Our Hike conversation was lively, spirited and healthily divisive. I
particularly enjoy hearing the first impressions of love and hate we all start with (cue to Pavarotti & Celine I hate you then i love you song- min 2:25). A book discussion would not be the same if we don’t start with a generalized statement which then gets explored in some depth. And to the depths we went.
“WHAT IS THE PATH!?” Jen asked- she was on the hate camp for this book.
Answering that lead us to all sorts of perceived understandings. Was this “dude author” capable of writing something evocative with simple language or was it just a simple Disney-ish like fiction book packed with a Sebastian (little mermaid) like sidekick. Sarah said the path reminded her of the vicious cycle of domestic abuse. Nicole thought the path was like a simple fun game where the protagonist has to make it to the next level. Rachel proposed the path could be a metaphor to midlife crisis, while Ursula said it could be a marriage metaphor.
If anything, I am happy to have escaped into a wacky world of a talking Crab. It was a nice break from the seriousness of our previous books.
Read at your own risk, but do finish it- its a quick read!
This month the Ladies decided to read a male-centric book to get into the head of an American businessman going through what seems like an endless period of bad luck. Though everyone appreciated this author’s peculiar writing style there was a general consensus that A Hologram for the King felt like story that was constantly going in no direction. Though there were stand out scenes that left readers pondering on the events that had transpired there was a lack of consistent character development. However, some of the ladies praised author Dave Eggers for deviating for the tried and predictable story arc that we are so accustomed to. By the end of the discussion we agreed that if A Hologram for the King is on your current list of books to read, then go ahead! If you rather watch the movie though, it makes the story much easier to follow and features everyone’s favorite Tom Hanks!
Every book club meeting start out the same. We made it a habit to arrive early to chit chat prior to talking about the book and last night was no different. 6 of us were present at Urszula’s first hosting gig to share memorable short stories from Allie Bosch’s Hyperbole and a Half. In my mind I imagined doing this post with back to back pictures of how our meeting played out- but that is not happening. Not sure what software Allie uses but it takes patience and skills to make stick figure animation come alive. I leave you with my one and only stab at illustration using Microsoft paint.
Was Marina Keegan going to become a great American author or is her posthumous success more of a Selena effect? A success after death carried by the potential of who she could have become…Who knows. What we do know is that The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories is a great collection of short stories both fiction and non fiction. It’s a quick and inspiring read. The topics are evocative, deep but delivered with the freshness of her 22 year old soul.
What was particularly catching to me is the depth of her writing and how each story was different from another. It’s not like reading Paulo Coelho where you are going to be hit with “search for the meaning of life” in every book. Marina’s stories had underlying themes of love but delivered differently from one story to the next. She writes about young love, old love, parental love, love for humanity – all in different context and flavors.
This book is a must read.
I leave you with some quotes discussed during the bookclub meeting and youtube videos of her in the news and delivering poetry at Yale.
- “She had the rare combination of being quiet and popular, a code that made her intimidating to younger, fashionable girls and mysterious to older confident boys.”
- “I heard the creak of a door behind me and turned, quickly, to see Julian shutting its heavy frame behind him, panting. Jared’s hands were on Emma and I felt him pulling and myself letting go.”
- “Why do we spend so much time caring about the animals? Yes, their welfare is important, but surely that of human is more so.”
My sister jokes that too much of a good thing is an awesome thing. She may be onto something as that is exactly how some Holistic Ladies felt about the Goldfinch. Donna Tartt’s rise to fame is the talk in literary circles. Her writing style is so vivid that some not only felt drawn to but almost intruding the protagonist’s personal space. For Sarah, the writing was so palpable that she had to put the book down to avoid devouring such a beautiful story. But for others, too much vivid writing was not necessarily enjoyable- especially when reading the whirlwind of Theo’s friendship with Boris.
We talked about the “Bori’s” in our lives during our transitional years, how Theo was dealt the short end of the stick and how he ultimately absorbs his dad’s traits. Check out Donna Tartt’s discussion of the book for more insight on the book and her writing process.
Here are some of our memorable quotes
- “Maybe sometimes- the wrong way is the right way? You can take the wrong path and it still comes out where you want to be? Or spin it the other way, sometimes you can do everything wrong and it still turns out to be right?”
- That life- whatever it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random.
Our next book is a collection of essays called “The Empathy Exams” by Leslie Jamison. Check back next month for the blog update.
Amanda Lindhout, in her book A House in the Sky, takes us on the journey that lead to her widely known 460 day captivity in Somalia. I think its safe to say that the Holistic Ladies, in general, enjoyed this book and the conversation it. Some applauded her audacity to explore war torn countries alone while others lamented the circumstances which lead her to starting a foundation. I asked what was Amanda’s biggest flaw and someone said “thinking she was invincible,” as she did not measure the level of danger she put her family in. It does take a certain degree of guts to start a journalism career in dangerous places without proper safety planning. We wondered what Nigel Brennan, her traveling buddy, has written about in his memoir The Price of Life: A True Story of Kidnap & Ransom, how his storytelling differs from Amanda, and how he describes her.
We recommend this book, but do give a warning to those sensitive to rape stories. It is unfortunate for women in the 21st century to fall silent under the common presence of sexual abuse, especially under the pretense of religious or cultural norms.
