Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Introducing Show and Tell Book Reviews!

Since I have officially announced that I am a member of The Thousander Club, I wanted to add a new facet to my blog: book reviews. I've been reading a lot lately and in writing my short reviews for the club, I have discovered that I really enjoy the challenge of eloquently summarizing the plots to share with others (lol I guess "eloquently" is a bit of a lofty claim, but I can hope).

I have already had 2 of my reviews posted on The Thousander Club blog, so I will start with those.
Critics and readers alike out there have already sung the praises of Eat, Pray, Love for many years; now that I have read it myself I can affirm that all of the accolades are extremely well deserved. I became interested in Elizabeth Gilbert a few months ago when I came across her contribution to Ted Talks. I could see that she was an amazing person in just that short speech and I wanted to get to know her better. What better way than to read her “freakish success” (as she calls it) of a book, Eat, Pray, Love.

The book begins with Liz (the author) in serious trouble. She knows she is unhappy and decides to pray for help. She says her first ever prayer on her bathroom floor in the middle of the night and it starts her incredible journey to better know God. She comes up with a plan to get out of her own element and really explore the world and its cultures to figure out what the best path is to find God in her own life. This starts with a messy and unfortunate divorce from which it takes a lot of time to recover. She decides she will live out the next year as follows: 4 months in Italy (eating), 4 months in an ashram in India (praying), and will round off her journey with 4 months in Bali (unplanned at the time, but this becomes the loving). Originally her plan was a little different, but she learns how sometimes you must be flexible and intuitive to go where your own personal journey will lead you.

What I have described so far could easily be mistaken for a review of the film based off this book, but let me assure you (as is usually the case) the book is so much better than the movie. The movie covers the high points of the plot and, to be fair, does a very good job of telling the main story – the road to self-understanding and God. The book just has so much more to offer. I learned what an insider’s take is on the cultures Liz visited, not just a travel guidebook snippet. I learned fascinating things like the true reasons and thinking behind the practice of yoga, that ashrams are non-denominational and facilitate all seekers of God, and that pizza margherita tastes best when eaten in Naples, Italy.

Eat, Pray,Love taught me that a balanced life is something that takes discipline and devotion to achieve; and balance can only be found when you let God in show him your gratitude each and every day. How fantastic is it to find a (technically) secular book that promotes a personal relationship with God?! It may sound cliché, but I feel like I am a better person for reading this book, and I only hope that I can employ just a few of the lessons in my own life because I know it would only increase my own happiness.

(Eat, Pray, Love review posted on The Thousander Club here)

I was fortunate enough to be selected as a "giver" for World Book Night 2013. I found out about the organization last year and was a giver then as well (I gave out Little Bee by Chris Cleave). This year, I was thrilled to be responsible for handing out Bossypants by Tina Fey. Having never read the book before (but always wanting to), my giving out 20 copies of it gave me the excuse I needed to finally open it up.

Bossypants is an autobiography that chronicles Tina Fey's life. She touches on some interesting experiences from when she was 5 (did you know she had a large scar on her face?! I never noticed it before reading this book). She tells several funny anecdotes from her teenage and college years, talks a bit about her family and friends and job history. All of this was funny, but the book really took off for me when she gets into her time at Saturday Night Live. Before reading this book, I never knew that she was actually a writer on the show for years before anyone ever saw her. She only hit the camera when she was chosen to read the Weekly News Update apart from Jimmy Fallon. After a while, she decided to branch out and started 30 Rock on her own. She had already quit SNL and solely worked on 30 Rock for 2 years when Sarah Palin was chosen as the running mate for the 2008 election and Lorne Michaels asked Tina back to do her impersonation. I found that all very interesting. 

Tina Fey goes into great detail about her successes with the Sarah Palin impersonations (that only lasted 6 weeks), her (somewhat un-sought-after) critical acclaim for 30 Rock, and even her battling personal anxieties with raising her daughter. The book's main theme is how women can be just as funny as men, despite belief to the contrary in the professional side of things.

Bossypants was just as funny as I would expect from Tina Fey. It's hilarious and a little dorky and embarrassing - the perfect combination! 

(Bossypants review posted on The Thousander Club here)

I will be catching up with a few of the other books I've read over the last month this week, so just know you'll be seeing them more frequently in the next week than you will later on. I'm not that speedy of a reader :)

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