The Weird Sisters

I did something I almost never do before reading The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.  I read reader reviews on GoodReads.

As usual it was a mistake.

While there were more good reviews than bad, I focused on what the people had to say in the “bad” reviews.  Because I am all obsessive like that.  Luckily these reviews didn’t sway my excitement to start reading, but I wish I hadn’t read them.  I don’t like going into a new book with other people’s opinions just like I don’t like meeting a student after hearing what other teachers have to say about him/her.

Nerd Alert:  The thing that attracted me to this book the most was the fact that it was heavily doused in Shakespeare references and quotes.  Yup, I am an English teacher through and through.  Although I don’t think you need to know really anything about Shakespeare to enjoy this book…but if you happen to know even a little about The Bard and any of his work, it will be that much more pleasurable.

One of the more annoying reader comments I saw was that “the title doesn’t fit the book.  The sisters aren’t weird.”  You don’t need a PhD in Shakespeare’s Literature to know why this comment is ignorant.  The text of the book explains this to the reader over and over.  The original “weird sisters” were the three witches from MacBeth by William Shakespeare.  And Shakespeare actually used the original Anglo-Saxon spelling “wyrd” which meant “fated” or “destined”.

The title is definitely spot-on with this definition of the word “weird”.

The novel is about three sisters in their late 20’s/early 30’s: Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia (all names taken from Shakespeare’s plays) who grew up with a father who was not just obsessed with The Bard, but was a professor of Shakespeare at the local college.

Each sister took a different path in life.  Rose, the eldest, stayed close to home after getting her PhD and became a professor of mathematics and met the man she is currently engaged to marry.  Bianca, the middle sister whom they call Bean, fled to NYC in order to escape small-town life.  And Cordelia, nicknamed Cordy, is the youngest–a free-spirit who dropped out of college and roamed the country living off whatever she could.

The common denominator that brings them all back home is that their mother has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has to undergo chemo and radiation and a mastectomy.

But each sister is home for another reason too…each has a secret that draws them back to their Shakespeare-quoting, book-obsessed family.  A long-distant relationship, fear of change, fear of sameness, embezzlement, an unplanned pregnancy.  While they say they are there for their mother, the sisters are a bit wrapped up in their own problems as well.

Another hurdle some readers have had with this book is the point of view it is written in.  It’s first person, but it’s plural…and omniscient.  It’s as if the story is being told from all the sisters at the same time…that they are one.  I have never read a book from this sort of perspective and I loved it.  It was definitely symbolic of the fact that even though the sisters didn’t have that stereotypical closeness some literary sisters have (I’m thinking of the March sisters in Little Women), there was still a unity there.  A knowing of each other better than anyone else.

This book honestly re-sparked my need to read.

Not because I have sisters and I can relate so well, but because it was just a GOOD BOOK.

I can only imagine that having sisters enhances the reading experience much like my knowledge of Shakespeare enhanced mine.  It’s not required, but it’s nice.

I have been in sort of a funk lately only sort of enjoying the books that I’ve been reading.  I miss the feeling of having a book I look forward to all day long and then can’t put down even though I need the sleep.

This book was like that.  Yes, I had a deadline so I could do this review, but I blew that deadline out of the water.  And I am already halfway through my next book.

I loved and hated something about each character in this book.  That made them real to me.  That made the book worth reading.

Interested in the book?  Come read more reviews and check out our discussion at  BlogHer Book Club.

Note: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Why Women Need Fat

A few months ago when I joined BlogHer Ad Network, I also had the opportunity to sign up to be part of BlogHer Book Club and be reviewer.

I jumped at the chance.  Especially since I got these sexy reading helpers, I was excited to dive back into the joy of reading!

The first book I signed on to read was Why Women Need FatYup.  I know.  Women needing fat.  I saw it too.  That is why I signed up for it all the while praying, “please don’t be a ploy…please don’t be a ploy….”

 

I guess you could say I was skeptical…I mean, it’s written by two dudes.  But it didn’t take long for this book to draw me in and win me over.

First of all, I love the way it is organized.  The introduction lays out the problem so many of us have.  We weigh more than our mothers did; we weigh more after having babies; and we diet with yo-yo results.  Then it tells us how it is going to break down the problems and give us solutions.

As a teacher, I was already nodding my head.  This sort of set up is best practice for people to actually learn something.  Nice.

Then the book is divided into three parts, sort of a cause/effect organization:  Part 1:  Why and How we Got Fatter, Part 2: Why Women Need Fat (talking mostly about figure and why women are shaped the way they are), and Part 3: How to Achieve Your Healthy Natural Weight.  And yes, it includes being able to eat that dessert up there on the cover of the book.  YUM!

I had about a million “ah-ha moments”, as Oprah would call them, as I read this book.

The first part of the book blew my mind.  I always thought fat-free and low-fat foods seemed to be, well, missing something, but I had no idea that what was missing was actually better for you than what it was replaced with.  And that the dietary guidelines are all just another part of a huge political money thing.  You know, like everything else in America.

The second part of the book expanded on my knowledge of why women are built the way they are by discussing why it’s better for women to have bigger hips and butts compared to their waistline, and how this actually benefits the babies we have.

The third part mainly reiterated what you can gather from parts 1 and 2 about how to better your health, lose weight, and stay there.

I loved this book because it is saying what I believed all along:  DIETING DOES NOT WORK.  Americans diet more than any other country (because we are fatter.  because we are eating chemically made fat that makes us unhealthy by saying it’s healthy.  seriously, read the book) and yet we are the fattest.  STILL.

Finding your natural weight (yes, it exists.  We are not all meant to be a size 2.  Genetics DO have something to do with things, you know), eating REAL food (not crap that was chemically altered to be edible.  ::shudder::), and regular exercise will help you lower your weight.

The problem is it’s not all drastic and insane…the results that Americans like.

We are a nation that feeds off from instant gratification instead of steady hard work that will pay off eventually.  We want things NOW.

This book teaches what I always believed:  being healthy is a way of life.  But they have science and studies to back them up.

Oh, and a wicked sweet appendix breaking down foods and their good vs bad fats–including popular fast foods.

So to review…

I loved this book because it tells me I can eat REAL butter, REAL chocolate, lots of fruit and still be healthy. And I will probably be cutting out as much vegetable and soy oil as humanly possible.  Blech.

I say that is a win.

Want to see what people are saying about the book and it’s tips and claims?  You can check out our chats in the BlogHer Book Club.

Talk to me about what you do to stay healthy?  Do you pay attention to fats or calories?  Do you exercise?  I would LOVE for 2012 to be the year Sluiter Nation gets healthy and stays that way.

NOTE: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.