Category Archives: Brainpower

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 2

Part 2 for each book is typically where we dive into other works by the author of our current read. So, let’s get to it!

Roxane Gay is currently a visiting professor at Yale University as well as a writer and editor. If you enjoyed Hunger, you should absolutely pick up some of her other work…

An Untamed State

A novel about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

 

Bad Feminist

A collection of essays  spanning politics, criticism, and feminism. Through this collection, Gay reveals herself as one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.

 

World of Wakanda

Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey were the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel in this spin-off from the company’s Black Panther title. In it, Gay spins a Wakandan love story.

 

Difficult Women

A collection of fictional short stories that follow different women as they journey through a traumatic experience or something that sets them apart from the societal norm.

 

More on SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter
More to READ: The Year I Learned Everything, We Do Not Speak of Graceful Things, On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies, and MORE.
More to WATCH: On writing tips, The Nickel Boys, and Pretty Woman.

Pictured above – Roxane Gay presenting “Confessions of a Bad Feminist” which you can watch HERE

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE

Part 3, coming soon!

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Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #7 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“This body is resilient. It can endure all kinds of things. My body offers me the power of presence. My body is powerful.”

Synopsis

In this intimate and searing memoir, the New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls ‘wildly undisciplined’. She casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens and twenties – including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point in her young life – and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains and joys of her daily life.

With the bracing candour, vulnerability and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.

“Living in my body has expanded my empathy for other people and the truths of their bodies. Certainly, it has shown me the importance of inclusivity and acceptance
(not merely tolerance) for diverse body types.”

Initial Thoughts

Hunger is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable memoir that, at times, was super difficult to read. Yet, Gay’s wit and intelligence, coupled with short chapters, make it quite the page turner, nonetheless. You could easily devour this book in a day or take your time, letting the stories wash over you more slowly.

Gay recognizes all the ways in which our culture associates larger bodies with feelings of shame. She also shares all the ways in which her own body, and her relationship with food, have shaped her life and how she exists in this world. She shares stories of her life that speak to these themes, from her early childhood all the way to now as a bestselling author and sought-after speaker. While many of these experiences are painful and highlight all the ways our society could DO BETTER, they are never shared as an admonishment. Just stories, truth, as if Gay knows her audience are trusted friends.

I think anyone would benefit from reading this memoir. The writing is compelling. It’s a tough read, but the takeaways are so, so important. I saw one review online say Gay succeeds at “tough reporting from the inside out” and I couldn’t agree more.

“In our culture, we talk a lot about change and growing up, but man, we don’t talk nearly enough about how difficult it is. It is difficult.”

Read this if you’re interested in: body politics, women’s stories, feminism, society & culture

Read this if you loved: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Other books by Roxane Gay: Difficult Women, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Ayiti

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Gilmore Girls Readathon Picks

The other day, a very enticing YouTube video popped up in my recommendeds. Announcing a GILMORE GIRLS READATHON! Of course I was curious what that could mean and of COURSE I clicked.

The video explained that the readathon was a challenge of sorts, inspired by none other than the Gilmore’s themselves — Lorelai and Rory. The YouTuber explained that the aim of the challenge was to choose 7 books, inspired by 7 different Gilmore Girls categories, and to read as much as you could between October 1st and October 15th. I loved all of her suggestions, but  I wanted to come up with a few of my own too!

Now, I probably won’t manage 7 books in 15 days (a girl can dream, but a girl has a job!). But I do think this is a super fun way to choose a Fall reading list. Afterall, Gilmore Girls is such a cozy, autumn-vibes show. Wouldn’t it be fun to rewatch and read your chosen books all season long?

Here are the 7 categories with a few of my suggestions for each! All of the books I picked are either ones I’ve read or they’re on my “to be read” list.

