Overdue Book Update - Review - Dana Chirps

Here is a brief recap on some of the other books I've read in 2017 and 2018 (so far!)

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay - Book Review - Dana Chirps

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay - Book Review - Dana Chirps

3.5/5 stars

I was really excited to read "Bad Feminist" by Roxane Gay as I thought highly of her book, "Hunger." I liked "Bad Feminist," but I liked "Hunger" a lot more. In "Bad Feminist" each chapter is its own essay, and I think that made it harder for me to get on a roll with reading the book. However, just like her other pieces, I appreciated her literary brilliance. I am always left in awe of her writing. She is gifted! In this book she uses tons of pop culture references to address feminism. I'd recommend any female OR male to read this book. I actually think that men will find this book to be particularly fascinating. The nice thing about the essay format is that you can read a chapter sporadically, as they stand on their own. So if you have limited time, and this subject matter is interesting or important to you, I'd give it a go.

The Couple Next Door.jpg

5/5 stars.

Oh. My. Gosh. This book was sooooooo good! I had been reading a lot of books about social injustice (to conduct brand research for a client), so it was great to read something for pure entertainment. "The Couple Next Door" is an easy read, and the story has a bunch of twists and turns. Basically a baby is kidnapped, and it turns into this juicy mystery of who, how and why. But the best part is the very end. It was the kind of book you're so excited about that you tell everyone you know about it, in hopes that they read it so you have someone to freak out with. That being said, if you read it, please tell me so I can proceed to freak out with you! ;) 

Stranger In The House - Dana Chirps.jpg

4.5/5 stars.

I loved "The Couple Next Door" so much that I bought another book written by Shari Lapena. Like "The Couple Next Door," "Stranger in the House" was a can't-put-down type of book. I like how Lapena uses very few characters but is still able to build suspense and drama. "Stranger in the House," also had SUCH a twisted ending which I lovvvved. I definitely recommend this easy, entertaining read!

The Win Without Pitching - Dana Chirps

5/5 stars.

"The Win Without Pitching Manifesto" was recommended to me by my boss. It's a short 137 page read. I would recommend EVERY creative or marketing person that owns their own business/contractor/side hustler to read this book. Every sentence in this book could have been highlighted. However, the most impactful thing for me was reading about the concept of "The Difficult Business Decision" which is choosing your focus. "We are hired for our expertise and not our service," is the end result of positioning one's business. But it was one revelation after another.

Hillbilly Elegy - Dana Chirps

4/5 stars.

Hillbilly Elegy was written by a 30-something year old guy that graduated law school from the prestigious Yale University. But that wasn't the story. The story was about J.D. Vance's experience in upward mobility as a dirt-poor hillbilly kid from the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky. His anecdotes were a mixture of eye-opening, amusing, and disturbing (because they were real). There were affairs. Drug addictions. Constant conflicts. Screaming. His story really highlights how difficult (and often unrealistic) it is for people who grow up in that environment to better their situation. Eye opening read.

 

 

 

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Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

"Hunger" by Roxane Gay - Review - Dana Chirps

Hunger Review Dana Chirps.jpg

I heard of "Hunger," by Roxane Gay because I saw someone that I work with post about how great she thought the book was on Instagram. It's not the typical book I would have chosen, but I was looking for materials to assist in the demographic and brand research for one of the companies I do copywriting for, and this fit the bill. So when I was state-side I went to Barnes & Noble, and purchased it. Many of my thoughts about this book cannot be addressed without discussing the plot. It certainly won't ruin the experience of reading it yourself if you know the plot prior, but in case you want to be totally surprised - stop reading this post now! :)

"Hunger" was the kind of book where after you read it, you're like, omgsh, I need to talk to someone. Before I get into the grit of this post, I want to acknowledge how brave I think Roxane Gay was to bare her soul so vulnerably. Truly. It takes tremendous guts to share such personal experiences and address the challenging topics she did so in her book. Equally as impressive was the manner through which she did. She is a brilliant writer.

The plot (again, STOP reading if you want to be totally surprised): Roxane led a fairly normal and happy life until she was 12. One day the boy she had a crush on led her into the woods, where they met up with his friends. They proceeded to gang rape her. She kept this trauma as a secret for a very long time. Her way of coping was eating. She wanted to make herself as undesirable as possible, so that she could feel safe. “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I had been because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one I made but barely recognized or understood but of my own making. I was miserable, but I was safe.” She ended up at 6'3 and at her heaviest was 577 pounds. She goes into great detail about her life at such a large size.

There is so much of me that feels so sympathetic towards her. No person should ever be disrespected and violated in that manner, certainly not a child. It was heartbreaking to think a little girl was holding this secret in for years because of the shame and guilt. 

One of the most thought-provoking concepts Gay addresses was being labeled as "victim" versus "survivor." Gay prefers to use "victim," as a way to not lessen the severity of the trauma she experienced. Given how cavalier rape culture has become, I think she's made a strategically bold decision. This ideology had never crossed my mind before reading this book. With my two-time bout with cancer, I always took claim to the "survivor" label, and I do intend to keep it. I simply feel more empowered with that terminology. But I think every individual has the right to choose with term they identify with, and every scenario is unique.

