September Wallpaper

Here is next month’s free wallpaper! I had so much fun creating this one…and JK Rowling is the icing on the cake! Hope you enjoy and as always, share it with family, friends and on all your social media accounts! Tag me too @bookishfolk!

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Here We Are

Author: Aarti Namdev Shahani

Published: October 1, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books 

Where I picked up my book: From publisher (THANK YOU!!!)

Key Words: immigration, family dynamics, memoir  

My Rating: 3.75

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My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like I was given a front seat at a table that I have never sat at before…and I truly felt honored to be there. This is the story of the Shahani family, who came from India, through Casablanca, to Queens, New York. It’s a first hand, poignant account of what happens when undocumented people land on US soil, how undocumented people are treated, what is at risk for undocumented people, what happens to become documented, what life is like after you are documented, and everything in between. Yes, this is a first and account and is unique from this particular woman, but from what I hear and from what I have read, this story resonates with many families trying who are trying to call the United States home. We see the struggles, the pitfalls, the risks, the desires, the stresses, the intense fears…but we also see the hope, the laughter, the strength and the determination. Here We Are opened my eyes to not only what the process is like and specifically, how this family dealt with the good, the bad and the ugly of coming to America.

Here are some of my takeaways about our immigration system:

1. Immigrating to the US is not for the faint of heart and why in the world do we make it so complicated and corrupt?!

2. It seems like the story for every immigrant family is struggle. Struggling in their home country, and then struggling when they get to the US. As a country, we can do better to help with the transition. No one should have to live in cockroach infested homes, or a home that has a water leak causing toxic mold to grow because they are afraid to report it to a landlord who could report them as undocumented. No one should have to live with broken windows or broken heat in the middle of winter because they are nervous to set off someone’s radar and potentially get deported. It’s infuriating and we need a better system to support families that want to come to the US.

3. Our justice system is broken and corrupt and toxic, especially when dealing with immigrants. We can, and need to, do better!

4. In conclusion-WE CAN DO BETTER!

There is soooo much more in this memoir to talk about and discuss, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I went in pretty blind and was completely taken by Shahani’s journey. This is an articulate memoir that is sure to infuriate you, make you cry, make you laugh, help you better understand the role of family in many cultures and ultimately…I hope, lead you to talk more about immigration and our role in it all. Our country is intrinsically tied to the immigration experience and I think this book will not only help give a voice to many immigrants who are currently voiceless, but help to shine a brighter light on a highly relevant topic of today. It’s an honor to have read Aarti Namdev Shahani’s story and I’m thankful for her courage to write it. I will definitely be on the lookout for anything else Shahani offers us!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

In at the Deep End

Author: Kate Davies

Published: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  

Where I picked up my book:  gift from publisher (THANK YOU!!!)

Key Words: LGBTQ+, Romance, Adult themes 

My Rating: 3

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My Thoughts:

Wow this was a steamy book. I mean, for me-this might have been the steamiest book I’ve ever read. BUT the cherry on top is-this is a queer, steamy novel and as a queer myself…I ‘m ALWAYS here for more representation! Just a quick note: when reading this, I think it’s good to keep in mind that all people are different, relationships are different, what goes on behind closed doors is different and if you like what is going on in your life behind those closed doors-keep doing you! This is an example of one person’s, fictional, sex life, so don’t get concerned that your life might not look like this. You do you. And if it does look like this-that’s great too! I’ve talked to a few other queer bookstagrammers and we all kind of had the same slight panic of, “are we doing something wrong?!” when reading this book. I’m here to tell you that no, no you’re not. In any relationship, if you and your partner are happy-you’re doing it right!

First, ‘let’s talk about sex ba-by’ (Salt-N-Pepa fans unite. Wait, am I showing my age?! I digress…). In at the Deep End is full of sex, so you’ve been warned. Think, a queer Fifty shades of Grey sort of book maybe? I don’t really know-I never read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey books, but from what I’ve read ABOUT them, this one is up there with those descriptions. I’m not opposed to it. I don’t think woman talk about sex enough, let alone queer sex-in a frank way, without shame and with free abandon. So bring it and let’s make it part of the mainstream discussion.

