Work Wife by Erica Cerulo: Geared heavily towards female entrepreneurs and building their businesses with a like-minded female partner. I read this as a manager in a large company who has several work wives- my boss, Stacy, and my “Brunch Bunch,” Margot, Stacey, Magen, and Courtney, but a lot of the info inside didn’t fit those of us who were either climbing the ranks together or living every work day supporting each other. Rather, there was research inside on how females work together and bounce ideas off of one another as their businesses grow, and a lot of citation of studies done on why females lead, work together, and react in business so differently than the men who have been the CEOs for so long do. Not a bad read, regardless of your position within a company. As long as you’re a female advancing in your career, there’s something here for you.
Tidying Up by Marie Kondo- I watched only the first episode of Tidying Up on Netflix one night when the man and I couldn’t decide on what to pull up. Immediately after, B made me watch the Family Guy episode that parodies it, but that’s irrelevant. In that first episode, I watched as Marie Kondo knelt in her clients’ home, thanking the space for it’s stability and shelter. It’s this, not the actual art of KonMari that made me pick up her first book. I’m a little inspired to start going through my things to see what I need and don’t, but I’m not sure I can follow her process to the letter. More than anything, I’m a little more apt to thank my shoes when I take them off now (“Thank you for protecting my feet all day”) than I am to completely minimize my belongings. All that said, I’m hugely appreciative of the way Kondo freely admits through her writing that she isn’t perfect. She takes us through the process of trial and error that got her to where she is now.
Bunny by Mona Awad- (Spoilers!!) Oh, sweet mercy. I picked this one up only because of the cover. The title is a nickname the man has given me, and the art looked a little Hunt Slonem- inspired. If, however, I’d looked more closely and realized that the shout of praise on the front was from Lena Dunham, or, if I’d taken a look at the reviews on Goodreads, I would have left this one in Carmichael’s, rather than in the first Free Little Library I found when we landed in California. I’ll try to sum up: The main character realizes she’s a witch of sorts when she gets roped into a cult of little-girl-outfit-wearing MFA students who all call each other “Bunny” because they keep trying to create the perfect men out of bunny sacrifices. Main character realizes she’s actually more powerful than them, because both her best friend and best friend’s boyfriend are creations she’s made in the past. All the while, the readers eyes cross at the author’s writing because she tried to be so over-the-top descriptive. Skip it.
When I loved You by Carrianne Leung- This one was interesting and sweet. Multiple short stories are woven together, told by characters who live in the same tiny neighborhood in a Toronto suburb in the 1970’s. All of them stem from a summer that several parents in the neighborhood committed suicide, and some of these are told by those who did before they killed themselves. Each chapter/story reads as easy as a journal entry, and are told by a broad spectrum of folks, including a 12-year old girl with a boyfriend for the first time, an old grandmother recently brought from China to live with her daughter’s family, a depressed and recently relocated teenager, and a kleptomaniac who’s found out. Through their eyes, we see the neighborhood’s secrets: unhappy marriages, adolescent behaviors, sexuality struggles, racial struggles…. It’s a quick read, and one I highly recommend.
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett- One that held my attention because of the writing, the emotion, and the plot… (Spoilers!!) A somewhat closeted lesbian girl is in love with her best friend, who marries the main character’s brother. Brother and main character’s dad kills himself, leaving main character to take over the family taxidermy business. In the meantime, the main character and brother’s mom comes into herself for the first time in her life since not being under the father’s thumb, shaves her head, and starts creating strange, sexual art with the taxidermied pieces from the store. Read it.
The Death of Bunny Munroe by Nick Cave- This book has sat on my shelf for way too long… I think it moved to 4th Street with me in 2009, yet I’d never cracked the cover. Written by Nick Cave (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, not Chicago artist Nick Cave), we follow a man named Bunny Monroe as he tries to raise his very awkward young son after his wife’s suicide. He’s a drunk, and a drug and sex addict peddling beauty products door-to-door, dragging his son along with him to some seedy places. It’s harsh and dirty, with a sad and non-conclusive ending, but made for a quick read while in Vegas. It’s a little difficult to read if you’re triggered in any way.
The Joke’s Over by Ralph Steadman- As prep for Vegas, I made my way through Ralph Steadman’s memoir of his time with Hunter S. Thompson. Partly because of the gruff, British way Steadman speaks, and partly because he introduced characters into conversation in a way that made me think I should know who he was talking about, it was a long and stunted read. I was a little taken aback at how distant he and Thompson seemed at times, while at others, the reader is led to believe they were the best of friends. Ending with Thompson’s funeral, this one sprinted through decades of their partnership. If you’re a fan of either man, I’d recommend it.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff- This is the third or fourth time I’ve read Fates and Furies since first picking it up in 2016. It tells us of a marriage from both sides- first, the husband, then the wife. We see that things aren’t always as they seem from just one side of the story. I won’t go into detail, because I believe that if you’re a reader, you absolutely must read this book. It has everything… Romance, vengence, Shakespeare, mermaids. My friend Niki and I discussed it a few years ago, a conversation that you can read here.
Noir by Christopher Moore- Yet another Christopher Moore novel!! This one was set in San Francisco in the 1930’s, when a bartender falls for a curvy gal who pops in for a drink, and together they navigate a mysterious death, SF’s Chinatown, the rare poisonous snake trade in said Chinatown, government intrusion around Area 51, and a happy little alien. As all Moore’s novels are, it’s laugh out loud funny, well researched, and imaginative. I’ll always recommend him.
A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon- Mark Haddon has a way of writing that sways from one end of the spectrum to the other. His second book, A Spot of Bother, introduces us to a quiet British family preparing for a wedding, while the father of the bride- a recent retiree- experiences a severe bout of anxiety and hypochondria. The father withdraws into himself more and more in the midst of an anxiety-induced depression, while the rest of his family tries to brush it off and deal with the mother’s affair and the daughter’s cluster of a wedding day. Funny, in the British sense.