Where did the time go?

Where did the time go?

Holy Moly, how is it 2018? One of these days, I will figure out how to make this whole blogging thing a regular part of life but I admit that full-time work, full-time graduate school and general adulting has left me exhausted. However, being now officially done with my MBA (woohoo) I can get back to enjoying the subtle niceties of life….aka copious amounts of reading. I’m not sure I even want to know what the page count from between Christmas and New Year’s is as I felt like I was searching for a new book almost every day.

I’m pleased to say that I’m back on the book challenge bandwagon and managed to burn my way through both Bossypants by Tina Fey** and I feel bad about my neck by Nora Ephron. 2 more down and yeah, still several to go. But hey, I have, like 3 months until I’m 35 and have to hang my head in shame for failing this noblest of endeavors.

I enjoyed reading Bossypants immensely. The clever witticisms that I would expect of Tina Fey are sprinkled throughout the memoir along with advice that is darn good regardless of whether or not you happen to possess a pair of boobs. A few key gems:

  • “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
  • “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”
  • “It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”
  • “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”

And in a beautiful response to scathing fan letter:

“To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair.”

I appreciated the no-nonsense manner in which the book conveyed the trials and tribulations of her youth, complete with awkward adolescent years, and the sharing of potential closet skeletons that frankly we all have from our youth but not all are courageous enough to own. As a woman, who sometimes laments being female everytime I have to restock my supply of feminine hygiene products for the next go-around of my body punishing me for not being pregnant (this comic illustrates the relationship with my uterus perfectly), I was more amused by Tina’s rambling regarding the fact that she didn’t realize her period would involve blood since TV commercials always showing a bright blue liquid. Whether this is actually true or merely an amusing anecdotal story, I can identify with the confusion and wonder about the marketing mind that decided we mustn’t make the masses squeamish with the sight of a little blood.

Musings on the joys reproductive cycles and marketing tactics aside, reading this book made me want to hug Tina Fey until she got a restraining order against me or (instead) figure out how to bottle that indomitable spirit and sell it for tons of money on Amazon. Seriously, read this book and decide how to channel your inner Tina Fey. With feminist hat firmly affixed, I’ll venture to say that we need more Tina Fey’s in the world.

Now, Nora Ephran’s book…well, I just don’t know what to make of it. I’m not sure if I feel this way because I read it much too soon after the rollicking ride of Tina’s Fey’s life and feminist views and so, by comparison, there was a missing joie de vivre element but this book simply did not resonate with me. Many chapter openings pulled me in but then there were abrupt endings or a lack of final wisdom conveyed. Sure, I also don’t understand obsessing about one’s purse or paying hundreds of dollars for a glorified rucksack where one will inevitably store dust mites, forgotten scraps of paper and even a black hole portal but then there was no real sense of closure to the chapter. When I finally read the last page and gently closed the back cover, I sat staring at the book in befuddlement. Where was the grandiose message of sage wisdom? Where was my adult empowerment that you know what, everything is going to be ok? While there were a few gems, overall I am still pondering why this book was written. Perhaps, as I age, potentially ungracefully, Nora’s writing and the message will resonate with me more but for now, someone please let me know if I merely missed the cereal box decoder that was necessary to unlocking the hidden message?

Happy 2018 all! Soon to come, thoughts on Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

** Disclosure: Book links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and decided to purchase one of the books.**

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Book Challenge Take 2

Book Challenge Take 2

I know I said that I wouldn’t try another book challenge when I re-launched this blog in January but now find myself drawn to the idea of a book challenge….oh fickle Pinterest, why do you send so many through my feed?

I came across one this past Friday from Bustle.com-21 books every woman should read by 35– and was immediately drawn in. Why, I’ll be 35 in a little over a year! And shiny! What a fun mix of books. Fiction, non-fiction, old classics, new classics, books I probably should have read by now and others that I’m excited to read because they are outside of my normal genres, et cetera.

