Category Archives: Book Review

Thank You for Voting: The Maddening, Enlightening, Inspiring Truth About Voting in America Book Review

In theory, voting in a political election in a legitimate democracy should be a simple task. You choose your candidate(s), walk up to the ballot box and and enter your selection. The votes are then counted. The winner of the election is the candidate who has the most votes.

But politics is never simple.

Thank You for Voting: The Maddening, Enlightening, Inspiring Truth About Voting in America was published back in June. Written by Erin Geiger Smith, the book explains the voting process and why we should all vote.

I really loved this book. Broken down into laymen’s terms, the book is part encouragement and part history lesson. It is also bipartisan, encouraging the reader to go the polls, regardless of party affiliation. It is a book that we all should be reading. For me, it was a reminder why it is important to vote and why I take pride in saying that I voted.

I recommend it.

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Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood Book Review

In a perfect world, we would be able to make our own choices and still be loved by our families. But that is not always the case.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood, a memoir by Leah Vincent was published in 2015. Born and raised in the Yeshivish Jewish community in Pittsburgh, her world as a child was bound by a long list of rules of do’s and don’ts. Everything changed at sixteen when her letters to a young man were discovered.

Retribution was swift and cold. Forced to become an outcast to her family, she moved to New York City, where she faced a secular world that was far from the ultra-religious world she knew. As a result, she embarked on a series of sexual and semi-romantic relationships that all ended in disaster. Complicating these “relationships” was her still fierce adherence to the Judaism she was raised in.

This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Her journey at times is both difficult and universal. Most, if not all of us, go through changes when we are in our teens and early 20’s. But, we do so within the loving bosom of our families. Ms. Vincent had to go through those changes on her own.

I was stuck by several things while reading this book. The first is that the double standard is one hundred times more powerful in the Yeshivish community than it is in the secular world. The second is that she is a survivor who found her backbone. It would have been easy to crawl back to her parents on hands and knees, begging for forgiveness. But she didn’t. The third and most powerful thing is that the reader does not have to be Jewish to understand or relate to her story. If I was a betting woman, I would wager that there are many from all faiths who for any number of reasons, have walked away from the ultra-religious communities they were raised in.

I absolutely recommend it.

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A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump Book Review

To say that the results of the 2016 Presidential election was and still is a flashpoint is an understatement. Almost four years later, we are still grappling with the consequences and asking what we can do to make sure that you know who is a one term President.

Former Obama staffer and political strategist David Plouffe answers this question in his new book, A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump. Published earlier this year, the book is how to guide for the average citizen. Mr. Plouffe lays out a series of strategies to inspire and encourage those of us on the ground to stop you know come November.

There are some books that don’t hold up to its promises. This is one of them. Not that it is completely bad, the information he provides comes from years of experience. But if I was looking for the proverbial kick in the behind to get involved, that kick was did not have the power I thought it would.

However, the message is the most important thing. It is that you know who, for many reasons, it unqualified and incapable of running this country. We need a President who is qualified and capable. That person is Joe Biden.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

#BidenHarris2020

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Jews and Power Book Review

There is a myth that the overall Jewish community hold some sort of secret control over the world.

In 2007, writer and Professor Ruth R. Wisse corrected that fallacy in Jews and Power. In the book, Professor Wisse examines both the historical and religious aspects of Judaism as it reflects on military and political power. She also talks about modern day Israel and how her leaders are able to balance both democracy and security.

Needless to say, this book is not exactly a light beach read. It is not completely dry, but the writing has an academic feel and it is written for a very specific audience. I enjoyed it and learned a few things, but it will never land on my own top ten lists of books that I have read.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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#MeToo in the Corporate World: Power, Privilege, and the Path Forward Book Review

Since the dawn of time, some in the upper echelons of the business world have believed that underlings (especially female underlings) are solely there for sexual pleasure.

#MeToo in the Corporate World: Power, Privilege, and the Path Forward , by Sylvia Ann Hewlett was published in the beginning of the year. In the book, Ms. Hewlett talks about how the #metoo movement has altered the way the sexual assault and sexual harassment has been viewed in the workplace. Using data, interviews with experts and victims, she analyses where progress has been made and where there is still work to be done.

