Bling Ring: Thirty-Six Book Wrap Up & New Book

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. BlingRingPB_CoverFINAL

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.

Gone Girl: Thirtieth Book Wrap Up & New Book (by Katie)

Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” explores the fallout of a marriage gone wrong. The story opens on the day of Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary and quickly shows itself as a murder mystery/psychological thriller when Amy goes missing and Nick becomes the prime suspect.

While it takes you down a dark and twisted road none of us hope to personally experience, almost all of the Holistic Ladies could relate to the basic premise of a relationship that blossoms, peaks and eventually fails:

– The excitement at the beginning when everyone is his/her “best self”

– The disappointment when you see your partner’s true colors

– The pain of growing apart

– The desperation and sadness when it appears the relationship may end


That’s the first half of the book. The 2nd half reveals the characters for who they really are and ends with a punch more shocking than anything you’ve encountered up to that point. Flynn’s set-up is so compelling that you almost feel personally betrayed by these characters. Do Nick and Amy deserve each other? On this point, the group was split.


The one thing we all agreed on is that “Gone Girl” is a must-read. It’s incredibly well written and already a contender for our Best Book of 2013. Just be sure to find a reading buddy – you’ll definitely want to discuss when you’re done.

Some of Our Favorite Quotes

  • “Should I remove my soul before I come inside?” (p.4)
  •  “I am not interested in being set up. I need to be ambushed, caught unawares, like some sort of feral love-jackal.” (p.11)
  •  “I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.
  • It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.” (p.73)
  •  “Ironic people always dissolve when confronted with earnestness, it’s their kryptonite.” (p.260)

Special Event

Join the Holistic Lady Book Club at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on Tuesday, April 23rd for a lecture and book signing with “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn! You can purchase tickets here.

Our next book is “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman.


“After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.”

This is How You Lose Her: Twenty-Night Book Wrap Up & New Book (by Karen)

As we discussed “This Is How You Lose Her”, we all had one thought in common: Yunior was less than a likeable character.  In every story, he showed character flaws that were beyond our realm of sympathy.  The book started with him saying “I’m not a bad guy.  I know how that sounds – defensive, unscrupulous – but it’s true.  I’m like everybody else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good.” (pg. 3)  As we turned the pages, I we all questioned whether or not this was true.

One story that we focused on was the story of Yunior’s friend who found out that his only son was not actually his, and the denial he was in over this revelation.  As we have some members who are about to enter or have recently entered this journey of parenthood, we wondered how much your love for a child would change if you found out you were not biologically related. 

We also spent some time discussing Yunior’s brother, and how his character changed from when he was healthy to when he was in his final days.  His insistence on getting a job and getting married portrayed his denial that he was approaching the end of his life.  Or was this remorse?  Was he trying to make up for all the time he was less than a good man?  Although Yunior wasn’t close with his brother, and never spoke highly of him, his death still weighed heavily on Yunior throughout his life.

Some of our favorite quotes:

“You must not think on these things, Ana Iris tells me.  Keep them out of your mind.  You do not want to go crazy from them.” (pg. 67)

“Her last painting was of you, slouching against the front door: only your frowning I-had-a-lousy-Third-World-childhood-and-all-I-got-was-this-attitude eyes recognizable. (pg. 45)

“And then one June night you scribble the ex’s name and: The half-life of love is forever.” (pg. 213)

“Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not.  You put down your things and you waited and you couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided.  This, I told her, is how I feel.” (pg. 66)

Our next book is “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn.  From

“Marriage can be a real killer.
One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.”


Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and
no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the
station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo
beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with
him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from
Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went to
‘What should we drink?’ the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.
‘It’s pretty hot,’ the man said.
‘Let’s drink beer.’
‘Dos cervezas,’ the man said into the curtain.
‘Big ones?’ a woman asked from the doorway.
‘Yes. Two big ones.’
The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer
glass on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills.
They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.
‘They look like white elephants,’ she said.
‘I’ve never seen one,’ the man drank his beer.
‘No, you wouldn’t have.’
‘I might have,’ the man said. ‘Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.’
The girl looked at the bead curtain. ‘They’ve painted something on it,’ she said. ‘What does it
‘Anis del Toro. It’s a drink.’
‘Could we try it?’
The man called ‘Listen’ through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.
‘Four reales.’ ‘We want two Anis del Toro.’
‘With water?’
‘Do you want it with water?’
‘I don’t know,’ the girl said. ‘Is it good with water?’
‘It’s all right.’
‘You want them with water?’ asked the woman.
‘Yes, with water.’
‘It tastes like liquorice,’ the girl said and put the glass down.
‘That’s the way with everything.’
‘Yes,’ said the girl. ‘Everything tastes of liquorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so
long for, like absinthe.’
‘Oh, cut it out.’
‘You started it,’ the girl said. ‘I was being amused. I was having a fine time.’
‘Well, let’s try and have a fine time.’
‘All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?’
‘That was bright.’
‘I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?’
‘I guess so.’
The girl looked across at the hills.‘They’re lovely hills,’ she said. ‘They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the
colouring of their skin through the trees.’
‘Should we have another drink?’
‘All right.’
The warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table.
‘The beer’s nice and cool,’ the man said.
‘It’s lovely,’ the girl said.
‘It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,’ the man said. ‘It’s not really an operation at all.’
The girl looked at the ground the table legs rested on.
‘I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.’
The girl did not say anything.
‘I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all
perfectly natural.’
‘Then what will we do afterwards?’
‘We’ll be fine afterwards. Just like we were before.’
‘What makes you think so?’
‘That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.’
The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.
‘And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.’
‘I know we will. Yon don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it.’
‘So have I,’ said the girl. ‘And afterwards they were all so happy.’
‘Well,’ the man said, ‘if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you
didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.’
‘And you really want to?’
‘I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.’
‘And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?’
‘I love you now. You know I love you.’
‘I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll
like it?’
‘I’ll love it. I love it now but I just can’t think about it. You know how I get when I worry.’
‘If I do it you won’t ever worry?’
‘I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple.’
‘Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I don’t care about me.’
‘Well, I care about you.’
‘Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.’
‘I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.’
The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across, on the other side, were fields of
grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The
shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.
‘And we could have all this,’ she said. ‘And we could have everything and every day we make it
more impossible.’
‘What did you say?’
‘I said we could have everything.’
‘We can have everything.’‘No, we can’t.’
‘We can have the whole world.’
‘No, we can’t.’
‘We can go everywhere.’
‘No, we can’t. It isn’t ours any more.’
‘It’s ours.’
‘No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.’
‘But they haven’t taken it away.’
‘We’ll wait and see.’
‘Come on back in the shade,’ he said. ‘You mustn’t feel that way.’
‘I don’t feel any way,’ the girl said. ‘I just know things.’
‘I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do -’
‘Nor that isn’t good for me,’ she said. ‘I know. Could we have another beer?’
‘All right. But you’ve got to realize – ‘
‘I realize,’ the girl said. ‘Can’t we maybe stop talking?’
They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and
the man looked at her and at the table.
‘You’ve got to realize,’ he said, ‘ that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly
willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.’
‘Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along.’
‘Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else. And I know it’s
perfectly simple.’
‘Yes, you know it’s perfectly simple.’
‘It’s all right for you to say that, but I do know it.’
‘Would you do something for me now?’
‘I’d do anything for you.’
‘Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?’
He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels
on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.
‘But I don’t want you to,’ he said, ‘I don’t care anything about it.’
‘I’ll scream,’ the girl siad.
The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the
damp felt pads. ‘The train comes in five minutes,’ she said.
‘What did she say?’ asked the girl.
‘That the train is coming in five minutes.’
The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.
‘I’d better take the bags over to the other side of the station,’ the man said. She smiled at him.
‘All right. Then come back and we’ll finish the beer.’
He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He
looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the bar-room,
where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the
people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She
was sitting at the table and smiled at him.
‘Do you feel better?’ he asked.
‘I feel fine,’ she said. ‘There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.’

Run for Women – Twenty-Eighth Book Wrap Up (By Elvira)

A Thousand Sisters by Lisa Shannon portrays the author’s journey into Congo, a country that many have referred to as the worse place on earth to be a woman. The book documents the atrocities that women have to endure in this war torn country from rape to murder. The author’s courage to shed light one of the worse human tragedies is truly admirable. The book is a testament of how one person can change the life of another human being.

In reading the book, some of the ladies had difficulty connecting with the author and this remote part of the world. Given the nature of the atrocities, some wondered why individuals in the Congo failed to cherish the value of life. For many, the book ignited them to act and to something to raise awareness on this issue. Thanks to Stephanie, the ladies will soon be running a 5K to help out the women of Congo! Contact us if you are interested in participating.

