Settle for More by Megyn Kelly

setFor my last book I read the autobiography, “Settle for More,” by Megyn Kelly. This book starts off at the beginning of her life. She was born in Bethlehem, NY, and lived with both of her parents and her two siblings. Megyn lived an ordinary life; went to public school, was an average student, and took high school social drama. Megyn attended Syracuse University, and then Albany Law School. After a lot of hard work she became a lawyer, which brought her to many places around the country. We learn about her life in Chicago, Washington D.C, and then New York. My favorite part of this book is the second half of it. This is where she talks about her time as a journalist on Fox News. Megyn was in charge of helping with the Republican Party debates. She tells her side of the story when she and Donald Trump had their differences, and she explains her reasoning behind every question she asked in the debates.

I picked this book because I have enjoyed watching Megyn Kelly on TV, and I found it interesting that she is from the same area as I am. This book encourages hard work, and teaches us that hard work pays off. I have read many autobiographies, but this one sticks out as the best one I have read. Megyn doesn’t just tell us about every important detail in her life, but also teaches us through her mistakes, and successes. She realized she was on the wrong path in life: “spending your life pretending you are something other than what you are is unsustainable,” and was able to get herself back on track embracing her best self.

One important lesson I took out of this book was to never go to bed angry at someone that you love. In the beginning of the story we learn about Megyn’s close relationship with her father. One night they got in a fight because Megyn wanted the most expensive class ring. When her father told her that they couldn’t afford it, she stormed off too her room angry at her father. That night her father had a heart attack and died in his sleep. After her father’s sudden death Megyn said “the answer was that I had gone through a major transformation the past year and a half, and as I changed myself for the better, better things started coming to me. I was settling for more. And “more” meant more from myself”. This book has taught me to never settle for less and always work hard.

Reviewed by Caroline G ’18

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Bad Feminist Essays by Roxanne Gay

bad If you were to ask any Emma girl on campus if they could think of a day where they were catcalled or anything else of that manner I’m sure that the majority of girls asked could give you countless examples. It is a shame that women go through life being reminded, even unconsciously, that we are not equal to men in society and in life itself even on a physical level. To fight for social equality of the sexes is the main goal of feminism. This word has different meanings for different people and Roxanne Gay within her collection of essays explains what her take on the word truly means and calls herself ironically a ‘bad feminist’. Roxanne asks many questions within her novel about society and women’s representation, but none more prevalent in today’s society than, “There are all kinds of television shows and movies about women but how many of them make women recognizable?”

Roxanne takes you through her life in her collection of essays, as she originally is conflicted in calling herself a feminist as she did not think that she ‘fits the bill’ of what a feminist should look like. When she did finally don the name for herself she did not want to be considered a ‘good feminist’ because that would lead to her, in Roxanne’s mind, to be put on a pedestal that she does not think she should be put on. She also struggles with her own life. For example she struggles with how one of her beloved music artists, “Kanye’s disdain for women overwhelms nearly every track- but then there’s a song like ‘Blood on the Leaves’ that is so outstanding you can’t possibly dismiss the album entirely. We are constantly faced by this uncomfortable balance between brilliance and bad behavior.” There are always contradictory situations in life. There are always things you want to like and partake in but know that they are ultimately wrong no matter how ‘hip’ they might be in our current society. To be a public figure that people would want to emulate, that person would then have to be perfect Roxanne thought. She acknowledges that she has not led a perfect life as that the rest of us could understand, since no one person is perfect. In her Essays Roxanne points out how she understands that she is not the perfect role model, but hopes that others can learn from her mistakes rather than make the same mistakes she did and her own life experiences.

