June 29, 2017

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Hi, friends! I took a bit longer of a blogging break than I anticipated. While I felt like I needed it, I also missed blogging. I have been blogging for so long that it’s just become what I do. I didn’t realize how much I would miss it.

Taking 3 weeks off from blogging was enough to make me realize that I need to make blogging a priority for myself. It’s therapeutic, I love reading my blog friends’ posts, and it’s just something I love. No matter how busy I get, I want to keep blogging.

I will say, though, that the longer I got away from blogging, the easier it was to put off getting back into it. Habits are powerful. So, I am really glad that I was already planning on hosting this link up with Christy today. Otherwise, I think it would have been harder for me to jump back into blogging.march book reviews finding ithaka (1 of 1)

The main reason why I needed a break from blogging was that I had a friend in town. Between trying to keep up with work and wanting to show her a good time, I didn’t really have time to post. And I didn’t have time to read other blogs. One thing that I missed most about blogging was reading other people’s blogs! Blog friends, I’m grabbing a glass of wine and planning to catch up this weekend.

So, here’s what I read this month. I had lots of lofty June Goals that totally went on the backburner when my apartment flooded (more about that next week. Everything’s okay!). One of my goals was to read 4 books. I was able to hit that mark despite the craziness.

When I get stressed or sad or overwhelmed, reading has always been my outlet. It doesn’t surprise me that I read so much during a pretty stressful and overwhelming month. I’m thankful to have reading as one of my favorite hobbies. It’s saved me many times.

1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This was our book club pick for Beyond Words: A Blogger's Book Club. It's a virtual book club that Christy and I started. Intereted in joining? Click here!

I have read this book 3 times. I could write posts and posts dedicated to this book, so I will try to keep it brief.

Many of us know the story. Offred lives in New England, in the future not too far away. People have used specific passages in the Bible and their own interpretations of religion to force women to be completely submissive in society. Some women were supportive of this movement. They rallied for it. But, now, no woman seems happy with it. And the men don’t, either.

Women have roles like Handmaid (read: baby machine). Other women are in charge of the cooking and cleaning of a house. Women who are deemed unworthy are sent off to the colonies to clean up nuclear waste. That is, until the nuclear waste kills them.

It’s really hard to just write a few sentences about this book. This book changed my perspective on feminism and on my life. When I read the book again and again, now that I already know the plot, the thing that sticks out to me is the way that Offred survives.

A lot has read been said about this book, so I will leave you with this quote from Margaret Atwood about it:

“I didn’t put anything into the book that has not happened sometime, somewhere. Or wasn’t happening then and isn’t happening now. So you can call that feminist, if you like. I didn’t start from ideology, I started from what I was collecting and seeing. But of course, I must have been instigated, must I not?” – Margaret Atwood answers the question: Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ a feminist book?

When I look at the book through the lens of the quote, I think about the women who are suffering. Who are marginalized. Who are forced to do things they don’t want to do. It made me think about how just because certain issues don’t affect you, it doesn’t mean that women are immune from those issues.

And while I don’t think that we are going to become Handmaids anytime soon, I do think that women need to be vigilant. As a feminist, the other thing that stood out to me in the book as I re-read it was the gradual ways that women’s rights are taken away. It happened in a way that women didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late. That is a powerful lesson that I will not forget.

If you are at all interested in the book, or if you have read it, I highly encourage you to watch the series on Hulu as well. I have only seen 5 episodes but I love it! 5 stars, obviously.

2. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I had a day where I didn't have anything that I had to do. It felt amazing. So, I sat and read this book from cover to cover. If you like thrillers, I highly recommend this book. It's your typical thriller with a lot of great twists and turns that kept me guessing.

A couple leaves their baby next door. They have a baby monitor that they can't see. They can only hear it. Every half hour, the couple takes turns going home to check on the baby. When they get home, she is gone. 3 stars.

3. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

I only gave this book 3 stars. But that is partially because I didn't understand what the book was about when I started reading it. I was expecting an intense nonfiction thriller type book, but what I got was more of a history interwtined with thriller chapters.

Although I was disappointed at first, I enjoyed Erik Larson’s storytelling and the amount of research he put into this novel. The novel tells the story of how the world’s fair came to be, the men and women who made it happen, and their motivations and setbacks. Larson tells this story alongside the story of the serial killer H H Holmes.

