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The Hippie Bookworm

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  • Felicia Rogers
  • November 07, 2013 09:21:04 AM
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A Little About Us

Bookworm is the reading hippy who uses books to escape reality and take far out trips. In the afterglow of her trips, Bookworm is always struck with enlightenment from what she just read. She sees how modern literature is influencing cultures, society and even future histories. If you dig it, stay tuned as Bookworm shares her thoughts and ponderings related to the books she's reading.

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A Review: The Hate u Give by Angie Thomas

Amazon and Audible have been after me for months to read the book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It was top of my recommended reads list every time...

Amazon and Audible have been after me for months to read the book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It was top of my recommended reads list every time I logged in and I would scroll past it to select something else. I did not think I would want to read this book.

There were a couple of reasons for this. The first is that for the past 6 months I’ve been on this binge for all things fiction related to adoption. I’m in the process of adopting now and I was looking for inspiration, warm fuzzies and something to give me a sense of peace about my choice to start my family in this way.

But the second reason I didn’t want to read this book is a little more difficult to explain. I’m a lower-middle class, white woman with a brother in the Sheriff’s department. I was afraid I would be reading something that is anti-police, preachy and would make me feel like a loser or less than because of my demographic make up.

So what did I find? Yes, it’s a #BlackLivesMatter-inspired story. Angie Thomas herself said the original idea for the story was inspired by the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant and that later, she decided to expand it into a novel after the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Sandra Bland increased the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Yes, some of the police officers in the book made me want to close the book and put it down. And yes, there were pages and conversations between characters that were dedicated to pointing out differences between growing up white and growing up black and made me squirm a little.

But I also found something else – perspective. This book was able to open my eyes to something that I knew I was missing and could not find on my own.

I do not know what it is like to be inherently afraid of the police. To be taught to fear the police by my elders. When I was afraid of the police it was because I was doing something that would make anyone afraid to draw their attention. But I never thought they would treat me as less than human.

I do not know what it’s like to grow up in a neighbor that is ruled by gang violence. I grew up outside the big city in an area where metro parks and farm fields separate neighbors. I wasn’t naive to gang violence and my middle school and high school experienced their share of issues. But I could easily stay away from all that activity if I chose.

And I do not know what it’s like to grow up in society that is so polarized all the time. I was born in 1981, so I came of age in the 1990’s in Columbus, Ohio. The biggest ongoing contention I can remember in my life is people who were OSU Buckeye fans and those who were Michigan Wolverine fans – never do we mix. There were moments where we were divided with the deaths of Tupac and Biggie Smalls, the Monica Lewinski Scandal and the OJ Simpson trial. But after each event subsided, so would the tension.

This being said, could I find any common ground with the protagonist in the book? Yes, I could.

I know what it’s like to feel “other.” To feel like you have to hide part of yourself away to become more acceptable to the people around you. When I was 21 years old I went to Costa Rica for a semester. My schooling took place at a Missionary School that was associated with my Christian college.

The family I lived with was very religious as were all the people I was associating with at my school. But I was 21 years old, questioning my faith after a failed relationship with a pastor and all I wanted to do was drink, smoke and party. I felt like a fish out of water.

So, I joined a church, volunteered in my new community and prayed before every meal. And every weekend I got the chance, I would gather a few friends and head to La Playa Jaco to drink in the clubs, smoke with the locals and party with the University students.

I have experience with gang violence. While I was living in San Jose the gang violence escalated. Americans were targeted to be robbed by young boys pledging in. I walked around with extra cash on me just for those occasions. And then one night some gang members attempted to steel my friend’s truck with his little girl inside. My friend was forced to shoot one of the gang members and then we watched as the others got into another car and ran over their wounded friend killing him. It was one of the first times I saw people treating others as disposable or as just another casualty in a life that sees too many.

I have lost people ahead of their time for what seems like senseless reasons. Suicide, overdose, reckless driving, cancer and disease – they all had a lifetime ahead of them before it happened. In some instances, we knew it was inevitable but in other instances the death was sudden and jarring.

What did I think of the book?

I loved the book. The storytelling is amazing, the conflict is relatable and current and Angie put a lot of her own truth into the novel which I appreciated. I highly recommend this read to anyone over the age of 12 years old and especially to those young women out there who feel is if they have to become someone else to be accepted by their peers.

Would I see the movie?

I’m still debating. Part of me wants to see how they handled the delicate issues of race, gang violence and cultural polarization. Part of me is afraid they may have clumsily muddled through with an unapologetic one-sided viewpoint. I have loved Russell Hornsby since I discovered him on Grimm and he played an amazing character opposite Regina King in Netflix’s Seven Seconds. I might see the movie just because I want to see how he tackles the role of Star’s father – a ex-con, ex-gang member who keeps his family in the old neighborhood on principle to show you don’t have to subscribe to “the life” to be a successful citizen.

