Tag Archives: book recommendations

mid-week round-up

straw bales

Have any big plans for the holiday weekend? I recently nabbed an extra part-time job (no rest for the wicked!) and have opted to work for the majority of the time. However, I’ve been reading this book, which has inspired me to want to pick up a copy of Vogue and leaf through the pages by the pool. If only this tropical storm would get out the way!!! In the mean time, I’m excited to share more details of our wedding weekend. Back tomorrow with the rehearsal picnic! Stay tuned. Now onto some links…

Jessie Graff makes American Ninja Warrior history.

A glorious obsession with the melodic alternation between the fifth and the third.

Meet the meticulous artist behind those happy trees.

Hanging from the rafters of the Hurricane Hall of Fame.

Read this if you love courtroom dramas, midwifery, or both!

People you shouldn’t know.

Birth records at Old Blockley paint a picture of the institution beyond mere numbers.

The crew of a Mars simulation emerges after a full year.

How performing in theater can help build empathy in students.

Having “The Talk” in Sign Language.

What if women had never won the vote? 

“I want to go back and rebuild Syria.”

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Books to read if you’re in search of a history lesson…

In the final few weeks of wedding planning, my normally voracious appetite for reading books came to a squeaking halt. I packed The Devil in the White City with every good intention of diving in. Needless to say, it sat untouched in my backpack until Chet and I landed safely back in Miami. But once the post-wedding exhaustion wore off, and routines re-appeared, I couldn’t put this bad boy down. If you’re in search of a fascinating history lesson (along with a tale of a devious serial killer), I couldn’t recommend this book enough. And here are 4 other books that serve up a dose of history as well…

the devil in the white cityThe Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson 

Erik Larson intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.

A real peak into what life was like in America broadly, and the infamous “White City” specifically, as the 19th century drew to a fitful close.

 

the immortal life of henrietta lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. This phenomenal bestseller tells the story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine.

Maps the grandiose history of modern science as well as the intimate history of an unknowing contribution.

 

the girls who went away

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

In this deeply moving and myth-shattering work, Ann Fessler brings out into the open the astonishing untold history of the million and a half women who surrendered children for adoption due to enormous family and social pressure in the decades before Roe v. Wade.

Examines the shame of getting pregnant in post-WW II USA, the lack of options and education women faced, and the agencies who profited from the results.

 

a walk in the woods

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
The Appalachian Trail trail  covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. Bill Bryson introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the hardy folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears.

Hiking provides the backdrop to a sincere discourse on the social condition of America, local history, and environmental science.

 

 

the warmth of other suns The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson 

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

Compiling over 10 years of research in more than 600 pages, this book takes on the biggest under-reported story of the twentieth century utilizing 1,200 interviews conducted personally by Wilkerson.

What books would YOU recommend for us history-lovin’ folk? Share below! 

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mid-week round-up

dock house

How was your weekend, my loves? We had a fantastic out-of-town visitor for ours and, despite a never-ending thunderstorm on Saturday which kept us from the beach, managed to show off Miami’s warm weather with a few, quick outdoor adventures as well as enjoy a tiny umbrella clad cocktail. (We also ate our weight in Cuban food at Sergio’s and bounced off the wall for a solid hour after downing a glass of Cafe Bombon.) With just a few more days until we head out of town for the holidays, I’m planning on wrapping Christmas presents tonight. Hope your week is grand, and here’s a quick play-by-play of my most recent internet activity…

Racially and ethnically diverse communities often lack equal access to eating disorder treatments.

I listened to this podcast last night on my friend Adam‘s recommendation. Act One is a MUST LISTEN.

Books to read this winter, if you’re in need of some reading list additions.

Why not make a few DIY gifts to hand out this holiday season?

Feeling like shit? Here are 15 easy things that might help.

Wow! Food prep goals.

After the last detective leaves, who shows up to clean up the crime scene? 

The weirdest (but cutest?) addition to your next tea party.

The first editorial to be featured on The New York Times’ front page since 1920.

Love and co-habitation.

Consider making your own! 

Have you been to any of these popular bars?