Here are some of the ladies favorite quotes:

“Rape here is so common…it’s cultural.”

“Even if I kill you, what would it matter? You are not human. You are like an animal. Even if I killed you, you would not be missed.”

“It is as if we are the same.”

“I can find a solution to any problem, if I’m not killed… If I die supporting my community, I go well.”
Next, we will be reading This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz. We will meet on Tuesday, February 5. Pick up your copy using our bookstore!


Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy

It once occurred to a certain king, that if he always knew the right
time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to
listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what
was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything
he might undertake.

And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed
throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to any one
who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and
who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what was
the most important thing to do.

And learned men came to the King, but they all answered his
questions differently.

In reply to the first question, some said that to know the right
time for every action, one must draw up in advance, a table of days,
months and years, and must live strictly according to it. Only
thus, said they, could everything be done at its proper time.
Others declared that it was impossible to decide beforehand the
right time for every action; but that, not letting oneself be
absorbed in idle pastimes, one should always attend to all that was
going on, and then do what was most needful. Others, again, said
that however attentive the King might be to what was going on, it
was impossible for one man to decide correctly the right time for
every action, but that he should have a Council of wise men, who
would help him to fix the proper time for everything.

But then again others said there were some things which could not
wait to be laid before a Council, but about which one had at once to
decide whether to undertake them or not. But in order to decide
that, one must know beforehand what was going to happen. It is only
magicians who know that; and, therefore, in order to know the right
time for every action, one must consult magicians.

Equally various were the answers to the second question. Some said,
the people the King most needed were his councillors; others, the
priests; others, the doctors; while some said the warriors were the
most necessary.

To the third question, as to what was the most important occupation:
some replied that the most important thing in the world was science.
Others said it was skill in warfare; and others, again, that it was
religious worship.

All the answers being different, the King agreed with none of them,
and gave the reward to none. But still wishing to find the right
answers to his questions, he decided to consult a hermit, widely
renowned for his wisdom.

The hermit lived in a wood which he never quitted, and he received
none but common folk. So the King put on simple clothes, and before
reaching the hermit’s cell dismounted from his horse, and, leaving
his body-guard behind, went on alone.

When the King approached, the hermit was digging the ground in front
of his hut. Seeing the King, he greeted him and went on digging.
The hermit was frail and weak, and each time he stuck his spade into
the ground and turned a little earth, he breathed heavily.

The King went up to him and said: “I have come to you, wise hermit,
to ask you to answer three questions: How can I learn to do the
right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and
to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest?
And, what affairs are the most important, and need my first attention?”

The hermit listened to the King, but answered nothing. He just spat
on his hand and recommenced digging.

“You are tired,” said the King, “let me take the spade and work
awhile for you.”

“Thanks!” said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the King, he
sat down on the ground.

When he had dug two beds, the King stopped and repeated his
questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out
his hand for the spade, and said:

“Now rest awhile-and let me work a bit.”

But the King did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One
hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees,
and the King at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:

“I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can
give me none, tell me so, and I will return home.”

“Here comes some one running,” said the hermit, “let us see who it is.”

The King turned round, and saw a bearded man come running out of the
wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood
was flowing from under them. When he reached the King, he fell
fainting on the ground moaning feebly. The King and the hermit
unfastened the man’s clothing. There was a large wound in his
stomach. The King washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with
his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood
would not stop flowing, and the King again and again removed the
bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and rebandaged the wound.
When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for
something to drink. The King brought fresh water and gave it to
him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the
King, with the hermit’s help, carried the wounded man into the hut
and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed the man closed his eyes
and was quiet; but the King was so tired with his walk and with the
work he had done, that he crouched down on the threshold, and also
fell asleep–so soundly that he slept all through the short summer
night. When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could
remember where he was, or who was the strange bearded man lying on
the bed and gazing intently at him with shining eyes.

“Forgive me!” said the bearded man in a weak voice, when he saw
that the King was awake and was looking at him.

“I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the King.

“You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who
swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother
and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the
hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day
passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find
you, and I came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and
wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had
you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved
my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your
most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!”

The King was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily,
and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him,
but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend
him, and promised to restore his property.

Having taken leave of the wounded man, the King went out into the
porch and looked around for the hermit. Before going away he wished
once more to beg an answer to the questions he had put. The hermit
was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been
dug the day before.

The King approached him, and said:

“For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man.”

“You have already been answered!” said the hermit, still crouching
on his thin legs, and looking up at the King, who stood before him.