Interested in learning more about the films and books mentioned in this book? Click below to get your own copy.

What were your thoughts? Have you read the book or seen the movie? Let me know if the comments below.


Book Review: Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman

I recently joined a book club at my local church. We read what you would expect, inspirational works by that of Joyce Meyer or Lisa Bevere – anything we believe...

I recently joined a book club at my local church. We read what you would expect, inspirational works by that of Joyce Meyer or Lisa Bevere – anything we believe will help us to improve ourselves or our relationships with others. But the one thing that I love about our group is that we are in all walks of life – one woman is just starting her family, while another is soon to be an empty nester. We’re all so different from one another except that we love to read Christian books – both fiction and non-fiction.

In Crimes Against a Book Club, best friends Annie and Sarah are desperate for money. Annie wants to pay for expensive therapy for her autistic son while Sarah has drained her bank accounts seeking a number of fertility treatments. The friends lament to one another over the phone of their woes and try to encourage each other….

Until one day, Annie is invited to a snooty book club that meets in a La Jolla, CA mansion and comes up with an idea. With Sarah as the front, the two friends concoct a beauty product sales scheme that contains nothing special except a little white powder.

If you’re a fan of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, you’ll LOVE Crimes Against a Book Club. This book is both fun and witty. The characters are so extreme in their self-loathing, alcoholism, ditziness and vanity that they lend a comical feel to the story. And wait until you meet Annie’s mother – the gem of the story.

While I probably won’t be recommending this book to my church book club any time soon, I would recommend this easy and intelligent read to almost any female book club.

A special note: I feel I must say this after I heard about all those women who threw out their Crockpots after watching the mid-season 2 finale of This is Us. Cocaine is not only an illegal substance, but a dangerous one. You never know how it may interact with individual biology and prescription medications. Although I can laugh at this fictional version of events, I would be appalled to learn that it had happened in real life. Drug abuse is no laughing matter and if you suffer from addiction, please seek help.

If you like books like these, check out my review of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth Laban (http://www.thehippiebookworm.com/?p=1533)

What other books would you recommend to readers who enjoyed Crimes Against a Book Club?


5 Books That Spotlight Mental Illness

There has been a huge emphasis recently in bringing awareness and understanding of mental illness. It seems like everyone I meet has struggled with or knows someone who has struggled...

There has been a huge emphasis recently in bringing awareness and understanding of mental illness. It seems like everyone I meet has struggled with or knows someone who has struggled with or is currently struggling with depression, autism, anxiety, addiction and more.

Below are 5 books that have main characters dealing with some sort of mental illness or developmental disorder.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (2-Feb-2009) Paperback by Stephen Chbosky is told in a series of letters written by high school student Charlie to an unknown recipient. Charlie goes into excruciating detail of his awkward, anxiety-driven encounters with peers and friends. At his best Charlie suffers from acute anxiety and at worst he might be autistic. This book has also been turned into a movie starring Emma Watson and Logan Lerman.

 

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green follows the story of Aza Holmes, who suffers from anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as she teams up with best friend Daisy and neighbor Davis to discover the whereabouts of Davis’ father, a fugitive from the law. Davis would rather not know what happened to his father, but the ever-tightening spiral of thoughts that plague Aza every day won’t allow her to drop the case.

 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins tells the story of Rachel Watson, an alcoholic who has hit rock bottom when her husband leaves her for another woman and starts a family, she loses her job and her best friends and reluctant roommate doesn’t want Rachel to stay with her anymore. When a woman Rachel views from her commuter train window every day disappears without a trace, Rachel stumbles into the middle of the investigation and finds that she may have more to contribute than her fantasy about the woman’s life. Rachel’s character must cope with the reality of her broken life while she goes untreated for addiction and depression.

 

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter: A Novel by Kim Edwards is the story of a nurse who takes on the care of a newborn child with Down syndrome. As little Phoebe defies the odds and grows into a little girl and then young woman, her caretaker, Caroline, struggles with the decision to introduce Phoebe to her biological family, including her father who chose to give her away and her twin brother, Paul. While Phoebe herself is a beautiful example of how much challenge and fulfillment raising a child with Down syndrome can be, it’s her parents who brings this book to my list. Filled with regret that spans decades, Dr. David Henry and his wife suffer from immeasurable grief at the loss of their daughter – one believing her dead at birth and other filled with uncertainty of her current life.

 

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught follows the story of Schizophrenic Jason as he finds comradery with two other young adults who suffer with anxiety and psychological disorders similar to his own. When Sunshine, one of the trio, disappears, Jason must sort through the memories and voices to find the truth behind her disappearance. Will he become a suspect? Why can’t he remember what happened?