I’m not sure if I am simply experiencing some sort of weird mid-30’s crisis but for whatever reason, I feel like 35 is going to “a year” and that I need to accomplish something meaningful. A book challenge (plus finishing my MBA if all goes on schedule) seems like a good lead-in but part of me still wants to do something epic like hike Mt. Kilimanjaro with a bunch of other bad-ass (or crazy depending on how you want to look at it) women in 2018. Or maybe I’ll go the less expensive route and finally get around to training for a marathon….

Potential existential crisis aside, another reason I like this particular challenge is that I’m already off to a great start and have read two of the books on the list. I’m not enough of a purist (aka: lazy) to re-read those books simply for the sake of the challenge, even though the book were great reads and one, Lean In, is still a topic of conversation at my work, but hey! look at that? Only 19 more books to go…I’ve so got this.

If I can figure out how to embed a countdown timer in WordPress, or even if I can’t, head over to the fancy new page devoted to this challenge and help keep me accountable to finishing this one! And be on the lookout for some future book reviews from titles off the list.

 

PS: In the spirit of more book list (Thank you, Pinterest) here are a few other links that may be of interest. Happy Reading!

The Book Nerd’s Guide to Surviving a Dystopia

11 Books to Read if you Love “The Handmaid’s Tale”

20 Life-Changing Nonfiction Books That You Can Finish In A Day

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

“Freedom, like everything else, is relative.” 

I’m sorry to say that I have never read this novel by Margaret Atwood prior to now. Perhaps it was fortuitous that I had seen ads for the TV series adaptation on Hulu and an otherwise dry spell of books led me to select this as my next free Kindle title. Fortuitous and yet heart-wrenching as the chilling similarities between the story the author pens and the calamitous political storm our nation faces today are brought side-by-side.

The Handmaid’s tale is told from the point of view of a woman named Offred, who had another name prior to the collapse of society in America. Offred is what is known as a Handmaid – a woman that is a sanctioned mistress.  Her entire existence is based solely on her ability to have children by the man she is leased out to- generally a high-ranking military or political figure- and she goes to whichever home she is ordered to. Failure to produce a living, breathing normal child after three attempts means a fate worse than death. And even if a Handmaid has a healthy child, she is sent quickly after giving birth to the next man to produce another child.

As Offred narrates her current existence and shares flashbacks of the time “before,” the novel dances between despair and hope. Reading this today, 30+ years after it was first published, I am chilled less by the story that came after the fall of the government and more by the events of how it all took place.

In the beginning, a staged attack kills the President and most of Congress. An extreme Christian movement launches a revolution, suspends the Constitution and begins to take away women’s rights under the pretext of restoring order. Offred arrives to work one normal day only to be let go because it was now a law that women were not allowed to work….or have their own bank account…or vote. Women were further stripped of their rights and dehumanized as it became illegal for them to even read printed words amongst other actions.

Atwood describes the reaction of society to this appalling movement as well…almost nonexistent:

” There were marches, of course, a lot of women and some men. But they were smaller than you might have thought. I guess people were scared. And when it was known that the police, or the army, or whoever they were, would open fire almost as soon as any of the marches even started, the marches stopped.”

Normally, I enjoy books with not necessarily happy endings but closure and the Handmaid’s tale does have closure in a sense. The reader is left knowing that Offred makes it somewhere safe to record her tale but not where or how she spent the remainder of her days. While I prefer to be optimistic when faced with the open-ended fate of Offred, this novel has left me a bit haunted. It is raw, dark and I feel almost paralyzed due to the parallels I can see in the political dictatorship that is unfolding every day and the society that lead to and was present in Offred’s tale.

Who wants to believe, that as a society, we could ever be so blind or passively willing to let our rights be taken away? But isn’t that what is happening to many? Isn’t that what has happened in other countries in a not-so-distant past? Aren’t we witnessing the rise of a power that seems to embrace and ignore that their version of “better never means better for everyone…it always means worse for some?”

I’m not sure what the future will hold or that posting this silly blog will have any impact. I am still searching for the inner political firebrand that hides inside me and letting her voice rage. But I have to remind myself that some action is better than no action; not everyone’s rise against this tide will look the same but the collection of our will and the desire to not stand by silent in these ignoble times is what is required of us. If we believe in the rights of others, and that we live in a country meant for a better destiny than the one currently being crafted, the time for silence is over.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”