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Cool Girls Read: August (part two)

A second installment of our series Cool Girls Read for August 2016! Check out the rest of our series here. The books we’ve recommended we’ve actually read, but this post contains Affiliate links. Read our full disclosure here.

I have only reached Season 2 Episode 8 of Game of Thrones, but the rumor of a Jason Momoa return to the show already has me feeling some type of way. I haven’t read the book series yet either, but that is on my to-do list. Another long overdue essential read is the Harry Potter series (yes–I know), especially since I’ve neither read the books nor watched the films, and I worked at a bookstore when the series was still in print and releasing new installments.

But don’t we all have those never-ending “to read” lists, those stacks of books and aspirational shelves we think we’ll conquer one day? Well here we’ve got more recommendations for you to add to those lists, stacks and shelves. As part of our August Cool Girls Read we’ve got our editors’ pick Reading Roundup, installment number two. These short reviews are brought to us today by Art & Lit editor Kelli Heidelberger and Entertainment editor Taylor Mims.

Taylor:

The Girls: A Novel by Emma Clinegirls

The 25-year old Emma Cline snuck up on me with her stunning debut novel. I hadn’t heard anything about the battle for her manuscript or the huge deal she signed, but all the right people seemed to be talking about it. The story in The Girls closely mirrors the events of the Manson murders, but Cline’s exploration of her young antagonist goes much further than the allure of a charismatic leader. It reveals how an intelligent girl could find herself entwined in a cult of unstable believers.

The language is unique and completely enthralling. There were passages when I felt the need to pause and let the words land. Cline finds different ways of describing the most familiar of emotions and moments without ever losing the reader in verbosity or confusion. I can’t remember the last time I was this sad to see a book end.
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Kelli:

black rabbit hallBlack Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

I love Gothic literature, so if you give me a book set in a creepy old house in the English countryside I will read it. Black Rabbit Hall is more of a modern day Gothic fiction book. It parallels two stories, one that takes place in the 1960s and one about thirty years later. They both center around a dilapidated Gothic manor named Black Rabbit Hall. I’m not necessarily a fan of the back and forth between the two points of views–I always find myself drawn to one more than the other–and it wasn’t any different for this book, but there is some mystery as to how the two stories connect that kept me reading. Chase’s writing is straightforward, but the it is the descriptions of the house which remain integral to the story.

 

didionThe Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This has been on my list to read for a while now. Didion is such an iconic writer, and I hadn’t read anything of hers yet. It’s a story of such a tragic year in Didion’s life. Her writing is honest and draws on her grief to provide a relatable narrative for anyone who has lost someone in their lives and finds it difficult to keep on going. It isn’t just her grief that drives the writing, but her passion for her family and the retelling of a lasting marriage in a world where it seems as though there are news reports every day about couples (famously or otherwise) separating and “uncoupling.”

 

 

crime punishmentCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I decided to read this one after talking to two high school seniors I work with who had to work on an AP English assignment for this book. I realized I hadn’t read it and decided to dive in. Russian literature is always an adventure. Dostoyevsky’s writing includes long, drawn out paragraphs of dialogue mixed with long expository paragraphs. It’s not surprising why so many people are opposed to reading his works. I haven’t made it that far in yet and it is a long book, but I’m determined to make it through.

 

 

smokeSmoke by Dan Vyleta

This is one I happened to come across through the recommendation of a book blogger I follow and decided to check it out. Smoke is set in the 1800s England and yet still has a sort of science fiction vibe to it. Any human who sins appears to have smoke emanating from their body which in turn makes their bodies and their sins visible to everyone. Vyleta’s writing is full of rich descriptions creating a world that is both fascinating and horrifying, because even one little lie could lead to the smoke giving you away. It is a book I look forward to finishing and seeing where Vyleta takes the story.

 

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve already added these to my library holds and Amazon wishlists!

We’ve been doing so much reading, required or otherwise. Check back in with us the rest of the week to see what our other editors have stacked up as well. You can catch up with the past book recommendations from our Cool Girls Read series.

And don’t forget to stay connected with us on our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram pages.

What are you reading? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

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Cool Girls Read: August

This month we’re changing it up a little bit, and writing more of a Reading Roundup version of our feature series we call Cool Girls Read. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, what with the Olympics, the Lochte Lying scandal, Frank Ocean announcing a new album, then not releasing it when he said he would, then giving it back to us in the form of a weird livestream video of his studio where music played while someone literally built a staircase in the middle of his studio…then Endless…until eventually giving us Blonde. It’s been wild.

Keeping up with our daily lives and all that madness entails, we still somehow find the time to read. Here is our editor’s Reading Roundup for August, part one.

Janea:

between the world and me

Between the World & Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

I had been waiting to read this forever. I’d only read excerpts and quotes and snippets via tumblr, instagram and some book reviews. I’d been waiting in the library queue for months. Yes, a several month wait-list for this book. The book is presented as a letter by Coates to his young son about what it means to exist as a black person in the United States. Between the World and Me is not very long text, but the writing is profound, compelling, and timeless. Published in July 2015, it’s sadly yet unsurprisingly easy to change the names Eric Garner and Michael Brown to Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Korryn Gaines. I would have to second what Toni Morrison so boldly proclaims: this is required reading.

