Whimsy Scribble

Scribbler's Suggestions

5 Essay Collections To Add To Your Reading List

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment
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I've been making the effort to try and get more of the projects I've been working on up and posted, but realized it's been a long time since I posted some stuff from the non-crafty side of my life. I've always been an avid reader, though as most know, time and interest in reading varies over time. While I generally gravitate towards primarily science based non-fiction, recently I've been reading many more essay collections and loving them. It's so easy to fly through a collection in a night or two, a big difference from most of my non-fiction reads, which leaves you with a very different fleeting immersive reading experience. While compiling this list, I became aware that practically all of these authors have well-read blogs that inspired the books. So, if you are someone who enjoys reading blogs (I hope you do!) they are definitely worth checking out.

1. The Wrong Way To Save Your Life By Megan Stielstra

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It is a quick read, which I generally expect from essay collections, but I was really impressed by the varying format of essays. In some chapters, she succinctly summarizes major events of a decade of her life, simply highlighting major events, feelings, experiences etc from various years of her life. In other essays she goes into more depth of certain areas of her life such as her career in higher education, helping educate teachers about inclusiveness in their ever changing world of academia, or her experience as a new mother experiencing postpartum depression. 

What really stood out to me however was how strong her voice and personal opinion came through in all her writing. This is a very new book, published in the midst of the chaos of the Trump candidacy, and while this is far from a political book, her strong feelings ad frequent outrage about what is happening in our world was of course inevitably mentioned in certain essays. There was something comforting to me about reading her anecdotes. I very much connected to her voice and often felt like her views were a seamless combination of mine and my best friend's: almost like reading a transcript of a leisurely conversation of ours over a cup of tea. 

This book is one of the most enjoyable I've read in awhile.

2. I'll Tell You In Person By Chloe Caldwell

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This was a very fast, yet enjoyable read. It is somewhat forgettable as it is a self-proclaimed collection of essays from the life of a 30 year old who has not done anything particularly remarkable in life. For that reason however, it is quite relatable. Each essay keeps you reading on to the next, telling snippets of life going through teenage years and then through her 20's, dealing with changing relationships with parents and friends, drug abuse, skin problems, general growing up in a fairly average way. To her credit, the author manages to make the mundane enjoyable to read. 

3. People I Want To Punch In The Throat By Jen Mann

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For me, this was yet another somewhat forgettable collection of essays, which I still enjoyed reading. I think for many this collection would be much more relatable, but for me there were not very many essays in this collection that really struck home for me. Largely her essays deal with her experiences in motherhood and marriage - things I relate very little too. However, for people with more interest/experience in a typical suburban family life, this would be a great read. Her writing is very funny, if at times walking the line of hyperbole and stereotyping. 

4. We Are Never Meeting In Real Life By Samantha Irby

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I really loved this collection. Very quick and mostly light hearted, I would strongly recommend this as a "summer read" sort of book. The author is clearly a comedian and has a great skill at intertwining her wit into everything she is writing about - from her awkward romances and "less than perfect" body to her disinterest in going outdoors and the long lasting effects of being raised in poverty. The humor is more often than not fairly self-deprecating, and several essays may be a little too graphic for some reader's taste - I however loved it. Of special interest to me was her hilarious relationship with her cranky decrepit cat. She occasionally tells stories involving her work as a receptionist at a vet hospital, which as an animal care professional, I couldn't help but appreciate the somewhat distasteful humor that we all in the field have to develop, but have very few with whom it's appropriate to share.

5. Stories I'd Tell In Bars By Jen Lancaster

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I have very mixed feelings about this essay collection/memoir. Truth be told, I would be super irritated by anyone who told me any of these stories in a bar. While Lancaster is certainly a talented writer and I found her writing very compelling and easy to read, the content itself annoyed me. To me, she came across as a very self-absorbed, somewhat obnoxious personality. While the book by definition is a collection of memoir based essays, a better-than-thou air comes through in her writing that I didn't find as oppressive in other similar collections. The essays are largely focused on her relationship with her husband (a relationship that I personally would not want to emulate, but that she freely offers advice as if she is the only one who knows the secret of a long lasting relationship). She disseminates other lifely advice and opinions of others (that I generally disagree with) in such a brash and definitive way that I am extremely put off by her. At one point in the book there is even an off-handed comment about her need to self-publish her memoir due to others lack of interest, a feat that she proudly congratulates herself for, but for me was just a fact that made me feel more justified in judging her for her all too self-important air. Nonetheless, I can't deny that the book itself is decent, even if the voice in it annoyed me. 

Podcasts To Listen To

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment

I'm just going to jump right back in with a few more podcast suggestions that I think might make your ears happy. If you haven't already, be sure to check out my first and second lists!

SERIAL

If you've heard of podcasts, you've likely heard of Serial. Yes, it's great and yes, it is one of the firsts to do that sort of formatted episodic podcast season, but it's not necessarily going to be your thing. Personally i much preferred season one, which is true crime in podcast form. Season 2 was great as well, but the story did not grab my interest quite as much. Definitely see if it pulls you in, and be prepared to be frustrated when you get to the end of the season and want more.

FREAKONOMICS

This is a podcast with one of the authors of the Freakonomics book, Stephen J. Dubner. while technically the themes discuss "economic" issues, don't let that disinterest you. It's an awesome podcast that is well produced and talks to interesting people and interesting things. Scroll through the archives to get a sense of some of the many cool things they talk about.

99% INVISIBLE

This is a podcast with Roman Mars, and honestly, I'm surprised I like it. It's about design and architecture, but pretty loosely. It's great to listen to - very well produced, and i'm surprised by how many of the topics I find really interesting. It did take me a little while to get into this, and certainly not every episode is a winner for me, but there is a huge range of interesting topics in the archived episodes.

Podcasts To Listen To (Part 2)

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment

If you're like me, holiday seasons come with added things on the to-do list: more cleaning, cooking, projects, driving, etc. It seems for many around this time that the default nostalgic soundtrack is Christmas music. I hate Christmas music. Sure there are a handful of good songs (I rarely object to Trans Siberian Orchestra this time of year), but I don't have the nostalgic attachment I think you have to have to appreciate the Christmas classics. 

I've been using this as a good time to make my own "holiday ambiance" and catch up on my growing list of podcasts. I've recently been really enjoying a few newer podcasts that are definitely worth checking out if you feel like taking a break from "Frosty the Snowman".

MODERN LOVE

I was very surprised to end up enjoying this podcast as much as I do. It was recommended to me by a friend, who generally has pretty different interests than I, but I think this podcast is diverse enough to be appealing to a wide range. I was hesitant at first from the podcast description: essays from the New York Times column, read by notable personalities with updates after from the essayist. Having never read the column in the Times, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of topicsand am familiar with and enjoy a surprising number of the readers. It's one of my go-to storytelling podcast now, especially that most episodes are a very convenient length, right around 20 minutes.

HOW I BUILT THIS

This is one of those podcasts I fell into because it was recommended on several other NPR programs I listen to. It features interviews with entrepreneurs. My personal favorites so far include the episodes with creators of Spanx, Airbnb, and Southwest Airlines. Each episode is a nice length: right around 30 minutes. 

HEAVYWEIGHT

I haven't quite decided how I feel about this podcast yet. It's an odd premise - people revisiting old memories, mostly ones they feel regretful/unfavorably towards and revisiting old relationships etc. Often the storytelling falls a little flat, but there are not very many episodes, so it's worth giving a try if you enjoy interview based story telling. The first episode, Buzz, and fourth, Tony are probably my favorites and recommend starting with those.

A Word About The Cursed Child

Lifestyle, Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-Schottman1 Comment

Yes, I'm an adult and yes, I want to take a moment to briefly reflect on the newest Harry Potter book. I'm a true Harry Potter fan. While I've never dressed up for a book release and I have little interest in the world of Harry Potter fandom, I was 11 years old when the first book came out: the perfect age to get hooked. Since then, I have read the entire series multiple times (as well as listened to the audiobooks all through more than once), and within the last few years have had a full Harry Potter movie marathon with a friend. 

I don't want to get too much into my feelings about Harry Potter in general as I know that people have some very strong feelings related to the books vs the movies. All I will say is that regardless of how you feel about Harry Potter, the book series provided something very important to a huge number of children and young adults. While I was always a big reader and had a few series I loved and related to, I don't know how common that is for all kids and I think it is really valuable to learn how to read a book with such intensity that you are absorbed in the world and can extrapolate personality traits of the characters and can easily imagine yourself transported into their world. The Harry Potter series provided that to a generation in need of something a little more updated than the Redwall series. I imagine too that there must be a benefit to a child being able to conquer reading a 700 page book on their own.  I hoped that Harry Potter would continue to be that door into the literary world for kids, but unfortunately I'm not sure how true that is. More and more I hear of people younger than I that have never actually read a Harry Potter book and have only seen the movies. I enjoy the movies, sure, but they are not particularly great as stand alone movies - they are much better in my opinion to be viewed as supplements to the book series. A movie is a great option when you need a fix of that magical world without the time commitment of reading a book, but it is certainly no substitute.