P.S. Have you read yesterday’s guest post? What are you waiting for? Go give it some love! ❤

Kentucky Kicks Ass: Books to read if you love the Commonwealth.

kentucky horse

I love Kentucky. I’m proud to be from The Bluegrass State and was lucky enough to “hang my hat” there for so many years. Now that I’ve moved further South, I’ve been considering the ways in which people connect to a sense of home. Whether it be through a special meal or a well-worn family heirloom, we all maintain tethers to those places we hold most important. Today, I thought it would be fun to explore a few literary connections to my home state. If you, like me, have a soft spot for thoroughbreds, college basketball, bourbon, and all the beautiful scenery between Paducah and Pikeville; then these books are for you. Some are written by Kentucky authors. Some explore Kentucky through setting and characters. Whether you currently call Kentucky home or look fondly upon the time that you once did, here are 5 books to read if you love the Commonwealth:

the coal tattoo

The Coal Tattoo by Silas House

Mining the storytelling tradition of Appalachia, House tells the story of two very different sisters. Lovingly constructed characters, a deep understanding of mountain folk’s religiosity, and strong imagery coalesce  to create a tale about what brings people together and tears them apart. A gripping read.

night rider

Night Rider by Robert Penn Warren

This is Robert Penn Warren’s first novel and details the tobacco wars which once plagued the state of Kentucky. A classic Southern tale featuring a main character who will do anything to set himself apart in the outbreak of violence.

the memory keepers daughter

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards 

Set in Kentucky and spanning one family’s journey over a quarter of a century, this book is dramatic and captivating and mysterious. Playing out the resulting years after a father makes a split-second decision, it’s plot makes for a story that’s hard to put down.

appalachian elegy

Appalachian Elegy by bell hooks

This book of poetry is inspired by hooks’ childhood in the hollows and hills of Kentucky. She expertly touches on matters both political and confessional, painting a truthful portrait of life in Appalachia narrated by someone grappling with the slow loss of this very identity.

coal miners daughter

Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey

Don’t ya just love a good rags to riches tale? They always make me think of this cartoon — safely covering both ends of the spectrum! This one tells the story of country music star Loretta Lynn. Covering her early life in Butcher Holler, KY and her rise to fame, we learn the paths she took to become a prolific songwriter and an influential woman in the music industry.

P.S. No brainer: You should also pick up anything ever by Wendell Berry and give it a read! You may also want to read Players First by John Calipari to prove how blue you bleed. Or, if you can get your hands on a copy, Pauline’s by Pauline Tabor, a memoir about a famous madam who managed a brothel in Bowling Green, is AMAZING. Speaking of…if you have MY copy of Pauline’s, I WANT IT BACK!

Now it’s your turn! From Kentucky or call the Commonwealth home? What books do you think fellow Kentuckians should pick up? Not a Kentucky guy or gal? What books connect you to YOUR home?! I’d love to hear! 

Please read Suspicion Nation.

suspicionnation

In the wake of the recent tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, where yet another one of our black youths was brutally shot and killed, my brain went into overdrive with questions. Why do we keep letting this happen? How many more mothers must bury their sons before we value human life more than guns? Why must we time and time again equate dark skin with fear and suspicion? Why is this fear perpetuated every time someone tries to warn, protect or dissuade me from going into an area populated by a race not my own? Seeking answers, I did what any analytically minded, life-long learner and non-fiction junkie would do–I bumped a book up on my reading list.

A few years ago I read Lisa Bloom’s Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World and fell in love with both the book’s message and it’s attorney turned journalist author. I read books she recommended, kept up with opinion pieces she put out and followed her on Twitter. Later, when I became baffled by what I saw going on in the courtroom during the George Zimmerman trial, I turned to her NBC legal analysis for clarity. She tracked, researched and reported on this trial from gavel to gavel. And the story…the INJUSTICE…the (excuse my language) bumblefuck of a job the prosecution did…got under her skin. And rightly so. Because Trayvon Martin is not the first black kid to lose his life while a killer walks free. He wasn’t the last. So Bloom got to work; articulating what happened and why it KEEPS happening.

What emerged was the fantastic book Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It. If Mike Brown’s murder has affected you, as it did me, please read this book. From a play-by-play legal analysis as to how Zimmerman walked away with an acquittal to a candid portrait of our country’s racial biases, Bloom’s book is a chilling depiction of the state things are in. But it’s not without solutions. And when you read it, you’ll probably think of a few of your own, too. Even if they’re small steps, we HAVE to do better. Acknowledging the systematic barriers forming a blockade around our country’s young, African-American males is a great place to start.

 

Connecting the book, Bloom and Ferguson–

 

Lisa Bloom is part of the Michael Brown Justice Panel, a group of legal professionals working to stop the shootings of unarmed black men.

 

Suspicion Nation was selected as a #FergusonReads book.

 

Part 1 and Part 2 of an interview with Bloom on the book and lessons for Ferguson.

