Why Not Me?

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Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2015 (Audiobook, 4hrs 57min)

Rating: 4owls

Thoughts: This fun little audiobook sure packed a lot of sound advice! Mindy does a fantastic job of making fun of situations she finds herself in while at the same time extracting life lessons and sharing them with her readers. I recommend listening to the audiobook as Mindy narrates it herself.

Memorable Quotes:

“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”

“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them. But when you’re winning, it makes them feel like they’re losing or, worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late. And since they didn’t, they want to stop you. You can’t let them.”

“People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That’s a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man’s touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work… I have never, ever, ever, met a high confident person and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.’ Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it.”

“I want to say one last thing, and it’s important. Though I am a generally happy person who feels comfortable in my skin, I do beat myself up because I am influenced by a societal pressure to be thin. All the time. I feel it the same way anybody who picks up a magazine and sees Keira Knightley’s elegantly bony shoulder blades poking out of a backless dress does. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my shoulder blades once. Honestly, I’m dubious that any part of my body could be so sharp and firm as to be described as a “blade.” I feel it when I wake up in the morning and try on every single pair of my jeans and everything looks bad and I just want to go back to sleep. But my secret is: even though I wish I could be thin, and that I could have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don’t wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way more important things.”

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Big Magic

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Publisher: Penguin Audio, 2015 (Audiobook, 5hrs 6min)

Rating: 3owls

Thoughts:

Elizabeth Gilbert portrays creativity as a magical entity. Though I didn’t agree with some of her beliefs about where ideas come from and the value of education in learning to be creative, this book did give me some new perspectives on how to deal with times in which I no longer feel creative or like I’ll never get a great idea. It was a bit too whimsical at times, but as an audiobook it made my drives more enjoyable.

Memorable Quotes:

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

“So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

“Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.”

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything. So please calm down now and get back to work, okay? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

All About Love

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All About Love: New Visions

Author: Bell Hooks

Publisher: William Morrow, 1999 (Hardcover, 240 pages)

Rating: 4owls

Thoughts:

Bell Hooks breaks down how we are taught about love as children and how that affects us as adults, why our romantic expectations of love aren’t often met, and what the world would gain if we all lived a life of love. I enjoyed this book very much because it made me think of our culture and how we could do better by practicing love for others as well as self-love.

Memorable Quotes:

“Most men feel that they receive love and therefore know what it feels like to be loved; women often feel we are in a constant state of yearning, wanting love but not receiving it.” p. xx

“So many of us long for love but lack the courage to take risks. Even though we are obsessed with the idea of love, the truth is that most of us live relatively decent, somewhat satisfying lives even if we often feel that love is lacking.” p. 11

“One of the most important social myths we must debunk if we are to become a more loving culture is the one that teaches parents that abuse and neglect can coexist with love. Abuse and neglect negate love. Care and affirmation, the opposite of abuse and humiliation, are the foundation of love. No one can rightfully claim to be loving when behaving abusively. Yet parents do this all the time in our culture. Children are told that they are loved even though they are being abused.” p. 22

“Bringing love into the work environment can create the necessary transformation that can make any job we do, no mater how menial, a place where workers can express the best of themselves. When we work with love we renew the spirit; that renewal is an act of self-love, it nurtures our growth. It’s not what you do but how you do it.” p. 65

“In our society we make much of love and say little about fear. Yet we are all terribly afraid most of the time. As a culture we are obsessed with the notion of safety. Yet we do not question why we live in states of extreme anxiety and dread. Fear is the primary force upholding structures of domination. It promotes the desire for separation, the desire not to be known. When we are taught that safety lies always with sameness, then difference, of any kind, will appear as a threat. When we choose to love we choose to move against fear–against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect–to find ourselves in the other.” p. 93

“When we see love as the will to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual growth, revealed through acts of care, respect, knowing, and assuming responsibility, the foundation of all love in our life is the same. There is no special love exclusively reserved for romantic partner. Genuine love is the foundation for our engagement with ourselves, with family, with friends, with partners, with everyone we choose to love.” p. 136

“To know love we must surrender our attachment to sexist thinking in whatever form it takes in our lives. That attachment will always return us to gender conflict, a way of thinking about sex roles that diminishes females and males. To practice the art of loving we have first to choose love–admit to ourselves that we want to know love and be loving even if we do not know what that means.” p. 155

“Sometimes it amazes me to know intuitively that the grieving are all around us yet we do not see any overt signs of their anguished spirits. We are taught to feel shame about grief that lingers. Like a stain on our clothes, it marks us as flawed, imperfect. To cling to grief, to desire its expression, is to be out of sync with modern life, where the hip do not get bogged down in mourning.” p. 200

Bossypants

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Bossypants

Author: Tina Fey

Publisher: Hachette Audio, 2011 (Audiobook, 5hrs 32min)

Rating: 4owls

Thoughts:

I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by Tina Fey and it kept me laughing throughout a long drive out of town. It was a funny and witty book and there were only a few places where I felt it dragged a bit. I enjoyed learning more about her story and all that she has accomplished.

