Book Review: Eloquent Rage-A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

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Already a fan of Brittney Cooper’s work at the website Salon I was pretty excited to get my hands on her book of essays Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower. I was especially thrilled after I read all the praise this book was garnering from notable women like Joy Reid, Rebecca Traister, and my beloved Roxane Gay, who calls Cooper’s work “provocative and engaging.”

Provocative and engaging? Yes, and so much more.

Cooper is a professor of women and gender studies, and Africana Africana studies at Rutgers University. She is also co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective.

Eloquent Rage focuses on black women and black women’s feminism. Her essays offer commentary on topics like politics, pop culture, relationships, sex, and other things affecting the black community. Much of these topics reflect Cooper’s experience but she invokes the experiences of others.

Cooper’s writing is both academic and accessible. And these essays are a much needed education for this white feminist.

To give you a sneak peek into the pages Eloquent Rage, the essays focus on topics like bothersome sassy black woman stereotype, strong female leads in pop culture, Michelle Obama’s silent defiance of the Trump regime expressed through her hair and body language, and the problem with white feminists.

Eloquent Rage is a treasure of a book and should be used in both the classroom and at book discussion groups.

 

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Book Review: Maid-Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

Over the past few years I’ve read several books on what it is like to live in the richest country on low pay, back breaking work, while striving to make a better life for oneself and perhaps one’s family. Some of these books include Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado, We Were Witches by Ariel Gore, The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel, and of course, Barbara Ehrenreich’s classic, Nickel and Dimed.

I didn’t think I could handle reading another one until I came across Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid-Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. (Introduction by Barbara Ehrenreich)

Not quite 30, Land found herself leaving an abusive relationship with a young daughter in tow. What followed her was a nightmare of homelessness, deplorable apartments, low wages working as a housekeeper, and a very unpleasant journey through the so-called safety net when it came to acquiring government assistance. Unlike some fortunate souls Land lacks a supportive family who help her in her time of need.

Land decides to clean houses to support herself and her daughter while also attending college. She works for a local housecleaning company but also takes on freelance gigs. Not surprisingly, housekeeping is truly back breaking, horribly paid, and demoralizing. Some of her clients don’t see her fully human and worthy of respect. And then some of them just don’t see “her.”

Not making enough money to buy even the basic necessities, Land has to go on government assistance, a tangled weave that is often very difficult unravel with its endless paperwork and noxious questioning of Land’s eligibility and worthiness. If one earns a few extra dollars, one can find their benefits slashed or lose them in their entirety.

Keep in mind, not only is Land taking care of her daughter and cleaning houses, she’s also attending college. I just dare any reader to call her a slacker. She is the antithesis of lazy. In fact, due to my research, most people receiving some type of assistance are working and/or going to school. They are not cheating the system and most are not lazy losers.

But back to the book…

Maid is searing with brutal honesty. Land’s love and devotion to her daughter is undeniable as is her willingness to make a better life using various options. Her resourcefulness is both admirable and clever. I couldn’t help but root for her. Does she at times feel sorry for herself? Well, of course. She is human, after all. There certain times in one’s life when you just got to cry over your lot in life, and then you move on.

In the end people who are struggling like Land deserve respect, not empty pity or utter derision lacking any type of empathy.

In the end Maid convinces the reader to look beyond the stereotypes you may have swirling in your brain when it comes to the poor, anyone on benefits or those faceless, nameless heroes and heroines who make our lives much easier through their blood, sweat and tears.

Maid is a treasure of a memoir. Land should be very proud of herself, and I hope she keeps writing. I expect more from her. She’s one to watch.

“Author! Author!” An Interview with Rotaru Arthur Cristian

Author Bio

“My name is Rotaru Arthur Cristian and I am a 20 years old student at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania.

I was always very fond of writing and especially reading a lot of stuff on a lot of topics, which allowed me to deepen my knowledge in many different areas of life. One of my favorites was the self-improvement one and this was the beginning of ‘How to get the most out of life’.”

