I have to admit that when I first heard about this memoir, even though I'm a devoted book lover and have been since I learned how to read, I wonderedI have to admit that when I first heard about this memoir, even though I'm a devoted book lover and have been since I learned how to read, I wondered what a book about an author's book collection would be about. Would it just be a list of books, most likely ones I hadn't read and probably never would? But from the first page, I was utterly entranced, because Paul speaks to readers--not just the readers of her specific book, but people who simply love to read. (Yes, I have this book as both the Kindle edition and in print, but once you start reading if you are at all old school, you will become easily convinced by her persuasiveness that paper is always better.) Paul walks us through her journey as a lifelong reader as well as a bibliophile, who doesn't just passively read but becomes immersed in books, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as fascinated by the lives of their creators. She tries to meet Spalding Gray, so moved by his work and convinced they could be literary BFFs.
Each chapter's title covers a different book, from classics like The Grapes of Wrath and Anna Karenina to The Hunger Games (which she read after giving birth) to an assortment of titles, some of which I've heard of, some of which I haven't. And in case you're thinking, I don't know anything about those books, the beauty of this book is that you don't have to. She's not analyzing every plot Cliffs Notes style, but personal style. She weaves both the plot of her beloved books and how she came to read them with how they affected her at a given moment in her life, much of it while traveling. In fact, the plot of her own life somewhat sneaks up on you. You think you're at a happy high point only to realize that things are about to go downhill. Paul writes of reading as a sister, daughter, mother, girlfriend, wife, friend, traveler (reading Swimming to Cambodia while in Cambodia) and professional book reviewer, and how each of these roles and relationships changes her relationship with books.
This was definitely a book I raced through, but also wanted to slow down and savor. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay it, and likely one I would imagine anyone reading it will walk away from, is that Paul made me want to read books I've never thought about reading before, like The Trial. She's not trying to foist her favorite books onto readers (this is not a "this is what you should read" book, but rather a "this is how these books touched my life" book), but nevertheless, these books are vivid characters here. By the end, I wished I'd had a book of books for all those hazily remembered titles I recall clinging to, learning from, and being fascinated by but whose memories now consist only of the color of the book cover and the genre. I actually went looking for Kafka, Tama Janaowitz and Spalding Gray in a bookstore immediately upon finishing My Life with Bob. Alas, they didn't have them, but they are next on my reading list....more
I was blown away by Hold Me Down, which manages to tackle a lot with an erotic romance, from coming out as kinky to exploring submission for the firstI was blown away by Hold Me Down, which manages to tackle a lot with an erotic romance, from coming out as kinky to exploring submission for the first time to negotiating with a partner to family dynamics and verbal abuse/controlling parents to Jewish identity and feminism. If that sounds like "too much" for an erotic novel to handle, think again. In Sara Taylor Woods' hands, Hold Me Down is always lively, dramatic, riveting and, best of all to my mind, realistic in a way that I've found rare in BDSM fiction.
College student Talia has known she's into some form of being dominated since before she truly understood what that meant; it's clear to the reader that that kind of service and submission is a deeply ingrained part of what makes her her, but it's also eminently clear that she's been told over and over and over that this means she's not okay. Throughout the novel, she's told that repeatedly, from her therapist, her friends and her family. Even though she starts out sure of herself and fully aware that Sean is her match made in kinky heaven, eventually, at a pivotal moment in the plot, she lets her natural uncertainty about just how far their play should go (I say "natural" because I believe that's something almost universal, if not universal, when exploring kink for the first time) lead her into believing that there truly is something problematic about wanting him to dominate her, about liking some of it.
