Book Review: What I Learned From Ronda Rousey’s “My Fight/Your Fight”

At not yet 29 years old, and among her many accomplishments, Ronda Rousey has a New York Times bestselling autobiography out, and this fan set out to read it in the hopes of getting some tips. You know, just in case I need to debilitate someone with an armbar in a confined octagonal-shaped space. Continue reading “Book Review: What I Learned From Ronda Rousey’s “My Fight/Your Fight””

Book Review: The Raft Is Not the Shore by Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan

It’s true. The same person whose last two book reviews were on Crazy Rich Asians and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, now presents you with her thoughts on … a conversation about political activism in the context of Buddhist-Christian awareness?!?

TNH

Continue reading “Book Review: The Raft Is Not the Shore by Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan”

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

It’s not too late to add this to your summer reading list. My last two book reviews may have led you to believe that I am not a fan of chick lit, but let me assure you I went through a not insignificant Sophie Kinsella stage. Plus, is it not obvious that this is the blog Bridget Jones would have written if she was a Filipino marathoner? I definitely enjoy some light fare now and again, and Crazy Rich Asians is fun fun fun. Continue reading “Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians”

Finally Read the Whole Book! Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

I picked up this book over a year ago, and while I cherry-picked reading the parts that interested me (“Hmmm, wonder what Shalane Flanagan eats”), vacation post-PR marathon afforded me the motivation and convenience via Kindle version to finally read it in toto.

racing weight

While Fitzgerald at times tries to paint broad strokes to appeal to a larger audience, this book primarily speaks to my particular weekend warrior niche. I’m obviously never going to be Kara Goucher, but I’m also not a couch potato who thinks a three-mile morning stroll is a workout. For most of my adult life, I have been a runner, involved in a sport and various fitness activities, or a gym rat. I’ve also eaten pretty healthy and maintained a weight in the normal range. This book addresses how to kick it up a couple notches to reach optimum performance for my athletic level.

Racing Weight hits the right tone not only for whom it addresses, but in its level of information. It backs up its proposals, but doesn’t get bogged down with too much research data and is quite accessible even for the numbers-and-formula challenged like myself.

This book is practical, and while it gives some hard numbers and guidelines, it also allows for a lot of flexibility and figuring it out yourself. For example, there is a specific formula to determine your ideal racing weight, but Fitzgerald suggests you monitor your performance because, as one example demonstrates, you might perform better at a slightly higher weight than what was originally determined as your optimum racing weight.

If you’ve been running races for a bit but find your times stagnating in the same range and have not fully addressed your nutrition and weight, this book can give you the information and motivation to get you to the next level. Racing Weight is accessible but geared toward a non-novice like me, and I will for sure be referring back to it as I continue to strive for faster marathon times.

Revoke My Woman Card aka I Didn’t Love Amy Poehler’s Book

Before you break up with me, let me be clear: I like Amy Poehler. I just wasn’t thrilled with her book. Worse, if I’m totally honest – and this pains me – I found that I liked her a little less after reading it. Sorry. I really am. It’s not you; it’s me.

I’ve done two book reviews here, and lest you think I’m a book snob, I am not. I’m in the middle of, and very much digging, Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. I devoured Hunger Games. I’ve also enjoyed previous memoirs by funny women: Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Poehler’s Yes Please was not up to par with Fey’s or Kaling’s offerings.

Amy-1

Poehler didn’t want to write the book. I’m not speculating – she has an entire preface dedicated to how difficult it was for her to write a book. She mentions it throughout the book. At one point I thought it might be a running gag (I guess it still could be), but it’s evident in her tone and the sheer laziness of her writing. Yes, laziness. Disjointed thoughts, huge empty blank spaces, gimicky things like pages filled with one sentence life advice platitudes. There are self-empowerment section titles that came across as corny afterhoughts: “Say Whatever you Want,” “Do Whatever you Like,” “Be Whoever You Are.” At one point, she has Seth Meyers write a chapter, which is interesting on the one hand to get his perspective; on the other, write your own damn book. There is no cohesive thread, and the chapters read not even like essays, but more like blog posts or a BuzzFeed list (see chapter on her Parks and Rec castmates.)

Lists and categories. C'mon Amy, you can do better.
Lists and categories. C’mon Amy, you can do better.

