I’ve had a lot of dreams and career aspirations throughout my life. When I was very young, despite having no idea what the job actually entailed, I wanted to be an engineer like my father. For a brief period around first or second grade I wanted to be a car mechanic simply because I saw so few women doing that job. And then I wanted to be a rocket scientist – to that end, I even went to Space Camp. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted, pretty desperately, to be a writer (and yes, I still want that). I wanted to be, and in fact successfully became, a librarian.
But through all of that, through every new interest and dream, there’s been something that has persisted in the background. I’ve also always wanted to be a mother. I remember being only seventeen, and still in high school which seems unbelievable now, and knowing with a bone-deep surety that I wanted to be a mother. I’m not sure why or how I knew this: I don’t have a big family and I only ever babysat once or twice so I’d never really been around young kids. I liked kids, but as it is I’m a pretty awkward person around grown-ups (yes, even still) and I didn’t really feel any more comfortable around kids.
But I knew. I wanted to be a mother. I was going to go after my career aspirations whole-heartedly and pursue all my other ambitions as well, but in the end the thing that mattered to me the most was having a family.
That dream finally came true for me, and honestly? I’m as happy as I thought I would be. I’m one of those lucky, lucky people who got exactly what she wanted and was content with it. Whatever else happens in my life, I feel like this – my beautiful daughter – is enough.
I realized pretty quickly after she was born that having a baby was the easy part. (And by no means is that “easy”!) Now I had to raise the baby! She was going to grow and change and become her own person – and that was an exhilarating, amazing thought, but it’s also terrifying! There’s so much advice out there for new mothers, and some of it – a lot of it, even – is genuinely helpful. But there’s also so much advice that doesn’t apply. So much that wasn’t relevant to me. And even advice that positioned the way it described as the “right” way, or the only way.
That’s why my philosophy, and the philosophy of this blog is: D.I.Y Motherhood. Or, motherhood that you figure out for yourself! I want to share my experiences and help other moms navigate this scary, exciting time, but I also want to advocate for moms who may not have a traditional experience. Everyone is different. Working moms, or stay-at-home moms. Moms with a supportive partner, or single moms. Moms with one child, or moms with several. Moms who knew they wanted babies, or moms for whom this journey may be unexpected and frightening.
D.I.Y. Motherhood means dealing with parenthood on your own terms. We’re all different, with countless sets of unique circumstances, and there’s not really advice out there that’s “one size fits all.” I want to encourage moms – and new parents, not just moms, though that is the focus – to find what works best for them. Because even though raising our kids is now a huge part of our lives, we’re more than just “mom.” We need to remember to take time for ourselves, to focus on our identities outside of parenthood. Build the motherhood that works best for you!
Personally, I work full time. I have a very supportive husband and right now only one child. As I said, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was the privilege of raising a child. But that doesn’t define me. As much as I love my daughter, I’ve found that the role of “mom” is one that’s harder to slip into. Where do I draw the line? How do I navigate a changing identity and stay who I am?
Welcome to my journey, everyone. I hope to share this with you, and maybe I can offer some advice to those who need it, and learn a few things myself.
This month, I am so excited about the book club choice. This is a book I’ve been waiting for ever since I heard it was coming out, and you can be sure I preordered it so I’d have it waiting for me after work on the day of release! For November, I have chosen…
The Stareless Sea by Erin Morgenstern!
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues—a bee, a key, and a sword—that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians—it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also of those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose—in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
I love this sort of book – literary braided with the fantastical – and I have so excited to get my hands on this. Now, contrary to my usual tendencies, I haven’t read any reviews. I want to go into this with a totally blank slate. I don’t want to know anything about it – I want it to be a completely fresh experience.
You might know Erin Morgenstern from her first book, The Night Circus, which is one of my favorite books. Probably one of my top twenty books of all time, to be honest.
If you read The Starless Sea let me know what you thought! I’ll be posting updates on my Goodreads as I read.
If you’re anything like me, you always intend to work out a little more, but because of no motivation, or no time (or let’s be honest, a very demanding kid), it never seems to actually happen. I want to exercise more than I do – sometimes walking to and from my car to go to work is all I manage – but I always find it hard to actually make that happen. Recently, my husband and I have made a plan to start eating healthier and to get ourselves back into shape. Even if the new shape is still mostly the same as the old one, a little bit of exercise is better than none! The benefits of exercise are huge, no matter what your current fitness level is. Not everyone has a lot of time to devote to working out or going to the gym, and everyone has their own limitations for what they can or cannot do, but finding an exercise program that’s right for you is worth it.
If you’re like me, though, that’s not quite as easy as it sounds. So here a few tips I have to help you – and myself! – try to fit in a trip to the gym (or just a workout in your living room).
9 Ways to Get Motivated
This seems so simple when you think about it, but this is what I struggle with most! If I don’t make exercise a priority, I fall behind before I’ve even started. Be intentional with your exercise plan, and make it a priority. If you don’t treat it as something important to do, it’s much easier to skip it or put it off.
Tip: There’s a difference between making something a priority and letting it become so stressful it’s unsustainable! Commit to it, but stay flexible.
One thing that helps me is choosing a specific time to exercise. If I have a specific time set aside to work out, it becomes a little easier to build that habit. Habits are very powerful tools, and if you can get yourself into the mindset of “This is when I exercise,” then it becomes a little easier to find that time and show up for yourself every week. It might start out pretty tough, but after awhile, if you stay consistent, you’ll find that it has just become another part of your routine. However, it’s also important to remember that:
Setbacks Don’t Mean Failure
If you try your best and for whatever reason – maybe because you’re just not feeling up to it, or maybe for reasons totally beyond your control – you just can’t make it to the gym (or in my case in front of my TV to play Just Dance), don’t beat yourself up about it! This is a tendency I’ve noticed in myself. If one little thing goes wrong, then it feels like all my hard work was for nothing and sometimes I just give up. Don’t! Remember that you’re doing this for yourself, and there’s no hard rules. If you can’t work out one week, do it next week. You can always pick right back up when you’re feeling better or when you have more time. It’s perfectly normal to have a few setbacks now and then, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to recommit! Give yourself a break, enjoy the rest if you need it, and then get right back at it.
When you do push past those setbacks, though, rewarding yourself for your hard work can be a great motivator. If you’ve been consistently getting all your work outs in, and you’ve really pushed yourself, be proud! Let yourself bask in your accomplishments. Give yourself a little happy for doing well. This can be a cheat day where you eat that bag of M&M’s you’ve been saving (speaking from personal experience here), or maybe a trip to the mall, or maybe something as simple as a really pretty sticker on your work-out planner or bujo spread (again, speaking from personal experience here). If you have something to look forward to, that you know you’ll get if you keeping working out, it might be a little easier to keep going!
I don’t know about you, but if I have a cute new outfit I’m always looking for an excuse to wear it. The same thing applies to working out. If you have work out clothes, then just putting them on – again, being consistent is so important! – can get you in the mood to work out. And looking cute is, at least in my opinion, something of its own reward.
Tip: You don’t need to splurge for cute clothes! I know that Lululemon and Fabletics are nice, but you don’t need an aspirational brand unless it’s what works for you and your budget. There are lots of great options that are very cute and very budget friendly.
Work Out Buddy
Some people can succeed only accountable to themselves, but I am not one of them. When I’m the only person overseeing my work, I’m going to let myself slide every time. What helps me is having a friend to work out with. We can hold each other accountable, support each other, and make going to the gym a little more fun. When I was in college two friends and I went swimming every Monday night. It was a good workout and it was a lot of fun! (I do love swimming, though, so that helped.) I started looking forward to Monday, because not only was I getting some exercise I was getting to hang out with two great friends. If you can, whether it’s a significant other or sibling or friend or whoever, having a work out buddy is a great way to keep yourself – keep both of you! – on track.
Find Something You Enjoy
Exercising can often feel like a chore. This is doubly so when you’re doing something you don’t enjoy. I don’t like running or jogging, so trying to force myself to get out to do that feels almost impossible. Even when a friend and I were doing the Couch-to-5K system, it was so difficult to keep going! I hated it! It’s much, much easier to keep exercising when you’re doing something you like. This can be yoga, swimming, cycling, hiking, dancing, spin class… There are lots of options out there, you just need to find what works for you! If you live in an area without a lot of gyms or health clubs, then I would suggest looking for different exercise routines on YouTube. If you can find somebody fun to watch, and work outs that you enjoy, it can help exercising feel like less of a chore.
Some people exercise to train for a marathon, or to get into better shape – and for things like that, it’s easy to set measurable goals. Even if you’re just doing it for general, non-specific health reasons, having goals can really help keep you motivated. (And remember when I said reward yourself? Meeting those goals can be a great benchmark for those rewards!) Maybe your goal is to exercise twice every week, or go for a brisk walk 30 minutes every day. One of my goals is to walk 10,000 steps every day at work. Do I meet it everyday? No. But having that goal always pushes me to try a little harder than I would have otherwise! You can make flexible goals that work for you, and don’t be afraid to reassess to make sure you’re still on the right track.
Just Get There
Sometimes, no matter what your goals are, no matter what rewards are waiting, no matter what you’ve done… You may just not have the energy to work out at all. And if you need to take a day off, remember that that’s okay! But one thing you can do, is just get there. Put on your workout clothes, or put on that workout video, or just get to the gym. Just get there, whatever that means for you. You might find that you feel like doing more than you thought you did! And if not, then you can be proud of yourself for getting there at all. Sometimes just showing up is enough, and if you keep showing up, you might find you’ll feel like working out after all.
So those are my 9 tips to help you get motivated! I’m trying to follow them myself, because I really want to get back into the habit of exercising! I’ve tried to make these tips as universal as possible, so no matter your situation I hope you can find something that works for you! I know that a lot of people want to exercise to lose weight, which is great if that’s what you want, but I also believe that exercise is a good habit to get into even if you have no interest whatsoever in losing weight.
If any of these tips work for you let me know! Or, what does work for you? Share your own tips in the comments!
Since October is when you can really start to feel the crisp bite of fall, and because it’s Halloween, I wanted to choose a ~spookier~ read. Don’t worry – nothing too scary! But for this month I have chosen a classic from a titan of American literature: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I really like Jackson’s work – you’re probably at least familiar with her short story “The Lottery.”
Shirley Jackson’s beloved gothic tale of a peculiar girl named Merricat and her family’s dark secret
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis,We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.
There was also a movie put out recently, but I haven’t seen it! It might be fun to watch it with the book, though, right?
Keep an eye out for my review of September’s book soon! I’m trying to be really thorough and write up a really good review, so it has taken me longer than I expected.
So, if you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably noticed that I love my cats. Yes, I love my kid – of course I do! – but she’s harder to photograph, and cats won’t ever complain about having their pictures online. We have three adorable kitties, so now it’s time to say hello! (I am not talented enough to stage photos with these ornery little guys, so these photos are all candid lol)
The Grumpy One
Nar Nar is my cat, the one who hates everyone else but absolutely adores me. She’s about seven years old, and she is fluffy and fat. I love her very much, naturally, but my husband likes to jokingly disparage her. I got her because some friends of ours found her as a kitten in the parking lot of their apartment complex, tiny and alone. They called and asked if I wanted a cat and, well… How could I say no?! We think she might be part Main Coon, because of how she looks. Her favorite activities are lumping and grumping. She is very wary of the baby – not unfriendly or mean, but she definitely doesn’t tolerate any impromptu hugs. The cutest thing is that my daughter can say “Nar Nar” so she’ll just go around going “Meow” and “Nar Nar” and pointing at the cats!
The Friendly One
Crowley is a cat that my husband fell in love with one day at the pet store. We were buying food for our other cat – Nar Nar – and wandered by a display the local humane society had at PetCo. Crowley was a little kitten and as soon as he saw us he started going on and on with the cutest, most pitiful little meows. He followed us as we walked by, putting his little paws up on the glass. We hadn’t planned on another cat, but we were worried Nar Nar might be lonely, and he was just so, so cute! So we wound up taking him home and it turned out to be a great decision. He is such a sweet, handsome boy, always really friendly and loving.
The Rambunctious One
Our third kitty is named Dewey, and we definitely didn’t plan on him. One day last winter he wandered into the library where I work, trying to get out of the cold. The patron he came in behind said that he’d been following for a few blocks, so I’m not sure where he came from, but he was thin with no collar and we never found any owner, so I think he must have been a stray. They were going to call the animal shelter, but I thought well, I could certainly give him a good home! Some of the other staff suggested “Dewey” for his name, and it wound up sticking. He is a troublemaker, and so full of energy. Crowley gets along with him, but Nar Nar was not impressed. My daughter loves Dewey so much – they’ve kind of grown up together, and it’s really cute when she pets him.
We love our pets, and I’m so glad that we’re able to give them all a good home! One day my husband wants to get a dog, too, but right now with three cats, an 18 month old, and a teeny tiny yard it just isn’t the right time. I love dogs, and I grew up with dogs, but I think I’m more of a cat person. That’s just me!
Anyone else have any super cute pets to share? I love animals, and hearing other people’s adorable animals stories is so great! Leave a comment with a pic or a story of your furry friend! (And before anyone asks, we have a cat door that goes to our garage that can lock, and that’s where we keep the litter boxes. Baby can’t get in there!)
I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.
-Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Hello, everyone, and happy October! It’s the first day of ~spooky~ season, and for the next 31 days I’m going to be posting one blog post everyday! I’ve seen this called “blogtober” before, and while I’m not participating in anything in any sort of formal way, I would like to try to build a habit of updating a little more often.
So What Can You Expect?
Well, I have a lot of great things planned here at Crafty Modern Momma (I always seem to have great things planned, with either no time or no motivation to execute them lol). You can expect a post on my favorite Newborn Essentials for baby, my October book club post (which is coming very soon! That will be the post tomorrow), Quick and Cheap Halloween Costumes, an autumn-themed playlist and more. If there’s anything you’d like to see let me know in a comment, and I’ll try to cover it!
Today is the first day of fall, the autumnal equinox, in which day and night are the same length. I’m always hit with a sense of sadness at the end of something, even something as perennial as summer. I handle this feeling as I handle most little setbacks in my life – by jumping into a book. With summer at a close, there won’t be any more beach reads! I can’t decide which I like better – fun, easy books to match the vacation atmosphere, or dense, complex books since I have the time to parse them. Sometimes you do want something that will enhance that easy-going, relaxed vibe, books that are as delicious and quick as candy. But on vacation, with so few worries, isn’t that the perfect time to really dive into a difficult book you’ve always wanted to read? You finally have the time you need to really enjoy it! I’ll read just about anything at just about any time, though, so maybe I’m an anomaly.
Have you read something great this summer? I’d love to hear about it! And, for those of you like me who aren’t looking forward to that creep towards winter, here are a few end of summer reads to take your mind off it!
10 End of Summer Reads
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.
When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.
A joyful, hilarious, and hope-filled debut, Evvie Drake Starts Over will have you cheering for the two most unlikely comebacks of the year—and will leave you wanting more from Linda Holmes.
(I’m reading Evvie Drake Starts Over for my September book club pick! Keep an eye out for a discussion post at the end of the month!)
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. The winds of his optimism, long dormant, had finally begun to pick up. Now this.
As Toby tries to figure out where Rachel went, all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new app-assisted sexual popularity, his tidy narrative of the spurned husband with the too-ambitious wife is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen things all that clearly in the first place.
A searing, utterly unvarnished debut, Fleishman Is in Trouble is an insightful, unsettling, often hilarious exploration of a culture trying to navigate the fault lines of an institution that has proven to be worthy of our great wariness and our great hope.
His Hideous Heart ed. by Dahlia Adler
Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways. Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining “Ligeia), Kendare Blake (“Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Amanda Lovelace (“The Raven”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.
As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story…until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.
Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s sordid past and into the secrets kept within its walls. What she discovers pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.