And so here is where my opinion on the most recent book comes in (or should I say script?). For those who are unfamiliar, the newest book: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is actually a script for a play (yes, a play not a movie, which I will get to...). It is in the same Harry Potter world, but it picks up where the final book leaves off: 19 years later with adult versions of Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione along with their now Hogwarts aged children. 

A major concern for me and other Harry Potter fans I've talked with was how the newest book would fit into the already well established magical world of the series. Well, it certainly fit in, but I will argue that it is simply because nothing new was created. I feel like the story fell back on magic we had already been introduced to as a way of not only avoiding thinking of an equally incredible NEW magical phenomenon but also as a way of not needing to actually explain anything. The script largely focuses on past events we are familiar with from the series (the Triwizard Tournament for example) and chooses to make a time-turner the magical focus, something all Harry Potter fans became very familiar with during the third book. In this way, much of the Cursed Child felt like it was just pulling bits and pieces from different books and somehow poorly summarizing the entire series into this one odd stage show. 

So about this stage show....I don't really get it. The script is written for the stage. In fact, there are even credits listed in the back of the book for what I assume is the cast and crew of the London play. I briefly looked at the play's website and it's even stranger than I thought - it is actually split into 2 plays intended to be seen on the same day or consecutive evenings. I had originally thought that perhaps a Harry Potter play would start to become a staple in elementary schools, but there is no way that this play was ever intended to actually be accessible for people to preform. They must have an extraordinary budget to be able to follow the absurd stage directions in the script. There is an entire scene which consists of nothing but stage directions of multiple moving staircases, and many times magic is written into the stage directions, such as a green beam shooting out of a wand and someone flying backwards.

Not only is it an impractical play, but while reading the script, all I could think about was how it did not read like a play at all, but rather a movie. The more I thought about it, the more I noticed how many of the scenes mimicked scenes from the Harry Potter movies. At first this annoyed me as I felt like I was reading scenes I had already seen in the movies, but then I started to think of that as a benefit of the book. Maybe this is the bridge that kids need between the movies that they love and the magical book series. While I dislike that the script format doesn't allow for too much elaborate description, I imagine that many people have never read a script. Perhaps reading this script, which pulls so much on visual discriptives we all have from the movie series, will prompt kids to try out the book series next and let their imaginations do a little more work. 

So overall, the book is nothing special. There is a mildly interesting Harry Potter type adventure that pulls the story together, but it is far less exciting or developed than the missions I've come to expect from Harry Potter. While this is technically being referred to as the 8th book in the series, I think true Harry Potter fans might be better off thinking of this book fitting in more with the other books related to the series, such as The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Certainly Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is worth reading as it won't take you much more than a lazy afternoon to get through it. While I was definitely a little disappointed with the story itself, I still have high hopes that it might help bring a little love back to the original book series.

Watch it Wednesday: 3 Documentaries to Watch this Week (Part 3)

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment

My list of documentaries to recommend keeps growing, so I'm just going to keep this list going. Check out parts 1 and 2 of the Watch it Wednesday series for more suggestions!

Children of the Trains

This is a great documentary about the widespread issue of childhood homelessness, focusing on children near Bangkok. The responsibility for these children fall to the local law enforcement, and I must say that it is encouraging to see the police behaving morally and doing their best to help feed, clothe, and educate the children. One of the most interesting ways they have approached the problem is through the creation of a "library train" where children are free to seek refuge and have access to educational material. Unfortunately this is not a long term solution as it's run through volunteering police and there are far too many children in need with not many resources, but it is heartwarming to see the local steps being made to at least try and improve the lives of an overwhelming number of homeless children.

