“The Water Cure” a novel by Sophie MacKintosh
Once we had a father, but our father dies without us noticing.
I could not put this book down. The feminist dystopian novel, mesmerizing and chilling is told through such exquisite writing. The mood is dreams-like but the three sisters, Grace, Lia and Sky are living a disturbing reality of their father’s creation. They live on an isolated island designed to protect them from the outside world where masculinity is literally toxic to women or is the island designed to keep them trapped there?
Their father, King, the patriarch and protector, goes to get supplies and doesn’t return. Their mother steps in to fill the void. Soon, their supposedly idyllic world is invaded when two strange men and a boy wash up on shore. King is the only men the girls have ever known. They are intrigued, repelled, angered and confused by their presence.
It’s a thorough exploration of the different worlds that men and women inhabit, the power of female desire and what happens when they clash.
I especially loved the structure of the book, how certain chapters are told in the plural second person through the eyes of Grace, Lia and Sky as if they are one entity. The language MacKintosh uses is beautiful and so many sentences just made me gasp in admiration.
A passage I love:
Llews puts the lid of the piano down without comment, pushes the stool back. There is a fluidity to his movements, despite his size, that tells me he has never had to justify his existence, has never had to fold himself into a hidden thing, and I wonder what that must be like, to know that your body is irreproachable.
“The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” a novel by Jn-Philipp Sendker
The old man’s eyes struck me first.
I love when a friend recommends a book outside of my usual genre. This one sat on my shelf for a long time. I do have quite the TBR stack. When I was returning another book she had given me I decided I may as well give this one back, feeling bad that I’d had it for so long without reading it. But then I glanced at the first few pages and decided to just put my other books aside and read it.Good decision. It is a lovely story that follows Julia to Burma on a quest to discover what happened to her father. It is part mystery, but mostly it is a story of love and connection and the human spirit.
It’s good to step outside your reading comfort zone. In fact, I think it is essential and will try to so more often.
A line I loved:
This girl moved with a grace Su Kyi had never before seen. As if her oddly formed feet had given her a different, heightened sense of her limbs and movements.
“The Fifth Risk” by Michael Lewis
Chris Christie noticed a piece in the New York Times—that’s how it all started.
Lewis is a genius at going behind the scenes of what could appear to be boring topics and making them fascinating. This book takes a deep dive into the heart of government. Not just the sexy stories that get all the media attention but the nuts and bolts and people who run the many departments that make up our government.
What inspired me was the dedication that the people who work in the government exhibit. They are there to serve, regardless of party. As Obama’s term came to a close, all the different departments prepared detailed binders of information that the next administration could use. They didn’t have to agree with the policies but the information would be helpful as they transitioned from one administration to the next. What happened instead is…well, is the point of this book. It’s a book every American should read just to understand how our government works. And how it doesn’t work. It’s a book that should be discussed within the media so that we can all see how our government is being broken from the inside.
Some lines that stood out:
“…fifth risk: the risk a society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.”
“If your ambition is to maximize short-term gain without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing the cost. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is an upside to ignorance, and a downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.”
“My biggest concern is the misuse of science to support policies.”
“Broken Things” a YA novel by Lauren Oliver
Five years ago, when I had just turned thirteen, I killed my best friend.
How can you not read on from that first line? Weaving together then and now with pieces of a novel they became obsessed with called, “The Way Into Lovelorn,” we learn about the summer that everything changed for three barely teenage girls. It felt like it might have been inspired by the Slender Man story but if it was, Oliver took it in her own original direction. I had a hard time putting it down as I kept turning the pages to see how it all fit together.
A line I loved:
Words would be less frightening if you could swallow them again, chew them and digest them into nothingness.
“A Happier Hour” a memoir by Rebecca Weller
A blaze of sunlight snuck its way through a gap in the blinds, drilling directly into my eyelids, punishing me.
I started this in the late afternoon and stayed up until 1:30 in the morning to finish it.
Though I am not writing much about this myself, I am currently exploring not drinking for 60 days. I’m attempting to redefine my relationship to drinking. Reading her story was fascinating. While I don’t drink as much, I could absolutely relate to the amount of energy expended around drinking. How much? Should I or shouldn’t I? What’s one ore glass? And on and on.
Being able to read her story made me feel less alone. Isn’t that what all reading does? She inspired me to stay the course, to create a toolkit, to be as honest with myself as she was with the world in writing this book in the first place.
It reminded me yet again of the power of sharing our stories, how we can lift each other up, support and inspire each other when we are authentically ourselves.
A line I could relate to:
Waking up without a hangover—or heart full of regret—felt utterly delicious, and the thought of not having to deal with another one for three whole months was sublime.
“Era of Ignition- Coming of Age in a Time f Rage and Revolution” by Amber Tamblyn
On the bar in front of me, a tea candle meekly flickered at the end of its wick as I sat next to my husband and wondered how I was going to tell him what I had to tell him.
Back before the 2018 mid-terms, I put out a call to women who lived near me to read Rebecca Traister’s new book, “Good and Mad.” I had a huge response. Women were angry. Women were fired up and wanted to be around other women who felt the same way. Then the mid-terms came and went and a new wave of progressive women came into office and there was hope again. And that hope quelled some of the anger. I tried to put a meeting on the calendar but only one person could make it so I put it off. And we haven’t rescheduled it since then.
Reading Tamblyn’s book now reminds of all the work we still have to do. That we don’t have the luxury of feeling relief that things might be beginning to turn around. That we have the responsibility to stay engaged, to stay angry, to stay fired up and let that energy move into action.
She does an amazing job of weaving her personal story with the larger narrative of feminism and inter-sectionality. She is using her voice and her platform to inform us, to motivate us, to support those who don’t have her kind of reach and voice and power.
A necessary read for this time of rage and revolution.
A line that resonated:
“But if ignorance can be a learned behavior, then so too can illumination, and it is within each of us to teach someone willing to grow, and to put our defenses down and receive the same gift in return.”
And you must read the letter she wrote to her daughter.