Sunday, November 24, 2013

12 of 12! December Book Pick - Our Last Book of the Year!

I honestly cannot believe the year is coming to an end and we are about to start our final book in our year-long reading challenge! The group started as a random idea I had with a friend because we are both avid readers who loved to discuss books but never aligned our readings so we could discuss the same book at the same time. Initially, we decided to read one book a month together just for the sake of discussion. Then we figured a few more of our friends would like to join in. After a lot of excitement from our group of friends and more and more people expressing interest, I decided to make it an open Facebook group where people could join in as they pleased. I never imagined that I would make it through a whole year of running the club but I am so happy I have. Even if no one else is reading along with me (although I really hope you are!) I have come to appreciate the self-placed responsibility I have to finish books, post discussion questions and keep the challenge alive. I hope you have enjoyed being a part of the group! I definitely want to continue the book club into 2014 but maybe incorporate some twists, like theme months, rotating discussion leaders, etc. I will post about this in our Facebook group in the coming weeks so we can come up with a new challenge for the new year! 

For now, discussion for I Am Malala is now open and I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Our December book has also been chosen:

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz is our final book pick for 2013. Diaz is an amazing author who writes complex and interesting characters. I am definitely excited to read his latest gem! Here is the summary from Amazon:

"Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” byTime magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz has won a host of major awards and prizes, including the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award.
 Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in the New York Times-Bestselling This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

December book pick: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Discussion opens: December 24th 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

HBIC Book Club: November Pick

I know a lot of us are super excited for this month's book pick, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. This amazing young girl has captured the attention of the whole Internet and her autobiography promises to be a great read. I already contemplated naming my first-born Malala too. I am sure we all are familiar with her story so I will skip that summary and just get straight to the book...

The summary from

"When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world."

MALALA! Discussion for our October book opens on Thursday so finish up Snow Flower and the Secret Fan! I look forward to hearing your thoughts about all the crazy ish that happened in this one. And now we are really in the home stretch of our year-long reading challenge. Only 2 more books to we see another year on the horizon?!? 
Happy reading :)

November Book Pick: I Am Malala
Discussion opens Saturday, November 23

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

HBIC Book Club: October Pick!

I can't believe we just picked our October book! Summer is officially over. I'm cuddled up under a blanket as I type this and apparently it is snowing in the Colorado mountains already. Sigh...
I guess the title for our next book pick is fitting then: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Get it? SNOW? Ok I know that was cheesy but it is early and I haven't had any coffee yet.) I am excited to take our club to China, somewhere we have not been yet through our reading travels and this is another best-seller that has already been made into a movie (no cheating by Netflix-ing it!). It looks to be an easy, fun read that will give us insight into 19th- century Chinese female life. 

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Here is the summary: 
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

This book will be our 10th in our year long reading challenge! As for now please join the discussion for our September book, Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay, happening now in our Facebook group. And feel free to invite friends to join the group so they can participate in the tail-end of our challenge. 

October Book Pick: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Discussion Opens: Thursday, October 24th 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

HBIC Book Club: September Book Pick

Welp it's August 24th. Summer is almost over and it is time to discuss yet another finished book in our year long pursuit of elevated reading! I am looking forward to hearing what my fellow club members think about The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. All I will say here is I am surprised this is a best-seller and won top book awards! Join me in the discussion in our Facebook group here and let everyone know what you thought!

We had a tie in our September book poll! The two top choices were Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay and This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. Both of these titles have been on my personal list for a while so I would be happy with either one BUT since I have to be the tie-breaker I am going to pick Red Dust Road. Honestly, I just wanted a little variety and the Diaz book sounds like a lot of love lost, forlorn stories and young heartbreak, similar to The Marriage Plot. And I just finished a Diaz book about a month ago so I could use some time before delving into the next one. Being the tie-breaker is just one of the perks of running this book club I guess! 

The summary from Amazon:

'Like the best memoirs, this one is written with novelistic and poetic flair. Red Dust Road is a fantastic, probing and heart-warming read' - "Independent". From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay's journey in "Red Dust Road" is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a book remarkable for its warmth and candour, she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love. 'A clear-eyed, witty and unsentimental account of the push and pull between nature and nurture. Happiness shines through' - "Sunday Times". 'Wonderful, humane ...This is a book with resolution, determination and honesty' - "Scotland on Sunday". 'It is Kay's abundant wit that makes Red Dust Road such a moving, spirited work. This is a terrifically easy, evocative, and often amusing read ...A remarkable, soul-searching journey' - "Sunday Herald".

