I started this one on Sunday. It is about the Mayor of New Orleans who took down several statues of Confederate men and the problems that caused. The story starts with the firebombing of the car of a person who bid on the removal job so I guess it was fair to say that it was controversial.
I first heard of this book on Barack Obama’s 2018 recommended reading list.
Set in the lush Big Band era of the 1940s and World War II, this spellbinding saga from beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani tells the story of two talented working class kids who marry and become a successful singing act, until time, temptation, and the responsibilities of home and family derail their dreams
Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?
From the Jersey shore to Las Vegas to Hollywood, and all the dance halls in between, this multi-layered story is vivid with historical color and steeped in the popular music that serves as its score. Tony’s Wife is a magnificent epic of life in a traditional Italian family undergoing seismic change in a fast paced, modern world. Filled with vivid, funny and unforgettable characters, this richly human story showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a storyteller and her deep understanding of family, love and the pursuit of the American dream.
You know what you are getting into if you’ve read this author previously. This is the story of an Italian family told from the time the protagonists are teenagers until their deaths. The writing is sparse. Small pieces of time will be discussed in detail and then years will pass between paragraphs.
I was intrigued by the premise, especially this line from the blurb – “Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career?” I was hoping this was going to be a book that discussed the stereotypical gender roles of a post-WWII marriage and possibly subverted them. My hopes were high as the beginning of the book shows Chi Chi was infinitely more talented and more ambitious than Tony.
All this was swept aside quickly though once the marriage happened. I’m not even sure why it happened. I found their “courtship” incredibly uncomfortable as he basically badgers her into giving up her dreams because he decided that he was in love with her when in her mind they were just old friends. This is followed by affair after affair until a divorce and then she still supports him through several more marriages all the while closing herself off completely to the idea of finding love.
“Duty-bound love is the Italian girl’s area of expertise. The Italian woman is a master craftsman at the art of sacrifice.”
I don’t think that this is a good thing. This story is about a woman who sacrificed everything that she was to a man who couldn’t be bothered to care. I found it infuriating and ultimately depressing to read about. I understand that this is much more likely to be historically accurate than a book about people supporting each other in their careers. That is part of the reason why this book made me so angry. This is about a time and attitudes that we have hopefully begun to move past.
About Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.
A $10 Amazon gift card if in the U.S. A book of their choice (up to $10) from Book Depository if international
I’d like to thank everyone who participated in 2018. We had loads of people with 20 plus links! Our superstars last year were Mark with 33 links and Cam with 38! I really appreciate your enthusiasm and hope to see more of what you are reading (and cooking) in 2019.
I also read an ARC of Any Old Diamonds by K.J. Charles but it doesn’t have a cover on Goodreads yet.
Why so few? I have a stack of books here that I have partially read. I keep renewing them from the library and then not finishing them. They are all good. I want to read them all. Then I just don’t read them. So, I’m sending them back to the library. Really, for real this time. I’m going to do a fresh start.
The books I read were:
Set in the U.S., England, and on Mars
The authors were:
2 unique white women, 1 African-American woman, 1 Latino man, and 2 white men
Romance was the genre I read the most of in 2018. I tend to approach romance like popcorn. I read a bunch all at once and then I put it aside for a while. This year I read 47 romance books.
I tend to prefer historical romances. That has usually always meant Regency but this year I branched out to a few other time periods.
These were Old West, 1920s, and the Civil War.
I still love Regencies although I’m finding that my favorites are not necessarily the traditional “marry a duke” types.
I’ve even read a few contemporaries that I liked.
From these pictures, it looks like I read Alyssa Cole the most but actually my most read author was Tessa Dare because I binged a few series.
My favorites of the year
“Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill–though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome–is anything but a romantic hero.“
“Robert Selby is determined to see his sister make an advantageous match. But he has two problems: the Selbys have no connections or money and Robert is really a housemaid named Charity Church. She’s enjoyed every minute of her masquerade over the past six years, but she knows her pretense is nearing an end. Charity needs to see her beloved friend married well and then Robert Selby will disappear…forever.
Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke, has spent years repairing the estate ruined by his wastrel father, and nothing is more important than protecting his fortune and name. He shouldn’t be so beguiled by the charming young man who shows up on his doorstep asking for favors. And he certainly shouldn’t be thinking of all the disreputable things he’d like to do to the impertinent scamp.
When Charity’s true nature is revealed, Alistair knows he can’t marry a scandalous woman in breeches, and Charity isn’t about to lace herself into a corset and play a respectable miss. Can these stubborn souls learn to sacrifice what they’ve always wanted for a love that is more than they could have imagined?”
“Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.
Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.”
Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality
Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.
This is a very dense book written by a white person detailing why white people get so defensive when talking about race and what can be done about it. It is a book that I kept highlighting to remember her points. I actually feel like I need to read it through a second time to really internalize all the points that she was making.
Some of her important points
White people aren’t used to thinking of themselves in racial terms
“the white reference point is assumed to be universal and is imposed on everyone.”
I think this is absolutely true. We tend to think of other people as having a race and we don’t. We think of backgrounds by nationality instead of just as white yet we lump everyone with African origins as black.
A side effect of not being used to thinking of ourselves as a race is our lack of experience in racial discussions, specifically in difficult discussions. When things get tough, we tend to panic and shut down the discussion.
We don’t understand what racism is
That leads to claims reverse racism, which according to the definitions that she uses isn’t possible.
“The simplistic idea that racism is limited to individual intentional acts committed by unkind people is at the root of virtually all white defensiveness on this topic.”
Racism isn’t just a person being mean to another. It isn’t even just prejudice from one racial group to another. All groups of humans are prejudiced against others. Racism is prejudice plus power.
“When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intentions or self-images of individual actors.”
In case that isn’t clear, she gives this example using sexism instead of racism.
“While women could be prejudiced and discriminate against men in individual interactions, women as a group could not deny men their civil rights. But men as a group could and did deny women their civil rights. Men could do so because they controlled all the institutions.”
White liberals are the worst to talk to about race
“In the post–civil rights era, we have been taught that racists are mean people who intentionally dislike others because of their race; racists are immoral. Therefore, if I am saying that my readers are racist or, even worse, that all white people are racist, I am saying something deeply offensive; I am questioning my readers’ very moral character.”
White people have to get over this defensive reaction if they want to be a productive part of the discussion.
“For those of us who work to raise the racial consciousness of whites, simply getting whites to acknowledge that our race gives us advantages is a major effort.”
“While making racism bad seems like a positive change, we have to look at how this functions in practice. Within this paradigm, to suggest that I am racist is to deliver a deep moral blow—a kind of character assassination. Having received this blow, I must defend my character, and that is where all my energy will go—to deflecting the charge, rather than reflecting on my behavior.”
I would recommend this to any white people, even if you think you know all about these topics.
It's 1863 and dinosaurs roam the streets of New York as the Civil War rages between raptor-mounted armies down South. Magdalys Roca and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum are on a field trip when the Draft Riots break out, and a number of their fellow orphans are kidnapped by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker.
Magdalys and her friends flee to Brooklyn and settle in the Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where black and brown New Yorkers have set up an independent community--a safe haven from the threats of Manhattan. Together with the Vigilance Committee, they train to fly on dactylback, discover new friends and amazing dinosaurs, and plot to take down Riker. Can Magdalys and the squad rescue the rest of their friends before it's too late?
Do I really need to tell you anything else besides THIS IS A CIVIL WAR STORY WITH DINOSAURS? Because, honestly, that’s all it took for me. I mean, ok, it is written by Daniel Jose Older whose adult and YA books I’ve loved. Why wouldn’t I love his new middle grade series?
The dinosaurs are both all important and just part of the background in this world. They are used as draft animals. The big ones function as buses and ferries. Triceratops pull carts. The bad guys ride carnivorous dinos.
This fantasy imagery is set along side a plot inspired by real events. There was a ring of white businessmen in New York who kidnapped and sold free colored people into slavery. The colored children’s home did burn in the Draft Riots. This book imagines what would have happened if the survivors of the fire found their way to a resistance cell and learned to fight back — WITH DINOSAURS!
I’d recommend this book to anyone because of the imaginative world building and a look at a part of Civil War history that isn’t often discussed, even without there being dinosaurs. The dinosaur angle would work well to pull in readers who may be reluctant to read a book about the past.
