Saturday, February 18, 2017

January Be Your Own Book Club Recap and February Book Reveal!

Hi beautiful readers. My life is full to bursting right now, but I have NOT forgotten about my favorite book club of all time! Let's recap January books:

BIG LITTLE LIES- Like most of my forays into adult contemporary fiction, this took me a little time to get into, and then I sped through the second half of the book in a single evening. I didn't LOVE the characters, but I really wanted to solve the mystery. I was properly shocked and thrilled by the reveal, and then I moved on. 

It took me a few days to sit with everything before I was ready to completely appreciate the genius of the development. These characters are presented like caricatures- rich and gorgeous, poor and plain, sassy and outspoken, humble and Zen, sharp and mean. I recognized it and kind of rolled my eyes. But as the story progresses, ESPECIALLY during the climax, different layers are teased out, and even the side characters who originally seemed designed to antagonize become relatable. It's really difficult to keep a book light and interesting and have that kind of depth without getting melodramatic, but I think Moriarty pulls it off.

YEAR OF YES- Oh. I just adore this book. I'm really curious how many of you listened to the audiobook as opposed to reading it, because hearing Shonda Rhimes narrate really upped the feeling of chatting with a super impressive friend. I spent many a night fixing dinner with tears rolling down my cheeks because I felt spoken to- hearing recordings of her speeches, especially, was such a powerful experience.

I was so nervous when she started the chapter about losing weight. I just wanted so damn badly to enjoy this book without having to sort through my feelings of rejecting diet culture and I did not think I could stomach hearing this firebrand of a woman explain that her life improved so much because she got smaller. No matter how much I love your memoir, I'm not sitting through that. My relief was that this chapter focused more on recognizing when you're using food/lack of activity was a barrier to stay numb. Her description of "veal practice" made me chuckle. Then she described a low point of using consistently chocolate chip cookies and Doctor Who episodes to keep herself from confronting feelings, and my first thought was "That sounds amazing." It was not framed to sound amazing, and it really made me think. Thinking about food as a crutch instead of as a morally good or bad thing was actually very positive for my own understanding of my personal relationship with food. I still love chocolate chip cookies and Doctor Who.

Overall, YEAR OF YES challenged me to take a hard look at my own life, and I knew it was right because I did not like it. There has been a long running joke in my family that I don't like to feel feelings- I'll write about a lot here, but especially where it comes to my interactions with my family, I'll put on a bright smile and refuse to face things that are upsetting me. (I also cannot handle Law & Order SVU or any of those manipulative commercials where an elderly person has friends for the holiday because of a card company or a supermarket.) My husband has been teasing/not teasing for years that this is a terrible way to live life and always ominously tells me that this pushing down cannot last forever. I texted him after finishing YEAR OF YES and said, "I think 2017 is the year I'm going to try to feel feelings." I really hate it so far, so it's probably super important.

I would love to know how you felt about the January picks. I've heard from a few friends that BIG LITTLE LIES was not their bag, and I love when people feel comfortable enough to share what they didn't like! 

I shared the February picks over on Facebook earlier, and I know it's a bit late in the month so there is zero pressure (that's actually the point of the club- zero pressure) to join up. Both of the books for February are adapted for film!

Fiction- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

From Goodreads: "My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING is currently being adapted into a film starring Amandla Stenberg, but I suggest looking up the trailer AFTER you read the book because there are serious spoilers. When the film releases, I'd love to do a Be Your Own Lady field trip!

From Goodreads: "Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program—and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.

Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as “Human Computers,” calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws, these “colored computers,” as they were known, used slide rules, adding machines, and pencil and paper to support America’s fledgling aeronautics industry, and helped write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space."

Let me know what you thought about January's books and if you're planning to read along in February! Sending you love and lots of downtime for reading! xx

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's OK Not To Get Used To This

"A world in flux is assumed; it is the only constant in life." -Narrye Caldwell

These words resonated directly to my heart this morning. I was reading about the Year of the Rooster and author was talking about how Chinese traditions of wisdom are "systems of pattern identification that guide us in adapting gracefully to change." Adapting gracefully to change.

I'm frustrated right now. I want to fight. I want to rest. I want to give my all to my students, my biological children, my friends, my husband. I want to process ALL THIS INCOMING INFORMATION. I want to go to every rally, and read every book, and be a part of every get together. It's not all fitting. And I'm beating myself up over it.

I keep thinking "If I can just get a better routine. If I can just get a LITTLE more organized. If I can just get THE GROUND UNDER MY FEET. Then it will click. Then everything will fit. Then everything will stop changing." But that's just not the truth. It's not all going to fit into every day. And I have to let go of that (impossible, foolish, selfish) dream.

So, if you're like me (bless you, I know what it's like to have THAT mind) and everything feels uprooted right now, take a breather. The only constant is change. It's okay to take it one day at a time, to have shifting priorities. Some days, you will need to call every Senator. Some days, you will not survive without yoga. Some days, a doctor's appointment with your four-year-old is ALL YOU CAN TAKE. Some days, keep to yourself. Some days, make the effort to get out and see people. Do what you can.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Return of Be Your Own Book Club! January 2017

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Be Your Own Book Club is a book club for ladies who want timely book recs and optional conversation with zero commitment. Each month I'll share one fiction and one nonfiction title. Feel free to read either or both. Throughout the month I'll share favorite quotes, ask questions, and foster conversations in comments on the Be Your Own Lady Facebook page, and on Twitter/Instagram using the hashtag #BeYourOwnBookClub. 

I am so grateful to each of you who took the time to answer the survey questions (if you missed the survey, it's still available here, please take it!) and have used the info to try and get a feel for who is following along and what our interests are. I'm going to keep the survey open through the end of the month and will report out the findings in February. For now...It's a new year and we are the same lovely people so let's read some books together.

Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Description from GoodreadsBig Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads. 

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?) 

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay. 

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.  

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. 

I picked this book because people were looking for strong moms and escapism. I absolutely loved What Alice Forgot, also but Moriarty, so I'm looking forward to diving in! 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Description from Goodreads: The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too. 

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No. And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

This description doesn't really do the book justice. Neither does anything that people recommending it can say- I heard people raving about Year of Yes for months before I picked it up, but it wasn't until I started listening that I really understood the power of this book. I suggest audio- hearing Shonda Rhimes read about her own self makes it more genuine, and every speech that she references is copied into the audiobook. I loved the speeches. January is the perfect time to take a peek at ourselves. Nothing in this book is a resolution. It's self examination. I can get behind that. 

So that's us getting started! I'm so excited to talk about both of these books. Please let me know if you are planning to follow along! Use the hashtag to show off your bookish pics or let us know what you think about the books! Let's read more in 2017.