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On Not Book Blogging This Year: The Human Connection Project #1

The Human Connection Project
On Not Book Blogging This Year: The Human Connection Project #1
By Olivia Anne Gennaro • Issue #1 • View online
Welcome to the Human Connection Project. In this introductory issue, I’m taking an especially personal angle to talk about how I got here & where I hope to go.

I don't want to be much of a book blogger anymore
How much of my rainbow stack did I read for Pride Month? Literally zero.
How much of my rainbow stack did I read for Pride Month? Literally zero.
So…I’ve had a year. And despite more time on my hands, I’ve read significantly less than usual and shied away from my usual blog. I’m actually in the middle of like 8 books right now or something equally ridiculous?
There are three ARC (advanced reader’s copy) book reviews I should have posted long ago, but since I read them between August and March of this year, I don’t think I remember enough to properly review them. Especially as my memory from early this year is not the sharpest. Constantly trying to complete what I’d started in the past only serves to remind me of how difficult the past eight months have been. I didn’t write about a lot of middle grade books I loved because I was busy teaching with them, and then suddenly I wasn’t. I had a great reading month in May that would have been great to write about because the titles also related to how it was Mental Health Awareness month, and I was doing better myself, but…that almost felt too personal, and it would have taken time. And meanwhile I’ve listened to a bunch of great nonfiction audiobooks, which connects to how I have been wanting and mostly only able to read nonfiction and how my career interests are broadening, but…it would be long, and I kind of liked the idea of keeping my reading more to myself. These books were often personal and important to me, and I wasn’t ready to write about why yet.
I have always preferred and often written personal reflections and analyses connected to myself and the world at large rather than traditional book reviews–I even snuck that into the only review I wrote this year, even though it was an ARC review. Whether something is “good” or not or star ratings has never been of particular interest to me. Besides, I books are not the only thing I love talking about.
I’ve had a lot of difficulty making and following through with plans this year, especially if it means making something….so I’m forcing myself to do this as a way to get back in the habit. This is somewhere between an excuse and a trick for my brain to get me writing consistently and with less pressure than a fully-formed, carefully researched piece to pitch to publications or even just a book review. I’ve been trying to wrangle and streamline the remnants of years of part-time experiments on the Internet instead of stopping to think, do I want to do that anymore? Sometimes you just need to start somewhere new on a clean slate, so here we are. By no means will my other projects disappear, but they will probably be either funneled to or promoted by this newsletter.
Plus, I get to actually communicate with others and get out of my head! I’ve been alone a lot of the past year alone, exacerbated by the pandemic–I moved out, lived alone, was further from family and friends who often couldn’t visit anyway, and ended up spending a lot of time the beginning of this year alone in my apartment thanks to time off work, snow, and being in-between jobs. Oh, and then I threw myself into so many things outside that I ended up burnt out, disappointed, or just had a panic attack somewhere so as I result I developed agoraphobia and only felt safe in my apartment! Fun times! (I have learned how to manage that now, don’t worry. Turns out I was experiencing hypomania in addition to having ADHD.)
It's the same with my writing, too
Oh, do I have so many notes and ideas. They’re sort of organized, but I forget they exist and start over from scratch on another day. My Evernote files have a lot of great ideas and snippets, and I finally went through and tagged and sorted them into notebooks, but I often forget to go back and browse them. Some ideas are spread across multiple notes as I came up with ideas over time and thought that would prevent them from getting buried in an older, longer note? Welcome to my brain, friends.
In fact, the cycle of a creative burst of hyperfixation on something only for it to burn me out has led to me to avoid…most things. Even opening Instagram or reading the news which is a part of my regular job instantly raises my anxiety, as I’m sure a lot of us have experienced. I can barely enjoy someone’s work without feeling bad I’m not working on my own. As a result I’ve been trying to do way too much, and so much of what I enjoy reminds me of what I’ve left behind–especially now that it’s back-to-school season and this is my first time not involved as either a student or teacher.
The namesake of this newsletter, The Human Connection Project, actually started as one of those projects: an interview series podcast. Maybe that will still happen someday–I did manage to record one episode with a friend from high school, I have another friend who wants to do it, and at the very least I could write something in prose. But I’m more optimistic now than previously, where it all got too overwhelming too quickly for me. When the majority of my interests and projects already require me to stare at a screen for a length of time, it’s hard to choose to keep doing that.
Instead, my multimedia endeavors I already started over at the Instagram for the Human Connection Project, and I’d already been working on some musical-related video essays so I just went ahead and renamed that channel accordingly so I can also post shorter things (TikTok is way too overwhelming to me to adopt fully, sorry) and clips I might want to refer to in this newsletter!
I’ve found that I need to slow down (fortunately, thanks to some changes with life and medication, my therapist says I also now talk at a “normal” speed). I’d like to think of this newsletter–like reading any significant chunk of prose–as a way to slow down for you, too. An escape from the usual social media feeds for both of us. And I need to stick to writing, one thing at a time. One week at a time. So here we are.
What's making me smile
Instead of pressuring myself to have a list of things I’ve read or listened to and recommend each week, I’m going to start with simply sharing joy.
For me right now, that is the British panel game show Taskmaster, which I’m always watching for a good laugh, childish glee about playing silly games, and the psychological fascination of how different people approach the same tasks. If you’re outside the UK, you can watch them all officially on YouTube for free.
Here's one of the earliest tasks that highlights that creativity (FYI: strong language)
Here's one of the earliest tasks that highlights that creativity (FYI: strong language)
Meanwhile on the Insta...
I’ve been reading some absurd Barthelme stories and have been listening to more William Finn musicals than usual (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, A New Brain, Falsettos) thanks to an essay I’ve been working on. You might see a sneak peak of that in the future…
As always, the Insta is best when you read my little messages in the captions. Unfortunately the Revue integration link doesn’t seem to be working properly, so I’m including them here as regular links. Hopefully they get it fixed!
Barthelme absurdism
Sneak peak
whose lyrics are these?
whose lyrics are these?
Connect and support
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Olivia Anne Gennaro

Updates from writer Olivia Anne Gennaro. Exploring how the cultural tissue of storytelling in various mediums brings us together.

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