Book 450: Sisters In Law – Linda Hirshman

Hirshman, Linda - Sisters In LawFour the fourth installment of our nonfiction book group, we’re learning about the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. I thought I knew a lot about the “Notorious RBG,” but I knew nothing; and then add in what I learned about the FWOTSC (First Woman on the Supreme Court) and I’d say this was a pretty good addition to our year of biographies and autobiographies.

As interesting as the book was, I felt like there was so much from both their histories and from their time on the court that was left out of the book. Hirshman seemed to rush the first half of O’Connor’s time on the court and the last part of Ginsburg’s continued time on the court. It was disappointing because there are clearly so many additional amazing cases they had to decide that weren’t as glamorous as LGBT rights, women’s rights or racial equality.

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Book 439: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight – Alexandra Fuller

Fuller, Alexandra - Don't Let's Go to the Dogs TonightI would never have selected this book to read for a few reasons: it’s nonfiction; it’s a memoir/autobiography; it’s set on the African continent; and it’s not by someone I know anything about. Now I have nothing against any of these things, they’re just not on my usual list of go-to’s for books to read and that’s why I’m glad book group chose auto/biographies and memoirs this year. We’ve already done Fun Home and Girl In A Band, and there are a few interesting ones left on the list, so we’ll see what’s next.

That being said, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It did take a little longer to read than expected, but adjusting to a new job while trying to read a piece of nonfiction wasn’t exactly the brightest idea, but that’s book group for you. I think it also didn’t help that Fuller’s story telling style would I think be better in person or as a spoken story rather than a written narrative.

It was hard to know what I was expecting from this book. Going in I didn’t know if it would be about the revolutions/civil wars that took place or if it was going to be about post-colonialism. I also had no idea where in the hierarchy of white settlers Fuller’s story would fall. Thankfully, it sort of talks about all of this but through the eyes of a child. Continue reading

Book 428: Girl In A Band – Kim Gordon

Gordon, Kim - Girl In A BandFor our second book in our year of biography/autobiography/memoir books someone chose Kim Gordon’s Girl In A Band. It’s a look back on her time in the band Sonic Youth (never heard of them) and about her life as an artist. Seriously though, not my thing. I looked up a few of their most well-known songs on YouTube and was like “nope.” I just need a bit more structure in my music. It’s probably the same reason I don’t like jazz. I’m also still not quite sure what the difference is between New Wave, No Wave, Punk, and Post punk, but I guess it doesn’t really matter.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this book, or at least two more that we’re planning to read. It’s mostly because I know nothing about the subject matter, but it’s also because I don’t find the subject matter interesting. That being said I did find enough in this book to keep me mostly engaged.

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Book 382: Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Austen, Jane - Sense and SensibilityFor our fifth installment of Jane Austen Book Club we read Sense and Sensibility (S&S). Not only is this book the penultimate book of this year’s book group, it is my last Austen re-read for the Classics Club! That makes it my 42 Classics Club book and I’m glad to still be slowly chipping away. Goodreads reminds me I’m 29 books behind schedule from my original Classics Club start date, but I abandoned the five-year plan ages ago. I figured I should enjoy the Classics when I want to enjoy them and not force myself to meet some arbitrary time limit.

Like all of Austen, I’m confused why I haven’t re-read this in so long. Obviously, there are so many other books to read, but it went by so fast and the story is just so great that I really should make an effort to re-read more than just Pride and Prejudice (P&P) every so often!

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Book 362: Mansfield Park – Jane Austen

Mansfield Park - Jane AustenLucky for you I’ve re-read this for our Jane Austen Book Club, so you get to hear about it again, almost exactly three years after I last read it.

Following Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813) this was Austen’s third published novel in 1814 and it is a clear shift away from the whimsy and light previous novels. I talk about this in my last response, but I wonder if this has to do with feedback from the first two novels or if it’s her own personal experience and maturation as an adult. We already know that when Austen published Emma, her fourth work, in 1815 that she was comfortable with sassing her critics. She openly says at the start of Emma that she’s writing a character NO ONE can dislike, because so many people disliked Fanny, or Fanny’s decisions.

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Book 352: Persuasion – Jane Austen

Austen, Jane - PersuasionI don’t know how I let myself go so long without re-reading Persuasion, I forgot how much I loved it. I think I last read it in 2008/2009 so almost six years ago! It makes me even happier we’re doing Jane Austen Book Club this year and we chose this as our third installment.

It is difficult to say whether I preferred the unrequited/long-lost love of this story or Austen’s caustic wit more. The story of course revolves around Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth, who were in love and were almost engaged, but do to external factors (rude ass relatives and friends) it wasn’t to be. They meet again eight years later and the story picks up from there, so of course, SWOON. And in competition here were so many great one-liners and zingers (none of which I wrote down) about the aristocracy and the landed gentry that I couldn’t help but be torn between laughing and holding my breath! If I were forced to chose…nope, can’t do it.

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Book 339: Emma – Jane Austen

Austen, Jane - EmmaFor book two of our Jane Austen Book Club, my friends and I decided to conquer Emma (Amazon Affiliate link). It has always been my least favorite of the six and reading Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education both confirmed that and helped me get around this problem. His talking about Emma and it’s belief in the importance of every day trivialities, as well as Margaret Drabble’s excellent introduction led me to think about the book differently.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still boring as anything in most points, but Austen wrote it this way. According tot Drabble, Austen wrote this novel in such excruciating detail in direct response to the detractors of her previously published novel Mansfield Park, which I love. Drabble says, “This is domestic realism almost with a vengeance.” (xix) AND it is! The hyper focus on every detail, the incredibly limited scope of setting, characters and even conversation topics is overwhelmingly mundane. It is an assault on the senses, and as a fellow JABC member said “i’m diagnosing myself with ’emma-induced narcolepsy.'” (Thanks Dalton!)

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