books and reading · Hispanics/Latinos · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism

Reading for pleasure…

It’s gotten harder to read when reading is work. I read my magazines for pleasure but also to think of new ideas to pitch to them. I read memoirs for pleasure but also to help me figure out how to write mine. I read books about writing because I love to write but again, it’s all work.

So I’ve taken to decompressing by reading anything and everything fiction that doesn’t fall into the realm of work. Though, honestly, I had to put one book down for a second when I started to think, hey, maybe I should write a vampire novel.

I just finished Dirty Girls on Top by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. It’s a follow-up to The Dirty Girls Social Club, which peaked my interest because it starred an all Latina cast. I’ve picked up some of Valdes-Rodriguez’s books since them but haven’t enjoyed them as much as her first novel.

Reading Dirty Girls on Top wasn’t very pleasant for the first couple of pages when one of the character, Usnavys, narrates us through the first time she cheats on her husband. I survived those tortured scenes by force of sheer will. I’ve rarely, if ever, put a book down once I start it. Luckily, the book is narrated from the perspective of all the sucias (dirty girls) who became friends in college and are riding out the drama of their 30s together. It was pretty good chick lit and I like the Spanish peppered here and there. I wish I could wield that device so well and so saucily.

But seriously, lugging around Dirty Girls on Top in your purse and hiding it from prying eyes when you’re a future rabbi’s wife is certainly a tough job.

Manic is another book I had to plow through in the beginning. It is Terri Cheney’s memoir on living with bipolar disorder. I’ve also read the memoir, Detour: My Bipolar Roadtrip in 4-D by Lizzie Simon which I literally couldn’t put down once I started. The narrator was very engaging and I would have followed her anywhere.

Bipolar disorder has also been in the news lately, featuring mostly how parents are coping with the diagnosis in young children. Though I was not particularly drawn to the style of writing, Cheney paints an incredibly vivid portrait of living with mental illness. I felt like I was on the rollercoaster ride with her. And sometimes, I definitely wanted to give up and throw up. In the end, I really connected with the idea of living with chronic illness. I love when she “comes out” to people at a party when they ask her “what she does for a living” and she wonders how they’d respond to “I’m a full-time sick person.”

I’m currently reading something lighter, a laugh-out-loud vampire comedy Undead and Unworthy. It’s part of a series by MaryJanice Davidson. I can always count on her for rapid-fire intensely funny dialogue that knocks me off my feet. It’s hard to fall asleep reading it since I find myself giggling really hard.

The heroine of the series, Queen Betsey is a firecracker who becomes a vampire only to find that she’s been prophesied as Queen of all of them. According to the author’s website, “Betsy Taylor turns 30, gets laid off, is killed by an SUV and wakes up dead all in the same week. The vampire community is convinced she’s their prophesied Queen. But she’s not having any of it – she’s got shoes to buy!”

Next, I’m reading A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America.

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