I really liked this book. It is both academic and written for the average person. Two things struck me when I finished this book. The first is that white women are not the only victims. The other is that women are less likely to be given opportunities to climb the corporate ladder due to the fear of potential accusations.

I recommend it.

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The World That We Knew: A Novel Book Review

It has been said that desperate times call for desperate measures. During war, to say that desperate measures are taken is an understatement.

Alice Hoffman’s novel, The World That We Knew: A Novel, was published last fall. Set during World War II, Hanni Kohn makes a choice that no mother should ever have to make. Sensing that the danger has grown tenfold for Europe’s Jews, she asks Ettie, a Rabbi’s daughter for help. Ettie bring a golem to life, it’s job is to protect Hanni’s twelve year old daughter Lea.

As both Ettie and Lea try to survive in a world that wishes them dead, they have no idea that their lives will be forever entwined.

I wanted to like this book. I was so drawn in by Hanni’s last action as a mother that I thought it would carry me throughout the novel. It didn’t. I was not completely bored, but I was also not drawn in. When it comes to stories of this ilk, I want to be completely sucked in, waiting on baited breath to know the character’s fate.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life Love, Liberty, and Law Book Review

When our heroes die, we are reminded of the reasons why we adored and respected them.

Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law, by Jeffrey Rosen, was released last fall. Over the course of more than twenty years, the author, who is also a long time journalist, sat down to interview the late Supreme Court Judge. While the conversations mainly focused on the law, they also revealed the women behind the icon.

I read this book in a very short amount of time and loved it. Well written and very easy to read, the reader is introduced to RBG in a personable and down to earth manner. When I finished this book, I felt like I had gone beyond the standard biographies and bylines. It was like I was able to have a private conversation with her that I will remember and treasure forever.

I absolutely recommend it.

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So You Want to Talk about Race Book Review

There are some topics that are hard to talk about, regardless of how the conversation is couched. Race is one of them.

Ijeoma Oluo‘s new non-fiction book was published last year. Entitled So You Want to Talk about Race, the book takes on a subject that is necessary to talk about, but not easy. Speaking to both Caucasian readers and readers of color, the book helps to pave the way to open doors, open minds, and most of all, create necessary change.

This is one of those books that I think we all should read. We all know that in 2020, we are at a precipice when it comes to race and race relations. This book allows us as a society to finally do what we must and move forward from our racist and ugly past.

I recommend it.

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Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man Book Review

No one knows you like your family. We may be able to put on a face for the outside world, but not for those who know us best.

In the last couple of years, there has been a flood of books about you know who and his attempt at being President of the United States. One of the most recent books is written by his only niece, Mary Trump. It is entitled Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

In the book, Ms. Trump, a trained psychologist, describes how you know who became the man who he is today. The fourth of five children from New York City, he was raised by two parents who can only be described as lacking parental inclination. When her late father, Fred Trump Jr., became a disappointment to his father, the spotlight fell on you know who. Tracing the patterns from childhood to the present day, she tells the story of the President as only a family member can.

This is an incredible book. It is one of those books that is hard to put down. The narrative is compelling, well written and just a good read. It is also a reminder of why you know who needs to be a one term President.

I absolutely recommend it.

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A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America Book Review

The label of “genius” is rarely used in self-descriptive terms. It is usually given to someone by another person.

Several years ago, you know who declared that he was “a very stable genius”. A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America is the title of the new book written by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. Published back in March, the book takes the reader through the last few years of the current Presidential administration. Pushing through the chaos, the noise, and the uncertainty, the writers reveal that somehow, there is some analytical thinking going on. But, it is curtailed by those with big egos, big plans, and the inability to see beyond one’s perspective.

Like all books about the current state of politics, the book has the tendency to be partisan. Questions can and will go come up about the legitimacy of the information and if someone involved in the writing process has an ax to grind.

This book is quite a read. The takeaway that I got is more proof that the current administration is a hot mess. What is worse, it is led by an egotistical, used car salesman man-child whose is only interested in number one. He does not have the inclination to lead, nor is he willing to listen to those who are well versed in the the job of President of the United States.

I recommend it.

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