Second, this book brings up some thoughts about consensual versus non-consensual sex and/or relationships dynamics. Not only should both parties be comfortable with the sex they are having (or not having for that matter) between themselves, but they should also both be comfortable about what goes on in all aspects of their relationship. So maybe S&M might be something you want to experiment with, but you’re not okay with bringing another partner into their relationship or having an open relationship. Talk, talk, talk and talk some more. Communication is the key to life and this book rode that point home for me. Not necessarily in the character’s actions, but in what I was thinking while reading it.

Third, family and friends can be important compass points for you in all aspects of your life, but especially when it comes to relationships. You might be all-consumed with those love feels that come when you’re in a new relationships, so hopefully you have good people around you to check in with. If not, find some good people that will check in with you. I think the idea of “it takes a village” pertains to all aspects of life. Find your village, listen to your village, and trust your village. If your village is warning you that a relationship doesn’t look healthy, trust them.

Fourth, coming out can be (and should be) exhilarating and freeing. Granted, that’s not the case for everyone, but most people get to feel a sense of relief and excitement when they finally find and admit their truth. I still remember collecting all things rainbow because that rainbow now belonged to me. I remember experimenting with clothes, biking home with a pile of LGBTQ+ books to use as research, and listening to the queer artists I always loved, but this time on full volume! The thrill of holding a woman’s hand in public equally excited me and scared me a little, but I was here for it. I couldn’t wait to visit the gay mecca of the world (San Francisco, where I later moved to with my now wife-dreams do come true) and call it my own. I remember thinking with all the pride in the world, that I was now part of the lesbian club. A group of people who walked their own walk and went against the grain and I was wanted and loved and embraced by that community. It was the best feeling in the world and I got to feel it all over again with Julia’s (the main character’s) coming out. It was, hands down, my favorite part of the book.

Yea, this book might have been a bit more steamy than what I am used to, and isn’t as literary as I might usually read, but it is a unique, frank, funny, energetic book, with a positive plot and I think if you go into it with the proper expectations and knowledge…you will enjoy the ride. Side note: There is a scene where one of the characters role plays being Mexican, and it felt problematic to me. I just wanted to put that out there in case you think it feels the same to you too. Have you read it yet? What did you think? I’m really excited to see what else Davies writes. I will definitely be on the look out or it! As always, come and find me on Instagram and let’s chat books!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

Good Talk

Author: Mira Jacob

Published: March 26, 2019

Publisher: One World (Random House) 

Where I picked up my book:  Purchased from local bookstore

Key Words: graphic novel, memoir, identity, interracial families, politics

My Rating: 5 (ALL THE STARS!!)

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My Thoughts:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! At first, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure about the fact that it was a graphic novel. I remember lovinggggg Maus by Art Spiegelman though when I read it in high school, so I thought I might enjoy this one too. And I was wrong. I didn’t just enjoy it, I LOVED LOVED LOVED this one and I am officially a convert to the graphic novel and will forever and always choose a graphic novel without hesitation from now on. In fact, I got so excited reading it-I started working on a graphic novel myself. I am an artist and a writer (nothing official, but in my heart-that’s what I am) and I can’t even believe I hadn’t thought of combining those two loves and created something powerful. It’s all talk on my end right now, but I’m excited about it! There are some things that I want to say and I want the world to hear, but creating something with only words didn’t seem quite right for me, or for the subject I wanted to talk about. Once I read Good Talk though, I had my ah-ha! moment and I’m excited. But…I digress. SO-if you’re anything like me, do not hesitate for one second to pick this one up. It’s powerful (probably even more powerful as a graphic novel) and I promise, you will not be disappointed!

Second, the amount of topics that Jacob covers is bewildering to me! I should say, the amount of topics she thoroughly covers in a beautiful, thought-provoking, intimate way… is bewildering to me! She delves into immigration, American identity, interracial families, politics, our divided nation (and sometimes, divided friendships and families), Obama’s election (YAY), the 2016 election (BOO), love, racism, sexuality and so much more. Somehow, she does it in a beautiful, thought-provoking, non-rushed, powerful way that will have you gushing to everyone you come in contact with.

Third, the artwork in here is fantastic! Humans are hard to draw…but Jacob does it brilliantly! And then to put the drawings on top of photographs?! Brilliant! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Jacob’s process, how it worked, understand how much time this took, and what it took to get this amazing piece of art published. I am in awe.

Fourth-please get this book! You will not regret it for one second. It’s funny and sad, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at the same time. It’s the exact book that America needs right now and I feel privileged to have read it. I think it’s one you will come back to again and again. (Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk 😉 )

As always, come find me on Instagram!

bookishfolk…read instead.