She also divulges little about her life that couldn’t be discovered from an in-depth Rolling Stone interview. This is where I found the biggest difference between Poehler’s and Kaling’s and Fey’s books. The latter two writers revealed some vulnerability, and I could connect with them on some “Celebrities, they’re just like us!” level. Now it’s not Amy’s fault that she was born to the head cheerleader and captain of the football team, or that she’s always been a cute, petite, blonde, popular, and had boyfriends, but the one thing – the ONE thing – that could have exposed any struggle, she didn’t want to talk about. She simply refused to talk about her divorce. Now, I get not wanting to go into any messy divorce details, but she didn’t even go into her courtship with Will Arnett, her husband of ten years and the father of her two children; meanwhile, ex-boyfriend Matt Besser is featured quite a bit. There are certainly ways of discussing the heartache of your marriage dissolving without giving a blow-by-blow account. Was it a surprise? Were you in therapy? Something other than fake book titles for the divorce book you would write. Amy held us at arm’s length, for sure.

Amy Poehler is funny, at times this book was funny, but ultimately, it was relatively shallow, and left me feeling like she thought she was doing me a favor for writing it. No thanks. If you weren’t that into it, and you weren’t going to tell me something real, then don’t write a G-D memoir.

Disappointed.

Book Review: Why I Couldn’t Make It Through Three Chapters of Wild

With marathon training picking up again, I decided to put my book group on hold. It was becoming a bit too much to be the organizer and host, but I really dig chopping it up about books, so I joined an all-female Meetup book group near my home. I was totally looking forward to attending my first meeting later this month and discussing Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

 Y'all lied to me, New York Times.
Y’all lied to me, New York Times.

Even though I probably wouldn’t have picked up Wild myself, the story interested me, and I like reading some of that type of genre. Meaning, I like running books and enjoyed Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. I certainly didn’t expect a literary masterpiece…but holy hell.

In three “I” words: indulgent, improbable, insufferable.

Here is my review of the first two chapters and one paragraph, because seriously, Unfinishable!

First of all, Strayed is terribly unlikeable. I’ve read that some women view her as a heroine, someone who dug deep to find herself and her untapped strength, blah blah blah. I found her wholly enchanted by her own Specialness. Yes, there are some unique circumstances that she was raised in, like living in a log cabin for a few of her childhood years. However, the first two chapters of her navel-gazing seemed self-serving, like a prelude to her explanation for her bad behavior. Look at my weird upbringing! She eventually gets to the real cause, though, for her serial infidelity: her mother died of cancer. Excuse me!?! Many people have lost a loved one to cancer, and they don’t screw the cook at the restaurant they’re working at while they’re married. Grr.

This is why I cheated on my husband - Exhibit A.
This is why I cheated on my husband – Exhibit A.

Even with Strayed being an unsympathetic character, I was willing to plod on. Hoping if at least she remained unlikeable, the story would be good enough to carry me through to the end. Then I got to these four sentences.

finalstraw
The final straw.

See, there were indications of this shit writing earlier, but this? This sent me over the edge. The fucking petal metaphor. Really? No…really?

I would have said it was a waste of one hour, but my friend noted that sometimes it takes us reading the bad to appreciate the good, and she’s right. I had pretty much liked everything I’d read recently and wondered if not hosting my book group had caused me to lose my critical eye and left me with a lack of discernment. But no. So I guess “Thank you, Cheryl Strayed”? I know this review sounds harsh, especially as I realize many people found her story inspiring; however, I’m not nearly half as critical as this blogger who has devoted an entire blog to Wild entitled “I Hate Cheryl Strayed.” Each entry breaks down a chapter from the book, and not only critiques the writing, but the improbability of Strayed’s claims — even down to how heavy her backpack really was.

Anyway, I thought about finishing Wild as a hate read, but as noted in this post, there are like twenty-something other books I want to read this year, so I will be moving on. I also toyed with the idea of showing up to the book club meeting anyway, but perhaps my group debut should be less hostile. I really am trying to make more women friends, after all.

I’d love to end this review with a cutting pun using “Wild” and “Strayed,” but I just want to put this wildermess behind me. (Ha!)

P.S. My friend called the movie “hateful,” so I’ll be passing on that too.