When Roxanne moved to a new town when she was younger she found herself in a new area with no friends, family, or support system. She lived with her boyfriend at the time, but she did not want to be that girl whose world revolved around her man. Her answer to this dilemma was Scrabble. She found her new niche of people as she immersed herself in Scrabble culture. She began by just playing Scrabble online with new friends, but then found herself immersed in Scrabble tournaments held at events that Scrabble enthusiasts of any level could take part in. Roxanne soon found herself having to brush off many sexist remark from men who perceived her to be young and naïve about the subject even though by this point Roxanne was anything but a newbie to the world of Scrabble. Apparently Scrabble is a man’s game. Who knew? She was conflicted on how to react to these crude remarks, as she did not want these men to think that she was the person they believed her to be. In the end, Roxanne did not make her give her retort back at the men because she knew that she could not change their minds on how they perceived her. It was not worth it, Roxanne thought, to start a public argument about these little remarks. She learned to brush off sexist’s remarks and comments because she knew that these remarks or comments did not actually define her as a person.

With the topics of sex, work life, rape, the media, and being African American Roxanne is not afraid to speak her mind for what she believes in. She gives her own personal experiences in her essays. From struggling with her weight during her childhood at fat camp, wishing she could change the color of her skin while wanting to emulate the typical ‘American girl’, dealing with sexism in her daily life and specifically in the life of a scrabble player, Roxanne gives so many more stories that show the struggle of a woman in today’s world. Roxanne throughout her life struggles with her own definition of feminism as her life experiences each help to carve away her own understanding of its purpose in the world and eventually she refines her understanding of the word. “Feminism is flawed, but it offers, at its best, a way to navigate this shifting cultural climate… Feminism has helped me believe in my voice matters, even in this world where there are so many voices demanding to be heard.”

Reviewed by Elizabeth L. ’18

 

 

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

breath            When Breath Becomes Air, in its most simplistic form is a book about death: you find out Paul has died on the very first page. The novel is written as an autobiography of a young, vibrant, soon to be doctors life. You will spend countless pages reading about his successes: his multiple degrees from the World’s best universities, his engagement to his beautiful wife Lucy, and his mastery of neurosurgery. However, while reading about Paul’s life, it is absolutely impossible to forget the fact that this incredible young man is dead. Slowly, as you begin to turn more and more pages, the true story starts to unfold: the aches and pains, the fights with his wife, and eventually, the PET scan which decided his fate.

Nearly every cancer novel has a twist. Either the protagonist finds love in the chemo ward or is on his deathbed when it is miraculously discovered that he is cured. When Breath becomes Air breaks every one of these stereotypes. The novel is raw and honest. Paul documented every moment of his life: his hopes, his fears, his times or despair, and his bursts of energy. Paul found a way to make light of such a depressing topic. When Paul wrote to his close friend to share the news of his terminal cancer, he said, “The good news is I’ve already outlived two Brontës, Keats, and Stephen Crane. The bad news is that I haven’t written anything.” His writing style is so simplistic yet so meaningful that as a reader, you will feel as if you are living every moment of his life with him. Caution, however, this will most likely lead to tears at his death.

I chose this book this book because I have had quite a few run ins with cancer in my family, most recently, with my brother. I know the frantic feeling of being in a hospital which Paul Kalanithi conveys so well in this passage – “At moments, the weight of it all became palpable. It was in the air, the stress and misery. Normally, you breathed it in, without noticing it. But some days, like a humid muggy day, it had a suffocating weight of its own. Some days, this is how it felt when I was in the hospital: trapped in an endless jungle summer, wet with sweat, the rain of tears of the families of the dying pouring down.” I highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy hospital reads.

Reviewed by Emma W ’18

 

Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates

coates           Inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me tackles the American racial crisis and sentiments of the necessity of securing one’s black body. Through his own personal narrative, Coates writes to his 15 year-old son, Samori, to explicitly portray many of the inevitable hardships that his son will face throughout his lifetime and that America’s dark past is to blame for the “black body’s destruction.” Coates’ novel is not so much that of a call to action, but instead an explication of America’s lack of progress regarding racial injustice and also touches on the prevalence of the unconscious belief of superiority that is ingrained in the minds of white people.

