Paris by Edward Rutherfurd
The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson
Memories by Lang Leav
The Universe of Us by Lang Leav
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West (audible)
The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement by Lindsey Tramuta
How to Be Both by Ali Smith
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery by Steph Jagger
Wildly Into the Dark: Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind by Tyler Knott Gregson
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (audible)
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee (audible)
April was a goooooood month of reading, definitely my favorite so far this year. Let's just start from the top and work down.
Ariel Levy- The Rules Do Not Apply
"When 38 year old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true."
Not even joking that when I read that, my exact thoughts were, "ooh this sounds so good... I wonder what kind of stuff her husband is going to put her through? I wonder what kind of fertility problems she has?"
I literally took that description and thought I was about to read my story.
But it was not my story...
First off, Ariel was married to a woman. A fact that I didn't clue into until Chapter 5, which starts... "We met in the middle of a blackout." I knew exactly what blackout she was referring to because I had been driving across the US during it to start my own new chapter in VA.
On page 49 she talks about Lucy. And I was like "come on, come on- get to the good stuff!" And then I realized this Lucy is who she was talking about. This Lucy was to become her person! This Lucy is the good stuff!
Good God(dess), is every woman walking around capable of falling for a woman at anytime... even when they don't call or identify themselves as a lesbian?
Anyway, this book was so much more than I bargained for on every level! I can see how some people will tear Ariel apart for the person she has been, the person she is. So flawed, so raw, so real.
The day that I finished the book, I was almost wrapping up, sitting on my mat waiting for yoga class to start. And with three pages left my teacher walked in... so I sat it aside.
For an hour I focused on my breath. I focused on my spine. I moved my body. My body that has never grown a person inside, and is haunted by that fact. My teacher posed the question what are you letting go of on the mat today, if only for this class? I answered silently, "my fear of abandonment... that belief that tells me that by being myself and doing or saying what I want people will always want to leave."
After class, I sat in my car and finished this beauty of a book, I loved this passage:
"Maybe I would fall in love again, and I would still get to be a mother. Or maybe it was too late, and I had already chosen, inadvertently and incrementally, to be something else. In writing you can always change the ending or delete a chapter that isn't working."
After that book, I decided to read the book that Novel Grapes was reading for the month, especially because Jacki was going to have an online video book chat with the author. Now at first, I was kind of worried... Should I be reading this book? I mean, it's about a girl who sets out to ski the most vertical miles in a year than any other person. I'm not exactly the target market for this book... but I thought, why not? She travels. I like travel (I hardly ever get to do it, but I always enjoy it when I do). And I liked books like Wild even though I'm not a big hiker. So, I decided to commit. This book was another great memoir. While traveling, skiing, and trying to meet this goal Steph has to face the fact that she has very specific ideas of what it means to be feminine, and she had spent her whole life running from it and trying to be one of the guys and go balls to the walls. As she realizes, that she can be both- intense and soft, competitive and need rest- and none of these things say anything about how feminine or not she is. She learns to love her ovaries... to accept who she is, to lean into her softer side, and to reach for goals without having to be a bully. Anyway, this book was an unexpected surprise... there was more to it than just skiing. Here was one of my favorite quotes:
"Those beliefs you created, the ones you tied around your neck in an effort to keep you safe, to help you sleep at night- watch out, because one day, they just might choke you out. Let them go, say good-bye, march on.
And for me, it wasn't without worry. It wan't without wondering how on earth I'd live without these things. 'But how will I know I'm good enough' I asked, 'or if I'm deserving of love? How will I know any of this if I throw my measuring sticks away? And how will I motivate myself?' I demanded. 'Where will inspiration come from if I cast my fear of failure, and my perfectionism, and dear God, all of my rules, into the wind?' And then finally I asked one last question, 'How will I know who I am without all of those things?'
Oh my darling, a voice replied, that's the point. How will you know who you are if you don't let everything go?"
Tyler. Knott. Gregson. This guy slays me. This in my opinion, is his best collection so far... he just keeps getting better. Love definitely suits him. He makes me want to just run off into the wild with a person in touch with their soul and nature. Someone who knows how to build fires- actual and metaphorical. Here were a couple of my favorites:
Adventure they crave, and me
longing for simplicity.