  1. What inspired you to write a book?

The main thing that inspired me to write this book was primarily… reading other books. After reading many self-improvement manuscripts and taking notes after each one of them, I realized that even most of them had very good content (especially older ones), none of them was “complete”. Each dived into one aspect or another of this whole “improvement” area, but if you wanted the whole package you had to read the whole library.

  1. Please describe your book.

“How To Get the Most Out of Life: The ABC of a Negotiator” is a self-improvement book which has the purpose of helping anyone who wants a positive change in his/her life.

The first thing that should be clarified about it is probably the title, more precisely the word “negotiator”. This book is giving a new meaning to this word, and this is probably the first thing that differentiates it from other books in the same area.

The manuscript goes through the main strategies of negotiation, and then it dives into a bit more advanced topics like body language and specific phrasing and signals.

As stated in the book, it is the maximum amount of useful information in the least amount of pages possible.

My goal while writing this book was to put together all the essential subjects of all the books that I read, thus creating a “beginner guide” to a better life.

Of course, after reading it you may want to deepen your knowledge in one of the subjects treated in my book by reading others which are more concentrated on that specific subject, but nevertheless I think that “How to get the most out of life” is the best starting point in being a better “you”.

  1. What is your writing background and experience?

I was fond of writing ever since I was a kid, when I was creating small pieces of poetry and stories, but choosing a math/informatics high school and then following the courses of a cybernetics university didn’t give me the chance to truly cultivate this passion. However, it allowed me to better understand economy and people in general which lead me to write this specific book.

  1. What challenges did you face writing this book? How did you deal with them?

I tried to get some feedback on my manuscript but because I am not famous yet it proved pretty hard to find people willing to read it. However, I managed to convince some people (including some directors and university teachers) and their response was very positive. It really boosted my confidence because apart from some minor constructive feedback, most of them were very fascinated.

Probably as any other author, I had my personal challenges while writing my manuscript, but probably the one that took me the most time to solve was the riddle. Yes, this book contains a well thought riddle that is for the smart and curious ones.

  1. What has been the response to your book? What do want people to get from your book?

Being a relatively short book, I would love if people could get everything out of it. However, I know that is unlikely to happen, so I guess the core idea that I want people to be stuck with after reading my book is that every person can improve his/her life, no matter their background and social/financial status.

Even if some readers may consider that the things I taught in the book are not suited for their lifestyle (which is highly unlikely), I want them to know that there is always a way to get better. Maybe not my way, but a way.

  1. What advice would you give to other writers? What advice were you given?

I think the most important advice that I can give to other writers is to never tell anyone about your manuscript until it is finished. People usually try to come up with new ideas which “fits better” and that is natural, but this is why you want to shape it the way you want, and after that you can ask others for opinions. Personally, I wasn’t given any -personal- advice before writing, because nobody knew I was doing it.

  1. What are your future writing plans?

In the future I want to write a few more books on topics that I love and to get my book in front of as many people as possible.

Book Review: Leading from the Roots-Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World by Dr. Kathleen E. Allen

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“Leadership today is about unlearning management and relearning being human.” – Javier Pladevall, CEO of Volkswagen Audi Retail

You know I like a book when I mark it up with post-its, write notes in the margins, highlight certain passages and nod my head along like one of those bobble-head figurines. Which is exactly what I did while reading Dr. Kathleen E. Allen’s fascinating, timely and revolutionary’s book Leading from the Roots: Nature-Inspired Leadership Lessons for Today’s World.

This book implores organizational leaders (and pretty much anyone else with a stake in the workplace) to look beyond the confines of the physical spaces where we toil to nature and how it can help us and our companies thrive.

Leading from the Roots is divided into 11 well-researched,  and finely-written chapters on concepts like cooperation, diversity, lack of waste, curbing excess, the power of limits and so much more.