“How answered? What do you mean?” asked the King.

“Do you not see,” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied my
weakness yesterday, and had not dug those beds for me, but had gone
your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have
repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time
was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important
man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards
when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were
attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would
have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most
important man, and what you did for him was your most important
business. Remember then: there is only one time that is important–
Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when
we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are,
for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with any one
else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for
that purpose alone was man sent into this life!”

Twenty-Seventh Book Wrap Up & New Book

curious-dog (1)Fourscore and seven years ago Elvira brought forth on this book club a new book, proposed simply because it was found behind her studio’s refrigerator and it happened to be on a list of books to read on some website. OK – She did not propose it 87 years ago, but it was proposed long enough for the ladies to chuckle every time we had to pick a new book.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, postponed for ages, was loved within a month. Mark Haddon, its author, tells the story of a teenage autistic boy, Christopher, who discovers his neighbor’s dog dead and goes on a “sherlockhomian” quest to find the cause. From Christopher’s view, the reader is taken on a journey of harsh reality through an autistic mind, all while feeling a sense of innocence and airiness through the reading.

During the discussion we explored different themes: divorce, socioeconomic setting, school system lack of readiness for special needs children, verbal vs. nonverbal communication, the “what ifs” of having a child with disability, and parental role reversal to name a few. The HL book club highly recommends this read, however, be warned that the audio book version may not an enjoyable option. Brooke will be happy to tell you how painful it was to hear it and not read it.

Here are a couple of quotes brought forth by the ladies:

  • “Prime numbers are what is left when you take all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life.”
  • “And I said I wouldn’t mind things changing if I became an astronaut, for example, which is one of the biggest changes you can imagine, apart from becoming a girl or dying.”

Our next book is: “A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on shannon-thousandsistersEarth to Be a Womanby Lisa Shannon.  Here is the book description: “Lisa Shannon had what some would call a good life—her own business, a successful fiancé, a secure home. Then one day in 2005, shortly after her father’s death, an episode of Oprah changed everything. The show about women in the Congo depicted atrocities too horrible to comprehend: millions dead, women gang-raped and tortured, children starving and dying in shocking numbers. That day Lisa woke up to her dissatisfaction with the “good” life and to her role as an activist and a sister. She created a foundation called Run for Congo Women, with the goal to raise money to sponsor 30 Congolese women. What started as a solo 30-mile run has now grown into a national organization in connection with Women for Women International. Run for Congo Women holds fundraising runs in four countries and ten states, and continues to raise money and awareness. In A Thousand Sisters, Lisa shares firsthand accounts of her experiences visiting the Congo, the women she’s helped, and the relationships she’s formed. With compelling stories of why she remains committed to this cause, Lisa inspires her audience to reach out and help as well, forming a sisterhood that transcends geographic boundaries.”

Get a copy and read along with us this month.

The book club will meet again Jan 08th 2013!



What Kind of Milk Are You? – Twenty Fifth Book Wrap Up

The title of this month’s blog post is related to an interesting discussion we had about our second book, “Outliers”. But before we get to that, let’s dive into the girls’ thoughts on our first book this month: “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?”.

We chose this book to complement the upcoming election, which has now come and gone. I, for one, was hoping it would get my political juices flowing, and lead to some valuable talk amongst the group on current issues. While the book was a little broader than that, it certainly did get people thinking. Why do some people choose not to vote? Is it because they don’t think their voice matters? Or is it because that particular issue doesn’t impact their lives? Or is it lack of clarity around what the issue is, and how the candidate proposes to solve it through complicated laws that the layman can’t understand? We all had our own opinions on the first two reasons, but thought it interesting that author Andy Andrews provided a simple solution to the third: research. He said if you want to uncover the truth behind those complicated laws, you simply need to read up on the issues on the internet, and there are vast resources out there to do so. Overall, this book was a hit among most of the girls!

Moving on to “Outliers”, we once again had a lively conversation about what it means to succeed. While some thought it downplayed the notion of “inner drive”, we focused a lot on the fact that Gladwell discovered that “there are no naturals and no grinds”. What this means is that anyone with a decently high IQ has the ability to be successful if they are given the same opportunities. This is where Julie offered her mother’s words of wisdom – “what kind of milk are you?”. If you are whole milk, it takes some churning, and you will turn into butter. However, if you are skim milk, it may take a little bit more churning, but you still have the innate ability to turn into butter with the right amount of work.

