I have been consistent in keeping up with my reading goal this year. Some people say that goals are silly but for me it keeps me accountable and reading at night. It’s really easy for me to go down an Instagram rabbit hole at night.
Not important to this conversation. However, what is important is that I didn’t finish a lot of books in August! I did, however, go and hear Candace Bushnell speak. And let me tell you, she is phenomnal.
Onto the book dump!
1) Is There Still Sex in the City? By Candace Bushnell.
2) The Good Girl By Mary Kubica
If I had to pick it favorite it is Candace Bushnell hands down. Kubica was a book club pick. It wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t my favorite either. It wasn’t the writing, it was my dislike of characters. The book is part of the thriller trend with a female protagonist that I’ve been seeing pop up more recently.
What were some of your favorite books of the summer? Any big winners? Any big losers?
In The Farm, Joanne Ramos examines motherhood in this dystopian novel set in present day.
Hidden away in the Catskills, there is a luxury retreat for pregnant women. At Golden Oaks, you are given everything you could need to have a happy and healthy pregnancy: fitness classes, chef prepared organic meals, luxury clothing, and world class doctors checking in on their health and that of their unborn babies.
But you’re not carrying your child. You’re a “Host”, carrying a baby for a “Client” who can’t (or chooses not to) have a baby themselves. At the end of your pregnancy with the delivery of a healthy baby, you receive a large payment.
The novel follows Reagan and Jane, two hosts, each hand picked to be a host but both motivated by vastly different circumstances.
The Farm is a thought provoking examination of motherhood. Is it okay to pay someone to carry your child if you can? Is it more acceptable if you are unable to conceive? Does the surrogate have a say in whether or not a pregnancy is terminated? Is it exploitative to have immigrant women act as surrogates? Is it predatory to pay them a bonus for delivering a healthy child?
The world of The Farm isn’t too far in the future. Paid surrogacy is a controversial topic that is currently being debated in states across the nation. While a work of fiction, it explores the exploitative side that paid surrogacy can create.
Overall, a great book that should be read by all. If you liked A Handmaid’s Tale, you’ll enjoy Joanne Ramos novel The Farm.
Farnoosh Torabi is easily one of my favorite podcasters. She is funny and knowledgeable. Her podcast, So Money, airs three times a week. With a high frequency show, she brings on a lot of authors to discuss their new books.
One of her recent guests was David Bach. Bach is a well know financial writer. During his interview, he said that this story has been inside him for 12 years. He knew it had to be a young women and he knew the parable he wanted to tell to the world. He said it would be short and something people can read in an hour. He credited Paulo Coelho with telling him he had to write this book. I added The Latte Factor to my library request list. If Coelho told him to write it, it must be good.
The story follows Zoey Daniels for one week as she decides whether or not she would like to take a new job. She meets a barista who provides her the keys to financial freedom. One of which is getting rid of her daily “double shot latte and muffin” habit. She enacts the advice of the barista and her boss. She ends up staying at her job and being happy. As Bach promised, you can read this story in about an hour.
Sallie Krawcheck had a great reaction to the story. She said “Just buy the f***** latte.”
The Latte Factor has some good points about compound interest and making cuts to things however, I have some of the same issues Sallie does. Why is it a female lead in the story? Bach is a man. Men have plenty of habits that are daily and costly. The latte is a female associated drink. Its an older man giving her the advice. It comes across as mansplaining. Beyond that, the bigger issue with women and earning is that they are paid less than men across the board. We pay more for the same items (the pink tax) as men. There is no paid leave for many women. All of these items have an impact on our financial situation that has nothing to do with the choices we make on how to spend our money.
David Bach wrote a cute story about what can happen if you decide to make some changes to your life. But that’s exactly what it is, a fictional story. Bach wanted to write a parable to teach the millennials when in reality he wrote a condescending short story. The charts he puts in the back are interesting.
Who has read The Latte Factor ? What were your thoughts about the book?
If you want to read Sallie Krawcheck’s response to The Latte Factor you can read it here.
Who is evil? What is evil? Dr. Julia Shaw makes the argument that evil is a subjective concept in which we, as a society, need to have a more nuanced discussions around.
Dr. Shaw dissects evil throughout eight chapters and asks the reader to think about each example of evil through a different lens. It was a fascinating examination about evil. With each example, she asks us to examine our gut reactions and move away from naming behaviors as evil until we examine the underlying causes. It takes some of those uncomfortable topics and makes the reader really think about them without the labeling or othering that typically comes when discussing ‘evil’ topics..
If you’re interested in human behavior or human psyche, then you will love this.
Who’s has this on their TBR list? Who has read this book?
I’m about to be in the minority but Rachel Hollis book is not impressive.