In so many ways, this is an erotic romance that reckons with the fact that BDSM is so misunderstood that nobody in Talia's life is there to tell her that finding a balance between what turns you on in your head and what turns you on in real life is something that may need fine tuning, but doesn't mean that you have to shun kink entirely. Part of her growing up process as an adult living on her own for the first time is making this decision, among others, like following through on her desire to switch majors away from one her father wants her to do and toward one she's truly passionate about. Woods connects that through line of Talia pursuing her own interests, personally and professionally, with her independence, and explores how independence as a person can coincide with dependence regarding kink. She makes it explicit when Talia connects her feminism and Judaism to her relationship struggles. All this and plenty of scorching hot sex scenes as well as more tender interactions between her and Sean, along with frank discussions about their histories with BDSM and how they've informed their current outlooks. Sean may not be a perfect dom or a perfect human being, but he is tender and caring in ways that I don't think Christian Grey could ever be. If you're looking for a super hot read, whether or not you usually read BDSM, give Hold Me Down a try. I closed it eager to read more about these two and deeply invested in their story....more
I've been a fan of Jade A. Waters' writing for a long time and it was wonderful to see it expanded into a full length novel. I loved the plot and theI've been a fan of Jade A. Waters' writing for a long time and it was wonderful to see it expanded into a full length novel. I loved the plot and the chemistry between Maya and Dean, who embark on a series of increasingly risqué assignments that range from getting it on outdoors in view of other people to bondage and beyond. Their affair is complicated in several ways, largely by the fact that Maya is still dealing, years later, with the ghosts of past abuse. I thought Waters did an especially good job of both writing hot sex scenes that made it clear this was as much, if not more, Maya's fantasies as Dean's, even if he's the one doling out the assignments, while also portraying how her past sneaks up on her and threatens to derail her enjoyment. I eagerly raced to see what wicked thing Dean would think of next and wasn't disappointed, and also really enjoyed the heavy focus on consent (their negotiation scene is scorching and one of the best fictional representations I've ever read around the issue). Both were fascinating characters and I look forward to reading more about them in the next books in the series. If you're into or curious about BDSM, I would check this out, especially for newcomers because the characters are new to it as well....more
Hi, Anxiety is a masterfully written memoir that takes readers deep inside the experiences Kinsman has had living with the title ailment. She does anHi, Anxiety is a masterfully written memoir that takes readers deep inside the experiences Kinsman has had living with the title ailment. She does an excellent job at vividly showing both the long-term effects anxiety has had on her life, in ways big and small, as well as how she's coped with it. Because so much of mental illness is invisible, this is a vital book in helping those who have no idea what anxiety is like to understand its real, powerful consequences, and Kinsman never flinches from highlighting its devastating effects, from letting car towing bills mount because she's afraid to go pick it up to assorted other fears that leave her often unable to do basic tasks many people take for granted. She intersperses her story with things she's afraid of, devoting enough detail that it's impossible not to feel sympathy for how the anxiety has shaped all of her decisions. There were many places where I found myself nodding along in recognition, while others made me wonder if anyone I am close to has felt something similar and simply hadn't been able to tell anyone, as Kinsman was at one point in her life. Yet this is not a depressing, but rather a hopeful memoir, even if there is no miracle cure or a-ha moment at the end where the nerves magically disappear. Instead, Kinsman simply opens the door into her world, hoarding, dominatrix job, parental mental illness, dating drama and all, and lets readers who share any similar traits that they are not alone. The writing itself is rich with detail, so much so that it was at times challenging to reconcile the person described on the page with the person spinning such words, but that is yet another lesson of this book: that people are not always what they appear, and may be leading inner lives that look nothing like what others perceive them from the outside. I encourage anyone who cares about mental health, has dealt with their own or a loved one's mental health issues, or simply enjoys memoirs to read this....more
This is a fun, often silly, children's book all about what how different animals behave (and about why kids should be grateful for their dads, even whThis is a fun, often silly, children's book all about what how different animals behave (and about why kids should be grateful for their dads, even when they are a little strict with them). The format is fun, colorful and just goofy enough that very young kids can simply enjoy the photos while older kids can get a little animal education in as they read along. Great addition to a kid's bookshelf....more