I Like to Watch by Emily Nussbaum
From her creation of the “Approval Matrix” in New York magazine in 2004 to her Pulitzer Prize–winning columns for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum has argued for a new way of looking at TV. In this collection, including two never-before-published essays, Nussbaum writes about her passion for television, beginning with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the show that set her on a fresh intellectual path. She explores the rise of the female screw-up, how fans warp the shows they love, the messy power of sexual violence on TV, and the year that jokes helped elect a reality-television president. There are three big profiles of television showrunners—Kenya Barris, Jenji Kohan, and Ryan Murphy—as well as examinations of the legacies of Norman Lear and Joan Rivers. The book also includes a major new essay written during the year of #MeToo, wrestling with the question of what to do when the artist you love is a monster.
More than a collection of reviews, the book makes a case for toppling the status anxiety that has long haunted the “idiot box,” even as it transformed. Through it all, Nussbaum recounts her fervent search, over fifteen years, for a new kind of criticism, one that resists the false hierarchy that elevates one kind of culture (violent, dramatic, gritty) over another (joyful, funny, stylized). I Like to Watch traces her own struggle to punch through stifling notions of “prestige television,” searching for a more expansive, more embracing vision of artistic ambition—one that acknowledges many types of beauty and complexity and opens to more varied voices. It’s a book that celebrates television as television, even as each year warps the definition of just what that might mean.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.
As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child.
As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.
Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Jia Tolentino is a peerless voice of her generation, tackling the conflicts, contradictions, and sea changes that define us and our time. Now, in this dazzling collection of nine entirely original essays, written with a rare combination of give and sharpness, wit and fearlessness, she delves into the forces that warp our vision, demonstrating an unparalleled stylistic potency and critical dexterity.
Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Tolentino writes about a cultural prism: the rise of the nightmare social internet; the advent of scamming as the definitive millennial ethos; the literary heroine’s journey from brave to blank to bitter; the punitive dream of optimization, which insists that everything, including our bodies, should become more efficient and beautiful until we die. Gleaming with Tolentino’s sense of humor and capacity to elucidate the impossibly complex in an instant, and marked by her desire to treat the reader with profound honesty, Trick Mirror is an instant classic of the worst decade yet.
As you can see, I’ve got something of a variety here, so hopefully you’ll be able to find at least one thing you might like. A collection of creepy YA shorts, essays, a rom-com, and two suspenseful stories (couldn’t help myself there, I love a good mystery). If you’ve read any of these let me know! And feel free to comment with any other great end of summer reads!
One thing about having is baby is that labor… is definitely labor. Delivering my child was probably one of the most painful experiences of my life – and I was lucky, with no complications. But after she was born I swore – immediately – that I was never doing it okay. No way, no thanks, not for me. I had my perfect, beautiful little baby and that was enough for me.
Or that’s what I thought.
Because now, when she’s a year and a half, I’m having… second thoughts. Wasn’t she worth every second of it? (Yes, absolutely.) And was it really as bad as I remember? (Also yes. But I’ve managed to block that out.) Would it be the worst thing if I had to do it again? Maybe I even… want to do it again? These thoughts keep running through my head and though I may not be a medical professional I think I have enough to diagnose this condition. It’s official.
It’s baby fever.
Thankfully, this condition is treatable. But the symptoms didn’t come out of nowhere. A lovely young woman at my work is expecting, as well as a close friend, and I know others who are trying. In addition to that, it just seems like babies are everywhere. Anywhere I turn they’re right there, with their cute, tiny clothes and their big, gummy smiles and their sweet baby smell. I would be perfectly happy with only one child – and honestly, for a number of reasons, that’s been my plan – but more and more lately I keep thinking how nice it would be if she had a sibling, and if I had another little bundle to snuggle and care for. I know, I know – this is temporary, it’ll pass, and it’s really only because I know several people who are pregnant now. But the feeling is pretty strong, and I will admit I’ve been browsing blogs and looking at lists of baby necessities and maybe wistfully going through the tiny newborn clothes my own daughter wore.
Does anyone else have “baby fever” right now? Any way to combat it? Let me know in the comments! In the meantime, I’ll go back to my browsing. If I can’t have a new baby (and we definitely can’t right now!) I can at least coo over other parents’!