 

 

mid-week round-up

divingboard

Hello all! I hope everyone is having a marvelous Wednesday. I have grand plans to take a long walk (rain or shine), clean my bathroom, and make a pitcher of delicious iced tea. I’m also blazing my way through Lisa Bloom’s Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It. It’s been on my reading list since it came out earlier this summer (I ❤ Lisa Bloom) but felt especially timely and necessary to read NOW. What are your plans?

Oh, and don’t forget if you hop over to THIS POST and leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a new product that my cat, Wink, and I have found quite helpful. Go check it out!

A fabulous place to vacation in Maryland.

I am such a sucker for pictures of abandoned places.

About to start Season 4 of The Wire. Omar is my favorite character.

A round-up of easy, summer recipes.

Speaking of round-ups…BOOKS!

I. can. not. wait!!! Propaganda posters from The Capitol. *whistles mockingjay call*

Keeping it really real in terms of our social media addiction.

Does your outfit influence the outcome of a first date?

Dear Miley Cyrus, Keep doing EXACTLY what you’re doing.

This is one of the truths I hold most dear: Adults need recess, too!

Head nurse at Emory on why Ebola patients were brought to the U.S. 

Where my “Gilmore Girls” fans at?

Thanks for stopping by!!! xoxo

Strawberry Walks into Bar.

girlwalksintobar1

I just finished this book, girl walks into a bar. by Strawberry Saroyan, that I scored last year at the Friends of the Library book sale for a buck. While at times the memoir feels a bit banal, it does paint a clear picture of life in the magazine (and pseudo-famous) world of the angst-riddled 90’s. The memoir is split into chapters which read more like individual essays as opposed to supporting an over-arching story, yet thematically they all work in the context of the title–Saroyan seems to have “come of age” so to speak in the various bars she frequented.

strawberry

Here she discusses her ritual of going to bars every Thursday night with a group of friends she made after moving cross country in her mid-20’s:

We weren’t just people who hung out at a bar one evening a week together, trying to valet our screwed-up cars as discreetly as possible before dashing in in our fancy duds. We were friends. For even though they’d all seemed so glittering to me, the truth was we were all, to varying degrees, alone: Rich or poor, ascending or not, we were almost all professionally freelance, and personally single.

We were all edging toward thirty, too, without the family and kids that some of us had been taught to expect by this time, but even more than that, without the sense of being adults that had been implicitly promised us. None of us felt like adults. And it’s something that I’ve still rarely heard acknowledged, but that I find to be almost frighteningly true: No one ever tells you that you’re never going to feel grown-up.

Proto Lena Dunham Lena Dunham-y, amirite? Basically, if you find hipster-y lifestyle blogs and Girls entertaining and painfully relatable I think you’ll dig this book. (And the last essay reads a bit like Frances Ha.) Just don’t go into it expecting a narrative because all you’re gonna get are some general quarter-life crises musings.

girlwalksintobar2

I enjoyed this book best while munching on self-made trail mix and drinking a berry smoothie. My favorite of the essays was the bounty boys.

P.S. Check out this piece Strawberry wrote for The New York Times in 2004 after Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple. Those fruit-named gals have to stick together, I suppose.

9 insights from Jacob Tomsky’s memoir “Heads in Beds”

headsinbeds

I am no stranger to hotel rooms. All through middle school, high school and college I participated in competitive speech and debate (and then for 3 more years I stuck around to coach it). This meant most weekends I was packing up panty hose, pajamas and pearls, hopping in a plane or a bus or a van and checking into a hotel for 2-5 day tournaments in  cities not my own. Which is why when I heard a segment on NPR about Jacob Tomsky’s book “Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles and So-Called Hospitality” it went straight on my reading list. Did front-desk clerks really sell keys to rooms in shady “under the table” deals like a certain unnamed DOF was so sure of? How dirty ARE those sheets and were we right to check for bed bugs upon arrival? Why in Jesus’ name did those key cards stop working at the most inopportune moment?!? While Tomsky’s book covers accommodations on the more luxury end, it is certainly eye opening and titillatingly honest for any reader who has been met with the question, “Checking in?’

I thought I would share some insights from his tale. Here are nine!

On free snacks- Check into your room and empty the mini-bar into your suitcase, smoke a cigarette in the room and then call down to the front desk complaining of a strong smell of smoke. You will be switched to a new room and there will be no way of tracing those purchases to you.

On the powers of furniture polish Housekeeping frequently uses furniture polish on the mirrors to get a streak-free look. Where else does this tactic come in handy? The water glasses. Ever notice there isn’t any dish soap on a housekeeper’s cart? Yet, she is responsible for cleaning those glasses at the end of your stay.