The Final Member

So let me start off by saying that this is maybe one of the strangest documentaries I've ever seen. Be forewarned, there are some graphic scenes, so this is likely not the best family movie night choice. It profiles a man in Iceland with the only penis museum in the world and his "hunt" for a human penis to complete his collection. The weird thing is that he has not one, but two offers. The first comes from an elderly Icelandic man, a well known womanizer, who agrees to donate after death, but begins to have second thoughts as his time approaches. And the second offer comes from a shockingly odd American who wishes to be the FIRST in the museum, even if it means cutting his specimen off before death. He actually seems excited about the idea of seeing his own penis gain fame independent of him. Although I think its notable that even the guy who owns a PENIS MUSEUM thinks this dude is a "funny guy". I won't say that this is a good documentary, but worth watching if you enjoy things like reality shows that have no plot other than the following of eccentric people. These people are certainly eccentric and watching them is hilarious, awe-inspiring, and slightly nauseating. 

Resistance

I know I have much more interest in science based documentaries than most, but I really enjoyed this one. It provides a good examination of why our overuse of antibiotics is such a detriment to the medical field. It gives a nice history of penicillin (given to sex workers to protect soldiers) which resulted in a penicillin resistant strain of gonorrhea. I was also pleased with information discussed about the use of antibiotics in agriculture. There's a mix of interviews with experts in a variety of fields and profiles individuals affected by antibiotic resistance (such as a woman who lost an infant to a mysterious contraction of antibiotic resistant mersa staff). I was glad that there was also a discussion about some of the regulations (or lack there of) on antibiotic use. If you're not a science nerd who enjoys learning more about the many ways our system is failing, this one may not be for you.

Podcasts To Listen To

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment

I've somehow become an unintential podcast spokesperson. I LOVE them. At my previous job, I started getting in the habit of escaping the unbearable monotony of the work  by pumping podcasts into my ears throughout the whole day. Quickly I became addicted. I listen to podcasts in bed, in the bath, while I walk, or do dishes...I have an endless list of activites made better by multitasking listening to podcasts. 

As I am clearly all about podcasts, I frequently have people asking me for recommendations, and I almost always have to make a substantial list of ones I know they will enjoy. I thought it would be nice to start slowly compiling some of my favorite recommendations.

To start, I have to recommend some very well known ones, so if you are already on the podcast bandwagon, you probably already know about these. 

1)  Fresh Air - NPR program hosted by Terry Gross. It's been on forever. Terry has hosted it forever. It's great. This is a daily program, generally about an hour long, with interviews ranging from authors and musicians to discussions on current politics. Every episode may not be a winner for you, but there are so many incredible ones you are sure to stumble upon a lot you'll love.

2)  TED Radio Hour - Most people are familiar with TED talks. If not, there are hundreds of individual TED talks available as podcasts or on YouTube (also possibly Netflix?). I'm particularly fond of the TED Radio Hour however because it is a well curated hour long podcast with thoughtful selections from TED talks related to the topic. 

3) The Moth - The Moth has a lot of similarities to This American Life (another excellent and super well-known NPR program with Ira Glass). The Moth is a live storytelling event and the podcast curates 3 stories from different stages all related to a theme.

So if you're thinking you may want to see if podcasts can enrich your daily monotonous tasks, check out some of these and make sure to scroll through the archives too! These are sure to give you a taste for some of the podcasts that are out there, but I will continue to post some more of my favorites!

3 Documentaries to Watch this Week (Part 2)

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment

I'm just going to jump right into a few more suggested documentaries to watch. If you haven't already, be sure to check out my first list of suggestions.

BORN TO FLY

I LOVE this documentary. I stumbled upon it accidentally and I'm so happy I did. It is very accurately described on the movie website: 'Propelled by Elizabeth Streb's edict that "anything too safe is not action," the STREB Extreme Action company challenges the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender, and human possibility.'  I might describe it more as dance troupe meets cirque du soleil meets gymnastics. I have always loved acrobatic performances. This group reminds me a bit of a Canadian dance company, The 7 Fingers. Or, for people who have maybe been watching this season's America's Got Talent, The Russian Bar Trio (which I saw perform many years ago in Boston and they are fantastic). The Streb company does all sorts of incredible extreme pieces that remind me a little of zip lines. It frequently plays with the line of  "Is it dance, is it not dance", but I really like that. I also loved seeing bits of Elizabeth Streb's process - her organized chaos and use of notebooks reminds me of my own scattered combination of list making/sketching in notebooks. I would say even if you doubt your interest in a documentary about a dance company - this is certainly still worth giving a try.

