the Rory Gilmore challenge

Let me quickly set the stage for this bujo spread and rewind to 2016. I came across a list on HelloGiggles that ranked 15 of the books Rory is seen reading in Gilmore Girls – here’s the list: https//hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/lets-rank-books-rory-gilmore-read-gilmore-girls/

I LOVE Gilmore Girls, even saying that is probably an understatement, it’s one of my favourite shows, and I see a lot of my own relationship with my mom in Lorelai and Rory. So when I saw this list, I bookmarked it and told myself that I would read all the books on this list.

Fast forward to about a month ago, when a couple of my bookstagram friends (@readwithsam and @readcaffinated – check them out!) announced the #2020RGchallenge. The challenge is simple, you read books from a list with ALL of the books Rory is seen reading in the show according to the prompts of the challenge.

The only hard part is deciding which ones to read! The ‘master’ list I’m following was created by Clarisse over at Copper Boom (https://copperboom.fr/the-rory-gilmore-reading-checklist-free-printable/) and has a whopping……………..wait for it…………………..

339 books!

I repeat, 339 books! Isn’t that wild? It seems a little overwhelming at first, but I *think* I’ve figured out which books I’m going to read!

So, what are the prompts and what did you choose, you may ask. Here ya go (although they may change)!

Prompts

  • read a children’s book – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • read a classic – Rebecca
  • read a book that intimidates you – Pride and Prejudice
  • re-read a book – The Outsiders
  • read a book by an author you’ve never read before – A Clockwork Orange or Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
  • read a book by a BIPOC author – Beloved
  • read a book with a school setting – Jane Eyre
  • read a non-fiction book – Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

All of this leads up to my actual bujo spread! I tried to take bits and pieces of the show and incorporate them into the spread in a fun way. Bonus points if you know what each little picture represents in the show!

Have you heard of the Rory Gilmore Reading challenge? It’s a goal of mine to read as many books as possible on the list!

#spinemyname stack challenge

“I like good strong words that mean something”

Jo – Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

My dear friend over on bookstagram challenged me to #spinemyname a few days ago. This was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be! Not only do I have a pretty long (9 letter) name, but it was tricky to find titles beginning with “e” and “l”. I’ve never wished that my name contained a “t” more than while I was looking for titles. Everything seems to start with “the”.

I had grand ambitions to pick a bunch of books that truly reflect me, books that I absolutely adored. However, as it turns out, you can’t be too picky when you’re restricted to the letters of your name, who knew? 😂

Full disclosure, I haven’t read all of these books yet, specifically, Girl, Woman, Other, Becoming, Rebecca, I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, and Emma – I know, I know, I’m getting to them, I swear!

Anyways, lo and behold, ………….drumroll please………….my name in books!

Girl, Woman, Other
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Becoming
Rebecca
I've Been Meaning to Tell You
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Little Women
Lullabies for Little Criminals
Emma

Do you see any you like? I absolutely love all the one’s I have read.

The Henna Artist

By Alka Joshi

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

A thousand miles from the tiny village where I’d started, I was finally home.

Alka Joshi – The Henna Artist

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41014401-the-henna-artist?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=ReuLSnwAf7&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CwF5C2

Review

You know when people say that books are a form of travel without leaving the comfort of your own home? The Henna Artist encompasses that feeling so well, as you read you travel to 1950’s India. The author did an amazing job of submersing you in the culture and social setting. From the difficulties individuals faced due to their caste to the ideals surrounding pregnancy, to the descriptions of food —- I could almost taste the food and see the sights described in the book. The writing is truly incredible.

As we follow Lakshmi through her journey to create a better life for herself and find a sense of peace with deciding to take a new path, you learn about the work and passion that goes into creating these beautifully intricate henna designs. Not only is, Lakshmi incredibly strong, but she literally built her business from the ground up, in hopes that eventually she would have the means bulid her dream house and have her parents come live with her.

The way that Lakshmi and Radha begin to foster a relationship is both beautiful and complex. How do you jump into a relationship with a sister you didn’t know you had? You definitely feel as though you’re there, going through the ups and downs of new-found sisterhood with them.

I could go on and on about how much I love Lakshmi as a character, but a piece of my heart was stolen by Malik! There’s something about him that just makes you smile and you want to get to know more about him.

Overall, this book rooted in culture and independence, and my heart was so happy by the end of it. I highly recommend picking it up!

Zoom call with Alka Joshi!

Back in March I was supposed to attend an event hosted by HarperCollins in Ottawa with Alka Joshi and Joanna Goodman (the author of The Home for Unwanted Girls). Unfortunately, due to COVID closures, the event was cancelled. I was supposed to get a copy of the book at the event, and with book stores having been closed I didn’t get around to actually grabbing a copy.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when stores were beginning to open again here. I was talking to my friend and told her that I had almost bought the book, and she said “well good thing you didn’t because I saw it at the store today and I bought us both copies”. Needless to say, I was PUMPED to finally get my hands on the book!

