“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.

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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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“We Should All be Feminists” Book Review and August Selection!

It’s time for my monthly virtual book club post! After reading my response (or before, that’s fine), hop over to see what Libby and Stephanie thought of this pick. 

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We should all be feminists.

The first thing that stands out to me in this essay (mini-book) is how that statement, so basic and true, can be so difficult to utter confidently, without feeling the temptation to add any qualifiers. The beginning of the essay says as much, with Adiche describing her journey into claiming the noun for herself. The term does have negative connotations. It can lead to uncomfortable, complicated conversations. It’s at the same time convenient and inconvenient. Her path towards claiming the word reminded me much of my own, which I wrote about in the past for Libby’s blog. Since my early days where the most I could say was that I was an “egalitarian,” I have really shifted into advocating for my fellow women and calling out sexism where I see it.

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At the risk of touching two hot-button topics in one post, I want to point out the passage above. It is so simple and eloquent and also holds up a mirror to the “Black Lives Matter” vs “all lives matter” movements.

Let’s go back to the title for a moment. We should ALL be feminists. All oppressed people need allies. Women, while not overtly oppressed in the way we have been for centuries, still get the short end of the stick when it comes to safety, job opportunities, sexist media coverage, etc. It is crucial to loop men at all levels into this conversation. My husband will tell anyone willing to listen why he is a feminist. He raves about how many members of upper management in his company are women. His journey has been inspiring to me and makes our life journey together stronger.

What a day to tackle this post. Hillary Clinton has just become the first woman to be nominated as a Presidential candidate by one of America’s two major parties. (Notably, the Green Party and others have had female candidates in the past). Not having a major candidate has frustrated us (women) for years, yet the political pipeline is still lacking in volume of qualified candidates. Bit by bit, this is changing. Women who were in high school and college during the heady “grrl power” days of the 90s are hitting a good stride in their political careers. We are seeing more women at various levels elected office. This trend must continue!

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I’m going to keep this short since the source material was short. Instead of reading my thoughts, read the mini-book (it will only take about 3o minutes) and let me know your thoughts in the comments. If you’d rather listen instead of reading, you can listen to the TedxTalk (which was closely adapted into this book) here on YouTube.

Truly, I feel like I covered most of what I think about gender roles (and lack thereof) and feminism in the piece I wrote for Libby this spring. I’m still proud of it and I will still talk anyone’s ear off about how my husband is a feminist and what it’s like to be in a feminist marriage.

Our b11bookhenriquez1-master180-v2ook for August will be The Book of Unknown Americans which has been on my “to-read” list for probably about a year now. Over the past two years I’ve been making a concerted effort to read highly reviewed books by writers of color so I couldn’t be more ready to tackle this. This NYT review from two years ago sounds like it could have been written today. So excited Steph suggested it! As always, you’re invited to read along and discuss your thoughts during the month or at the end of the month on one of our respective blog posts!