Top Ten Tuesday: My favorite websites that aren’t about books

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Image via The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, takes a break from books to discuss our favorite websites that have nothing to do with literature. We all spend our lives online nowadays, so it was difficult for me to limit this list to only ten sites when there are so many great sources for education and entertainment.

Below are some of my favorite websites that I visit regularly, with a short blurb of what makes them so awesome!

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1. Recipes: Pinterest

Ah, Pinterest. The go-to site for virtual hoarders everywhere. While I do have an account to publicize my blog, I primarily use it to store recipes that I’m interested in making. My Nom Noms board has a bunch of slow cooker ideas and my obsession with s’mores resulted in a separate board just for Desserts. As much as I love paper books, I don’t need them for cooking ever again!

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2. Killing time: BuzzFeed’s YouTube channel

BuzzFeed has dominated the artform of the listicle, but it’s their video team that’s really rocking it online. Whether it’s learning about other cultures or just watching people squeal over cute animals, this channel starts the vast majority of my YouTube black hole trips. And let’s face it, it’s all Eugene’s fault!

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3. Budgeting: You Need a Budget

On Black Friday of 2013, my life changed forever when I purchased You Need a Budget (YNAB). In less than three years since I began monitoring where all my money was going, I’ve managed to pay off all my student loans, buy and pay off my new Mazda3, save an emergency fund, and save for my two-week trip to Europe! YNAB has recently changed its business model to a subscription service, but I can’t think of a better way to spend $50 a year. I’m not paid by YNAB whatsoever, but I’m just so passionate about it, I recommend it constantly!

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4. Money: Financial Samurai

After you’ve become a YNAB pro and learned the basics of personal finance, check out the Financial Samurai to take your money skills to the next level. Blogger Sam abandoned Wall St. to retire early and now makes his living teaching people about entrepreneurship and wealth management. He’s a San Francisco resident with tons of knowledge of the tech industry, so I also appreciate his insight about Bay Area real estate and startup investing.

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5. Career: I Will Teach You to be Rich

Ramit Sethi, founder of I Will Teach You to be Rich, became famous in the personal finance industry for his book of the same name, which focused more on big money wins than cutting lattes. His “live rich” mantra has now expanded into an excellent platform for career advice, from job interviewing to building an online business. Much like Financial Samurai, Ramit has a no-BS, tough love personality that motivates his followers to reach their true potential.

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6. Long Form: Wait But Why

In a world where bite-size news prevails, Wait But Why is a breath of fresh air. Blogger Tim Urban doesn’t keep a regular posting schedule, but it’s worth waiting weeks or even months, because he delivers amazing long form articles about artificial intelligence, social behavior, and more. His profile on Elon Musk and TED Talk on procrastination have catapulted him into blogging stardom, but it’s his stick-figure illustrations that make him memorable.

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7. Entertainment: The Oatmeal

Matthew Inman is quite possibly the Internet’s coolest dude: his comics are crazy, colorful fun with a kickass sense of humor. He certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, since he doesn’t shy away from speaking about sexism, religion, and why cats are better than babies. But he’s also a huge geek who uses his success to do amazing things, like fund a Nikola Tesla museum and protect indoor kitties that go missing. Like many fans, I discovered his work through his comics about grammar, so it also goes without saying that he’s saving the world, one semicolon at a time!

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8. Women’s Rights: Jezebel

People who are close to me know that I’m a loud and proud feminist, so it’s no surprise that my favorite place to get my news is Jezebel. This Gawker Media online publication covers politics, celebrities, and culture with an unapologetic feminist POV, despite the trolling that spills over from the mouth-breaking MRAs (men’s rights activists) on other Gawker sites. And while Jezebel’s writers are talented, I come for the commenters. It’s like the Jezebel community has pulled together the wittiest women around the world, and I only wish we could all have a meetup in real life. Bay Area Jezzies, hit me up!

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9. Relationships: Dr. Nerdlove

How do you save geeks from turning into mouth-breathing MRAs, the kind of parasites that infest sites like Reddit and 4chan? You educate them on how to navigate social situations in regards to friendship and dating. Harris O’Malley, aka Dr. Nerdlove, cross-posts his advice column to Kotaku, Gawker Media’s site for gaming and his target audience. Men who are sexually unsuccessful with women grow to hate them, so Dr. Nerdlove is serving feminists everywhere by fighting misogyny at its source.

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10. Advice Column: Dear Coquette

I guess that you could say that I’m cheating with this category, since Dr. Nerdlove also has an advice column, but Dear Coquette’s entire claim to fame is answering the internet’s questions–with unparalleled bite. She tackles the tough stuff like suicide, drug use, and existential crises with empathy, but doesn’t coddle those with relationship or attitude problems. Browse through her best-of section and start worshipping this anonymous digital therapist.