1. Book with a school setting (in honor of Yale & Chilton)

My picks:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
T
he Secret History by Donna Tart

2. Book featuring a mother/daughter relationship (in honor of Lorelai & Rory Gilmore)

My picks:
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

3. Cozy book set during fall/winter (in honor of Stars Hollow & smelling snow with Lorelai)

My picks:
In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
One Day in December by Josie Silver

4. Book with complicated love interests (in honor of Dean, Jess, and Logan)

My picks:
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

5. Book written by an Asian author/has Asian representation (in honor of punk rocker girl Lane)

My picks:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

6. The next book in a series you’ve yet to finish (in honor of A Year in the Life)

My picks:
Uglies series
Shatter Me series
Crazy Rich Asians series

7. Book with food on the cover/apart of the story (in honor of Luke’s diner)

My picks:
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

What do you think? Are you up for the challenge? 

P.S. More books for Fall. And movies, too!

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 4

Books written by comedians is such a fun genre, don’t you think? They’re usually conversational, quick reads, and of course laugh-out-loud entertaining. So in honor of Margaret Cho, I thought it might be neat to share a few other books by comedians!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

From the writer and director of Knocked Up and the producer of Freaks and Geeks comes a collection of intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy from the past thirty years—including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman, Harold Ramis, Seth Rogen, Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham.

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

From the outrageously filthy and oddly innocent comedienne and star of the powerful 2015 film I Smile Back  comes a memoir—her first book—that is at once shockingly personal, surprisingly poignant, and still pee-in-your-pants funny.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan 

Though he grew up in a large Irish-Catholic family, Jim was satisfied with the nomadic, nocturnal life of a standup comedian, and was content to be “that weird uncle who lives in an apartment by himself in New York that everyone in the family speculates about.” But all that changed when he married and found out his wife, Jeannie “is someone who gets pregnant looking at babies.”

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Which have you read? I’ve read Yes Please, Bossypants, and Dad is Fat, and the others are on my list! Do you like reading books by comedians? Let me know in the comments below!

Speaking of… If you haven’t read I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight yet, but it’s on your list, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

So, what’s next for our book club? Subscribe HERE to receive the full Finding Delight Reading List or stay tuned to the blog for PART 1 of a brand new book. 🙂

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about Margaret Cho. I shared some of her career highs, as well as links to read/listen/watch her elsewhere. I hope you enjoyed checking those out.

Today, I’d like to do something a little different and provide you with a round-up videos to watch. Enjoy…

On Fresh Off the Boat

On her mother

On sex positivity and feminism

On “Christian” groups

On her vagina

Stay tuned for Part 4! xoxo

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Margaret Cho is an American stand-up comedian and actress. She is best known for her stand-up routines in which she critiques current political and social problems.

For a complete run-down of her career highlights, I recommend checking out this IMDb bio HERE. There are just too many for me to cover in detail.

Her groundbreaking ABC sitcom, All-American Girl (1994), while short lived, was the first sitcom to feature an all Asian-American cast. The show was based on her own life and stand-up comedy act.

Later, her 1999 off Broadway one-woman show, I’m the One That I Want, toured nationally to great critical acclaim and was even turned into a book and feature film.

I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight is her second book and was released in 2005 alongside an audio reading, a DVD of a live taping of her Assassin tour, and a national book tour.

While she continues to earn accolades in both TV and comedy, her activism is also highly celebrated. She has been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, Lamda Legal Defense, NGLTF, PFLAG, and many more for her work in promoting equal rights for all. She has received the First Amendment Award from the ACLU and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at LA Pride in 2011.

“If you say you’re not a feminist, you’re almost denying your own existence.
To be a feminist is to be alive.”

More from Margaret Cho —

Read:
I’m the One That I Want
Listen:
The Margaret Cho podcast
Watch:
Margaret Cho: Beautiful (FREE w/ Amazon Prime)

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE

Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #6 in the Finding Delight Book Club. I’ve been a reading machine in 2019 (wow, I like the sound of those rhymes), but I figured it was about time I posted another book club selection. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Haven’t we heard enough from these ancient white guys?”

Synopsis

With all her notorious, righteous comic rage, Margaret Cho lays out in no uncertain terms what’s wrong, what’s right, and what’s definitely worth fighting for.

