Category Archives: Top Ten

We Are All Readers

Why are we still fighting about this?

The other day, a silly person time-traveled from 2009 to post this ignorant tweet.

“I still can’t get to grips with how unspeakably disappointing it must be to read books on a Kindle. One of the biggest joys when you buy a book is actually getting it, no? Those lovely wiffly pages. That smooth (or crinkled!) cover.”

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Responses were all over the place. The tweeter had a handful of cheerleaders, a ton of people calling her out for her shitty take, and a few people baffled by it all. Several of her friends insisted that paper books were “real books” or “actual” books, and seemed confused when someone pointed out that ebooks were real books too.

In the year of our lord Beyoncé 2019, why are we still fighting about this? Ebooks are real books. Audiobooks are real books. The delivery mechanism doesn’t make the content any different. Loving paper books doesn’t make you better, or smarter, or cooler. It simply makes you a reader. And there are many kinds of readers.

Kindles have existed for over a decade, and regular users aren’t disappointed when reading ebooks. We take our libraries with us when we travel. We read in bed with the lights off. We get our books delivered to us instantly. We can spend hours shopping for books even if we’re not lucky enough to have a bookstore in our town. We hold our Kindles or our phones with one hand while holding a briefcase or a baby with the other.

People not reading in their native language use the built-in dictionary. People with dyslexia read audiobooks. People with arthritis or chronic pain turn the page with a single finger.

My personal favorite thing about ebooks is the ability to increase the font size. I literally can’t read small font books anymore, but every ebook can be a large print book.

Someone’s always wrong on the internet, and I probably should have ignored this garbage tweet, but I hated the way the author dismissed everyone who explained why they loved their ebooks, especially those with disabilities. Most of her follow-up tweets looked like this: the words “Angry Kindle readers” followed by the emoji that’s laughing so hard she’s crying and a stack of paper books. In other responses, she equated paper books with morality. Reading ebooks was not just lesser-than, but wrong.

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I truly wish this person the best. I hope her eyesight always remains 20/20. I hope she never gets arthritis in her hands or wrists. I hope she never tries to read and feed a newborn at the same time. And I hope she never has to move into a nursing home where there’s no room for her paper books.

But chances are, at least one of those things will happen to her, and the joy of wiffling through paper pages will no longer be an option. I suppose she’ll just stop reading at that point.

How unspeakably disappointing.

About the author: Alex Kourvo writes science fiction short stories and novels. Her books are available in paper and ebook form.

White People Code

Using language to hide racism.

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White people talk in code. We say things that don’t sound at all offensive, but are filled with racist subtext. It’s a code that’s not really code at all, since the meaning is so plain.

But it’s hidden just a single layer below the surface of deniability. If called out, the white person can instantly backpedal into “what I really meant was…”

I’m a white lady who hangs out with other white ladies. I was taught this code from birth and speak it fluently. I’m also done tolerating it. I need to come for my own, and that starts with stripping away the euphemisms and translating these bullshit phrases into plain English. Here are ten things white people say and what they really mean.

10. Good school / good neighborhood  White school / white neighborhood

9. Mainstream  Used in Hollywood for movies and New York for books. It means white.

8. You’re very articulate  You’re black and I’m racist.

7. A gentleman by the name of…  I’m a liberal white person who wants other white people to know I’m talking about a black person.

6. We don’t know what happened before the cameras started rolling  The white police officer can’t be wrong, therefore, the black victim must be at fault.

5. I don’t see color  I would like to pretend racism isn’t systemic.

4. I’ve been discriminated against, too  I would really, really like to make racism all about me.

3. #NotAllWhitePeople / #AllLivesMatter  I’m this close to saying the nonsensical phrase “reverse racism.”

2. You’re being divisive  White feelings matter more than black safety.

1. Racially charged  I think calling someone a racist is worse than being racist.

It’s code.

About the author: Alex Kourvo writes science fiction short stories and novels and doesn’t listen to nonsense. 

The Ten Best Things About a Michigan Winter

Who needs to go out?

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Most top ten lists about winter are full of stuff like skiing and ice skating and enjoying the snow.

Wrong.

Winter in Michigan is cold and gray and way too long. It’s front-loaded with all the good holidays, leaving a long slog from January to March. I love Michigan and I’ll always live here but everything I like about winter involves staying inside and staying warm. Which is actually pretty great, especially for an introvert. I mean, nobody can expect you to actually go out when the weather is like this, can they?

