Tag: books

Ex-Maid Joins Michelle Obama on NYT Bestsellers List

My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”

The first line of a book sets the tone, opens the door, lights the fuse. From “My suffering left me sad and gloomy” to “Call me Ishmael” opening lines are a treasured and powerful thing in the literary community. The opening line of Stephanie Land’s new memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive is no different regarding momentous beginnings; her book epitomizes the ever-adrenalizing idea of #thegrind.

 

sxsw 2016 hard work GIF by SXSW

Image Via Giphy.com

Half a decade ago, Stephanie Land was a struggling college student. On top of being broke and ambitious, she was a single mom, with another baby on the way. With very little support from her family, she cleaned houses for nine dollars an hour to provide for her children. In a gutsy, courageous turn of events, Stephanie Land decided to defy logic: she quit the maid life and went all in on her dream of becoming a writer. Her focus turned to her studies at the University of Montana, accumulating debt as a quasi-investment in herself. Two weeks ago, Maid became #3 on the New York Times’s Nonfiction Best Seller List, right behind Educated by Tara Westover and Becoming by Michelle Obama. In an article by CNN, Land describes the moment she found this out, on a plane:

As soon as I landed, I got a huge amount of texts, “she said. What followed was the type of tearful flood of emotion that so often follows moments of triumph. Against all odds, Stephanie Land had pulled off her own rags to riches narrative.

Image Via Amazon.com

The book’s narrative begins in Land’s late twenties, at a point in life where she was living in a homeless shelter with her infant daughter. At this time, cleaning houses was the only job she could find in Seattle. The memoir depicts poverty in a realistic and grounded way. Land’s situation was not caused by a lack of work ethic or moral compass. She wasn’t some lazy lay-about, undeserving of a solid paycheck. On the contrary, she probably deserved it more than some of the people she cleaned for. Being a maid isn’t glamorous, it’s not the type of job anyone would like to imagine themselves doing. But it is a job. The kind of job people take when their lives have become more about survival and love than dignity.

Before her book, Land’s life as a maid influenced an essay she wrote for Vox about the excessive number of painkillers she found in mansions she cleaned and the ways in which the people she cleaned for treated her, granting her a viral amount of attention. After college Land became a writing fellow with the Washington, DC-based Center for Community Change (which has now arranged a panel on poverty on which Land will appear).

 

Image Via Channel3000.com

Stephanie Land is currently touring her memoir, reading sections of her book, defying poverty stereotypes, and inspiring people. Her book outlines the difficulties for those relying on government assistance programs while balancing a family and college life. Maid is being noticed by everyone from Amazon to Neil Gaiman.

Land’s story adds even more legitimacy to the following statement: Moms rock. I’m talking The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, Michael Jackson mooning walking at Motown 25, Mick Jagger still moving with the best of them at seventy-five years young kind of rock. Mothers are motivated by an indestructible and resolute love for her children; their needs, aspirations, and happiness. Every minute of every day is brick used to build the house that is her family. #metaphors They slave over suppers and sometimes starve so that their offspring can eat.

michael jackson GIF

Image Via Giphy.com

I, myself, have been fortunate enough to witness a magnificent number of maternal miracles in my lifetime; My mother has also dabbled in the maid life to support her family, hence my particular interest in Land’s story. Mothers like these show us that the limits placed on human beings by secular articulation are a vernacular that doesn’t mean shit. They are driven by love, using it as the needle in their compasses. Women like this can find their way home through an indefinite desert of ambiguity and still have enough gumption to lay a blanket over a freezing child. That’s the only type of work ethic and ambition that matter. While Land was able to come full circle and achieve the seemingly impossible, most unsung heroes—maids, janitors, bus drivers, service industry workers, moms…are not so lucky. Land’s story resonates with the worker, dreamer, and survivor in all of us.

 

the rock clapping GIF

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Featured Image Via Stepville.com

Badass Female Librarians Delivered Books on Horseback in 1930s

If you are someone who is excited about female empowerment as I am, then you’re going to love this! According to History Daily, during the Great Depression, unemployment rates soared, and in turn people endured extreme poverty, so many had little access to books.

At the time, Franklin Roosevelt was trying to resolve the Great Depression, and his Works Progress Administration created The Pack Horse Library Initiative to improve American literacy and therefore chances of employment. The librarians were mostly women who lived in the counties they served. Public schools in the local areas contributed books, magazines, newspapers and any other reading materials available.