From gay rights to racial equality to the right to choose, nothing is off limits for the comedian. She encourages her readers and army of loyal fans to stand up and speak out against those who want to keep free thinking liberals from ruining their “picture perfect” world.

Brutal, honest, and funny, I Have Chosen To Stay And Fight is everything you’d expect from one of the most woke comics of all time.

“My attitude toward peace does not depend on which war we are discussing. I think that words should do the work of bombs.”

Initial Thoughts

Ok, I’ll be honest. This is a book I slapped into this reading list without doing any research whatsoever. I was listening to old episodes of Jonathan Van Ness’s podcast and came across one with Margaret Cho. She just seemed so smart and witty and like someone who’d been fighting the good fight forever but had no plans of backing down any time soon. I knew I had to read something she’d written.

I hopped on Google, found this book, and typed it into my phone notes where I was storing a list of books to blog about. Next thing I knew this book was next up and I grabbed it off the shelves of the library. I flipped through it on the walk home —

I had no idea it came out in 2005. In fact, in bold on the inside of the jacket cover it says, “A survival guide to making it through to 2008 and a hilarious, kick-ass call-to-arms.” Wow, I thought, that’s a throw back.

But weirdly, it feels so familiar for our current political landscape. I hate to call it deja vu or a regression. Even though many of the themes Cho speaks out against in the book still linger. Instead, I found her words comforting. “I have chosen to stay and fight.” And keep fighting…

I also had no idea the book was arranged as a collection of essays. Which was a fun surprise. Most of the time they read more like slam poetry than article…which seems oddly appropriate for 2005 (at least that’s what I was into in 2005, lol). But while the writing is crass and honest and in-your-face, I wouldn’t necessarily call it “funny.” Not a disappointment, just unexpected. A choice for this particular book given the subject matter?

Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of that in our next post, when we discuss the author!

“In the darkest reaches of my imagination, it occurs to me that we are the heirs to the aftermath. We are the scavenger minority, picking at the carcass of civil rights, trying to get our measly share, so very far removed from the idea of fair …”

Read this is if you’re interested in: politics, comedians, things that haven’t changed since the early double aughts (😂).

Read this if you loved: I’m the One That I Want by Margaret Cho, I Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire C. Holland, Tragedy Queens edited by Leza Cantoral.

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

10 Tips for Working an Event

One aspect of work-life that I look back on fondly now that I’m a work-from-home freelancer is working events. From hosting speech tournaments on college campuses when I was a forensics coach to planning and executing a street fair during my days on the marketing team at a food co-op, these all day affairs used to be a pretty common occurrence for me. They were always stressful. Always a lot of work. But oh so rewarding at the end of the day when you pulled it off.

After a lot of years, and a lot of trial and error, I feel like I eventually got working events down to a fine science. Whether you run conferences, host all-day trainings, or volunteer at your kid’s model UN tournaments, you know the deal! Here are my top tips —

Preparation –

1. Get plenty of sleep the night before.

I’ve worked plenty of events in a state of exhaustion and, let me tell you, it ain’t fun. Do everything in your power to show up bright eyed and bushy tailed. It will feel like way less of a slog and the hours will fly by if you go into the day feeling energetic. If the event starts later in the day still get plenty of rest the night before and make sure to eat well and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

2. Eat a hearty, well-balanced breakfast.

When you’ve gotta go, go, go – sitting down for a decent meal isn’t always possible. Waking up just a tiny bit earlier is totally worth it if it means you won’t have to scarf a pop-tart in the car on the way there.

3. If you can, spend some time outside and/or do some form of light exercise before you go or when you get a break.

This will give you a nice boost of energy and stamina. It seems counter-intuitive, especially if you know you’re going to be running around and doing a lot of set up throughout the day, but I promise those exercise endorphins are worth it. And the sunlight part is a no brainer if you’re going to be spending the next million hours inside.

During the event –

4. Wear comfortable shoes.

If the event is a more casual situation and you can get away with rocking walking shoes, by all means! But even if this is a biz-cas affair, make sure your shoes are selected for comfort and not style. (I mean, you can have both…but you know what I mean.) I spent way too many years rocking ballet flats at events before I realized those aren’t the BEST option for gallivanting from one end of a college campus to the other and being on your feet all day.

