because it was a “Blind Date with a Book”.

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I’ve seen the “Blind Date with a Book” idea in libraries, but I’ve never seen it in a bookstore of any kind.  I’m very pleased with this idea, especially when I know I’m getting a book in a genre I enjoy, but it’s likely to be a book I wouldn’t normally take off the shelf.  It allows me to stretch just a little out of my comfort zone, but not so much that I risk abandoning the book.  The book I got is Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro.  Not only is this book written by a woman, but also a physicist!  While female authors aren’t in any way outside my comfort zone, I read much more Fantasy than Sci-Fi.  This book is one I would have never thought of looking at to see if I’d be interested.  The blurb and praise on the back of the book make me think this will definitely be something I’ll like, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

I will be going back to Fifth Dimension Books.  I want to get one of their t-shirts, but I’m also going to be a regular customer after this year’s No Book Buying Challenge.  They’ll be my first stop whenever I have book money.

Sunday’s Sundries: TBR Jars

Sundries - Dominic Hartnett
Image: Dominic Hartnett

Felicia at The Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog has been working on a project to get her books in order.  Her updates on her progress inspired me to finally get my book life more organized, too.  I scanned all of my physical TBR books into Goodreads and then worked on getting all of my books (including my ebooks) into a spreadsheet.  I chose to do that instead of manually adding most of my ebooks, which aren’t Kindle books (Goodreads has an option to add all your Amazon book purchases without having to look them up one at a time).  It still took most of a day, since I copied and pasted the information from my order histories into a spreadsheet and then had to straighten it all out.

I was shocked to discover how many ebooks I have.  I figured that I had maybe 150 or so, but I found out I have over 400 ebooks that I’ve never read.  Over half of them were free, and 100 of those were bought within the past 12 months.  In fact, from the very first ebook I’ve ever bought, up to today, I’ve acquired more free ebooks in the past year than I have at any other time.  I’m certain that’s because I’m participating in the #ShelfLove No Book Buying Challenge.  I can’t pay money for books, but I can get all the free books I want.  Apparently, my brain took this to mean I was in a book famine and therefore I had to hoard all.the.books.

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Since I can’t see my ebook collection in the same way as my physical books, I decided to make a TBR jar for them.  I also did the math on how long it would take me to read all those books and decided to unsubscribe from the daily emails I receive full of free ebooks being offered.  If I continue to read 65 books a year like I did last year, it will take me over six years to finish my mountain of a TBR pile.  If I also continue adding 100 new ebooks every year, that mountain will continue to grow.  The phrase “When I die, I’ll be found next to a stack of books I was meaning to read” is very fitting to this stage in my book life.

I also made a TBR jar for my physical books, but for a different reason.  Do you ever stand in front of your TBR pile/shelf undecided about which book to read next?  I spend at least 10 minutes waffling between books I know I’m likely to send to the used bookstore and books I’ll probably want to keep forever.  The TBR jar takes the question out of what to read next.  Whatever comes out of the jar is what I’m reading.

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I don’t know where I got the image that I used for the labels, but I used “Algerian” font and named them “The Hobbit’s TBR Library” because the boyfriend nicknamed me Hobbit ages ago.  I used sticker printer paper to make the labels but then had to use a bit of clear tape on each end because it apparently doesn’t like sticking to acrylic.  I then spent hours cutting up the printed spreadsheet pages into strips so they would look like shredded newsprint.  I probably spent way too much time on these, but I figured they’re going to be in my life for at least the next six years so they might as well be pretty.

Do you have a TBR jar?  Leave a link to a picture of it in the comments.

