Wishful Drinking

9857108Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Her Grace’s rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: memoir

I read it as an: audiobook

Narrator: Carrie Fisher

Source: public library

Length: 03:06:00

Published by: S&S (1 Jan 2009)

Carrie Fisher reads one of her memoirs, focusing on her various addictions and bipolar disorder. For as sad as much of the book was, she managed to make it hilarious. I actually didn’t care for her narration as much as I thought I would, given how much I enjoy Fisher’s various performances. But still, this is a great insight into one of Hollywood’s own. 

I read this in part because I wanted to, I still miss my General, and because it ticks a box for Read Harder. I definitely recommend it for anyone who is a fan of Carrie Fisher.

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse

27778554._sx318_In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III (website, Twitter)

Her Grace’s rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Genre: children’s fiction

I read it as an: ebook

Source: library

Length: 176 pp

Published by: Harry Abrams (10 Nov 2015)

This children’s novel follows Jimmy McLean as he travels with his grandfather to learn about his famous ancestor, Crazy Horse. Jimmy has a hard time with bullies who mock him for not being full-blooded Lakota. Jimmy’s mother is Lakota but his father is biracial Lakota and Irish. His grandfather takes Jimmy on a road trip so they can visit the sites of Crazy Horse’s most famous moments. In the process, Jimmy learns something of strength, honor, and taking care of people, including yourself. 

I enjoyed this slim novel well enough. I tend not to read children’s fiction much; even the books my 9 year old reads are generally YA. So the writing felt overly simple to me with some information missing that I would have liked to have. However, I had to remind myself that it IS for children and they may not be able to read books that deeply yet. It was fun to learn more about Crazy Horse, especially from a Native American perspective. So much history is written by the victors, so the version of Crazy Horse we tend to get in school here is that he was a rabble-rouser and problematic for the white soldiers. I always took that with a grain of salt anyway, but it is still nice to hear about the story from a different perspective. 

I read this for task #22 of the Read Harder challenge: A children’s or middle grade book that has won a diversity award since 2009.

Favorite lines:

  • “A long time ago,” Grandpa said as he and Jimmy rode down the highway, “people and animals could understand each other’s languages. A person could understand what a hawk said. The hawk could understand people. But things changed. Animals and people don’t understand each other anymore. That’s sad.”
  • “When things like that happen, like to your dad and Crazy Horse, it’s okay for tough guys to cry. Don’t you ever forget that.”
  • Jimmy looked around at the hilly landscape. He had the same strange feeling he’d had at the Hundred in the Hands battlefield. He felt like he should be quiet or talk only in a whisper.
  • “That’s the sad part about war and battles,” he concluded. “Doesn’t matter who you are, what side you’re on. It’s still sad, no matter what kind of uniform you wear or the color of your skin. It’s still sad.”
  • Sometimes you have to do things no matter how scary it is, or how scared you are.
  • …that’s what being a warrior was all about: facing the scary things no matter how afraid you were. That’s what courage is.

Fruit of the Drunken Tree

36636727Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras        (website, Twitter, IG)

Her Grace’s rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: literary fiction

I read it as a: hardback

Source: my own collection/BOTM

Length: 304 pp

Published by: Doubleday (31 July 2018)

In 1990s, Escobar-controlled Bogota, two girls become unlikely friends. Chula Santiago, the seven year old daughter of relatively wealthy parents, is sheltered and spoiled. Petrona is the 13 year old maid Chula’s mother hires, a girl from the guerilla-occupied slums. At first, Chula and her older sister, Cassandra, think Petrona is very shy since she hardly speaks. Chula makes it a game to count how many syllables Petrona says in a day. However, as the girls grow closer and become friends, it is clear that there is much more to Petrona than Chula first thought. She has traumas in her past which inform her present and future actions. Chula herself becomes traumatized by her surroundings, particularly after seeing a bombing on the news and then surviving a guerilla attack when her family visits her grandmother. When Petrona becomes entangled with people and events that are more than she bargained for, it leads her to take drastic actions which could completely unravel her life as well as Chula’s.

I honestly didn’t love this book. I had wanted to, but it just never really clicked with me. I enjoyed the bits that felt like magical realism, but in general I felt the narration and changing between Chula’s and Petrona’s points of view was disjointed. I also thought Chula had a vocabulary and manner of speaking which is much older than what a seven year old would use. Yes, I know she is an observant child and intelligent. My daughter is highly intelligent, and she still doesn’t speak like an adult does. I found that hard to buy and it drew me out of the story because it was jarring. 

