Saturday, May 19, 2018

Asking for a Friend

Asking for a Friend: Three Centuries of Advice on Life, Love, Money, and Other Burning Questions from a Nation ObsessedAsking for a Friend: Three Centuries of Advice on Life, Love, Money, and Other Burning Questions from a Nation Obsessed by Jessica Weisberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book. The premise is awesome. Americans, myself, included thrive on the advice of strangers, but I found myself losing focus as Weisberg talked through some of her chosen advice givers. The short version is that most advice givers of the last three hundred plus years were self-made. They had no real claim to their expertise, but Americans listened anyway. That said, there are some great anecdotal stories along the way, but they didn't make me any less eager for the book to end.

On to the next. Happy reading-

ps. Probably a 2.5, but you know...no half stars....

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Hiding Place

The Hiding PlaceThe Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm so glad to have finally read The Hiding Place. While the writing style wasn't perfect, the story is beyond incredible. I'm so inspired by Corrie and her family's efforts to live their faith and to serve others. They're wonderful examples of what it means to live what you teach and a powerful reminder that there is always reason to hope.

Happy reading-

Soulful Simplicity

Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much MoreSoulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is not a subtle trend in tendency to pick up books on living intentionally. I started following Courtney Carver because of her association with The Minimalists. Her experience of paring down possessions and obligations in order to lead a fuller life resonates so much with me. As we prepare to bring a baby into our home, I keep thinking about the weight of non-essential things and the weight of superfluous to do's. I want more than that for my little family.

Happy reading--

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Bookshop on the Corner

The Bookshop on the CornerThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Years ago, I stayed in a small town on the edge of the Chatsworth estate in England. The village was so picturesque, I told people that if I ever disappeared, I would be there. Colgan's book was like getting to know the people in that town and the city girl who decides to relocate there when she decides on a life change.

While portions of the book were delightful, the overall plot wasn't amazing. Honestly, I think the reader, Lucy Price-Lewis who also read "The Year of Living Danishly" is half the reason I enjoyed the book so much. Pure escapist fiction that fit the bill after a couple of intense reads.

Happy spring and happy reading--

ps. The author's note at the beginning is almost better than the book. Jenny Colgan seems like a character in Calendar Girl.s - you just want to sit down and chat with them.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be FeministsWe Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've never loved the word feminist. It's too loaded with other people's expectations and assumptions. Adichie, however, shows that feminism is simply the desire for women and men to be recognized and treated fairly for who they are and what they can be. It's about one gender being good and one gender being bad. It's about respecting and accepting people. I can 100% get behind that.

For the record, Adichie really is a masterful speaker and writer. I would not be sad to hear her thoughts on just about anything. Happy reading-

ps. This resonated with me the same way Emma Watson's original "He for She" speech did. If you haven't watched that, it's the one she delivered to the UN a few years ago.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Educated

Educated: A MemoirEducated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In high school, a boy at church told me my place was in the kitchen. During my undergrad, a professor jokingly bragged that he had come home to find his wife “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” and what a success that was. In graduate school, I was told I was taking the place of a “bread winner” by being there as a female student. I was also told by a guy in my program that I wasn’t marriage material because clearly my focus wasn’t on having a family if I had chosen continue higher education.

Enter Tara Westover’s “Educated”. My life experiences look nothing like hers. Her story of growing up in rural Idaho with a father who feared the government and didn’t allow his children to get birth certificates or attend school is the kind of reality you struggle to believe is true. Add in the abuse and distorted religious views, and it’s a wonder she made it out, let alone earned a PhD from one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Here’s the thing though – while I was astounded by her story and her telling of it, I couldn’t get out of my own head as she made her way to BYU and on to Cambridge. I was trying to understand her experience while trying to process my own personal details in a new light. And so, I think I wanted more resolution from Tara. Perhaps I wanted more “so what” – what she’s learned, how she’s living now that she’s had time to process where she came from and what she’s accomplished. Maybe I’m already anticipating “Educated: Volume 2”.

Empirically, I know I don’t need an author or anyone to define their experiences, so that I can define mine. But I really enjoyed the chance to hear such an authentic and candid thoughts that give voice to issues like education and the role of women in society. I’m hoping Tara becomes more present as a speaker and a writer, and I’m really hoping people I know read this book soon because I’m dying to talk about it.

Happy reading--

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is really hard for me to put into words. I almost abandoned this book...twice. I just didn't understand Eleanor and her quirkiness. But person after person said they loved this book and loved Eleanor. And well, I love books that take place in the UK, and after Alan Cumming's "Not My Father's Son", I was in a better head space for a book about dysfunctional families (not to mention, another book set in Scotland). So I came back and decided to power through more of it, and it was Raymond, rather than Eleanor that was my gateway in. Eleanor works with Raymond in the story, and as one of her only regular contacts, he quickly became my access point to seeing Eleanor in a more relatable way.

All of this to say that this book is really good. Its characters are more than caricatures, and its plotlines powerful, but not in a self-important way. In fact, the deft hand with which Honeyman weaves humor and tragedy is so profoundly human. This book was a better version of Fredrik Backman's "Britt-Marie was Here" and a modern and more comical version of the gothic "Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. Read it. It's worth the journey.

Happy reading--