Initially, I was disappointed because I thought that the novel was just about Holmes. So at first, it took me a while to get into the parts about the architects of the world’s fair. I did skim a few sections because he tended to go into heavy details that I didn’t always find interesting, but overall I enjoyed reading this part of the book. The juxtaposition between the two stories was really interesting. 

4. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

This is Roxane Gay’s second books this year. It exceeded my very high expectations.

Roxane Gay is an accomplished writer who has written nonfiction and fiction books. She is a professor. She is a feminist. She loves Law and Order. And she at one point, she weighed 577 pounds. She weighs less than that now, but she is still considered obese. In her memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Gay painfully admits that her weight dictates almost every aspect of her life.

Gay writes that she wishes this could be one of those success stories, where you see a woman holding up her old pants looking svelte. Instead, this is a raw, emotional book that is difficult to read at times.  When she was 12 years old, she was gang raped by a boy she loved and his friends. Thinking that if she made herself bigger, she would be able to keep the boys away. This idea, coupled with her not having any other way to emotionally deal with this trauma, she ate and ate and ate and made herself bigger and bigger and bigger.

This book is an exploration of how Roxane Gay gained the weight, how she navigates the world in her body, her attempts to lose the weight her emotional reactions, the way she is perceived in a world that only values women who are small, and so much more. It is an emotionally heavy book that I highly recommend. 5 stars.

5. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I read this book because I am trying to join another book club in Hawaii (I know, I'm crazy, but book clubs are good palces to meet people!). I have to say, I didn't really find anything of value in the book. Definitly something you can skip. 1 star.

 

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10 responses to “I’m back! Here’s what I read in June”

  1. Jen says:

    I am so glad you’re back! Sometimes a break is necessary in order to recharge and to help you realize just how much something means to you. 🙂

  2. Carly says:

    Glad to see your post today, but it sounds like you had an awesome time with your friend visiting! That quote from Atwood is so chilling! I’ve heard of Devil in the White City, but had never looked into what it was about– I’m definitely intrigued and just added it to my TBR.

  3. Emma says:

    The Handmaid’s Tale is haunting isn’t it?

  4. I think that was the scariest part about The Handmaid’s Tale for me too, how slowly certain rights were taken away, but then all of a sudden women had zero rights whatever. It’s also crazy how Maragret Atwood wrote this in 1985, and how applicable it still is to today’s society, especially with certain things that are going on. Have you watched the TV show yet? I’m really enjoying it a lot and we’re a little over halfway done I think, but Chris doesn’t really care for it too much, but I’m still making him watch it with me! I’ve heard such great things about The Couple Next Door, and since we almost picked that for book club, I went on ahead and requested it from the library. I hope that I get it soon! I’m glad that you’re back to blogging! You’re totally right that a blogging break can be nice, but I really do miss reading other people’s blogs and seeing what’s going on in their lives!

  5. Glad you are back. I read Handmaid’s Tale earlier this year. I’m not sure I enjoyed reading it because it was disturbing on a lot of levels, but I do think it needed to be read.

  6. Meg Taylor says:

    Oooh I need to check out your book club. I loved the Handmaid’s Tale in high school and would love to read it again with a new perspective. Have a great weekend!

    Meg, Borrowed Heaven

  7. Audrey says:

    The Handmaid’s Tale is on my line-up to read this month or next! I’m excited to read it for the first time!
    The Devil in the White City sounds like my kind of book!
    So glad to have you back!!

  8. Nicole says:

    I devoured The Couple Next Door too. It was just written in a way that made it easy to do 🙂 One day soon I will read The Handmaid’s Tale. i loved your review.

  9. Laura says:

    Welcome back!! 🙂 Sometimes breaks are so important! I definitely want to check out The Handmaid’s Tale!

  10. Sarah says:

    So happy you are back on the interwebs, yours is one of the first blogs I always check so I definitely felt your absence (but glad you disconnected and had a good time with your friend of course!). I would really like to read Roxanne Gay as I’ve heard all about her books but haven’t managed to read one yet. And I will definitely check out the Couple Next Door (maybe after I get a bit more dissertation done though because I’m just like you… I’ll spend an entire day reading the whole book!)

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