Book Review: No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth To Power And Reclaiming America by Symone D Sanders

Book: No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth To Power And Reclaiming America by Symone D. Sanders

Published May 2020 by Harper|240 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-fiction/Politics/Memoir

In this rousing call to leadership, the self-described millennial spokesperson for the culture, CNN’s designated “woke AF” former commentator, and the youngest national press secretary in the history of the United States shares her take-no-prisoners approach to life, politics, and career success, and shows a new generation how to be loud and powerful in their own right.

Many people—most notably white older men—may try to stop Symone Sanders from speaking up and out. But Symone will NOT shut up. And neither should you. In this inspiring call-to-action, Symone tells stories from her own life of not-shutting-up alongside loud young revolutionaries who came before her to help you find your authentic voice and use it to your advantage; to fight ideological battles more effectively; and to resist those who try to silence you.

We are all gurus, masterminds, artists, entrepreneurs—we are the change agents we have been waiting for. IT IS US. And the time is RIGHT NOW. I know you’re wondering, “But HOW?” And we don’t have all the answers! Symone is the first to admit we’re all winging it in one way or another. But the point is we’re out there doing it. So get started. Open your mouth and start talking. Loudly.

No You Shut Up goes beyond the surplus of “Vote-Or-Die” books we’ve seen before. Because change doesn’t just happen at the ballot box. We need people fighting oppression, injustice, and inequality—in the workplace, on the cultural battlefield, in government, in every corner of the world. With spirited storytelling filtered through a voice that cannot and will not be ignored, Symone inspires you to start now. You don’t need to have all the answers, or wait your turn to help create the change you want to see. All you need is a new toolbox, an unshakable commitment, and the confidence and guidance to wield those tools effectively. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect with No, You Shut Up, but it ended up being an okay read for me.

It’s part memoir, part call-to-action in politics.  I really enjoyed reading about Sanders time in politics, and what it was like to work on Bernie Sander’s campaign, and working as a commentator on CNN.  It was very clear she knew what she wanted, and went for it.  She didn’t have all the answers, but she wants things to change, and she refuses to stay quiet and shut up.  She’s determined, and finds really creative ways to get what she wants.  She doesn’t take no for an answer, she knows how to set boundaries and stick with them, and she asks for what she wants in clear and plain terms.

It’s clear that she believes that we can be better, that who we are is really important, and that we can, and should, have a role in shaping politics and getting involved in things.  Overall, it’s an interesting look at what it’s like to work on a campaign, but I don’t know that I could begin to tell you how to otherwise get involved in politics and change things by something other than voting or working on a campaign.

Personally, I would have liked something a little more concrete than that, but I felt like it was a good look at her own life in politics.  She shared a lot of stories from her own life, and I could tell that she wanted to make a difference and that she knew what she wanted to do.  She got as much experience as she could- she had a lot of internships, worked on different campaigns, and at different organizations, with each one expanding her skill set and getting her closer to what she wanted to do- work in politics.  She didn’t always get the job she wanted, but that didn’t stop her at all, and if anything, she worked harder to get where she wanted to be.

The book felt very conversational, like she was telling me what happened.  It’s a fast read, though I could only manage a chapter or two at a time.  She didn’t get bogged down in details, and it would be easy enough to read in a day or two.

Even though I thought it was okay, I still think it’s worth checking out.  Especially if, after the last four years, you want to be more involved, or want a peek at what it’s like to work in politics, particularly the Democratic party.

2 stars.  This was a book that I thought was okay, but I still liked reading about how Sanders got to where she is today.

Audio Book Review: Stay Sexy And Don’t Get Murdered by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, Narrated by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff

Book: Stay Sexy And Don’t Get Murdered by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff|Narrated by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff

Published May 2019 by Macmillan Audio|Run Time: 6 hours 31 minutes

Where I Got It: I own the audio book

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Memoir

Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.

 

Stay Sexy And Don’t Get Murdered is a warm hug.  I absolutely loved this book, and I felt like I was listening to friends telling me stories from their lives.

Honestly, don’t let the title fool you!  It’s not about murder, it’s two awesome, funny, honest people taking about their fears and struggles.  True crime does come up, but this book is not about that.