Memorable Quotes:

“So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”

“Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”

“Lesson learned? When people say, “You really, really must” do something, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, “You really, really must deliver the baby during labor.” When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”

A House of My Own

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A House of My Own: Stories from My Life

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Publisher: Knopf, 2015 (Hardcover, 376 pages)

Rating: 4owls

Thoughts:

Though Cisneros states that this book was not written as an autobiography, it certainly reads like one at times. Each story gives you an insight to the mind and life of Sandra Cisneros. She explores the importance of having a stable home and her journey in finding that stability. I enjoyed reading a few stories each night and looked forward to reading more the next day. I’m really looking forward to reading Caramelo this year.

Memorable Quotes:

“We find ourselves at home, or homing, in books that allow us to become more ourselves. Home ‘is not just the place where you were born,’ as the travel writer Pico Iyer once noted. ‘It’s the place where you become yourself.” p. 35

“My father represents, then, the public majority. A public who is uninterested in reading, and yet one whose I’m writing about and for, and privately trying to woo.” p. 92

“I went home that night and realized my education had been a lie–had made presumptions about what was ‘normal,’ what was American, what was of value. I wanted to quit school right then and there, but didn’t. Instead, I got mad, and anger when it’s used to act, when used nonviolently, has power. I asked myself what I could write about that my classmates couldn’t. I didn’t know what I wanted exactly, but I did have enough sense to know what I didn’t. I didn’t want to sound like my classmates; I didn’t want to keep imitating the writers I’d been reading. Their voices were right for them but not for me.” p. 127

“We can’t afford as women to be mediocre, or even good, especially not now. We don’t have that luxury. Our best weapon in adverse times–excellence.” p. 139

“Whenever anyone discusses death they talk about the inevitable loss, but no one ever mentions the inevitable gain. How when you lose a loved one, you suddenly have a spirit ally, an energy on the other side that is with you always, that is with you just by calling their name.” p. 195

“Is home the place where you feel safe? What about those whose home isn’t safe? Are they homeless, or is home an ideal just out of reach, like heaven? Is home something you move toward in stead of going back? Homesickness, then, would be a malaise not for a place left behind in memory, but one remembered in the future.” p. 335

Come As You Are

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Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life

Author: Emily Nagoski, PhD

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2015 (Paperback, 345 pages)

Rating: 5owls

Thoughts: Nagoski uses science-based research to discredit preconceived ideas about women’s sexuality. She addresses the physiological, psychological, cultural, and relational aspects of sex. With great metaphors, examples, and worksheets, Nagoski provides the necessary tools for maximizing women’s sexual wellbeing. A fascinating read for sure!

Memorable Quotes:

“Women and men both experience orgasm, desire, and arousal, and men, too, can experience responsive desire, arousal nonconcordance, and lack of orgasm with penetration. Women and men both can fall in love, fantasize, masturbate, feel puzzled about sex, and experience ecstatic pleasure. They both can ooze fluids, travel forbidden paths of sexual imagination, encounter the unexpected and startling ways that sex shows up in every domain of life–and confront the unexpected and startling ways that sex sometimes declines, politely or otherwise, to show up.” p. 3

“Women have cultural permission to criticize ourselves, but we are punished if we praise ourselves, if we dare to say that we like ourselves the way we are.” p. 163

“This matters. If we think sex is a drive, like hunger, then we might start giving it privilege it doesn’t deserve. But if, on the other hand, we treat it like the incentive motivation system it is, might not the culture change? Might the culture be less tolerant of the suffering of girls, if that suffering isn’t to feed boys’ hunger but only feeds their interest? Maybe not, I don’t know. But I do know that men’s sexual entitlement is a primary reason they sexually assault women. It seems to me that if you believe your erection means you have a ‘basic survival need,’ then the sex-as-drive myth–combined with long-standing cultural attitudes that women aren’t allowed the same sexual agency as men–turns toxic, fast.” p. 232

“You were born entitled to all the pleasure your body can feel. You were born entitled to pleasure in whatever way your body receives it, in whatever contexts afford it, and in whatever quantities you want it. You pleasure belongs to you, to share or keep as you choose, to explore or not as you choose, to embrace or avoid as you choose.” p. 289

We Should All Be Feminists

 

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Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Publisher: Anchor, 2015 (Paperback, 49 pages)

Rating: 5OWLS

Thoughts:

This short book is based on the TEDx Talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Euston. She delivers an intelligent conversation around feminism, what it means, and why it is important. I definitely understand why Sweden chose to distribute this book to all 16 year-olds in the country. A must read for anyone who enjoys Adichie’s work, or anyone looking for a quick introduction to feminism.

Memorable Quotes:

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”