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Swingland: Between the Sheets of the Secretive, Sometimes Messy, but Always Adventurous Swinging Lifestyle by Daniel Stern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a former mystical Golden Unicorn, I am mildly disappointed that Swingland was not written for me (an embarrassing product of my Unicorn entitlement), but for an audience of men who may be interested in the Lifestyle. The writer's tone, though, is accessible to all and user-friendly, making it easy to overstep societal boundaries to safely experiment as a voyeur in the realm of the taboo.

In his book, Daniel Stern offers up his own unabashed experiences and practical insights as to the private counter-culture of the swinger's lifestyle. Filled with etiquette cues needful for avoiding swingers' faux pas, Swingland can accurately be described as a manual for no-strings-attached, group sexual activity. Filled with practical advice built from anecdotal evidence, Stern puts potential newbies in the know regarding situation specific topics such as setting up profiles on swinger's websites that get noticed, the Photoshop conundrum, and Lifestyle lingo that will have you talking the talk like a pro. After contacts are made, Stern offers guidance regarding meet-and-greets, courteous and successful house party hosting, and respecting both hard and soft-limit boundaries of new playmates. Particularly impressive is his ability to create a clear dialog explaining common snares and pitfalls for the single man to avoid when seeking playpartners, be they single women, married couples, or groups.

Swingland opens the door to a growing society previously hidden to mainstream America, filled with warmth, humor, and the ever present, neatly folded stack of hand-towels. Condoms not optional.

Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of SpiritualityIndie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality by Chris Grosso
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Chris Grosso Separates the Wheat From the Bullshit

With a table of contents that reads like a playlist, Indie Spiritualist author, Chris Grosso, is brutally honest as he shares his journey in carving out a path in his own darkness to find personal meaning and true value in his own spiritual truth.

At a Snatam Kaur Indian devotional/ kirtan music performance I attended last spring, Kaur shared an observation that in this culture, yoga is practiced with a pastel mat rolled up under one arm and a Starbucks coffee in your opposite hand. By contrast, in India, Yogis own no possessions, but a loincloth and a begging bowl; yoga is an inward spiritual practice that requires no trendy accessories, only solitude. Our spirituality has been bottled, bought, and trademarked.

Am I Beautiful?Am I Beautiful? by Chine Mbubaegbu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very personal telling of the marginalization experienced by the author, being both a woman and a woman of color, contrasted with the Truth as presented in God's Word; that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Chine Mbubaegbu revitalizes the Barbie argument, citing that with worldwide sales reaching one billion, 90% of girls between the ages three and ten own a Barbie doll. Combined with the fact that a girls's lifelong body-image is fully developed by the tender age of eight, its no wonder we, as adult women, come into agreement with female objectification and resent our bodies for failing to reach impossible standards.

The Bell JarThe Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved everything about this book. I especially loved The Bell Jar's symmetry... the electrocution of the Rosenbergs, and Esther Greenwood's electroshock therapy; the bird coming out of the egg in the fig tree and Esther's witnessing "a baby coming out of a woman"

Such a Pretty FatSuch a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is NOT a feminist memoir.

Or is it?

I'm a fan of reading books on women's issues and feminism, and I generally shy away from books that attack less-empowered women, but I have to say; Jen Lancaster's bitching definitely works in her favor.

I've just finished re-reading Such a Pretty Fat, and, just like the virgin read, by the time I closed this book's cover, I felt both a vicarious giddy, ridiculous self-acceptance, and a also little smug.

Such a Pretty Fat is a memoir chronicling the author's struggles with her own body image and weight loss. Jen makes repeated conflicting statements about her comfort with her own body weight, yet, throughout the book, she hypercritically projects her insecurities onto other women- women she encounters who more closely resemble the idealized feminine form. Whatever flaws she may have, this great memoir reads to some degree like a pissy note passed in high school.

Jen Lancaster feels like best-friend material. She's a myriad of inconsistencies; she somehow manages to come off as both dainty and foul, self-indulgent and overly-critical of herself. It was a pleasure to share her journey through weight loss, and easy to root for her, even at her worst. I feel the need to defend her, to push the point that she is NOT a hot mess, only deeply insightful and multifaceted. This book is worth reading. TWICE.

Besides, in the end, even Barbie redeems herself.

Life just doesn't get any better than that.

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