About Daniel José Older
“Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper(Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.com, Salon, BuzzFeed, Fireside Fiction, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs around New York and he teaches workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis.” – from his website
I love reading romance novels. I mostly like historicals and ones without a whole lot of explicitly-described sex. But, I have a confession.
I can’t remember the characters or a plot of a romance novel
I see people on Twitter answering questions about romance books like “Who are some of your favorite heroes?”
(1) books they liked with the
(2) name of the character and
(3) why they liked him.
I stare at my screen in awe. I couldn’t state any of those three things about most of the books I’ve read.
I feel really bad about this. I know people are working really hard to write these books. Then I go and consume them like popcorn and have no memory of the event afterwards.
I’m not exaggerating here. Traditional, white historical romances are complete black holes in my mind. I completely enjoy the ones I read. But then I finish a book and look for another and it goes bad.
Steps to reading a new romance:
See new book that doesn’t sound regressive and horrible
Check Goodreads to see if I’ve read it before
Be surprised that I have
Read the synopsis again and wait for any hint of recognition
I can’t tell you what these books are about. I liked the last one enough to read the whole series. No idea about any of those books either. I’ve read these all in the last month or so. Embarrassing.
It definitely tends to be books with white, upper class heroines that run together on me. I have a better memory for working class heroines and/or heroines of color. (I never remember the heroes of books.)
I can sort of tell you about these ones. A little. I liked them. You should read them. Likewise, I give a blanket recommendation to anything by Courtney Milan but don’t ask me to tell which book is which without reading a synopsis.
Is it just me? Does anyone else have books completely fall out of their mind?
From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind
Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father founded Stormfront, the largest racist community on the Internet. His godfather, David Duke, was a KKK Grand Wizard. By the time Derek turned nineteen, he had become an elected politician with his own daily radio show – already regarded as the “the leading light” of the burgeoning white nationalist movement. “We can infiltrate,” Derek once told a crowd of white nationalists. “We can take the country back.” Then he went to college. Derek had been home-schooled by his parents, steeped in the culture of white supremacy, and he had rarely encountered diverse perspectives or direct outrage against his beliefs. At New College of Florida, he continued to broadcast his radio show in secret each morning, living a double life until a classmate uncovered his identity and sent an email to the entire school. “Derek Black…white supremacist, radio host…New College student???” The ensuing uproar overtook one of the most liberal colleges in the country. Some students protested Derek’s presence on campus, forcing him to reconcile for the first time with the ugliness his beliefs. Other students found the courage to reach out to him, including an Orthodox Jew who invited Derek to attend weekly Shabbat dinners. It was because of those dinners–and the wide-ranging relationships formed at that table–that Derek started to question the science, history and prejudices behind his worldview. As white nationalism infiltrated the political mainstream, Derek decided to confront the damage he had done. Rising Out of Hatred tells the story of how white-supremacist ideas migrated from the far-right fringe to the White House through the intensely personal saga of one man who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe, at tremendous personal cost. With great empathy and narrative verve, Eli Saslow asks what Derek’s story can tell us about America’s increasingly divided nature. This is a book to help us understand the American moment and to help us better understand one another.
It was interesting to listen to this book shortly after listening to Educated. Both books describe children who were indoctrinated into an extreme worldview and the way that their exposure to the larger world in college helped them break free of it. (Of course, I kept muttering “Well, that’s why you got to keep them locked up and not let them go to them heathen colleges” like a proper zealot the whole time I was listening.)
I found the responses of his classmates intriguing. There were basically two responses – shun him with the goal of making it so uncomfortable for him at school that he would leave, or befriend him in hopes of talking to him about his views. I’m not sure where I would have fallen if I was in that situation. Both approaches worked on him in different ways. He had never had a lot sustained pushback about his beliefs before. Arguments were just intellectual exercises for him. Now he was facing people he knew who were being affected by the policies that he had helped popularize. The people who befriended him took the risk of being thought guilty by association. They were able to work on him in different ways. His non-white friends could publicly be seen with him without people thinking they were white nationalists. They put faces to categories of “immigrant” and “Jew” in his rhetoric. His white friend was able to talk to him about his beliefs more openly because he didn’t automatically feel judgement from her based on her race but she was in danger of being assimilated by him or being thought to be a sympathizer.