The settings were all vividly described, which I liked. I can’t imagine living in a slum, or being considered rich because I have running water and electricity. That really makes me think about how spoiled we are in this country. I mean, I knew that we’re basically a bunch of spoiled assholes here anyway, but this was one of those books that helped drive that point home. Colombia sounds like a gorgeous country, and the episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown show it as such as well. With good food! But whether I will ever make it there for a visit is pretty unlikely. 

I found it interesting that this was also an autofiction book, based in part on the author’s real life experiences growing up as a child in Escobar’s Colombia. 

None of the things I liked about the book were enough to make me genuinely like the whole thing, though, unfortunately. I’d recommend it to people who really want to know about near-kidnappings or are really keen to read up on Colombian society, but for me, I think there are better books out there that would give me the same things. 

Total Money Makeover

17591758The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

I read it as a: hardback

Source: library

Length: 237 pp

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Year: 2013

My mom occasionally listens to one of the more conservative radio stations in my hometown. That would be horrifying except they have plenty of *opinions* about 45 which are quite in alignment with my own, which is a delightful surprise given that I am…super not conservative. Anyway, this station plays Dave Ramsey every day for 2 hours and I’ve often heard his show. I have always enjoyed listening to him when I catch his show because so much of his financial advice is so common-sensical and down to earth. I like his tough love approach and how he tells people what they need to hear rather than what the want to hear. Since I have a little bit of debt – thankfully not very much at all – I decided to take a look at his book. I am glad I did because I learned a lot of things that are relevant even for people without a crushing amount of debt!

I found the book to be broken down in a clear and easy to understand format. You would think that should be a given, but nope. I’ve read other finance books and it was like, “WTF does that even mean?” I have literature degrees for a reason, folks. Anyway, Ramsey’s premise for becoming debt-free is to follow his Baby Steps. These steps are:

  1. Save $1000 for an emergency fund
  2. Pay off all debt (except mortgage) using the debt snowball
  3. Save 3-6 months of expenses in a fully funded emergency fund
  4. Invest 15% of your income in retirement
  5. Save for your children’s college funds
  6. Pay off your home early
  7. Build wealth and give

The first two steps are supposed to take the longest, especially if you have a ton of debt. Since I don’t have a lot of debt and only recently discovered Dave Ramsey, I already have well over $1000 for an emergency fund. I’m sure he would think it is an excuse, but I will never use all my money to pay off the one debt I have because I have a house and the mortgage is more than $1000 a month. But I did recently manage to make a giant payment to the one loan that I have, and am making a budget, which I’ve never done before. I will be able to get that thing paid off within this calendar year if I plan right, and then I will be able to start saving for a new car, finally, which I’ll pay cash for. I will be able to save money for my daughter’s college fund, and invest for retirement the way I want to. I want to follow a mix of Dave Ramsey/ Mr Money Mustache/ The Minimalists approach to life, because that seems the type that is the likeliest to bring the most joy and value to my life.

Is this book for everyone? Nope. If you have the attitude that the world owes you something or that certain things are just *necessary* for life when they really aren’t, or you aren’t willing to make sacrifices for a while to get out of debt, then you probably won’t respond well to this book. Ramsey is also religious and he sometimes throws in quotes from the Bible to support his financial practices. I’m as atheist as they come, but I didn’t find these to be irritating or anything; they were the common sense kind of quotes, like “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Prov. 10:4). The source here is irrelevant. The message is the same – getting out of debt and gaining financial freedom is hard work and you can’t be lazy about it. But I suppose it might be annoying to some people who aren’t able to separate their secularism from everything else.

I also learned some things that I should have learned long before now, in my early 40s, but I suppose better late than never. Like about the protections on debit cards, for example. Never knew how those worked before now. Made me feel dumb, but now I am glad to know how it works because I can use my debit card with no concerns now. It will make things easier to budget, that’s for sure!

Even though I don’t have a ton of debt, I am still really glad I read this book and will be using the steps to pay off what debt I do have, and to help me manage my money better in the future. Definitely recommended for people who are in debt and are motivated to get out, who want to manage their finances better, and who want to understand how their money works better.