Let me know if you love these websites as well, and feel free to give shout-outs to others that didn’t make my list!

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1

Image via ComingSoon

Rating: 4 out of 5

Over Thanksgiving break I watched “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Pt. 1” more out of obligation than anticipation. I’ve been vocal about how much I despised the ending of The Hunger Games trilogy, so this movie is just one step before the major letdown.

That being said, I enjoyed the film more than I thought that I would. Even though it stops short after Peeta’s rescue mission, it was engaging enough during the buildup to keep things interesting.

I also liked the casting of the new characters: Alma Coin, president of District 13 (played by Julianne Moore), and the district’s Roman-inspired squad consisting of Cressida, Messalla, Castor, and Pollux. I’ve always loved Natalie Dormer (of “Game of Thrones” and “The Tudors” fame), and I look forward to her role as Cressida growing in “Pt. 2.”

Similar to “Gone Girl,” this movie emphasizes how media can influence events by spreading certain messages via mass communication. The emerging rebellion on the Capitol is not nearly as important as the cat-and-mouse game that Katniss is forced to play with President Snow through her various propaganda videos and the district’s hacking into the Capitol’s telecom system.

As for Katniss herself, I much preferred her character on-screen than in the book, because readers of Mockingjay are limited to her point-of-view–which, let’s be honest, totally sucks because she’s a crazed, drugged-up trauma survivor suffering from PTSD. She’s still that same person, but fortunately she must share screen time with all the other characters who are actually getting things done.

And despite his infrequent appearances, I give major props to Josh Hutcherson for deftly expressing Peeta’s torturous mental and physical decline. Buzzfeed insightfully reported that “Mockingjay: Pt. 1” challenges Hollywood stereotypes by inverting the “damsel in distress” trope. Here, Peeta is the vulnerable victim and Katniss is the action hero who must save him.

In fact, I would argue that all the characters in this saga are more nuanced and multi-dimensional than the plot as a whole. I may hate the way that Suzanne Collins ends this chess game of hers, but damn do I love the pawns. I can only hope that these amazing actors can evolve in such a way that transcends the fate that awaits them in the final installment.

Inspiration for Your Book-Themed Wedding

‘Tis the season for weddings! I seem to be at an age where people are getting hitched left and right…and up, down, and sideways! This summer I cat-sat for a former colleague while he tied the knot, and I recently accompanied a good friend to help her shop for her wedding dress and invitations.

I’m also reading The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan, a book I won in a Goodreads contest. Sullivan narrates the stories of five individuals from different time periods ranging from the 1940s when Frances Gerety penned “A Diamond is Forever” for De Beers to modern day when a woman named Kate refuses to marry her partner despite family pressure.

I haven’t finished reading the novel, so in the meantime, I wanted to share some Buzzfeed images in case anyone is interested in throwing a book-themed wedding. Whether you’re heading to the altar next summer or only in your dreams, feel free to drool over these fun ideas!

Wedding invites:

 

Cute centerpieces:

 

Book bouquets:

 

The perfect arch:

 

A dramatic shot:

Click on the link to see more great ideas, and don’t forget to check out Pinterest and Etsy as well. I think incorporating literature into your nuptials is an awesome way to express your personality and pull sentiments from some of your favorite stories.

Many libraries are gorgeous locations for engagement photos or wedding ceremonies, and love poetry makes for wonderful vows. The possibilities are endless!

So is a book-themed wedding your cup of tea? What kinds of stories would you incorporate and how?

 

A Book Lover Listicle from BuzzFeed

Another three weeks have flown by since I last blogged! This past week I was in San Diego for a big data conference, and there will definitely be more business traveling in the near future.

But in the nearer future (4 days to be exact!), I’m heading out to Las Vegas again for another much-needed girls trip! I realize that my love for Sin City may be obsessive, since this will be my 5th visit in about two years (!!!), but what can I say? Nothing like partying night after night with your some of your best friends!

As for catching up on reading, I’m more than half-way into my latest book–Nerds Like It Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson–which I hope to finish while recuperating during the Labor Day weekend.

Until then, let me share a fun listicle from that site I love to hate, BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed is the online equivalent of cotton candy to me: it’s sweet but with absolutely no substance. I can only read it in small doses (because honestly, how much ’90s nostaglia does one need?), but this post made me smile.

Titled, “17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand,” it highlights the emotions of a die-hard reader. Below I’ve reproduced some of my favorite gifs:

When someone interrupts your reading:

When a book you love gets a harsh review:

When you finish a book and have to wait a year for the sequel:

Click on the link to check out the rest, but beware the BuzzFeed black hole! Before you know it, you’ll be sucked in by cute cats and pop culture references!

And feel free to share your own book lover problems in the comments!