 

americanah

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This novel by Adichie is full of life. Her writing style is effortless yet complex; it is rich and layered. I love the alternating flashbacks between the protagonist’s adolescent and adult lives. If you read between the lines–and sometimes it quite smacks you in the face–you’ll see that she captures and critiques so many nuances of American culture with the so-called advantage from somewhat of an “outsider” perspective. Adichie has a wit to rival the sharp tongue of Dorothy Parker, but curves her jabs into a sort of sweetness that make you say, “Yes…please do that again.”

Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Reading this has become quite the task for me. I went into this book without any context other than my friends had read it and really enjoyed it. As I began the novel, I assumed it was set some time in the 50s or 60s because the language bends itself toward a sort of midcentury American sensibility. As I continued to read, the references to various modern technologies snapped me back into the present time and I had to readjust myself as an audience member. The narrative pulls me through, but I do take this book in small doses at a time. I hope to finish it before the year ends.

garments against women

Garments Against Women – Anne Boyer

Lyrical prose poems thematically stacked and measured against history, time, the lives of women and children. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read these poems but the number is high. This collection of poems has been celebrated many times over, and I highly recommend giving this a read.

 

 

Pamela:

fdrFDR – Jean Edward Smith

I just started it a few days ago and haven’t gotten very far yet. Despite having just started, it’s a well written book and so far very detailed with FDRs family tree, which gives a lot of insight to his upbringing and the context of the America into which he was born.

 

 

Between the World & Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates (A second nod to this book!)

Coates doesn’t use a typical or commonly used style of writing. The style somewhat reminds me of beat literature in that it can be disjointed in some ways, but it lends to the narrative. Reading this text definitely requires focus, but the voice is extremely authentic and truthful.

– – – – – – – – – –

We’ve been doing so much reading, required or otherwise! Check back in with us the rest of the week to see what our other editors have stacked up as well. You can catch up with the past book recommendations from our Cool Girls Read series.

And don’t forget to stay connected with us on our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram pages.

What are you reading? Let us know in the comments.

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How to Lose

by Hannah Ford

How to Lose

Sure, you weren’t ever fat, but swapping in salads and getting up a bit earlier to run feels strong, clean, bright.

To lose a few pounds, you’ll also lose an hour of sleep in the morning when you get up to exercise. Stop allowing unnecessary carbs. Lose the egg yolks, take off one of the cheeseburger buns. You won’t miss much. You’ll look fantastic in that bikini.

It started with a bikini. You were twelve, and you wore your first two-piece to a water park on a trip with your cousins. “So cute!” your aunt said when you stepped out of the changing room.

“I look fat,” you said, testing out the words and testing the reaction.

You got what you wanted: “No! You’re tiny.” You aunt wrinkled her nose. Then, what you didn’t expect: “You’ve been spending too much time with your mother.”

Was that where you learned to berate your body? Or was it everywhere, was it your disposition or your environment or nothing in particular or everything all together?

If you lose ten pounds, you’ll think this is enough. Trim, but not too trim. But it won’t feel like enough. Why not keep going? Why not a scrape off the pizza toppings, why not keep running? This way, if you slip up and overeat once or twice, you’ll still have some wiggle room. It’s like a security deposit—say no to the junk food now, and you’ll be able to say yes later. If you want to.

If you lose fifteen pounds, your friends will notice. You’ll come back to college after summer vacation, and they’ll say, woah, have you lost weight? You’ll hear it as a compliment.

I’ve been running, you’ll say.

Make a show when you eat dessert in front of them, so that they know you’re okay.

But you’ll only eat the insides of your sandwiches, and you’d rather have an apple for breakfast. Cut it up into tiny cubes so that it lasts longer. Coffee is fine. (Black.)

Step on your scale every morning. You’ll see that you’re still losing. But that’s good, right?

You have free gym access—use it. An hour a day on the bike. Soon, that won’t feel like enough. You’ll add a mile or two on the track so that you know you’re improving yourself.

You’ll be asked on dates. More than you can keep track of. Maybe it’s because you’re at the gym often enough to catch the eye of the confident athletes. Maybe you just look good. It’s overwhelming, you’ll say to your friends, the martyr that you are.

Narrow down the suitors and pick one. He’s only known you for a short time. He’s only known you at this size.

You’ll lose some of your thinking capacity, because most of your thoughts will be planning. Planning responses to “Wow, you look tiny,” to “Have you been sick?” Planning your dinner: spinach or romaine? Planning your outfits (layer long sleeve under short sleeve to keep yourself warm).

Avoid carbs. They’ll collect on your plate, neglected. Your friends will glance at them and back at their own grilled cheeses.