5. Hydrate.

I’ll say it again for the people in the back — HYDRATE! Keep a water bottle close at hand and just keep guzzling. Nothing takes the pep out of your step like thirst.

6. Keep your pockets stocked.

I always want to remain incredibly mobile when working an event…and I don’t really want to carry a bag everywhere I go OR have to add even MORE steps to my daily total to run to a “home base” for what I need. For me, this means keeping some cash and my debit card on my person throughout the day.

7. Have portable snacks on hand.

Sometimes your only downtime when working events is when you’re walking from one place to another. So, I like to bring along portable snacks that I can eat on the go. Bananas and granola/protein bars are great for this. NOM.

8. Avoid the urge to pound caffeine and sugar all day.

Another reason to show up well-rested. All the caffeine and sugar crashes just aren’t worth it…not to mention it will mess with your sleep after the event is over. Don’t you want to sleep like a baby after your marathon day? I think yes.

9. Say “Thank you!”

Successful events truly take a village. Show your gratitude as much as possible. Even if you’re not the one at the tippy-top running the whole shebang, there are certainly people who are making your part in the whole thing easier. Tell them you appreciate them!

10. Don’t bark orders.

And if you ARE running things, be considerate with how you manage and delegate. Events can feel way more high stakes than day-to-day work for everyone involved. Tensions will run high. Ask for help with a specific task instead of giving an order. Slight rhetorical shifts can make grunt work sound a whole lot less demeaning.

What tips would you add? xoxo

P.S. 11 Ways to Sneak in Healthy Habits When You’re Traveling.

Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about The True Memoirs of Little K, and I’m turning it over to you. While it is great to read other people’s thoughts about a book and learn a bit more about an author and dive deeper into a subject with extended reading/listening/watching … what I love most about book clubs is that it allows a space for tapping into your own feelings about a book and what it brings up for YOU. Sometimes this can be difficult when reading books by yourself. You read for entertainment and enjoyment, maybe you underline a passage that speaks to you or remark YAS! to a sentence that really rings true. But in a book club? We can dig a little deeper. So, shall we?

1. Why do you think Adrienne Sharp chose to claim these were the “true” memoirs of Little K in the title of this novel?

2. From where does Mathilde gain her power? And how is it take away?

3. What are your thoughts on the love between Nicholas and Mathilde? How does your perception of their relationship change as the book goes on and history unfolds?

4. What impact does the revolution have on Mathilde and her son? What do you think their relationship would have been like a century prior?

5. How would you have reacted if you, like Vova, were asked to impersonate the Tsarevich in public?

6. In what ways did being the daughter of an Honored Artist of the Imperial Theater and part of a family of prized performers benefit Mathilde? Can you think of other famous families of performers who impacted culture or history?

7. Why do you think Alexandra ignored popular opinion to hitch her wagon to Rasputin’s star?

8. If you were the Tsar, what would you have done differently to protect your family and heir to the throne?

9. In your opinion, was violent revolution the only way the suffering of the lower classes could have been resolved in Russia?

10. What does this book reveal about the nature of survival?

Your turn. 

Have you read The True Memoirs of Little K yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up from the questions above in the comments. I’d love to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read it yet, but your interest is sparked, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

So, what’s next for our book club? Subscribe HERE to receive the full Finding Delight Reading List or stay tuned to the blog for PART 1 of a brand new book. 🙂

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about the author of The True Memoirs of Little K. I shared some of her other books, and a few interviews, which hopefully highlighted how Adrienne Sharp’s experience with ballet strengthens her fiction.

Today, I’d like to offer some extended reading about the historical context of our current book. While the work is fiction, it is based on fact. Mathilde Kschessinska is an actual person and her place in history is well documented. Let’s learn a bit more…

Continue Reading:

Continue Watching

Continue Listening:

Continue Experiencing

  • Look up a ballet company near you and consider purchasing a ticket for their next show! 

Stay tuned for Part 4! xoxo