Favorite Reads of August 2017

Reading. What is it good for?
Absolutely everything.
And I just can’t live without it.
I don’t think I’ve ever fallen asleep without a book in my hand since I learned my letters as a child.

My top reads this month:

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

I fell into The Heirs as though someone had made my bed up with the crispest of sheets, placed down pillows of the most perfect loft at my head and handed me a plate of divine chocolate and cheese. As written on the publishers site, yes, this “is a tale out of Edith Wharton for the twentieth century.”  “Fans of Salinger’s stories about Manhattan’s elite will enjoy this novel about privileged siblings who grapple with the state of their inheritance and long-held secrets that emerge in the wake of their father’s death.” — InStyle

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Reads (and Listens) for July 2018

“A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. ” Abraham Lincoln

Reading keeps me sane. Highlighted here are some recent reads, some not-so-recent, but all ones that made an indelible impression on my heart and mind.

The One Man


The One Man kept my up long past midnight, pushed  my heart into my throat—Andrew Gross made real every cliche used in book blurbs. Yes. I could not put it down.

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Top 10 Reasons to Come to Belmont Books on June 28 (Wed!)

  1. Belmont Books is a dream come alive for my wonderful friends, Kathy Crowley & Chris Abouzeid—writers, dreamers, community-minded people, big-hearted, ridiculously funny (Chris) & ridiculously motherly (Kathy). Celebrate with us as we toast them.

 

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  1. Ellen Meeropol’s new novel, Kinship of Clover, was chosen as an NPR small press ‘best.’ Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love wrote “Midway through this wonderful novel, you will find a woman dancing in her wheelchair. That scene is one of many memorable moments in a story about young people organizing for a sustainable future, even as their once-radical elders try to hold on to a gradually disappearing past. This is a book about time and love, politics and family, and it is sharply observant and deeply compassionate.”
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My Recommended Reads (and Listens) for June

 

Reading is my life blood—between pleasure reading and research, I usually have three or four books going at a time. Including, of course, an audio book for when I’m driving, cleaning, or folding laundry. This month, the books that kept me awake were:

For depth and dignity: HUNGER by Roxane Gay. I can’t get enough time to inhale this book as fast as I want; which may be good, as this book requires thought (though it’s clear as water to read.) Totally up to the hype and more.

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The Amazing Jewish Book Fair Ride

 Don’t forget; Jewish people read an enormous amount,” my lovely (and Jewish) literary agent said before my book launch. “We really love books.”

I nodded. Yes, I knew that—at least I knew it inasmuch as I was Jewish and I read—as did my mother, my sister, and my daughters, but could I raise that sample to the status of landslide? Discerning what was true in my culture was fraught with difficulty. I grew up with a slight case of anomie, surrounded by a cultural belief that all-things-Jewish=equals families-pushing-one-towards-great-achievement, while, among other family oddities, my grandmother taught me to shoplift.

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Wearing Their Husband’s Sins

When Bernie Madoff’s crimes came to light, Ruth Madoff caught the rage right along side him. With no evidence, she was thrown on a virtual pyre—charged guilty by association and wedding ring.

The world expected Hillary Clinton to answer for Bill Clinton’s infidelities, both by denying the charges in the aftermath and then absorbing the blame as she ran for president. Donald Trump’s infidelity was somehow equated with Hillary Clinton’s husband’s infidelity.

Camille Cosby has been consistently berated, asked to answer for her husband’s crimes, as Beth Teitell wrote in the Boston Globe:

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Raising Funds to End Child Sex Trafficking

On Thursday, May 11, caring smart women were in motion: The Women’s Group of the Greens, ably led by Cookie Edell and Irene Bochner, raised funds for ECPAT-USA, a much needed organization protecting children.

“For more than two decades ECPAT-USA has been at the forefront of the fight to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children. We go to the source of the problem by fighting for new and improved laws, encouraging the private sector to do its part, and raising awareness among those who may be in a position to identify a child who is being commercially sexually exploited.” from ECPAT-USA

            Karen Weiss, Randy Susan Meyers, Deborah Morea

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SLUT: The Play & The Brave Girls of Hingham High School

 

 

Next time I worry about our world, I’ll think of the girls like those in the Hingham High School Drama club who are brave enough to put on a play which will delve head-first into the supercharged issue of rape culture and slut shaming with its spring production of the simply yet provocatively titled play “Slut, written by Katie Capiello.”

“Katie Cappiello’s powerhouse script examines the double standard that celebrates sexual activity by boys but denigrates it for girls.” —Time Out New York

 

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Money, Me & THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET

Money. It’s our last taboo. People spill seamy details about their sex lives before talking about their finances, salary, or savings accounts. And yet, despite this curtain of silence, money is not only (supposedly) the root of all evil, it’s at the heart of relationship battles, shattered dreams, and midnight wakefulness.

Money (sadly) is often how men measure their worth and how women measure men. We forgive dreary people their dreadfulness a lot quicker when they possess fat checkbooks—particularly when their riches are combined with a successful career. Writers laugh louder at the jokes of acclaimed fellow authors. Relatives give a bit more latitude to rich aunties and uncles. All of us, whether with awareness or not, bow a bit in the face of a fat wallet.

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Soothing Words For Bad Reviews



comfort-food-300x168

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

For every moment of awe a writer has at seeing her book on a shelf, at being told by readers they found comfort they found in your words, for each time you visit a warm and loving book club, there come the time when you read the word “blech” in a reader’s review. It’s part of the business and there’s no answer except chocolate and wine. It hurts. Writers from NYT bestsellers to just-on-the-shelves authors must find ways to soothe themselves through the pain.

I come bearing brownies and a shot of tequila. The comfort needed for times when nothing but schadenfreude will do. I would offer mead to Shakespeare, had he lived in the time of Amazon and read this review of Romeo and Juliet:

As far as I’m concerned, the only good thing about “Romeo and Juliet” is that it spawned the plot for “West Side Story,” which, although laden with cheese, doeshighlight some of the more noble facets of the human character (along the less noble) and features some wonderful music. “Romeo and Juliet” will, however, simply annoy anyone with half a brain.”

A newly published author-friend privately spilled her horror (to a group of not-surprised writers) when, after a spate of reader-love, she found this on a popular book site: “To those who loved this book, may we never meet on subway, train, or plane.”

Shock usually follows the first angry reader review. I don’t think they’re as hurtful as critical professional reviews, but they go where NYT reviewers would never tread.

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