Saturday, August 12, 2017

Double Bind

Double Bind: Women on AmbitionDouble Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Essays on ambition from women in all walks of life - if you have emotions about ambition, there's an essay for you here.

First thoughts: This book gave me some feelings, or at least it brought out feelings I'd already had. Am I ambitious? Do I care about ambition?

Favorite quotes:

"There are infinite facets." -Robin Romm (There are so many ways to be a woman, to view ambition...and we're still surprised that we're not all the same.)

"I and mine are not lean-in women. Mine is a long and illustrious heritage of elegant survivalists and creative realists." -Ayana Mathis

"That's enough being scared, they'd say. We didn't do all of this struggling so you could just give up. Get up now. Take a step. Then another. Then another, like we did." -Ayana Mathis

"What I want - interesting problems, inspiring people, chances to steer old conversations in new directions - is happening all around me, all the time." -Evany Thomas

"I get that my foremothers and sisters fought long and hard so that my relationship to ambition could be so...careless. I get that some foremothers and sisters might read me as ungrateful because I don't want to fight their battles, because I don't want to claw my way anywhere." -Elisa Albert

"Taking care of myself and my loved ones feels like meaningful work to me, see? I care about care. And I don't care if I'm socialized to feel this way, because in fact I do feel this way." -Elisa Albert

"I write to make sense of things, to make order from chaos, to make something from nothing." -Elisa Albert

Recommended for: women, men, ambitious types, passionate folks, cautious and creative individuals, anyone interested in humans.

Final thoughts: Why do women in particular have such strange relationships with ambition? What does that elusive word even mean? This book asks more questions than it answers, and asks them specifically to the reader, showing how personal ambition really is.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Letter to a Future Lover

Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in LibrariesLetter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries by Ander Monson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Collected essays inspired by the things left in library books - this is the type of book I'm always drawn to, the type that I could see myself writing, and yet Monson's take was worlds different from what I expected.

First thoughts: There are moments of genius in these essays. Other times, I'm confused. I know they weren't originally bound and ordered this way, so I wonder if there's an order to the essays that would reveal a different narrative. I found some of the topics extremely interesting with my 1.5 class library school background.

Favorite quotes:
"Each book in which you lose yourself equals ten thousand you will not have time to read." (bittersweet!)

"Own the ways we break, it seems to say: understand that the fault lines of a mind or body are individual, and honor them."

"We often move through books more quickly than is wise." (guilty)

"Everything we've written, what we've read, what we've collected, what we've bookmarked on what pages, what notes we left pressed herein, what we have included, discarded, defaced, lost and then replaced, how it's filed and organized: it's all a carrier, a vector, an edifice of us."

Recommended for: librarian wannabes, love letter leavers, organizers, memory keepers, collectors, and romantics.

Final thoughts: Hmm. An interesting book to dip into, and a solid short-but-slow read, if that's what you're feeling.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Night Links 40

We've made it - I'm officially 29, that magical age that so many women claim to be. (Is that still a thing? It definitely was when I was younger.) When I turned 28, I committed to following my curiosity, and I think we can all agree I did just that. The end of my teaching fellowship brought on lots of questions about my future plans, but a few of the biggest (for me) were "Do I want to be a librarian?" and "How do I become a librarian?"

If I'm being honest with myself, that's been my dream for a while now, and going back to school became step one in the process. Taking a step away from blogging to focus on schoolwork was step two. I'm figuring out the rest of the steps as I go, and stocking up on some wisdom for the journey. Here's where my attention is these days:

I'm truly hoping that this article rings true this year. I think I can feel a glimmer of it.

I've got a year to actually get into the habit of flossing, I guess.

Things a 31 yr old is learning...and things a 29 year old could take to heart.

Feeling similarly at 29...I think I know what I want to be, now I just have to get an employer to agree.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined AmericaBright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An in-depth look at the "power" of positive thinking, and what it's done to America, by the author of Nickel & Dimed.

First thoughts: While I appreciate all the work Ehrenreich clearly did for this book, I got a bit lost in all the referenced studies and histories of positive psychologists. I agree with her basic points, so that kept me with the book, but sometimes it felt like it took her a while to get to those points.

Favorite quote: "A vigilant realism does not foreclose the pursuit of happiness; in fact, it makes it possible."

Recommended for: People wondering why their positive outlook isn't working, realists, and those who think they can attract wealth by thinking about it.

