Jayne’s Reading List for early 2016
These are books I read in addition to my reviewing schedule.
Worried that old age will inevitably mean losing your libido, your health, and possibly your marbles too? Well, Cicero has some good news for you. In How to Grow Old, the great Roman orator and statesman eloquently describes how you can make the second half of life the best part of all—and why you might discover that reading and gardening are actually far more pleasurable than sex ever was.
Filled with timeless wisdom and practical guidance, Cicero’s brief, charming classic—written in 44 BC and originally titled On Old Age—has delighted and inspired readers, from Saint Augustine to Thomas Jefferson, for more than two thousand years. Presented here in a lively new translation with an informative new introduction and the original Latin on facing pages, the book directly addresses the greatest fears of growing older and persuasively argues why these worries are greatly exaggerated—or altogether mistaken.
Montaigne said Cicero’s book “gives one an appetite for growing old.” The American founding father John Adams read it repeatedly in his later years. And today its lessons are more relevant than ever in a world obsessed with the futile pursuit of youth.
How could I resist this blurb given that I’m well into middle age and old age is staring me down the barrel. With the recommendations listed above, I figured Cicero must have something worth saying and listening to so I dove in headfirst and was charmed. Reading the translation is like sitting around after a wonderful meal, finishing that last glass of whatever and enjoying shooting the breeze with a wise old friend who’s put a lot of thought into what he’s saying. And who also has the experience and examples to back up what he’s telling you.
But you can’t just sit around and expect plaudits and huzzahs from the following generations unless you’ve laid the groundwork with a life well lived. Love and pursue wisdom and think about what will follow you.
The course of life cannot change. Nature has but a single path and you travel it only once.
Each stage of life has its own appropriate qualities— weakness in childhood, boldness in youth, seriousness in middle age, and maturity in old age. These are fruits that must be harvested in due season.
I found the book very charming, calming, full of good advice and something I know I’ll return to. And for those of you who wish to test yourselves, the original Latin text is included as well. Enjoy! A-
Are you a woman who has ever looked in the mirror and thought, “How did my mother get in my bathroom?” Have you gone through years of night sweats and seismic mood swings, leaving you with a metabolism that forces you to choose between wine and carbs (so you haven’t had a bagel in eight years)? Did you wake up one morning in someone else’s body? Then you will love this book. If you ever made a regrettable hairstyle choice, finally conceded that thongs make you look like a Weeble in dental floss, or wished your Hubs would learn that grabbing your boobs every time you walk past him with a load of laundry is not foreplay, then you will love this book.
Who Left the Cork out of My Lunch? is chock-full of funny, informative how-to lists, hilarious advice columns, and sharp personal anecdotes that cover subjects from menopause (are we done yet?), empty nest syndrome (sob!), and grandchildren (yay!), to sex (better after fifty), marriage (he said what?), age-appropriate fashion (what does that mean?), cosmetic intervention (to Botox or not to Botox?), diet fails (#972), beauty tips from Mom (still true), and confidence (fabulous after fifty). Laugh along with author Vikki Claflin and her amusing advice on how to let go of our youth and start rocking our middle age. Are you ready?
Once I read the title for this book at netgalley, I just had check out the blurb. Then, as all of it resonated with me, I had to click request. As I read the book, I was laughing and nodding at a lot of it and chewing my thumbnail as I thought, “Yeah, this is coming to a body near me any time now.” A lot of Vikki’s life lessons have already been wryly incorporated in my daily routine – no more dark lipstick and tank tops are not in my wardrobe anymore – while I’ve seen others through friends who tell me stories then laughingly warn me “just you wait.” I’m okay with it, as Vikki appears to be. I am who I am, I’m never going to be 40 again, things are sagging but I’m fine. A glass of wine, a (large) box of chocolates and it’s all good. B
A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show for four years—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious Mansion wasn’t a dream at all—and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.
But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.
In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the Mansion, the drugs, the sex, the abuse, the infamous parties, and her real behind-the-scenes life with Bridget, Kendra, and, of course, Mr. Playboy himself.
With great courage, Holly shares the details of her subsequent troubled relationship, landing her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams—and finding the life we deserve.
