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Gone Girl: Thirtieth Book Wrap Up & New Book (by Katie)

April 1, 2013
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Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” explores the fallout of a marriage gone wrong. The story opens on the day of Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary and quickly shows itself as a murder mystery/psychological thriller when Amy goes missing and Nick becomes the prime suspect.

While it takes you down a dark and twisted road none of us hope to personally experience, almost all of the Holistic Ladies could relate to the basic premise of a relationship that blossoms, peaks and eventually fails:

– The excitement at the beginning when everyone is his/her “best self”

– The disappointment when you see your partner’s true colors

– The pain of growing apart

– The desperation and sadness when it appears the relationship may end

[SPOILER ALERT – START]

That’s the first half of the book. The 2nd half reveals the characters for who they really are and ends with a punch more shocking than anything you’ve encountered up to that point. Flynn’s set-up is so compelling that you almost feel personally betrayed by these characters. Do Nick and Amy deserve each other? On this point, the group was split.

[SPOILER ALERT – END]

The one thing we all agreed on is that “Gone Girl” is a must-read. It’s incredibly well written and already a contender for our Best Book of 2013. Just be sure to find a reading buddy – you’ll definitely want to discuss when you’re done.

Some of Our Favorite Quotes

  • “Should I remove my soul before I come inside?” (p.4)
  •  “I am not interested in being set up. I need to be ambushed, caught unawares, like some sort of feral love-jackal.” (p.11)
  •  “I don’t know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say; when a loved one dies, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-ass or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.
  • It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.” (p.73)
  •  “Ironic people always dissolve when confronted with earnestness, it’s their kryptonite.” (p.260)

Special Event

Join the Holistic Lady Book Club at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco on Tuesday, April 23rd for a lecture and book signing with “Gone Girl” author Gillian Flynn! You can purchase tickets here.

Our next book is “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman.

From Amazon.com:

“After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.”

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Twenty-Seventh Book Wrap Up & New Book

December 3, 2012

curious-dog (1)Fourscore and seven years ago Elvira brought forth on this book club a new book, proposed simply because it was found behind her studio’s refrigerator and it happened to be on a list of books to read on some website. OK – She did not propose it 87 years ago, but it was proposed long enough for the ladies to chuckle every time we had to pick a new book.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, postponed for ages, was loved within a month. Mark Haddon, its author, tells the story of a teenage autistic boy, Christopher, who discovers his neighbor’s dog dead and goes on a “sherlockhomian” quest to find the cause. From Christopher’s view, the reader is taken on a journey of harsh reality through an autistic mind, all while feeling a sense of innocence and airiness through the reading.

During the discussion we explored different themes: divorce, socioeconomic setting, school system lack of readiness for special needs children, verbal vs. nonverbal communication, the “what ifs” of having a child with disability, and parental role reversal to name a few. The HL book club highly recommends this read, however, be warned that the audio book version may not an enjoyable option. Brooke will be happy to tell you how painful it was to hear it and not read it.

Here are a couple of quotes brought forth by the ladies:

  • “Prime numbers are what is left when you take all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life.”
  • “And I said I wouldn’t mind things changing if I became an astronaut, for example, which is one of the biggest changes you can imagine, apart from becoming a girl or dying.”

Our next book is: “A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on shannon-thousandsistersEarth to Be a Womanby Lisa Shannon.  Here is the book description: “Lisa Shannon had what some would call a good life—her own business, a successful fiancé, a secure home. Then one day in 2005, shortly after her father’s death, an episode of Oprah changed everything. The show about women in the Congo depicted atrocities too horrible to comprehend: millions dead, women gang-raped and tortured, children starving and dying in shocking numbers. That day Lisa woke up to her dissatisfaction with the “good” life and to her role as an activist and a sister. She created a foundation called Run for Congo Women, with the goal to raise money to sponsor 30 Congolese women. What started as a solo 30-mile run has now grown into a national organization in connection with Women for Women International. Run for Congo Women holds fundraising runs in four countries and ten states, and continues to raise money and awareness. In A Thousand Sisters, Lisa shares firsthand accounts of her experiences visiting the Congo, the women she’s helped, and the relationships she’s formed. With compelling stories of why she remains committed to this cause, Lisa inspires her audience to reach out and help as well, forming a sisterhood that transcends geographic boundaries.”

The book club will meet again Jan 08th 2013!

 

 

What Kind of Milk Are You? – Twenty Fifth Book Wrap Up

November 8, 2012

The title of this month’s blog post is related to an interesting discussion we had about our second book, “Outliers”. But before we get to that, let’s dive into the girls’ thoughts on our first book this month: “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?”.