I was uncomfortable with a lot of the decisions that his white girlfriend made. It worked out in the end but:
She was so naive and he had spent his life converting people to the white nationalist cause. She went to a nationalist conference with him. One picture of her there on the internet could have ruined her future. I wanted to slap some sense into her.
I thought the book dwelled a little too long on their developing relationship. Yeah, yeah, I get it. They are maybe-maybe not dating. I don’t need a play by play of their personal lives. I’m here for the bigger picture.
The book’s description of their reaction to the rise of Trump should put to rest any ideas that he isn’t playing directly to white nationalists. They point out all their talking points that he adopted. They discuss the proposals that they always wanted that he is trying to enact.
Jan Risher took the long way to get from Mississippi to Louisiana with stops in between in Slovakia, Mexico, China, Burkina Faso, and more than forty other countries. Since moving to Lafayette in 2001, she has been a Sunday columnist for The Daily Advertiser and has written a column every single week since March 2002.
Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short is the collection of these columns written over fifteen years. Arranged in chronological order, the collection creates a narrative of one woman's aim to build her family, build up her community, and weave the stories and lessons learned from the past into the present.
From her family's move to Louisiana, adoption of a daughter from China, covering Hurricane Katrina, travels near and far, author Jan Risher attempts, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding, to do her small part to make the world a better place.
Meet the Author:
Jan Risher is an award-winning journalist and investigative reporter. She was managing editor of The Times of Acadiana. Before and after her time as a full-time journalist, she was an English teacher. She has taught English near and far, in its most basic and most lyrical forms. She continues her career as a freelance writer and now owns Shift Key, a content marketing and public relations firm. She, her husband and their two daughters have made their home on the banks of the Vermilion River.
1. What inspired you to collect these columns into a book?
Through the years, I’ve been blessed to gather a large following of readers, primarily across Louisiana and Mississippi. Readers have asked for a collection through the years, but finding the time to do so has always been an issue. When the University of Louisiana Press spoke with me about the possibility, I believed in the care they would offer the collection — and had a deadline, which is really the main thing I need to get something done!
I thought I had easy access to all my columns but was wrong. Even though this collection finds its beginning in the early years of this century, I ended up having to go to the local university library and digging through microfilm to locate some of the early ones. I had not done as good of a job as I believed in keeping up with them all!
2. When reviewing the columns did you find that your opinions had changed on any subjects?
Surprisingly, I found that my views on most issues had not changed very much, which I found to be comforting. In a couple of rare instances, I was even proud of myself for certain word choices or insights gained. Going back and reading nearly a thousand columns to select the 182 that were eventually used for the book was a head trip. I relived so many of the experiences I had as a younger mother — things I thought I had remembered, but in fact had forgotten. The experience was very powerful. I was grateful to have a team of editors working with me who were able to take a more objective approach in which columns to include or not.
3. What did you hope your newspaper readers gained from the columns? Is it different for book readers?
When my daughters were younger, we said night prayers together every night. Each evening, we would pray to do our best to make the world a better place. In writing each piece for the newspaper, I had the same hope and prayer — that each could serve to and find the right readers who needed a certain tidbit to do his or her part to make the world a better place. Though I failed on occasion, I never wanted to come off as preachy. This is not a how-to book. As a collection of columns, I do believe it connects some of the dots of my hopes. I continue to pray that it serves readers and the lives they touch in a positive way.
The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time
"Excellent ingredients, carefully prepared and very elegantly served. A really tasty book."—Peter Mayle, author of The Marseille Caper and A Year in Provence
When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Lights is turned upside down.
So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city. Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.
Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.
I had this book on my iPad for a long time. I had started reading it and then wandered off as I so often do. However, I realized I had this while on my recent riverboat cruise in France, so I decided it was the perfect time to dust it off and finish it up.