When you’re out to brunch with the boyfriend, you’ll drop an occasional comment. Sure, add pancakes. My doctor says I should gain some weight. Or my parents think I’m too thin.

Really?, he’ll say. Justify a trip to the gym based on that response. If you gain weight, how will he see you?

“You’re so skinny,” friends will say, some kindly and some bluntly. You’ve lost 19 pounds.

Maybe they mean well, but you’ll resent them. Especially your thin friends. Who are they to talk?

One friend will tell you about a girl she knows. “She’s been anorexic for years,” she’ll tell you. Not me, you’ll think defiantly. Sick, unstable, wrong, that word. “She sees the nutritionist here.” Change the subject.

Sleep is difficult when you’re counting the calories you ate that day. Friendship is difficult when your friends can’t trust you because they know your smile is a lie.

When the scale reads 103.7, reconsider. Schedule a meeting with the nutritionist. On your birthday, of all days. It’s a gift to yourself, your mom will say when you tell her, relief seeping into her words.

Hide your nerves. Say that you know you’ve lost a few more pounds than you should have (you can’t look too bad, your new boyfriend thinks you’re beautiful). How long since your last period, the nutritionist will ask, and you’ll have a hard time remembering before saying six months. Her eyebrow will twitch as she makes notes.

The weather is getting cold. Wear thick sweaters to cover your skeletal frame and hide your pencil thighs. Your rings slip off your white fingers. You’ll always be shivering. Sip tea. It fills your stomach.

At your family shopping trip, try on a holiday dress to show your mom. She’ll see your collarbone jutting out of the swooping neckline, your shoulders poking into the lace sleeves like a wire hanger. Her eyes will fill. You’re scaring the shit out of me, she’ll say, her voice throaty and broken and honest.

Blood tests. Anemic, low blood pressure, low everything. You can still see the needle under your cold blue skin. They’ll give you juice afterwards, but you’ll only swallow a mouthful. Juice is liquid glucose.

You expected a quick fix, didn’t you? That’s not how it works. It took time to get here. It will take time to get out.

Your nutritionist will tell you to stop exercising. Your body gets burns muscle when fat reserves are gone. Your heart is a muscle.

There’s too much time without exercising. Choose Clair de Lune for your piano performance—difficult for you, but you can spend two hours practicing every day.

Still, too much time, your thoughts erratic and repetitive.

(more…)

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[Sound Maven] Meet Losing End

Making sonic magic through their tight knit music scene

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the band Losing End of Ventura County. We sat baking in a car that could double for an oven and chatted after their practice in Simi Valley, California. Even though I came to the studio armed with a six pack, they were well ahead of me as they quenched themselves with cans of Modelo while they hashed out some new songs. Friends since high schooland in the case of Andy and Tyler, blood relatedthe members of Losing End fuse their collective musical prowess to the end result: a tenacious voice in a hellbent, suburban DIY music scene which redefines what it means to be a band from a small town.

losing end

The band began in 2014 with just Tyler and Andy and expanded to include Frankie and Dylan after Andy had recorded a few songs with them and realized his friends would flesh out their sound.

Tyler: Andys dad always played drums, so we always had them around the house. I got a guitar when I was 15. And then Andy got a guitar, so we would play together in our jam room. Wed learn Zeppelin songs, Black Sabbath songs, Black Flag. Wed play a song by [the band] Immigrant over and over and over again, not even the whole way through. We learned a bunch of Nirvana songs, too. We had a band in Bakersfield called The Dagobah System, which was kinda thrashy, and then we started the Action Index. At some point, we ended up moving down here and doing our own thing.

Everything about Losing End is homegrown. Their friends record their songs, they play shows with their friends’ bands, and some of the local venues theyve played at were courtesy of their friends’ hospitality. Losing End thrives in an inter-county community rich with talent including (but not limited to) bands such as Sheer, Sustains, Grapevine, and Valley Girls. Even though they typically play local shows, Losing End ventured north last winter to the congenial college town of Santa Cruz to play a show booked by their friend Nils Bakke of Leucrota.

Dylan: We got paid more for that show than we ever have just from donations alone, and the free beer was cool.

Frankie: Molson Canadian-Pretty much the Budweiser of Canada.

When theyre not enjoying complimentary bottom shelf beer, Losing End navigates the tempestuous yet rewarding experience of being a band in a rather small and largely musically-apathetic town. The cons of this situation are obvious: a slower reception, lack of venues, sound curfews, to name a few. The pros are what make this band distinctive despite the pitfalls.

Dylan: We don’t have a venue around here. Whats cool is, since there isn’t anywhere to play, we have to make do with what we got. Carlas bakery in Moorpark is a cool spot, thanks to our friend Luis. E.P. Foster Library in Ventura has been really good to us. A small town makes bands in the area work together. You form friendships, and you meet cool new people to play shows with. When we were younger, we booked a show at our local rec room. We spent all the money we made paying for the damages that were caused from that show, but I wouldnt change it for anything. Go broke, book shows. Do whatever you gotta do. (more…)

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