celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review – Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of “The View” by Ramin Setoodeh

The View is one of the longest running daytime talk shows hosted by a panel of women. Created by vet, Barabara Walters, it was the first of its kind at the time. Over the years, the show has gone through numerous hosts and public and private drama. Ladies Who Punch with interviews from almost all the hosts (in fact, all the hosts except for Elisabeth Hasselbeck) explores the behind the scenes drama and revisits the drama the public knew about.

You know, I am never quite sure what genre to classify these sort of books in (Read: Not All Diamonds and Rose, The Housewives etc) but I think they have shot up to the top of my list of favorite genres. These books basically read like reality shows and as a fan of reality shows and memoirs, it should be no surprise. I always welcome a peek behind the curtains on the actual personas of celebrities vs. the public personas we get.

All this to say, I truly enjoyed this book and it came at a good time as a palate cleanser. It was such an interesting feeling recounting some of the drama or notable episodes that I remembered and hearing what the true stories were about. I stopped watching The View many years ago, so everything read as new. I felt like I was just learning about Barbara Walters for the first time (might I add I wonder a lot about where she is these days?)

It was also interesting to learn just how much the crew HATED Rosie O’ Donnell. I used to love Rosie’s show back in the day, so learning this other side to her was new. On the flip, in the book, Whoopi seems to have rated highly with viewers in focus groups but arguably didn’t come off so great in the book. Star Jones seemed to take accountability for her mistakes and Meredith Viera seemed to genuinely be a sweetheart. In some way, The View played a part in Donald Trump being President (don’t ask me how lol) but he is featured a lot in the book.

Overall, if you are into behind the scenes and let’s call it what it is – gossip – then this is the right book for you. I will say that I hesistate to call it gossip because Setoodeh comes with straight facts and a lot of what is in the book is straight from the horse’s mouth with people backing up what was being said. He speaks a little with Meghan McCain who he has known for a while but we interestingly get nothing from Sunny Hostin. I wonder why…?

Taynement

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage by Heather Havrilesky

But I have to admit, there’s something reassuring, to me, about breaking down, falling into disrepair, losing your charms, and misplacing your keys, when you have an equally inept and irritating human tolerating it all, in spite of a million and one very good reasons to put on his walking boots and take his love to town. In other words, if marriage is irrational, as with child-rearing and ambition and art, that’s also part of its appeal.

I had never heard of Heather Havrilesky until a twitter thread of hers made its way to my timeline. A thread complaining about the sexist treatment of her book about marriage. She talked about how people had read only an excerpt in the New York Times and decided she was just a wife who hates her husband and then without reading the entire book for context found her hateful and not grateful enough. Even though I am not married, I put her book on hold at my local library and promptly forgot about it until it checked out to me. Then I debated on if I really wanted to read a book about marriage but after clicking “deliver later” twice, I finally just caved and started it and then read it all in 24 hours.

“People always assume that love is all about celebrating someone else’s amazing qualities. But true love is also about accepting another person’s flaws. In order to create a love that grew and adapted over the years, you had to commit to someone else’s flaws the same way you commit to their qualities. That was love. Loving someone’s bouts of neediness and self-loathing the way you love their hot face.”

Heather has written a very honest book about her marriage. She doesn’t try to sugarcoat the intricacies of it. She doesn’t sell you the rom com view which a lot of books on marriage and a lot of relationship pages sell you on instagram, and I understand why that would make people mad and uncomfortable. But I ask you to sit in your uncomfortability and ask yourself why honesty makes you squirm. Why we have to sanitize the truth of two strangers meeting, living together and raising children? This is not a book of advice, Heather does not implore you to adopt her marriage style, she only tells you how she and her partner, Bill, have managed to navigate theirs.

“Marriage is a lifelong market correction to true love’s overvaluation.”

Considering the sexist world we live in where women are supposed to be eternally grateful to have a man love them and everybody around the world works around the clock to protect the ego of men they have not met, the New York Times excerpt was probably not the best to go with. Yes, it’s loud and controversial and I can see how a publicist or Heather herself thought it would garner attention and lead people to the book but only a man can get away with that kind of excerpt without context. Heather loudly declares in the excerpt that of course she hates her husband and everyone ignores the dichotomy of sometimes hating someone you genuinely love and adore. I saw people giving this book one star based only on that excerpt without even reading the book. It was quite interesting to see people rushing to the defence of an imaginary bruised ego instead of just deciding – that book is probably not for me and moving along, they had to punish Heather for daring to be open and vulnerable about all her feelings even those we might think are ugly and should not be spoken out loud.

