From Gina Scaglione
author: Love, Susan
Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book
This book is a lifesaver for any woman. However, for women facing health problems, specifically those related to the breast, this book may actually be the difference between life and death. I can not say how helpf this book has been. Thank you Dr. Susan Love!
From Laura Bracco
author: Kelly, Clinton
Oh No She Didn’t
Too funny review of commom mistakes women make in fashion. Pix too!
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Mam, Somaly
The road of lost innocence
This is the true story of a Cambodian woman who was sold into prostitution at the age of sixteen. Somaly was abandoned by her birth parents when she was about five years old. A neighbor in her northeastern Cambodian village of Bou Sra took her in. She is Phnong., which is a tribe of mountain people. The poverty and primitivity she describes in her youth is almost beyond belief. She doesn’t know when she was born; she thinks it’s 1970 or 1971. The Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979 was responsible for the deaths of about 20% of the population of Cambodia. The Khmer seem to have also robbed the Cambodians of their culture and their spirit. Somaly describes with sickening detail her daily beatings and rapes. The specifics are so shocking, I cannot describe them here. She doesn’t mention the word “torture”, but I believe she was tortured as well. Her narrative doesn’t beg for us to pity her. She tells her story as an example of all the other girls sold into sexu al slavery. She says that her experience was almost nothing (!) compared to the experience of those today. Virgins are especially prized ; girls of 5 or 6 years old are sold and raped repeatedly. The beatings today are even worse. She says that judges can’t be bribed in Cambodia; they’ve already been bought. The men who should be maintaining the law: the military, the police and the judges, are also customers of the brothels. Even “humanitarian aid workers” use prostitutes! These sex traffickers make the mafia look like boy scouts. She argues that the only way to stop it is for the international community to take notice and to bring the ringleaders to justice. Today she runs an organization called AFESIP that rescues children from sexual slavery and provides housing, schooling and vocational training. One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by her account.
From Cindy Schwartz
author: Moran, Victoria
Living a Charmed Life
“Living a Charmed Life” is a wonderfully written inspirational book that women of all ages would enjoy reading. It is the type of book that one could sit and read for an hour or two, or occasionally for a quick “pick me up”. I was fortunate enough to actually meet and spend time with the author and Victoria is just as amazing and delightful as her book. The short 50 chapters give one motivation to tackle life “head on”. I highly recommend this read- for an overall feeling of well being.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Knapp, Caroline
The merry recluse: a life in essays
This was published posthumously in 2004. The compiler is Sandra Shea, her former editor. The author died of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 42. Ms. Knapp was a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, an alternative newspaper, and her essays also appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Siren magazine, and New Woman magazine. She wrote honestly about her struggles and her innermost thoughts and feelings. She admits to feelings of jealousy, anxiety, grief, loneliness and rage that many of us deny. Her essays about her obsessions and addictions are truly brave. In “A letter to my father”, she states “I’ve come to see drinking as a relationship, as full and rich and sensual and complex as the kind you have with the key people in your life, as the kind I had with you. I loved drinking, for a long time. I loved it so much I could have died for it, literally. But you died first and in many ways, I guess that spared me. On some key level, you see, I couldn’t give up drinking until I’d given up you.”
“Life without anesthesia” is about how exposed one feels after giving up an addiction. In her case, she hid behind anorexia and alcoholism. In conquering a food disorder and alcoholism, she was sometimes flooded with too many emotions, but also experienced an authentic life. Ms. Knapp was also a fine social critic. The piece entitled “Teddy Bear II” is about a case where a woman abandoned her father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She argues that we as a nation do a very poor job of caring for our elderly. She could be funny, too. How many of us can relate to spending inordinate sums of money to furnish our homes in “Notes on Nesting” I saw myself in “I hate money”: “I hate money. I hate dealing with it, thinking about it, managing it, planning for it, and accounting for it. On the other hand, I don’t have too many problems spending it, which complicates matters considerably.” ” Bills? What bills? I don’t see any bills. Who’s Bill? Let’s talk about something else.” Some essays might appeal more to women. In “Barbie does death”, Ms. Knapp states that “The big walk down the aisle is allegedly something a girl starts dreaming about as soon as she’s old enough to dream”. She did an informal poll of 15 of her friends, and only two had the wedding fantasy. The majority fantasized about being rock stars or superheroes. The title essay “The merry recluse” is about the joys of living alone, and how this flies in the face of societal expectations. It would have been amazing to see what other issues she would have tackled, if she had lived.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Greenlaw, Linda
Seaworthy : a swordboat captain returns to the sea
Linda Greenlaw wrote The hungry ocean, The lobster chronicles, and more. She was played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the film “The perfect storm.” The book opens with Linda in jail in Newfoundland, so you know something goes wrong. Linda decides to return to the Grand Banks off the coast of Canada to fish for swordfish after a ten year hiatus. She has assembled a fantastic crew consisting of her friends Archie, Timmy, Dave, and an acquaintance, Mike. She captains the Seahawk, a 63-foot boat in need of repairs. Linda doesn’t know if she still has what it takes to be a swordfish captain at the age of forty-seven. She wonders about her physical and mental abilities. Will her body hold up? Will the crew respect her? Will she find fish?