The ‘bookwomen’ were paid $28 a month and were responsible for their own food and supplies, and horse. These librarians travelled over mountains to isolated homes—through blizzards and mud to make sure everyone had a book in their hands. The women would ride as far as 120 miles, and at times if the locations were close by, they would walk with their horses, holding on to their reins. In 1943, the program ended because employment increased massively during World War II, and nearly one thousand pack horse librarians had served 1.5 million people in forty-eight Kentucky counties!

 

Check out the photos below!

 

image via historydaily.org

 

image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

Image via historydaily.org

 

See more amazing photos of these heroic librarians on History Daily!

 

Featured image via atlasobscura.com

Beloved Children’s Author Tomi Ungerer, Dies at 87

If you’re like me, an anxious contradiction suffering from a hint of narcissism induced by a lingering quarter-life crisis, then you may often feel like time is running out. It’s not, we know that; we just figured we’d accomplish everything we ever dreamed of before the age of thirty…

The one thing that calms us and brings us together, the thing we can always take solace in, is the power of stories.

This begins when we’re young; reading stories like Peter Rabbit, The Ugly Duckling, Little Red Riding Hood, perhaps even more subversive stories like The Light PrincessThe Princess and The Goblin, Zeralda’s Ogre, or Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear. Later some of us move on to comic books about superheroes achieving the impossible, defying limitations. Now we read denser things, fiction that aims to dissect the human condition. In the end, nothing beats the didactic nature of a child’s tale. The purpose of these disjointed introductory paragraphs is to bring to you the unfortunate news of legendary artist, Tomi Ungerer‘s death—a man who understood Imagination’s ability to eliminate fear.

 Image Via Culto.latercera.com

An article on The Guardian‘s website, written in 2012, discusses the legendary, yet under-appreciated children’s book innovator, refering to how Ungerer’s humor could be described as “crazy” how his work contains “surprising” and “inexplicable” details created by a sometimes controversial, and truly wacky soul. The author of the article describes the man as apologetic for his nature upon meeting him; spouting countless aphorisms, and energy propelled by the type of insecurities that plague the wisest of men. Ungerer describes his approach to children’s literature:

“Curiosity is vital. The finest gift you can give your children is a magnifying glass, so with a little effort they can make their own discoveries.” To make it too easy is to curb the instinct to explore.

The French author and artist seemed to epitomized the expression “tongue in cheek.” He was aware of himself and of the world, he understood the power of language and visuals. His work subverts genre expectations, particularly in regard to his children ‘s books, as his stories convey their own brand of social satire. What would appear to be simple, relatable stories carry layered messages that pull your soul in the right direction.

Image Via Amazon.com

Whether it be his story Moon Man, about an alien who just wants to be accepted by humanity or The Three Robbers, about a girl who turns greed on its head, the books are charming and relatable, entertaining to both old and young. He was one of the pioneer’s of the age-defying child’s narrative, the type of stories parents can read with their children. The types of stories that remind adults that maybe they don’t have to grow up in the traditional sense; that wonderment and political naivety of a child may be relevant in the most excruciating of times…

His lengthy and unmatched career has resulted in the publication of over 140 books (in German, English, and French), various political posters, and some erotic stuff that doesn’t really make sense to mention in the context of this article…(but riveting and a true testament to his diversity). The range and depth of Ungerer’s skills appeared to never cease—a well that was dug through the bottom of the earth, reaching eternity. At one point he even designed the poster for the classic comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Image Via Imdb.com

Tomi Ungerer became the first ever Ambassador for Childhood and Education for the Council of Europe and has a museum dedicated to him in Strasbourg: a first for a French artist. His experiences as a child living in German-occupied France inspired the book Tomi: A Childhood Under the Nazis and shed a light on the perspective of a man who hated only a couple things in this life: intolerance and discrimination. In 1976, Ungerer moved to Ireland with his wife and recently died in Goleen, Co Cork at the age of eighty-seven.

Tomi Ungerer vor seinen Zeichnungen bei einer Ausstellung in Straßburg 2010.

Image Via Berliner-zeitung.de

People have reacted to his passing on Twitter, honoring Ungerer:

It was a tweet I found on Tomi Ungerer’s personal Twitter page that moves me the most; the following video contains an interview with Ungerer, where he expresses one of the most optimistic and inspiring outlooks on death I think I’ve ever had the great pleasure of hearing. Ungerer’s legacy was sculpted by a man full of life, a life unaffected by superficial things like time and age: he was a painter, writer, intellectual, folk hero, legend, a god damn superhero with the power of imagination.