“Oh, Bill, Bill, Bill,” she said, sounding disgusted. “He’s not so perfect, you know!”

Me who has actually read the book thought because she was being brutally honest she made sure to actually point out how amazing her husband is at the end of every anecdote. He actually does 50% of the housework, does actual parenting and always tells her how hot she is. At some point I felt exactly like her mother in the quote above. Like Girl, you must have hit the jackpot with this man. The most uncomfortable I felt while reading this book is when she tells her husband about this author she had dinner with hitting on her. They talk about it in such detail and she kept bringing up the fantasies she’s been having about this man and they even discuss rationally the idea of her having an affair with this man. It made me so uncomfortable because me as a single person, my idea of love and long term relationship does not include this type of radical honesty. I kept thinking, why can’t she just shut up about this man and deal with this privately? We all are so sure that we want absolute honesty from our significant others but I think that the romance that has been sold to us has convinced us that it won’t include having conversations about attraction to the opposite sex and possible affairs. I think in my mind once you’ve found the one you love every feeling of desire you have about everybody else just dies especially if you’ve really and truly found the one!

Maybe in the future Bill can save himself a lot of time and effort and just hand his future third wife this book and say, “It’s all in there.”

This is a brutally honest look at Heather’s marriage. If you are someone who worries about airing out dirty laundries or you care deeply about how this book may have made a man you do not know feel, this book is probably not for you. If you are someone who refers to themselves as a good person, this is probably not for you. I think if you see yourself as an individual capable of being complicated and do not intend to project your view of marriage and companionship on another person’s reality then this book is for you. If you just want to sit back and read how someone else has navigated her 15 year marriage even though it might not be how you navigate yours or how you intend to navigate yours then read this story. Again, this is not an advice book. This is a book sorely about Heather’s marriage.

Every book about marriage is actually a book about survival, and about trying to find happiness together in spite of the fact that you’re doomed to fail from the start. You’re doomed because even though you’re aiming for forever, forever doesn’t really exist. You either die or your marriage does. There is no forever.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this one and have recommended it to Taynement because I want to hear what an actual married person who I like and trust thinks about it. If you intend to read this book, I implore you not to read that excerpt in the New York Times or read any angry reviews of this book. Judge this book purely on the words the author has put down on paper in its entirety. I gave this one 4 stars on Goodreads. I docked one star because I actually did not laugh once. Yes, a lot of the digs at her husband were tongue in cheek and meant to be funny but I think the best part of this book is the quiet honesty and the fact that the author does not shy away from the ugliness that makes us human.

Leggy

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, Self Help

Book Review: Will by Will Smith

“Stop thinking about the damn wall!” he said. “There is no wall. There are only bricks. Your job is to lay this brick perfectly. Then move on to the next brick. Then lay that brick perfectly. Then the next one. Don’t be worrying about no wall. Your only concern is one brick.”

Will is the eponymous autobiography by Will Smith. At the beginning of the book, Will tells us that his personality is one that tries to clean up and make everything nice and I think that is what he did with his book. While one could argue that he was honest and vulnerable, you could also argue that it was a case of saying a lot without saying much.

“How we decide to respond to our fears, that is the person we become. I decided to be funny.”

I think Will did a good job of laying the groundwork on us understanding where he came from and what led to his fears and insecurity and also his strong work ethic. It was good to see behind the curtains how he became a force in movies and music through intentional planning but also a splash of luck. I found it interesting that Will didn’t focus a lot on his race during his journey to fame and I don’t think it’s something I fault him for and I wonder if it was a conscious thing. I also didn’t get the impression that it isn’t something he doesn’t consider because he does tell a story in the book when he was in South Africa, where he stood up for the right thing.

“If you cultivate the fantasy that your marriage will be forever joyful and effortless, then reality is going to pay you back in equal proportion to your delusion. If you live the fantasy that making money will earn you love, then the universe will slap you awake, in the tune of a thousand angry voices.”

With the many stories that have come out about Will and Jada, it is a safe assumption that this is something most people would be curious about but you will be dissapointed in because he doesn’t get into the salacious details. Will focuses a lot on just himself in his book and doesn’t speak much for other members of his family only in context as it relates to a story about himself. A lot of the stories he tells, you may have heard about before and all he does is add a little bit of context with his humor.