Sunday’s Sundries: The Importance of Translation

Sundries - Dominic Hartnett
Image: Dominic Hartnett
Image: Erik Tjallinks


If you do a simple web search for the percentage of Americans who are bilingual, you will find not only the statistic (1 out of every 4 according to a 2001 Gallup poll) but article after article on the fact that most Americans are monolingual and why that is a problem.  I’m not here to reiterate that, even though I do agree 100% that America needs to catch up with the rest of the world.  No one can share their thoughts and ideas without being able to communicate effectively.  However, putting the lack of bilingualism in America aside, no one person can communicate in every language, and so there will always be a need for translation, especially when we live in an increasingly fast-paced and global world.  We want information, we want to be able to understand it, and we want it now.  From the time that Dante began writing in his “vulgar” native Italian, instead of the Latin everyone in the western world who had had an education could understand, there has been a need for translation.  The idea of writing in the language of the people opened up a world of possibilities, but it also created a separation.  There is no such thing as a universal language.  Dr. Golato, an Associate Professor of French at Texas State University, brought up the fact that a lack of access to a piece of literature can lead to a lack of interest, and this is most often seen in the works of authors writing in what are called LCTLs, or Less Commonly Taught Languages.  After all, it’s not just monolinguist Americans that have a need for translation.

The Diary of Anne Frank, originally written in Dutch, has been translated and read in 67 languages, and it is a book read by young adults around the world.  It is the most well known personal first-hand account of someone who did not survive the Holocaust.  Her writing not only tells her thoughts and feelings, which are relatable to anyone who has ever been a teenager, but it makes the most horrific part of human history very real and side barunforgettable.  If The Diary of Anne Frank had never been translated, would the generations of people living today, who didn’t experience WWII or even the immediate after effects of the Holocaust, understand the unspeakable acts the Nazis committed in
quite the same way?  As a teenager, I had no interest in military history or the stories of my grandparents, who had been near adulthood when Anne Frank was writing her diary.  However, when I read her words, I was spurred on to read every story I could find, both fictional and true, about the Holocaust and the millions of people who suffered and died at the hands of those who hated them.  Reading about and trying to understand those events opened my eyes and changed how I view the world, and I doubt that would have happened if I had never read The Diary of Anne Frank.  I also know that I’m not the only one deeply affected by her writing.  During a conversation about translation with Dr. DiMauro-Jackson, a Senior Lecturer of French and Italian at TSU, I brought up my experience with reading The Diary of Anne Frank.  She shared her similar experiences when she read the book in not only her native Italian, but also in French, and in English, all translations, and all equally as powerful.

Another example that illustrates the importance of translation wasn’t a translation.  Chinua Achebe deliberately wrote his most famous book, Things Fall Apart, in English, to ensure it would reach not only a wider audience but his intended audience as
well, one which likely wouldn’t have read his book if he had written it in any other language.  Though his use of the “language of the oppressor” was heavily criticized by those that chose to write in indigenous African languages, he was more than successful at getting Things Fall Apart read by the English-speaking population.  His book became the most well known and taught piece of African literature and was eventually translated into 50 languages.  I had to read it, not once, but twice, while in college because of how important his book is to the world.  Another prolific author, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who writes in Gikuyu, is someone whom I had never heard of until he was mentioned in passing during one of my college literature courses.  This is not to say that everyone has to write in English to get read, but to express the importance of having literature either written or translated into languages that are spoken by a large number of people.  The more people who read a piece of literature, the more likely that literature has an impact on the world.

An even more modern example of literature that has been read by people the world over is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  With over 450 million copies sold she just might be the most widely read author of children’s literature in history.  That’s not likely to have happened if it weren’t for her books being translated from the original English into at least 67 other languages.  Her books allow people, across vastly different cultures, the ability to connect over a shared love of a magical world and the Boy Who Lived.  As Rachel Cordasco brings up in her article about reading books in translation, we are all human, and that means that, despite all our differences, we have a lot in common.

While it is extremely important for human beings to learn how to communicate with each other in more than one language and to be aware of the cultural differences that abound from one country to another, it is equally as important to have literature written throughout the world translated into multiple languages.  Translation allows for a wider audience, a cross-cultural connection, and the greater impact of ideas.  The Diary of Anne Frank, Things Fall Apart, and the Harry Potter series are just three examples in an impossible to count number of literary works that have been translated, shared, and discussed to the point that their messages and lessons have helped shape the world in which we live and have inspired so many to share their own stories or to learn more about the people and places they’ve read about.



Sunday’s Sundries: One Year Blogiversary!

