Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes PBK mech.indd

source: free copy via Amazon Prime membership
title: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
author: Caitlin Doughty / Twitter
genre: memoir
pages: 242
published: September 15, 2014
first line: A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves.
rated: 4 out of 5
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blurb:
Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight…..

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*trigger warning for delicate subject matter for some readers*

 

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Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

IMG_6091 (413x550)source: free review copy via LibraryThing
title: Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own
author: Kate Bolick
published: April 21st 2015 by Crown
genre: memoir/non-fiction
pages: 352
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
“Whom to marry, and when will it happen – these two questions define every woman’s existence.”
So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she – along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing – remains unmarried.

This unprecedented demographic shift, Bolick explains, is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood, nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms: columnist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By animating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down, and having it all, are timeless – the crucible upon which all thoughtful women have tried for centuries to forge a good life.

Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities within ourselves to live authentically.

my thoughts:
Where to begin?
I acquired an ARC of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick via LibraryThing back in 2015 and as I have mentioned on my blog recently, I am really trying to get through all my review books this year. So I happily grabbed this one off my shelves and I dove right in. Isn’t the cover pretty?

I have to say straight away that Kate Bolick is a talented writer and that I loved her writing style. She drew me right in, especially as she wrote about her love of being alone and of reading and of books and about her literary heroines. I enjoyed reading about her work as an editor and book reviewer and her New York City life as well.

“I’ve always known that a book will find you when you need to be found; in New York I learned that so did history.”
p.65, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

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Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

milk

source: purchased
title: Milk and Honey
author: Rupi Kaur/Twitter
genre: poetry
published: 2014
pages: 204
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
#1 New York Times bestseller Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

my thoughts:
I went to Barnes & Noble with my daughter recently. I love our trips to the bookstore and library because she tends to find really interesting books. We didn’t have anything particular in mind when we went, just stopping to browse on a Saturday morning while out running errands. After a little while, she came up to me with a copy of Milk and Honey and said “Mom, I’ve heard so much about this one. I want to read it.”
She read it first and she would come and read passages to me that she liked.

it must hurt to know
I am your most
beautiful
regret
p.94, Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I read Milk and Honey afterwards in one sitting. This is a collection of moving poetry by Rupi Kaur. There are sketches by the author with some of the poems. The book is separated into four parts, the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. There are themes of abuse, heartache, family, finding oneself and healing within these poems.

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Gulp By Mary Roach

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I am an Amazon affiliate.
source: Purchased
title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
author: Mary Roach (Twitter)
genre: non-fiction/science
pages: 348
published: 2013
first line: In 1968, on the Berkeley campus of the University of California, six young men undertook an irregular and unprecedented act.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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Blurb:
The alimentary canal — the much-maligned tube from mouth to rear — is as taboo, in its way, as the cadavers in Stiff, and as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. In Gulp we meet the scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks —or has the courage —to ask. How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? Can wine tasters really tell a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle? Why is crunchy food so appealing? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? We go on location to a pet food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

My thoughts:
Mary Roach one of those authors I discovered through book blogging years ago. I have been meaning to read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers for a while, but I had a copy of Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal on my shelves and finally dove into it. I have zero recollection of purchasing this book, but I know I bought it at some point a few years back.

This was an interesting reading experience. The author has a knack for infusing humor into her writing, she grossed me out a little but also made me laugh.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

quiet

source: purchased
title: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
author: Susan Cain /Twitter
genre: non-fiction/self-help
pages: 360
published: January 29, 2013
first line: Montgomery, Alabama.
rated: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

My thoughts:

It took me a while to get this review up because I truly enjoyed this book and I wanted to write an articulated post without rambling. This is the kind of read that begs to be discussed and I definitely could go on and on about it.

Being a natural born introvert, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking grabbed my attention straight away. Author Susan Cain covers intro and extroversion in great detail here and as I read I could relate time and again to what she was saying.

The author highlights famous introverts such as Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt and shares how their quiet strength helped changed the course of history. This quote below sums it up and the author really gets it when saying that “introverts and extroverts are differently social”.

Probably the most common- and damaging-misunderstanding about personality type is that introverts are antisocial and extroverts are prosocial. But as we’ve seen, neither formulation is correct; introverts and extroverts are differently social.
p.240, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

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