Each chapter gives ample evidence on how nature can help worker’s productivity and commitment to their jobs and how simple it is to work these practices into the workplace that won’t break the bank, take up too much time, or distract us from our tasks at hand. Dr. Allen provides ample evidence through both her extensive end notes and bibliography. And each chapter concludes with a summary of the chapter’s main focus and points to ponder and discuss.

Simply put, Leading from the Roots inspired me. Dr. Allen’s lessons are doable, practical and very audience-friendly. It’s ideal for everyone-managers, workers, students and grads, religious leaders, politicians, activists, teachers, creative types, social workers, medical personal, entrepreneurs, and so on.

Leading from the Roots is a great addition to my book shelf. I highly suggest you add it to your book shelf.

Book Review: The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree-Words from the Heart edited by Mrs. Fields


Note: Over 10 years ago I reviewed this book for a U2 fansite. In honor of Poetry month, I decided to dust it off, make a few revisions, and publish it here at The Book Self.

U2 fans are not your typical rock and roll fans. Sure, they buy the CDs, download their music, and go to the concerts, but being a U2 fan is so much more than that. U2 fans are motivated. They are inspired to open their minds, learn new things, and get involved in causes bigger than themselves. However, they are also inspired to use own creativity. This is evident in a slim, yet powerful book of poetry and short stories called The Little Red Book of Poet-ee-tree: Words from the Heart.

The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree is a volume containing heartfelt prose by a collection of U2 fans throughout the globe. Their love of U2’s music and the written word lead these fans to The Heart. The Heart was an Internet poetry forum where writers cultivated their writing skills, shared their work with others, and got their creative juices flowing. Sadly, it shut down in 2003, but fortunately for the Heart community, U2 fans, and lovers of good writing, the works created for the Heart are not lost forever. They are compiled into The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree.

All the royalties of The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree went to the African Well Fund, a charity founded in 2002 by a group of U2 fans to provide a clean water sources to many African communities. The African Well Fund has built and supplied clean water and sanitation projects in Uganda, Angola and Zimbabwe. The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree was just one part of the African Well Fund’s comprehensive vision to help others.

The poets published in The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree write about love and loss, heartbreak and joy. They write with clear-eyed optimism and downcast despair. These poems take us on a journey of both the writers’ hearts and souls, and our individual interpretations to their work. Some poems a mere few lines, whereas others nearly tell a story.

Jennifer’s startling “Modern Day Warfare” uses the frightening images of mustard-gas lies and biological-warfare thoughts, along with rat-ta-tat fists to chillingly describe abuse both emotional and physical.

Kel, in the poem “Africa” describes the continent as a living, breathing human female, inhaling her warm earthy air. This poem puts a very personal face on one’s personal journey throughout the African landscape.

Mrs. F. conveys the love a mother has for her children in the poem “Earth and Angels.” Phrases like “He darts in dizzy zig zags…Listens wide-eyed, hoots at the owl” and “Head filled with fairies and music…She skips and sings” give us an intimate look at the special qualities that make our sons and daughters so special to us.

All the poems, whether short or lengthy, are very strong, and open to many interpretations. I don’t know how these poets came to their words. Sometimes a poem just comes to someone and easily flows out onto paper. Sometimes constructing a poem is like throwing a bunch of words into the air, and then constructing a poem using the scattered words. However the poems came to be in this book, they came through what Allen Ginsberg once called, “ordinary magic.”

Several short stories are also collected in The Little Red Book of Poe-ee-tree. When writing a short story, writers also face challenges. Writers need to grab the reader and tell a complete story in a short amount of words. And these stories have to be engaging, draw the reader in, and achieve a believable conclusion without seeming to be tacked on in haste.