Final thoughts: Ehrenreich's send off is essentially to make heaven on Earth - instead of drawing into ourselves to think our way to happiness, we should work to make the world around us a better place. This seems like such a simple solution, but one that many people (myself included) don't come to on their own. I wish this sentiment had been introduced earlier in the book, and then reinforced in each chapter. It's a beautiful idea, and one that I think most happiness seekers can get behind.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 15, 2017

How to Find Fulfilling Work

How To Find Fulfilling WorkHow To Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick, if simplified look into what makes work "fulfilling" - and if that is even a worthy ideal to want.

First thoughts: I was ready for this to be a fluff read, but the idea of the luxury of fulfillment is brought up on page one, which I appreciated. I'm lucky that my general career path has been meaningful, even if not always the most lucrative. I just want it to stay meaningful!

Career thoughts: What's most frustrating about reading this is knowing what the fulfilling work of your life has been/could be, but needing an employer to agree and hire you.

Favorite quotes:

On growing into your vocation: "Simply by devoting ourselves to work that gives us deep fulfillment through meaning, flow, and freedom....Over time, a tangible and inspiring goal may quietly germinate, grow larger, and eventually flower into life."

On fears and inhibitions: "Yet if we are to move beyond them, if we are to cut the rope and be free, we need to treat life as an experiment and discover the little bit of madness that lies within us all."

Recommended for: thinkers and dreamers, time-clock watchers, those in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and employers.

Final thoughts: This took me about a day to read. It has a few good thoughts, nothing Earth-shattering, but still affirming to read!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Museum of Contemporary Art: Murakami

I've lived in Chicago for almost seven years, and this past weekend I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for the first time! My fiance isn't huge on the concept of "contemporary art," and I'm not passionate about it, so it hasn't been high on our list of things to see, but their current Murakami exhibit beckoned us to finally check a look.
One of the things about contemporary art is it's always changing (to be contemporary, ya know), so none of the exhibitions at the MCA are permanent. Right now (and until September 24), Murakami is the anchor exhibit, taking up most of the top floor, but smaller galleries on the lower floors were...interesting as well.

If I'm being honest, it was difficult to take some of the pieces seriously in these smaller galleries. At times, I literally looked around me to see if we were all being punk'd. While the spaces, how they were arranged, and the presentation of the art were all seamless and effective, I wasn't as immersed in the emotion or talent of the art as I have been at other museums. I mean, there was literally a collection of contact lenses in one of the galleries. This is just a clay bowl with an imprint of a debit card in it. It felt too come mierda (as a Puerto Rican would say) to have a reaction other than "Hmm." I don't doubt that what's in the museum is art, but it's more commentary and statement than art for art's sake.

Takashi Murakami though, didn't disappoint. Neither Jesus nor I knew who he was before seeing his works at the museum, other than that he is Japanese and has collaborated with Kanye West. The entire gallery read like a visual autobiography, tracing Murakami's artistic journey to the creator he is today. I'm always a sucker for diverse portfolios and seeing how an artist (of any kind) evolves. Moods and phases are obvious in retrospect and you can further appreciate recent works knowing where they came from. Murakami is a contemporary artist, yes, but his influences reach deep into Japanese history. Add that to his own personal history, and all those layers add up to a wonderful viewing experience.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Ptolemy's Gate

Ptolemy's Gate (Bartimaeus, #3)Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The final installment of The Bartimaeus Trilogy (which I finally read!) doesn't disappoint, but it does take some commitment. At 501 pages, this wasn't a flimsy read, especially considering it's been over 10 years since I read the second book and even more since the first.

First thoughts: I miss YA - note to self to read more of it! Reading this reminded me of all the joys of reading as a teenager: getting involved in fantastic worlds full of dynamic characters, losing track of time, creating my own fan fictions.

First thoughts 2.0: Did I wait too long to read this? It took me a bit to remember who characters were and where we last saw them. This isn't a fluffy trilogy - especially this last book - so it helped me to re-read at least the summaries of the first two books.

Favorite quote: "It's not about doing. It's about being. Don't expect to understand it: you're a human - you can only see surfaces, and then you want to impose yourself upon them."

Themes: the messiness of humanity, the balance between spontaneity and legacy, the impermanence and resilience of life.

Recommended for: any YA buffs, teachers, fans of Harry Potter/Charlie Bone/etc, parents with tweens & teens, and young adults, of course.

Final thoughts: I have to give this book five stars, despite a slow start. I'm satisfied with how the whole trilogy ended, and can't think of anything I'd change, except to know more (aka, continue the series). I guess I'd change my own reading so that I read all three books closer together!

View all my reviews