My Favorite Murder is one of my favorite podcasts, and when they announced they were coming out with a book, I knew I had to read it!  Or in this case, listen to it, because I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Especially since the book is narrated by Georgia and Karen.

I am, however, terrible at reading books I own right away, especially audio books.  But I’ve been in an MFM mood- to the point where I went back to the very beginning and started listening to their entire back catalog of episodes.

So back to the book.  Each chapter title related to the podcast in some way, which is really cool.  And I loved hearing them share stories from their lives.  One of the stories that really stuck with me was hearing Karen’s story about her mom having Alzheimer’s and the struggles of that.  For some reason, it really made me think of my grandma, and not only could I relate but it really made me miss her.

I loved the honesty and openness with the stories they shared, and as I finished the book on my way to work one morning, I found myself crying.  I really felt like things were going to be okay.  Not that they aren’t okay, because they are but there was something very reassuring about this book.  I’m not always great at taking care of myself, and I really need to do better with that.  Something about listening to this book, and how open both of them are about their struggles with mental health and anxiety felt very reassuring- that I’m not the only going through it, and to take care of yourself and find your fucking hooray.

I had a lot of fun listening to this book, and while I cried, I also laughed!  I would like to add in that just thinking about how much I loved this book and how much it means to me is making me teary-eyed.  It’s not what I was expecting, especially since I’m at the library as I’m writing this.  But it’s quiet since I’m writing this during the week, on a kind-of random day off, and I am sitting in the corner.  And it’s a library, so all in all, it’s quiet, and there’s no one near me.  Honestly, it might not be the weirdest thing at the library.

I feel like I’m going pretty off-topic for this book review, but I also feel like that’s sort of like the podcast.  It’s fun to listen to (like the book) but I feel like I’m all over the place and can’t write a coherent review.  Honestly, it’s an amazing book, and worth reading.

5 stars.  I absolutely loved this book, and I especially recommend the audio book!  I loved hearing Georgia and Karen tell their own stories.

Book Review: Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl

Book: Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl

Published August 2014 by HarperCollins|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

An astonishing memoir for the untold number of children whose lives have been touched by bullying. Positive is a must-read for teens, their parents, educators, and administrators—a brave, visceral work that will save lives and resonate deeply.

Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth, but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. On an unremarkable day in middle school, she disclosed to a friend her HIV-positive status—and within hours the bullying began. From that moment forward, every day was like walking through a minefield. Paige was never sure when or from where the next text, taunt, or hateful message would come. Then one night, desperate for escape, fifteen-year-old Paige found herself in her bathroom staring at a bottle of sleeping pills.

That could have been the end of her story. Instead, it was only the beginning. Paige’s memoir calls for readers to choose action over complacency, compassion over cruelty—and above all, to be Positive.

I liked Positive.  There’s been quite a gap between when I finished the book and when I’m actually reviewing this, so we’ll see how this goes.

Surprisingly, I do remember a little more of it than I thought I would.  She did have a lot of doctor’s appointments and medications, and it wasn’t until she was in middle school that she found out that she had HIV.  I can’t imagine finding out that you were born HIV-positive, and I can’t help but wonder what Paige thought was going on.  I honestly can’t remember if a reason was given for why her mom didn’t mention it until she was older, or what Paige thought she was going to the doctor for but if it’s always been a part of your life maybe she didn’t question it or give it a second thought.

I was sad at how her classmates treated her once word got out she had HIV.  It seemed like the school didn’t do anything to make things better for her and didn’t intervene unless they absolutely had to.  With the adults at her school, I had the impression she was the problem for bringing things to their attention, and not what her classmates were saying and doing.

The writing was okay, and it did go off on a few tangents, but her story is remarkable.  You really see how much the bullying affected her but you also see how she found support from others well.  She was really positive, and you could tell she really wanted to inspire others who struggled like she did.

Her story felt very accessible, and very personal.  The entire time I was reading Positive, it felt like she was telling me the story herself, and I did like how conversational it felt.  I also liked all of the resources and information she had throughout the book and at the end of the book.  I learned a little more about HIV, which was great because I feel like we hear about AIDS a lot more.

3 stars.  I really liked reading Paige’s story- though the school was really frustrating, I admire how Paige wanted to make a difference in other kid’s lives.  The writing was okay, but it seems like she was pretty young when she wrote it, so that might be why.