Per usual, I’m late to the party. I only picked up Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens because it was the Albany Book Club’s October pick.
The novel follows Kya as she navigates life in the swamp. The book opens with five year old Kya watching her mother walk out of the house never to be heard from again and follows her through young adulthood.
Owens tells a beautiful story of isolation and survival in the desolate North Carolina marshlands. She lives outside the world but yearns to be part of it. Against all odds, Kya is able to succeed and survive in her own way.
The reader wants to feel bad for Kya but make no mistake- Kya is a survivor and this story is a victory lap and an ode to the strength of women.
Who has read “Where the Crawdads Sing?” What did you think of the book?
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?
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?
Anya St. Clair is a fashion assistant who finally has her dream job. Now all she needs is Sarah Taft to realize that she is her best friend. Sarah is the person who inspired Anya to join the fashion world. Her boss throws a wrench in those plans when she dangles s promotion between Anya and Sarah. If Anya secures the promotion, she knows she will finally get Sarah’s approval. She will stop at nothing. Thus begins Anya’s dark descent into securing her promotion. Pretty soon, all of Anya’s enemies (real and perceived) begin dropping like flies.
This book is a hilarious satire about the fashion world and female competition. It also looks into hidden female rage. Women are not allowed to be angry. It is drilled into our head that we can’t be angry or upset ever. Women are taught to always smile. Furthermore, it is drilled into women’s head that they need to be thin and young looking in order to be successful. While this is true across industries, it is especially true in the fashion world. As Anya guides us through her world, she observes that many of these standards are unfair but she still works to fit into the standards. Even though her methods are far from conventional, she manages to get the end result she wants.
Seeing as we are about to embark on the holiday gorge of extreme consumer spending, this book is the perfect book to review this week. I found this book in the Cosmopolitan magazine monthly book recommendations. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I think the blurb said something about fighting your best friend for a job promotion. Similar to our unreliable narrator Anya, that blurb is not quite how I would describe the novel if only given three sentences.
Final Thoughts: Big props to Amina Akhtar for coming up with this story and sharing it with the masses. It’s definitely a dark twist on what type of people the fashion industry breeds but it is highly entertaining. Thank you Amina for spinning your fashion world observations into a wickedly funny novel.
The book was well written. My problem with the book is that I took issue with the story. I found the main character to be unlikeable and annoying. Walsh wrote a weak and simpering female protagonist. She highlighted all the bad stereotypes about women and wrote a book about it.
Why did I find Sarah unlikeable? I think my distaste from the book comes from the values that the main character seems to protrude. Sarah obsesses about Eddie who has stopped talking to her after seven ‘magical’ days together. SPOILER ALERT: He is brooding man, with a dark past that they are connected but they end up back together.
Give me a freaking break. This is everything wrong with people now. They hang onto the idea of someone forever, hoping that they will come around. If someone stops talking to you with no further contact aka ‘Ghosting’ instead of using their words to communicate what is wrong, then you need to RUN, not walk in the opposite direction of that man. This novel plays into the fantasy that so many woman have. It supports the idea of women falling in love with and hanging onto a man’s potential. Potential is why woman waste time in terrible relationships or terrible jobs.
With that being said Rosie Walsh is a good writer. I could never say she writes poorly. She has the mechanical skill to put together a story and obscuring details to have a better twist. I wish she had written better characters and a better story.
Can’t like every book that you read though. I did finish it so I’ll give myself a pat on the back for it.
Dystopian fiction everyone! Who doesn’t love a little bit of alternative history? I have always enjoyed the genre. I find myself reading more of it lately. There are definitely a lot more of it being published in the Trump era but there is a plethora of ones that a couple of years older but still strike a cord in today’s environment. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is a great example of that.
The Plot Against America was published in 2004. Written as if it were an autobiography of his life, Roth tells the tale of what happened to himself and his family when Charles Lindburgh beat FDR and became the President of the United States in 1940. It is a fascinating examination of how quickly life as we know it can dissolve into something totally and completely unrecognizable.
14 years later and his story still resonates with a reader. I found it particularly relevant in America’s current political climate.The book brings into sharp focus how much politics plays a role in our daily life. I found myself comparing the fictional America that Roth created and the America that is happening here now. I find a lot of glaring similarities between President Lindburgh’s America and President Trump’s America. Citizens are constantly asking themselves, can he do this? Is this legal? It was all done under the idea of protecting the US citizens.
The questions that I kept asking throughout the novel were: Who does this make it safer for? Who gets to decide what is safe and what isn’t? Why do the Jewish neighborhoods have to be broken up but not the Italian or the Irish? Why are the Jews labeled an unAmerican but not any other group. Roth describes the effect of ‘othering’ and the wide ranging effects it has. His novel paints a realistic picture of America’s slow descent into a nation that allows for the ostracism of its own citizens. The notion that it can happen here creeps into the readers mind and does not leave. There is no big event, it is the accumulation of all these actions that land the characters in an unrecognizable America.
Final thought and takeaways from the book: It’s important to pay attention to the little actions our leaders take. It is the sum of all the little actions that will have the biggest impact on our country. The book was dense. It took awhile for me to get through the book but as always Roth created an intriguing and engrossing read.
With Election Day being tomorrow, I thought this review was timely. This book shares the message loud and clear that elections have consequences. Maybe if more people read Philip Roth’s book before 2016 we wouldn’t be in this current situation. Sadly, we can’t go back but only go forward so get out and exercise your right to vote!