You know how I’m a hot-weather-only girl and I think anything north of Florida is too cold and don’t get me started on being without the sun?
Blair Braverman is my polar (hahaha I’m the only one who thinks that’s funny) opposite. From folk school in Norway to sumer work on a glacier to racing the ACTUAL IDITAROD, Blair has found her passion in the deep cold, and especially in mushing dogs in that cold. Like basically everyone, I found Blair on Twitter through her fantastic story-telling about her dogs and her experiences. And because I’m a book person, I knew I wanted to see what she had written.
Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies
J.B. West with Mary Lynn Kotz
J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—and coordinated its daily life—at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and, with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, as well as their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests—including friends, relatives, and heads of state.
J. B. West, whom Jackie Kennedy called “one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met,” provides an absorbing, one-of-a-kind history of life among the first ladies. Alive with anecdotes ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt’s fascinating political strategies to Jackie Kennedy’s tragic loss and the personal struggles of Pat Nixon, Upstairs at the White House is a rich account of a slice of American history that usually remains behind closed doors.
Old and Relevant
Upstairs at the White House was first published in 1973, but it’s still a fascinating read. It’s surprising readable even if you don’t know/care much about history and politics. You’ll learn a lot about how the White House functions and you’ll probably laugh at surprising antics of the staff and executive families.
West is a consummate professional throughout the book, careful not show favoritism or reveal any serious indiscretions. He is an archetypal butler, clever, competent, and occasionally inscrutable. The breadth of his responsibilities at the White House is breath-taking and it seems a wonder that such a huge organization continues to function with such grace.
A highly recommended read for nearly anyone.
Year of No Clutter
Description from publisher
Everyone eats. Everyone sleeps. Everyone accumulates stuff.
The hilarious author of Year of No Sugar, Eve Schaub, returns with her new memoir, Year of No Clutter, to tackle the issue of “things.” Specifically, the 576-square-foot room in her house that is overflowing with stuff she can’t bring herself to throw away, like her fifth grade report card and pieces of plaster wall stuffed in a box.
Year of No Clutter is more than the tale of how one woman organized an entire room in her house that had been filled with pointless items, it’s a deeply inspiring, and frequently hilarious, examination of why we keep stuff in the first place, and how to let it all go.
Thoughts from Me
I didn’t read Year of No Sugar and didn’t know of the author, but when I saw Year of No Clutter on NetGalley, I knew I wanted to read it. I’m a little bit obsessed with reading about organizing and optimizing (which is not to say that I actually do these things) and dealing with a mild hoarding problem seemed like a decent read.
I was in for a surprise. Continue reading