“Shattered” Book Response and October Selection

For September, our Virtual Book Club decided to individually read whatever we felt like, which was very freeing. I have a lot going on this fall including celebrating Doug’s and my 30th birthdays; both celebrations happened in September, and I am trying my best to produce consistent, high-quality content at The Voyageer, and I only have so many hours in a day.

Let me admit that I actually didn’t read anything in full this month. I started a couple of books, browsed The Little Book of Hygge, and downloaded my next-to-read Outlander novel from my library’s e-book collection to my beloved kindle paperwhite. Now that September is behind me (more or less) I can get back into the Virtual Book Club and our Creepy October read (revealed at the end).

This post contains Amazon affiliate links above and below. 


Even though I didn’t finish a book in September, I still want to post about one I read this summer. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign came out in April and I had the chance to read it in July. I thought this was timely since HRC’s own book, What Happened, just came out and has been topping best seller lists and causing all kinds of controversy. First let me say that I think the cover art for Shattered is far superior than What Happened...

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The photo and the type are both striking.

I feel like my head has been spinning so much in the past two years, almost as if it’s going to be disconnected from my neck and body. The 24-hour news cycle is so exhausting and impossible to keep up with. Every day, a new story breaks, before we’ve all had time to digest the day before and put all the pieces together. This past month we’ve had to worry about hurricanes, earthquakes, civil rights, democratic rights, and nuclear war. It’s too much to keep track of, and reading this book reminded me that it has been this way for a while. Facebook and Twitter offer a never ending stream of things to be concerned about and downright outraged by, and the current clowns in charge keep us on our toes with a new gaffe or scandal to steal our attention on the daily.

20/20

Reading this book felt like putting the puzzle pieces together, about one year too late. It covers the whole campaign from the launch, to the primaries, up through the election. So much light was shed on important events that had stacked up on top of each other and it all seems so clear now. The private server, each primary state result in order, Bernie’s influence, the DNC hack, Announcing the VP and Comey’s ill-timed investigation announcement, and the list goes on.

The authors, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, are journalists who were set to write a book about Hillary’s historic campaign as the first woman nominee from a major party, and presumably to draw the path towards victory. However as their detailed analysis and inside information shows, the campaign body was complicated, confused, and chaotic. And we know how things turned out. The book pulls back the curtain to show us the way the political machine moved last year.

Aside from the obvious villains (but her emails!), Bernie Sanders was taken to task for drawing out an already long primary season. As a Bernie supporter, it was good for me to get a dose of some hindsight. Sanders did what I expected he’d do, which was pull Clinton to the left before he was through with his campaign, but it was interesting to me just how much of a thorn he was in her side.

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Bernie was so inspiring but definitely had his down sides.

The biggest takeaway for me was a phenomenon that I have been noticing more and more in my everyday life, in addition to it being a major theme in this book:

Numbers over People

Spoiler alert: Hillary lost a bunch of swing states. Clinton’s young manager kept trying to run the campaign on a shoestring budget (why?) and as such was addicted to using numbers and polling data to target strategic voters in strategic states and precincts. This explains why, here in San Diego, I barely saw any Hillary yard signs or bumperstickers. Not that people weren’t “With Her,” but that the campaign knew California was in the bag so they didn’t staff or push the candidate’s presence in the state.

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The irony of her relentless pursuit of the superdelegates, then losing the electoral college, is almost too much.

The problem was the reliance on numbers and data instead of warm human connections. Clinton was behaving like a campaign robot, appealing to scientifically chosen demographic subsets at specific times. People have said time and time again that she is a lovely and warm person if you get a chance to meet her. But the show runners kept her from us, the people whose task it was to put our eggs in her basket.

It started with Pandora’s robots providing a famously awful mix of music. Now Facebook does this. Amazon really does this (oh you bought a watch? here’s 75 other watches to look at). I am sick of algorithms—telling us what we want to see or “curating” our lives for us. Some guy with a spreadsheet dictated who got campaign efforts and who didn’t, and just to save money. And now we have our current divisive, competitive, incompetent president. We need our human agency back.

The candidate who all assumed would win honestly kind of collapsed from within the campaign outward. Reading Shattered was like watching last year go by in fast-forward. Kind of like getting the answers to the test you knew you just bombed. It felt a little “too soon” when the book released in April, but reading it in July provided a little bit of closure to a still-open wound.


Virtual Book Club

For October, our club chose Dark Matter by Blake Crouch which I am looking forward to. I’m not really into scary stuff (although for some reason I really want to go see IT this month) but I’m glad that our little group challenges each other to step outside our comfort zones and choose books we otherwise wouldn’t pick for ourselves. As always please read along and check back the last Wednesday of the month for my response!

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“Amanda Wakes Up” book response and September selection!

Virtual Book Club
Click for more reviews

It’s the last Wednesday Thursday of the month and you know what that means… my monthly book review! We read a new release called Amanda Wakes Up, Alysin Camerota’s newly released debut novel.

Plenty of people hate on e-readers like the Amazon kindle, but personally I like the convenience of tossing the durable device in my purse each day and not worrying about the page corners getting all messed up (I take book condition very seriously). Anyway, I do miss seeing and feeling the cover of a book, reading the blurbs on the back and reading the “about the author” on the flap of the dust jacket. For this book in particular I was feeling very resentful toward the protagonist and the subject matter. I was venting to Libby and she sent back a photo of the “about the author.”