On the oldest profession “Like milk and cereal: whores and hotels.”

On polite ways to decline help from a bellman “I can go up alone, but thanks anyways.” “No thank you, but I appreciate it.” “I think I would rather just go up alone, if that’s okay.”

On bellmen’s love of bricks (aka $100 bills) The bottom right corner of the new $100 bill features a color-shifting 100 that is slightly raised. This can be used by bellmen to convince unsuspecting desk clerks that a one-hundred dollar bill has such POWER that they can pick one out of a line up even when blind-folded…or you could use it as a neat parlour trick.

On the AAA Diamond ranking There are certain amenities a hotel must boast in order to receive the elusive fifth diamond, including; pool, full spa, TVs larger than a specified minimum in each room and long dead bolts on doors.

On booking online Booking your stay through a third party website pretty much guarantees you the worst room possible. But…

On how to get the best room regardless “Just hand over a twenty at check-in and say, Give me something nice.””

On the bottom line As a guest, politeness is key and money talks. Be kind to staff, tip who you can and who knows? You may come back to your room to discover a complimentary bottle of vino or stumble your way into a suite upgrade. Have a great stay!

hotel

Do you stay in hotels a lot? I don’t really anymore but for a good chunk of time there it felt like I lived in them. Have you read this book? Would you? I highly recommend it!

mid-week round-up

pinnacles

Late on the links today, darlings, too busy taking in views like the one above. ; ) We made our way to Berea, KY earlier to hike about on the Indian Fort Mountain Trail (otherwise known as The Pinnacles), a part of the Berea College Department of Forestry. Indian Fort is one of the oldest managed private forests in the United States. We also checked out some craft stores, got some tea at Berea Coffee and Tea, walked around Berea College’s campus and chowed down at Papa Leno’s. Now to couch potato it up, watch Rupaul’s Drag Race and round up some links for y’all!

Kentucky Senate candidates both get loud about coal.

A huge setback for women’s rights.

Are food deserts to blame for rise in crime?

Round-up of hospital stories, if the subject strikes your fancy and you’re in a book readin’ mood.

When I decide to take my crock-potting to the next level I’d like to try this.

Why we should care about Monica Lewinsky…even now.

Coveting a pair of these convertible pants to have on hand for future adventures.

Fascinating Twentieth-Century pregnancy narrative from Rio de Janeiro.

Savory French Toast recipe. Would have never thought of this!

One school district does away with traditional public schools.

What a difference a couple years makes.

Sometimes the American dream means being mobile.

Hope everyone has a fantastic rest of the week! You’re doing a great job!!! ❤

In Defense of Beach Reads

beachchair

I love to read and I love to learn and I love devouring dense non-fiction books about language and anthropology and history and psychology in my free time. But there is something to be said about a good ol’ fashioned guilty pleasure book. Just cracking the cover of a just-for-fun, literary jaunt is pure bliss. Summer is definitely my favorite season to get totally lost in stories that I know won’t be particularly edifying or enlightening–but it’s READING damnit so it’s still super good for the brain! This holdover from when Summer’s were a break from homework and English class reading lists still holds up…even though, in the working world, I now fill my Amazon wishlist based on actual wishes and not syllabi. Something about the long stretches of daylight, the road trips, the reclining on patio furniture…

To kick off this season of guilty pleasure reading I tore through “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and I’m about to wrap up “Mockingjay”. Apparently, serialized fiction that has been adapted to film is what I’m feelin’ this summer. Other go-to genres for my Summer months include: Young Adult fiction, romantic comedies set in Ireland, Historical Fiction that maaaaybe borders a bit on Erotica (sex scenes are FINE if they’re historically accurate, you guys), and true crime. What type of books go in your beach bag and carry-on items? What would you bring on a road trip across the country?

 

Looking for a summer-read recommendation? Here are a few of my past favorites:

 

Looking for Alaska by John Green

coming of age story. boarding school. first love. first loss.

 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

memoir. colorful characters. unconventional upbringing. on the road.

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

female friendship. nineteenth century China. foot binding. Nu Shu (secret women’s writing).

 

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

comedic autobiography. based on one-woman stage show. princess leia. addiction recovery.

 

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

historical literary fiction. hemingway and hadley. woman behind the man. lost generation.

 

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

historical polygamy. modern polygamy. POLYGAMY. NEED I SAY MORE???

 

I hope everyone is having a fantastic Summer so far and Happy Reading! Do you have any great reads you think are deserving of a spot on my list after I finish out this Hunger Games trilogy? I’d love some recommendations!