See you all in the Facebook group for discussion time. And happy reading for September :)
September Book Pick: Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay
Discussion Period Opens: Monday, September 23rd

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

HBIC Book Club - August Book Pick!

Well another month has flown by, I know I say that every month but every month I am shocked at how fast the weeks pass. Must be old age. Anyway, we just finished another book! 7 books into our year long, 12 book challenge! Awesomeness. I loved Day After Night by Anita Diamant. She is such an imaginative historical writer. The setting of the book was so depressing (boo The Holocaust) but she managed to create distinct and multi-dimentional characters that stood out from their historical circumstances. They were relatable and complex and I really look forward to hearing what the group has to say about this book! Speak up and let your voice be heard! ;)

So our August book pick is in! Next month we will be reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. This novel was named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, NPR, Salon, Publisher's Weekly, and many others so I guess it's gonna be good! 

The Amazon summary: 

"Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes---the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in "his most powerful novel yet" (Newsweek)."

Sounds interesting! Also Jeffrey Eugenides rocks.

Happy Reading HBICs :)

August Book: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Discussion Opens: Saturday, August 24th

Monday, June 24, 2013

HBIC Book Club - July Book Pick!

Woowee I cannot believe we are halfway through 2013 AND our year-long book challenge. A pat-on-the-back to each and everyone that has kept up with the reading and participated in discussions! We just opened discussion for Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. I am interested in hearing what others have to say about this book because it was nothing what I expected! If you have something to add please push yourself out of your comfort zone and join the discussion!

Everything takes place in our Facebook group here!

With that being said, our July book pick is in! It was a close race this month but we have a winner by one vote: Day After Night by Anita Diamant

Image from

I am looking forward to this book because Anita Diamant is amazing! The Red Tent is one of my all time favorite books so I cannot wait to read this publication. I'm also always interested in Jewish historical fiction as it is my own personal heritage. Here is the summary from Amazon:

Just as she gave voice to the silent women of the Old Testament in The Red Tent, Anita Diamant creates a cast of breathtakingly vivid characters -- young women who escaped to Israel from Nazi Europe -- in this intensely dramatic novel.This is an unforgettable story of tragedy and redemption, a novel that reimagines a moment in history with such stunning eloquence that we are haunted and moved by every devastating detail. Day After Night is a triumphant work of fiction. Day After Night is based on the extraordinary true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than two hundred prisoners from the Atlit internment camp, a prison for "illegal" immigrants run by the British military near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa. The story is told through the eyes of four young women at the camp with profoundly different stories. All of them survived the Holocaust: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist; Leonie, a Parisian beauty; Tedi, a hidden Dutch Jew; and Zorah, a concentration camp survivor. Haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to begin to hope, Shayndel, Leonie, Tedi, and Zorah find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country.

July Book Pick: Day After Night by Anita Diamant
Discussion Opens: Wednesday July 24th

Happy reading HBICs!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

HBIC Book Club: June Pick!

Hello lovely spring flowers! Hope this post finds all of my friends well and enjoying the beautiful life that spring has returned to us. I know I am! I just finished running my (half) marathon for the Alliance for Lupus Research and this weekend I am off to visit friends in Cali. YAY.

Our discussion for our May book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, does not open until Friday but I wanted to post our June book early (mostly in preparation for my trip - gots to get things done so I can travel, worry-free). I really enjoyed reading Gone Girl. I never read thrillers but maybe I should start to more often because this book totally kept me on my toes. Once I got through the slow first few chapters I could not put it down! Literally! The ending is all kinds of messed up but I will save those comments for discussion. Anyway, I am glad that, yet again, the group voted for a book I would have never chosen on my own. I love this new book discovery! And this group! 

Our June pick is Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth. I have had this book on my personal "To-Read" list for a few years now so I am so excited that it caught the eye of so many group members and won this month's poll! 
Here is the summary from Amazon: 

"No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or broke or enlightened you are, how you eat tells all.
After three decades of studying, teaching and writing about our compulsions with food, bestselling author Geneen Roth adds a powerful new dimension to her work in Women Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God. A timeless and seminal work, Women Food and God shows how going beyond the food and the feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul—to the bright center of your own life."

Sounds like this book may give us all a little does of self-discovery. I can't imagine what the connections between how we eat and our relationship with God are but I am excited to find out. Roth has decades of research on these topics and many other books to her credit so I think this will provide us with a lot to talk (and think) about. If you have any friends who are finishing up school for the semester and want to join the club please invite them to our Facebook group. Everyone is welcome. Happy Reading!

