79: We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Can a book you read in less than 30 minutes be considered an ‘official book’ in your yearly count? If it’s as amazing as this one you sure can!

I don’t know why it took me years to read this super short book that is also a TEDx talk which you could watch instead of reading this book. You can find it here: TED We Should All Be Feminists. I’m watching it as I write this review.

The socialization we have about what ‘women should do’ and what ‘men should do’ affects every aspect of our lives. As you read through this, you’ll see it clear as day even if you’ve never thought about gender before.

As I read this, I kept seeing a connection to race in America. We are socialized to think certain things about women, men, black women, black men, Hispanic men, Hispanic women, etc, etc, etc. This is important reading in the unlearning process. It’s hard reading.

Unlearning something is harder than learning it because once you see it you have to dismantle previous thoughts and you find yourself saying, “Oh my goodness, my life has been built on a lie.” Once we see it, we are compelled to change – but change is uncomfortable and hard.

While there is much work to do for feminism still, the work we need to do today is about race. We cannot continue to operate in a society that assumes things about people based on their race.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

78: The Oysterville Sewing Circle

The Oysterville Sewing Cirlce by Susan Wiggs

I have no idea how this book got on my TBR, my hold list, and then my library loan pile, but I’m glad it did. It’s quite beautifully written, a bit of a love story and much of a motherhood story.

Caroline says she’ll be the ‘back-up guardian’ for her friend’s kids in the midst of a crazy time, which isn’t a big deal until her friend overdoses and she becomes the full-time guardian. Caroline never wanted to have kids, and now she has two. A 5 year old and a 6 year old who just want their mama. They’re scared of so many things and rightfully so.

Caroline moves them across the country to her hometown where her parents take all three in for some love and some healing. There’s a huge sewing element to this book, an important domestic violence story line, and the beauty of friendships and really listening to women.

When a woman comes to us because of an abuse, an assault, or anything else, our first line shouldn’t be “got proof?” It needs to be more of “I’m listening” and “It’s not your fault, how can I support you?” And any number of other statements that convey empathy and trust for the woman.

I really liked this book, but there were a few parts where things skipped around a bit too much. It’s very closed door, but some of the leaps she makes from “they looked at each other deeply” to “she woke up in the middle of the night in his bed” felt awkward. So ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

77: You Deserve Each Other

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

What happens to a relationship with people stop seeing who the other person really is? What happens when we decide what their intentions are without actually asking? What happens when we hold in all our fears and vulnerabilities from those we are closest to? Disaster.

This piece of fiction proves it in the most disastrous way, but society is showing us the result of it every day.

While there are some good lines in this book, it took me until more than 80% to even begin thinking about liking either of the main characters. They’re hateful and vindictive and selfish and unlikable. They have almost no redeeming qualities that make me think, “I’d like to be their friend” let alone, “I’m looking for someone just like that to marry.”

They do redeem themselves though. They start seeing the other for who they really are. They begin showing up for their partner in a way that puts love first, rather than self first. There are a lot of lessons to learn, but that doesn’t mean I loved this book or even recommend it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️, there are plenty of other great reads, I’d recommend going with one of those.

76: Delicious!

Delicious! By Ruth Reichl

I don’t know what made me look up Ruth’s books on Libby the other day, but I did and noticed that she had a work of fiction I’d never read (or even heard of). I downloaded it and immediately texted my sister-in-law asking if she wanted to buddy read it with me. She said yes, then started it before I managed to.

It’s delightfully delicious. I know you shouldn’t use a word to define itself, but the adjective defines this book by the same title. Billie (also Willie in the book) goes to NYC to find herself. And find herself she does. I laughed, I teared up, I gasped out loud, I helped solve a mystery, I got hungry, I longed to travel, and much more.

If I made a top ten list of books I’ve read in a year, this would make the 2020 list. Go get it, you won’t be disappointed (unless of course you hate good food, then this book isn’t for you)!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

75: Act Like It

Act Like It by Lucy Parker

I’ve said before that “I love a good love story.” Why? Maybe it’s me trying to live out the longing I have for my own great love story. Maybe it’s because there’s always a happy ending and you don’t have to worry about if the one of them is just going to die suddenly on you and you’ll be sobbing your eyes out in public on an airplane. Hasn’t happened in a while, but that’s just because I haven’t been on an airplane since the end of February.

But I am TIRED of this troupe. The one where they hate each other, someone or some situation forces them to pretend to be in a relationship, and then all that pretending becomes real and they no longer hate each other. Until one of them does something stupid, then they have to get over that and decide to move past it and then BAM they get married (or at least get a happily ever after in the book).

Does that really happen? I mean, seriously, I’m asking. Did you hate your spouse, decide to be in a fake relationship with him, then fall in love, and now you’re married happily ever after? Do you have a friend where that happened? I’ve never known a single, real life person, who’s EVER pretended to be in a relationship with someone, let alone someone they despise who becomes the love of their life. If you know someone, please introduce me. I’d LOVE to know if this story line was created by mimicking reality.

I’ll wait…

So, all that being said, while I love a good love story, I did not love this book. It gets ⭐️⭐️⭐️ because it’s like all of the other books I’ve ever read of this troupe and is finely written, but not for me, not right now. And I was so excited about it, I even purchased the eBook at Anne Bogel’s recommendation. But anyway, until next time.

74: The Girl with the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

I got this from Book of the Month Club when a friend said we should buddy read it. I’ve been hesitant to read books with any serious plot lately because my mind is still preoccupied with all things COVID, so I put off reading as long as possible before our meeting.

I started it late Friday night and finished before bed on Sunday. This book is excellent. It’s about Adunni who is from the small village of Ikati in Nigeria. She’s been to school for a few years so she knows some English, but it’s very broken. The author wrote in her voice, so it takes a few chapters to settle into the writing style.

After her mother dies, her father makes her stay home from school. He goes into debt as he becomes an alcoholic , so she takes care of her brothers and the family. Then a man offers to get him out of debt if Adunni will become his wife to give him a son (the other two women he’s married have been unable to do so). Adunni is then raped every evening until she produces a son.

Before a son can come, a tragedy happens which leads her to run away. She’s then sold into slavery and trafficked. Although Big Madam (her owner) is very abusive to her, a neighbor sees what’s going on and with the house chef helps her get out. Adunni becomes aware of her state of slavery, and also recognizes that Big Madam is enslaved by her husband Big Daddy (or Chief) as well. It’s Systemic.

This debut novel is beautifully written, eye-opening, and ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

73: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

I put off reading our May book club book for weeks. Then started it, got one chapter in and proceeded to start and finish 3 other books before picking it up again. We rescheduled Tuesday’s meeting for this Sunday so even thought I was on page 150, I put it down again in favor of Downton Abbey and puzzles instead of reading. I could not get into this book. Why?

It’s very character driven. These characters are nuts, crazy, and based on true life people the author met while living in Savannah for most of the 80s. This is a work of non-fiction, and it drove me nuts. I kept reading because book club. Although we don’t have a rule that you have to finish to come to the meeting, I have a personal rule about it. I want to be able to discuss the book intelligently even if I disliked it. I want to have a good reason for not liking it.

My reason for not liking this one is that I’m not super into character driven books. I need a plot! A compelling one that keeps the story moving along preferably. This is not that book. There’s a movie that’s apparently pretty good, probably because they had to create a plot to sell a movie to a studio.

So just ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Not a bad book, but not a book for me. Not right now at least. Although it does make me want to take a weekend trip to Savannah, so maybe post-quarantine!