Okay, yeah sure I’ve heard of Playboy Magazine – who hasn’t? – but as far as life at the Mansion I knew almost nothing beyond the fact that there’s some grotto place, pool parties and lots of hanky panky. When I saw this blurb I thought, “Hey, why not read and learn.” Yikes, what a tawdry place and what a (horrifying) life. At times while I read the book, I truly wanted to go take a shower. It wasn’t the nudity so much as the twisted games played by almost everyone there, the manipulation, the cruelty and what sounds like mind numbing boredom. The Mansion also seems like “trailer park, third rate, no-tell-motel” than glamorous. Really, pet urine all over the carpets and round beds? Watching Holly slip deeper into depression and be mentally abused by those around her started to make me angrier and madder as I read.
She finally breaks free of the toxic environment and people there and does begin to craft her own success and happy ever after. As she admits, had she not gone through it, she might not have gained her degree of stardom and found “the one” but the road she followed was rocky and the price she paid was high. B-
In the annals of consumer crazes, nothing compares to Beanie Babies. With no advertising or big-box distribution, creator Ty Warner – an eccentric college dropout – become a billionaire in just three years. And it was all thanks to collectors. The end of the craze was just as swift and extremely devastating, with “rare” Beanie Babies deemed worthless as quickly as they’d once been deemed priceless. Bissonnette draws on hundreds of interviews (including a visit to a man who lives with his 40,000 Ty products and an in-prison interview with a guy who killed a coworker over a Beanie Baby debt) for the first book on the most extraordinary craze of the 1990s.
Yep, I remember this craze but never got in on it. Frankly, I’ve always found these plush toys a little creepy. Bissonnette does more than just recount the stratospheric rise and equally fierce fall of Beanie Baby collecting. There’s information on Ty Warner – the man behind the plush and still regarded as one of the giants of the industry as well as some of the people near him in both his personal and professional life. The original coterie of collectors who did much to start the craze are profiled as well as those who got in too late and now have plastic totes full of worthless stuffed animals they paid far too much for. It’s an informative and cautionary tale about plush toy madness that swept the US and made people lose their ever loving minds. B
Brett Renshaw has not been having much luck. Spurned by his fiancé and outcast from society, he has taken to his boat and escaped to the distractions of the Mediterranean. Here he is free to drown his sorrows and wallow in his misfortune. Rescuing two women from a Turkish Harem was certainly not part of the plan.
For Phyllida Vanick, being rescued by such a disagreeable man is only bearable in stark comparison to the circumstances from which she is running. Phyllida has seen her father cut down before her eyes and lived through kidnap and the indignities of the harem. But she cannot go home now. Phyllida and her aunt are searching for her brother, Peter, an impetuous, idealistic young man caught up in the Greek War of independence. Reluctantly, Brett allows her to charter his yacht in aid of the search.
A woman of determination, resolve, and beauty, she is more than a match for Brett Renshaw’s tempers. This bold American heiress infuriates and charms the sarcastic aristocrat in equal measure. But they must learn to get along, for soon they will have to live through even greater trials. Together they must face down pirate kings, escape from a mountain fortress and survive wolves. Will love blossom between Phyllida and Brett, or will handsome pirates, stubborn pride and misunderstanding lead them off course?
Greek Wedding, written by Jane Aiken Hodge, a master of historical romance, first published in 1970, is a sweeping romantic adventure, full of swashbuckling action and excitement.
This author’s name had been mentioned to me many times as a good old fashioned historical writer. I selected this book to try based on the blurb but made sure to check out the sample before buying. Wow! I was hooked. Action from the start, a dark hero and a heroine with guts and initiative. I clicked “buy” and settled in.
The opening scene is tense and exciting. Phyllida and her aunt are desperately trying to escape from the Topkapi Sarayi. You just don’t waltz out of that place. Against his will, Brett lends a hand and the adventure starts. I knew little about the 19th century attempts by the Greeks to kick out their Turkish overlords and was delighted that I wasn’t going to be spoon fed. An author who expects me to do my homework – how refreshing. Only, as Phyllida and Brett attempt to find her runaway brother – the whole reason for her family traipsing to the area in the first place, all that seemed to happen took place off page. We hear of things but don’t actually see anything. Ever.
Then little brother finally appears and he’s … an ass. When his attempts to whine Phyllida into doing something don’t work then he defaults to bullying and crass manipulation. Over and over. I was half way into the book and things were looking grim. I flipped to the end and discovered that brother is still a whingeing loser and Brett has now inherited a Dukedom through his mother, the late Duke’s sister. On noes. I’m done here. A truly disappointing DNF