I was actually on the outskirts of Lyon when I picked the book back up just in time for the chapter on Lyon. Lyon is known as gastronomic hot spot in France. Their claim to fame are small restaurants that were started by women catering to working class people. They are called “bouchons”. They still exist and are considered some of the best places to eat. I appreciate this book for explaining that they still feature tripe heavily in their meals. Vegetarian-friendly is not a concept most of these have grasped. A few days later I was standing in old town Lyon turning in a circle looking at all the bouchons.
Whispering to the husband – “We aren’t eating anywhere that says bouchon.”
Him – “Why?”
Me, muttering like just saying the word would manifest it in front of me – “Tripe”
Him – “What?””
Me – “It is sort of like restaurants who claim they are Family Restaurants in the U.S.”
He understood my theory that any restaurant that claims that title is using recipes from some old lady who cooked meat and potatoes without any spices and believed that the way to cook vegetables is to boil them until they give up. Also, the soups are totally made with meat broth and if you order vegetable soup anyway odds are 50/50 that there will be unexpected chunks of meat in it. Yes, I am a vegetarian foodie snob.
I would recommend this book for anyone who likes reading about local food traditions in combination with a memoir. She decides to write this book to distract her from the fact that she’s been left in France alone for a year. They just moved there. She knows no one. You see her personal growth over the year as she reaches out of her comfort zone to make friends.
So what did we eat in France? Stay tuned for that post in a bit.
I’m back! I came back from vacation to a hacked website. I couldn’t log in. It was redirecting to who knows where. I’m thankful for fiverr.com where I could hire someone to FIX IT! since I don’t know what I was doing.
So now here is my delayed November update.
Here’s what I read in November.
The books were:
1 graphic novel
Set in England, France, Scotland, and the U.S.
The authors were:
2 unique white women, 1 Asian woman, 1 African-American woman, 1 Arab-American man, and 1 white man
An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University
Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.
Somehow I completely missed the point of this book from the previews I read. I thought this was going to be a book about a woman who received a college education after a lifetime of fake homeschool. What this book is actually about is how a lifetime of psychological and physical abuse leaves scars that no amount of education can heal.
This book is brutal. Tara is the youngest child of a Morman family whose father believes that they need to prepare constantly for the end times. The children are kept out of school to keep them out of the hands of the Illuminati. Half-hearted attempts were occasionally made to teach the children but by the time Tara came along, they weren’t even trying anymore. She was indoctrinated in her father’s way of thinking which included regressive attitudes about women.
Her relationship with an older brother, Shawn, was the worst of her problems. At times he protected her from her father’s plans for her. Other times he beat her. In between he manipulated her into believing everything was her fault because she was a weak woman who needed to be disciplined to keep from becoming a whore. The violence and psychological torture escalated as she got older. Any attempt to stand up for herself was brutally squashed.
Another brother convinced her that she could go to college and get out. She did but hid everything from the outside world. She had no idea how to function in society. Her training in conspiracy theories led her to reject help from the state or the church because she believed any assistance was the way they got you to start participating in their evil.
I was looking forward to reading about how she got out into the wider world. This is actually where the story gets worse. Her family’s attempts to reel her back in are monstrous. Her mind was so broken by their brainwashing that she couldn’t see who to trust. All she knew was that it was her duty to do what her family said.
As of the writing of the memoir, she is out and she is alive. It could have gone the other way many times.
While this book is extreme, I didn’t see it as far-fetched. I’ve read several reviews that consider the story suspect. While I don’t know anyone who has gone through this, I can see parts of people I know in many aspects of this story. I see the affects of growing up with mentally ill, abusive parents who I would have written off years ago, in loved ones who are still trying to connect with these parents. I’ve seen people struggle to rid themselves of the ideas that they were exposed to in childhood. They know they aren’t true but still there is that small voice that asks, “But what if is it is true?”
This isn’t a happy memoir of the power of education and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. I think this is an important book but be prepared to be very disturbed by the level of abuse described and then almost immediately discounted as unimportant or worse, deserved.
“Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create. If I yielded now, I would lose more than an argument. I would lose custody of my own mind. This was the price I was being asked to pay, I understood that now. What my father wanted to cast from me wasn’t a demon: it was me.”
Week 5: (Nov. 26 to 30) – New to My TBR (Katie @ Doing Dewey): It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!