Coates tells of various impactful moments in his life which span from his childhood through late adulthood. Many of these events were momentous in confirming the nearly complete lack of accountability concerning police brutality and many also served to illustrate the societal standard of being “twice as good,” which Coates asserted that black people are universally expected to meet. Coates relates the outcome of his experiences to the America’s history of the exploitation of “black bodies” and attempts to utilize these personal experiences as a platform to answer questions of racial injustice for his son. A powerful and poignant story that Coates tells is of his schoolmate Prince Jones. Although they were only acquaintances as Howard University, Coates describes that he always had a special affinity and appreciation for Prince. Many years after their college career had ended, Coates recalls the day that he heard a report on the news of a black man who was murdered at the hands of a police officer. The victim had driven to visit his fiance in northern Virginia, when he was suddenly shot down by a county police officer. There were no witnesses and when the police officer was interrogated, he claimed that the victim had attempted to run him down with his Jeep. Unbeknown to Coates at the time of the report, this black man was none other than his old companion, Prince Jones. Through this anecdote, Coates’ position seems to be that due to America’s horrid past, it is nearly impossible for black people to escape the looming danger of being disproportionately discriminated against, whether that be a threat, prison sentence, or more drastically, a victim of murder.

Coates captivates us by poetically illustrating the horrors of America’s past and that the idea of “race” is detrimental to everyone, but most prominently to black men and women. In his confrontation of today’s societal climate, Coates reminds us of only a handful of the victims of police brutality: Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown to name a few. He uses these victims not only as a sad reminder of the entrenched belief of police officers, that they have the power to obliterate a life, but to also emphasize the fragility of the “black body” to his son. In a more direct address to his son, Coates asserts that black people love their children with a certain “obsession” due to the prospect of the “black body” being broken down instantaneously by this society. He surmises that black parents would like to kill their children themselves rather than seeing them “killed by the streets that America made.” In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, we see a similar ideology when Sethe attempts to kill her children before the slave catchers arrive at her home. Coates effectively conveys the gravity of America’s racial crisis and solemnly describes his fears and reasoning for them. Between the World and Me is a compelling book that is thought provoking, moving, and powerful. I highly recommend this book and hope that the reader is able to consider the inherent injustices of America.

Reviewed by Sharde J ’18

 

 

 

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25489625-between-the-world-and-me

January First by Michael Schofield

janI want to know how to break my neck!—said by a five years old girl.

January, Janni to her family, has just turned five. With an IQ of 146, she can read, write, talk as if she were older. She explains about her seven pet rats, named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; however, people can’t understand nor even see them—because they are only few of Janni’s many hallucinations. She not only sees imaginary friends but also calls herself by other names, like “Eloise,” or “Blue-Eyed Tree Frog.” She not only just sees her imaginary friends but also tries to hurt her younger brother Bhodi; being unable to control herself, she hits Bohdi and clams she “has to” hurt him, rather than she wants to—because all because her “imaginary friends are afraid” of him. Every day, 24 hours, Janni lives on an island “Calilini”—where she feels like being “on the border between your world and my world”…and she’s diagnosed as having shizophrenia.

Her schizophrenia can do more than that. Yes, it gives her imaginary friends. Yes, it gives her violence and dissociation…but her schizophrenia also separates her from living with Bhodi. Her therapists prescribe her the antipsychotic drug Thorazine, which has side effects such as drowsiness, seizures, and weaknesses. However, even the thorazine drug causing her weakness can’t surpass the sadness of her family living separately.

All these child’s descents into madness was written by her dad—the author—, Michael Schofield, and he writes a memoir about his struggle to save his daughter from a severe mental illness that causes serious conflicts in a real life. He chooses to narrate his life in a linear fashion. In an agonizingly honest fashion. When Janni goes to a psych ward, where she meets friends who can understand her imaginary world, her mom feels happy and “tears up”; however, showing his agonizingly honest fashion, the author illustrates how much it hurts and even feels hatred towards Janni because she was having the time of her life, happier than he can remember being in years in the psych ward. He “wanted her to find happiness, but not in a psychward.”

