Reading Sara Review: Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

cover_bad_feminist

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 5, 2014)

Reading Sara Rating: 7.5/10everything everything

This book of essays by Roxane Gay was one of the most delightful things I have read so far in 2016. Gay is honest, hilarious, and smart. She described throughout these essays many of my own thoughts and opinions – but in ways that I could never express so eloquently. I had multiple lines highlighted in almost every chapter because what she wrote resonated so deeply with me.

Gay takes the approach of being a modern woman, wanting to be a feminist, but not feeling like she is as good at it as she is supposed to be (whether it was her obsession as a youth with the Sweet Valley High books or her love of totally inappropriate rap music). Most women that I know struggle with this on some level. Yes, we want equal pay. And no, we do not think rape jokes are ever funny. But we like shaving our legs and we enjoy wearing cute dresses.

It makes me sad that feminism is the new “f-word” and that it comes with expectations and stigma. Reading these essays helped me to forgive myself for not fighting for women’s rights every single day, but reminded me of the importance of speaking up and speaking out – not being a bystander in the world today. In the United States, there is a lot happening in the political world that scares me – and it is a refreshing reminder that as women we have influence and voices.

Here are a couple of quotes from Gay that gets to the gist of this wonderful book, and I think expresses a lot of what women struggle with today and if you like this and agree, you’ll enjoy these essays.

“I bought into the grossly inaccurate myths about who feminists are – militant, perfect in their politics and person, man-hating, humorless. I bought into these myths even though, intellectually, I know better.”

“It’s great to remember that reading is my first love.”

“This may also explain why in high school I became utterly devoted to Beverly Hills 90210, which took the Sweet Valley High formula and elevated it to high art.”

“Like most people, I’m full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like shit for being a woman.”

“I am just one woman trying to make sense of this world we live in. I’m raising my voice to show all the ways we have room to want more, to do better.”

 

 

 

Reading Sara Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon

everything everything

Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Delacorte Press (September 1, 2015)

Rating: 7.5/10

everything everything

“Just because you can’t experience everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experience anything. Besides, doomed love is a part of life.” – Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything

Reading Sara Review: Everything, Everything is simple in its premise: a young adult story about a bubble girl, a person isolated from the world – her world is only discovered by reading, conversations with her full-time nurse, and her doting mother. Luckily for the reader, Yoon weaves a story that is so much more than simple. The story is about friendship, first loves, discovery, and forgiveness.

I know people who shy away from young adult novels, but I would encourage those people to give this book a try if you want to dip your toes into the genre. Similar to I’ll Give You the Sun, it has themes that go much deeper and characters that we readers understand through their pain. Critics of this book will say that it is just another cheesy YA love story (ala Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor & Park, etc.). YA literature is not as deep – and this book is not perfect. But it is a quick, lovely story that I highly recommend.

“I was happy before I met him. But I’m alive now, and those are not the same thing.” We get to fall in love with Madeline, our sick, near death central character. And we get to watch her fall in love with Olly, the neighbor who quickly becomes fascinated by the girl in the window that never comes outside. We follow her adventures, her daring challenges, the ups and downs of her relationship with her mom – who has always loved her deeply and protected her above all else.

“Sometimes you do things for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong ones, and sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference.”

Everything, Everything is definitely on my list for best books of 2015. Have you read it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

Book & Wine Wednesday! Reading Sara Review of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, By Ashlee Vance

books & wine wednesday IMAGE

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, By Ashlee Vance

elon musk

Rating: 3.5/5

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: Ecco (May 19, 2015)

Reading Sara Review: Ashlee Vance is the first biographer to get exclusive access to Musk and his family to write this book – and she really digs into everything from his mysteriously dark childhood, to his near-fails at most of his companies, to his highs and lows as a boss, to his incredible genius.

The book is well written, and if you are interested in learning more about one of the greatest minds of our generation, you should read this. Elon Musk is changing our world. Seriously. It is incredible. It is not exactly a “page-turner” because there is no real mystery – we know that Tesla got off to a tough start, but has ended up being a luxury car worth the struggle. We all saw the news when SpaceX’s rockets failed – but we know that they are doing incredible things now.