Everything clicked into place.

This book has drawn lots of comparisons to The Devil Wears Prada. On the surface, I can see it: a semi-autobiographical account of working on the “inside” of big media. The books are pretty different, though. In Devil Wears Prada the author clearly has an ax to grind and writes with the intention of exposing her cold, cruel boss (Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue). The protagonist is extremely unlikable and does nothing but complain and victimize herself throughout (I am excluding the movie version which I love). Here in Amanda Wakes Up, we see actual character development as Amanda’s dream job puts her on a collision course from naive green journalist to the harsh reality of big dollar broadcast. She learns several lessons ranging from putting oneself in another’s shoes to standing up for what is right even if the risk is losing something important.

So, in the novel, Amanda gets her dream gig of morning anchor for a fictional cable news company called FAIR News. The company starts out as a noble attempt to be a station which covers each side of topics, but the producers quickly discover that repeatedly inviting a certain blowhard businessman-turned-politician onto their morning show brings outstanding viewership. Camerota is clearly indicting cable news, with FOX at the forefront, in giving a megaphone to certain people who really ought not to be running for office in the first place. That much is clear.

The lesson I learned was more about trying to get inside the minds of those who have different opinions than I do, even (especially?) if I believe those opinions to be wrong. Let me restate that: there are such things as wrong opinions, but telling someone they are wrong is not helpful unless we dig deeper. With the internet as our main news source followed by sensationalized 24-hour coverage on cable news, it’s kind of like a non-stop fire-hose of opinions curated to line up with our own. Sometimes opposing opinions are instilled and shaped by off-base nutjobs, but more often that not it stems from a real, heart-of-hearts concern or conviction. It’s important to find out why people believe what they do, especially if you want to change their mind.

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take! 


Last night we held our monthly discussion group on Facebook. We actually got a lot more in depth but I’m having a difficult time organizing my thoughts into a post today. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on Facebook to be added.

For September, nobody in our group floated any particularly grabbing titles, so we are each reading or own thing and we’ll still get together at the end of the month to check in. I will be reading The Girl Who Came Home (currently just 1.99 on Kindle) so I can return it to my coworker who lent it to me in the Spring. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we continue turning off the TV (or internet) to spend more time reading.

Progress in our Living Room

I was shocked that last April Doug and I celebrated 3 years in our condo. Shocked! Where does the time go? We haven’t really tackled any major projects in our home since we painted our bathroom jungle green right after moving in (and then failed to post a final reveal here—fail).

Everything is changing, though.

Even though we own our space (every time I say that it sounds misleading—we like most “homeowners” are paying it off to the bank), it has always felt really “apartmenty” to me. I’m sure it’s because of the beige walls and carpet… when we bought the place, we were looking for a fixer upper, but this place was much larger, closer to my work, had new carpet and new drywall, and was the same price as many fixers. As first-time home buyers we decided to play it safe and choose something move-in ready. So, after 3 years of beige, it is finally time to take matters into my own hands. Paint all of the things!! 

Living Room
This was right after we moved in, almost 3 years ago.
Now, new paint color, new bookcase, new couch. Still very similar, though.

The first step in getting this room “right” was to paint over the builder beige. We used the same color and sheen that we did in our dining room: Benjamin Moore (Aura) in Simply White. Definitely the most expensive paint I’ve ever bought, but the coverage, richness of the white, and eggshell sheen is just perfect. Going from beige to white might seem like a lateral move, and is not that exciting in photos, but trust me when I say that our vintage and collected home furnishings pop so much better now than they did against light tan. Every color stands out and the light in the room is more pleasant. People don’t understand how much light that flat, beige paint soaks up instead of reflecting.

Since I work for a Christian school, I had the Thursday and Friday before Easter off of work! My dad came down with his power tools and he helped me panel an accent wall in the living room. Shiplap is so buzzy right now, but my condo was built in 1965: I was originally thinking to go with straight up wood paneling. After hemming and hawing, I decided to go with a more modern look and do horizontal paneling with 1/8″ spacing.

We followed this tutorial closely and the project went smoothly.

Putting up the paneling was my first time using a nail gun with pneumatic air compressor, and it ruled! The project went by so fast. Nailing each panel up by hand would have been way more tiring, way noisier, and not as precise. If you ever want to do a project like this, definitely borrow, rent, or buy a nailer. The other tool that was necessary for this was a saw. Luckily my dad brought one over for us to use (similar), but now I know what I’m putting on my Christmas wishlist.

Which black paint?

I shared the following photo on facebook and instagram, and interestingly the votes leaned heavily one way on FB and heavily the other way on IG. I chalk it up to the fact that device screens have different color profiles and nothing is quite true to life. Even more interestingly, in the month that the swatches were up, I selected neither of the crowd-preferred options. Haha!

living room inspiration

In a recent post I shared a little vision board for this room and I’ve posted it again here. I’ve got some thinking to do on the art in here– leave it as is or do a little shake up? We finally finished painting the paneling in June and I am working on another post on that, filled with glamour shots ;)