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The small pile of books I read this January.

I read three books in January. One I loved, one I hated, and one changed my life a bit. Let’s start off with the book I hated: The Witches of Eastwick.This is one of the most poorly written, misogynistic, and stereotypical books depicting women I have ever read. That’s right- ever. Bonus: It was blurbed by Margaret Atwood and other literary luminaries as being a masterpiece and ahead of its time. Really? It was written in 1984. Here are the problems I had with the book, and you tell me if it is in-line with something ahead of its time for the mid-1980s

The witches, Sukie, Alex, and Jane, were so poorly written that I had a very difficult time telling them apart, even when they were in conversation with each other on the phone. They are all artists; writer, musician, sculptor. They are all divorced. They all have children whom they loath. They are jealous of other women and each other and they gossip about constantly. Here is how we are supposed to tell them apart – they have different hair colors and one thinks she is fat.

These three women, who have magical powers (that are never explained) use those magical powers to…wait for it….no actually – what would YOU use magical powers for? Especially if you are a single mother of multiple children in a falling down house? (Yes, all of their houses are in serious disrepair. I’m assuming because NO MAN). Would you, I don’t know – manifest money or success or a clean house even? Ha! Not these women! They use their powers to  get out of awkward social situations, hurt/kill women they don’t like, and most often – to seduce mediocre married men in their town. Seriously, they aren’t even seducing hot married men. One is actually Joe the plumber and is described as balding, hairy, and slightly overweight. Also? He has six children.  What a catch!

Blah blah, a demonic/type dude comes to town, they have orgies – because obviously – OH! I forgot to mention, did you know that women have hard nipples and think about them  ALL THE TIME? Well, John Updike reminds us of this truth about every two pages. Anyhow, demonic man comes to town, he marries another women, witches get mad, kill her, and demon dude skips town with dead wife’s brother.

Guess how this book ends? With the women growing apart, and each manifesting a nice, unmarried, mediocre man who marries her and whisks her away.

Apparently this book is supposed to be a commentary on effects of Puritanical values on women, which I get. However, the depiction of women is SO off base and off putting it rendered the book nearly unreadable. Updike is so grossly incompetent in his understanding and description of women that it’s hard to justify this as anything but a male-gaze, mansplaining novel of what women really want which is –  to have sex with mediocre married men.  Two thumbs down.

BUT! It’s not a total loss! Because the movie, which came out in 1987 and starred Michelle Pfieffer, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Jack Nicholson, is FANTASTIC. It fixed everything that was wrong with the book. The women are distinct and different. They manifest the demon dude – Jack Nicholson who is the embodiment of what each of them want. Instead of harming an innocent women, in the end they kill HIM as he has been manipulating and harming them. Oh also? They love their kids.  AND? Instead of marrying random dudes and never seeing each other again, they move into a huge mansion TOGETHER with no dudes. See how that works? Highly recommend it if you want a fun, 80’s woman-power movie.

Look at this awesomeness. Via The Hollywood Reporter

Book reviews to be continued tomorrow!

Why Amanda Palmer Is Like a Farmer

Via Creative Commons. If you read the book you’ll get it.


I just finished The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer last night. I’ll try to tell you about it without spoilers. You should read this book, especially if you are someone working in the creative economy right now. If you don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, read her wiki. I’ll wait. Also, watch her TED talk.

Her  book is part autobiography, part expansion on her TED talk. She explains in depth  how she’s made a living as a musician making some pretty bold choices, like: ditching her label, not charging for music, creating a Kickstarter to fund making a record. She’s gotten a lot of flack from these choices from other artists and just the general public. A lot of people seem to have a big problem with crowdfunding, and I have mixed feelings about it, in certain cases. However, the way Palmer, and many reputable Kickstarters set-up their ‘asks’ is not unlike the CSA I join each year for vegetables. I prepay a certain amount of money in the spring, and then throughout the summer I get vegetables. The prepayment allows for the farmers to have money when they need it to buy seeds, equipment etc. This is exactly how Palmer’s Kickstarter worked. She needed money to make a record. People prepaid for the record and other goodies (some even bought private concerts) when the record was done, she sent it to them. That said, she already had a really good fanbase and was vetted as a known and reputable artist. She made sure to give some examples in her book of Kickstarters that have failed, what went wrong, and how it could have gone better.

This book is not entirely about Kickstarter, it touches a lot on her personal life, more than I was expecting actually, and I learned a lot about her life and her marriage to Neil Gaiman (who is an amazing writer). But she also speaks volumes about trust and how in her experience people are willing to help, if they are simply asked.