The crew nicknames the ship the Sh-thawk, because of all of the equipment failures. I laughed out loud when she quoted Mike complaining to Archie about his cooking, “How about a salad? Did you order any lettuce? How about cabbage? I like coleslaw. We don’t have a single veggie on board, do we? I’ll have the first confirmed case of scurvy in the last century.” And this is Linda’s take on Mike: “Mike snacked while lying in his bunk. He got up one morning and found an entire Kit Kat bar in one of the folds of fat under his chin. When he ate the melted mess, I was torn between disgust and admiration.”
The book is suspenseful and it is fascinating to learn about life aboard a fishing vessel. Squeamish readers may want to skip sections that describe harpooning fish and killing sharks. The climax is when the Canadian Coast Guard arrests her for illegally fishing in Canada’s waters. My problem with the book is that Ms. Greenlaw was not forthright about having a film crew with her the whole time. I read about it on the internet, and it is confirmed in her acknowledgements: “Thanks to Tom Beers and the crew at Original Productions and the Discovery Channel for making this trip possible.” Some have accused Ms. Greenlaw of intentionally fishing in Canadian waters as a publicity stunt, or to get a book deal. The question is whether she knew she drifted into Canada or not. She claims she did not know, and that the tides shifted. You decide.
From Andrea Payne
author: Kerman, Piper
Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison
This is unlike any ‘prison’ story you’ve ever come across. Piper Kerman writes about and accepts responsibility for a drug trafficking crime she committed in her youth. Ten years later, the feds come knocking and the Smith College graduate is placed in the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Danbury, CT. This book chronicles some of the experiences that led to Piper’s incarceration; the life she began to build with her fiance before being indicted and sent to prison; and the relationships she builds in prison, while still somehow maintaining her relationship with her fiance, family and friends on the ‘outside.’ Some moments are very funny, others are deeply moving and thought provoking. This was an enjoyable and very unique read.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Caldwell, Gail
Let’s take the long way home: a memoir of friendship
This is an account of the author’s friendship with Caroline Knapp, the
author of Pack of two and Drinking: a love story (among others), who died
of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 42. I liked Ms. Knapp’s articles in
Glamour magazine. Theirs was a very close friendship. They were both
single writers with dogs living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Both women
were recovering alcoholics. Gail was a swimmer and Caroline was an avid
rower on the Charles River. They taught each other their favorite sports,
went on vacations together, trained their dogs together and spoke every
day. Does anyone even have friendships like this anymore? I imagine that
Ms. Caldwell agrees with Socrates’ statement that “the unexamined life is
not worth living”. She deftly delineates the meaning of their friendship
and how important Caroline was to her. The grief she endures brings to
mind that of Joan Didion in The year of magical thinking. Ms. Caldwell is
a masterful writer. This is a heartrending tale, a four-hankie memoir.
Read it if you’re strong enough.
author: Griffin, Maggie
Tip it: the world according to Maggie
This is a fast read. Fans of Kathy Griffin: My life on the D-list, the
Bravo channel TV show, will probably want to read Kathy’s mother,
Maggie’s, life story. Kathy even adds her comments to the text, which are
in brackets and italics. Maggie is funny, and she has good old-fashioned
values, too. She is 90 years young, and describes meeting her husband,
Johnny Griffin, in her Chicago neighborhood during WWII. Boy, she is one
lucky woman. She describes how her husband shared equally in the child
care (they had four children) and housework, and never complained. Their
marriage was marked by respect, caring, good communication and lots of
laughter. I enjoyed reading about their move to Los Angeles where her son
Kenny lived, after Johnny’s retirement. They had had enough of snow and
cold weather; and Kathy decides to join them to try to break into acting.
They are star struck every step of the way, and have many photos with
celebrities to prove it. Readers interested in life during depression-era
Chicago will find a lot to like. As you may know, those who survived the
Depression are usually frugal for the rest of their lives, and Maggie is
no exception. Find out why Maggie loves to wear muumuus and read her tips for living (which offers sensible advice for everyone).
From Elaine Conner
author: Ali, nujood
I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
This story is told in the voice of the heroine, Nujood, simply and clearly. Nujood is a young girl from Yemen who is married off at the age of ten to a man three times her age,even though it is illegal to marry off a child before the age of 15. Despite the promise to abstain until she reached puberty, the husband continually raped and abused her before she reached puberty. She does the unheard of in her society.She defies family, husband and culture to find her way to the court house to demand to see a judge in order to seek a divorce from the cruel rape and beatings she was subjected to. She is fortunate to find compassionate judge and dedicated lawyer who champion her case andthe future for other young girls in Yemen and other places in the world where her story has made her an international hero.