Let's Talk About Books Baby!

December

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Books Read

Dare to Lead: Bold Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brene Brown (audible)

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

 

Where did the time go? I thought for sure I would get this blog posted up over my winter break, but here I am and it’s already January 6th! Oh well, I try. 

Let’s dig in, shall we? Brene. Oh Brene. I get this is your schtick.... but I’m getting bored. It feels like the same information always in the same book but with just a different title. I do like some of the changes that Brene made online to some of her content. You used to have to pay to get a lot of her course content but now in order to make things more accessible she’s made most of it free. Kudos. But now... I’m going to need a new topic or something to stay engaged.  

Next up was my 4th of the 9 that I NEED to finish in this lifetime. Zadie Smith. This was the first time I have read non-fiction from Zadie and I both LOVED and hated it... which leaves me with a mixed review.  President Obama added this book to his list of his favorite books he’d read in 2018, but he is far more intelligent than I am. There were some essays that had me (like one early in the book that had to deal with her feelings about being in a world where Trump is elected President, it was sooooo good!), or the one about the cultural significance of Key and Peele’s blockbuster hit movie, “Get Out”l but then there were the book reviews for Harper’s Magazine. Insert eye roll here. These reviews took me FOREVER to read. They were so high brow. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I were that intellectual. But I’m not. And couple my lack of intelligence with the fact that I have never read nor have little desire to read any of the books she was reviewing and that equaled snore fest. For like a year of my life.  Zadie has another non-fiction essay book (that I own), that I’ve never read, I’ve always stayed away from it for all the very reasons that this was not my favorite. And, this is exactly why I haven’t picked up Jonathan Franzen’s latest (collection of non-fiction essays), I’ve heard that it has a lot to do with his obsession with birds. So I guess the lesson is, I don’t necessarily need to read about the things that influence some of my favorite writers. So, read this Zadie if you are a super fan, but if you’ve never read Zadie before then this is not the place to begin. This is for super fans only.

 Next up was number 5 out of 9, it’s the book that has been on my “currently reading” list the longest, I started Wolf Hall in January of 2015! Even though I was dreading it I knew that it was FINALLY time to tackle this beast once and for all... I just literally could not fathom taking it into another year with me. So it moved up my priority list. Let me just say, this book is actually a good book. It just took me a while to get into a rhythm with it. This is not a book that I could read with 5 pages here, and 8 pages there. This was a book where I needed to only sit down with it when I was intentionally carving out at least an hour to read. And I had to place my cell phone in a different room than me. No distractions. And when I would do it, when I would get 75 pages in (in one session) then I found I actually liked it. And I like the way Hilary Mantel writes, I like how she would take us into Cromwell’s head and we would see he was very sarcastic, and witty. I also liked the angle of there being something between Mary Boleyn and Cromwell- I never knew that. It makes me want to research into it. I find it interesting that this first book in the trilogy is named “Wolf Hall” which is the name of the Seymour residence, and Jane is only barely coming into play at the end of the book. I am intrigued to read the rest of the trilogy, but I am going to take a break from this one for now. I accomplished my goal, I finished Wolf Hall, that feels good for now. 

After accomplishing that goal, I decided I deserved a break over holiday break from the final 4 books that have been on my currently reading list for over a year. I will make them a priority in the new year, but for winter break I believed I deserved to be indulgent.... and so I FINALLY got to crack open A Place For Us, Sarah Jessica Parker’s first book on her new imprint with Hogarth books. And let me say, if this book is any indicator of the quality of books that SJP will be publishing, well then well done! I am a fan of her style. I kind of figured I would be. This book definitely falls in line with the quality of books that I read last year; a familial drama written by an underrepresented author, Fatima Farheen Mirza. She has written a masterpiece, a story of a family who has roots in India but find themselves in America and balancing their old ideals and values in a very new world. The siblings and the way they love and loathe each other, can feel so familiar to anyone who has a close relationship with their siblings. This is a story of becoming, a story of filling the shoes you think your parents think you will, and the way they actually see you, and the way you actually see yourself. It is beautiful, I highly recommend this read!