“We’re all waiting until we have deep knowledge, wisdom, and a sense of certainty before we venture forth. But we’ve got it backward—venturing forth is how we gain the knowledge.”

I have to mention that this book veers into self-help where Will gives a lot of nuggets he has learned along the way. You’re not always in the mood to get preached to so in those moments, my eyes glazed over. I wish there was a count for every time he said the word “Every”. It was a lot. He does remind us of all his accomplishments and I have seen some people refer to it as him bragging and I did not get that sense at all. To me, it was straight facts and especially as a black man in America, it is a hell of an accomplishment so I have no issues with him tooting his horn.

As always, with celeb memoirs I did this on audio and I recommend you do the same. Besides, the voices and imitations he does, we also get the added bonus of actual music which adds a different level of interaction. While it still seems a tad performative, your thoughts on the book will ultimately depend on what you are hoping to get out of it so for those looking for inspiration this is a 10/10 but you won’t lack for entertainment.

Taynement.

Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review: Sex Cult Nun by Faith Jones

Sex Cult Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God, a Wild, Radical  Religious Cult by Faith Jones

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault (some involving minors), rape

Sex Cult Nun is a memoir of sorts as the author recounts the story of being part of a cult, Children of God(CoG), founded by her grandfather. She recounts living in hiding in Macau with her family as the cult was having terrible PR with its controversial way of living. Her family constituted of two moms as CoG allowed for sexual liberation and anyone could sleep with anyone. As if that wasn’t enough, contraception was banned.

The terrible PR eventually led to a change in name of the cult to The Family. With locations around the world, members just showed up anywhere in the world and had to live in a Family house. If they felt you did wrong, they could reassign you anywhere. There was no formal education because her Grandfather (who she never met by the way) told them the rapture was going to happen in 1993, so there wasn’t even a plan for retirement.

I am fascinated by cult themes because I always try to understand how a person gets to this point and the mental strength it takes to get out of it. Everything about this book sounded unreal and quite frankly, inhumane. Everyone I told a synopsis of the book, asked me why I was reading it. This is a group that had its law modified to exclude sex with children under 16 ONLY because police was getting involved – imagine what it was before that.

As gross as it was, I had to remember that this was someone’s real life. I felt for her as a kid because this was all she knew. The kids didn’t ask for this. Her grandfather was in hiding for most of his regime so he was barely seen but he communicated with his followers through “Mo Letters” that were highly sexual. The cult promoted sexuality in what they called “sharing”.

At some point, her mom got pregnant and didn’t know the father. That’s because there was something called “Flirty Fishing” – preaching the gospel and trying to convert them, even if it means sleeping with them and her mom took her along on these expeditions. This is me letting you guys know that this book is very graphic. How graphic? There is a scene where her mom makes her watch as she masturbates her dad and I will leave it at that.

I completely understand being grossed out by the subject matter and detail but if you are able to stomach it, I found it quite fascinating. I think Jones was convincing as a reliable narrator and watching her journey to realization and eventually to freedom was worth it for me because even I didn’t know her, I was proud and happy for her.

The book doesn’t give much information into the psyche of the parents which would have been more informative. There’s lots of detail and people that might be a little difficult to navigate. It’s written in a matter of fact tone which is expected because it truly is a lot to unpack and is probably how she is able to get through. I was so intrigued by this book that I sought out old documentaries by other survivors and seeing it on screen backing up everything Jones said, was just a jarring experience.

Some people are confused about the name of the book. The sex and cult part are self explanatory but the nun part she says is tongue in cheek reference to the isolated devotion where she felt like she grew up like a nun except there was lots of sex involved.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and I think I left out one star because of how uncomfortable it made me but if it made me that uncomfortable, doesn’t that mean it did its job?

Taynement

Memoirs, Non-Fiction, race

Book Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

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“It felt like the world had divided into two different types of people, those who had felt pain and those who had yet to.”

I know Zauner’s book was all the rage last year but for some reason, I just never paid attention to the hype. I don’t even remember putting this book on hold at the library until it checked out to me first week of 2022. I didn’t have anything else to read so I decided to give it a go. Also, I never paid attention to what this book was actually about. I just assumed it was a collection of essays about being Asian in America but instead what I got was a heartbreaking memoir about grief, mother-daughter relationships and identity.

“I remember these things clearly because that was how my mother loved you, not through white lies and constant verbal affirmation, but in subtle observations of what brought you joy, pocketed away to make you feel comforted and cared for without even realizing it.”

