Yeah, Why Not Me?

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Mindy Kaling. I was super excited to hear she was writing a second book, and seriously contemplated going to a book signing of hers in Washington DC. (Why, Mindy, why could you not come to the South?!) But, I went to work like a good adult, and now I have to live with that decision.

Why Not Me? showcases more of Kaling’s college years, dating life, and her work load on her television series. Man, just reading her schedule made me exhausted. She maybe clocks five hours a sleep most nights. I have come to find out that I require about ten hours of sleep to feel rested. This chick is acting, writing, producing and whatever else her job requires of her throughout the day, and she’s running on half of my sleep schedule! What can this girl not do?

She finally describes her relationship with best friend, B.J. Novak. They worked together on The Office, and to thinly quote Caroline Manzo from Housewives of New Jersey, “they’re thick as thieves.” I realize that’s a quote everyone knows, but does anyone really know who originally said it? (And if you do, don’t be a jerk and comment who did). Kaling says of her and Novak’s relationship as quote “soup snakes.” A term from an episode of The Office where Michael tries to describe his relationship with Holly. It’s like soul mates, but not quite. I realize that clears nothing up, but you would just have to read it for it to make sense.

What I really love from the book is the advice she gives that I have found totally relatable. Indulge me while I relay a few quotes.

On achieving fame: “I want to be a better person because I don’t want to disappoint those girls. I stop and think about my actions more. I tip great, I try not to swear too much, and I remember to thank people and be grateful.” Words that especially us teachers (and all women) should carry.

When a guy she liked didn’t make the effort: “…because I knew the truth, which is if someone really wants to see you, they always find a way. Always.”  Something  I hope that my middle school students will understand.

On hard work: “It’s just that, the truth is, I have never, ever, ever met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic’.”

And why you need a bit of bravery: “…I just don’t hate myself. I do idiotic things all the time…but I don’t let everything traumatize me. And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves.”

And after reading, I felt inspired to be a bit braver, to be more confident, and to try harder to instill those qualities in the middle school girls I teach.

~Jess

P.S. If this hasn’t convinced you to read, Reese Witherspoon raves about it on her instagram. (See, I’m not an obsessed weirdo.) To read an excerpt of her book, click here to read it from Glamour.

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Thursday Book Talk: Modern Romance

I love to read celebrities autobiographies. More specifically comedian’s autobiographies. So, I kind of assumed when Aziz Ansari came out with his new book, Modern Romance, it had to be some take on his love life. I was wrong. Instead, what I got was an interesting, researched read on today’s romantic life in the United States and a comparison to how it was decades ago. Ansari teamed up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to investigate the topic of “finding romance.” And since it was written by Ansari, you know it’s not going to be some dull, droning piece that will put you to sleep. This book had some great insights into the modern dating life and how it has changed over the years.

As part of the study, Ansari and Klinenberg brought together a group of people from different generations to discuss dating. A quote that stuck out to me from the discussion came from an older woman who was in a successful marriage. She said, “We grew up and changed together. And here we are in our sixties, still together.” Even though they were young and faced challenges in their marriage, they worked through those hardships to grow together.

Ansari also talked about how that generation would get together for a date. The older generation almost always asked one another out over the phone or in person. Now, you can see people getting together over text, Facebook, or dating sites. And even though we have all of this new technology to bring us together…we have seen it can also keep us a part from people who are right in front of us. For instance, during one focus group, they split the room with kids on one side and adults on the other. And what happened? The adults were able to carry on conversations with one another, while the kids were on their phones. Is this a sign we losing the art of face-to-face conversation?