 

I would recommend any of these books to those who love contemporary fiction and coming of age stories. And who knows, maybe by reading between the lines and getting the point of view of someone suffering from a mental illness, it will allow us to become more compassionate to those who have first-hand knowledge what it’s like to be suffering.

Considering purchasing these books? Check them out here: 

 


Celebrity Autobiographies – from the blessed to the lucky (Part 2)

I got some feedback that I may have been a bit harsh in Part 1 of this compilation of celebrity autobiographies… Specifically to Holly Madison. But in a fairness, I...

I got some feedback that I may have been a bit harsh in Part 1 of this compilation of celebrity autobiographies… Specifically to Holly Madison. But in a fairness, I am a fan of the show The Girls Next Door. Of the Playboy bunnies I’ve been exposed to in my limited way, she’s my favorite because she does come across as very smart. I just think that her book is one big *sigh* about how sidetracked she got at “The Mansion” and how little that part of her life mattered in the end. On we go…

I’m finishing up this mini project by introducing you to these next celebrity autobiographies for when you…

Are counting your blessings…

A-MagnoliaStoryThe Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines is the story of how they went from sweethearts in Texas to a National Super Couple. From living in partially renovated, dilapidated homes to moving to Magnolia Farms, hoping they would be blessed with children to welcoming four “kiddos” into the world over the years, barely getting a pass by HGTV on their new show concept to opening up their very own store visited by people from around the U.S., this couple can’t even keep track of all the blessings they’ve received over the years.

Joanna and Chip also tell about the trials they’ve had along the way – barely scraping together mortgage payments, having to start again on their business and struggling with what they would include in their TV show and what they would keep sacred in the family.

I heard a saying once that went “In a world of Kardashians, be a Joanna Gaines.” I hope you find enlightenment into your own special blessings as you read about how God has been faithful to this couple for years.

 

Are in the mood for a classic Hollywood story…

A-scrappylittlenobodyLiving in a Hollywood apartment and waitressing on the side while attending auditions and cast calls. A girl from an all-American town is in the right movie at the right time and embraces their part in the story. Leaving home at an early age to make it in the big city and keeping the worst of it from your folks as you struggle to make enough to eat regularly. Kinda sounds like that classic Hollywood story that we see depicted on films all the time doesn’t it?

It’s also the story of Anna Kendrick, our all-American scrappy little somebody. If you’re having a hard time placing her, you may be over the age of 35 years old and don’t socialize a  lot with Millennials. Think Jessica from Twilight. Or better yet Beca from Pitch Perfect.

Scrappy Little Nobody is the story of Anna’s upbringing and eventual climb to fame. It’s full of her perpetual insecurities that even the most confident would have if they were being watched by photographers, peers and their entire generation every time they stepped out of the house. Anna tells us her classic tale, but she comes across as human, relatable and spunky.

 

Really Get The Story…

Don’t be afraid of doing a little homework while you read through some of the stories that are told by these incredible people. Watch early episodes of Fixer Upper or dedicate an afternoon to the watching the first two Twilight movies (Twilight and New Moon) – in which Anna’s character Jessica has her biggest supporting roles.
Have you read any celebrity autobiographies lately? What did you think? Leave your comments below and keep the conversation going.


The Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth Laban: I’ve got a new favorite

My boyfriend and I consider ourselves to be somewhat foodies. We love checking out new restaurants, especially those that bring a different spin on foreign cuisine. My favorite restaurants are...

the-restaurant-critics-wife-200x300My boyfriend and I consider ourselves to be somewhat foodies. We love checking out new restaurants, especially those that bring a different spin on foreign cuisine. My favorite restaurants are breakfast diners.

A few weeks ago we went to a new breakfast diner that just opened up. It was a disappointment. They messed up my order, gave me warm bread instead of toast and my significant other’s omelet was less than seasoned. Oh well… we’ll spread the word so our friends won’t have to waste their own money trying to figure out if this place is any good or not. It’s too bad because it’s so close to home.

But my experience reminded me of a book that I just finished called The Restaurant Critic’s Wife. I seriously loved this book! It’s a recipe for success as far as I’m concerned and I’m going to share Elizabeth Leban’s recipe with you.