Zauner writes about her complicated relationship with her Korean mother and her white father and losing her mother to advanced pancreatic cancer. She doesn’t shy away from the difficult times and what actually caring for a loved one is like. She also doesn’t paint her mother to be just one thing. That was my favorite part of this book. Her mother was never shoehorned into a stereotype, she let her mum be a full human being who had flaws. After a tumultuous relationship with her mother during high school, she runs away to college in the east coast and when she finally returns to care for her mother full time, she wants to heal her mother through Korean food and repair their relationship.

Food was how my mother expressed her love. No matter how critical or cruel she could seem—constantly pushing me to meet her intractable expectations—I could always feel her affection radiating from the lunches she packed and the meals she prepared for me just the way I liked them.

The way Zauner talks about her Korean identity through food and travel was really lovely to read. The author went to Korea every summer for 6 weeks with her mum until high school and talks about the cultural differences. She wasn’t a beauty in America but because she was mixed in Korea with white skin and had the coveted double eyelid, she was considered a great beauty there. She even got scouted to be an idol singer during one of her trips but her mum told her she would never be happy being an idol*. These anecdotes made her connection to her mother and her country very real. She was very immersed in her Korean identity despite having a white father. In fact, she was born in Korea but they moved back to the US when she turned 1.

The boy’s mom placed pieces of beef from her spoon onto his. He is quiet and looks tired and doesn’t talk to her much. I want to tell him how much I miss my mother. How he should be kind to his mom, remember that life is fragile and she could be gone at any moment.

Crying in H Mart was absolutely worth all the hype. It had me feeling so many different emotions and also had me bawling in my office while reading it. Seriously, fuck cancer. This is a thought provoking and emotional memoir that reminds us that our parents are human and are winging this parenting thing. Zauner wrote a very honest book that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics or gloss over who her parents were, but you come out of it feeling like you saw a full picture instead of one single perspective. You feel compassion for her mother even when her actions come off cruel.

“In fact, she was both my first and second words: Umma, then Mom. I called to her in two languages. Even then I must have known that no one would ever love me as much as she would.”

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a nonfiction book to read with a trigger warning that this book is about loss and grief. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

*Idol – a Korean star who has been trained from birth to be a star usually scouted purely on looks.

Leggy

Memoirs, movie related topics, Non-Fiction

Book Review: Not All Diamonds and Rose by David Quinn

Not All Diamonds and Rose is the official Bravo/Andy Cohen approved memoir of sorts of the Real Housewives franchise. Spanning interviews from majority of the women from across franchises – from OG’s to one season’ers, execs and producers behind the scenes. People editor, David Quinn crafts a story from words straight from the horse’s mouth and provides us with behind the scenes insight into well known scenes and things we hadn’t heard about before.

I am a reality show junkie and a fan of the Housewives franchise. Translation – I have watched every single episode of every single franchise since inception. I was excited to read this because I can never get enough information on them. I had recently read a rival book, The Housewives: The Real Story Behind The Real Housewives by Brian Moylan. Besides thinking the writing was not the best, my biggest criticism was that as a non-casual fan, I didn’t think there was anything I didn’t know before, I learned nothing new. It was revealed that he was blacklisted and the past and former housewives were instructed not to speak to him. Now we know that it’s because this book was coming out.

It was different with this book, I learned new info or as the kids say, got some new tea and that was all I needed. Granted some people think it was edited and we don’t get the full story since it is being controlled by Bravo, that’s fair but I think even with that, they shared enough to titillate the fans’ senses. At the end of the day, it is still a brand and I expect them to protect it.

I enjoyed the format of the book. It was written interview style and you can tell when the same people were asked the same question or if rivals were confronted with the answer the other gave. It was very reminiscent of how the interviews are held on the shows themselves so you really feel like you were still in the Housewives world. You could tell the Housewives understood the assignment and didn’t hold themselves back. The way it was written, each franchise was in chronological order of when they debuted, with quotes from the cast and producers. Each chapter followed the same formula: origin of picking the city, casting, hitting big, a memorable fight, when things fell apart and I enjoyed it for each franchise especially for those I wondered how they got cast.