This is expertly done in Laurie CK’s “Pennycake.” In this story, carefree memories of a 1970’s childhood are recalled with its birthday rituals and lazy summer days. The brief mentions of Noxzema, Keith Partridge, and 8-Track tapes give the reader a strong idea of a certain place in time. This story also evokes what it is like to be a child facing real life unexpected grief and a subsequent loss of faith.

The one quibble I do have with this book (and it is a minor one) is the limited amount of writers. I don’t know if this is because only a few writers were accepted or only a few writers chose to submit their work. This could also be because the Heart was a small group to begin with. If anything this book begs for a sequel.

 

Book Review: Becoming Michelle Obama by Michelle Obama

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Even my cat, Pokey Jones, liked this book!

Once upon a time, in land called the south side of Chicago, lived a girl named Michelle Robinson. Instead of living in a huge castle, she lived in a modest house on a street called Euclid Avenue. And instead of having to deal with an evil stepmother, she had two loving parents and a protective older brother. Like a lot of girls, Michelle Robinson dreamed of adventures that would take her beyond her humble roots and finding her own Prince Charming. She did that and so much more, thus becoming the history-making first lady Michelle Obama, not only the first black first lady (not to mention one of the most educated and admired, and if I may dip my toes into the shallow end of the pool, one of the most stylish first ladies, in the history of the United States).

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are so “unwoke” you might as well be in a coma, you are fully aware of Michelle Obama’s years of living in the White House – her “Let’s Move” campaign to alleviate childhood obesity, her work with second lady Dr. Jill Biden on veterans’ issues, her loving marriage to President Barack Obama, and her challenges of raising two children in the White House under the glare of the media. This is a very compelling part of Becoming, and Mrs. Obama is fully honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly she dealt with during the White House years.

However, most of Becoming focuses on Mrs. Obama’s life before her time as First Lady, and it is both extraordinary and ordinary, which I’m sure a lot of readers with relate to.

Mrs. Obama describes these years in rich detail that had me riveted. Her family was firm and loving, inspiring her to be a striver and excel in whatever she pursued. She writes about teachers who supported her from grade school through law school. She lovingly mentions the girlfriends who inspired her, and are still with her today (even if one standout friend is only with her in spirit). Mrs. Obama discusses the various mentors she was blessed with while navigating the difficulties in the workplace. And she’s brutally honest about these privileges and her gratitude seems truly sincere.

However, she also had to deal with the thorny issues of both racism and sexism, and plenty of naysayers who claimed she’d never make it. For instance, one person tried to convince Mrs. Obama that she wasn’t Ivy League material. Ha, she showed this person, didn’t she?

And yes, Mrs. Obama also dishes on a certain fellow named Barack Obama, from her initial meeting when she was his mentor to her twenty-five plus years of their marriage.

But just as Mrs. Obama is grateful for her blessings, she is also honest about the trials and tribulations she faced personally. Prince Charming was sometimes a bit of a challenge and often their marriage was less than ideal. Mrs. Obama also faced issues with having children, finally reverting to using fertility treatments and later giving birth to her cherished daughters Malia and Sasha. In other words, her life is at turn both typical and atypical, one that inspires and one that a lot of us can relate to.

Now, it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Michelle Obama. However, as a book reviewer I realize I must be truthful of my assessment of Becoming. Not to be gross, but you can’t crap on a cone and expect me to call it ice cream. Thank goodness, Becoming is a sundae of a read and truly exceeded my expectation. It’s both down to earth and out of this world, one that takes a treasured place on my book shelf. I can’t recommend it enough.

Author! Author! An Interview with Jonas Salzgeber

Twenty-seven years old and hailing from Thun, Switzerland, Jonas Salzgeber is the author of The Little Book of Stoicism and blogs for a small army of remarkable people at njlifehacks.com. He’s an expert in Stoic philosophy and passionate about self-made dark chocolate and buttered coffee with collagen.

I started taking writing seriously in 2015 when I started blogging with my brother Nils. Before that, I wrote papers for university and personal stuff in my journal.