June Book Pick: Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything
Discussion Opens: Sunday, June 23rd

And congrats to everyone for making it all the way to June! One more book and we will be halfway finished with our year-long challenge :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

HBIC Book Club: May Pick

Well, we finished our fourth book of our year long reading challenge today and it feels so good!  I guess it is because I am "in charge" of the book club so the responsibility to keep us organized is mine but even so, I am really enjoying this process so far. I feel committed to finish every book by our deadline date, try to provide interesting conversation about each book and keep the group motivated for the next month. I have no idea how many people are still reading along but as long as anyone, even one other person, is gaining something from being in this virtual book club then I am happy to continue to lead the group! 

So today we open discussion for Drinking: A Love Story. I am really interested to hear what the group has to say about this book. It is raw, emotional and sometimes a little scary but it provided me with a lot of insight into the mind and life of an addict. It helps me understand addiction much better and I hope I can deal with my loved ones who do suffer from addiction in a more productive way. 

And we have chosen our May book pick! Next month we will be reading the thriller,

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Here is the summary from Amazon: 

Marriage can be a real killer. 
   One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.    On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?    As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?  With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

Although, this wasn't my top pick for this month this book has gotten a lot of good press and I think it will be a nice change from our last 2 months of nonfiction picks. So order your books and feel free to start reading!

May Book Pick: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Discussion Opens: Friday, May 24
Discussion takes place in our Facebook group - Join us! 

Happy reading HBICs! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

HBIC Book Club: April Pick!

Hellooooo book bitches! I can hardly believe it but we are already winding down March and about to start discussion on the third book of our year long challenge! Time is flying but I feel so great that we are sticking to our commitment and having such fun as we go along! With the publication of this post our discussion for our March pick: Beth Ditto's Coal to Diamonds will officially open and we can all declare our punk Riot Grrrl Northwest grunge fat Feminist love for Beth Ditto. Well, at least I will! I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say about this memoir. If you want to join the booky bitchy fun then meet us in the Facebook group where we pick one book per month to read and chat about. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to take part!

And the bitches have spoken and our clear winner for our April pick is

Here is the summary from Amazon: 

Freelance journalist Knapp began drinking in her early teens and continued unabatedly until she "hit bottom" in 1995 and checked herself into a rehab at the age of 36. During that time she managed to graduate with honors from Brown and have a successful career as a journalist, and few people suspected she had a problem with the bottle. Here she recounts the years of denial that helped her rationalize the blackouts, innumerable hangovers, broken relationships and family tensions characteristic of the alcoholic's story. Knapp interweaves her personal history with factual information about alcohol abuse, including frequent references to the AA meetings she's attended. Here's a confession utterly devoid of self-pity, an extraordinarily lucid and very well-written personal account of a common addiction that is filled with insights as well as a comprehensive treatment of the subject.

Like many of us, alcoholism and addiction have plagued my friends, family members and myself. It is an all too common issue amongst us so I am sure we will all be able to relate to this story. In my opinion, if a confessional like this helps one person get sober, healthy, and happy then it is a success and from the reviews it seems that many women have related and benefitted from Knapp's story. I am looking forward to reading it and finding out what they found comfort in! So go buy or check out your new April read and get going! But first let's talk about Coal to Diamonds...

April Book Pick: Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Discussion opens on Tuesday, April 23rd

Sunday, February 24, 2013

HBIC Book Club: March Book Pick!

Well we are in the midst of a rousing discussion of our February book, The Feminist and The Cowboy,  for the HBIC Book Club, which is awesome! Honestly, I dare to say I hated this book becuase it was so hard to watch the author Valdes dive into an abusive relationship and scapegoat feminism while she did it. BUT she brings up lots of complex ideas about gender, identity and relationships that are sure to hit home with all of us so it should make for great discussion! I look forward to hearing more from all the club members in the next few days.  I encourage all of those that feel a little hesitant to speak up in the discussion to do so! Part of this reading challenge is to engage with other intelligent women about the books we read and to learn from each other's thoughts and opinions. Don't be shy, push yourself to participate in discussion! For anyone interested in joining please do! We are an open group and welcome all interested members. Just go here!

