Virtual Book Club: The Secret Life of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

I know I’ve told you about our Facebook Virtual Book Club group before, right? Things are slowly but surely getting more and more interactive over there. Starting with the fact that this was the first month we were ever able to take a poll to decide which book we should read! We took another poll recently and if you make it to the end of this post, you’ll see what the group’s decided to read next. In addition, we also held a virtual book club meeting last night! A few of us all got on Facebook at the same time (which is difficult when the group is split in half by a two hour time difference) and discussed. It was a lot of fun to have people to unpack this with and I hope you join us next month. As always, if you want to be a part just let me know and I’ll add you!

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At first sight The Secret History of Wonder Woman looks like a really fun, light read. My copy was well over 400 pages—which was very intimidating to me as I’m a pretty slow reader. I was encouraged, though, by the fact that the back 1/3 of the book was source material in addition to the plethora of photographs and cartoons littered on every other page (there’s also a large section of color pieces in the middle—which was terribly interesting to get into). So while by all intents and purposes it looks easy—the literature most certainly was not. This book had facts on facts on facts. I feel like Lepore laid out the material as straightforward as she possibly could but this story was just… complex. She did an incredible job of knowing exactly what to do with the material before her.

While this is called The Secret History of Wonder Woman, I feel like it should have been called The Secret History of William Marston (though I can’t imagine that selling as many copies). William Marston was the creator of Wonder Woman (he was also a lawyer, a professor, the creator of the lie detector test, among so many other things). The book starts with his birth, goes through college, all of his many jobs, and goes on past his death. It also goes into the many women that Marston surrounded himself with throughout his life.

He met his first wife, Sadie Holloway, when they were of middle-school age. They married when they were both in law school. Sadie was an ardent feminist and Marston truly believed that the world should, and one day would, be run by women. Sadie knew that she wanted to have a career—something completely unheard of for a married woman during the turn of the 20th century. She also knew that she wanted to have kids as well. And when Marston approached her about opening up their marriage to bring in Olive Byrne (who just so happened to be the niece of Margret Sanger) as well—Sadie seized her opportunity. For the remainder of their lives together, Sadie was the primary breadwinner for the whole family while Olive raised the children. Though the “why” was rarely discussed, it seems that Marston was unable to keep a job for more than a year at a time. That is, until Wonder Woman came into his life.

I won’t go further into the details of the book because I’m finding (as I’m sure Jill Lepore did) that you really can’t get too far in without going all the way in and I just don’t have time to write 400 pages. Suffice it to say that when you pick up this book you’re also getting a primer on first wave feminism. You’ll learn a lot about Margaret Sanger and her sister who both went to prison simply for telling other women that there were things one could do in order to avoid another pregnancy (in the judge’s ruling he proclaimed that if a woman wasn’t willing to die in childbirth she should simply never have sex).

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I found this recounting particularly heartbreaking.

You’ll see the parts of Marston’s life that popped up time and time again as themes throughout Wonder Woman. You’ll get to see how a unique (and illegal) family structure managed to raise a happy family despite the secrets that they were forced to keep. And you’ll see how many ways a person’s life can twist, turn, and change before finally finding what it feels like you were meant to do.

Despite its size, I found this book to be a real page turner. Every chapter was truly fascinating—and I’m usually not a non-fiction reader at all. I find them boring. I’d rather get my lessons in the form of a TedTalk or a documentary but this managed to hold my attention and make me constantly say to myself, “wait, whaaaat??”

All that to say if you find any one of the following topics even vaguely interesting, you’ll probably do yourself a favor by picking up this book: early feminism, lie detectors, 20th century politics, polygamy, artists and illustrators, plural families, and there’s a little bit about comic books, too.

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Since February is a short month (and because we just finished a mammoth of a book and we deserve a break) we decided to go with a shorter read. The book the group decided on was Heartburn by Nora Ephron (it’s less than 200 pages). I’ve never read anything by Nora Ephron but I adore her movies and I’m very excited to get started on this one!

What do you think? Have you read any non-fiction books that turned out to be far more than you were bargaining for when you first started?
Have you read anything by Nora Ephron? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

XOXO, Libby

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Holiday Gift Guides: For the Readers in Your World

This post includes affiliate links–I will be compensated if you make a purchase through any of the links in this post. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to support XOXO, Lib.

Through the month of December, I’ll be posting a weekly gift guide! This week, we’re talking books.

My husband and I managed to actually get Christmas gifts for every single one of our nieces and nephews (of which there are 13 and one on the way). I don’t know if we’ll always be able to pull this off (the number is just growing and growing, you guys!) but we managed it this year. And since there are so many of them and because the love and passion for reading is deep in our veins—obviously we got books for each and every kid. Picking out books for these kids… was SO MUCH FUN!

And so it got me thinking about all the books that I would buy for everyone else in my life if I had unlimited funding. Drawing inspiration from real people in my life, I came up with some ideas! So, hey, maybe there’s someone on your list that matches someone on this list?
And if they don’t, have I raved about the Book of The Month Club yet? Your recipient will always get to choose whatever book they happen to be in the mood for and they’ll get to think of you every month! Check it out.

Continue reading “Holiday Gift Guides: For the Readers in Your World”

Virtual Book Club: Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling + October’s Book Choice Reveal

In the early introduction of this book, Mindy Kaling says something along the lines of, “in my twenties I wanted to be liked and in my thirties I want to be known.” And that was how I knew that I would really like this book. Because if there’s anything I can relate to, that’s it. And that’s a lot of the reason that I’m happy to be well past my twenties. I’m so over trying to be liked. I just want to be known.

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Continue reading “Virtual Book Club: Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling + October’s Book Choice Reveal”

Virtual Book Club: May 2016, READY PLAYER ONE By Ernest Cline

IMG_0542*This is a spoiler-free book review.

My whole life I have given serious crap to anyone who says that they read a book when they just listened to the audiobook. And if I’m being completely transparent with you, I’ve always considered audiobook lovers cheaters. I’m not saying that I’m proud. I’m just telling you the truth. So a little bit of me feels like a grand hypocrite by saying what I’m about to say: I didn’t read Ready Player One. I listened to it on our road trip from Kansas to Arkansas to Mississippi to Louisiana to Oklahoma back to Kansas. I would have loved to read it on that trip but I get supremely sick if I’m reading in the car so we’re all making sacrifices, here.

Continue reading “Virtual Book Club: May 2016, READY PLAYER ONE By Ernest Cline”

Page 84: Gushing on Books and Special Announcements!

I talked to you about how in all of 2015, I finished reading exactly one book, right? In fact, I put on my 2016 Bucket List “finish reading one book”. And I’m happy to report that even though it’s only the end of March, I’ve already met that goal. Twice over, actually!
Please stick around till the end of this post for a very exciting announcement!

IMG_7943 Continue reading “Page 84: Gushing on Books and Special Announcements!”