A Successful Novel Recipe

Ingredients

1 Over-stressed new mother as your protagonist

1 Quirky, clueless husband who makes a living by critiquing others’ livelihoods publicly

1 Jealous toddler and 1 laid back newborn baby

4 Odd helicopter mom neighbors

1 gay waiter

1 tabloid writer

1 restaurant owner’s wife

Directions

  1. Move the over-stressed new mother into a picturesque, urban Philadelphian neighborhood where the helicopter moms have already set up base – make sure to include kids and quirky husband.
  2. Have quirky husband, in an attempt to remain anonymous, forbid over-stressed mother from making friends ensuring that her only contacts will be related to the restaurants that he takes her to for his research.
  3. Set up random meeting between restaurateur’s wife and daughter and over-stressed and now lonely new mother and toddler in a playground setting.
  4. In the same setting, but a few days later, enter gay waiter from critic’s newest assignment.
  5. Mix it all up with a tabloid writer who is hell-bent on exposing the quirky husband as the infamous restaurant critic by outing his wife whenever she socializes with anyone in the industry or eats at any restaurants who have received a bad rating recently.
  6. Let chaos ensue to a point at which a marriage goes into jeopardy, a neighbor crosses the line and a friend is revealed for who they really are.
  7. Enjoy the unpredictable humor, realism on motherhood and warm, cozy feeling of characters coming alive one at a time right in front of your eyes.

OK… maybe I’m over-simplifying… Well, maybe I’m actually over complicating. We’ll have to ask Elizabeth Laban what she thinks if she ever gets to read this review. But honestly, I can see myself reading this again before the year is up – which says a lot considering how much new reading material I have on hand right now.

The fact is that whatever it was she actually used, however she put it together, the end product was a beautiful story about a new mother who is challenged in her life to keep her own control and individuality among a domineering husband and their two young children in a world that is reluctant to see her as a woman separate from her friends, neighbors and family. I highly recommend it to anyone who knows the joys and downfalls of motherhood and those who can laugh easily at what some will do to keep their anonymity.

Do you have a new favorite novel you’ve recently discovered? What kind of recipe did they use to hook you?


Celebrity Autobiographies – from the girl next door to the latest gossip (Part 1)

One of my guilty pleasures in life is looking at all the celebrity gossip – from tabloids at the grocery store checks to a mid-week check-in of E! News. I...

One of my guilty pleasures in life is looking at all the celebrity gossip – from tabloids at the grocery store checks to a mid-week check-in of E! News. I like seeing what lies behind the mask of celebrity, the character they play on the screen. Plus, when I’m having a bad week, it’s a good reminder that it could be worse.

Almost by accident, I started venturing into celebrity autobiographies – Holly Madison, Nia Vardalos, Amy Schumer and more. Which celebrity you want to look into may depend on what’s going on with you in your life.

Without further delay, here is my first installment of celebrity autobiographies for when you…

 

Are feeling discouraged…

A-instantmomThere are a lot of couples out there who are struggling every day with infertility. Women and men who are monthly scrutinized, analyzed, poked and prodded only to be faced with a negative pregnancy test yet again.

Some couples come out on the other side of this journey holding their brand new biological child. Nia Vardalos and her husband had to face the fact that this would not be how their journey ended – but it would end with a child in their arms.

Nia’s honesty regarding her physical and emotional journey into motherhood along with her uncanny Greek humor that we have grown to love in her movies makes Instant Mom an interesting read. And whether you’re struggling with a setback at work or are going through the exact journey that Nia describes, this book is inspiring and reminds us that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Are feeling nostalgic…

A-LowerbacktattooRemember that time we all got drunk and… The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is a compilation of essays written by comedian Amy Schumer. Most of her stories involve drinking or having sex or drinking and having sex… But not all. In between you’ll find essays about Amy’s family, her struggle with public scrutiny and her whirlwind road to fame.

While I found some of Amy’s stories to be somewhat repetitive and tedious, there’s a little of Amy in all of us Gen Xers. It made me nostalgic for the times when it was just us girls going out and tearing up the town. I’m glad to hear that recently Amy has settled a bit and black-out stories are becoming harder to come by.

If you’re not much of a reader, you can get most of these stories on Amy’s new The Leather Special now available on Netflix.But what kind of bookworm are you if you don’t read it?

 

Are feeling bitter…

A-downtherabbitholeWhat do you do after your ex-boyfriend pops the question to a younger, newer version of you? Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny is the story of The Girls Next Door as told by a still bothered Holly Madison. It pulls the curtains back on the Playboy Mansion and points out the frays on the carpet and the old-fashion curfew for the bunnies.

Holly takes us back to the beginning when she was an awkward, young girl trying to make it in Hollywood when the call of the Playboy Mansion promised her a fast-track. Unfortunately, she got sidetracked instead in this “Wonderland” and it took her a while to find the looking glass that would lead her away from this life detour.

Just remember to keep skeptical as you read this memoir. Holly looks at some people with rose-colored glasses and others with the sting of bitterness. This is one perspective of a story that calls for a minimum of five different viewpoints.

 

Really Get The Story…

I recommend reading these books via audio book. The authors themselves narrate the stories and so there’s no mystery to the inflection, lightheartedness or sarcasm that comes across in their voices during their stories.

Have you read any celebrity autobiographies lately? What did you think? Leave your comments below and keep the conversation going.


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