A Book & A Show

Oh this is January, and what have you done?

I think I just spliced several different concepts, songs, quotes but we’re all good with that right? Right. Happy New Year everyone! Times they are a changing and it’s 2016 in the big town baby.

Wow, my brain is just one giant pop culture machine.

So, as you may have noticed I haven’t blogged in a while. There I said it. The old me would be obsessing over this fact, but obsessing is so yesterday people (thanks Hilary Duff). Also, as part of my job I have to blog for 4-7 other entities, post to a myriad of social media accounts as a ghost writer (spooky), and type until my little fingers chap (yum), but I know, I know…I should dutifully blog for the few folks who love books, television, traveling, more books, and general craziness.

Guess what, though? This blog is for you, yes, but it’s also for me. It’s a way for me to be bonkers and discuss the things that make me happy—the same things that I think might make you happy—and so I’m not going to apologize because enough women out there have apologized for lame reasons (I’m sorry for you bumping into me. I’m sorry for serving food that’s too hot. I’m sorry for being smarter than you.) so I’ll just refrain this time.

Whew, now that that’s over with, let’s get down to biz-naz.

Everyone loves talking about goals and resolutions and new beginnings in January. Not sure if you’ve noticed that…

Normally I love digging into a good cliche and tearing it to pieces through thinly veiled sarcasm and biting apathy but this time, you guessed it, I’ll refrain. I mean what’s wrong with trying to be better? What’s wrong with trying to push yourself to learn a new language, try a new workout, stop guzzling Diet Coke (too good, though, y’all.  Just…too good), or make an online dating profile (a personal nightmare of mine).  The new year is exciting and fresh so it’s kind of a no-brainer people would grab on to it with all of their might, even if that zest only lasts a month or so. 

There was my (second?) soapbox and now on to what you really want—recommendations. Let’s start the new year off on the right foot with some quality. We get enough trash already with the internet and television (even though, when one consumes trash willingly say, by binge watching Real Housewives…that’s, like, a whole other thing) so why not try out a few things with some substance?

The Book

After finishing this book I had that thick teary glob that gets stuck in the throat and kind of hurts but also kind of reminds you you’re alive. Anyone tracking with me?

When I get the glob, I know it’s a good book.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the real deal people. J. Ryan Stradal brings to life the food, the flair, and the people of America’s Midwest through weaving the lives of each character around the story’s protagonist—Eva Thorvald, a cooking savant.

Each character that is introduced is real and engrossing and their stories, although varied and unique, seem to somehow orbit cohesively around Eva and her cooking abilities. You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy the book, though. The way Stradal shifts from lighthearted tales of young love to deeper situations like the death of a mother or divorce will keep you guessing and prevent you from feeling complacent.  Even though, if you’re a foodie, you’ll definitely enjoy the descriptions of every type of food from new age organic concoctions to homemade butter-laden “dessert bars” passed down from generation to generation. There are even recipes in the book!  Kitchens has a whole lot of heart and exhibits deep, beautiful knowledge of the unique Midwestern culture. It’s the perfect way to begin your reading journey for the new year.

The Show

I’m a self-proclaimed Netflix fangirl. Also, I adore Parks and Rec. So when Aziz Ansari came out with his show on Netflix called Master of None, I was sold. The show chronicles Dev (played by Ansari) and his dating experiences in New York.  It’s a whole lot more than “The Bachelor: New York Edition,” though.

Firstly, it’s not total garbage.

Secondly, it’s got range.  From what happens when everyone around you starts having kids, to dealing with racism and sexism, to trying to navigate how to live with someone, Master of None strikes the perfect balance of biting commentary and farce—the writers acknowledge that millennials are self-centered and insecure while creating endearing, hilarious characters you can’t help but love. Master‘s wit is biting and the stories are memorable which is basically what everyone is looking for in a television show.

So there you have it, a couple worthwhile things that can fill up your time without making you feel like a total sloth.

 

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3 Books for Fall

The secret is out.

I’m so basic.

I know it in my bones, and now that we’ve cleared that up we can move on to more important things.

Too much of a good thing is a great thing.

Too much of a good thing is a great thing.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved the fall. Growing up in rural Oklahoma, I think I felt fall-the real fall-more than those who grew up in a more urban (read civilized) environment. My house was surrounded by trees, and I spent most of my time outside, so when the tiniest hint of crispness in the air wafted through my nostrils I’d feel myself becoming giddy. The trees would blast their colors and I could finally go outside without fearing 3rd degree burns from the Oklahoma summer heat. My grandparents would organize hay rides and the entire community would pile into a trailer and ride around presumably in one big circle because the weather was just too good and the moon was just too full not to. There were bonfires, there was cider, there were babies wrapped in homemade quilts. It was divine.

