Way Back When: Discovering 1923 in 2023

Well, it’s 2023, which feels like a strange and unwieldy number for a year to be after the neat symmetry of 2022. I thought for today’s post it would be interesting to look at different events that occurred exactly 100 years ago, and feature various books, movies, and resources for you to explore corresponding to those events. For one thing, ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’, and for another…this makes learning history fun! (For me, at the very least, but hopefully for you too). Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

cover of Red Star Over Russie by David King

January | The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) aka the Soviet Union is established after a period of revolution. Red Star Over Russia by David King has a self-explanatory subtitle; it’s a Visual History of the Soviet Union From the Revolution to the Death of Stalin: Posters, Photographs and Graphics From the David King Collection. I’m a visual learner myself, and this graphic book is eye-catching and eye-opening, and reminds readers of the intersection of art and politics as a revolutionary incentive, as propaganda, and as an art movement in and of itself.

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Make Small but Impactful Changes

Book Cover of Atomic Habits
Book Cover of Atomic Habits

Have you made any new year’s resolutions on January 1, promising yourself that you would turn in before midnight so you could get up earlier or you would eat healthier so you could have more energy, only to find yourself fall back to the old routines a few weeks later? Or, have you–just like the old me–already stopped making this kind of promises because you have given up the idea that we can change our habits?

Right, our old habits are very difficult to break, especially the bad ones! But only Ed Sheeran can make good use of his Bad Habits, and most of us don’t, lol. Over the past year, my view on habits has completely changed because my chronic pain condition had flared up uncontrollably and taken away my ability to work and live freely for an extended period of time. The western medicine and therapies that had helped before weren’t able to put my condition under control this time. I was desperate to find ways to cope. I began to look into things that I had been automatically doing for years and eventually realized some of them were so wrong – from the way I held my mouse and the way I breathed when I exercised to the food I ate and the medication I took … Had I not finally looked for changes, I would have still been stuck.

Because of this experience, I started reading about topics that I have been taking for granted, and one of them is the impact of tiny habits. For example, drinking coffee—do I really need the second cup after lunch? Does that contribute to my poor sleep quality? Perhaps you have heard of the bestselling title Atomic Habits? Its author James Clear states, “Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits … What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.” This claim is not exaggerated at all. After my experience, I now realize good habits can help us with almost everything, from staying in shape to finding happiness.

But how? How can we recognize bad habits and break them? How do we cultivate good habits and make them stick?

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Maximus Gluteus

Book Cover of Butts: A backstory by Heather Radke

Never skip a leg day, yes, but you probably shouldn’t skip a glute day either: the maximus gluteus is the biggest muscle in your body, and training your glutes can help with your posture, preventing back pain, and more!

I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover and all, but just look at it! The moment I saw the cover on a list of recent releases, I knew I’d end up picking this up. It might seem an odd pick, but I’ve found I tend to be interested in microhistories, especially somewhat cheeky ones, as you may already be aware, so obviously I gravitated towards it the moment I saw it. In this age of Instagram and scrunch butt leggings*, not to mention post-2014, which was apparently Year of the Butt(?), it might sound a bit disingenuous to say that I hadn’t really given butts that much thought, but I went in thinking exactly this. As I started reading though, I slowly came to the realization that I had, in fact, absorbed more about butts than I’d realized without much conscious thought: Radke covered the ground I expected to be covered for a book on the female butt – how it’s been viewed throughout the ages in Western culture, the history & symbolism of this part of the body – but I also found myself wishing it were more filled out, in part because a lot of this ground has been covered elsewhere. Granted, I would still recommend this book for the convenience of having it all in one place, for anyone who is interested in learning about our fascination with the maximus gluteus, as the nature of that obsession (as a society, if not as individuals) has changed over the years.

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