I’m terrible at this one so I’m making this post at the beginning of the month so I can add books as I see them.
Reads Like Fiction (Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction): Nonfiction books often get praised for how they stack up to fiction. Does it matter to you whether nonfiction reads like a novel? If it does, what gives it that fiction-like feeling? Does it depend on the topic, the writing, the use of certain literary elements and techniques? What are your favorite nonfiction recommendations that read like fiction? And if your nonfiction picks could never be mistaken for novels, what do you love about the differences?
I love narrative nonfiction. I definitely read nonfiction faster when it flows like a fiction novel. More scholarly approaches slow my reading but that doesn’t mean I enjoy them less. My husband and I have had this argument before. He is snobby about nonfiction. If it was too enjoyable he gets grumpy. He acts like reading needs to be like homework to be worthwhile. I point out books he enjoyed where he learned things and he has to concede the point which doesn’t make him happy either.
Crime stories come to mind as the easiest to make read like fiction. They tend to have a “stranger than fiction” element that keeps you coming back to see what really happened.
For nonfiction books that don’t read like novels, I need to be learning a lot.
I’ve actually been reading books. I know! I was shocked too.
I read this series because I had never read any Beverly Jenkins before.
I read them out of order. Book 3, then 1, then 2.
Either book 2 was by far the weakest or I was just getting bored by then
I finished it! I think I started this one in August or September.
It was a weird read for me. I would have to force myself to pick it up and then I’d start reading and get into it and wonder why I wasn’t reading this more often. Then I’d put it down for a while and start the whole cycle all over.
This is sort of a Need To Know book. If you aren’t going to be in Avignon soon (Me! Me!) or have a strong interest in church history (also me), it wouldn’t be of interest.
The more church history I read the more I wonder why anyone is still into Christianity. It is just a history of the same corruption and schemes over and over down through the centuries. At least make up a new scam for variety.
Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously. The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations.
This is the most perfect combination of narrator and subject. What could possibly be more soothing than listening to LeVar Burton reading about Fred Rogers? It was so perfect that I listened to this at 1x speed and did not speed it up even at points when the story started to drag.
This is a very in depth look at the life of Fred Rogers. I was fascinated by stories from his childhood. I didn’t know that he was born into a very wealthy family. He became a very accomplished pianist and composer before finding out about this new fangled thing called television and deciding almost on a whim to try it out. (It didn’t hurt that he was the son of some of the major stockholders of RCA which owned NBC at the time.) Later he split his time between working at a TV station and going to seminary to become a minister. These are all detours he couldn’t have taken if he had to worry about how to put food on the table for his family.
His mother instilled a sense of purpose in him. She was a philanthropist but not the kind that gets their name on flashy buildings. She found people in need and did what she could to support them.
One thing that was never addressed was Why Children? Everyone agrees that he had a child-like sense of wonder and that he related to kids more than adults but no one asked why. He had a very lonely childhood. He was bullied. I would think that would make him want to leave childhood far behind. He just always seemed to know that his purpose was to work with kids. I would have liked to see that addressed more.
This book is so detailed that it gets repetitive at times. That’s my only complaint. His life was fascinating. Anyone looking for a scandal in his life isn’t going to find it. Everyone agrees that the man you saw on TV was the real person.
Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Julie @ JulzReads): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).
I read a lot of the history and politics surrounding food.
“Food writer Jonathan Kauffman journeys back more than half a century—to the 1960s and 1970s—to tell the story of how a coterie of unusual men and women embraced an alternative lifestyle that would ultimately change how modern Americans eat. Impeccably researched, Hippie Food chronicles how the longhairs, revolutionaries, and back-to-the-landers rejected the square establishment of President Richard Nixon’s America and turned to a more idealistic and wholesome communal way of life and food.
From the mystical rock-and-roll cult known as the Source Family and its legendary vegetarian restaurant in Hollywood to the Diggers’ brown bread in the Summer of Love to the rise of the co-op and the origins of the organic food craze, Kauffman reveals how today’s quotidian whole-foods staples—including sprouts, tofu, yogurt, brown rice, and whole-grain bread—were introduced and eventually became part of our diets. From coast to coast, through Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Vermont, Kauffman tracks hippie food’s journey from niche oddity to a cuisine that hit every corner of this country.”