With that said, I am happy to announce our March book pick, Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir by Beth Ditto! Special shout out to Taylor in Chi-town for suggesting this book! I am not personally a Gossip fan, the punk band that Ditto headlines, but the summary of this book sounds like a lot of fun. Here it is from Amazon:

Born and raised in Judsonia, Arkansas—a place where indoor plumbing was a luxury, squirrel was a meal, and sex ed was taught during senior year in high school (long after many girls had gotten pregnant and dropped out) Beth Ditto stood out. Beth was a fat, pro-choice, sexually confused choir nerd with a great voice, an eighties perm, and a Kool Aid dye job. Her single mother worked overtime, which meant Beth and her five siblings were often left to fend for themselves. Beth spent much of her childhood as a transient, shuttling between relatives, caring for a sickly, volatile aunt she nonetheless loved, looking after sisters, brothers, and cousins, and trying to steer clear of her mother’s bad boyfriends.

Her punk education began in high school under the tutelage of a group of teens—her second family—who embraced their outsider status and introduced her to safety-pinned clothing, mail-order tapes, queer and fat-positive zines, and any shred of counterculture they could smuggle into Arkansas. With their help, Beth survived high school, a tragic family scandal, and a mental breakdown, and then she got the hell out of Judsonia. She decamped to Olympia, Washington, a late-1990s paradise for Riot Grrrls and punks, and began to cultivate her glamorous, queer, fat, femme image. On a whim—with longtime friends Nathan, a guitarist and musical savant in a polyester suit, and Kathy, a quiet intellectual turned drummer—she formed the band Gossip. She gave up trying to remake her singing voice into the ethereal wisp she thought it should be and instead embraced its full, soulful potential. Gossip gave her that chance, and the raw power of her voice won her and Gossip the attention they deserved.

Marked with the frankness, humor, and defiance that have made her an international icon, Beth Ditto’s unapologetic, startlingly direct, and poetic memoir is a hypnotic and inspiring account of a woman coming into her own.

I smell themes of music, body image politics, feminism and general kickass-ery and I can't wait to start reading! So order your books and start reading ladies! As always please feel free to suggest books for future months and let me know if you have any suggestions or questions about the club. if you are new to our group, welcome! And enjoy the book :)

March Book: Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir by Beth Ditto
Discussion Opens on Sunday, March 24th

Friday, February 22, 2013

Marathon Update: 6 Weeks In

Well, the first 6 weeks of my marathon training and fundraising have flown by! Yeesh I am surely getting old. Training is going ok so far. Some weeks I feel like Superwoman and literally smile with glee as I run on the treadmill (I think that is mainly because I get to watch HGTV at the gym while running, Property Brothers anyone? Yes please, I will have both.) Other weeks, like this one, I feel sluggish and am shocked when I check my distance thinking I surely have run 3 miles by now and find the treadmill lying to me saying I've barely hit 0.85 - evil treadmill. This is most likely due to the copious amounts of booze I consumed this weekend on an epic ski trip - 3 Legged Chihuahua Bowl I miss you! Running outside is so much more enjoyable but living in Colorado does not make this easy. Yesterday it snowed more than 4 inches! I did have a great run 2 weeks ago that was about 9 miles. Starting at my house near Stapleton, heading down 17th Avenue, looping around beautiful City Park, and then back (see route below). Took me a little while but gave me confidence that I can do this damn marathon if I just keep running (and listening to Car Talk while I do it.)

Since I kicked off my fundraising campaign for The Alliance for Lupus Research in honor of my bestie Julia, I have raised over $300! Still have a ways to go but I know I will reach my goal once I kick up promotion and start guilting all my loved ones into donating ;) You can do so here, btw. I have also learned that a few other friends are also living with Lupus, of which I had no idea. Must be why it is often referred to as a silent disease, someone can be suffering immensely but they still look and seem healthy. I know Julia has dealt with this and I am just happy that my campaign and blog were able to encourage a few friends to speak up about their situations as well. Yet another reason to love each other, and the internet. 

I am looking forward to more challenging runs and more fundraising as I keep chugging along. Thanks for reading and happy Friday ya'll! 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

HBIC Book Club: February Pick

Well the HBIC Book Club has successfully completed our first book and are in the midst of our discussion period. I love the questions and discussion that is happening so far! I read that something like less than 10% of people actually keep their New Year's resolutions after January so I would just like to say congrats to everyone that committed to the 2013 Reading Challenge and is sticking with it! (For anyone that recently joined or is still thinking about it then come on board! We are committed to reading one fun book per month for the year.)

