Bookish Tuesday

Moving 32 Boxes of Books…

Last week was moving week – which meant all sorts of chaos ensued, including, the moving of many, many, many boxes of books. 32. I counted. It’s probably way too many and I haven’t even gotten them all out of our old apartment. Downside to moving, less time for reading. My new nonfiction book club met mid-week, which meant mid-move, and I was the embarrassed leader who hadn’t finished the book. But I promise, reviews and other bookish wonderfulness to follow upon completion of moving and cleaning! As well as a gorgeous shot of my new bookcase wall!

Essays, History, Non-Fiction, Sociology

Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism by Kristen R. Ghodsee

Back in November I joined Libro.fm as they provide advance listening copies (ALCs) for booksellers. Libro.fm is the indie version of Audible with similar terms and selection. I finally put my free membership to good use and listen to Kristen R. Ghodsee’s book.

Synopsis

From the Inside Flap:
Unregulated capitalism is bad for women. If we adopt some ideas from socialism, women will have better lives – and yes, even better sex.

American women today are encouraged to lean in and pursue professional success, all while juggling relationships and the responsibilities of raising kids. But they face a rigged economic system that makes “having it all” impossible. What if there’s an alternative?

Kristen R. Ghodsee has spent years researching what happened to women in countries that transitioned from state socialism to capitalism. She found that, when done right, socialism can lead to economic independence, better labor conditions, and a better work-life balance.

Capitalism, it turns out, is the enemy. In the workplace, capitalism creates the wage gap between the sexes so that female employees are underpaid and overworked. it reinforces gender stereotypes at home, too, where women are tasked with a second shift as caregivers.

You are not a commodity. It’s time to improve women’s lives, and Ghodsee’s book is a spirited guide to reclaiming your time, emotional energy, and self-worth.

Review

I hate the title of this book, I ranted against it every night I read it to my husband. Who eventually decided to pick it up himself and start paging through it to see what had me so angry. And he said, “I thought you’d love this book.” And I do, goodness yes, I love this book. But I hate the title. I feel like the entire premise and point of the book is lost in the sensationalist nature of the title. It’s like a click bait-y headline in my newsfeed, not the title for a book about feminism and socialism.

While I cannot begin to understand what living under state socialism was really like, I doubt it was quite as rosy as Ghodsee paints it. But this book is not really about what Soviet socialism was like, but merely uses it to compare and contrast the experience of women in the west under capitalism (primarily in the USA) and that of women in the Eastern Bloc in the days of the Iron Curtain. And while the primary argument gets a bit repetitive, it is, at its basis, the root of feminism.

Capitalism is built on women’s unpaid labor. Because women work primarily in the home, they have consistently been dependent on male family members, especially spouses, for all their basic needs, from income to health care. Under socialism, when women work outside the home and receive a fair wage, more government and public funds are put into their support with public day cares, and other facilities to assist families in care taking responsibilities. The Scandinavian system of public welfare and socialism is held up as the supreme ideology that all nations should strive for.

Whether this is feasible or not in the US, I honestly don’t know. But it certainly and intriguing point and line of questioning that Ghodsee undertakes to explore and I would be interested to see how, after the next election cycle, our system of governance might change and evolve.

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Edition: Hardcover • $22.00 • 9781568588902 • 240 pages • published November 2018 by Bold Type Books • average Goodreads rating 3.95 out of 5 stars • read in April 2019

Why Women

Bookish Tuesday

Books That Made Me Laugh

As spring approaches, I look forward to books that bring not only a smile to my face, but a laugh as well. Below are some of my favorite books that genuinely made me laugh out loud.

1. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

As the anniversary of his death approaches, I think long and hard about Robin Williams – he who laughs loudest and longest is usually in the most pain. Tony made me laugh, and I will forever be grateful for that.

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2. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I laughed so hard I was crying. Though my laughter here has been tampered a bit by the fact that Allie Brosh has rarely been seen either in public or online for 5 1/2 years now and her second book is indefinitely postponed. Allie, wherever you are, I hope you’re okay.

Hyperbole and a Half

3. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

I didn’t realize the mental health theme here until I started writing these descriptions. One way of combating depression, which each author thus far has always been transparent in discussing, is humor.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

4. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco

After recently finishing her disappointing follow up, I wanted to remind myself why I love Alyssa so much. She truly is a most relatable woman.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea

5. Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown

Princess Margaret was a very unique character and while her life was clearly sad, the way she handled being the Queen’s little sister offers a great deal of humor.

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Memoir/Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology

So Here’s the Thing… by Alyssa Mastromonaco

I begged and begged our publisher rep for an advance copy of this book because I loved Who Thought This was a Good Idea? And when she didn’t send one, I was devastated, but of course, still read it when it arrived on the shelves for sale!

