From the Notebook

Favorites of the Year 2019

Favorite Apps, Links and Books of 2019.

Here we are again, at the end of 2019.

Oh, 2019! It was a long year, a complicated year, a year full of change and new experiences. But of all that we can talk in another post. Today I want to share with you some of my favorite things this year, some for productivity, some for entertainment, but all things I really enjoyed.

Note: nothing in this post is sponsored. These are just things I like and want to share.

Apps

In 2017, I moved to Germany to study an M.A. in Political Science. Since then, I’ve written many papers, sat exams, and done presentations. So, here are three apps that helped me do that.

Forest

This is a concentration app for your phone and a Google Chrome extension. The way it works is: You set a timer to stay focused and plant a virtual tree that grows during that time. You then set your phone aside and work. If you leave the app, the tree dies. Once the tree grows, you to get coins that you can use to unblock new ones and you can use that to grow a forest.

The best part about this app is that, once you have enough coins, you can donate them to plant a real tree.

Notion

Notion is a “workspace” for basically everything you have. On each new page that you open, you can do pretty much anything: write a text, make a list, add a table, a task board, set up notifications, and connect them to other pages both on Notion and on the web. A personal workspace is just for you, a group workspace allows you to work on the same space with every person who is part of your project.

There’s a free version, which allows you to have up to 1000 pages. The different plans range from $4.00 (personal) to $20.00 (enterprise) a month, and you can choose whichever suits your needs best. It’s also free for students.

Scrivener

Scrivener is a writing app. I purchased it years ago while I was studying my B.A. and wrote every paper on it, including my Bachelor Thesis. I recently purchased the third edition and I am loving it.

Here, you can organize your notes, color code, summarize, save PDFs so you don’t have to switch between programs, and export your texts ready for publication.


The next two apps, I use for my everyday life.

Audible

Audible is Amazon’s audio book store. Ever since I started my M.A. and my part-time job, I haven’t had nearly enough time to read. Last year, I read six books in total. Six! I feel bad every time I look at that list. So I decided to join Audible and start listening to books on my commute to university and to work, and I discovered the true joy of listening to books.

Yes, it costs $15.00 a month and that can seem like a lot, but it is so worth it.

SpotOn

This is not just a period tracker. This is the best period tracker. Developed by Planned Parenthood, this app helps you not only track your period, but also everything related to it. With its mood, body, action and period trackers, you can see exactly how you feel and how often you feel like it. You can also track your birth control method, be it pill, patch, implant, shot, IUD, or whatever.

There’s also a “Resources” section for frequently asked questions related to periods, birth control, sex, and even a glossary. You can set up push-notifications to remind you that your period is coming, or to take your birth control, or when you have your next appointment at the gynecologist. In short, if you have a period, you should have this on your phone.

Books

These books are in no particular order. They’re books I thoroughly enjoyed and would probably read again.

A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf

Of this book I wrote back in June, but suffice it to say that this extended essay, which is based on a series of lectures that Virginia Woolf gave at Newham College and Girton College, is a must for all readers, writers, content creators, and general audiences.

The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson

This is the perfect translation for our time. In her translation, Emily Wilson takes a care rarely seen in other versions of the Odyssey, respecting key features of the original text, such as length, rhythm, and tone, all while making it accessible for a modern reader. The result is a beautiful, easy to read, epic poem.

Bad Feminist: Essays, by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist is a collection of personal essays by author, university professor and competitive Scrabble player, Roxane Gay. These essays range from politics, to race, to personal experiences, to pop culture, and they are written with such warmth and honesty, that they give this book that conversational feel that only some books of memoirs have.

Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, by Cordelia Fine

“Women are from Venus, men are from Mars”, “there is a male and there is a female brain”, “women and men are naturally better at different things”. These are just some of the sayings that we often hear in our everyday life. We read about them in books and magazines, we see them displayed on our screens, and we hear them at home and at school.

In this book, Cordelia Fine goes on a journey of discovery, swimming through the vast sea of research and studies from the fields of psychology and neuroscience, and takes along with her on her search for the truth behind these myths, and shows us how, from the very moment that we are born (even before that), we are constantly influenced and limited by cultural assumptions about gender.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

This is a short but amazing book by Neil Gaiman that tells the story of a man who goes back to his childhood home for a funeral. While he is there, he goes back to the farm at the end of the road. He hasn’t been there in so long, he doesn’t even remember what happened there. He just remembers that, as a boy, he met and befriended a girl, Lettie Hempstock. What happened to him as a boy slowly comes back to him, and he suddenly starts to remember the time when he saw and lived through strange and dark things. Things that started with a dead man in a car, and ended with an ocean.

Other links

The Woman Dies

Written by Aoko Matsuda, translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton. This is a short story from her collection The Year of No Wild Flowers and published on GRANTA online. The Woman Dies is about the treatment of women in stories, and it is amazing.

Medium

This is an online publishing platform that is home to professional and amateur writers, journalists, and bloggers. I’ve been a member for a while now and I absolutely love it. More recently, I decided to open my own Medium account, where I publish now and then.

Joshua Weissman

This is a guy who worked at a restaurant and now does relatively short, but really good YouTube cooking videos. I love his videos and his recipes, and I follow him on YouTube and Instagram.

And that’s all of it. Thank you so much for reading The Notebook in My Pocket this year. I hope you have a blessed and wonderful time, and I will see you again in January to talk about my Word for the Year and the plans for 2020.

Paola.

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