With that said, it is time to announce our February book pick! Thanks to everyone that voted in our poll and chose, The Feminist and The Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story by Alisa Valdes Rodriquez.

Summary of the book from Amazon:

Feminism was a religion in Alisa Valdes’s childhood home. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem took the place of Barbies and left Valdes impressed with a feminist ideology that guided a prolific writing career—at twenty-two Valdes was named one of the top feminist writers under thirty by the editor of Ms Magazine. Yet despite her professional success, Valdes hit forty-two a single mom and a serial dater of inadequate men in tweed jackets—until she met the Cowboy. A conservative rancher, the Cowboy held the traditional views on gender roles that Valdes was raised to reject. Yet as she falls head-over-spurs for him and their relationship finds harmony, she finds the strength, peace, and happiness that comes from embracing her femininity. From their first date the Cowboy makes her pulse race, and she discovers that “when men… act like men rather than like emasculated boys, you as a woman will find not only great pleasure in submitting to them but also great growth as a person.”  Told with plenty of humor and candor, The Feminist and the Cowboy will delight the many readers who made The Pioneer Woman a bestseller—not to mention every woman who dreams of being swept away by a rugged cowboy.

I must admit that this was not my pick for our next book and the summary does not excite me. From the summary and few short reviews I have read online this seems like a structureless love story laden with cliches about feminism. Such cliches are not only not funny but are a sad excuse for complex writing. There is nothing interesting or provocative about ideology cliches and I fear that this book is just more 50 Shades of Grey-esque garbage that was spewed out and gained praise because everyone loves a love story, even if the relationship on display is dysfunctional and dangerous. But this book was the most popular vote so it is our February pick (democracy rules)! Hopefully I will be proved wrong and it will end up being an interesting read. We shall see...

Finish Date: Friday, February 21st
Discussion Period: Feb 21 - Feb 28

I bought my copy last night on Ebay for about $19 including shipping, FYI.


Monday, January 14, 2013

HBIC on the run!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I like to set annual goals for myself at the beginning of each year. The first goal I wrote about was to read more, and since creating a plan on how to accomplish that, the HBIC Book Club was born (and so far is a huge success, if you have been meaning to join then please do! All the info is available in our Facebook group). My second, and much more daunting, goal of 2013 is to run a full marathon. I actually did this in 2012 but I split it between 2 half-marathons about 6 months apart. This time I plan to run the full 26.2 miles all on the same day! It is going to be a huge challenge, physically and mentally, but I am looking forward to it and hope it will prove to be as transformative as my first race was.

One of the things I love about races is that somehow history has linked running and philanthropy. Running this marathon gives me a great excuse to raise money for an important cause and provides my friends and family a concrete reason, albeit somewhat detached from rationale, to give my cause money. You can call it guilt, you can call it support, you can call it a tax-deducation. Now it may seem selfish that I ask you to donate money to my cause just because I have made the personal choice to accomplish a specific task in my life but I ask you to consider how many gifts you have given to other women for accomplishing other milestones in life (marriage, baby, etc.) At least running a marathon is not steeped in centuries old patriarchal tradition that celebrates ownership and subjugation of women. Plus, I am not registering for 30 different types of salad bowls or a Tiffany & Co. cake knife. But let's not get distracted from the matter at hand. 

I have run for a variety of other causes in races past but none have been as close to my heart as this, this year I am running and raising for the Alliance for Lupus Research. One of my best friends from college, Julia, has lupus, and I want to honor the person she is, the struggle she has had, and the many lessons she has taught me. I know that I am a better person because Julia is in my life and if anything can give me the strength to run 26.2 freakin' miles (besides the quest for a rock hard ass) is the value I place on my friendships. When I say that being friends with Julia has taught me to be a better person, I actually mean that and it is not just some sappy remark to make this post more interesting. When I first met her I hated her. I knew nothing about her except that she had killer style, all my friends loved her and she was just as big of a bitch as me. This was back when I flew my "I am a mean and judgmental bitch" flag high and proud, but only did so to cover up my own insecurities. After constant urging from our mutual friends and a bonding over Harry Potter I finally let my guard down and quickly learned that this girl was someone who shared my interests and tribulations, my confidence and my uncertainties. This realization taught me that by trying to "protect" myself by holding everyone at arm's length I was really missing out on amazing experiences and relationships. Over the years we have been able to understand each other in a way that our other best friends are simply not able to. We are more similar than either of us ever knew (and maybe that is why I perceived her as such a threat) but I take great comfort in knowing that when I am hurt or confused about something and I don't know how to explain my own feelings, it doesn't matter because my best friend knows exactly how I feel. We have shared countless conversations where I just knew she knew what I was talking about, even though I could barely put my thoughts together in my own head. She was and continues to be a mastermind behind the HBIC Movement and her genius inspires me everyday. Plus she is super hot and still has killer style.