Sundries - Dominic Hartnett
Image: Dominic Hartnett


Yesterday, April 4th, was my 1st blogiversary.  It’s hard to believe that a blog I started so I could participate in a read-a-thon has turned into a blog that has so much more than read-a-thon updates.  I really had no plan.  All I knew was that I wanted a way, other than Goodreads or Facebook, to get socially involved in an activity that, up to that point, had been a solo venture.  However, someone read one of my updates and was interested in what I had to say about a book I was reading.  In the spirit of socializing, I wrote a review for that book, and then I realized how much I enjoyed writing about what I had read.

After that, I started learning more about the book blogging community, as well as how to improve my blog.  I liked the idea that people were reading what I had to say.  I was also a little surprised.  There are so many book blogs out there to choose from, so I’m grateful for every single one of my readers, and I want to continue giving you what you come here to see.  I’m constantly thinking about or writing new content that I think most of you would be interested in, and that hasn’t been easy with all the day to day stuff I have to do outside of blogging.

Any of you who have read my “Monday’s Minutes” posts know that I’m a full-time student with only a couple semesters left to go before I graduate.  Senior courses are the most difficult and matter the most when it comes to grad school, but they’re at a time when the average student just wants it all to be over with already.  I’m not the average student, but I’m still ready to move on with my life.  I want to be making real money again, and have a job that I’m happy about going to on most days, if not every day.  I still want to go to grad school, but I need a couple years to breath before I take another plunge into the world of academia.

With all of that being said, I’m going to do the best I can to keep this blog going.  The rest of this year is going to be tough.  I’m taking courses over the Summer, looking for a part-time job to get me through to graduation, and I’ll be spending the Fall semester looking for a full-time job for after I graduate.  However, no matter how busy I get, I will write and publish at least one post every week, even if it’s just to check in with all of you and tell you how swamped I am, and I had no time to read, and OMG I’m going insane.  I hope it won’t ever get that bad.

To help me keep this blog filled with content you want, I’m working on a survey that will hopefully be up within the next week, and I’m open to any ideas or suggestions you have.  Feel free to comment below, or send me a message through the Contact the Reading Wench page.

Sunday’s Sundries: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Sundries - Dominic Hartnett
Image: Dominic Hartnett

Sunday’s Sundries are my random posts that don’t really fit into any of my other features.

I was tagged by Michelle @ Because Reading is Better than Real Life.

20 Questions About Me:




No, none that I’m aware of.


Bloggers who don’t edit for grammatical and spelling errors.  It’s one thing to have a typo every once in a while, but if the majority of posts are so full of errors that I have difficulty reading them, then I’m going to stop reading and move on to another blog.


Bullies on I-35.


There’s no way I could ever pick just one favorite song, since my musical tastes go across all genres and eras/decades.


None.  I stay far, far away from Etsy because there are way too many lovely things that I want to buy, but I have no money to spend.


I spend whatever free time I have reading when the Boyfriend isn’t home.  If he is home, I’m writing or gaming. 


I would say dark chocolate, but since chocolate comes from a plant, it’s really salad, right?



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All of my favorite books are listed HERE.


I have no idea what brand it is, but it’s a vanilla flavored lip balm that I got in my Christmas stocking from Santa (aka the Boyfriend’s Mom).  I use it everyday.


I mispronounced the word “collegiate” in front of the Boyfriend and his Mom because I had never heard the word spoken out loud. 


Water.  Hydration is important.  If it’s not the only beverage I can drink, then a daily Chai Latte would be awesome.


“The Princess Bride”.  I have many other favorites, but I could watch that one everyday and not get tired of it.


I was a loner nerd.


I have traveled to many parts of the world throughout my life, and, so far, my favorite place has been South Korea.  However, I don’t know if I would want to live there permanently.  I lived there for 3 years, and while I loved it, I enjoyed coming back to the U.S.  So, maybe some place in Western Europe, like Scotland, England, or France.

17. PC OR MAC?

PC.  I despise Apple.


The Boyfriend took me to a fondue restaurant for Valentine’s Day.


Hmmm….I don’t keep up with celebrities, but for years I greatly admired Angelina Jolie.  I suppose I still do, but I also love Emma Watson, J.K. Rowling, and Henry Rollins.


Well, if I gave an answer, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, now would it?  She’s one of the bloggers I’ve tagged…

Tag!  You’re It: