Winter Ambition: A Reading List for Ballsy Women
Helloooooo to any Bullish readers! I’m a big Jen Dziura fan. Here’s one of my favourite Bullish lines: “adult fun is better. You can drink scotch in nice places and chat with European bartenders instead of chugging wine coolers in a chilly parking lot while some guy who’s failing algebra tries to get in your bra.”
Jen suggested ballsy books as our first blog topic. I’m a writer who basically thinks reading=breathing, so I’m thrilled to join this blog network. I’m also a doctor, so I may have a slightly different take on testicles.
Ballsy #1: Balls Gone Wild
When I borrowed this book from the Cornwall Public Library, the circulation clerk said, “I loved Gone Girl, but I think this one is even better. It’s weirder.”
I tell Flynn neophytes that Gone Girl is about a twisted marriage. Sharp Objects is about a twisted family.
What I love about Gillian Flynn’s novels, having read a grand total of two, is their sheer intelligence. The woman does not pull any punches. When I’m reading her books, I’m laughing because she’s so freaking funny (my favourite Gone Girl line is the one about how real Amy wants to punch fictional Amazing Amy in her stupid, spotless vagina), but wincing at how true to life the characters are while they mentally and physically maim each other.
For example, the narrator, Camille, in Sharp Objects muses about carrying a dead nine-year-old child, Anne, through the Missouri woods like this:
It would be hard to carry a child through these woods. Branches and leaves strangle the pathway, roots bump up from the ground. [Anne’s hair] would have tangled itself in the passing brush. I kept mistaking spiderwebs for glimmering strands of hair.
I was caught right there. The horror, imagining oneself lugging the victim’s body, juxtaposed with the grace of hair and the fragile beauty of spiderwebs.
Later, Camille talks about how her adolescent facial “features changed by the day, as if clouds floated above me, casting flattering or sickly shadows on my face.” But after her sudden transformation into a beauty, “I was no longer the pity case (with, how weird, the dead sister). I was the pretty girl (with, how sad, the dead sister).”
Ain’t that the truth.
Why am I opening with Sharp Objects?
Ballsy isn’t always good. Sociopaths are ballsy. They’re not my role model. We need kindness and compassion too. So I remember the ups of having guts (yes, I’d like to be a New York Times bestseller like Gillian Flynn) and the downside (not enough to kill children and pull out their teeth).
Full disclosure: I have a vested interest in Gillian Flynn. Kobo sponsored me to write three mystery short stories inspired by Gone Girl in their $5000 Going Going Gone Contest (yep, you could win five grand and a Kobo Aura H2O just for reading three stories and solving three clues before October 10th). But I’d recommend GF anyway. She’s the real deal. Thrilled to see the movie tonight. [Update: saw it. Hooray!]
Ballsy #2: Gonads Get Rich
Financial advisors will tell you that they add value, and that’s why they should get paid. I understand this, and I do recommend one of my financial advisors, Jessica Sarrazin, who has just started in the business, but offers personalized, meticulous care.
Financial independents (not sure what else to call them. People who want to strike out on their own) know that index funds usually outperform mutual funds. So they go direct and cut out the middle man.
But obviously, it’s confusing to jump into financial waters, especially if you don’t have a clue. So—ta dah!—I recommend http://www.moneygeek.ca. Jin Won Choi explains concepts clearly and without a lot of fanfare (does anyone else hate financial websites aimed at women that have way too high a pink:content ratio?). Jin understands math, since he’s a 31-year-old Ph.D. in mathematics, and he doesn’t get bogged down in jargon like some other sites. I did get a basic membership, but most of his content is free and relevant, even if you’re not Canadian like us. Read through his blog, click on his tools, and see if he works for you. The Short Book on Investments (http://www.moneygeek.ca/book/), his free e-book, in exchange for your e-mail address, is a good staring point.
Ballsy #3: Testicular Torsion
GENE LUEN YANG
What? Another Asian guy? Yes, and he’s brilliant in a different way. American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel nominated for the National Book Award, somehow combining tales of Chinese legends, schoolboy politics, and friendship. I’ve read it to my son several times. While I was inwardly squirming at Chin-Kee, the deliberately stereotypical Chinese cousin, Max was laughing.
Boxers and Saints tells the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China from two different points of view, a boy who becomes a rebel and a girl who joins the Christians.
In Level Up, Dennis’s parents pressure him to become a doctor, but he’d rather play video games. You might think you know how it ends, but I was surprised and touched by the last page.
Gene Yang illustrates the struggle between family, calling, ambition, and friendship. Balls against the world. Balls from multiple points of view. Hence the medical joke title (testicular torsion is when a testicle accidentally swivels around and cuts off its own blood supply. Gene Yang shows you how how to turn around).
I could go on, but I can’t wait to see what everyone else recommends. Cheers, and happy reading!