Finally, another thing that stuck with me from this book is that there are, as you know, lots of haters out there. People who were just generally shitty and said horrible thing to her and about her in the press and directly via her website, on many various topics. Palmer is very frank about this. People say mean shit and it hurts. She hears it, she sees it. What I want to know is, what do people gain from it? In this lovely book about trust and empathy, the trolls sneak in. Just as they do in real life. Of course not everyone likes Palmer’s music or how she dresses or how she looks or how she makes her living. That’s OK. We don’t all have to like each other. However, what is gained by being mean to her, just for the sake of being mean? Does it make people feel better when they write shitty things? One of my final thoughts, and I had many while reading this book, is that we all need to do better to just keep our mouths shut. If you don’t like something and it’s not hurting you or anyone else – especially if it’s art or music or writing, just shut up about it. Nothing good is coming from personally attacking the creator.

In conclusion, no matter what you think about Amanda Palmer personally, or about her music, this is a great book. Highly recommend.


2015 Reading List

Via Creative Commons

I haven’t done this before, though I LOVE lists, so I’m surprised I haven’t. Here’s a list of books I am definitely going to read in 2015. A lot of these just showed up on ‘Best of 2014’ book lists (which I can’t get enough of) but some of these are books that have been on my to-read list on Goodreads for a long time.  I set a goal of 12 books this year, which seems really low compared to the enormous goal lists I’m seeing out there. I don’t really care. I’m finishing my last semester of college. I have two kids. If I can read a book a month, I consider myself a smashing success. I may bust through this list with lightning speed, who knows. Anyhow, here it is:

1. The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer – disclaimer ( I am already cheating. I got this book for Christmas but am only about 1/2 way through. I’m counting it for this year. It’s pretty good.)

2.  Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

3. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, Yumi Sakugawa

4. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott

5.Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

6. Father of the Rain, Lily King

7. We Are Water, Wally Lamb

8. White Teeth, Zadie Smith

9. Yes Please, Amy Poehler

10. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry

11. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris

12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

What an odd list, eh? If you know me you’re probably like, “Where’s all the horror and murder?” Truth be told, I’ve kind of lost my taste for it lately. I’ve been super into biographies and memoir. Novels. Less violence. Also, as you can see by my last entry, I have a renewed interest in reading the classics. True confession, I am woefully, woefully lacking in classical reading. Thanks to a set of ‘Read The Classics Comic Books’ my grandmother gave me when I was about 10, I at least have a pretty good idea of the major plot points of all the greatest hits. I have never read the Brontes, either one. No Dickens. No Tolstoy. Moby Dick? Nope. I know. I’m a horrible creature. Luckily I can get most of them for free on my Kindle.  Well, that’s the list. I have no idea what order I will read them in. Oh, well actually I take that back. I am currently reading The Art of Asking, and next will read Traveling Mercies because I just got it at the library. Other than THAT I have no idea what’s next. Probably I’ll work my way through depending on what’s at the library – aka free.

First Ever Blog Giveaway!

I’ve decided to do a giveaway! No, I’m not trying to drum up likes or traffic. I think some bloggers, like me, actually give stuff away because they want to do something nice, and believe in a product. I’m giving away 2 copies of this book:

This book is amazing. While it is Buddhist pilosophy, I think that it could be useful for anyone of any religion or non-religion. (Shout out to the Atheists!) I myself, in case you were wondering, am Agnostic. The most wishy-washy of all religious types. I pretty much steal from everyone and mash it up how I see fit. I digress. Back to the book, it’s fantastic. It’s not just for times of grieving or hard times, it’s a great read even if things are going well.

As Amazon says, this book explains:
•  Using painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion, and courage
•  Communicating so as to encourage others to open up rather than shut down
•  Practices for reversing habitual patterns
•  Methods for working with chaotic situations
•  Ways for creating effective social action

I mean, who couldn’t benefit from this book?

I’ve decided to do a giveaway because I love this book so much I’ve been wanting to send it to everyone I know. I feel that strongly about it. However, it might seem odd to my friends if they all just start getting copies of this book in the mail. By doing a giveaway, people can just tell me they want it!

Oh, I’m supposed to let you know, this is totally my own thing. I’m not being paid to do this giveaway. Amazon doesn’t have anything to do with it, Pema Chodron doesn’t have anything to do with it. I don’t know her, or anyone at Amazon. (I think that should cover it, right?)

So! If you want a copy of this book, just write a comment. Only enter once. Don’t be greedy. If you enter more than once, and you win, I will not send you the book! How do you like that, cheaters?

I will select 2 winners at random in 2 weeks. (Oct 10, 2014) Good luck!

PS, if this goes well, I might do more book giveaways. I love books.

PPS, it would be really nice if you’d share this far and wide. I’d like to spread the love for this book, but you don’t get extra entries or anything. Also, be sure to comment HERE and not on FB. Thank you.