Educated – Tara Westover

Rating: 4/5

It’s impossible to love a book as filled with trauma, abuse, and violence as this one is, but nonetheless it was absolutely riveting. My jaw hit the floor over and over again as Westover kept revealing the next crazy scheme her father roped the family into, and I’m still coming to terms with the knowledge that there are still people out there who believe so strongly in fundamentalist survivalism that they refuse to go to hospitals and visit doctors, bury thousands of gallons of gasoline and other “supplies” underground for when the rapture comes, and think the government is out to get them at all costs, among other things. I mean, if you just faced a large, fiery explosion head-on and are suffering third-degree burns across your body and your face is literally melting off, go to the hospital! Don’t just wait for God and essential oils to work their magic on you!

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Snowy Saturdays

It’s a snowy and freezing afternoon here in NYC, and I’m so happy to be curled up inside where it’s warm! I lit a toffee pumpkin scented candle that’s making the room smell absolutely delicious, have a cup of peach green tea steeping, and the rest of my day is wide open – I’m super content and happy.

I just finished reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and am continuing with Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener. Think I’ll read until the end of the afternoon, and then catch up a little on work, clean/organize the apartment, and do some general planning for the next few months.

Hope everyone’s having a good long weekend!

Weekly Listens, #1

I listen to a lot of podcasts – a lot! – and so I thought it might be fun to start a new series rounding up what I’ve listened to recently. In this first edition, a look into utopian societies throughout history, an interview with Andrew Yang on his platform as a presidential candidate, and jokes flying everywhere between John Mulaney and Conan O’Brien.

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Primates of Park Avenue – Wednesday Martin

Rating: 2/5

Let’s just start off by saying, the fact that the front cover has a quote by Amy Chua of all people basically says what you need to know about this book and its author. That is, if the zebra-print pencil skirt and cheetah-print curtain and matching cheetah-print Loubs didn’t already give it away.

Anyway, this book is NUTS! Here’s the good and the bad:

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Because Internet – Gretchen McCulloch

Rating: 3.5/5

I first heard about this book from an episode of the Ezra Klein show, but it wasn’t quite the book I expected going in – I thought it’d be more educational and that I’d learn more about how internet slang and memes and such developed, but it was more nostalgic and entertaining than anything else.

The book did a great job at putting into words things that an internet user already innately knows, but not so much at providing new information. For example, being a Full Internet Person, I already know the “anatomy” of a keysmash – usually starts with “a” or “asdf”, made up of the middle row of keys on a keyboard, doesn’t usually have the same letter repeated, if it doesn’t look genuine enough then people will often delete and do it again (that made me laugh, so real) – but I didn’t necessarily want to read about it. And the book is filled with instances like this. It was entertaining as a recap of things I totally do on the internet, but not as informative as hoped.

Most Anticipated Book Releases of Early 2020

It was SO HARD to pick just three upcoming books I’m excited about! I’ve been browsing through lists and opening a tab for every book that has sounded interesting and now I have like…40 extra tabs open and each one is so small I can barely click on it 😂 I finally went through and managed to winnow it down to three four, despite this being called Top 3 Tuesday, because I just couldn’t not include one of these.

My first two picks are both about technology and its ever-encroaching role in our lives (and where it can go so wrong), and my second two picks have to do with what I call “the unattainable, ideal Manhattan woman” – the one who’s a power professional (law, finance, consulting, etc), works out 5x a week and is perfectly toned, drinks green smoothies for breakfast, etc. I didn’t know I was so interested in these topics until now!

SO, these are the four books I’m most excited about in the first half of 2020:

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Bad Blood – John Carreyrou

Rating: 4/5

I devoured this a few weeks ago but am still reeling at just how corrupt Theranos was. Back around 2012-2014 I remember marveling at this new Elizabeth Holmes figure that every media outlet was mythologizing, and thinking how incredible it must be to be so brilliant and wishing I’d been born so talented too. When the truth came out, I was scandalized and shocked alongside everyone else, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I realized just how fraudulent the company really was.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I can’t believe it’s already 2020 and a new decade! The past week in London has been amazing, but I’m ready to start off this year already. My resolutions include:

  • Reading: Finish 24 books, with at least 4 of those counting towards my Harvard 100 challenge
  • Career: Switch paths altogether and find a job in a new industry that I genuinely enjoy
  • Fitness: Run a half-marathon
  • Social: Respond to texts and other messages within 24 hours

I’ll check in at the end of the year to see how I did on these 🙂 Hope 2020 starts off well for everyone!

P.S. One of the best things about NYC during winter is the department store holiday windows. I make it a point to go see them every year – Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Saks 5th Ave, Macy’s – and the one above is part of this year’s Bergdorf Goodman exhibit. It was my favorite this year!

Top 5 Reads of 2019

This was a weird reading year for me. For most of the year, books fell off my priority list as I got caught up in work, relationships, travel, and video games, and so from January through October I read a grand whopping total of 3 books. 3!!! I must’ve started at least a dozen others, but those 3 were the only ones I managed to finish in their entirety.

And then mid-November rolled around and I realized – damn, I haven’t read in a while and really miss it, and this is the least reading I’ve done in years! Suddenly the bug came rushing back and before you know it, here we are a month later and I’ve read 11 books in the past four weeks. Motivation is such an amazing force. I feel a little abashed calling myself a reader and book blogger when I’ve read just 14 books this year, but everyone has their down years so here’s one of mine.

I thought about it some more though and also realized that a big part of why I wasn’t reading anymore was that I was being really selective with what I did read, which was basically only literature and classics. And while I love the classics, I was getting really burned out on them, so this past month has been me loosening up with my book choices and learning that “fun”, easy reads aren’t any less valuable – in fact, it’s probably what I need the most after years of working my way through lists of the classics. I’m not sure when I became such a book snob but I’m definitely out to correct it, and I’m glad I became aware of it and can start enjoying more types of books out there.

Anyway, the best 5 books I read this year!

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