Thursday, July 30, 2009

Long Live Narrative!

This past weekend over 1400 bloggers, mostly women as the name BlogHer suggests, blew into the Windy City. There were mommybloggers (whatever that means), food bloggers, travel bloggers, illness bloggers, humor bloggers, homeschooling bloggers, life balance bloggers, and on and on and on with many other offshoots and intersections. There were bloggers with thousands of readers, book deals, and an apparently continual stream of free products and services given to them for review. There were bloggers with small but loyal followings. There were bloggers using every opportunity the conference provided to learn how to gain new readers. There were bloggers just there for the drinks, people watching, swag, and/or free Pepsico products.*

I didn't have a clear idea of what kind of blogger I was nor what I wanted to gain from BlogHer beyond a fun, child-free weekend with old and new friends and a chance to see what the conference was all about. My expectations were met and surpassed. I met some great people and will soon be adding new blogs to the list on the right.

Most exciting to me about BlogHer? Being surrounded by women who recognize and celebrate the power of words and narrative to lift spirits, elicit laughter, inspire, challenge, teach, and otherwise touch. I'm proud to be one of them.

And, speaking of women telling stories (pretty sweet transition, NTB), here are some recent reads to check out:

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies -- What would you do if the husband you loved and built a seemingly perfect life with--two little boys, beautifully remodeled old house, circle of friends and on and on--fell out of love with you after you moved with him from the East Coast to the middle of Ohio? You won't be able to put down this memoir as Gillies tells the story of being the wife left behind. Honest, endearing, compelling. Only two minor objections. First, a comment Gillies made at one point about feeling badly that her boys might have to tell people they grew up in the Midwest. Because that is so embarrassing? Also, Gillies is slightly patronizing (maybe not the word I want?) about the simple life in Ohio. For better or for worse, all of Ohio is not like the small town of Oberlin. But ignore these petty complaints from an Ohio born girl and read this book.

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan -- Corrigan's memoir of her battle with breast cancer is also a love letter to her parents, especially her father, who also battles cancer. Corrigan's "middle place" is that period of time when you are a wife and mother in your own right but still very much a daughter who needs her parents. I am so in the middle place. Corrigan's story is not a tear-jerker, it's a beautiful and honest and funny. You will fall in love with Corrigan and her dad. Sure to resonant with most women, especially thirtysomething moms.

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan -- This novel traces four friends during their years at Smith College and then the first few years of "real life" afterward. I loved reading about life at Smith, a bit different, it seems, than life at the women's college with which I am most familiar. It's a good, thought-provoking read, especially if you're interested in the gap between theoretical and practical feminism, and if what I just said makes you think, "Boring," ignore it. This book is not boring and would make a very fine book club selection.

The Help by Kathrynn Stockett -- It took me forever to read this novel even though I LOVED it and its characters from the very beginning. The novel describes the relationships between white women and black help in Jackson, Missisippi in the 1960s, mostly from the perspective of "the help." I read it slowly and in spurts because I was afraid of getting my heart broken. It did break a little bit, but it was worth it. A powerful novel about women finding their voices and, more importantly, finding ways to forge meaningful connections with one another.

As always, I ask: What are you reading?

*Not a Diet Coke in sight. So, so sad.


CaraBee said...

It was a great weekend. My hopes for the weekend were the same as yours and I agree that they were exceeded, if for no other reason than because I got to hang out with you and E...!

I just finished Rattled. It was a fun read. I'm working on a Beauty and the Beast retelling called Rose Daughter that I am really struggling with. It just isn't capturing my interest. I may put it aside and pick up one of my recent JUIOLI acquisitions.

E... said...

Now that I'm having a particularly sad weekend, I'm really reflecting on what a privelege last weekend was. I may just link to your post to sum up all of my feelings about it. Haven't been around so many people who care so much about writing since grad school, and these people were not nearly as snooty about it all as those I encountered back then. As always, I was just glad to have opportunity to enjoy our friendship.

WPA said...

I just finished The Shadow of the Wind and moved on the LONESOME DOVE!!

Actchy said...

I'm back from the abyss, although not still in order enough to actually post on my own blog. One of these days, though.

In any event, Kelly Corrigan is a good friend of my cousin. Strange, really, because my cousin was in town from California this very week...and I met up with her and my aunt, to whom I returned her autographed copy of The Middle Place, just yesterday. My mind is a little blown that it's in your list.

Mandy said...

I am still looking at the mound of cards I have from BlogHer and have yet to crack them. I really will try this weekend. My goodness there's just way too much to do in so little time.

I love finding all the new voices at BlogHer. I think I need a clone. Or two. Just to keep up.

Nap Warden said...

What am I reading...Blogs girl Blogs! I wish I could make time to read...between blog designing, illustrating, and two toddlers...I just can't find the time:(

Steph said...

Thank you for sharing this report! I will look forward to checking out the new blogs.

I am reading The Spiral Staircase.

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