I was having doubts about her in the first four chapters. Then we arrived at Chapter 5. It could have been a good chapter but then she detailed her borderline abusive first year of her relationship with her now husband. The title of the chapter gives the indication that she realized having a man is not important. When in reality, she is perpetuating the myth of the big gesture. She is perpetuating that if you give an ultimatum then the man will change. Threats will make someone change.
The reality is that if he acts like an asshole, he is an asshole. This chapter tinged the way I took the rest of her advice. I find that the “lies” she is trying to correct, she was still doing them herself.
Beyond that, I found her writing style to be convoluted. She has some good points but they were lost in the way she wrote about them. I found her to be privileged and unable to see her privilege.
There are a plethora of self help/self improvement books out there. There are plenty of other ones that can actually help you get to where you want to be.
I have no idea what I even did with April. I finally had some more time for myself. I picked up two books that I started in January and put down after about 20 pages. April felt like the right time to puck them up again.
April brought a lot of big changes to my life. It seems fitting that I finally finished two self improvement or self help books this month.
I finally finished the Year of Yes. Shonda Rhimes is my new hero. It also has caused me to dive head first into catching up on Grey’s Anatomy. For those who care- I will also be catching up on Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. I have a whole new found respect for Shonda Rhimes. I need to see all of her bodies of work.
I also finished Jen Sincero’s You are a Bad Ass. Everyone had those moments where they doubt how awesome they are. Her concise chapters drive home her points in a fun and relatable way. Anyone can benefit from reading her book and I recommend that everyone does.
Who has read either of these books? What self help or self improvement book would you recommend?
May’s book club pick was An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen.
Jessica is a makeup artist trying to make ends meet in New York City. By chance she heard about a study from a client. She shows up for the study and is sucked into the mysterious Dr. Shields study on morality and ethics.
Jessica is looking to make some extra money and finds herself sucked into Dr. Shields study. Each task she accomplishes is directly followed by a large financial reward. She quickly realizes that Dr. Shields is not giving her the full story and that she may be a pawn in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
This is the second book I’ve read by Hendricks and Pekkanen. They do a great job of setting up the reader to have the rug ripped out from under them. This is our May Book Club selection and I can’t wait to discuss it with everyone.
Who has read this book? What did you think about it?
The Age of Light is an intriguing historical fiction novel based on the life of Lee Miller. The novel focuses on her life in Europe. Miller first arrives in Europe and begins working as a photographer. She meets Man Ray on her travels through Paris and becomes his apprentice and later, business partner and lover.
The book focused a lot on Lee Miller’s relationship with Man Ray which I found to be puzzling. She only spent three years with him before moving on to become an accomplish photographer and war correspondent. Miller spent her entire life attempting to get out of Man Ray’s shadow. The story weaves between the past and her present (1960s) when she has been asked to produce a piece for Vogue about the art they created together.
The book explores the galleries, the parties, the sexual experimentation and drug experimentation that was pervasive in 1920 Surrealism circles. It was a bit raunchy at times to read and I’m not sure how much it added to the story. However, I don’t know much about these artists. This may have been a tame retelling of their actual lives.
The big takeaway from the book was that Lee Miller was a powerful woman. She had adversity her entire life. Men were constantly trying to sabotage her or hurt her but she never allowed them to derail her. She lived her life on her own terms.
The Age of Light is Whitney Scharer’s debut novel. This was the 2019 February selection for the Odyssey Bookshop First Edition Book Club.
Most women can understand what Gemma Hartley is talking about in her book Fed Up. She documents how women have been carrying the emotional labor for generations in all spheres of life. And what makes it harder to identify is that for so long, it was just accepted as normal that women needed to carry all of the emotional labor.
I think that it takes a lot to put your own experiences, your own relationship, out to be dissected by the public. I give her (and her husband) a lot of credit for putting their own struggles out into the universe to be consumed. There are points of the book that are not a flattering version of the author but she leans into it. Her honesty is refreshing. Her research is intriguing.
Overall I found the book to be absolutely fascinating. It is a book that should be read by everyone. It was interesting to take an academic look at emotional labor. Hartley did a lot of thorough research and made some interesting connections. I’m glad that she took the time to examine emotional labor and I think people are better for having read this book.
Who has read Fed Up? Did you find it to be as interesting as I did? I’d love to talk about it further. Any men want to chat about their feelings after reading Fed Up?
March Book Dump is here! I’m continuing to cruise through my goal of reading all my First Edition books from the Odyssey Bookshop. I have high hopes for April. More daylight and warmer weather means lots of time for reading outside.
The Age of Light– A historical fiction about Lee Miller and Man Ray’s romance. Delightful story about two historical figures I previously knew nothing about. It was told from Lee Miller’s point of view.
Those Who Knew by Idra Novey – This is Novey’s second novel and it did not disappoint! We follow three woman who are all tied together by a violent up and coming politician.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – Can I just say damn ladies? Why you gotta be so dark?! This is the team’s second novel and it does not disappoint. If you loved The Wife Between Us, you’ll definitely get caught up in this book.