"Hunger" also made me feel like I needed to take pauses and be more compassionate for other people. Generally, I feel as though I do a fairly good job at doing so, but this was a powerful reminder that people may appear one way on the outside, and be suffering on the inside. Gay gave several day-to-day struggles that obese people face. I was particularly bothered by the fact that there are doctors' offices that do not have proper equipment for obese people (for example, scales that don't support an obese person's weight). If there is ONE place that should be set up for all shapes and sizes, it's the doctors' office. 

This book was such a battle between Roxane and her body, and it reinforced the fact that our (American) culture is obsessed with weight, especially females. What we say shows it, what we eat (or not eat) shows it, what we wear shows it, advertisements show it... good grief, I could go on and on with so many more examples. But the discussion around weight is rampant. Although it is completely unrealistic, what if those conversations were all flipped into dialogue discussing happiness, health, and contribution to the world? It would certainly be a different world, and perhaps could even lead to a decreased obesity epidemic.  

Gay's book was a sharp reminder that weight-centric issues that most people have often have nothing to do with weight. Generally, it's a symptom of a bigger battle, a battle that is often internalized and private, that the outward world knows nothing about. If nothing else, I think everyone can afford to exude a bit more compassion, myself included. 

Overall, I'd give this book 4.5/5 stars. 

 

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Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

"Big Magic" - A Book Every Creative Should Read - Review - Dana Chirps

Big Magic Review DanaChirps

I recently finished reading the book, "Big Magic," by Elizabeth Gilbert. I bought the book impulsively at an airport to cure my layover boredom. The brightly colored cover caught my attention, and gave me the impression that it wasn't too heavy, which was my intent. I had heard of the author before as Gilbert has also written "Eat Pray Love," which I have not read but am familiar with its success. 

It was as though divine intervention occurred in that Hudson bookstore. "Big Magic" is a book that every creative (or aspiring creative) should read. Like Gilbert, my choice poison is writing. But I would encourage anyone with a creative soul to read this book. You know who you are.

One of the concepts I loved most about her book was how she presented ideas. "Ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners... When an idea thinks it has found somebody - say, you - who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention. Mostly, you will not notice. This is likely because you're so consumed by your own dramas, anxieties, distractions, insecurities, and duties that you aren't receptive to inspiration... The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realizes that you're oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else."

This concept removes both the ego in having an idea, since an idea is its own force (not "yours"), and also alleviates some of the pressure that many creatives face. It also ignites a fair sense of urgency to act upon those ideas.

Here are some other sentences I underlined and doodled around in "Big Magic" (all written by Gilbert unless otherwise noted):

  • He didn't quit his day job to follow his dream; he just folded his dream into his everyday life.
  • If inspiration is allowed to unexpectedly enter you, it is also allowed to unexpectedly exit you.
  • Well, yes, it probably has been done. Most things have already been done - but they have not yet been done by you.
  • If it's authentic enough, believe me - it will feel original.
  • "It ain't what they call you; it's what you answer to." - W. C. Fields
  • Creativity wants to flip the mundane world upside down and turn it inside out, and that's exactly what a trickster does best.
  • I believe it is our privilege as humans to keep making things for as long as we live.
  • Sometimes I think that the difference between a tormented creative life and a tranquil creative life is nothing more than the differences between the word awful and the word interesting.
  • And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.
  • The outcome cannot matter.

To be honest, that sentence (bolded above) I jotted down from "Big Magic," struck a nerve. I started writing and blogging in high school, well before the term "blog" existed. Why? Because I simply loved to write, and that still holds true. I live to create. My passion for blogging began long before the monetization of blogs became a thing. Sure, I have my portfolio on here that showcases some of my work which has led to multiple contracts/jobs (i.e. paid work), that I am so grateful for. But even if that weren’t, and would never be the case, I'd still have a blog and continue to write. Writing is the path I've chosen. Or, if I'm truly embracing what Gilbert explains in her book - it chose me.

It pains me to hear people say they want to start a blog "to make money," or something to that effect. I still choose to be encouraging in those conversations, because who knows, maybe starting a blog will be the launching pad for falling in love with writing? Unlikely, especially once they learn how much work and time is involved in running a blog, and the many moving parts that go with it. But I still try to be encouraging, there are enough naysayers in the world. However, I think that in order to be successful in the longterm with anything creative, there must be unrelenting passion. Gilbert used this Richard Ford quote in her book, and I think it's on the money... "However, I will say this. If you happen to discover, after a few years away from writing, that you have found nothing that takes its place in your life - nothing that fascinates you, or moves you, or inspires you to the same degree that writing once did... well, then, sir, I'm afraid you will have no choice but to persevere."

Here's another excellent book recommendation.

2 Comments

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.