I read seven books in June (three were audiobooks), which brings my 2018 total to 41.
I rank my books with these categories: Highly Recommended, Recommended, Okay, and Not Recommended.
1) Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead, Cecile Richards
Description: From Cecile Richards — president of Planned Parenthood, daughter of late Governor Ann Richards, and featured speaker at the Women’s March on Washington — comes a story about learning to lead and make change, based on a lifetime of fighting for women’s rights and social justice.
I love books about strong women. Cecile has been a fighter and self-described troublemaker from a young age. She learned some of it from her parents, and first started participating in protests on her own when she was in college at Brown. She worked as a labor organizer for many years, doing extremely low-paid work.
Cecile volunteered to work on her mother’s gubernatorial campaign while she pregnant with twins. Later she moved to Washington, DC and worked for Nancy Pelosi. She also describes how her job with Planned Parenthood came about, and her experience being President of that organization. Interesting and inspiring.
2) Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Kate Bolick
Description: Whom to marry, and when will it happen — these questions define every woman’s existence. So begins Spinster, a look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she (along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing) remains unmarried.
I started reading this book a few years ago but put it down before finishing. This time around I listened to it on audio and enjoyed it very much. I liked Bolick’s focus on historical women who embodied spinsterhood in one fashion or another, as well as the memoir portion.
3) And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready, Meaghan O’Connell
Description: O’Connell always felt totally alienated by the cutesy, sanctimonious, sentimental tone of most writing about motherhood. After getting accidentally pregnant in her twenties, she realized that the book she needed — a brutally honest, agenda-less take on the emotional and existential impact of motherhood — didn’t exist. So she decided to write it herself.
The premise of this book: a woman gets pregnant in her late 20s – it wasn’t on purpose but she’d been thinking about it for years, and she was engaged, so it wasn’t unwelcome. She has a baby and her life is thrown upside down. Motherhood is hard. Surprise! This was annoying to me, because hello, isn’t there enough information out there by now for women to be a bit more prepared for the complexities of childbirth and raising a newborn?
I’m still listing this book as Recommended because Meaghan is a good writer, and even though I was sometimes annoyed by it, I do think it’s a good book for women who are thinking about or preparing to have a baby, or even on the fence about whether they want a child or not.
This is what Meaghan said about her relationship with her husband in the early days of having a new baby: “We felt less like a couple than like co-workers, in service to the same human project.”
4) Unwifeable: A Memoir, Mandy Stadtmiller
Description: Mandy came to Manhattan in 2005, newly divorced, where she proceeded to chronicle her fearless attempts at dating for nearly a decade in the Post, New York magazine, and xoJane. But underneath the glitz and glamour of her new life, there is a darker side. She goes through countless failed high-profile hookups. There are too many nights she can’t remember, and the blind spots start to add up. She begins to realize that falling in love won’t fix her — she needs to fix herself first.
There’s sex, addiction, and offensive language in this book, so if that turns you off, steer clear. Some of the language and conversation come across as stilted at times, but I like memoirs that give me a wide range of perspectives and I found this book pretty entertaining.
5) This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today, Chrissy Metz
Description: An inspirational book about life and its lessons from the Golden Globe and Emmy nominated star of NBC’s This Is Us.
I didn’t love this, but it’ll do the trick if you’re looking for a light, quick read. Chrissy is a likable person, and I listened to the audio version so I think I enjoyed it more because of that. I didn’t like the interludes between chapters that contained life-advice, but those weren’t overly long.
Description: For a decade, Chozick chronicled Hillary Clinton’s pursuit of the presidency. Her front-row seat, initially covering Clinton’s imploding 2008 campaign, and then her assignment to “The Hillary Beat” ahead of the 2016 election, took her to 48 states and set off a nearly 10-years-long journey in which the formative years of her twenties and thirties became – both personally and professionally – intrinsically intertwined to Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
This is a look at life as a reporter on the presidential campaign trail, but there was a lot of minutiae that took some struggling to get through. Also, it seemed like the author’s complaints about Hillary as a candidate often revolved around not being granted access to interview her, or the fact that Hillary threw too many fundraisers courting large donors.
7) All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft, Geraldine DeRuiter
Description: Some people are meant to travel the globe, unwrap its secrets, and share them with the world. Some people have no sense of direction, are terrified of pigeons, and get motion sickness from tying their shoes. Geraldine is the latter, but she won’t let that stop her. This book chronicles the years Geraldine spent traveling the world after getting laid off from a job she loved.
I really wanted to like this book because I’ve read Geraldine’s blog for years. However, I didn’t care for most of the stories she shared, and on top of that, she decided to end each essay with an overly-sweet moral or life lesson, which felt forced.
She was also way too effusive about her adoration for her husband. She admits that many people who know her in person are sickened by this display of emotion, but really – it was extremely over the top. At some point it stops coming across as intense love and instead looks like she has something to pay her husband back for (like maybe he said, “Hey, I’ll let you come along on all my business trips to exotic places, and you can be a full-time travel blogger, but if you ever write a book one day, you have to make me sound LIKE A GOD.”)
On top of all that: I was really, really over the book once she shared the story of being at a restaurant in Spain – she felt cheated by a server so she decided to pee all over the floor of the bathroom (even while admitting that he likely wasn’t the one who would have to clean up the mess). That was it for me. Luckily the book was a quick read so I sped my way to the end, but I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone else.