Here’s another interesting tidbit… Ansari discusses a finding by behavioral scientists on the “power of waiting techniques” as they are applied to messaging a potential date. According to the study, when the lab animal pushes a lever, it is “rewarded” with a treat. The animal continues to push the lever with a treat appearing each time. Eventually, the animal will wait longer between pushing the lever because it knows the treat will be waiting when it does. Hmmm….interesting. So, basically, if a person texts back immediately over and over again eventually the other person will start to take him or her for granted and won’t feel a strong urge to text back because he or she knows they will get an immediate response. This is basically kind of horrible because if a person doesn’t want to play games when getting to know someone you kind of have no choice. You have to strategically wait longer periods of time before texting someone back. Ugh, exhausting!

Ansari also shares some of the best advice he got for finding someone. He had been out to bars and was coming up with no luck. No girlfriend. Then, a friend told him to start acting like a “decent person.” “Go to the grocery store, buy your own food, take care of yourself. If you live a responsible life, you’ll run into responsible people.” Makes sense. Ansari does mention he now has a girlfriend.

This novel is filled with interesting insights into online dating, texting, love in other countries, and finally settling down. This is definitely worth a read if you would like to gain some understandings into modern dating, and how it has evolved from previous generations. I loved reading the stories from the older generation focus groups. Plus, it didn’t hurt that he had comedic tid-bits scattered throughout the book.

He concludes his research with his findings, and one that stuck out the most was: “Finding someone today is probably more complicated and stressful than it was for previous generations –but you’re also more likely to end up with someone you are really excited about.”

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Happy reading!

~Jess

For the Love of Harry Potter: Top Wizarding World Moments

My family and I love us some Harry Potter. I always knew I wanted to post on Harry Potter, but I didn’t know about what. My mom, sister, and I have moments and characters that we always talk about, whether it came from the book or movies. Our conversations usually always come back to these moments. So, at the risk of revealing my nerdy side, I decided to post 5 moments or characters which I frequently mention during our Potter conversations.

1. I love all members of the Weasley family. Except one. Percy. He is just so smug. He really isn’t a prevalent character in the movies, but we are exposed to him more in the books. I really couldn’t stand this guy. The way he treated his family? Appalling! And I dare say, I like Voldermort better than Percy. Yes, you read the right. Sure, Percy gets a little better at the end. But I can’t help it; he really grinds my gears.

Percy….

2. So I guess I came into Potter-dom all wrong. I saw all of the movies first, then read the books. Needless to say, when I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I had no idea the horror that awaited me. It was all well and good until Potter and his fearless, caring headmaster, Dumbledore, had to go hunting horocruxes. Upon their return, Snape killed Dumbledore! Cue the shock, distress, and general panic in knowing he wouldn’t be there to help Harry destroy Voldermort! Plus, it didn’t help that when I saw this scene I yelled, “No! Dumbledorf!” and was subsequently embarrassed. You have to realize I was still fairly new to the whole series, and wasn’t quiet sure how to pronounce Dumbledore’s name. Give me a break.

3. A death that I seriously could not get over and still haunts me to this day is that of the faithful house elf Dobby. Oh my word, that was the saddest thing I have ever seen. That elf loved his friend Harry Potter and was brave up until the very end. Even after Bellatrix flung that knife into his stomach, his last words were, “Dobby is happy to be with his friend, Harry Potter.” I’m tearing up writing this. But Dobby was not a regular house elf; he was a free elf. Not many house elves could claim that (big deal). Plus, I have a picture of my dog Benny that bears a striking resemblance to Dobby. RIP Dobby.

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I dare you to tell me Benny is not adorable.

4. One of my favorite motions (this sounds weird but stay with me) in the movies belongs to Snape when he flicks his wand in a brisk motion to walk through a gate on the way to meet with the other Deatheaters in the first part of The Deathly Hallows. It was just the epitome of cool! Every time I watch it, I want to do the same thing to every door I own. Confession: when I worked at a law office, I had to lock up at the end of the day. About 84% of the time when I walked to the front door to go to the mailbox, I would fling my arm open wide in hopes the door would magically disappear so I could walk straight through (spoiler alert: it never happened).

5. Other than Dobby, the house elf Kreacher really stole my heart in the books. We really only see the grumpy shell of the elf in the movies. However, in the books, we see Kreacher turn from a miserable old bag to an elf with a heart of gold. He was cooking Harry, Hermione, and Ron meals and was halfway pleasant. What upset me most had to be when the trio couldn’t return to their safe house after escaping the ministry. Kreacher was cooking them a delicious meal, and they couldn’t even go back to enjoy it after he had been slaving all day. Plus, you’d think with them being magical and all they could have sent a carrier pigeon or some mysterious communication to Kreacher letting him know they wouldn’t make it back. I bet he worried himself sick!

There is a ton more that I could say about Harry Potter franchise, but I’ll save that for another day. But if after reading all of this doesn’t make you want to join the fandom, then…

~Jess

Thursday Book Talk: The Girl You Left Behind

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Oh how I loved reading The Girl You Left Behind! I was captivated by this book from the very beginning. It starts out in Paris in 1916 during World War I. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe as the Germans invade their small town while her husband, Edouard, a talented artist, fights in the war. The German leader becomes very interested in a portrait of her that her husband painted, which is hanging in their hotel. When Sophie gets word that her husband has been sent to a concentration camp, she will do whatever it takes to get the German leader to release her husband. The story then turns to almost a century later where Sophie’s portrait hangs in the house of Liv Halston. Halston received the portrait as a wedding gift from her late husband, David. When Sophie’s living family goes in search of her portrait that went missing during World War I, Liv realizes that she is faced with a battle that she is willing to fight until the end. I loved how the story went back and forth in time between the two women. This definitely created a suspense and a love for this story all in one.

Who else is loving Jojo Moyes books?!

~Ashley

Thursday Book Talk: The Royal We

I am having some British fever right now… that may not be the best thing to say considering we are about to celebrate our Independence Day (shout out to America!), but I really enjoyed reading The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and now I’m in a tizzy to visit England. Probably why I enjoyed it so much was because it was an easy read, and I can be a sucker for sappy romance novels (tell no one). Yes, some parts could be a little hokey, but it was enjoyable so who cares. Plus, I love me some Will and Kate and you can’t help but draw some comparisons to their love story.

The novel opens on the day before Rebecca (Bex) is to marry Prince Nicholas of Wales, who is next in line to the throne. Bex is in a panic because she has done something that may jeopardize her wedding to Nick. Plus, her twin sister, Lacey, has also done her fair share of messing up the situation, but we are all clueless as to what it is. From then on, we are brought up to speed on how Rebecca and Nick met, fell in love, broke   up only to get back together and become engaged, to the day before their wedding. Rebecca is an American, college student studying abroad at Oxford. On her first day, at her dorm, she meets a boy who leads her to what will be her room for her time there. She realizes with the help of her neighbor, Cilla, that he is actually the Prince of Wales. Rebecca becomes included in Cilla’s circle of friends, which includes Nick. Over time, Rebecca and Nick become very good friends by bonding over a “trashy” television show. Finally, this friendship turns into love. However, they keep their relationship a secret for privacy and because of disapproving family members. Nick also has a goofy, “playboy” younger brother, Freddie (who didn’t see that one coming?). The trio becomes very close over the course of the courtship, and Bex and Freddie remain tight after the relationship ends with Nick. Bex is heartbroken and indulges in risky behavior. She even engages in a kiss with Freddie! After a year has passed, Nick and Bex reunite and become engaged. However, something from Bex’s past comes back to haunt her happiness with Nick with a plot twist that I halfway saw coming. What I didn’t like of the novel was the ending. I felt cheated. And if you have read it, you understand what I am talking about. On the anger scale of 1 to 10, I was about a four. I didn’t get too worked up like I did with the Sweet Valley (read about that rant here). But it was enough to elicit an “Are you kidding me?”

You would enjoy this book if: you love the Royal family, you love reading a romantic-comedish-scandal novel, or you need an beach read.

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For more reading inspo, check out our Pinterest board!

~Jess