 

 

Featured Image Via Instagram.com

 

5 Times Library-Loving Cats Made the News

Everybody knows the Venn diagram of people who like reading and people who like cats is damn near a circle, but what about cats who like reading? Yep, seems people are pretty into them, too. Here are five instances of particularly persistent book-loving felines whose love of libraries made the news:

 

1. Max

 

Image Via The Washington Post

 

Max made the news back in 2017 with his relentless attempts to gain entry to his local library, despite the protests of his owners and staff. He was so persistent that the library was forced to put up a sign discouraging patrons from allowing Max into the library with them, explaining that it was in nobody’s best interest, least of all his own, for him to be in there.

 

2.  Browser

 

Image Via The Guardian

 

Browser the cat’s eviction from his library of choice sparked ‘international outcry’ when it made headlines in 2016. Thousands of people around the world expressed their support for the cat who resided, and still resides, at the library in White Settlement, Texas. After the local council decided to evict Browser on the basis that his presence prevented some members of the community from utilizing the library, other library patrons objected. The Guardian reports that at a local meeting regarding Browser’s fate, “a woman spoke about the history of cats in libraries. A man mentioned WebMD statistics on the low prevalence of cat allergies. Others talked about how the cat brought children into the library to read. A little boy was sad he had only been able to pet the cat once.”

Luckily for the town’s beloved Browser, the decision was overturned and he was allowed to remain at the library.

 

3. Dewey

 

Image Via iheartcats.com

 

Dewey, full name: Dewey Readmore Books, was deposited in the returns slot of a library in Spencer, Iowa when he was a kitten. Dewey captured the hearts of the librarians and became the library’s very own cat, even inspiring his own book,  Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The WorldNo YOU’RE crying.

 

4. Mu

 

Image Via Maynooth University

 

Mu is Ireland’s Maynooth University’s library cat, who very kindly provided an interview with a student journalist for the Maynooth University Times this past October. During the interview, Mu provided many insights into his life, including: “I have resided here for many a year, and, by many a year, I mean I do not understand the concept of time.”

 

5. Penny

 

Image Via Jezebel

 

Penny is another library cat whose proposed eviction sparked objection. Jezebel reports that she had lived at Massachusetts’ Swansea Public Library for nine years before her presence was raised as an issue due to concerns over allergies. A petition in favor of Penny on Change.org garnered over 1,800 signatures.

Patrick Higgins, the man behind the campaign to have Penny removed, was gobsmacked by public support for her, and, in response, gave one of the most ‘I’m the baddie in a children’s film wherein the cat is the hero’ statements of all time: “We’ve got pictures of the cat on Facebook laying on top of a laptop, and they think this is okay!” quoth Higgins, presumably slamming his fist on an oak desk. “I just don’t understand it. The cat has gone all over the world. You’ve got the petition with over 2,000 people over a freaking cat.” And what, Higgins?

Unfortunately, Penny passed away in 2014, but lived in her beloved library until her final days.

 

 

Featured Image Via The Today Show

Winds of Winter Knock Down Trees Made Famous by ‘Game of Thrones’

Not only is Game of Thrones ending, but one of the giant beeches, known as ‘The Dark Hedges’, made famous by the fantasy drama, has unfortunately met its end over the weekend due to 60mph winds.

 

Image Via Belfasttelegraph.co.uk

 

Image Via BBC.com

 

This wasn’t the first time the famed trees came up again winds like these,  as in June of l2018, Storm Hector wreaked havoc on the woods.

 

Image Via BBC.com (Photo: Bob Mccallion)

 

Image Via BBC.com (Photo: Bob Mccallion)

 

The tourist attraction along the Bregagh Road near Armoy, initially had 150 trees, but only ninety are left standing.

Woodland Trust’s Paddy Cheng told NBC News North Ireland that the trees are as old as 1775, in his words, “old aged pensioners.” He said, “They are coming to the end of their life, normally beech trees survive around 250 years, they are probably now 240 years old.”

Joan Baird who is a Causeway Coast and Glens councilor believes that tourists are also a reason why for these trees extinction and the “terrible loss” for the site, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

 

Image Via Wikipedia.org

 

The trees are one of the most Instagrammed locations. The tunnel of trees is reminiscent to Arya Stark escaping Kings Landing, her escape route of choice in doing so.

 

Featured Image Via BBC.com