My favorite cities recounted were RHOC, RHOA and RHONJ and I enjoyed them for different reasons. RHOC was truly a trip down memory lane (so much so, I went back to watch some episodes with new eyes and new info), RHOA for how much behind the scenes info the producer Carlos King gave and RHONJ for the confirmation on how much Theresa hates her sister-in-law (lol) and the wild story on how the cast got arrested in Dominican Republic and have never been back since then.

A question I got asked a lot is if a casual viewer would enjoy this book and I really don’t know the answer because I read it as a full on fan so I could identify the major incidents mentioned. The book does a good enough job of summarizing whatever incident it might be but I’d be curious to know what it feels like as a casual or non viewer.

Overall, I recommend this book because it gave me a lot of enjoyment. I gave this book 4 stars because it was not consistent in letting us know how people were cast which was of interest to me. They’d do so for some and for people like Candiace or Wendy on RHOP, I was curious to know who recommended them or how they made the list and that was not included. It was disappointing that some big names weren’t included – Nene, Bethenny. It was unfortunate that this was written before the current Erika fiasco and RHOSLC was not included but regardless, if you are looking for mindless, fun reading, this was it for me.

Taynement

Memoirs, Non-Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat – You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

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Leggy: I really enjoyed Gabrielle Union’s first book. I even named it one of my favorite books of the year, the year it came out and I listened to it 5 times! So I was very excited to listen to this one.

Taynement: I honestly am still always shocked when you mention that you listen to books multiple times. Like how?? But yes, I was in the same boat as you. We’re Going to Need More Wine was so good, I immediately got on the waiting list for this one.

Leggy: I was disappointed. I did not think this book was a worthy sequel. I for sure did not need more wine.

Taynement: Ha ha. Or something stronger. They were quite different. Quite frankly, this one was unnecessary.

Leggy: So unnecessary and quite repetitive. Why did she have to revisit Bring it On? She already had an essay about this movie in her first book, which was perfect? Why are we rehashing it all over again? I guess it’s because it’s her only mainstream movie.

Taynement: It’s funny you say that because that was my favorite story. Not sure what that says about the book itself but I didn’t find a lot of the stories compelling. It just didn’t grab me.

Leggy: The only story I found compelling was about her surrogate journey, the rest of the book was just not needed.

Taynement: I enjoyed the surrogate story as well, which is what she started with but it went downhill from there.

Leggy: I’m sure as a celebrity and a black one at that, Gabrielle Union has multiple stories from her life to pull from, so I don’t understand the essays she chose to publish. They didn’t make any sense to me at all. Also this entire book reads very performative. It did not seem genuine. It’s almost like she’s writing for a particular crowd.

Taynement: She unfortunately did the thing where the best part of the book is what she used as promo, so even if you didn’t read the book, you already read the best part. I have always thought Gabrielle Union was performative but she could pull it off in We’re Going to Need More Wine because it was personal stories. In this book, she suffered greatly from a lack of direction. She wasn’t sure if she wanted it to be about race or personal and even with the personal it wasn’t completely her story. I learned more about her stepdaughter in this book than her.

Leggy: Yup. It’s as if she went about collecting all the twitter hot topics and then wrote very impersonal and contrived stories about them. I was so bored. I kept waiting for her to turn the book back towards her and it just never got there. Also, do you believe her when she said the woman she is now would have left Dwyane?

Taynement: It wasn’t more so I didn’t believe her. It was more so it didn’t make sense to me? If in fact that is true, the woman you are now, can still leave? From the book and interviews she has done, I did not get the sense that she is over that whole situation.

Leggy: Exactly. That’s how I felt. So what’s stopping you from leaving now? I think she thinks the audience this book is for, would hate that she stayed. But it’s your decision, it’s your marriage. You have to own the fact that you stayed and recognize that you don’t owe anybody any explanation.

Taynement: Yep. You chose to stay so screw everybody else.

Leggy: She sounded so angry with Dwyane in this book, I was a bit taken aback by it. All while trying to convince us that she’s done the work to make the relationship stronger and better.

Taynement: When she said that people have accused her of not talking about the break baby, I looked around cos I was definitely one of them and then she described it as a trauma. I am ashamed to say I never thought about the angle that he had a baby while they were going through conception struggles. That’s deep.

Leggy: Yeah that’s insane. I can’t imagine how she felt about that.

Taynement: In summary, I don’t think this book was as sincere as the first and the sincerity is what made the first so great.

Leggy: Yes, this book was extremely performative. I wish she hadn’t written it. I did not enjoy it and it sucks because Gabrielle really is a good writer.

