Book Review: First Women

It took me a little bit to get through this one, but Kate Anderson Brower’s First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies provides a fascinating look into the lives of some of the most well-known women in the United States. Of course, while they are often infamous simply due to their political stature, we often on’t think about their real lives and what being the First Lady really means.

I mean, yes, obviously it means that your husband (in most cases) is President of the United States. And you get to live in the White House, which seems like it would be incredibly neat. But upon reading this book, you start to think about how it could be a little bit lonely. You’re both very isolated and very much in the public eye at the same time. You have to attend all these huge events, like State Dinners and things, but you can’t even take a basic trip to Target. (Something I, a ‘normal’ person, clearly take for granted.)

Continue reading “Book Review: First Women”

Book Review: What Jackie Taught Us

If you’ve read my blog before, you’re probably familiar with the recent biopic “Jackie,” which I saw a few weeks ago at the North Park Theater. The tale of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ life, particularly surrounding and immediately after the assassination of her husband, was a haunting, memorable film. You can read my full review of it here! (Shameless self-promotion.)

After I saw that movie, I wanted to dive into Jackie’s life a little more and looked into a few books about her and her life. The first I settled on is the one I’m giving a quick review of today: “What Jackie Taught Us: Lessons from the Remarkable Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis” by Tina Santi Flaherty.

I don’t want to give away too much, of course, but there were a few quotes that really touched me that I’d like to share with you:

Following your dream, which is really what vision is all about, is the essence of a meaningful and exuberant life. Each of us can succeed in achieving our vision, no matter what the odds. But even if we run aground, the rewards can be great. What we learn on one journey becomes the building blocks for the next.

Continue reading “Book Review: What Jackie Taught Us”

Book Review: “Everyday Sexism” by Laura Bates

Perhaps one of the most important, eye-opening books you can read on the topic, I suggest everyone pick up a copy of Laura Bates’ “Everyday Sexism,” which builds off the website and associated social media accounts.

Sexism is rampant these days, whether you experience it every day or not. I particularly think this book would be a crucial read for anyone who doesn’t, or thinks they don’t, experience sexism. There were a lot of little gem quotes in this book, which is littered with examples from real women and men around the world of their experiences with sexism.

From being catcalled on the street to being harassed at work, from lower-level offenses to the most serious stories of harassment and assault…. this book will open your eyes to what women (and men, to a lesser degree) are experiencing around the world. From tales of Internet harassment (thanks, social media) to how that can reach over into the non-virtual world…. this book covers a little bit of everything, including how varying groups can experience different levels of sexism, including sexism intertwined with other things like racism, ableism, homophobia, etc. I found it to be a very thorough read, if an incredibly sad one. It’s hard to read all the stories and see what people experience in these categories around the world, to feel the pain, the embarrassment… and to connect that to what we’ve felt in our own lives.

Continue reading “Book Review: “Everyday Sexism” by Laura Bates”

My Top Ten Books of 2016

image1-1Before we close out the 2016 calendar year, I wanted to be sure and share my list of the top ten books I read in 2016! Reflecting almost entirely nonfiction, this list is some of the most eye-opening, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking literature that my eyes and mind took in this year. (Yes, I did read some fiction, but when compiling this list, all of my choices ended up being nonfiction!)

These are in no particular order and some certainly have a theme to them, but I’d recommend anyone looking to pick up a new read try one of these! Whether you read by Kindle or prefer the classic paper between your fingertips, or even prefer the sounds of an audiobook; whether you read on a bus, in a plane, in a car, in the park…..  reading is one of the most wonderful, rewarding treasures the world can offer us. There’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a book.

Below the cut – my list of the top ten books I read this year.

Continue reading “My Top Ten Books of 2016”

Book Review: “Six Women of Salem”

I recently finished the book “Six Women of Salem” by Marilynne Roach – and here’s my review of it!

If I have to pick out of five stars, I’m giving this one a hard 3.5. I picked up this book on my honeymoon while visiting Salem, and really wanted to read more into this interesting historic topic.

This book went into the lives of six women who were involved, in one way or another, in the Salem Witch Trials. From a few women who were accused of witchcraft – some of whom were convicted and hung, others who got off – to women who were on the other side of the bar, doing the accusing. It’s an interesting look into the lives of each of these women and their unique situations and how things went for them and their families, before, during and after the trials.

One thing I have to note that the author did well here was making sure to cover a wide spectrum of society at the time. From those who were at the “bottom” of society and accused, to those in the middle-class, and even upper-class, who were, in one way or another, impacted – the author did a great job of fair, consistent coverage all around.

But the beginning of the book was…. intense. It was incredibly detail-oriented, almost to a fault, and this made it really heavy and at times, difficult to read. There were times when I wanted to put the book down and give it up, but I pushed myself through it. The ‘introductory’ part of the book was a lot to get through, but if you can get to the historical timeline portion, it’s a little easier to digest from that point on.

I have to admit, there were at least a small handful of times over the course of the book that I sat down and just shook my head. It’s incredibly hard to look back on such a tragic time in history and read about everything that happened then. But it’s even more surreal to read it now, knowing all we now know about medicine, etc. Reading about these women whose children died very young (rest in peace, the poor souls) and reading about how it was assumed this had something to do with witchcraft…. babies crying all the time, getting sick early on…. these were taken as signs of witchcraft, but realistically, probably had more to do with factors like nutrition, cleanliness and the atmosphere of the times.

(Okay, I also can’t believe women had SO many children back then. No thank you!)

At any rate, if you find the Salem witch trials and that period in history to be interesting, and you’d like to learn more, why not give this book a spin? Even if it was difficult to digest at times, it was an interesting portrayal of the events of that period, and I’d certainly recommend it to all who want to learn a little more about that time in history.