Wake me, softly,
and with a calendar blank,
bored, look and ask how we
will spend the day.
Planes boarded with stamps
in passport books, feet worn
from uneven streets and
all I want is breakfast shared,
or the quiet peeling of a book
off your sleeping chest
on a Thursday evening
before the Spring rains fall.
I know the beat of a frantic heart,
of lost and mapless and stained
with the scents of far away,
I know the back alleys of distant cities
but will you teach me of home?
I want a hand held on moonless nights,
and an ear to share the ssqueaking sound
of broken wheels on grocery carts.
I want to stop walking around the mattress
to put the clean sheets on.
I want the mundane, and the grand adventure
that lives in finding all that's miraculous
hiding inside it.
You were the smell
of the first fired wood stove
at the first crisp
of Autumn. You were the smell
of Spring's first rain. You
were the orange glow
of a night snow in the dead
of Winter, you were the
sleepless night before
a Christmas morning.
You were Summer's first thunder,
and final flash of
You were, you are,
all I've ever looked forward
I was born to see it, all
of it, and I cannot fathom an existence
in which I do not cross the borders
and wander into the waiting hands
of so many different worlds.
I was born to be held
by strangers arms under
stranger's rooftops, if for a time;
I was made to be sung to sleep
by foreign voices
singing foreign lullabies.
will the stars look the same,
will they shine brighter,
Bring me to the far off,
the sun soaked or storm scented,
bring me to the dark clouds
over emerald hills,
the moss on the rock,
the sky blue, then mostly
Bring me to them,
and with me,
Just a taste, seriously. If poetry is your thing, or if mountain men who love to read, or if politically woke people are your thing.... then go out, RUN out and buy Wildly Into The Dark and follow Tyler Knott Gregson on all the social channels, he is also a beautiful photographer. If you can't tell, I'm a fan.
Next book I finished was this mammoth beast of a book from the late 70's, called The Mists of Avalon. This book was given to me at Christmas by the lovely Michal, and she even arranged a book club with two of my other lovely friends, Liza and Hannah. We met three times over the course of 4 months, but our last meeting was my favorite. We tried a new Mediterranean/Greek restaurant called Zoe's Kitchen. Boulder was super foggy that day, and we sat by the fireplace eating our earthy meals. Just 4 ladies discussing the women of King Arthur's time. This book had me really digging deeper into ideals of femininity, and things that us here in Boulder can be drawn too like essential oils, and believing in more than just the Christian God... and the history of women who were healers, and oftentimes accused of witchcraft. Finishing this book, I felt like the Goddess dwells within me as me. And I felt even more affirmed in how every thing is connected and how the time is near for the rise of the female!
The Light Between Oceans came highly recommended from my dear friend, Sabrina. We'd met for dinner a couple of times and she always talks about loving this book so much. So, I finally took her sage advice and delved in. It. Was. Beautiful. Again, another book about a woman and her hauntingly sad reproductive sorrows, and the desperate measures it drives her to. I don't want to give away too much on this one... but picture a relationship that endures on a harsh island, a lighthouse that fills their days and lives with meaning, and the complete loneliness and madness you'd feel after losing multiple babies... only to have one wash up on the shore. This book got into my bones and even when I was within the first 100 pages I was imagining where it was going to go. There was a night after work where I drove up this little canyon and got out at one of my new favorite spots. There's a river and trees and all you hear is the water. It gets dark in this little valley long before the sun sets fully. I love it, but it's brutal. And I could just imagine living tucked up in there and the long winters and the manual labor and how a couple could go mad there if they were having reproductive issues.
Anyway... I don't know why, all the books I read this month felt like they dealt with women, babies, what it means to be feminine. I loved it.
And then there is...
Now, don't get me wrong. I love me some Samantha Bee clips on facebook, her little feminist rants against the current administration give me immense joy. And I honestly didn't even know she had a book.... but when I saw it on audible, and even though it isn't recent, I thought it would be funny to listen to her read. It wasn't. It really wasn't.
Anyway, that's all I got for you folks! What are on your summer read lists?