We chose this book to complement the upcoming election, which has now come and gone. I, for one, was hoping it would get my political juices flowing, and lead to some valuable talk amongst the group on current issues. While the book was a little broader than that, it certainly did get people thinking. Why do some people choose not to vote? Is it because they don’t think their voice matters? Or is it because that particular issue doesn’t impact their lives? Or is it lack of clarity around what the issue is, and how the candidate proposes to solve it through complicated laws that the layman can’t understand? We all had our own opinions on the first two reasons, but thought it interesting that author Andy Andrews provided a simple solution to the third: research. He said if you want to uncover the truth behind those complicated laws, you simply need to read up on the issues on the internet, and there are vast resources out there to do so. Overall, this book was a hit among most of the girls!

Moving on to “Outliers”, we once again had a lively conversation about what it means to succeed. While some thought it downplayed the notion of “inner drive”, we focused a lot on the fact that Gladwell discovered that “there are no naturals and no grinds”. What this means is that anyone with a decently high IQ has the ability to be successful if they are given the same opportunities. This is where Julie offered her mother’s words of wisdom – “what kind of milk are you?”. If you are whole milk, it takes some churning, and you will turn into butter. However, if you are skim milk, it may take a little bit more churning, but you still have the innate ability to turn into butter with the right amount of work.

In fact, Gladwell proposes that this is the exact reason why children who grow up in middle class families are often more successful in school than those who grow up in lower income families. While middle class children often spend their evenings, weekends and summers reinforcing what they learned in school, children from lower income households are not doing the same. And over the course of elementary school, this puts them significantly further behind their peers. One solution to this is the KIPP schools, which are designed to offer these children the same opportunities by having longer days, weekend classes, and shorter summers. With parents fighting for their children to go to a KIPP school, it is evident that they are doing something right.

Here are some of our favorite quotes from the book:

  • “It makes a difference when and where we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine.” – pg. 19
  • “Biologists often talk about the “ecology” of an organism: the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured.” – pg. 19
  • “She spoke in the matter-of-fact way of children who have no way of knowing how unusual their situation is. She had the hours of a lawyer trying to make partner, or a medical resident. All that was missing were the dark circles under her eyes and a steaming cup of coffee, except that she was too young for either.” – pg. 265
  • “The striking thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any ‘naturals,’ musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any ‘grinds,’ people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn’t have what it takes to break the top ranks.” – pg. 39

Next Book: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon

Twenty-Fourth Book Wrap Up

October 25, 2012
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I would say the video above from the author, Caitlin, describes just fine what “How to be a Woman” is about. Our conversation about it was quite lively last month, though, honestly I do not recall what stood out. So, because I can, I will instead go off on a tangent and write a blog post on how self-esteem is one of the single most important qualities a woman should possess.

“Autoestima” was the word in 5th grade, Self-esteem. I clearly remember that word and it has been an important concept in my life journey. Self-esteem is confidence and satisfaction in oneself, it is accepting and loving our strong and weak points, and of course, is what makes the golden rule an attainable practice rather than an altruistic concept (One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself ). Having a true grasp on self-esteem makes a woman a natural magnet to positive events and attitudes and allows her to face adversity head on without letting it drown her in infinite despair. To truly believe and internalize affirmations such as “You is kind. You is smart. You is important” makes a one, a confident woman.

Feminist, conservative or liberal- womanhood comes with an essence that cannot be confined to a set a beliefs or attitudes. A woman, I feel, should prioritize getting to love and know herself first before asserting attitudes the modern world pushes her to adopt.

Take a moment in front of the mirror every once in a while and internalize whatever words of wisdom that draw positivism and strength–That’s a small step to high self-esteem.

Twenty-Third Book Wrap Up & New Book

September 12, 2012

The Lifeboat. Such a novel of dramatic promise! Terror on the high seas! Moral dilemmas of survival! . . . . Or so we thought when choosing this novel. The actual reviews from our Holistic Ladies were mixed with terms like “disliked”, “enjoyed”, “bored”, and “interesting” being bandied about. In regards to the novel itself, Steph was disappointed that such a scene ripe with conflict managed to be so tame in the telling; a larger moral dilemma was expected. Karen summed it up by saying, “Nothing was memorable, but I didn’t hate it.” All in all, the novel earned neither raving reviews nor intense feelings of loathing.

However, the general subject matter struck up a lively debate. The premise behind Charlotte Rogan’s tale is one that has been deliberated in Ethics courses and campfire chats for centuries: You and a handful of other people are stranded in an overcrowded boat with limited supplies in the middle of the ocean, with no rescue in sight. Who lives and who dies? And who makes those decisions? And if you save yourself at the expense of another’s life, are you guilty of . . . . dun dun dun . . . Murder?

Animated discussion ensued over whether morals differ in life and death situations than in regular life, and whether in such a situation should the weak be allowed to, even encouraged to, die to save the strong. Jerlin considered that, “Maybe morals are not different in a life or death situation, but the execution of the morals would be different.” These trains of thought also led to discussion on implications for society in general if we apply Darwinian survival methods to problems such as access to school or healthcare.

