Welcome to the Weekend Goodreads! Each week(ish) I will post about a book I’ve read recently. Don’t worry, there wont be too much plot involved, mostly just my thoughts and reactions to the work.
The Tao or Martha: My Year of Living or Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter off of the Dog by Jen Lancaster
***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***
I’ve been meaning to read Jen Lancaster’s books for awhile now. I (shamefully) own several but I’ve never gotten around to reading them. So when The Tao of Martha came out last year I knew that was the one I was going to start with. I absolutely adore anything crafty and the title sounded so great. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Martha Stewart but I have to give her props, the lady knows ALL THE CRAFTY THINGS. I listened to this book and it started out strong but then I made the horrible mistake of reading some reviews of it on Goodreads. Yikes. The fans seemed pretty evenly split, they either loved this book and, like me, had never read anything by her and wanted to read all her other books or they had already been big fans and didn’t care for this one as much. The ones who didn’t enjoy it made some really good points that I immediately noticed were spot on.
Let’s start from the beginning…
Jen Lancaster and her husband Fletch recently moved to the Chicago suburbs after years of living in Scarytown, USA (my words, not hers). They have three dogs and two cats. The premise of the memoir is that 2011 was a really tough year for Jen. A lot of little things happened that, piled on top of each other, resulted in a year she was more than happy to end. So with the start of the new year, Jen decides to change her way of thinking and embrace a happier state of being through practicing the art of Martha Stewart. We travel through the whole year, from Christmas 2011 to Christmas 2012 and learn with Jen what the Tao of Martha is and how she is embracing it.
I went into this book expecting a craft version of Julie and Julia and initially I was disappointed. That is not at all what this book is. Sure, there are some very specific times when Jen goes full on Martha and hosts some swanky sounding get-togethers. But there is no day-to-day, this-is-the-Martha-thing-I’m-doing-today. I think it really takes about half of the story before Jen really starts embracing the Tao herself. There’s a lot of live and learn which I appreciate because there are somethings that she does that I have already done or would so do. And, as some of the Goodreads readers pointed out, there is a fair amount of complaining about things that, as a newlywed, newly graduated twenty-something I can’t understand. She has landscapers and pool boys and an arborist. An ARBORIST. What the crap? Are these first world problems she’s complaining about. Yes. Is she aware that they’re first world problems she’s complaining about? ABSOLUTELY! She is more than aware that she’s in a great place in her life and that the little things she complains about are actually stupid first world problems. She even sometimes pokes fun at herself for her complaining.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I do plan to read more by Jen. I feel like she is someone who could be a great friend of mine. The funny, magical things about books are that they sometimes come into your life just when you need them. I’ve had this audiobook almost since it came out but I hadn’t listened to it until just last week. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Because Jen has inspired me in a couple of different ways. Not only have I started to embrace the Martha myself (I’ve been checking out all her books and now I’m looking through her social media sites for ideas) but some of her principles really fall into 2014: The Year of Me. This has been a little bit of a tough week for me. I decided to really cool off a friendship I had with someone. I care for this person but I can no longer let them tear me down to build herself back up. It’s always really hard for me to stop being friends with someone but my whole premise for the 2014 is to put myself back on the list of people who are important and need to be taken care of. Because I haven’t been on that list…maybe ever. And that’s all going to change 🙂
Read The Tao of Martha. It’s really good. If you can, listen to it. It’s even better because Jen reads it herself. And she’s a nut. I’m pretty sure she’s actually the voice in my head right now. And that’s not a bad thing.