That’s it for 2018 folks, I read 44 books. Finished 5 out of a group of 9 that I’ve been reading for way too long, and I found new authors to love.  How did your year in books go? I’d love to hear!

Let’s Talk About Books Baby!

November

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Books Read 

 Style & Substance: How to Create a Compelling Brand by Liz Dennery

 Every Day is Extra by John Kerry (Audible)

I Am Her Tribe by Danielle Doby

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

 All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin 

 Becoming by Michelle Obama (Audible)

 The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder

So, at October’s book camp in Salida I promised the group that I was going to finish the 9 books that I was in the middle of before starting anything new. And then this month, I broke that promise… but yet I also made progress on that goal!

First, I finished reading through all the scenarios and questions in Liz Dennery’s book Style & Substance: How to Create a Compelling Brand, but as this is a reference book and I am trying to build a brand (see Parvati & Co, if you haven’t already, here: https://www.parvatiandco.com/) I think Liz’s book poses questions all new businesses should ask themselves, and so I think this will be a book I will come back to again and again. It’s not one you sit down and read, it’s more of a workbook. I heard about this book through the lovely women of Rock Your Bliss! 1/9 down.

Next up was John Kerry’s new memoir, which was a part of the group of 9! I had started this book in October, and needed to hustle to get it done in time to see John Kerry at Tattered Cover. Most of you will know that I take great pride in that of the Clinton administration I have gotten in person books signed from: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Madeline Albright! And now from the Obama years I have: Hillary Clinton & John Kerry. GOAL: The Obama’s themselves. Someday. Fingers Crossed. Ok- now about the actual book… I actually REALLY enjoyed this book. I listened to it, and he read it, and I LOVE his voice. I started listening to it on some of the first cold mornings of the season and that’s exactly what it reminds me of… quiet mornings, a chill in the air, long stretch of road, and hot coffee. On a road trip I made a lot of progress in this book, things that I found interesting…

Did you know that John Kerry was born in WWII?

Did you know that John Kerry, Al Gore, and Mitch McConnell were all in the same Freshman class of Senators?

Did you know that his friendship with the Kennedy’s went back to his youth?

Did you know that he was at the first Earth Day celebration?

John Kerry’s life has spanned decades, issues, and so many historical moments. Seeing him speak at Tattered Cover was definitely a highlight too. I never thought about him when Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. But that was John Kerry that had worked so hard to get all the countries in the world together to tackle a global issue. I also heard him tell stories through the book and at the event of his rivalry & friendship with John McCain. I think that these guys are a part of a generation that we are quick to write off as “Old, white men, whose time is up.” But on closer inspection, I believe we are losing a generation that operated on a different code, and a generation that fought for freedoms, and for causes. We are only now waking up and doing this, we have been so privileged and we didn’t even realize, and we definitely haven’t honored those who gave us so much. And yes, I still do think that it is time to move forward, but I also think that for history’s sake, some people and their own personal histories deserve some sort of reverence. I don’t know, maybe I am a sentimental.

Here was my favorite passage from the book, I think it is so beautiful:

"One September we traveled to Europe, we stopped in London before we went to Paris, rented a car and drove to Brittany so I could introduce her to Les Essarts. It was the best of early fall; trees just beginning to color, still warm, still long evenings. On the way I diverted to take her to the beaches of Normandy, she had never been there; I wanted her to see the staggering beauty and have her feel and share the same awe I felt every time I visited. Because it was September there weren’t that many people, the setting is always breathtaking and when you are walking almost by yourselves amid the crosses and stars of David, noting the dates of death and the names engraved in the headstones, the emotional and historical sweep of the place overwhelms you. We went all the way down to a near deserted part of the beach where troops had broken through on D-Day. There we sat on some rocks at the edge of the beach, the tide was rising and we measured each wave as it reached closer and closer to the rocks. The entire time we were there, mesmerized by the stillness and the beauty, an older gentleman and we presumed his wife were sitting together in an embrace, looking out at the water, not moving, lost in thought. I am certain he was a returned veteran, someone who survived that extraordinary landing, someone who’d come back to find peace and perhaps remember the friends he had lost at that very place. Quietly, but deliberately, he stood up, he took off his clothes, piece by piece; then completely naked with a squeeze of his wife’s hand he walked straight out into the water. Unabashed. Unembarrassed. Without awareness of anybody watching, lost in his memories in the moment, he seemed to be performing a ritual purification, allowing the waves to carry him in and out as they had once washed soldiers bodies back and forth until the dead were finally recovered after the fighting on the beach. Teresa and I holding hands, watched in silence, we were frozen in that spot on the beach, as if for an eternity. To this day it is one of the most touching, beautiful moments we have ever witnessed together. It was mystical and a gift."

