The Lotterys Plus One

I’m not sure what I expected from a children’s book written by Emma Donoghue but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t The Lotterys Plus One. Oh sure, I expected an LGBTQ family but this family? Not so much, lol.

There are FOUR parents, a lesbian couple and a gay couple. They have quirky names like PopCorn and CardaMom. The kids are all named after trees, except for Briar… she changed her name to Brian, and while she is adamant about NOT being a GIRl, she’s also not saying she’s a BOY. Gender is hard, or really simple — take your pick, both are true.

Besides the fact that there are eight zillion people in this book, all with quirky names, and you have to try to keep track of who is who you also have to deal with the fact that the family has weird names for EVERYTHING. Family meetings are called “fleetings,” the back porch of the house is called the “derriere,” the extra bedroom is called “spare oom,” something isn’t excellent, it’s egg salad… this is all a little overwheling. It’s fun, but on top of the all of the weird family names, it’s messy.

In fact everything about this book is messy, which is why you should absolutely read it.

The family is super messy and quirky and I kind of love them, even if I could do without the weird/cutesy names. The children came to the family in a variety of ways and have a variety of ethnicity, personalities, (and some issues.) Some were biological to some of the parents. One has what’s probably ADHD, one is a shaken baby.

And then there’s the grandfather… the one who has messy problems of his own, the least of which is that he’s an old white conservative dude from a small town in Canada and he things families should be made up of one man, one woman, and hopefully the same race/ethnicity. He also thinks people should behave in more traditional ways. And, there’s more… he is the plus one in this story, and he is what drives the plot line.

Donoghue throws a lot into this one tiny book and in the end, I loved it. I could do with fewer odd names/language choices but I get it. The family is quirky. I’ll take them as they are (and TW says there are or will be more books, so I’ll read them.)

Tuesday Night Miracles

Awhile back, TW asked me to name some books about women’s journeys — where they go on a trip and find themselves or learn some lesson or bond with other women and I immediately said Kris Radish has written a lot of those books, hasn’t she? Which led me to see if she’s written any books we haven’t read (since we haven’t read any of her books in years, I figured it was likely) and whether any of her books were available in large print for TW’s mom because I wasn’t sure she’d read them…

Which is how Tuesday Night Miracles made it onto our shelf.

Typical Radish — women facing huge issues come together and get their lives together, mostly. It was a nice book to read in between some of the longer or more complex things on my shelf.

The Fireman

When will I learn not to start a Joe Hill chunkster on a weeknight? When? When?! Someone remind me of this, please.

The Fireman was exactly what you’d expect from a Joe Hill novel. Brilliant, just brilliant.

A pandemic… spontaneous combustion… global warming… fanaticism… all wrapped up in the feeling that this could actually be happening right now, under the current administration and our current social climate… and of course, I didn’t want to put it down.

(Martha Quinn…which only makes sense if you read the book but I just can’t say that enough. BRILLIANTLY DONE…)

Homegoing

I had no idea Homegoing would be so good. Seriously one of the best books I’ve read in forever.

Two half-sisters born in different villages in Ghana in the mid/late 1700s… the book follows their descendants and good lord it’s painful. Beautifully written, honest, and painful.

Read this and think about how the experiences of the first two women played a role in the lives of those who came later. Every single damn white person should read this.

Girl Mans Up

Girl Mans Up was excellent. Identity is complicated and Pen is FIERCE. I love her. (And everyone needs a brother (or a sister) like Johnny.)

I really think their photo project was brilliant, too. I wonder if there are any kids who’ve tried this…

The Happy Healthy Nonprofit

I should disclose a couple of things before I talk about The Happy Healthy Nonprofit so here goes:

1) I’m not really a believer in the whole work/life balance thing. It feels like just another way to tell women they’re doing it wrong or they’ll never be good enough. I have a similar feeling about “burnout.” (Though of course, I do understand the real science behind stress, work and health issues. Those are a thing — absolutely, I’m just not 100% sold on the issues as we talk about them NOW… it’s complicated.) This means that I’m probably bringing that baggage into how I feel about this book.
2) Beth Kanter is an old friend and BlogHer buddy and I love her — which means I’m probably bringing how I feel about Beth into how I feel about her book.