That deep love for the fall has now manifested in me buying too many chintzy pumpkins, eating candy corn like it’s my life source, and burning every pumpkin scented candle the good folks of Bath and Body Works can crank out. Fall allows my home to become a campy and overly scented shrine to fall, but you know what, it makes me happy, so I keep on keepin’ on.

With fall comes hot drinks and with hot drinks comes cozying up on a couch and with cozying up on a couch comes reading (or if you’re me, with breathing comes coffee with coffee comes life with life comes reading). Naturally, I’m going to give you 3 book recommendations for the fall and even though these are absolutely not fall themed at all, they are awesome, and I think a lot of my blog readers enjoy awesome.

1.) EileenOtessa Moshfegh

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Y’all this book is twisted in the best way possible. It’s dark and hilarious. At one point while reading it I said “Holy hell!” out loud at a Starbucks at the absurdity of it all. If you consider yourself even a little twisted, and let’s be real, we’re all a little twisted, then you should try out Eileen on for size. The story is told through the perspective of Eileen Dunlop at the age of 70 as she looks back on the days around Christmas when her twenty something self flew the coop on her drab, desolate life as a secretary at a boys detention center and a caretaker (kind of) to her alcoholic, abusive father. Her drab, depressing life changes when a new woman comes to work at the detention facility, and what happens next is sickening, seductive, and downright shocking.

Sounds like a nice, frothy read, eh? What’s impressive is how Moshfegh manages to create such despicable and, at times, disgusting, characterizations for Eileen, but somehow, in the end, we root for her.  Moshfegh delivers doozies like this:

Some families are so sick, so twisted, the only way out is for someone to die.
― Eileen

So just in time for the spooky season is this dark read that will leave you both disturbed and thoroughly entertained.


Spinster-book

2.) Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Kate Bolick

I love a book that details the ins and outs (okay let’s be real the outs) of a woman navigating through her life. As a woman, it’s almost like I’m able to chart my own course in tandem with the women I read.

In Spinster, Bolick doesn’t shy away from the questions many of us have asked, and are probably still asking. What is my place in the world? What is my place in the world as a woman? What is my place in the world as a woman who may or may not see marriage as something I care to pursue? Her book is deliciously structured around 5 incredibly successful “spinsters” (literary and history buffs alike will rejoice) who served as inspirations as she navigated through life, love, and loss. The 5 women (writers Maeve BrennanNeith BoyceEdith WhartonCharlotte Perkins Gilman and Edna St Vincent Millay) were considered her “awakeners” and provide a unique cultural and historical edge to the memoir.

Bolick challenges culture norms that insists women must be married and mothers first, and then fill in the gaps if possible, later.  She writes:

You are born, you grow up, you become a wife. But what if it wasn’t this way? What if a girl grew up like a boy, with marriage an abstract, someday thought, a thing to think about when she became an adult, a thing she could do, or not do, depending? What would that look and feel like?
― Spinster

Spinster is a challenging read, but one that is worth the time. Especially for women. Especially for women who are consistently pushing back against what society deems appropriate for them. You know the type 😉 (read, me)

3.) Sense and SensibilityJane Austen

This book forever holds a special place in my heart/mind/soul. It’s one of those books that, because I began reading it during the fall, I instantly associate it with the season. d0a7a26f5f9cf0347c676788360b92edDo you have any books like that?

For those who’ve been living under a large rock, Sense and Sensibility was written by the incomparable Jane Austen, and, in my humble opinion, is one of her best books. I’m too  much of a wuss to say it’s her best book because I’m constantly vacillating between S&S and Mansfield Park.  It’s also a book with a beautiful film companion (Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, you know just the bottom of the barrel kind of cast) that stays true to the book.

It’s a lovely tale of two sisters as they try and navigate through their family, monetary, and love drama after they are left with little money and barely any prospects for marriage (which, as you know, during that time was seen as basically a woman’s purpose for being).

The relationship between Marianne and Willoughby is one for the books. If you love drama, like Real Housewives chair flipping level drama, then they are the couple for you.  The other sister, Elinor, is maybe one of the most honest, kindest characters I’ve ever read (right up there with Atticus Finch in TKAM) and the way she navigates through her environment, her distressed love, and her station in life is really very beautiful.  If you’re looking for a wonderfully written work that will whisk you away from your everyday life, Sense and Sensibility is for you. It’s also a nice dip into the Jane Austen pond, for those who’ve only read Pride and Prejudice (not judging you…but kind of judging you).

So there you have it. Three books to take you through the lovely fall months. Which books do you enjoy reading in the fall? Have you read any of these three?