A PLACE AT THE TABLE

You may have noticed that Netflix and other streaming services have been flooded with documentaries about the food industry and the obesity epidemic and all seem to have mostly identical information, even often utilizing clips from identical footage. A Place At the Table definitely fits in with this genre, but I think it's one of the better ones on the topic of hunger experienced by Americans. It keeps many of the key issues at the forefront - fruits and vegetables are more expensive than junk food because they are largely produced by smaller places that don't get government subsidies. Additionally, in rural areas, mom and pop shops often don't carry fruits and vegetables because it is not worth it for truckers to bring produce out there. Often people in those locations don't have transportation to large grocery stores, so they have no access to produce. 

The documentary does a nice job touching briefly on how widespread the hunger issue is and how intertwined it is with factors such as salaries below living wage, obesity and health issues, and government policy (especially in the influence of the USDA). It profiles a few individuals heavily and what sorts of assistance programs are out there on a local level. It also identifies ways in which those programs are lacking and are not widespread and not sustainable (such as food banks). There are LOTS of documentaries in this genre, but this is definitely one worth watching.

THE PAW PROJECT

This is a great documentary for any animal lover. I was a little hesitant to watch this documentary at first, as I've spent many years in the animal care field and have very strong personal feelings against declawing cats, and wanted to avoid becoming angry if there were conflicting views portrayed in the movie. However, I'm really glad I watched it! I was expecting it to be focused on domestic pet cats and the practice of declawing, which certainly they touched on, but the focus was much more on the practice of declawing captive wild cats and the medical issues surrounding that. Yes, it's a little bit heartbreaking, but has a lot of great new information I had never heard before and plus, you get to see lots of cute kitties!

3 Documentaries to Watch this Week

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment

I readily admit that I have a documentary addiction. A documentary is always my go-to for a night in front of the TV. I find myself constantly recommending documentaries to friends as information I learned comes up in conversation. I have an endless list of documentaries I've watched or want to watch or want to re-watch, so I figured this was a good way to start sharing some of the must-sees with people.

 

THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE

This is available to watch through Netflix. It has come to mind a lot for me recently in all the hype of Netflix's relatively new true-crime series "Making A Murderer.” Making A Murderer is certainly worth watching if you are interested not so much in true crime but in systematic injustices. I recommend watching The Central Park Five to get a taste for if this sort of documentary is for you before investing the hours required for binge watching Making A Murderer.

When I watched Central Park Five, I found myself needing to watch it in two separate sittings as I was getting too infuriated with the justice system (specifically police officers) to sit through the whole thing. The documentary follows the story of the group of NY black male teens that in the mid 80s were wrongfully convicted of the brutal attack of a white woman in central park. Essentially the only evidence against these boys was their video taped confessions, which are heart wrenching to watch as all I see are young scared boys being intimidated by authority and simply doing as they've been instructed. Everything surrounding the circumstances of their arrests and imprisonment and even their eventual releases makes my stomach churn at the whole system and the way the media is involved. It's definitely worth watching, if you don't mind feeling disgusted at our society for a little while.

 

WALK TO SCHOOL

This is available on Netflix and might be one of my favorite documentaries. It is visually beautiful and is much more what I would call an experiential rather than narrative documentary. It follows children from around the world on their daily routine and journey to school. 

I always get a little nostalgic when I watch things heavily featuring scenic African plains. And I got hit with waves of memories of my time in South Africa watching children wary of elephants when no baboons or other animals were present - an eerie feeling of walking into danger only humans can't sense. I also couldn't help but chuckle at the reality of how easy it is to suddenly stumble into a pack of giraffes. 

I always appreciate watching a documentary that profiles very commonplace things in different areas of the world. While much of what I saw in the documentary was heart warming for me personally, I think there is a lot of value in spending a little time experiencing what "normal" is elsewhere. 

In Morocco you watch the children rely heavily on hitchhiking and in India there is a striking scene of brothers dragging a homemade wheelchair through a river on their regular route to school. 

This is not an ideal documentary to watch in the background while multitasking because it's so visual. So treat yourself, grab some wine and some popcorn and have a little bit of an eye feast and feel slightly humbled in all our privilege.

 

BRONIES

This is on Netflix and yes, I know your initial reaction is to laugh - as was mine. But this documentary is totally worth watching. And it also sort of makes me want to watch "My Little Pony." This documentary does a great job juxtaposing "Bronie" news media and public opinions with actual "Bronie" interviews. 

Essentially, the Bronie community is all about being kind and curious. The lessons in "My Little Pony" are perhaps intended for young girls, but they are being applied in this community of young men. Because as one Bronie said, "Watching girl characters do awesome things is just as awesome as watching boy characters do awesome things."