Having said that, I knew I wanted to read Beth’s book even before it was released. Because Beth, clearly. Must read. Also, Aliza Sherman, good grief. Could there be two smarter women? Nope. So after I watched Beth’s KICKASS Happy Healthy Nonprofit presentation at Cause Camp a few weeks ago, I decided it was definitely time to read the entire book. So I did.

Overall, I felt pretty good about the book. What I found myself agreeing to is that you can feel X way at work and at home, as a result of … things. In my experience, it’s not so much about over-work (and not taking down time) as it is about falling out of love with my job, my coworkers, my organization/company. It can also happen when I feel under-appreciated, under-respected, and when I’m not given an opportunity to grow or contribute in a meaningful way.

The tips and ideas in this book can help you with those issues. In fact, it includes many of things I’ve done in the past, when I was really unhappy with my job. Making changes about how I worked, how long I worked, when I worked and what I did when I wasn’t working made me so much happier than if I’d just kept grinding away.

I also believe that we’re all different, an environment where I thrive may be one where you struggle. Recognizing what works for me, is important for me (and for my team.) Recognizing what doesn’t work for others is just as important for me (and for my team.) Reading The Healthy, Happy Nonprofit can give you some framework for thinking about this and help you begin to make changes for yourself and support others.

If you are struggling with work/life balance, if you’re feeling burnt out, if you’re not burnt out but are just plain ole unhappy with your job or work environment — then I absolutely guarantee you that Beth and Aliza’s advice will help you.

Besides tips for the individual, there are tips and ideas that you can bring to your coworkers and your company/organization to help improve workplace culture. I enjoyed reading about what other organizations are doing and reflecting on the stuff my org is doing.

I’m still not completely on the work/life balance, take a real vacation, keep your phone out of your bedroom (impossible for ME!) wagon … but I’m definitely glad I read the book. I circled stuff (in PEN.) I’ll be referring back to it again in the future. (And, I really do need to get more exercise. Really.)

#Readathon Book Four: The Abyss Surrounds Us

Liz Henry talked about The Abyss Surrounds us a few weeks ago on Facebook and I decided we needed to read it. It was excellent! Totally awesome for #readathon. Trained killer sea creatures, a female pirate captain, a couple of lesbians. Really excellent. And, even better — it ended perfectly. I like that.

It’s getting late, I’m getting tired and since I don’t have a bunch of picture books and early readers this time around, it’s time to move to the world of cookbooks and over-sized coffee table books to carry me through the next couple of hours.

#Readathon Book Three: Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

I bought Fire!! when I was in DC in February and saved it specially for #readathon. It was very good but it felt … rushed, maybe? I mean it’s hard to tell someone’s life story in the span of one relatively short graphic novel, I get that. But Hurston’s story is so… interesting. I almost felt let down. Almost. It’s still a great graphic novel and I highly recommend it. I just wanted MORE.

#Readathon Book Two: I Hate Everyone, Except You

I had to read I Hate Everyone, Except You because how could I not, with a title like that. Also, Clinton Kelly (WNTW), right?

And, it totally amused me. The first chapter horrified me and amused me, both at the same time. Many of the chapters horrified and amused me. It was awesome. lol

Also, do you think you can you outrun a raccoon?

#Readathon Book One: The Doodle Revolution

I didn’t plan to read The Doodle Revolution front to back in one sitting but I got involved and ended up not wanting to put it down. It was excellent. I wish she’d talked about color with more depth, that was really the only disappointing part of this book. (And that was really disappointing.)

I didn’t do any of the doodle games or exercises, but I’ll go back and do some of them before this has to go back to the library. (I might update this post after I actually do some exercises. Maybe.)

PS. I’m categorizing this as “art” for the purpose of organizing my blog posts but DOODLING IS NOT ART. Just making sure y’all know that (and everyone knows that I know that.)