All told, each Holistic Lady agreed that it is really tough to say how you would actually act in a life-or-death situation, although we gleefully opined on how we THOUGHT we would act. And we all agreed that none of us really wants to drown.

Fortunately, despite the moral angst of the discussion (isn’t angst a great word?!) our book club ended on a happy note. Newcomer Katie, in the spirit of our holistic approach, recommended that we read a witty look at “How to Be a Woman”, by Caitlin Moran. Caitlin Moran is a British journalist and comedian who achieved no small bit of notoriety for this treatise on modern-day feminism. Contact our fearless leader, Jerlin, for the address of our next book club, hosted by the lovely Karen at 7pm on September 26th.

Twenty-second Book Wrap Up & New Book (by Elvira)

July 21, 2012

The Shack by W.  Paul Young is a spiritually profound novel about a man’s journey to find God after losing his daughter. Like always, the ladies all had a different take on the novel. For some, it was exciting and refreshing to read about the trinity in an untraditional manner where God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are portrayed by beings of different genders and races (For example, God is a middle-aged African American woman), who interact as one throughout the book, yet maintain their individuality at the same time. The main character’s journey of finding himself, learning to forgive, and accept others for who they are, really resonated among some of the ladies who felt a stronger connection with their loved ones and  deeper appreciation for accepting them for who they are.  For others, it was difficult to relate to such an unbelievable story where the main character is chosen to spend a weekend with the trinity. It is not until the very end that you are told that such a supernatural story was nothing more than a dream. Or was it?  Also difficult to understand were some of the theological lessons throughout the book, which for someone with no or little Christianity background were difficult to follow.  Without a doubt, the best part of the book is the array of discussions it provoked.   Like the main character, we too questioned why bad things happen to people? And more importantly, why does God let bad things happen to people?  Needless to say we were unable to find an answer to our question.  For some, bad things don’t always make you stronger while others felt that it is up to one to determine whether a bad experience will takes the best out of us.

Quotes:

  •  ‘And if there is no reality of good, that is absolute, then you have lost any basis for judging. It is just language, and one might as well exchange the word good for the word evil.’ P. 142.
  •  ‘[E]vil is a word we use to describe the absence of good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of light or death to describe the absence of life. Both evil and darkness can be understood only in relation to light and good; they do not have any actual existence. I am light and I am good. I am love and there is no darkness in me. Light and Good actually exist. So, removing yourself from me will plunge you into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from me, you can draw only upon yourself. That is death because you have separated yourself from me: Life.’ P. 143-42.
  •  ‘[F]or you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me and allow me to redeem him…Forgiveness is not about forgetting…It is about letting go of another person’s throat.’ P. 246.
  • ‘Just because I work incredible goo out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies…Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.’ P. 201
  • ‘Trust is the fruit of the relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me.’ P. 131

In end, we agreed this book is a beautiful read for those seeking to return, or searching for, a spiritual life.

Next Meeting: Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Next Book: Life Boat by Charlotte Rogan

 

Twentyfirst Book Wrap Up & New Book

June 13, 2012

The Holistic Lady book list was missing a genre, and this month we fulfilled that gap!  Ladies and gentlemen (if we have gentlemen following the blog), we have officially read our first romantic/soft erotica book with the hyped up  50 Shades of Grey <cue to gasp>. Some of the ladies liked it, some hated it, some really enjoyed it actually. So, due to the nature of this book I will refrain from writing people’s  name on this blog entry but stick to giving our general take on it.

From the camp that liked it, we heard it is an easy to read juvenile writing style book with a semi accurate portrayal of a multimillionaire in his late 20s. You know, the type A, control freak. The love story and plot is similarly addictive as twilight, reason why some ladies will finish the series.  The book is recommended to those who take books and movies at face value or those that are more sexually curious and want an intro to true erotica.

From the camp that hated it, we heard it was hard to get into a story where the male lead is a pushy control freak, the protagonist has annoying internal dialogues and the love story is a complete fantasy. Really? how can someone fall in love after one week of BDSM encounters? For these and many other reasons, this camp does not recommend the book especially to those who are literary minded.

Now from the camp that love it, what can I say? They are getting the series and you may just see them participating in the SF Folsom Street Fair. 🙂 (Just Kidding).

What is truly a common thought across the board is that we all felt slighty embarrassed reading it in public. If only people knew what we were reading.

Our next summer book is the complete opposite. Holistic Ladies will be getting in touch with their spirituality with “The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity ” by William P. Young. Here is the Amazon description: “

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!”
 
Our next meeting will be on July 17th @ 7pm. Location will be shared with members. Happy 4th of July!