The Moment of Lift (Book Review)

I recently finished reading The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. Before choosing it as an audiobook, I had no real idea what it was about; I wanted to be able to join the bookish community in conversation about it.

Sometimes it’s a good thing to have zero expectations about a book. In this case, I was completely unprepared for the powerful, positive message that this book contains. Melinda alternated between writing about research and sharing stories of women around the world.

My eyes were opened to the gender bias and inequality that persists in the U.S. even in 2019. In first-world countries like the U.S., it has taken women millennia to get where we are today and we still have a way to go. Women in developing nations suffer much more extreme gender bias and inequality every day of their lives.

But this book is filled with stories of women who changed their circumstances by challenging those in authority and standing up for themselves and their children.

Melinda is clearly a woman in a position of wealth, privilege, and power, but she also possesses humility, a willingness to learn and change, and an awareness of the dangers associated with wealthy people trying to do good. I was surprised by her down-to-earth manner. I think listening to her narrate her own book made it much more personal. And she is a really good narrator; I am super picky about voices, but hers is just right for listening.

As a person of faith (she is Catholic), Melinda takes into account the Bible’s words about serving the poor and being a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves. She travels the world and spends time with the poorest, most marginalized people, which I was impressed by, and which is certainly Christ-like. But as much as her and Bill’s charitable foundation impacts the lives of others, she has been impacted and changed by them as well.

In case you were wondering, this isn’t a book that puts down men in any way, or that preaches that women should be above men. The book has a respectful tone toward everyone: man, woman, child, rich, and poor. Instead this book is about women taking their places alongside men in every area of life. And the message woven throughout the book is about love as the missing link, as the needed element that can heal social ills.

The Moment of Lift will challenge you, educate you, surprise you, break your heart for the suffering of others, and, yes, it will lift your spirit! I hope you put it on your TBR list and read this important book very soon. I’d love to hear what you think when you read it!

Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls (A Review)

Like many other Liz Gilbert readers, I couldn’t wait for the release of the novel City of Girls. Whenever Liz mentioned City of Girls on Instagram, she said it was going to be lighthearted and fun; she said it was going to involve theatre and showgirls; she said it would involve plenty of sex.

City of Girls has all of those elements and much more. The novel is written from the perspective of Vivian, a woman in her nineties, who looks back over her life from age nineteen and on. She writes about arriving in New York City in 1940 and experiencing a very different kind of life from the one she had previously known: sheltered, stuffy, unimaginative. She gets to know all sorts of colorful characters and lives wild and carefree for a time.

As the story unfolds, she makes and loses friends, survives scandal, lives through WW2, fashions a successful and creative career for herself, and, as she lives all these experiences, she learns to know who she is.

I loved the descriptions of old theaters and night clubs, the fashion of the various decades in which Vivian lives, the energy of New York City and how it changed over the years. Overall, the tone is positive, light, and joyful. But, if you’re worried, as I was, that the book is just fluff, think again. There is substance here. There are passages that I will read and reread. Oprah read one during her interview with Liz Gilbert on Super Soul Sunday. And here is words of wisdom from Vivian’s aunt, Peg, that resonated with me: (on page 327)

“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it. Someone makes a promise, and then they break it. A play gets good notices, and then it folds. A marriage looks strong, and then they divorce. For a while there’s no war, and then there’s another war. If you get too upset about it all, you become a stupid, unhappy person—and where’s the good in that?”

So, am I going to recommend this novel? Yes! If you’re a reader of fiction, add this to your TBR. Buy a copy or place a hold at your library, but definitely read it. Particularly, I think it’s an important read for women because it’s a story of strong women who lived unusual, successful, and satisfying lives.

And when you read it, comment here, send me an email or DM me on Instagram and let me know what you think!

What I Read This Summer

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My summer reading list was longer than I was able to get through, which is a common bookworm problem, but here is what I was able to read in the past couple of months and a few thoughts on each book.

Louder Than Words by Todd Henry inspired and encouraged by asking to the point questions and getting his readers to take a look at their message, their voice and their audience and focus on developing a specific vision and clear message to convey. I admit to skimming the last third and if I wanted to really glean all I possibly could from it, I would need to take the time to answer, in writing, all of his questions. This may be a book I return to, although compared to The Accidental Creative, it wasn’t as enjoyable.

The Truth According To Us by Annie Barrows was a slow, Southern read that drew me in gently but firmly until I needed to know what happened to these people. What an interesting, entertaining and feel-good yet not-shallow read. After finishing it, I purchased a used copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows and set it on my nightstand. I’ve heard good things about this book for so long, it was definitely time to read it. Right away I recognized the similar delightful style and cast of quirky and fascinating characters. They sparkle. They made me laugh. They were thoroughly believable and now I’ve added Guernsey to my travel bucket list. So I recommend both books.


I See You by Clare Mackintosh was creepy, but not as much as I’d hoped for. Except for the very end, which makes me think there must be a sequel in the works.

The Dry: A Novel by Jane Harper was much discussed, but I guessed who the murderer was early on. I hardly ever manage this, so I would say it was a bit of a let down. Also, the writing style was dry and dull, like the setting, so I wouldn’t read other books by this author.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware scared me so much in the beginning that I almost put it down for good. Not wanting to wimp out, I pulled myself together and kept reading. It was worth it. She was a bit like a more modern Agatha Christie, and I had an idea who might be the murderer, but was Red Herringed until the end. I liked the main character, her boyfriend Judah, which is my son’s name, and the claustrophobic atmosphere of the small cruise ship where the murder took place. I will read more books by this author.

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Naht Hanh was my first Bhuddist book and first book I’ve read by this author. Picked up at my favorite local used bookstore, Autumn Leaves, I liked the short chapters and his very practical and straightforward style. Really, I didn’t feel preached to or like he was trying to convert one to Bhuddism. Simply, he shared what helped him or possible scenarios of how one might incorporate breathing, being present, kindness, gratitude, etc., into one’s every day. I will read more by this author, and, in fact, I already have.