Taynement: It definitely was a struggle to read and I have told people I don’t recommend it.

Leggy: I wish she had written something totally different and personal.

Taynement: Last thing, if you do decide to read the book I think we should let people know that it is very heavy on racial topics.

Leggy: Very heavy. Almost all the stories veered into a commentary on race.

Taynement: And I think we need to mention because if you are mood readers like us, sometimes you have to prepare your mind to read certain topics and it’s easy to think this would be a light hearted book because of We’re Going to Need More Wine.

Leggy:If you think this is going to be a fun and compelling book like her first one, just skip it. It’s nothing like it.

Taynement: What she said.

Leggy: Go read her twitter threads instead. It’s just that but in long form.

Taynement & Leggy

african author, Nigerian Author, Non-Fiction, Self Help

We Chit Chat – Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji

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Leggy: How did we end up with this title?

Taynement: I recommended it.

Leggy: Oh right. You did. We both did it on audio too. What were your preconceived notions of the book and was it what you thought it would be?

Taynement: As usual, I had no knowledge of what the book was about. I just assumed it was a memoir. I remember wondering why anyone would care about an Yvonne Orji memoir.

Leggy: Lmaoooo. Taynement! I didn’t know what it would be about either. I wondered why someone so young in the industry was writing memoir.

Taynement: I’m not a fan of hers per se, so I honestly can’t tell you what compelled me to read this. My FOMO spirit is strong.

Leggy: I only read it because you told me too. Would never have. Also, it’s literally called “Bamboozled by Jesus” and I was still shocked when it turned out to be a religious book.

Taynement: I will say that this was a pleasant surprise for me.

Leggy: Oh really? You liked it? I’m shocked!

Taynement: Haha! I’m shocked myself.

Leggy: At first I was going to DNF it. I remember complaining that I would have never finished it if we weren’t doing a chit chat on it but then I just kinda got into it.

Taynement: Here’s the thing, I think the premise was a good one. It was a self help book wrapped in religion that was not preachy with sprinkles of hip hop culture. It worked for me.

Leggy: I didn’t love it but I certainly enjoyed following her journey. It’s quite interesting how dogged she is because there were a lot of times I feel like I would have given up. Also, she’s quite trusting in God, a lot of the things she believed in would have never worked for me. Like giving up her rent because God said so.

Taynement: So, in the beginning when she is laying the premise of the book, she said something like even if you don’t believe in the Word don’t think this book isn’t for you and I think she was wrong about that. It worked for me because I like to consider myself a person of faith, albeit a weak one, but she’s on a level of faith I aspire to be on. If you aren’t religious at all, this book will make you break out in hives because you will be ready to prove why it was something else and not God.

Leggy: Definitely. You should not read this one if you’re not religious. I believe in God but even I was turned off by the many Bible passages so I can’t imagine how this book could possibly work for someone who doesn’t believe.

Taynement: I wasn’t. I actually complained to my husband that I need to do better in reading my Bible. I really liked how she wove Bible passages into every day scenarios.

Leggy: This is how you know you’re a better Christian than me

Taynement: I should also add that sometimes a book works for you depending on your headspace and I read this book at a time where I need crazy faith like hers and it encouraged me.

Leggy: Also, I thought she must be very familiar with the Bible to be able to tell these stories in this way. It was very well done if you know the Bible and that’s why I fully consider this book a religious book. I also liked the Insecure parts of the book which is what I was actually looking forward to. I wanted to hear how she booked the role.

Taynement: I would kill to know who the actress was that peaked at audition 1. Now, my gripe with the Insecure parts – which is where she addresses what I have always wondered with her, which is her choice as a person of faith with highly sexualized scenes. Her explanation didn’t answer my questions, AT ALL. I still can’t reconcile that she had a conversation with God and He told her she’s being used to send a message? I think that’s when she used the analogy that Denzel wasn’t a murderer but played one.

Leggy: Did you read where she said she started looking forward to the sex scenes? and enjoying them? I was like what?! And God had to be like this isn’t a loophole.

Taynement: I appreciated her honesty. Ha ha. Body no be firewood.

Leggy: I really hope her faith in regards to finding a life partner comes through because I felt quite weird reading all of that. I’m hoping it all works out for her but what if God doesn’t want her to have romantic love in her life? Would it affect her faith?

Taynement: I hope her faith will carry her through if that’s not the case for her. There’s something I wondered – Based on her comedy special, I could have sworn I saw her mum and dad but in the book there was barely a mention of her dad.

Leggy: I have a feeling she didn’t want to discuss her family directly. It was obvious they just came around when she became successful. Her mum and dad are still together though.

Taynement: I just thought it was odd that she didn’t mention her dad except jointly as parents but she definitely had a lot of mom stories.

Leggy: Oh, I didn’t notice at all. Just noticed that she limited giving concrete details of her family and their reactions to her decision and just generally mentioned that they wanted her to go get a Masters and a regular job. I got the feeling she was trying to spare them the embarrassment but I can only imagine – they are Nigerian parents after all.

Taynement: I think that makes sense given it wasn’t necessarily a memoir – more like a collection of essays. She gave just enough regarding upbringing and how it contributed to her career path. Did you have a favorite story of hers?

Leggy: I really enjoyed her Insecure journey since that was what I really wanted to read about. Second best was when she was raising money to make a pilot for the first gen show she had been shopping around.

Taynement: My favorite story was the one about finding her dream house. It truly resonated with me because it was a metaphor. Overall, I’d describe this book as the book I didn’t think I needed but I did. Trust me, I’m still surprised myself. I gave it 4 stars.

Leggy: Wow. It really resonated with you. I didn’t feel that strongly about it. I gave it 2 stars.

Let us know if you have read this one or you’re planning to!

Taynement & Leggy

Non-Fiction, Self Help

Book Review: Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Image result for maybe you should talk to someone

“But part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”

Lori Gottlieb is a therapist in LA. She starts the book by giving us a brief history of her career which did not start out in medicine. She seems to have lucky breaks aiming to be a journalist but finds herself being a TV writer most notably on Friends and ER. For those who don’t know, ER is a medical show and Gottlieb who was already feeling discontent with her job, finds herself intrigued by medicine and goes to medical school to become a therapist.

Gottlieb goes through a bad breakup that throws her for a loop and she starts seeing a therapist, Wendell who lets her view her life through a different lens. Gottlieb introduces us to four different patients of hers – an obnoxious Hollywood TV producer, a young newlywed woman with terminal cancer, a pessimistic senior citizen who has threatened suicide and a young woman who makes bad dating choices. With these four patients, Gottlieb manages to tell a story about her, us, them and life in general.

“Relationships in life don’t really end, even if you never see the person again. Every person you’ve been close to lives on somewhere inside you. Your past lovers, your parents, your friends, people both alive and dead (symbolically or literally)–all of them evoke memories, conscious or not.”

This book started out slow but I had heard so many good things about it and since I am trying to increase my non fiction reads, I was going to stick it through. Sticking it through was worth it because it was so good. I am so fascinated by the human psyche and this book fed every human psyche appetite I did. I am most in awe of how Gottlieb managed to pick the right four stories with which to tell a story, while also, in some ways wrote a memoir while giving us life nuggets along the way and giving us a window into what life as a therapist is like.

“Peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I mentioned memoir because while the book seems like it could be about her patients, she does a good job in talking about herself – flaws and all and we get a good sense of who she is. By no means do I think she tried to make herself look like a saint or a therapist that has it all figured out. I don’t think we got it all (I have read that in her previous books, she has written about how hard it was for her to find a partner – which may give context to why she took the break up so hard) but I do think because the focus was on the patients, she gave enough and didn’t want to make herself the focal point.

“Don’t judge your feelings; notice them. Use them as your map. Don’t be afraid of the truth.”

Now what killed me the entire book was trying to figure out who the Hollywood producer, John was. I was thinking of all the clues dropped and finally gave up which led me to the other thing. If names were changed, I am sure other things were changed so they couldn’t be identified and it makes you wonder, so how much alteration was made to the stories? I also kept wondering how she was able to get permission to tell the stories. Even though this wasn’t the original story she was going to write, it still made me wonder if in some way knowing it would be for a novel, did that impact how she went through the process?

“Above all, I didn’t want to fall into the trap that Buddhists call idiot compassion – an apt phrase, given John’s worldview. In idiot compassion, you avoid rocking the boat to spare people’s feelings, even though the boat needs rocking and your compassion ends up being more harmful than your honesty. People do this with teenagers, spouses, addicts, even themselves. Its opposite is wise compassion, which means caring about the person but also giving him or her a loving truth bomb when needed.”