In fact, Gladwell proposes that this is the exact reason why children who grow up in middle class families are often more successful in school than those who grow up in lower income families. While middle class children often spend their evenings, weekends and summers reinforcing what they learned in school, children from lower income households are not doing the same. And over the course of elementary school, this puts them significantly further behind their peers. One solution to this is the KIPP schools, which are designed to offer these children the same opportunities by having longer days, weekend classes, and shorter summers. With parents fighting for their children to go to a KIPP school, it is evident that they are doing something right.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from the book:

  • “It makes a difference when and where we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine.” – pg. 19
  • “Biologists often talk about the “ecology” of an organism: the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured.” – pg. 19
  • “She spoke in the matter-of-fact way of children who have no way of knowing how unusual their situation is. She had the hours of a lawyer trying to make partner, or a medical resident. All that was missing were the dark circles under her eyes and a steaming cup of coffee, except that she was too young for either.” – pg. 265
  • “The striking thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any ‘naturals,’ musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any ‘grinds,’ people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn’t have what it takes to break the top ranks.” – pg. 39

Next Book: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon

Twenty-Fourth Book Wrap Up

I would say the video above from the author, Caitlin, describes just fine what “How to be a Woman” is about. Our conversation about it was quite lively last month, though, honestly I do not recall what stood out. So, because I can, I will instead go off on a tangent and write a blog post on how self-esteem is one of the single most important qualities a woman should possess.

“Autoestima” was the word in 5th grade, Self-esteem. I clearly remember that word and it has been an important concept in my life journey. Self-esteem is confidence and satisfaction in oneself, it is accepting and loving our strong and weak points, and of course, is what makes the golden rule an attainable practice rather than an altruistic concept (One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself ). Having a true grasp on self-esteem makes a woman a natural magnet to positive events and attitudes and allows her to face adversity head on without letting it drown her in infinite despair. To truly believe and internalize affirmations such as “You is kind. You is smart. You is important” makes a one, a confident woman.

Feminist, conservative or liberal- womanhood comes with an essence that cannot be confined to a set a beliefs or attitudes. A woman, I feel, should prioritize getting to love and know herself first before asserting attitudes the modern world pushes her to adopt.

Take a moment in front of the mirror every once in a while and internalize whatever words of wisdom that draw positivism and strength–That’s a small step to high self-esteem.

Twenty-Third Book Wrap Up & New Book

The Lifeboat. Such a novel of dramatic promise! Terror on the high seas! Moral dilemmas of survival! . . . . Or so we thought when choosing this novel. The actual reviews from our Holistic Ladies were mixed with terms like “disliked”, “enjoyed”, “bored”, and “interesting” being bandied about. In regards to the novel itself, Steph was disappointed that such a scene ripe with conflict managed to be so tame in the telling; a larger moral dilemma was expected. Karen summed it up by saying, “Nothing was memorable, but I didn’t hate it.” All in all, the novel earned neither raving reviews nor intense feelings of loathing.

However, the general subject matter struck up a lively debate. The premise behind Charlotte Rogan’s tale is one that has been deliberated in Ethics courses and campfire chats for centuries: You and a handful of other people are stranded in an overcrowded boat with limited supplies in the middle of the ocean, with no rescue in sight. Who lives and who dies? And who makes those decisions? And if you save yourself at the expense of another’s life, are you guilty of . . . . dun dun dun . . . Murder?

Animated discussion ensued over whether morals differ in life and death situations than in regular life, and whether in such a situation should the weak be allowed to, even encouraged to, die to save the strong. Jerlin considered that, “Maybe morals are not different in a life or death situation, but the execution of the morals would be different.” These trains of thought also led to discussion on implications for society in general if we apply Darwinian survival methods to problems such as access to school or healthcare.

All told, each Holistic Lady agreed that it is really tough to say how you would actually act in a life-or-death situation, although we gleefully opined on how we THOUGHT we would act. And we all agreed that none of us really wants to drown.

Fortunately, despite the moral angst of the discussion (isn’t angst a great word?!) our book club ended on a happy note. Newcomer Katie, in the spirit of our holistic approach, recommended that we read a witty look at “How to Be a Woman”, by Caitlin Moran. Caitlin Moran is a British journalist and comedian who achieved no small bit of notoriety for this treatise on modern-day feminism. Contact our fearless leader, Jerlin, for the address of our next book club, hosted by the lovely Karen at 7pm on September 26th.

Get a copy and read along with us this month!