So, I made a bookstagram post about this very story, explaining how happy I was to finally have the book and another bookstagrammer commented saying that her bookclub the #🇨🇦bookenablers is reading the book this month. AND wait for it………they have a Zoom call planned with Alka Joshi that I could join in on if I wanted to! I kid you not, I cried from excitement, knowing that I was FINALLY going to get to speak with and listen to this amazing woman.

We spent the call asking questions about the book, Alka’s writing process, her life, and how she ended up being a pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club! I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with authors like this before, and it was truly a phenomenal experience. Alka is an amazing woman and I can’t wait to read her future work!

The Vanishing Half

By Brit Bennett

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

“You can escape a town, but you cannot escape blood. Somehow, the Vignes twins believed themselves capable of both.”

Brit Bennett – The Vanishing Half

Synopsis (Goodreads)

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51791252-the-vanishing-half?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=CmxxDe8ZU9&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3hmmYO0

Review

So begins the story of the Vignes twins, and how they eventually part ways, living very different lives on different sides of a racial divide. I find the above quote to be one of the most important in the book (although there are SO MANY AMAZING ONES), because it encompasses the story so well. 

Desiree and Stella leave their small town of Mallard, a town where the founder had a dream for each generation of Black families to be lighter than the one before them. They end up in New Orleans, where Stella eventually takes a job where she actively passes as White. She falls in love with a White man and doesn’t tell him where she’s from or anything about her background, moves away and doesn’t speak to her family. Living a life she’s dreamed of, where she is not discriminated against for the colour of her skin. 

Desiree, unsure of where her sister has gone, moves on and marries a Black man, but eventually ends up back in Mallard with her daughter, living with her mother, as if she’d never left.

Both sisters “escape” Mallard, but ultimately they can’t escape blood with Desiree returning home and Stella battling her own thoughts. About how she thinks she should be treating Black people, how things might had been different had she not chosen this life, about leaving her sister.

A story spanning decades, about not only Desiree and Stella, but their children, Jude and Kennedy, and how their lives differ is beautiful. The relationship between Jude and Reese is beautiful, everything about this story is beautiful and thought-provoking.

This book deserves all the ⭐️ possible, I truly wish I could read it for the first time again. Please, please pick it up and give it a read! When you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

With the Fire on High

By Elizabeth Acevedo

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

 “The world is a turntable that never stops spinning; as humans we merely choose the tracks we want to sit out and the ones that inspire us to dance” 

With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo

Synopsis (Goodreads)

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38739562-with-the-fire-on-high?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=SL8QPuYqlG&rank=2

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/32CCb9n

Review

This was an incredibly rich story, with so much for you to think about. Seeing Emoni grow and follow her passion was beautiful. The way that she uses food to showcase her family and her culture is amazing, and drool-worthy, honestly, it all sounded amazing!

I really loved the way that Emoni’s journey through parenthood was talked about, and how you felt like you were with her through the good times, as well as the doubts. Her relationship with her grandmother and how she helped her care for Emma was wonderful. She truly is strong and selfless character.

I also enjoyed that Emoni’s friendship with Angelica. Through thick and thin, they were both there for one another, and that’s something that shines through at various points in the story.

I partially listened to this as an audiobook and I highly recommend! It’s narrated by the author herself and is amazing! 

From Scratch

By Tembi Locke

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

“We had to begin at an ending and make a new beginning.”

Tembi Locke – From Scratch

Synopsis (Goodreads)

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.

Link:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42202117-from-scratch?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=pyYDaoyGyM&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/30yoLZo

Review

Tembi takes you through her first experience in Italy, where she met Saro, and how his family was initially unaccepting of her due to her race. But this memoir is so much more than Tembi’s love for her late husband, it’s about how she heals and copes following his death, how she extended this to her daughter, Zoela (which is a name I just adore!), and how she cultivated her new beginning with her mother-in-law in Sicily. 

This memoire is equal parts beautiful and heart-wrenching. Tembi is extremely open with how she copes and finds her way. She reminds us (or even informs some of us) that no matter your age, the grief following the loss of a loved one is an immense feeling that you can or that you will struggle, and that’s ok. That you will always have the memories, and that you can find light in the darkest times.

The writing is lyrical, so much so that often I forgot that I was reading about the events that someone actually experienced, and the descriptions were beautiful. I truly felt like I was walking down through Sicily alongside Tembi.

I definitely recommend giving this a read, the interactions between her and her husband, and her relationship with her daughter is inexplicably beautiful. As an added bonus, she includes recipes for dishes that she references throughout the book, some of which were her husbands recipes.