I think it's wonderful - I can't imagine what it feels like to be a teen boy, but I think it's incredibly sad that our society looks down on young men who are embracing basic principles of how to be a compassionate human being. I think it's great that this fandom community has developed to give these men a supportive, loving community. In addition I learned that charity is a huge part of the community. Really, it's all just about being "a good friend."

BOOK REVIEW: One Perfect Day – The Selling of The American Wedding

Scribbler's SuggestionsMichela Mastellone-SchottmanComment

I have recently had a very pleasant resurgence of my avid reading habit. In large part I have my discovery of a local used bookshop to thank for this. There is something so relaxing to me about being surrounded by somewhat haphazardly constructed bookcases forming as close to a maze of books as fire laws will allow. I'm realizing now that this is a little odd given my tendency to feel claustrophobic, but I guess that's the power of being distracted by a book at every step. The local bookshop here extends back twice as far as one would expect, plus – they have cats! The categories in which they organize the insane collection of used books are so well grouped that I find myself retreating to the back corner of the store and quickly have an enormous stack of books that I have to par down to a reasonable purchasing number.

one perfect day book

A while ago, my best friend was visiting me for the weekend. She just recently got married, and as earlier this year I moved more than 700 miles away, as a wedding gift I flew her out for a weekend visit (plus, I'm always a fan of gifts I benefit from as well). My friend perhaps reads more than I and I know shares my happiness in being surrounded by filled bookshelves. A walk to the bookstore was a necessity for this visit. It was here, joining my friend exploring categories I would NEVER ordinary glance at that I found Rebecca Mead's One Perfect Day. My friend quickly voiced that she had heard great things about it, and so for the first (and likely last) time, I bought a “wedding” book.

My interest in this book stems primarily by the fact that it is all about the wedding INDUSTRY and speaks very little to the emotional and cultural aspects of weddings, which I have very little interest in. I was really very pleasantly surprised by this book. I fully appreciate that it was written in a very gender neutral voice and at least from my perspective as someone who knows little to nothing wedding-related, did a fairly thorough job examining various aspects of the American wedding industry, from bridal gown manufacturers overseas to wedding planners and honeymoons. There was a great balance of history with anecdotes from various current wedding industry professionals.

My personal favorite topic discussed in the book was that of destination weddings, in which the book focused on Aruba. I've never been to Aruba, but I've traveled quite a bit and could very easily imagine the description given of the hotel area being in large part an artificial environment fed by a giant desalination plant providing beautifully groomed, often imported plant life. It gives the rest of the small island the feel of a desolate parking lot. I also couldn't help but smile at the mention of the obligatory wedding sunset on the beach photo giving an image of the couple in complete blissful isolation, but in reality just out of frame the beach feels much closer to that of “MTV Spring Break”.

Mead also focuses on the idea that these destination weddings are a construction of this new generation now beginning to marry. Not only do destination weddings avoid a lot of the hassle and stress that often comes along with the planning of a traditional wedding, but it is a peaceful solution for people who perhaps have less than ideal family dynamics (divorced parents who cannot stand to be in the same room), which I imagine has become an increasingly more common occurrence. Additionally, it's brought up that many of the individuals currently marrying (and this book is now 7-8 years old) are the offspring of often wealthy baby boomers. They have grown up with adventurous spirits and traveling a great deal, so it is only natural that they will want top their previous experiences for what is supposed to be the most amazing day of their lives. Mead does a great job filling out with several historical and cultural examples of how destination weddings can very aptly be seen as "the new elopement".

I will say that Mead also does an impressive job, even while frequently using the term “bridezilla”, not implicating that brides are brainlessly falling for all these manufactured wedding gimmicks. The epilogue in fact is very worth reading as it reveals that during the journey of writing the book, Mead herself met a partner and married. It also touches on brides' awareness for the industry and the role it plays in their wedding planning.

I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed this book. As I'm getting to the age where many of my friends are married or on their way to married, I’m glad I found a source that could give me the type of information about weddings that I was looking for, without the information coming at me from the industry itself. While I'm of course very happy for my friends getting married, there has always been a cultural aspect to marriage that really puzzles me, and this book touched on exactly my concerns and questions. In particular, the books discussion about gift giving (both for showers and weddings) made me feel more confident in my hopes that eventually it will be equally as socially acceptable for single people to chose to have wedding sized house warming parties complete with registries, or welcome a new family pet with a baby shower.

I will be packaging this book up this week and putting it in the mail to my friend!