Three Women

Author: Lisa Taddeo

Published: July 9, 2019

Publisher:    Avis Press (Simon and Schuster)

Where I picked up my book:  Book of the Month choice!

Key Words: nonfiction, sex lives of women, journalistic approach

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My Thoughts:

I was completely, 100% sucked into this book from the very first sentence. To be honest, from the description alone, I was sold! So when Book of the Month chose it as one of their picks, I didn’t hesitate to grab a copy! I went into the book thinking that I was going to get an insiders view into 3 women’s sexual lives and the idea of desire…and I was pumped. I’ve long since realized that there is a barrier when it comes to women and talking about our sex lives. Yes, when we get together with our friends, we might talk about sex a bit, or acknowledge that we are in fact having, or not having, sex, but I wanted some more detail, more insight, just more of ANYTHING from a female perspective. So when I started reading this book and then realized that I wasn’t necessarily getting an insiders view on sex lives, or a feminist, empowered perspective, or any sexual awakening vibes, at first…I was caught off guard. But after I realized exactly what I was reading-I was in. Allow me be a fly on the wall in any situation, and I’m in, 100%, and that’s what this book feels like. You’re a fly on the wall, listening and observing, while these women talk about their lives, intimate details of their day to day and the sex they are, or are not, having. We see what goes on behind closed doors, how men play a huge role in some women’s lives* (*straight women), and how the past affects our present and future. We see their insecurities, what goes on in their heads, how they walk through life and the choices they make and why.  We see things that pain them and things that shouldn’t ever take place, take place. We read about their intimate feelings and the raw hurt that is present in a lot of women’s lives.  After I adjusted my sail, I was not able to put it down. Trust me when I say, it’s not an easy book to read and I often left the pages with a pit in my stomach, but it was truly the most unique book I may have ever read.  Here are a few of my thoughts (I could probably go to 100 and not be finished, but this is the condensed list):

1. Yes, there is definitely sex in this book…but I didn’t see it as the sex positive, feminist, empowering book I thought I was going to read. It doesn’t change that I was completely engrossed, but if you were like me…you’ve been warned. Go into it with correct expectations and I think you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

2. We, as women, carry baggage with us from our past trauma and it shows up, plain and simple, in our present lives. We need to work through our past before we can be good to ourselves in the present and the future.

3. Sometimes, other people (in this case, men) will try to control you, your sexual being and your sex life-don’t let them!

4. This is only a teeeeeny snippet of the population of women. These are 3 straight, white, cis, relatively affluent women that we see represented. It’s called ‘Three Women’ and that’s a really good thing to keep in mind. I would have liked to see more diversity and if I ever get a chance to talk to Taddeo, I’d love to know how these three women came to the front of her research (because I read somewhere her research actually involved a ton of women and eight years). We always need more diversity in literature (and everywhere else), and I would have liked to see that in this one.

5. I am still thinking about all three of these women, but specifically Maggie, on a daily basis. Ugh…her story absolutely broke my heart and I saw myself in her-it scared me a bit and brought up some tough things for me too.

6. You are going to feel every emotion you know how to feel when reading this one…and maybe some others you didn’t even know you knew how to feel. I had to learn to slow down and reflect on all of those emotions as they came up. It was cathartic.

7. This book is raw. It’s not one that will wrap up with a pretty bow. It’s non-fiction…these are real lives we’re dealing with here. Keep that in mind and keep your judgements in check.

8. I’ve truly never read anything like this before.

9. Victim-blaming is never okay. Please don’t blame victims.

10. Ultimately, I don’t think this book dealt with ‘desire.’ I think it was a portrayal of what women feel, think and how they respond when our past affects our present. And when men are jerks. Was that too much? 😉

11. Three Women will make you think and is bound to be a book you talk about with your friends. Ultimately, I think this book might help women feel more open to talk about our sex lives with each other and with professionals, to stand up for ourselves and against jerks in our lives, and to see how our past, and especially past trauma, affects our present. I think that’s a good thing.

12. This book won’t be for everyone, but if you’re a fly on the wall type of person like I am, I think you will dive into this one and pop out when you finish the last sentence.

Have you read Three Women yet? What did you think? Let me know here or over at @bookishfolk. As always, happy reading!

Bookishfolk…read instead.