My Reading Month: August 2014

Oh my goodness – August is over, everyone has posted their summery photos of oceans and tomatoes and, if my Facebook feed is any indicator, yesterday was the first day back to school.

And my August was seriously busy. I went to see a giant rubber duck in the harbor in San Pedro.

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I went to an island and hiked and ate a gorgeous picnic that we did not photograph because, as it turns out, when Amanda and I hike for miles on end and I deal with the anxiety that always creeps in that I might actually die on an island, or at least be forced to survive in the wilds with limited water and wild animals about, I cannot stop to photograph the food. I need to eat.

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We made pasta from scratch. So, what I’m saying there is that my life changed forever.

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My month was so busy, in fact, that I read more short(ish) Internet articles than I did books. But that’s okay. With giant rubber ducks and surviving in the wilderness (for six hours) and making pasta, you can only fit in so many books.

Books

  • Lean In:  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg:  You can ask at least a dozen of my friends – right now, I feel like I recommend Lean In to every woman (and some men) that I talk to. It might seem a little odd, but this book pretty much rocked my world. I thought there could be a few relatable gems in there, some raise-your-fist-in-solidarity moments, but I didn’t expect it to be as applicable to my life as it was. Sandberg is a business executive; I’m a writer. The business world and the literary world are quite different. Except that, sometimes they’re not. And we’re both women who want success and equality and fairness and progress. And if the VIDA count is any indication, there’s still a lot of gender disparity to contend with in the literary world. And beyond all of that, this book was about looking at the small ways that we internalize myths and half-truths about ourselves, our abilities, our work ethic, and our self-worth.
  • The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver:  This novel, y’all. It was my favorite thing I read last month (and it was a good month, so that’s quite a distinction). The book tells the story of the Porter family, who own property in the fictional coastal town, Ashaunt Point, on the coast of Massachusetts. Following the characters through generations, through wars, the novel is far-reaching and graceful in the way it handles family discord and high expectations and failure and hope. This novel is sprawling, transporting, gorgeously written. The sense of wildness and the way it’s grounded in place and the characters. Sigh. I highly recommend it.
  • The Tenth Muse:  My Life in Food by Judith Jones:  Judith Jones, famed former Knopf editor who gave us such gems as Julia Child’s cookbook and Edna Lewis’s The Taste of Country Cooking, has given us a lovely memoir of her life in publishing and in food. If you’re familiar with her life at all, then some of the book will seem a bit repetitive, but I enjoyed getting to know the editor behind so many wonderful cookbooks.

Articles

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4 thoughts on “My Reading Month: August 2014

  1. http://www.salon.com/2013/08/29/katie_roiphes_wrong_counting_women_matters/ offers some insights on Sandberg’s book. Roxane Gay’s essay, Bad Feminist: Take One can be found in her excellent essay collection Bad Feminist. It has a more thorough discussion of Sandberg’s book. Another interesting article along the same lines is http://www.salon.com/2014/02/19/when_leaning_in_isnt_enough_what_ive_learned_at_work_as_a_woman_of_color/

    I want to note that both writers applaud Sandberg’s book. They’re just saying, “Think of this, too.”

    1. Thanks for sharing those! You’re absolutely right – there are so many angles from which to see the issue of women, equality, work, etc. I’m currently reading Roxane Gay’s book and really enjoying her perspective. So important to consider different angles.

  2. I just wrote down “The End of the Point” in my notebook – like at the TOP – because that sounds like exactly what i need right now. I’ve been struggling with my reading needs as of late: what type of book do i want to read? I keep trying different avenues – Michael Pollan (guilt, revulsion), the George R.R. Martin/Game of Thrones books (chalk it up to a temporary lack of concentration, but I would much rather those events unfold on television than having to wade through 3,492,492 pages of it), and so on. Nothing is sticking. That book sounds as if it will stick.

    That ridiculously cute rubber duck gets me every time. I want to see it SO BAD in person. And i’m sorry you have fears of islands: i sort of share that fear, in the way that i am convinced that I never want to live or vacation on an island for fear a giant tsunami/earthquake/act of God will cause me to be trapped and die. isn’t that awful? But it’s a legit fear i have of islands. Just looking at photos of those teeny, tiny islands way out in the middle of miles of ocean make me queasy.

    1. Yeah, my fears always feel a bit irrational, but we were packing food and first aid things and whatnot, and I was like, okay, we’re probably ready, right? Like, we’re probably not going to die on the island, right? And Amanda just looked at me like I was nuts and was like, no one is dying on the island. And I was like, oh, okay, she doesn’t have these fears.

      And yet, I married her anyway. 🙂

      I loved The End of the Point. You know, sometimes you just need a rich book to settle into, and this was it. So decadent.

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