Synopsis

From the Inside Flap:
Alyssa Mastromonaco is back with a bold, no-nonsense, and no-holds-barred twenty-first-century girl’s guide to life, tackling the highs and lows of bodies, politics, relationships, education, life on the internet, pop culture, and spontaneous motorcycle trips along the Japanese coast. Whether discussing the future of diplomacy or high-profile dance-offs, working int eh West Wing or working on finding a pair of underwear that doesn’t make her look like a Teletubby, Alyssa leaves no stone unturned… and no awkward situation unexamined.

So Here’s the Thing… brings a sharp eye and outsize sense of humor to the myriad issues facing women the world over, both in and out of the workplace. Along with Alyssa’s personal experiences and hard-won life lessons, interviews with women like Monica Lewinsky, Susan Rice, and Chelsea Handler round out this modern women’s guide to, well, just about everything you can think of.

Review

I love Alyssa Mastromonaco. I did not love So Here’s the Thing… Which is upsetting to me. As a bookseller, my goal is to bridge the divide between readers and authors and also help to expose readers to something new and different. When I loved Who Thought This was a Good Idea? so much, I shared it with a middle aged woman who once walked into the store wearing a MAGA hat. She loved it. Bridging the divide, one step at at time. When she asked for So Here’s the Thing… I had to think long and hard about whether I recommended it or not.

The publisher’s marketing is misleading. Alyssa spends the first quarter of the book rallying against our president. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I wouldn’t be such a big fan if I didn’t find myself often agreeing with her. However, I feel there is a time and a place for such rhetoric. And based on the marketing of this book, I felt the publisher tried to hide the truly divisive language found between the front and back cover.

Additionally, the non-political parts felt like a rehashing of anecdotes from Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? I loved it, but this felt like the fat that was trimmed from the first one. And trimmed for a reason. I understood the point of the book to be on offering helpful advice to twenty-first century women, and while I still respect Alyssa and look forward to any further books she may write, I was left incredibly disappointed by So Here’s the Thing…

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Edition: Hardcover • $27.00 • 9781538731550 • 240 pages • published March 2019 by Twelve • average Goodreads rating 3.92 out of 5 stars • read March 2019

So Here's the Thing

Diary of a Bookseller

Meet the Press

Diary of a Bookseller, Day 3

I support the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I work in a local bookstore, one of the last bastions of free speech. I’m also lucky enough, that in my role as the assistant manager at a local independent bookstore, I’ve been featured in local publications three times in as many years, the most recently this past weekend.

My favorite books of the last few years have been the memoirs and biographies of journalists, specifically those of Lynsey Addario, Marie Colvin and Martha Gellhorn. So when a local Philadelphia journalist approached me about writing an article about the store a few weeks ago, I said yes. Not just because I wanted to be in the paper and online, but because I want to support our journalists in reporters in their efforts to tell the truth. Why so important in this particular instance? Because she wanted to talk about my least favorite shelf space in the store: the politics section.

My boss and I sat down with Maria Panaritis, and talked about how that section has changed since the election of 2016. And admittedly, I had some sleepless nights before hand, agonizing about what I could say that wouldn’t alienate any of our customers. Because even the customers with different political ideologies than me, still choose to support a local bookstore and I vowed not to forget that. I love our customers, and I want to represent them, just as much as the store. And thankfully, the feedback so far has been positive. For your reading pleasure, if you so choose, are the three articles I mentioned at the start.

Saturday, March 30, 2019 in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Friday, May 5, 2017 in the Norristown/Pottstown Times Herald

Monday, January 9. 2017 in the Chester County Daily Local News

Bookish Tuesday

My Favorite Celebrity Memoirs

I alternate back and forth between loving and hating celebrities memoirs. The hate, from the fact that they often are approached by a publisher to write a book, or their agents have very little difficulty finding a buyer for a proposed memoir. Whereas the rest of us aspiring writers have to grind our teeth writing query letter after query letter. The love side, comes from the content. They offer a mostly safe palate cleanser read, best read between heavier books from which one needs to recover. So here are my top choices, in no particular order:

1. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle

While full of more name dropping than I typically care to endure, it’s been a long time since I’ve laughed so hard at a book. I loved Always Look on the Bright Side of Life and will read anything and everything now that Eric Idle chooses to write.

Always Look On the Bright Side of Life (2)

2. As You Wish by Cary Elwes

I’ve loved The Princess Bride for most of my life and when my coworker told me how wonderful As You Wish is, and I discovered the audiobook is narrated by almost the whole cast, I was completely hooked.

As You Wish-1

3. Girl Logic by Iliza Shlesinger

Part memoir, part self-help, Iliza’s book is both helpful and humorous. I love everything she does and, along with Lucy Knisley, I feel like she’s my big sister author.

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4. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

More a collection of essays, and not quite a fair assessment of celebrity memoir as it was Tony’s writing that made him famous in the first place, I will love and defend this man for the rest of my life.

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5. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

When I was first introduced to her on screen, Mindy annoyed me. I think it was mostly her speech patterns on The Office. But I loved The Mindy Project and my sister raved about her books so I figured I’d give them a shot. She really is an inspiring person and role model.

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