While I don't feel it is appropriate to divulge all the details of her disease I want to share some brief information, mainly since many of us probably have little knowledge about lupus. Following other health problems in high school, Julia was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that can attack any organ in the body, at age 21. Her symptoms included extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate and arthritic symptoms. Following treatment with injectable chemotherapeutic agents, she went into remission. This fall, at the age of 26, Julia developed severe arthritic symptoms with inflammation. In addition to attacking her joints, Julia's body was now attacking her kidneys, causing inflammation and threatening permanent damage to the kidneys. A kidney biopsy confirmed a diagnoses of lupus nephritis. She is presently on a variety of harsh, fucked-up medications, all of which can cause various fucked-up side effects. She is the healthiest person I know and does all that she can to help her body (another inspiring part about being her friend). Watching her go through another flare-up was scary but her strength and perseverance were truly inspirational. So today on her 27th birthday, I kick off my marathon training and my fundraising campaign for the Alliance for Lupus Research and for my friend. If you are so inclined (and after an emotional outpouring like this who wouldn't be??) then please donate to my campaign. My goal is to raise $1000 by my race on May 18th. More info on ALR can be found here including lots of details about lupus, their research and their finances.

I will continue to update you on my marathon training progress, as there are sure to be hilarious missteps on my part.

And to my best friend, Happy Birthday and thank you for everything you are.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

HBIC Book Club Rules of Order

I am soooo excited about the response that our HBIC Book Club and 2013 Reading Challenge has gotten so far. In about 2 weeks we have 60 group members participating in the challenge in our Facebook Group. Awesome! Less than a week into the new year and we already have people finished with our first book! And having rousing discussion about it to boot. Reading your thoughts and knowing how much this club has already captivated minds, challenged your brains and brought new friends together truly warms my heart. That being said, it has become apparent that I need to implement a few rules of order to make sure everyone is enjoying this challenge, and we can have controlled discussion at the end of each month. My sincere apologies to anyone who felt bombarded by comments or got details of the book revealed to them without their permission! If we all follow these guidelines it won't happen again! 

HBIC Book Club Rules of Order

1. We will read one book per month (as originally stated in the Challenge) as a group. My hope is that you choose to be involved every month but if you want to take a month off or you are a super fast reader and want to read 5 books a month then go for it! You are an adult and can make your own choices. I will still love you no matter what you decide.

2. I will announce our "Finish Date" each month (typically 3 weeks into the month) when we should all have the book finished and on which discussion will begin and last for the remainder of the month. This will allow us to match up our monthly cycles (hehe) and have a controlled "Discussion Period." Again, you are an adult, only you know your schedule, reading pace, note-taking habits, etc. If you are fast and forgetful then maybe you should wait to start the book later into the month so your thoughts are still fresh when discussion starts. If you are busy and slow then schedule your reading accordingly. You are a big girl, you can do it!

3. If you just can't wait to discuss something or have a burning questions then refrain from posting it in the group. Instead ask the group if anyone has read up to the page/chapter you are on and then discuss in a private message. Make sure you bring up what you discussed during Discussion Period so the rest of the group can hear your amazing thoughts. That's the point!

4. Suggestions for future month's books will always be taken. I will start a running list of books and upload them to the "documents" section of the group so they can be viewed. It will be updated as suggestions come in. Once per month I will start a poll in the group to choose the next book. If you want a say in the next book please vote in the poll!

5. Anything goes during Discussion Period. Ask whatever you want, discuss whatever you want (in relation to the book) without fear of spoiling the book for anyone else. If you haven't finished the book by time the Discussion Period starts then don't look at the group comments! Or do! But just know that there will be spoilers left and right.

6. And, finally, I will only say this once, be nice to each other. Slander, rudeness or general ignorance towards other members will not be tolerated for even a second. I will kick you out of the group if you are a jerk. Again the adults thing.

Otherwise have fun! I am always open to suggestions as this is the first online book club I have managed. I am learning as I go so feel free to help a sista out! 

January Book: The Girls Of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
January Finish Date: Friday, January 25
January Discussion Period: January 25 - 31