Tag Archives: book club

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body 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. Roxane Gay highlights the way society treats fat people in unfair ways. People are quick to voice opinions and make remarks with little regard for compassion. We are constantly bombarded with messaging that being fat cannot be synonymous with being happy.

Explore your own battle with body image. How has mainstream media had an effect on how you view yourself?

2. In Hunger, Gay bravely recounts her story of sexual assault which occurred at a very young age.

How does this trauma play into her relationship with food?

3. This memoir highlights a common paradox, seeking body acceptance AND a physical transformation.

In what ways can we show kindness to ourselves and others when these two truths coexist?

4. Hunger isn’t always about food…

What else does the author hunger for?

5. Gay writes, “People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.”

How would you describe the truth of YOUR body?

6. There are a lot of references throughout the book to damaging portrayals of weight/weight loss/fat shaming — gossip magazines, Oprah, The Biggest Loser — and we can surely call to mind many more that exist in mainstream media.

What media portrayals have you encountered recently that speak to body positivity and acceptance? Are you following any toxic social media accounts that you can remove in order to create a more loving feed/timeline for yourself?

Have you read Hunger yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up out of the exercises 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. 🙂

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

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!

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! ❤

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! ❤

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

Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Adrienne Sharp is a critically acclaimed author and national bestseller.

Her work often immerses readers in the world of ballet. She knows it well. She began her ballet career at the age of seven. Sharp trained at the prestigious Harkness Ballet in New York.

But in the midst of her grueling and rigorous training, Sharp began to question her life’s path.

“One day, while doing grands battements at the barre, I had a traitorous thought, which was simply: I’m sick of doing this. So I left ballet and began the task of assembling a regular life – a difficult task when you don’t have the glamorous discipline of tooling the body. I began to write to help me get through it. And when I started to write about ballet, the two halves of my life came together.” 

She received her M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Henry Hoyns Fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Her other books include The Magnificent Esme Wells, First Love, The Sleeping Beauty, and White Swan, Black Swan

The True Memoirs of Little K was a finalist for the California Book Award, an Oprah Book Club selection, and has been translated into six languages.

More from Adrienne Sharp —
Read:
On The Magnificent Esme Wells
On historical ballet
Listen:
On Old Hollywood
Watch:
On Mathilde Kschessinska – Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

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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: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #5 in the Finding Delight Book Club. Can you believe we’re already this far into the year?! 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. This month’s pick is The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp.

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

“So whatever you think of me, don’t pity me. I had a beautiful life. I was loved, admired, feted, copied, mocked, treasured, and feared. I am one hundred years old and I am no longer afraid of anything.” 

Synopsis

The year is 1971 in Paris, France and ninety-nine year old Mathilde Kschessinska begins to recant the story of her life. In what feels like a different world, she was the self-centered, flirtatious, determined “prima ballerina assoluta” of the Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. She remembers a time when the Russian court was inextricably linked to the ballet. And vice versa.

As she carefully reconstructs each chapter of her life, her conquests and failures, we are given box seats to view the very stories that would change the course of history, both for Russia and the world. We witness how Russia evolves as she progresses from girlhood to “tsar-crossed lover” to old woman.

Expertly researched, The True Memoirs of Little K is based on real events and real people. But it reads like a fairy-tale narrated by a woman who has seen it all: the greatest love, heart-breaking loss, and the crumbling of the Romanov empire she so desperately wanted to belong to.

Initial thoughts 

Determined to a fault, Mathilde Kschessinska jetés her way out of the wings and finds herself smack-dab in the middle of the Romanov stage. As a popular ballerina she steals the hearts of THREE members of the imperial family, including the future Tsar himself, Nicholas II. Her life, written as a dictated memoir, opens with the splendor of imperial life as seen through the eyes of someone close enough to taste it. A famous ballerina. As years pass, she sees Russia go from full of lavish traditions to full of upheaval.

I’ve been going through quite the historical fiction phase as of late, so I’m finding Sharp’s novel fascinating and powerful. The portrayal of Mathilde as a woman whose links to “scandal” will forever overshadow her abilities as a dancer is one too easily recognized in our society. I’m excited to see how her character evolves as the book unfolds and the imperial court deteriorates.

While I do think the style is very effective (and makes me truly believe Kschessinska was speaking!), the book’s lack of dialogue could be annoying for some. This absence doesn’t upset me, but I do sort of miss it as a way to build out details within the narrative. Without it, the narrator relies a lot on introspection and long-winded asides to explain historical detail. However, the latter is where Sharp’s research really shines through!

I feel like I’m learning a HUGE chunk of Russian history, but the medicine is going down with a spoonful of sugar because I also get a ballerina’s love story.

Read this if you’re interested in: Russian history, ballet and the lives of Russian prima ballerinas, the Romanovs

Read this if you loved: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, The Romanovs by Robert K. Massie, Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

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! ❤

Book Club: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Pt. 4

Hi friends! I’ve been super busy the last few weeks and the blog has definitely taken a back seat…but don’t worry — reading has not!

For consistency’s sake, I wanted to have a part 4 on this book. Butttttt I just don’t have time to write up a full-on reflection. SO! I shall direct you to Parts 1 – 3 on Last Night I Dreamed of Peace — here, here and here. I’d love if you’d check them out!

Also, since reading this book club book, I’ve also devoured Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook. Either would make for an awesome summer read if historical fiction is your jam!

I’d also like to announce that the next book I’ll be discussing in this series is *drumroll please* THE TRUE MEMOIRS OF LITTLE K by Adrienne Sharp. Nab a copy and follow along, why dontcha?! It’s a fictionalized account of the real life Russian ballerina who was the mistress of the future Tsar Nicholas II.

Want the full Finding Delight Book Club reading list?  CLICK HERE.