The Steele Maiden Book Club: August

And we’re back with another chapter of my #SteeleMaidenBookClub (and what is quickly becoming one of the posts I look forward to the most each month). In July I really switched up the type of books I was reading (you can see last month’s here), from my standard, go-to fiction, to a more diverse range. And I was thrilled with the results. Below, my thoughts on July’s reading + what I’ve got on my shelf for August. Hope you’ll find something here you might like too!

The Woman in the Window by A.J.Finn: Without giving anything away – the story is set in New York and centers on a woman who has a fear of leaving the house so she spends her days watching her neighbors through the window. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a thriller (I guess there was Gone Girl a few years ago, but aside from that it’s probably been a decade) and this one didn’t disappoint. Although I must really be out of practice at reading thrillers because my co-worker read this in the weeks after I did and totally guessed one of the major plot twists that I hadn’t suspected. Alas. Either way it was a quick, edge of my seat read that I really enjoyed. Not surprisingly, it’s going to be made into a movie. Do yourself a favor and read the book first.

Motherhood by Shelia Heti: Where do I start with this one? It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It follows a loose storyline but is essentially just a stream of conscious, honest account of a 30-something year old woman thinking about her decision whether or not to have children. If you’ve wanted to be a mother since you were 5 years old or already are one.. this honestly might not be for you. But if you are a woman, who even once in her life has had the fleeting (or reoccurring) thought ‘I’m not sure if I’d be a great mother’, ‘I’m not sure if I really want to have kids’, ‘I’m not sure if kids would fit into the life I had dreamed for myself’, ‘I’m not sure if I want to have kids with my current partner’ etc. etc. – then I think this would really hit home.

I didn’t agree with everything here, but I don’t think that’s the point. The point is that for most of my life I’ve rarely heard women brave enough to say ‘I’m not sure if motherhood is for me’. I know a few who spoke about it being a firm no and almost all of the rest who seemed to follow the same societal script of ‘I can’t wait to get married and have kids’. Neither is right or wrong – but that grey area? It doesn’t get discussed as often as I think it should. Below, a few of the passages that I found particularly striking (and then I’ll move on):

“I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.”

“Being a woman, you can’t just say you don’t want a child. You have to have some big plan or idea of what you’re going to do instead. And it better be something great. And you had better be able to tell it convincingly – before it even happens – what the arc of your life will be.

“It suddenly seemed like a huge conspiracy to keep women in their thirties – when you finally have some brains and some skills and experience – from doing anything useful with them at all.”

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: This was a tough one. Not because I didn’t love it (I really, really loved it), but because I think I was secretly searching each page for an answer as to why his life would end the way it did. Anthony Bourdain is someone I always greatly respected and admired, and this book only cemented that. He was a man that lived really fully and wasn’t afraid to make mistakes or start over. I like a person that I think would have my back in a bar fight and he would certainly be one of those people. Aside from all of that, this book is sort of a exposé on all things in New York kitchens. It’s hilarious, humbling and at times heartbreaking. I finished the book with such an respect for the people who make a living in a kitchen, but not all the answers. Aside from the fact that sometimes it seems, even the best of us can get lost along the way. I only wish someone had been there to have his back in the fight.

SHOP THIS MONTH’S BOOK CLUB:

For this upcoming month I’m sticking with a variety of types of books since I loved the results of that in July so much. I’ve got Mrs. Fletcher (a romp of a read apparently), Station Eleven (YA fiction set in the aftermath of an apocalypse), The Female Persuasion (a very-buzzy current fiction pick that I’m excited to dive into about female relationships between mentors, friends, bosses, etc.) and Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography) on my shelf for August. Feel free to read along with me!

SHOP NEXT MONTH’S BOOK CLUB: