Winter Reading List 2016

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini, 2015, 256 pages

She starts off her book giving you a bullet point list of all her sins - adultery, sending hateful emails/texts, and being on occasion a horrible person. Just to get that out of the way so the Church of Scientology won't have anything to discredit her with. Before marrying, she said she treated men badly and didn't have much respect for them and talks about her promiscuous period in her early twenties. She says it came from her father because her heart had been broken. The church always made her guilt-ridden for her behavior and she was always beating herself up. Leah has given over $1 million to the church. She explains how the church makes ordinary people call their credit card up and up their limit to $10-25K and use that credit limit increase to make a donation to the church.

Leah is a funny lady so expect a lot of humor throughout the book. She shares stories of her first trip to Italy (for Tom Cruise's wedding) where no one knew who she was. How Tom Cruise's celeb-filled wedding was just a PR ploy. She tells stories of Tom behind the scenes and what an immature ass he is. Jennifer Lopez' stylist helped style her outfits for Italy because "I'm half Italian, so they could be planning a homecoming parade for me." She asked Tom's kids why they don't talk to Nicole Kidman and they said she was a 'Suppressed Person'. Katie Holmes wrote a knowledge report about Leah which said her behavior during her wedding weekend was "very upsetting" and "disturbed me greatly."

She was kicked off The Talk after one season which she honestly admits she was angry over for a long time. Her co-star Sharon Osborne once said, "The only reason you care (about this show) is because you're a loser, and you have nothing else going on in your life." She still struggles to fit in in Hollywood.

Leah said "There is no "right" way to be. I am flawed and imperfect but am uniquely me. I don't fit in and probably never will. And I don't have to try to anymore. That other person was a lie. And let's face it, normal is boring. We all have something to offer the world in some way, but by not being our authentic selves, we are robbing the world of something different, something special."

She thanks her husband for being with someone as annoying and trying as her. To the people she pissed off, personally and professionally, she asks for forgiveness because she's not sure much will change.

                                                                                              You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart, 2015, 274 pages
Comedian with her own youtube channel shares her hilarious drunken stories. It was rated one of the top humor books of 2015 by amazon and goodreads. We both stayed at the most random (now closed) motel in Key West, a clothing optional gay motel. I think I went off season because the pool was closed, but she shares some hilarious stories from her stay there. lol My college experience clearly was not as fun as hers! She's funny and crazy, watch out for a ballsy memoir that will have you laughing as you read!

The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee, 2009, 328 pages
I enjoy reading a lot of historical fiction but that typically involves World War II stories focused on the Holocaust. It's harder to find books that explore the non-Western experience. The Piano Teacher alternates between two different periods of time in Hong Kong and explores how lives in Hong Kong were affected by the Japanese invasion during World War II and life after the war. It's an interesting peak of life among the British ex-pats and their society which was a topic I knew nothing about.

The characters include Will's experience in an internment camp with other Westerners, and Trudy's attempts to make nice with the Japanese and provide for her own survival. Claire, the piano teacher, was much less interesting, and despite her title billing never seemed like a true protagonist. A young wife new to Hong Kong, Claire finds herself unexpectedly entangled in Will's secrets after they begin their own affair. I'd like to learn more about Hong Kong in this time period as a result of the 1940s sections of the book, but the 1950s chapters were just not very interesting, and some character traits (for example Claire's thefts that open the book) are not carried convincingly throughout the book.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, 2015, 336 pages
From an internationally bestselling author, here's an epic love story. It starts with Alma who fled Poland as a child to avoid the Nazis was sent to live with relatives in San Francisco in 1939. She befriends their Japanese gardener who later is sent to
internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When I went to Los Angeles a couple years ago I visited the Japanese American Museum I learned so much about this period in American history that I think is not well known. The book touches on some very historical events with great detail and touches on aging and friendship.

The Happy Vegan by Russell Simmons, 2015, 230 pages

As a vegetarian who loves cheese I thought I'd read this book, honestly not really expecting too much a celebrity book but I was really surprised as it gives a convincing argument for a vegan lifestyle. It's a tiny delightful book and an inspiring read. He dispels common misconceptions, explains the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the destruction of the environment, the horrors animals endure to feed us and even provides a helpful how-to guide to changing your lifestyle. I learned  that all the glass/plastic recycling I do does nothing compared to the impact of  environmental destruction by the meat industry and the large amount water it uses. He says you better check that your eggs are really "free-range" because the definition is very fluid.  Russell explains that once you transition to a plant-based diet your taste buds will change. He juices every day to make sure he's always getting enough leafy greens. Vegans can easily consume enough protein without eating animal products as there's enough protein in plants (beans, lentils, nuts, soy), as the average American eats too much protein. A few pages are dedicated to Bill Clinton and how he improved his health and heart disease through a vegan diet. Ellen DeGeneres says "she became a vegan because she loves animals and cares about the planet and her health. The way we are creating our food now is hurting both." I highly recommend you watch the documentary Forks Over Knives which connects how an animal based diet leads to health problems.

After You (Me Before You #2) by Jojo Moyes, 2015, 384 pages
This book is a sequel to the book Me Before You which is coming out as a movie in March. If you loved the first book like I did, you wanted to know what happened to the main character Lou afterward. Unfortunately, I have to say I didn't like it as much as the first book, isn't that what usually happens with sequels? But definitely check out the movie Me Before You.

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