Musk is not necessarily someone that I would want to work for, per se. Some of the stories of his falling out with colleagues and partners are quite damning. However, he is very likely a genius and I can imagine that at his level it is more difficult to get along with people who are not also at his level – which is why he surrounds himself with other like-minded geniuses to work for him.

There was one piece in particular that felt extremely topical for me. Vance was describing Tom Mueller, one of the founding employees of SpaceX. Mueller is described as the type of kid who was maybe a bit of an “oddball” who tinkered with fixing things. For example, he discovered a smashed clock in an alley once – and took it home after school and fixed it. Sound familiar? Mueller’s story ends up pretty good – he is still at SpaceX, and helping Elon Musk change the world. As for Ahmed Mohamed, the boy who was arrested in Texas for bringing a clock to school, we have yet to see – as expected there are all sorts of conspiracy theories surrounding his situation. But what we can only hope is that there are more creative minds like Ahmed and Tom Mueller growing up today, and that we are nurturing their tinkering creativity – because they might be the people who create amazing things later that change our world.

At the end of the book, we get some glimpses into his vision for the future (things like putting a roller coaster in both the Tesla and SpaceX factories). Musk might be a little crazy – or he is a total visionary.  I’m not ready to buy a ticket to colonize another planet with him just yet, but now that I know more about him, I will certainly be following what he does next. I wonder what type of celebration he and his friends had after learning that there is water on Mars!

There are two quotes in the book that resonated deeply to me about how important Elon Musk’s lifework is for humanity. First, Vance says early on in the book “He’s the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has ever concocted. He’s less a CEO chasing riches than a general marshaling troops to secure victory. Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you share baby photos, Musk wants to… well…save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation.”

The second one is a quote from Larry Page, co-founder of Google, as saying “If you have all this money, which presumably you are going to give away and couldn’t even spend it all if you wanted to, why then are you devoting your time to a company that’s not really doing anything good? That’s why I find Elon to be an inspiring example. He said ‘Well, what should I really do in this world? Solve cars, global warming, and make humans multiplanetary.’ …those are pretty compelling goals, and now he has businesses to do that.”

The epilogue is telling of Musk’s continued ambitions – I am sure that writing a biography of a man who is constantly coming up with new quests is difficult, because when do you press send when Musk’s story is far from over? The Hyperloop and Musk’s new ambition for space internet are all still unfolding. I am sure there will be a Part 2 and 3 for Musk’s story.

Wine Review: In anticipation of making this book a Book & Wine Wednesday review, I solicited some friends to try a South African wine with me – because Elon Musk is from South Africa, so it seemed fitting. The wine was a Pinotage, made by Barista. Pinotage is a red wine grape, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The description made a bold claim of this wine being like rich coffee and tasting of cherry pie filling.

IMG_3179

I missed the cherry pie filling completely – and instead it had a very rich, smoky flavor. I felt like I was drinking a campfire. It wasn’t exactly good –or bad. It probably needed a peppered steak with it, or a hearty cheese with it, which we did not have after devouring some pizza. I honestly was not sure at first that I should recommend it here, my friends gave super mixed reviews and did not seem to want to “go on record” recommending it.

However, the more that I thought about it, the more it fit with this review. Elon Musk’s style is not for everyone, it can be harsh – but when you get past that to the creativity and passion, it is something that you can enjoy (or it might be above your skill level). I think that is true for this wine. I would not want more than a glass, but perhaps it is because my palate isn’t as refined? I found the Barista for $16, so definitely worth a try for a unique and interesting wine!

Weekend Reading Inspiration

To help inspire your weekend, I am pleased to present a few beautiful quotes on reading. I hope that you have an opportunity to find a cozy spot and some quality time to read this weekend!

open book

 “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”  Anna QuindlenHow Reading Changed My Life

 “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books.” Mary Ann ShafferThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” Maya Angelou

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”  George R.R. MartinA Dance with Dragons

“The world was hers for the reading.”  Betty SmithA Tree Grows in Brooklyn

These quotes and more lovely, inspirational quotes can be found on http://www.goodreads.com, which truly has the most extensive and wonderful list I have seen!

Do you have favorite quotes about reading? Please, share them!