12951039Title: 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder
Author: Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb
Pages: 260
Year: 2011
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Time taken to read: 9 days
Rating: 5/5

Goodreads synopsis: This is no ordinary book on how to overcome an eating disorder. The authors bravely share their unique stories of suffering from and eventually overcoming their own severe eating disorders. Interweaving personal narrative with the perspective of their own therapist-client relationship, their insights bring an unparalleled depth of awareness into just what it takes to successfully beat this challenging and seemingly intractable clinical issue. For anyone who has suffered, their family and friends, and other helping professionals, this book should be by your side. With great compassion and clinical expertise, Costin and Grabb walk readers through the ins and outs of the recovery process, describing what therapy entails, clarifying the common associated emotions such as fear, guilt, and shame, and, most of all, providing motivation to seek help if you have been discouraged, resistant, or afraid. The authors bring self-disclosure to a level not yet seen in an eating disorder book and offer hope to readers that full recovery is possible.

In my last review, I talked about how my reviews have been dwindling and about my realization that it’s hard to read fiction when we’re living in a world that’s so radically different than it was before the election, a world that’s not represented in realistic fiction anymore. But the truth is, though all that is true for me, there’s a second factor. I have been struggling a lot lately, and I’ve barely had the brain capacity to read. I write to you all today from Monte Nido, a residential eating disorder treatment facility. This is my second time in residential, and I’m sad that it’s come to this again, but this is a really great place, and I feel confident that someday I’ll make a full recovery. And through this book review, I will share with you what is so great about this place.

Monte Nido was founded by Carolyn Costin, the author of 8 KeysShe recovered from her eating disorder and made it her life’s work to create a place where others could do the same. The eight keys are exactly what they sound like: eight principles necessary to recover from an eating disorder, and they include things like, “It’s not about the food,” and “Meaning and Purpose.” The book takes you through each of the eight keys and basically explains how to look at your disorder from a new perspective. It also includes journal prompts to help you actively engage with each key. The most important and unique concept they present is the idea of the “eating disorder self” and the “healthy self.” They stress the importance of noticing the dialogues in your mind between both of those voices. The unique part is that they say the eating disorder self part of you is not a bad part of you. It’s a part of you that’s hurt. It’s sad. It’s lonely. And it needs something. Attention, love, help. You have to nurture that part of you, not get rid of it. But you need to nurture it with more positive and healthy coping skills until it has merged with your healthy self.

I was also particularly struck by the section on weighing. Costin stresses that it is absolutely essential that a person with an eating disorder stop weighing themselves completely. This is the first time I’ve heard that. All my past therapists have told me to weigh myself 1-3 times a week in the morning. I had never in my life considered just never weighing myself again. But now that the idea has been introduced to me, I realize that, as incredibly frightening as that thought is, that might just be the only way to really stick to my recovery. So, this is a thank you to Carolyn. Thank you for creating this book that has helped me see my behaviors, thoughts, and feelings in a new way, and thank you for creating this home for me to heal myself for the next three months. Fellow readers, I’ve got some interesting books with me here and decent computer access, so hopefully you’ll get a few more reviews from me this year. Stay strong, everybody.


28440194Title: In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
Author: Grace Bonney
Pages: 368
Year: 2016
Publisher: Artisan (Workman)
Time taken to read: 8 months, 10 days
Rating: 5/5

Goodreads synopsisAcross the globe, women are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting creative businesses. In the Company of Women profiles over 100 of these influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds, and industries. Chock-full of practical, inspirational advice for those looking to forge their own paths, these interviews detail the keys to success (for example, going with your gut; maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships), highlight the importance of everyday rituals (meditating; creating a daily to-do list), and dispense advice for the next generation of women entrepreneurs and makers (stay true to what you believe in; have patience). The book is rounded out with hundreds of lush, original photographs of the women in their work spaces.

So, I have a wonderful cousin (who owns a really cool greeting card company that you should totally check out) who took me to this event last fall where Grace Bonney and a few of the people she interviewed for this book talked about what success means to them and how they’ve come to create and grow these successful creative businesses, and it was really neat and a great example of why I love living in New York, because there are all these cool, creative things happening all the time, and I was lucky enough to be a part of this one. It’s also really cool to know that I’m living among so many of the women interviewed in the book who live in New York, and that inspires me to try to rise to be one of them in a way.