“When Brent Preston, his wife, Gillian, and their two young children left Toronto ten years ago, they arrived on an empty plot of land with no machinery, no money and not much of a clue. Through a decade of grinding toil, they built a real organic farm, one that is profitable, sustainable, and their family’s sole source of income. Along the way they earned the respect and loyalty of some of the best chefs in North America, and created a farm that is a leading light in the good food movement. Told with humour and heart in Preston’s unflinchingly honest voice, The New Farm arrives at a time of unprecedented interest in food and farming, with readers keenly aware of the overwhelming environmental, social and moral costs of our industrial food system. The New Farm offers a vision for a hopeful future, a model of agriculture that brings people together around good food, promotes a healthier planet, and celebrates great food and good living.”
“Barber explores the evolution of American food from the ‘first plate,’ or industrially-produced, meat-heavy dishes, to the ‘second plate’ of grass-fed meat and organic greens, and says that both of these approaches are ultimately neither sustainable nor healthy. Instead, Barber proposes Americans should move to the ‘third plate,’ a cuisine rooted in seasonal productivity, natural livestock rhythms, whole-grains, and small portions of free-range meat.”
“Chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico four days after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island. The economy was destroyed and for most people there was no clean water, no food, no power, no gas, and no way to communicate with the outside world.
Andrés addressed the humanitarian crisis the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time. From serving sancocho with his friend José Enrique at Enrique’s ravaged restaurant in San Juan to eventually cooking 100,000 meals a day at more than a dozen kitchens across the island, Andrés and his team fed hundreds of thousands of people, including with massive paellas made to serve thousands of people alone.. At the same time, they also confronted a crisis with deep roots, as well as the broken and wasteful system that helps keep some of the biggest charities and NGOs in business.”
From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python--from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on an unforgettable journey from his childhood in an austere boarding school through his successful career in comedy, television, theater, and film. Coming of age as a writer and comedian during the Sixties and Seventies, Eric stumbled into the crossroads of the cultural revolution and found himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Harrison, David Bowie, and Robin Williams, all of whom became dear lifelong friends. With anecdotes sprinkled throughout involving other close friends and luminaries such as Mike Nichols, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Lorne Michaels, and many more, as well as the Pythons themselves, Eric captures a time of tremendous creative output with equal parts hilarity and heart. In Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, named for the song he wrote for Life of Brian (the film which he originally gave the irreverent title Jesus Christ: Lust for Glory) and that has since become the number one song played at funerals in the UK, he shares the highlights of his life and career with the kind of offbeat humor that has delighted audiences for five decades. The year 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Pythons, and Eric is marking the occasion with this hilarious memoir chock full of behind-the-scenes stories from a high-flying life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth.
Eric Idle has always been my favorite member of Monty Python so I absolutely had to listen to this book. I can’t imagine just reading this book. Listening to him read this made the book.
This book was so much fun. He is an unapologetic famous person. He talks a lot about all of his famous friends. He points out that he has non-famous friends but that no one in interested in reading about them. He hung out with Beatles and Rolling Stones and all the other famous comedians in the 1970s so the stories are as wild as you’d expect. One of my favorite stories was when Graham Chapman had a party at his house for his parents. His parents were ready to go to bed at 10 PM but first they politely kicked the Rolling Stones out of the house. I can see how some people would think of these stories as name dropping or bragging but he is full of so much love for his friends and joy for his life that I loved hearing about it. What can you expect from a man who gave a toast at David Bowie’s wedding to Iman and once got mistaken for a Beatle while standing next to George Harrison (who was pushed aside unrecognized)?
He weaves the story of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life through the book. He wrote it to have a happy ending in his movie that actually ended with the main character being crucified. Since then it has taken on a life of its own. It started being sung during British military disasters and then at funerals. He’s sung it for the Queen and during the Olympics. He’s sung it in drag and in a tutu, as one does.
If you are a Monty Python fan who has watched the many documentaries about the history of the Pythons you’ll love this book. You’ll have already gotten a good grasp of the official history from those shows. This book will fill in what fun was happening behind the scenes and in the time since.