Orange Is the New Black Book Review

It’s time to talk about the true story behind the hit TV series  Orange is the New Black. I’ve never seen the show, but it’s definitely on my watch list. As for the book, Orange is the New Black was a Christmas present from my cousin’s lovely girlfriend, Kelsey. This book was languishing on my Goodreads want to read list until Kelsey gifted it to me and got me to read the darn thing. I cannot thank her enough for the motivation because Orange is the New Black has been one of the most satisfying reads thus far in 2014.

Orange Is the New Black

Image above borrowed from Goodreads

Sometimes the buzz around shows and movies bring to light books that I would never have picked up if left to my own devices. What I loved about the memoir was its approach to its serious content. Author Piper Kerman is not asking to be taken as a victim. She takes responsibility for her actions and uses the opportunity to point out the injustices within the justice system that make her purview more about others’ experience than strictly her own. Each chapter has a smaller level theme that builds to illustrate the flaws in the system of women’s prisons.

These pockets of stories reveal a larger narrative that keep you reading late into the night. Or at least I did. I got sucked into this book and finished it over a weekend. It’s really perfect for a trip or even a beach day. Plus I always feel super intelligent reading nonfiction in public, so it’s an ego perk.

You occasionally hear the media or maybe some political friends talking about how easy prisoners have it these days. Piper’s every page shows how inaccurate that is. For example, it is said multiple times in the book that the worst thing you can be in prison is sick because the health care is minimal.  Or how the prison provided inadequate rehabilitation services for inmates being sent back out into the “real world.” But there are also touching stories about how people connect with one another when they need it most. You’ll laugh. You’ll cringe. And you’ll find yourself involved with this memoir.

I’ve heard that many viewers find Piper to be whiny in the TV series, but in the book Piper doesn’t come off as whiny. She’s hyper aware of the privileges she has in life that made prison easier (being white, gainfully employed, and well off with a well-appointed lawyer), but she also learned a lot about others in a way that molded the woman who decided to take pen to paper. Since leaving the hands of the criminal justice system, she has become better informed and an activist for changes in the way the system runs. Every once in a while she gets up on her soapbox to illustrate how foolish some of the legislation is or how unjust the treatment is for women with minor offenses. It’s an informative narrative but it is not lecturing at you, which is an important balance for me as a reader.

This memoir is such a specific experience, but I wish she would write another book. Piper is such a compelling writer and conveys character so well. Short of another stint in prison, I cannot really see Piper writing again. But I really hope I’m wrong. In any event, Orange is the New Black is worth your reading time and not just your screen time.

Making My Way From A-Z

It dawned on me recently that I have not done a legitimate book post in a while outside of my occasional Top Ten Tuesday ramblings. Reading has always been a passion of mine and a tried and true method of relaxation. I usually read a little bit every night before bed, which can backfire on me when the book is too good and I cannot make myself stop turning the pages.

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of because it allows me to keep track of what I’ve read and what I want to read. About a year ago I joined one of the many online book clubs on Goodreads in order to get more current/trendy recommendations. The name of the group is called Bookworm Bitches (ladies only if you couldn’t tell) and I love that it allows me the freedom to interact with other readers without making it a requirement. The minute something becomes required, it becomes somewhat tedious for me. A weird quirk of mine, I know. A great example of this oddity was when I read Jane Eyre on my own and enjoyed it more because I read it for myself and not in a classroom. I’m just stubborn that way.

One of my favorite things that Bookworm Bitches does is host challenges for group members to participate in. There’s no real prize, except for self-satisfaction. This year I decided to participate in one of the timed challenges; the A-Z Title Challenge. The rules are pretty straight forward…

  • You have until the end of 2014 to complete your challenge
  • Include the date you completed the book next to your entry
  • Books can be fiction or nonfiction
  • Articles like “A” or “The” can be ignored when placing entries to easier get the right letters
  • The only exception is the letter X: a book with x anywhere in the title can count

So far I have completed eleven of my entries. I’ve really enjoyed completing parts of this challenge and am now constantly aware of what letters have yet to be filled in. Here is where I am right now. I’m also going to rate the books I’ve read thus far with one to five hearts to give you a sense of how I felt about my selections.

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (3/2) ♥♥
Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon (2/16) ♥♥♥
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (1/15) ♥♥♥♥

Eleanor, Eleanor, Not Your Real Name by Kathryn Cowles (3/9) ♥♥♥
Freakonomics Revised and Expanded by Steven D. Levitt (2/8) ♥♥♥
Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame by Ty Burr (3/28) ♥♥♥♥

Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman Currently Reading 

Skin Trade by Laurell K Hamilton (1/08) ♥♥♥
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas Currently Reading 

The Vampire’s Bride by Gena Showalter (3/16) ♥♥♥
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (1/28) ♥♥♥

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (4/7) ♥♥♥♥
Zinnia by Jayne Castle (3/8) ♥

It’s such a fun challenge that I couldn’t help but share. And  I think my list reflects my reading habits rather honestly: a mix of romance, nonfiction, and lit. Obviously, I’m not near completion yet but it feels good to see the spots filled in. For all my readers out there this is a challenge I would encourage you to take on!

Any suggestions for what I should read for the missing letters?