In the Company of Women is a beautiful book, and I mean that very literally–the photos of the women and their workspaces are so colorful and amazing, and the layout of the text and various quotes makes this a really aesthetically pleasing book. But of course, the words are beautiful too. Every page is filled with inspiration, and though I have never felt the urge to start a business exactly, it made me think of my writing goals as a sort of business, and once I made that connection, I was able to relate to each interview and use the advice and inspiration to strive to be more creative and productive with my writing. I always have to remind myself that no one else will make me a writer. I have to make myself a writer by doing it. And that’s what all these women did too. They made themselves the thing they wanted to be because nobody else could do it for them.

Reading about these strong, powerful, intelligent women has been a wonderful experience. I want to say that it’s been motivational and inspirational, but I don’t feel like I’ve really earned the right to say that since I haven’t been doing much of my own creative work over the eight months that I’ve been flipping through this book. I’ve been working hard but not on the project that I would consider to be my “business”. So I will say that I hope that, along with my internship being over and therefore having a lot more free time, finishing this book will give me the motivation and inspiration to be creative and hard-working just like these fantastic role models.

I was going to say that I think all women who want to work in a creative field should read this book. Then I was going to say that all women should read this book. Then I realized that really everyone should read this book. Inspirational women don’t do what they do to inspire only women. Men should be inspired by them as well. We can all draw strength from female power!

28503941Title: Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
Author: Sam Maggs (Illustrator: Sophia Foster-Dimino)
Pages: 240
Year: 2016
Publisher: Quirk Books
Time taken to read: 9 days
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads synopsisSmart women have always been able to achieve amazing things, even when the odds were stacked against them. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs tells the stories of the brilliant, brainy, and totally rad women in history who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino. Plus, interviews with real-life women in STEM careers, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to women-centric science and technology organizations—all to show the many ways the geeky girls of today can help to build the future.

Nonfiction geared towards kids/young adults is always interesting to me as someone who’s interested in education. It can be difficult to get young people to pay attention to things like this, but this book works hard to present a teen-friendly tone, complete with slang and TV references that reminded me of being in my late teens. This book actually started a bit of a fire in me because as I read about the men who took credit for women’s inventions and discoveries, I realized I recognized nearly all of the men’s names from my high school science classes and only maybe two of the women’s names, one being Amelia Earhart, whom we’ve all definitely heard of. I think I still wanted to believe that things weren’t that bad, that women have always been just as intelligent but they haven’t had the same resources, so it was pretty sad to learn that women of history still did so much despite their lack of resources and we still learn about the men who stole the credit instead. So I’m glad this book exists and that there are people working to try to make people aware of the contributions of women. I will say that though I know this book is supposed to be more about science and technology and this women are much less known for, I wish there had been a section on female writers and artists, but perhaps that’s just me being selfish, and I can see reasons for not including that.

Now back to that teen-friendly tone I mentioned–it was kind of a lot. Many of the jokes and references were truly very funny, but it started to feel a little old after the first third of the book. I think it would have had a stronger impact if the asides were just a tad more sparse. Some other reviewers thought it sounded inauthentic and like the writer was trying too hard to relate to teens, but I wouldn’t take it that far. I thought it sounded plenty authentic and natural for the writer, who originally posted some of this content on Tumblr, but I think using this type of language so much could potentially isolate kids who are not the Tumblr type and might not get a lot of the references, which is ultimately why I had to drop this a star. Still, if I am ever a teacher, this will absolutely be in my classroom. I want kids to grow up with this knowledge rather than coming to it as an adult like I did, and this book is a great resource.

41qR8-Qq-sLTitle: Seinfeldia
Author:Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Pages: 320
Year: 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Time taken to read: 8 days
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads synopsis:The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched. […] In Seinfeldia, acclaimed TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!”, Joe Davola gets questioned every day about his sanity, Kenny Kramer makes his living giving tours of New York sights from the show, and fans dress up in Jerry’s famous puffy shirt, dance like Elaine, and imagine plotlines for Seinfeld if it were still on TV.

I am a pretty big Seinfeld fan. I’ve seen every episode at least once, though probably more, and I’ve always thought of myself as a young redheaded Elaine Benes, considering she’s a writer/editor and I want to be that, and also she has giant hair and is crazy like me. I’ve also especially been into reading and watching things set in NYC since I moved here three weeks ago. So I really enjoyed reading about the making of the show and the way they blended fiction and reality in ways I had never realized. Obviously the show that Jerry and George try to write is supposed to be the fictional version of Seinfeld, but I did not know, for example, that so many of the little plot lines are based off experiences of the writers, or that so many characters are based off real people connected to the show. I honestly didn’t know that Seinfeld was such a huge deal when it was on the air, and I also didn’t know that it nearly failed for the first few seasons. I read almost the first half of the book in one sitting because it was really fun to read, and it put me in a very funny mood, though I haven’t had time to watch any Seinfeld since finishing it. It only loses a star in my rating because I think it spent too much time at the end on a Twitter account made about what the show would be like if it were set in the 2010s, which wasn’t interesting enough to warrant the amount of pages it got.