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I did it on audio and the narration was fantastic. It was very compelling and I felt invested in most of the characters. I took away some nuggets and life lessons from this book. I am not entirely sold on Gottlieb, given her experience in Hollywood and what I mean by that is I don’t know if we know her fully as a person. I think she knows the machine and how to engineer it and I am okay with it. If this was a true proper memoir, then maybe it would bother me. Not surprisingly, the book has been optioned for TV by Eva Longoria. If you are looking for part memoir, part self help, part sounds like fiction with good storytelling – pick this one up.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, christmas, Fiction, literary fiction, Non-Fiction, Self Help

‘Tis The Season – Gift Ideas For The Book Lovers In Your Life

Wow! We can’t believe that Christmas is round the corner. The world is still burning all around us but the fact that we survived this hellish year, only means we deserve an actual Merry Christmas for real. In a bid to make the holiday as close to normal as possible, most of us are still planning to give gifts. Good thing gifts are socially distant conducive. As we do every year, we have curated a list to make gift giving easier for the book lover in your life.

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are great to gift because everyone loves a good cookbook even if they have no plans of cooking from it. Pictured above are some of the cookbooks we loved this year. A lot of the recipes are easy to make with ingredients you can get from your local grocery store so anyone can cook through these or just admire the pictures and dream about cooking through them!

Here are some cookbooks we recommend:

  • The Full Plate by Ayesha Curry (this is very basic and the recipes are all under 1 hour but utterly delicious!)
  • Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin
  • Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten (she’s a household name and she knows good food!)
  • Home Style Cookery by Matty Matheson
  • The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson

Coffee Table Books:

Noone is visiting but because we are spending so much time at home, it’s always good to have aesthetically pleasing, conversation starters ready for when people do start coming over: There were so many coffee table books we loved this year apart from the two pictured above! Some of them are listed below:

Celebrating Blackness

With the kind of year we’ve had, this would be a great time to gift books that’ll help people learn a little more about their neighbors, and it doesn’t have to be very heavy books about race. Support and gift them books from their favorite black authors:

Fiction

Non-Fiction

  • I Don’t Want to Die Poor by Michael Arceneaux
  • Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
  • Any Black Classic like anything from Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes. Support black art!

Reading Related Knick Knacks

  • Reading Rests
  • Reading Lights
  • Holiday Lettering Artist Pens
  • Or this amazing reading journal from Etsy! (Also, there’s always collectibles in your loved ones’ favorite books that are widely available on sites like Etsy!)
  • They love Harry Potter? Get them this amazing collectible quidditch set!
  • Love Game of Thrones? Get them this miniature Game of Thrones iron throne!
  • From stickers, to bookmarks to stationeries. Visit The Seasonal Pages and you are sure to find something at such affordable prices (Support Small Businesses!)

Good Ol’ Fiction and Non-Fiction Books

The first step to choosing a book for a loved one is finding out what they actually enjoy reading. Find out the genre they’re most comfortable in, the last thing they read from that genre that they actually loved then try to find them something in the vein. There are so many blogs (LIKE OURS!) that are great resources for reading different reviews and making a suggestion. There’s always nonfiction books on topics they’d enjoy like TV shows, books from their favorite personalities (podcasters, reality show characters, athletes etc.) and if all else fails, get a gift card to their favorite book store (Shop locally if possible!)

Self Help

As we’re getting into the new year, a lot of people might be interested in reading books that might help them achieve whatever goals they’re currently setting for the next year. Self help is always a safe go to as a gift. Just be careful what titles you gift them! LOL.

Here are some of our favorite self help books from 2020:

  • Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster
  • Wisdom from a Humble Jellyfish: And Other Self-Care Rituals from Nature by Rani Shah (considering we’re currently living through a pandemic and are looking for different ways to protect our mental health and develop a self care routine, I highly recommend this one!)
  • Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Mary Kondo and Scott Sonenshein
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle

For The Nostalgic (and possibly older reader in your life)

Book Sets of Old Favorites like Tom Clancy, Ken Follet, Mary Higgins Clark etc.

Don’t Forget Yourself!

While you are shopping for everyone else, don’t forget to get yourself something. We are all hoping for a better year and whatever you need to help you plan, read better or remind yourself of the bad ass you are, here are some journals, notebooks (if you would like to take notes/quotes from the many books on your TBR list) and inspirational cards that are great gift ideas.

Hope this was helpful and you find some great ideas on here. Let us know if you have any questions or got some inspiration from the list. Happy Holidays!!

Taynement & Leggy