Shortly after this trip to Normandy the two lovers got engaged. Anyway, if you like political memoirs or historical books, then I highly recommend this one! 2/9 down.


Next up is the powerhouse of a book called, “I Am Her Tribe” by Danielle Doby, I broke my promise to the book camp ladies with this one. I had the most beautiful day that ended on somewhat of a sad note… I was in my head telling myself stories about how I don’t belong with anyone, and how I am pathetic, unlovable, and a pity case. It was real UGLY, so I decided to break my rule and give myself some medicine in the form of poetry. And with that, let me say that I LOVE this book and it might possibly be my favorite one of the whole year… stay tuned. But I want to share a few of my favorites and then just strongly urge you to BUY this book. This is a keeper.

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And this…

“Let your heart break daily.

In conversations, over song lyrics,

During the pause right before the

Sun rises. While you’re sipping coffee

+ looking into the eyes of someone

You love. It’s when we break a little,

We come alive. It’s in this space

Of feeling, we expand, and it’s here,

In our vulnerability and openness,

We step into our greatest selves.”

Ugh. So good! If these don’t move you then I don’t know what will! Buy the book, and then share with me some of your faves! <3

 Over Thanksgiving I continued my trend of breaking my promise to finish only the 9 books I had told myself I would read before all else. I figured a cozy long weekend deserved some comfort reads with two of my go-to authors: Tatiana De Rosnay and Emily Giffin. The Rainwatcher by De Rosnay, is a beautiful book. It’s a story of a family reuniting in Paris and we see each of them dealing with their own lives when trauma strikes and an environmental disaster. The note this book ends on gave me chills. And when I think of it I honestly think this is one of her better books, because it was so intelligent in design. Love it!

As for Giffin, I also agree that her latest is one of her better books. She definitely falls into the “chick-lit” category for me, and so I always expect something that will be a good bathtub read, something that I can finish in a matter of days. But this one had weight to it. Giffin is taking on the me too era, and what it is like to be a woman who has a son who does something despicable. I thought this was an intriguing read and so I did vote for it in the goodreads choice awards but only because of the books that were nominated that I had read, this one was my favorite in the Best Fiction category, but that said, I actually believe that there was a probably a better fiction book than this one. This one was certainly better than the JoJo Moyes book that ended up winning. To see the list of winners from the 2018 awards, click here!

Next up was another political memoir, you didn’t think I was going to cheat from my book diet and not download and listen to Michelle’s new one, did ya? I don’t think so. Michelle Obama has written a lovely book. I loved learning more about her.

And this…

About 4 hours in and 8 chapters she's meeting Barack, and by the end of the chapter in spite of her best efforts she's falling in love with him.

I loved the story of how they both wanted to leave at the intermission of Les Miserables. Before him she would have suffered through it, but his way of being gave her permission to not have to check all the boxes. She says, "He was like a wind that threatened to unsettle everything." I love when she realizes that she was "struck by the spectacle of him." I love the way she describes being acutely aware of his body sitting in the passenger seat of her car, his elbow on the console, his knee within reaching distance of her hand. She ends the chapter with this, "Maybe Barack read it on my face, or sensed it in my posture... The fact that everything for me had now begun to loosen and unfold. He was looking at me curiously, with a trace of a smile, 'Can I kiss you?' he asked, and with that I leaned in and everything felt clear."

The Obamas. Always the dose of hope we need to go another day. Love them!

And lastly, I returned to the 9 to crank out my third one. Only 6 more to go! Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Solution is a good read. I’m thinking of upending my whole way I eat… and I’ve been listening to her podcast for years, so it was nice to finally read the book that started it all. Stay tuned in the new year, I want to do some comparison of her theories, with they Ayurveda course I’ll be taking. We’ll see what happens.