Anyway, as much as books are my thing, I absolutely love TV as well, and back in high school I considered trying to write for sitcoms because I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty funny person. So it was fun to read about TV, and if you enjoy Seinfeld too, I definitely recommend reading this book. I imagine the next time I watch the show, I’ll be looking at it very differently, imagining what the actors were going through at the time. Especially because they haven’t been in much else, I rarely think of them as real people, just as their characters. Elaine and George are my favorites, and they feel really real to me. 14233084_1020418368077462_5565011772726706899_nAlso, I went to the famous Tom’s Restaurant yesterday (yep, that’s me in the photo, and yes, that’s my real hair), which Seinfeld fans know is the front of the diner they always go to! I got a half vanilla half butter pecan milkshake, which was phenomenal, and I tasted my dad’s cheesecake, which I also highly recommend. My dad and his girlfriend and my sister came to visit me yesterday and I had the idea to go here for coffee and dessert, and we didn’t tell my dad’s girlfriend where we were going because she’s a huge Seinfeld fan (might have something to do with her being Jewish), and she was so excited when we got there. The book says that Tom’s didn’t really try to make any money off of being a Seinfeld landmark, but they have a big Seinfeld sign out front, and there are signed posters and such inside, so I’m not sure why the author didn’t mention that that’s changed since Seinfeld aired. But anyway, my point is, go to Tom’s and get a milkshake.

13542593Title: The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language
Author: Mark Forsyth
Pages: 304
Year: 2012
Publisher: Berkley (Penguin)
Time taken to read: 3 months, 4 weeks
Rating: 5/5

Goodreads: Do you know why…a mortgage is literally a death pledge? …why guns have girls’ names? …why salt is related to soldier? You’re about to find out… The Etymologicon (e-t?-‘mä-lä-ji-kän) is: Witty (wi-te\): Full of clever humor, Erudite (er-?-dit): Showing knowledge, Ribald (ri-b?ld): Crude, offensive. The Etymologicon is a completely unauthorized guide to the strange underpinnings of the English language. It explains: how you get from “gruntled” to “disgruntled”; why you are absolutely right to believe that your meager salary barely covers “money for salt”; how the biggest chain of coffee shops in the world (hint: Seattle) connects to whaling in Nantucket; and what precisely the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.

I bought this book years ago, and I think I put off reading it because I knew it was going to be amazing and I knew I was never going to remember anything I read in it. I’m obsessed with words and fun facts, and this is the best book for fun word facts, but I struggle with my memory, especially when it comes to reading. It happens with fiction too–I can’t remember even just the basic plots of books I’ve read more than once. So I felt sad going into this book because I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold onto anything in it. But I tried to write down a lot of the facts I found to be most interesting though, which has helped, and I do plan to read it a few more times to try to solidify the information in my brain a little bit more.

My favorite fact was the one about Starbucks, because ya girl has been a Starbucks barista since 2013, and I love working there (even though after every double shift I feel like it’s taking a couple years off my lifespan). Every barista knows that the Starbucks logo is a siren, and every English major knows the name comes from Mr. Starbuck in Moby Dick. However, only those who read this book will learn of the Vikings in the year 793 and the sedge stream they found and Old Norse and how that led to the Starbuck family and their whaling achievements and a teacher in Seattle who wanted to start his own coffee shop called Pequod. Truly fascinating stuff.

The book starts off with the origin of the word “book,” and, as this is a “circular stroll,” it ends with the origin of the word “book” too. I was nearing the end of The Etymologicon this morning, and my sister was peering at the front cover. Once I realized that we had come full circle and were back at the beginning, I said, “Dang!” and she said, “Isn’t this non-fiction? How can non-fiction be ‘dang’?” Because language is amazing, that’s how. Even if you’re not a word nerd like me, this is a great read for sure.

