Book Chat - TGWW Reading Challenge January Recap


When the idea to launch the TGWW 2017 Reading Challenge - a 26-book reading challenge over 52 weeks - first popped into my head, I wasn’t expecting to find  such utter inspiration from those that decided to join me!

Between life, blogging, my day job and, you know, more life, I’m pretty sure I would have fallen off the wagon without the constant, daily motivation TGWW Reading Challenge group gives me to keep going. 

I spent a lot of time going back and forth on how I wanted to handle reviews for each of these books. Did I want to separate it from the blog? Did I want to just post it in the Facebook group? Did I not want to post them at all? Once a book? Once a month?

This was something I procrastinated so hard on that I realized I had made it through almost my 4th book without sharing any sort or review or feedback to this challenge.

So I made a game plan.

Every month, I’ll be doing a Book Chat Recap which goes over the books I read that month!

(IF you still want to join our 2017 Reading Challenge, it’s not too late! Head over to the FB group to get started!)

Here is a quick look at January’s Topics: 


  1. Collection of Short Stories – Almost Famous Women – Megan Mayhew Bergman (Find it on Amazon Here)
  2. A Book From Your Childhood – Falling Up – Shel Silverstein (Find it on Amazon Here)
  3. A Book Published in the Past Year: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi (Find it on Amazon Here)



Overall Thoughts....

An enjoyable glimpse into the lives of several real women that are basically footnotes in history.



I walked into this book with big expectations. I knew from reading Bergman’s Birds of a Lesser Paradise, that this would be a book I needed to take my time with. Rushing through one of Bergman’s books means you won’t be able to  snatch glimpses of brilliant color and style, but would miss the elegant narrative, subtext and symbolism crafted into each masterpiece. And Almost Famous Women was no exception. Inside the lyrical cover are stories “born of a fascination with real women whose remarkable lives were reduced to footnotes.” These women hail from different social classes, races and continents, but they have a few things in common: tragic lives, and fierce spirits.

Some of her characters are recognizable by their famous relations: Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister, Oscar Wilde’s niece. Allegra, Norma and Dolly are re-imagined as full beings—with hopes, dreams and appetites—transforming their status from historical footnote to  feminist crusaders. Bergman’s writing focuses on the psychology of these women—the reactions to circumstances created by and for them.

But most of the stories are narrated by close bystanders: a lover, a caretaker, a friend.

Bergman’s stories begin with a seed: a photograph, a quote, a piece of a much larger story lost to history. These images are grainy from age, reproduction and the technology of their period. Bergman captures these deliberately preserved, yet still lost, moments with simple, elegant writing.

I'm a little ambivalent about this book. I love the concept. The writing was really beautiful in places, but the stories weren't stories so much as sketches. They seemed a bit thin to me, and didn't seem to come to any resolution. There was a lot of yearning -- which I get was the point -- but it gets a bit monotonous to have a whole bookful of stories where there's yearning that never really gets resolved.




Overall Thoughts

Oh, sweet, sweet childhood. How I’ve missed you.



Falling Up by Shel Silverstein is a light hearted and funny book that is strung together by poems. These witty and eccentric poems utilize different styles of poetic structures to express different themes.


His collection examines the absurdity of daily living and the magic of everyday life. Full of mischief and mayhem, and without ever stooping to condescending, this book is the happy pocket full of childhood I needed right now. .

Along with Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein was a monumental piece of my childhood. I remember my grandparents giving me this book when I was very young, and finishing the entire book in one sitting. I was so captivated by Silverstein's ability to seemingly rhyme with little to no effort.

I was hesitant about re-reading this book as an adult, fearful that the magical nature that had won me over as a young reader wouldn’t be there anymore.

Boy was I wrong!


Related Stories




Overall Thoughts - 
I...I don’t have any...I’m not sure what just happened...but I’m (mostly) sure I liked it...



Here’s what I know…

Helen Oyeyemi’s collection of short stories, What is Not Yours is Not Yours, explores the longing we all have for the things and people that are not ours despite our best (and worst) efforts.

Oyeyemi has made a name for herself since her first book, Icarus Girl, was published while she was an undergraduate at Oxford. Her critically acclaimed fourth book, Boy, Snow, Bird, is one of the most interesting retellings of Snow White out there and is often taught in English classrooms where global perspectives are explored.

Her latest book is even more compelling.

Think of it as a Russian Matryoshka Doll of short story collections...

Reading the book is a lot like entering into a dream state. strange things happen, some seem natural enough, some more surreal, like talking puppets with personalities living in a symbiotic relationship with their humans.

Eerie, puzzling, and exquisitely written. I'm not always sure what's going on in these stories but I found myself fascinated by each and every one, from the house filled with locks to the intense rivalries at a puppetry school to the stories within stories about books and roses that populate the first story in the volume. It's an immersive, intense, unique reading experience.



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