  1. What inspired you to write The Little Book of Stoicism?

Well, I fell in love with Stoicism when I read Ryan Holiday’s books The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, and The Daily Stoic. So I continued reading about Stoic philosophy, I read the original texts and modern books. I started writing about it on the blog and people loved it.

During my research for blog articles, I found that it’s quite hard to get a clear overview of the philosophy. Despite reading many books on the topic, it was still hard to explain it properly to friends. So, it became my goal to provide a clear and simple overview and make Stoicism easy to grasp and put into practice. Suddenly, I was writing a “Little Book” that became more and more thorough.

3. What challenges did you face writing this book and how did you deal with them?

The challenges were twofold. First, doing research was quite a challenge because there are many different translations for the ancient texts. Ryan Holiday, for example, used his own translations with Stephen Hanselmann. I ended up using quotes from different sources. In retrospect, I’d deal with that beforehand and only go with one source. For the average reader, this isn’t an issue. So it’s no big deal and I’m ok with the way it turned out.

Second, writing a book is a massive challenge. I had to overcome my inner resistance to sit down to write every day. And actually produce something. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art was truly helpful. Also, I had to deal with fears and insecurity. Will people understand what I write? Will it be helpful? Will people pick up the book and reading? How to bake marketing in the book? Further, how to structure the book? What to include, what to leave away. I find that writing a book is great opportunity for personal growth. I overcame procrastination, built perseverance and strength during the writing process. Also, I was able to embrace the Stoics’ advice and put it into practice.

  1. Why should people read your book?

Why shouldn’t people read my book? Traditional schooling doesn’t help much when it comes to real life. It doesn’t teach how to live well. It doesn’t answer questions like how to deal with my sorrows. How to deal with anger grief, fear, and pain? What to do about reoccurring depressive thoughts?

This was exactly what ancient schools of philosophy were all about: how to live a good life? Even though such schools don’t exist anymore, you and I and most people are in a great need of a guide to life. Stoicism can be that guide. Like an old reliable walking stick, it’s a guide to life based on reason rather than faith and helps you deal more effectively with challenging life situations reliably.

Everyone who’s interested in personal growth should read the book. Even if you’re not interested in Stoic philosophy, there are countless invaluable tools that help you when life happens. It’s highly actionable and for anyone seeking a calm and wise life.

  1. What advice would you give to other writers and authors?

Be vulnerable. We’re all human. Persevere in your undertaking. The struggles you’re going through are not unique. Even the very best writers all face these exact same challenges. Read the War of Art, it’ll help you keep going when the process becomes an immense hurdle.

  1. Future projects?

As I’m a working full-time job, my full focus is on the book launch. Writing a book is one thing, making sure people know about the book is a whole other challenge. Once the book is out and we’ve got some time to breathe, we’ll focus on growing our audience with the blog.

As for the next book, Nils and I plan to write about powerful mindsets to adopt for ambitious people who want to be their best. It’s not very concrete yet.

7. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview opportunity. I highly appreciate your support.

What’s always good to keep in mind is this: Life is supposed to be challenging. Don’t bury your head in the sand when it gets tough. See it as opportunity to show what you’re made of. Every challenge offers an opportunity for growth.

And for the folks who waste their time watching Netflix and scrolling through social media: Start reading books! That’s a much smarter way to spend your time. You only have this one life, so try to make the best of it. Don’t let a day go by without learning.

Author: Jonas Salzgeber
Author blog: www.njlifehacks.com
Book page: www.njlifehacks.com/the-little-book-of-stoicism/
Excerpt: https://s3.amazonaws.com/njlifehacks/The+Little+Book+of+Stoicism+-+Free+Sample+Practices.pdf
Publisher: Indie
Genre: Non-Fiction, Philosophy, Psychology, Self-Help
Release Date: January 28th, 2019
Length: 60k words
Available formats: Mobi, EPub, PDF