12543Title: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Author: Anne Lamott
Pages: 237
Year: 1994
Publisher: Anchor (Knopf Doubleday)
Time taken to read: 4 weeks, 1 day
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads synopsis: […] Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive. If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

Fun fact: this book was published the year I was born. Other fun fact: I am kinda over books about writing. I will say that I enjoyed this one very much, but reading about writing kinda just feels like I’m avoiding writing. I already know all the things a book about writing is going to tell me. Write every day, don’t give up, except maybe you should give up if you’re really not 100% in it because most people don’t get published anyway, and getting published isn’t as great as it sounds, blah blah. First of all, I refuse to believe that getting published isn’t that great. Maybe it wasn’t that great in 1994, but in 2016, a year where Instagram and Facebook exist to show all your enemies from high school that you achieved your dreams and got hot, yeah, it’s probably pretty great. Also, I do write every day. I send at least 5 well-crafted text messages every day. Each one usually has several drafts. I’m not kidding. The other thing about books about writing is that they all seem to be so out of date. Is no one writing anything about what it’s like to write in 2016? I’d like to read something like that, but so far all I can find (and by “all I can find,” I mean “all that’s been placed in my hands by other people without a second of my own effort”) is books about what it’s like to write before computers were a thing. Nobody mails their manuscripts anymore. No one has to call places to do research. We have the Internet now. (And thank god, because I’m so terrified of phone calls.)

Anyway, besides a horrific “are” where there should be an “is” on page 145, I agree with the author of the Goodreads synopsis: Anne Lamott is kind of inspiring, and she is very funny. And in fact, her sense of humor is very in line with mine. If only I wasn’t an infant when she wrote this, we could have been great friends, because I too love to joke about being so mentally ill I can hardly function. That sounds sarcastic, but it isn’t. That’s like 80% of my jokes. Anne seems to think that most writers are really mentally ill, which is interesting because I tend to think of anyone who’s successful at anything as painfully normal and well-adjusted. Sad people can’t get published–we can barely change our clothes! Anne would think that was funny.

So if you’re going to read a book about writing, I’d go with this one. But you should probably just write instead. But in any case, I think if I learned anything from this book, it’s that I need to find a writing community, because that’s what she talks about most. The only problem with that is that I’m afraid of everyone. So, who wants to write with me?


76611Title: A Natural History of the Senses
Author: Diane Ackerman
Pages: 352
Year: 1990
Publisher: Vintage (Knopf Doubleday)
Time taken to read: 3 weeks, 3 days
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads synopsis: Diane Ackerman’s lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth. “Delightful . . . gives the reader the richest possible feeling of the worlds the senses take in.”–The New York Times.

This book was given to me as a graduation present from my high school art teacher–only he didn’t actually get around to giving it to me until probably about a year ago, and I graduated high school in 2012. I read this while in treatment, mostly at 3:15 AM, which was when I had to wake up to get weighed and get my blood pressure and heart rate checked, which was always atrocious, so then I had to sit and drink a Gatorade while the nurses watched to make sure I didn’t pour it into the flower pots like some girls did. So I would read this while waiting to see a nurse, and sometimes they would ask me what I was reading, and I’d show them, and they’d read the back cover with looks of total confusion on their faces.

The book is divided up into sections based on the five senses, and each section rambles on about that sense. It’s strange how A Natural History of the Senses is written so poetically, yet it’s full of scientific studies and facts. One of my favorite facts that I wrote down so I wouldn’t forget it is that heart attack patients who have pets live longer than those without, which was extra interesting because when I was in treatment, I thought about how much I missed my cat more than anyone else. Another cool fact from the section on smell is that people can tell just from smelling an article of clothing whether it was worn by a male or female, and a mother can tell if something was worn by her child based on smell as well. I will have to test that out when I’m a mother.

This book gave me a lot of really inspirational quotes to write down as well. My favorites are as follows:

A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension. –Oliver Wendell Holmes


The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place. –Walt Whitman

The Walt Whitman quote hit me pretty hard, I think. To me, it means that whether or not I understand it, everything is the way it’s supposed to be. (I dislike the quote “Everything happens for a reason,” because that sounds too cliché, but that’s basically what I mean here.) And maybe this isn’t true for everyone. Probably for most people it isn’t, because it doesn’t need to be. But it was true for Whitman, and I think it’s true for me, because I need it to be true. Otherwise, I don’t know how to accept my life. I have to believe that it has to be this way, it can only be this way, it was always going to be this way, and any other way wouldn’t be right, even if it would hurt less.

In any case, I’m giving this four out of five stars because sometimes the flowery language was a little much for me, and it gets a little sensual at times, which made me mildly uncomfortable. Still, I recommend it to all. Thanks, Mr. Marano. Miss you.