I hate the term “chick lit”. I hate its dismissiveness, and I also hate that it works only too well in making me not want to read the things to which the label is affixed. I know that I need to work on that knee jerk reaction; in my mind, “chick lit” is stuff like the Shopaholic series (which I hated), and in reality, there is probably a huge variety of books which get labelled “chick lit” but which, nonetheless, I should not write off. Case in point: the Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I binge read all 5 volumes in less than a fortnight, and I quite enjoyed the experience. It was comfort reading at its best. I should mention that a few factors likely contributed to my enjoyment of it, and you should keep those in mind when deciding whether this might be a good recc for you. I am a sucker for the time period (1920-1950) and the genre (upper class family sagas). It reminded me of books like The Camomile Lawn and The Forsyte Saga. If you have read and enjoyed those, you will probably like these novels. There were parts I found a bit slow-going or dull, and characters I liked or cared about less, but it was easy enough to speed-read or skip those parts entirely, and pick up the plot later without any issues.
On a more personal note, the series reminded me of the Jalna books written by Mazo De La Roche. That’s probably not a name familiar to most of you, but she was a favourite writer of my grandmother’s long before we emigrated to Canada. I have fond memories of reading my grandmother’s translated Jalna books as a young teen, which detailed the lives of the Whiteoak family over the better part of a century. (There are over a dozen books in total, and you can still occasionally find them in thrift stores and the like. De La Roche was a hugely popular Canadian author back in the day, but she is hardly known nowadays. I did check Amazon, and it looks like there *was* a recent re-print of the series in about 2010.) I think my grandmother would have loved reading about the Cazalets, since stories about family dramas, secrets, and love affairs — nothing too graphic, but definitely “spicy” — were her favourite. My grandmother used to be a prolific reader, but she is 94 now, and in failing health; so there was a bitter sweetness in reading this series, and thinking of all the books to which she introduced me over the years.
Moving on to articles, can you handle yet another article about Millennials? This one posits that there are two types, those born before 1989 and those born after. As a 1980 baby, I will attest that growing up before the internet was a thing is a big part of my cultural context. I remember getting my first e-mail address when I started university in 1997, but I don’t think I actually started browsing the internet regularly until, literally, the 21st century. In fact, I was just reminiscing with a friend about how we used to register for classes back in those days by — wait for it — calling into the registration line (on our land lines, natch) and punching in the codes for the classes we wanted, praying that we hadn’t miscalculated the order (from most to least likely to fill out quickly). How far we’ve come since then! Of course, it feels like no time at all on my end, but in fact it’s been — gulp! — 20 years. I suddenly feel about as young as the cryptkeeper.
But speaking of technological advances, my binge-watching of John Oliver Last Week Tonight segments on YouTube sent me down an internet rabbit hole of articles about MLMs, which eventually led me to this older article on Racked from someone who tried selling Rodan + Fields. I will freely admit to being fascinated by MLMs, but what I found most interesting about this article was the author’s comments on why she felt uncomfortable with the idea of being a salesperson, a discomfort I share. I won’t lie; there have been times when I’ve felt tempted by some of the advertising pitches I’ve received through the blog, not to mention the lure of affiliate links. I’ve ultimately resisted them all, and most of the time I am perfectly content with that decision. I do occasionally fall into the trap of feeling somewhat inadequate for lack of a “side hustle”, but this article was a good reminder that being a “monetized influencer” would require me to take on an additional role (essentially, a salesperson) which probably isn’t a good fit for me. I wonder if that is a weird and outdated scruple in this day of pervasive social media marketing. If you are a blog reader, does it make a difference to you (in how you perceive the content of the blog or the blogger) if the blog is monetized? Do you feel like you’re being sold to, or is it just blog-reading business as usual? And if you have experiences being a “consultant” for an MLM, I would love to hear about that too!
Lastly, this is not an article per se, but Lainey`s coverage of the MET Ball is worth checking out if you haven`t already. I don`t always agree with her (and Duana`s) red carpet fashion takes, but I enjoy their analyses. This year, I think my fave Met look was Claire Danes — I thought it was wearable but still gave a nod to the theme. I also (oddly? it`s definitely not something I would wear) enjoyed Kerri Russell`s look and I agree with Lainey that she and Matthew Rhys make a very intriguing couple.
Have a great weekend!