So here is my list of ten things to love about a Michigan winter.

10. Slippers. Cute, fuzzy, warm. The funny thing about slippers is that they don’t always match your outfit, but they always match your personality. Is it any wonder we northerners love our slippers? And they often go on sale in January, in case you didn’t get a new pair for Christmas.

9. The movies you missed last summer are all on DVD now. In the summer, we’re often too busy enjoying the actual sun to sit in a dark theater. But now, we can ignore all those serious Oscar-bait dramas, stock up on popcorn, and enjoy the blockbuster action flicks without leaving the house.

8. Electric Blankets. Is there anything more inviting than a pre-warmed bed waiting for you to crawl into it?

7. Darkness. Michigan has short winter days and loooong winter nights. For light sleepers who need darkness and quiet, winter is the time to get some rest. A late sunrise means no birds waking you up at five in the morning.

6. Soup. The ultimate comfort food. Chicken noodle, hot and sour, even that weird vegetable soup that’s supposed to help you shed the excess holiday pounds. I don’t know about you, but soup is what gets me through the month of February.

5. Fancy lattes. Nobody wants a hot, milky, sugar-laden coffee in August. Just sayin’.

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4. Baking. Is your house too cold? Bake bread. Have you eaten all the Christmas cookies? Make more. Exhausted from having to put on six layers every time you leave the house? Bake a huge lasagna and you won’t have to cook for days.

3. Sweaters. Sweaters will both hide winter pounds and embrace you in cozy warmth. Never has there been a garment so wonderful. It’s like a blanket you can wear.

2. Feeling like a badass just for driving somewhere. “Yes, I know the drugstore is only half a mile away, but I could have died.”

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1. Cuddling. Whether it’s cuddling people or pets, summertime cuddling just sucks. Ten seconds in and you start sweating all over each other and nobody can breathe. But wintertime? Let me grab my loved ones and not let go.

Hope everyone finds someone they love to cuddle today. Happy winter.

About the author: Alex Kourvo is secretly writing romance novels. She is currently cuddling a puppy.

[center photo: David Wong. Licensed under a Creative Commons attribution generic license]

Ten Ways Being an Adult is Super Awesome

Don’t believe the coffee cups, t-shirts, and internet memes.

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“I can’t adult today” is one of the internet’s favorite sayings.

And I honestly don’t get it.

I’ve wanted to be a grown-up since I was five years old. That’s when I realized adults don’t have a bedtime and can say “no thank you” to green beans. Now that I’m actually grown up, it’s even better than I thought it would be and I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t love it, too.

Of course, I’m not talking about people who have depression or anxiety. Sometimes those issues can deplete someone’s daily store of energy before they even get out of bed. And I get that. I do. Self-care is important. In fact, self-care is part of being an adult. You get to do that now.

And you get to do so much more. Here are ten great reasons being all grown up is the best thing ever.

10. You’re in charge of you. You can choose your own bedtime, what to wear, how to color your hair, and your own music in the car. You can eat your dessert without finishing your vegetables and you will never, ever be grounded, no matter how sassy you are.

9. Coffee. Wine. Sex. Swearing. Would you really want to trade in these adult pleasures for fewer responsibilities and a daily nap?

8. You can choose your own friends. Heck, you can choose your own family if you want.

7. No one asks you what you want to be when you grow up, because they can clearly see you already are. You get to have your own identity. You’re not just “so and so’s child,” you’re you.

6. Knowing how to do things feels really, really good. Grown-ups can drive a car, cook a meal, program the DVR, vote, and write in cursive. Or at least do some of these things. And these things are awesome.

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5. Paychecks > allowance.

4. Your parents get smarter every year.

3. You can watch all the scary movies you want. And read books with sex scenes in them. And see TV shows with lots of blood and maybe naked butts.

2. You don’t have to sing with your classmates, exercise with a group, deal with mean girls, or fill out a bubble form with a #2 pencil ever again. If you want to learn something, you get a book and learn it at your own pace. :::Wipes away a tear of joy:::

1. You can have children if you wish, and spend time with them feeling like a kid all over again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the afternoon building a blanket fort and then I’m going to sit inside it eating graham crackers while reading books. Because I’m an adult, which means I get to spend my free time any way I want.

About the Author: Alex Kourvo writes short stories and novels. Her books are not for children.

