Yellowface by R. F. Kuang
Remember when I read The Plot a few years back? This book is based on a similar premise — the theft of an author’s creative work — but, man, what a difference! YELLOWFACE is the story of two women who met in college as aspiring authors. Athena is gorgeous and wildly successful. Juniper’s first book bombed, and she’s had a difficult time selling her next. The women are kind-of friends, though Juniper is jealous of Athena’s success and is convinced a large part of it is based on the fact Athena is Asian. So when Athena (who is cagey about new projects and doesn’t even share what she’s working on with her agent) dies in front of Juniper (!!)*, Juniper leaves with Athena’s new manuscript and sells it as her own. As Juniper later says, “If publishing is rigged, make sure it is rigged in your favor.”
It was hard to look away from the train wreck of a mess Juniper puts herself in. This book fascinated me and stressed me out. A biting commentary on the wild and weird world of publishing. Yellowface is satire at its best.
*I promise this really isn’t a spoiler. It happens very early on.
52 Ways to Be the Boss of You, Your Mood, and Your Day (Without Quitting Your Day Job) by Serenity Bohon (coffee ring not included)
This book originally started as weekly newsletters Serenity sent to her email subscribers. I remember saving many and sending back messages thanking her for her encouraging words. Now published in book form, 52 Ways is a collection of essays meant to help readers become “the architect of their own days.” The year after Serenity sent these newsletters, she unexpectedly lost her job. While looking for work she complied the essays into a book. Even during this uncertain time, she still had a job, she says. She was “the CEO of me.”
I found these essays hard to put down. Some of my favorites were “Take Back the Morning,” “Be a Friend (To You),” and “Take Care of Your Small.” 52 Weeks would be a perfect read for the new year. Read a chapter a week or everything at once — you choose.
…And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer
This happens to be my mom and grandmother’s favorite book. I’ve been meaning to read it for YEARS. I actually read the first chapter as a teen and told myself someday when I was older I’d come back to it. At 1344 pages (1176 in my paperback version), it took some planning on my part to work it into my reading schedule. I started in July, making sure I had time for book club books and library holds, returning to Ladies when I could.
The story takes place in a small Ohio town from the end of the Civil War to the 1930s. It follows two recent graduates of a girl’s seminary who are asked by several of their teachers to join a newly-formed literary society. While the club itself never takes center stage in the book its influence does, as over the decades members join and move or pass away, as women from different generations and points of view come together and create a community that leaves its impact on the the town at large.
I love sprawling stories where I can get involved in many characters’ lives. Helen Hooven Santmyer created a world I’ll long remember. And if you’re looking to hear something really inspiring, Santmyer was in her late eighties when this best-selling book became a smash hit! (The paperback edition sold two million copies in three months, “vaulting it to best-selling paperback in history at the time”!!!)
What have you read lately?
Planning on giving one of my books as a present? I’d be happy to send a personalized bookplate and bookmark for your reader. Simply email me a copy of your receipt and your mailing address by 12/15, and I’ll send them on their way.