Categories
books

Book Review: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

orange is the new blackOne of the things that I love most about the book club I belong to is the huge diversity in books that I’ve been exposed to (my second favorite thing is the hilarious and wacky conversations that are largely off topic). Each month one of our members gets to select three books they’d like to read and then the group votes on the one that is most interesting to the majority of us. This means that we get a real peek into the reading habits of our members and get to broaden our horizons quite a bit when it comes to book choices.

Some of my favorite books that I read last year were book club picks that I might never have picked up otherwise. Books like These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang and now this month’s pick Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman are just some of the awesome books I’ve been exposed to thanks to my book club.

Our first pick of 2013 is all about one woman’s 13 month sentence in a women’s prison:

“When Piper Kerman was sent to prison for a ten-year-old crime, she barely resembled the reckless young woman she’d been when, shortly after graduating Smith College, she’d committed the misdeeds that would eventually catch up with her.Happily ensconced in a New York City apartment, with a promising career and an attentive boyfriend, she was suddenly forced to reckon with the consequences of her very brief, very careless dalliance in the world of drug trafficking.

Kerman spent thirteen months in prison, eleven of them at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, where she met a surprising and varied community of women living under exceptional circumstances. In Orange Is the New Black, Kerman tells the story of those long months locked up in a place with its own codes of behavior and arbitrary hierarchies, where a practical joke is as common as an unprovoked fight, and where the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailer is constantly and unpredictably recalibrated.”

I have to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. The premise sounded potentially funny, inspiring, educational but also possibly depressing and disappointing and possibly boring since it’s nonfiction. Luckily for this month’s book club meeting, it definitely fell more into the funny, inspiring, educational side.

I thought this book was really interesting and well written. Not only do we get to read about her time in prison, but we also read about the facts of her life that brought her to her arrest as well as the lives of several of her fellow inmates. Being able to get that “fly on a wall” look at life inside a prison for a year was kind of cool. Kerman serves as a great narrator for this book as she seems like someone who gets along with pretty much anyone. She befriends a lot of different people and also makes for a narrator that is easy to relate to. It also probably kept her out of a lot of trouble during her imprisonment.

I also like that she takes the time to talk about all the times in her life that she could have asked for help or done something different – and the choices that she has made that brought her to her situation. It is the kind of book that you can learn a lot from without feeling like you are being preached at or lectured.This was a pretty fascinating book for me despite having no connection to the topic (or perhaps because of) but I think it would also be a useful and informative book for any woman who is facing imprisonment or knows somebody who is – or is planning to have a career as a prison guard, warden, lawyer, etc. Kerman saw a lot in her year in prison and she holds nothing back so there is a lot to learn within the pages of this funny and sassy peek into her experience.

Now was this the best written, most interesting book I’ve ever read? No, of course not – it won’t hold up in comparison to literary treats like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern of course, but I definitely found this book to be well written, interesting and a relatively easy to read – you can’t ask for much more than that!

Categories
family fun

Tuesday10: Handwriting in a Digital World.

This week’s Tuesday10 is all about things handwritten. How often do you write something by hand these days? It is amazing how little I find myself writing by hand compared to when I was a teenager passing letters with my friends constantly or even back in college writing poetry and studying for tests. I find myself wondering if my children will ever really need to know cursive and how much longer the handwritten word will be normal.

an interview with BBHere are some things that I still write by hand or have written by hand recently:

  1. my weekly meal plan – I have a little organizer pad from Target that I use just for mapping out my meals for the week along with a little itinerary of our plans for each day. While my main calendar is primarily Google Calendar and my grocery list is on my cell phone (this is my favorite grocery list app), I still write out our meals and plans for each day on paper.
  2. notes on Christmas cards – I don’t do this all the time but this past Christmas I included a personal handwritten note on all of the Christmas cards I sent out. It took several days and my hand cramped up a lot, reminding me of memorizing poetry for college courses many moons ago. But it meant a lot to me to include that personal touch and it was well worth the time and the hand cramps.
  3. board meeting notes – While I type up the agenda that we work with in my Women’s Group, I make most of my notes in the meeting by hand right on that agenda. Sometimes I’ll email myself a to do list if I’ve forgotten to bring a pen, but I prefer handwritten notes to go off of.
  4. Thank you notes – I am the worst at writing thank you notes, but when I do, they are hand written for sure!
  5. My kids’ names – I often write their names or other words for them to look at while they practice writing words.
  6. Little post it note scribbling around my desk – I have notes taken while researching things like kids’ classes, important numbers, phone numbers, serial numbers, etc. all over my desk.
  7. My signature – does signing my name with a stylus as the check out count as handwriting?
  8. Envelopes – I tend to use a return label for my address but I almost always hand write the address it’s going to.
  9. Love notes – Sometimes the hubby and I write each other little love notes, hand written for sure.
  10. Ummm checks? I write those sometimes. Did you know that I have never finished a box of checks before moving and needing to order a new set with different addresses. True story.

I’m a little bit saddened by how hard this was to fill in – how few things I hand write these days! Almost all of them revolved around mail, envelopes, cards, etc. When was the last time you hand wrote an actual letter? I’m honestly not sure myself! I used to write poetry by hand only, in fact I struggled trying to type a poem at all, but these days even that has become typed out instead. I’m not sure if this information truly bothers me but it definitely surprises me.

This will be Lena’s last week hosting Tuesday10. If you’d like to continue participating, you will want to start following the new Tuesday10 host, Mindy @ My Life as Mindy.

LenaBActually

Categories
books & reading nightstand

Nightstand 2013: January 22nd

What's On Your Nightstand carnival @ 5 Minutes For BooksIt’s hard to believe that it’s already time for the first Nightstand post of 2013! I’ve been having a pretty good reading month since the New Year and have just finished reading my third book of the year. That’s sort of a record for me, so to all you ladies with your time for reading more than one book a week, shhhh, don’t ruin it for me. lol Anyway, here’s a peek into my reading habits from the past month and what’s slated to be read next:

This month I have read:

  1. If You Were Here by Jen LancasterFinished January 2, 2013 – This book brought back so many memories of house buying in the most hysterical ways. I have been a fan of Lancaster’s memoir type books for awhile and really enjoyed reading a novel from her. It reads like her non-fiction books (funny and easy to relate to) except the antics get even crazier since her imagination is now the limit to how awful a house could be and all the things which could go wrong. Very funny stuff!
  2. Delirium by Lauren OliverFinished January 9, 2013 – This was such a fascinating book. I love the concept of a world where love is considered a disease and one which all the world’s problems can be rooted back to. It was so interesting to read Lena’s thoughts and feelings towards love or “deliria” from the beginning of the book to the end – to witness the same society in a number of different lights as Lena counts down the days to when she will be cured from love and finally be safe – or alternately, to when the chance for love will be taken from her forever. Looking forward to book two! – full review
  3. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman (January Book Club) – Finished January 20, 2013 – I thought this book was really interesting and well written. Being able to get that “fly on a wall” look at life inside a prison for a year – and even a couple of different types of prisons – was kind of cool. Kerman serves as a great narrator for this book as she seems like someone who gets along with pretty much anyone. She befriends a lot of different people and also makes for a narrator that is easy to relate to.
    I also like that she takes the time to talk about all the times in her life that she could have asked for help or done something different – and the choices that she has made that brought her to her situation. It is the kind of book that you can learn a lot from without feeling like you are being preached at or lectured. Well written, interesting and easy to read – can’t ask for much more than that!

Last night I started reading Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz, fifth in a series of funny mystery books about a crazy family of private investigators. Lutz has quickly become a favorite author of mine and I’ve been anxious to read this installment for awhile. I’ve also been reading Betsy~Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace with MM. We’re about halfway through the book and really enjoying reading it together. In the first book the main characters are five years old and their antics are very easy for MM to relate to and it’s been fun reading the story and experiencing it with MM.

My reading plans for February will likely include:

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – our February book club pick
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I’ll only be able to keep myself away from this book, the sequel to Divergent, for so long.
  • After this I’m not sure – I have a ton of great books to choose from and it’s really going to depend on how quickly I read the three books above.

What have you been reading lately?