Ten Life Lessons from Mad Max Fury Road

Life lessons are everywhere, even in the Wasteland.

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Mad Max Fury Road cleaned up at the Oscars on Sunday, winning six Academy Awards. So, of course, I had to watch the movie again. This time through, I thought beyond the plot, beyond the subtext, into the deeper meaning behind those iconic lines.

Here are ten life lessons that I learned from Mad Max Fury Road, that we can all use to make every day more shiny and chrome.

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10. Get your rest. If you go to bed at 2:00, you’ll be wrecked for work the next day.

 

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9. Someone’s always wrong on the internet. Don’t waste your time.

 

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8. Know your goals. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never arrive.

 

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7. Don’t settle.

 

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6. Don’t waste your effort. If someone didn’t listen to you the first time, he won’t listen to you the second or third time, either.

 

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5. Tell your friends about your achievements. They want to be happy for you!

 

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4. Standing your ground isn’t always the best course. Sometimes, you gotta get the hell out.

But also…

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3. Never leave your friends behind.

 

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2. Everyone you meet is a human being, and worthy of respect.

And remember…

 

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1. There’s always something to be thankful for, even when you’re driving into a fire tornado.

About the author: Alex Kourvo writes short stories and is working on a science fiction series. She lives each day shiny and chrome.

[Photo credits: Warner Brothers/Village Roadshow pictures]

The Top Ten Benefits of Being a Low-maintenance Gal

The less I care about how I look, the more I feel like myself.

I’ve had exactly one manicure in my life and that’s because someone gave me a gift certificate to a spa. I don’t color my hair. My favorite lipstick is chapstick. I’m always clean, well-groomed, and appropriately dressed, but everything else is optional, and I prefer not to opt in.

This is my current twitter picture.

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No makeup, unfussy hair, not even trying to hide the circles under my eyes. But it’s exactly how I look day-to-day and I want to be my authentic self online. My authentic self is a low-maintenance gal.

Being low-maintenance does not mean I’m lazy or I don’t like pretty things. Nor does it make me less of a lady. I smile a lot. I flirt. I love to hold babies and my favorite color is pink.

My style icon is Firefly’s Kaylee Frye.

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She’s sweet, she’s feminine, but she’s just not interested in obsessing about her looks. Kaylee dresses up sometimes, but only when it’s fun to do so.

So in honor of Kaylee Frye, here are the top ten benefits of being a low-maintenance gal.

10. I don’t spend money on makeup. I slap some sunscreen on my face and I’m good to go.

9. My bathroom is tidy because I don’t have a zillion little jars all over the counter. There is always room on my countertops and in my vanity drawers.

8. I travel light. That TSA rule about 3 ounce bottles in a quart-sized ziplock? No problem.

7. I can walk for miles and miles in my very cute, very flat shoes.

6. I’m a good role model for my kids. I’m showing them what a healthy, confident woman looks like. I don’t criticize my own looks and I hope they never criticize theirs.

5. Getting dressed up can be fun sometimes. It’s even more fun when it’s outside my usual routine. And special occasions feel even more special because I’ve made an effort.

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4. I have nice skin. Maybe it’s because I don’t put makeup on it. Or maybe it’s the other way around and I don’t have to put makeup on already good skin. Either way, I’m happy.

3. I can get ready to go at a moment’s notice. You want to go somewhere fabulous five minutes from now? Come pick me up. I’ll be ready.

2. I’m compassionate. With my own very low beauty standard, I’ve got no place to judge yours. I have never—not once—commented on someone’s weight, hairstyle, or clothes, not even in my own mind. Because I literally do not care. I notice what people wear and how they fix their hair. I enjoy their efforts. I don’t keep score.

1. I’m never going to be the prettiest or best dressed person in the room. It’s incredibly freeing. I’m the opposite of self-conscious. I’m okay with not being the pretty one or the cool one or the fashionable one. I can just be.

Other people like to go all-out with clothes and shoes and makeup and that is great. A chic hairstyle and flawless makeup is a joy to behold. Fashion is an art form. It truly is.

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Like Kaylee, I appreciate all the pretties. I love that these women make our world a more beautiful place.

And I especially love that they never ask me to go to shopping with them.

About the author: Alex Kourvo writes science fiction short stories and novelsHer characters are usually too busy chasing (or running from) bad guys to put on lipstick.

[Photo credits: Fox Film Corporation / Mutant Enemy Productions]