Ok- we’re in the home stretch of 2018—- what have been some of your favorite reads? What are you going to read over the holidays? Do you make book goals, if so what are they? Are you going to meet your goal for 2018? What are you doing in 2019?

Let's Talk About Books Baby!

October

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Books Read

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen

by Kate Fagan (Audible)

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner

Dark Tracks (Order of Darkness #4) by Philippa Gregory

Drive Here and Devastate Me by Megan Falley

What do you know? I’m behind! And again, how did it become the middle of the month? Someday I will be disciplined and write these monthly posts on the last day of the month! Oh well.

Here we go… I listened to What Made Maddy Run by CU-alum Kate Fagan. Not because she went to CU… but because she is the person who married yogi instructor Kathryn Budig (who used to be married to a man)! I LOVE this couple. I watch all their damn stories, listen to their podcast, and now… read their books. Kate is an ESPN Sportscaster, I like that a lot of her reporting is women-centric and I love her enthusiasm for sports and athletes. This book was about a young college athlete who took her own life- Kate speculates that it is because of the pressure put on young athletes that play for Universities. Kate tries to unpack mental health topics, and I feel she does a pretty good job. The book is just kind of grim and overall a depressing topic… I like that the audible version is read by Kate herself.

The Bridge Ladies! First, Jacki got these books sent to those of us who were going to be attending book camp for FREE! It probably wouldn’t have been a book any of us would have chosen otherwise. That said, we had quite a discussion on this book! The book was written by a woman about her mother and her friends… ladies who played bridge. The book goes into topics of feminism, female friendships, generation disconnects, loyalty, and what it means to be witness to each other’s lives. I didn’t looooove this book, but I also didn’t mind it. But… I did looooovvvveee book camp this year! It was a quick whirlwind weekend trip to Salida. We stayed at the Amigo Motor Lodge, and would drive a quick 5 minutes and be in downtown Salida, which is so quaint and so lovely. We spent the bulk of our time in the town’s local book store, we even did yin yoga in there one morning… “Amongst other people’s dreams” as Jacki said. It was so great, I do wish it had been a little longer, but we did get our money’s worth as Jacki always pulls out all the stops with goodies, and local eats. And all the women were amazing! I’ll probably always remember The Bridge Ladies simply because the weekend was so good.

Philippa. Why I am the only person in the world reading this teen series by the queen of historical fiction I will never know?! Literally, no one has ever heard of this series. Why does she keep coming out with another book? It’s never been available in stores, it’s hard for the library to get a hold of. It’s a fine read and it’s always entertaining… it’s nothing worth writing home about though… maybe that’s why I’m the only person reading it? Why am I reading it? I guess cause I’m this far and I want to see where it’s all going. And it always makes me have crazy dreams. I guess I’m reading it cause it gets my imagination going. I also like seeing how someone who is known for their adult novels, switches over to YA. Anyway, I don’t really recommend anyone else dig in on this series.

Lastly, Drive Here and Devastate Me by my friend, and teacher… Megan Falley. This is my favorite collection of hers (that I’ve read). I love that this book is about love. Loving her partner, and learning to love her own body. For Megan’s book launch she had a performance here in Boulder, I was lucky enough to have my baby sis go with me to it. It was really funny to have someone that’s known me her whole life come and see my world I’ve made in Boulder… this weird mesh of yogis, political poets, and lesbians. My sister was in awe the whole night! Sometimes this is just my life and I’m up here living it every week day and I forget that on the weekends I go down to Aurora and am an Auntie and a Sister and a Daughter… and none of those roles feel like who I am in Boulder. I don’t know… just thinking out loud here. Anyway, I highly recommend this book if you want to be blown away by brilliance!

That’s all for now folks! I promise to give you November’s reads by December 1st at the latest! Not that I think any of you (are there any of you?) are out there biting your nails in anticipation.

If you’ve been reading something worth writing home about, drop me a line! Or like the cool kids say, “Slide into my DM’s”. WTF?!?!!