Last night, we met up at Katie’s and had a wonderfully, jam-packed discussion about… LIFE! Unfortunately, only two of us read Mockingbird in its entirety, but we didn’t let that upset the balance of our meeting. We were able to dig deep into the recesses of everyone’s memories and have a pretty good discussion about the book, but the biggest part of the meeting was celebrating all of the big changes in our lives! From new jobs, to new boyfriends, our Holistic Ladies are at a crossroads in their lives, and are eager to follow new paths. Thank you to everyone for being so supportive of one another and genuinely happy for each other!
As far as Mockingbird, we dove into a discussion about what makes a “Classic” a classic. We agreed that a classic is a book that deals with strong issues of the time. Mockingbird, for example, written in 1960, dealt with race and class in the South. There has been wide-spread controversy surrounding this book since it was written, and it is still banned from some communities.
We discussed the major theme of innocence and the loss of innocence. “It is a sin to kill a mockingbird” because they are innocent. The book had a few characters who were suppose to be “mockingbirds”, and their innocence was discussed. My favorite quote, said by Atticus to his son, Jem, after Tom was found guilty of rape because he was black was: “I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it — seems that only children weep.”
We decided to pick the next 2 books to make it easier to stay on top of the reading with our new schedules. Our next book is The Vacationers by Emma Straub, which will be discussed at our next meeting on July 15th (this date is tentative because only one of the Ladies was available on the 8th). The book that will be discussed in August will be House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett.
Disclaimer – this is not a book review, but a recap on the book discussion from last week as I did not read the book!
Apparently, Orange is the New Black is about a nice female Caucasian who commits the crime of accomplice during her young adult life and is put in prison for a short period of time. The book highlights the inefficiencies of the prison system – a system that seems to be
Some of the ladies recommend the book, other’s don’t and encourage to skip and read Wild instead. full of “chicken shit rules written by chicken shit people.” The book also touches on the unwritten rules established by inmates, like how each race protects their own. During the book discussion, the Holistic Ladies talked about the seemingly infinite loop of crime and unfit punishment, what outcasts turn into after servicing a sentence, how the prison population is forecasted based on reading scores and, damn, how it all goes back to education.
We will meet again May 6th to discuss Eleanor & Park
February’s monthly book meeting could not have showed cased two more different books. One the one hand, there was the relentless heroine from Divergent fighting tooth and nail to stay alive. On the other, Marry Him is an attempt to give women a new prospective about finding love: don’t dismiss potential mates before giving them a true chance.
Veronica Roth’s novel Divergent greatly resembled The Hunger Games, one of last year’s favorite reads. Divergent is a book about the division of society into personality types. Although the book portrays an exaggeration of five personality types, it sheds light into the way humans often self segregate. The protagonist’s struggle to select the personality type she would forever be reminded many of the time they were in high school trying to find themselves. Similarly, while the characters in the book fight to belong in a personality type, like in real life, the characters also fight not to be cast offs. The ladies are thrilled about the upcoming film next month!
The ladies had very strong opinions about Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him. There were some that swore by the book, following its tenets when looking for “Mr. (Not) Perfect.” For others, the book seemed to overlook the reasons why some relationships don’t work in the first place. Simply looking at a relationship in retrospect neglects the person’s raw emotions felt at the point in time. Bottom line, finding love is not easy. But as one of the ladies best said it “Everyone who wants a husband should take it as seriously as their career!”
AND we are back!
The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales proved to be mindless easy summer reading (Holistic Ladies can only take so much of Hemingway’s tumultuous life and other dense topics). The Bling Ring read like an unnecessarily long news article as pointed out by our newly wed Nicole, but it gave us a glimpse in the lives of unprotected celebrity homes.
For long celebrities have enjoyed an invisible shield, but with the rise of reality TV and social media, that shield was trespassed and allowed these Calabasas kids of the bling ring easy access to the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom to name a few. They walked out with not only thousands of dollar’s worth of private belongings, but also with unrequited fame.
How much can educated women of the Bay Area discuss about this book besides fantasizing which celebrity home we would want to peek in? A lot, actually. We talked about 3 main themes: the rise of narcissism amongst teenagers, cocaine use and the importance of parent participation during middle school years. According to the book, our teenagers nowadays are openly more narcissistic due to various environmental factors such as the rise of self-help movement, divorce rate, the rise of celebrity-driven media and reality television (the book does make some sweeping generalizations). Julie brought up the quote which says: “A 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds said their most or second-most important life goal after becoming rich—was becoming famous.” Our kids are not only self-absorbed, but they want the whole world to take notice of them.
Along the lines of attention comes the increasing use of highly addictive and dangerous recreational drugs… step away marijuana, Cocaine and Molly are in town. Karen pointed out that schools should be more proactive in informing about the different types of drugs available just as much as safe sex is preached.
Lastly, we talked about parental involvement. Some of us were surprised that the parents of these bling kids were absent in the story. Though we all had our mischievous ways, wouldn’t our parents have noticed our strange behavior if we were stealing LV bags? Our gracious host and middle school administrator, Jenn, pointed out that middle school is when parental involvement is most important – it is the age our kids start showing adult like behavior and demand the most attention. Who knows? Perhaps parental involvement would have deterred these bling kids from stealing, lying and consuming so much cocaine.
Since this book is unnecessarily long, I suggest you skip it and watch the movie starring Emma Watson instead. At least you will have a visual of Paris Hilton’s closet.
Our next book is: “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini. Our next meeting will be on Oct 10th.