More than his use of language, his honesty gives something special to readers. Rather that hiding in the fact that he has a daughter with schizophrenia, he opens all his struggles, from his tangible suffering to inner-conflicts in himself…a call for others who are suffering with this reason too. This book will most appeal to people or families, who are struggling looking at their friends’ or loved ones’ descent into the abyss of mental illness. Telling them they are not alone. We can solve all together…but I still wonder is society ready for schizophrenic patients?

Reviewed by Alanna K. ’18

 

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

coverHave you ever wondered what it would be like to start up a multi-million dollar company from scratch? Well, if you have thought about this or have had other entrepreneurial thoughts, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight might just be the book for you.

Knight’s memoir about creating Nike is a refreshing reminder of the hard work and failure that one day (hopefully) molds itself into success. Nike’s journey was not always smooth going as many people would imagine. When Bill Gates was asked to give his opinion about the memoir, he said that “the only thing that seems[ed] inevitable in page after page of Knight’s story is that his company will end in failure.” Of course, today, when Nike’s sales top thirty billion dollars, “failure” does not seem to run through people’s minds. However, throughout this novel, readers time travel back fifty years to when knight started his company by selling imported Japanese athletic footwear out of the back of his Plymouth Valiant.

From the very beginning pages of Shoe Dog, Knight spills all of his secrets unlike many CEOs of this day and age. Knight does not fit the stereotype of a typical, courageous entrepreneur and throughout the memoir, he is incredibly tough on his failings. From taking weeks to tell the girl who would on day be his forever partner that he liked her, to hugging himself when he was nervous, he still managed to comprehend his vision to do something different than everyone else with his life and create his own shoe company. As Knight writes, “So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.” If you want to learn more about Nike and how it started or you are interested in the factors that go into owning your own business I strongly recommend reading Shoe Dog.

Reviewed by Maddie ’17 for Literature of the Millennium

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

coverA Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard is an autobiography detailing Dugard’s kidnapping from June, 1991 to August, 2009. It begins with 11-year-old Jaycee  being abducted on the streets as she walks to her bus stop and ends 18-years-later with her safe return to her family. But what happened between those 18 years? Well, that’s something only Jaycee Dugard can answer.

Choosing to read this book was not a hard decision for me. I had seen the infamous news online, and wondered whether she was dead or alive . I knew about how she had been kidnapped and rescued, but I didn’t know what had happened during her kidnapping, so I picked up this book with the intention of finding out. What I thought would be an easy book to read, turned out to be emotionally exhausting. I experienced confusion when Phillip and Nancy Garrido kidnapped Jaycee, anger when they placed Jaycee in a tent in their backyard, shock when Phillip had his way with Jaycee, and defeat at the fact it happened to an 11-year-old girl and that she had couldn’t do anything about. One scene in particular that reflected this was when Jaycee was finally allowed contact with the world beyond the tent she was forced to live in. “Nothing has changed, yet everything has. I went out today and came back and nobody noticed. Nobody cared to ask who I was. . . I look no one in the eye.” After reading this part, I realized that Jaycee had always held out the hope that someone would find her. That someone would notice that this isn’t where she should be, but after realizing that no one did recognize her, Jaycee had given up hope.

Although this book has been tough to read, I definitely recommend reading it. Jaycee Dugard had to live through these traumatic experiences for 18 years. It wasn’t her fault, but the fault of the adults surrounding her. Reading this book I always wondered, what if her step-father had walked her to the bus stop? What if the neighbors had called the police to report suspicious activity? What if Philip’s parole officer had checked or monitored his activity properly? Could the abduction not have happened? Would she not have been abducted for as long as she was? Maybe, but we’d never know. So, by reading this book, I hope that it can help people be more aware of their surroundings, rather than focusing on oneself. If you see suspicious activity, report it. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and who knows, you might end up saving one’s life.

Reviewed by Iliyeen Z ’17 for Literature of the Millennium