Shop ‘Til You Drop: Sag Harbor

There’s nothing like weekend getaways to quaint beach towns. I can so easily get lost in the quiet stillness and the views these places have to offer, and they’re the perfect escape from life in the city.

Enter: Sag Harbor, New York.

I’ve only ventured to the Hamptons one other time in my life. (Thanks to my BFF for taking me as her plus one to a work event four years ago.) So I was ecstatic to break away from home the last weekend in September to visit what I’d heard was one of the cutest spots in the region. And the reviews proved to be right. Sag Harbor was beautiful and cozy and everything I was looking for in a small beach town. I can’t say I expected to step into bookstores, but I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon two that gave me all the literary feels. They were definitely a highlight of a fantastic trip.

Sag Harbor

The view from our dinner at The Beacon.

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So Tired of Being Here

  • What: Pachinko
  • Who: Min Jin Lee
  • Pages: 496, soft cover
  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • Published: 2017
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flame

Last week, I published a critique about the classic work/business book, which appears to be everywhere these days, including recs in way too many work emails. I know people seek these to learn, but the last book I read is a prime example of how literature can teach you things about the world that formal education never could. And from that comes the cultural awareness we need to better ourselves.

How many business books can do that?

Pachinko not only taught me about historical events that I’d never heard of, but it also illustrated how we are our own worst enemy: Humans all around the world can deeply hurt entire groups of people, and our most hurtful nature seeps out in the face of those who are different. It’s these struggles and how we overcome them that shape our cultures and relationships with others. If you’re wondering if a book can really illustrate all of that, I understand your skepticism. However, this novel, which had been on my list since it came out two years ago, really does have the power and pain to do it all.

Pachinko

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Critique: The Classic Business Book is the New Memoir

Over the summer, one of the executives at my company wrote a blog post on our internal site about her summer reading and podcasts. Now, this is a woman I truly respect and sort of want to be (read: 100% envy). But her post made me unbelievably sad.

Apparently she only reads work/business/management books (and Educated, which I fully approve). You know the kind: the ones that tell you how to be a better leader, how to build character, why lean is the new black, blah … blah … blah.

The post got even sadder when employees started responding about how inspirational her summer reading list was and sharing their own boring-book faves. If these are their inspiration and summer reading, we have some problems.

Work Books

Spotted outside my CTO’s office.

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Sleep with One Eye Open

There’s no sense in beating around the bush here: I am one big wuss. I don’t mean physically (though I did go to the emergency room so early on with appendicitis that the doctors had a tough time diagnosing it). I’m talking anything and everything related to the horror scaries.

I refuse to watch scary movies or TV shows. If it has an inkling of creep, just count me out. I made the mistake of watching Paranormal Activity in theaters (younger Beth was more easily influenced by men), and I had nightmares for days. When I made the mistake of watching the sequel one year later, I vowed to never allow myself to be exposed to such fear ever again.

Except maybe in books.

It’s true: I do enjoy some mystery when I read, which is why I vowed to read more thrillers this year. Maybe it’s easier to put up a wall between a book’s fiction and that of the silver screen. Because I have to imagine it in my mind, maybe I envision something less scary. Who knows with this brain, but I do know I was excited to pick up Ruth Ware’s new book, The Turn of the Key (shout out to Lauren Murphy for this borrow). With this book though, Ware made me so intensely scared while also forcing me to turn each page with shaky hands that it made me love and fear the genre all at the same time. Let’s just say this was a bit of a mind f***.

The Turn of the Key

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Born to be Brave

  • What: Revolutionary
  • Who: Alex Myers
  • Pages: 307, soft cover
  • Genre: Historical fiction
  • Published: 2014
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flame

I came across Revolutionary thanks to my friend Katie (a fellow cat lover) who sent me the following text after an invitation to an event:

“I figured Revolutionary history, novels, and wine might me up your alley.”

It didn’t matter what this was regarding. I was going to be interested no matter what. Katie had found that the New-York Historical Society was hosting an event with author Alex Myers who wrote a novel about Revolutionary War veteran Deborah Samson. You read that right; indeed, the name Deborah and Revolutionary War were in the same sentence.

I had actually heard about Deborah Samson a few years ago after a visit to Philadelphia and was intrigued by the woman who masqueraded as a man to fight for our nation’s freedom. I always imagined her as someone who fought for women’s right and to break down walls. The event with Myers, though, was about transgender identity. Sure, my original assumptions about this patriot still applied, but was there another story here? Something I had never considered before? I was about to find out.

Revolutionary

Yes, that is my very own tricorn.

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A Lot of Fight Left in Me

  • What: Educated
  • Who: Tara Westover
  • Pages: 334, hard cover
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Published: 2018
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flame

Educated was one of those books that I was a wee bit hesitant to read. Since it was released in February 2018, I’ve seen it everywhere: in the windows of bookstores, every time I log into Amazon, on all of the lists, and even on Ellen.

Could a book really be this good? You know I’m a skeptic! Furthermore, could a memoir be this good? Then, I wondered if I’d had a change of heart about the genre. Before Educated, I had read three memoirs in a little over a year; that totaled the amount I had read in the previous 10 years. With Michelle Obama’s, Tiffany Haddish’s, and The Glass Castle now in my repertoire, did I want more, or did I prefer to not take the risk (I had been choosing the best of the best in the genre after all)?

I’m thrilled to say that Tara Westover’s devastating yet uplifting book about her unorthodox upbringing and her even more unorthodox rise to success and happiness fell right into line with the above-mentioned books. I’m also happy — yet still slightly weary — to report that Educated has shifted my opinion of its genre. My negative feelings toward memoirs are a thing of the past, and I think I’m onboard — or at least in line to board. Let’s be honest: I’ve always been a little late to the party.

Educated

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It’s Been a Cruel Summer

  • What: The Proposal
  • Who: Jasmine Guillory
  • Pages: 325, soft cover
  • Genres: Contemporary fiction and chick lit
  • Published: 2018
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flame

Sometimes you need a pick-me-up. In July and August, I read some great books (see here, here, and here), but there was a lot of death and sadness. It was prime-time summer reading mode, so why was I depressing myself before Labor Day? I desperately needed and wanted something fun, fast, and maybe even a little sexy (not too different from what our main characters in this review desire).

Insert The Proposal: the perfect remedy for summertime blues.

Yes, it’s classic chick lit: Boy meets girl; they have a fun fling; and you fly through their whirlwind romance with many laughs.

But Jasmine Guillory also gives us realistic sex scenes, some very tasty meals (I was craving tacos for days), cultural awareness and diversity, and zero eye-rolling over clichés. This is more than your typical summer beach read. To put it simply, it’s a really good book, of which I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Sometimes that’s all you need in a recommendation, especially in the steamy months of summer.

(And don’t read too much into this title; I have so many ideas now that T.Swift has new music.)

The Proposal

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