I set a list of goals in the beginning of 2020, and not quite all of them were met due to the unknown circumstances that 2020 brought on. However, I was able to complete my goal regarding reading. I wanted to read at least one book per month, just as I did in 2019, and I again was able to surpass that goal. Here is a list of all the books I made my way through in 2020:
As one of my personal goals for my job, I tasked myself with reading a book for my own professional growth. I reached out to my friend who has often given me good professional advice, and she recommended a few different books to me. The one that stuck out to me the most was called When by Daniel H. Pink, and explored the use of our personality types to use timing to our advantage. Since I was often struggling to get lesser-priority projects done, this concept appealed to me. How can I utilize the ebbs and flows of my day to get the most done? I was pleasantly surprised by how useful and informative I found the book’s information. I took over 10 pages of notes in a notebook, and turned this into a presentation for my co-workers.
Here’s all the information that was included in my Powerpoint presentation to my teammates on how to get the most productivity out of your day:
There are 3 typical parts to your day: Peak (highest level of productivity), Trough (break or lull in the day), Rebound (small boost of productivity).
CHRONOTYPE: a personal pattern of circadian rhythms that influences our physiology and psychology
How to figure out your type: Advanced: track your day for 2 weeks to see peak/trough/rebound patterns; Simple: Ask yourself, What time do you go to sleep? What time do you wake up? And what is the mid-point? 12AM – 3 AM: Lark 4AM – 5 AM: Third Birds 6AM – 12PM: Owl
Larks, Owls, and Third Birds: Larks (most active in the morning: PEAK, TROUGH, REBOUND), Owls (most active at night: REBOUND, TROUGH, PEAK), Third Birds (somewhere in the middle).
Finding where you lean can help to make the rebound productivity easier. Essentially, you should figure out your type, understand your tasks, and select the appropriate time to get things done. Do your most important work during your peak and less priority items during your rebound.
Fun Fact: Thomas Edison spent more time in the lab at night rather than during the day.
Inspiration Paradox: when innovation and creativity are greatest when we are not at our best
Coffee Tips: Don’t drink coffee or other forms of caffeine until at least an hour after you’ve been awake, so as to activate natural chemicals in your brain that make you feel awake. Also, for a proper boost, you should drink some coffee right before taking a 10-20 minute nap, and you will wake up feeling rested just as the caffeine kicks in.
Tips for a better morning: 1. Drink a glass of water when you wake up 2. Don’t drink coffee immediately 3. Soak up the morning sun 4. Schedule talk therapy appointments for the morning
RESTORATIVE BREAKS: Breaks help to maintain focus and reactivate our commitment.
Breaks can help to mitigate your trough of the day, can reduce errors, reduce turnover, reduce stress, and improve overall mood. This can often make lunch the most important meal of the day, not breakfast.
Tip: DO NOT EAT LUNCH AT YOUR WORKSPACE: lunchtime is an important recovery setting.
Tips for Breaks: Something is better than nothing (even a quick breaks is good); Moving beats stationary (walk around); Social beats solo (socializing helps to replenish); Outside beats inside (get into nature!); Fully detached beats semi-detached (unplug! stop talking about work!
Best recommendation for a restorative break: consider a short walk outside with a friend during which you discuss non-work related things.
What to do if you don’t have control over your daily schedule: 1. Be aware: take precautions, like prepping the night before an early meeting 2. Work the margins: use downtime to your advantage
I hope this is able to help inspire some productivity! For more information on timing, processes, and more, you can find this book wherever fine books are sold.
As I continue my Playboy deep dive, and I found myself rereading all my Playboy favorites. This was my second time reading Bunny Tales by Izabella St. James, which is basically a manual for all things Playboy circa 90’s and 2000’s. If you want some serious inside info, this is where you should go.
The book starts off with Izabella’s back story, which includes her family escaping communism in Poland. The story is interesting but gets a little long, but it’s somewhat important if you want to get to know and understand Izabella. However, if you’re only interested in Hef and the mansion, then skip the first 2-3 chapters and get straight to the good stuff. (Fun Fact: She actually meets Hef somewhat through “Dr. Feelgood,” the dad from Playground!)
The book spends an entire chapter on all the subjects and their details that you’re dying to know:
The mansion layout and details, including the famous grotto
Previous girlfriends and the drama behind the rotation of blondes
The daily routines of Hef
The weekly routines of the girlfriends
The girlfriend rules and how they were broken
The financials spent on the parade of girlfriends and their luxuries
How things went down in the bedroom
Events and mansion parties (and the club scene)
All the ins and outs of Mr Playboy himself, and more!
She gets real, breaks things down, gives you the details of the drama, and probably covers her ass here and there as well, in all honestly. She definitely makes a point to paint herself in a good light in all situations, though she was not separated whatsoever from the scene and the drama.
As someone who wants to know all the behind-the-scenes of the elaborate world that Mr. Hefner created around himself, this book gave me everything I was looking for. The unique insight is captivating and fascinating, and only just scratches the surface of a multi-decade story. With that being said, I definitely intend to read more.
An amazing human who I know and love named Nikki Boyer sadly lost her nearly lifelong friend Molly to cancer last year. Before she passed, Nikki was able to document her unique and intriguing stories through a podcast called Dying For Sex. The podcast is a 10 episode series that journeys Molly’s sexual escapades as she simultaneously entered a terminal cancer diagnosis. It’s a story that’s nothing like I’ve ever heard, offering an uncharted perspective. In addition to the podcast, Molly also did some writing as her health declined, which Nikki was able to turn into a book about a year after her passing.
Unfortunately, Molly’s story is somewhat dark, and involves a broken family and experiences of sexual abuse. This affected many many aspects of Molly’s life, which she is able to reflect on in a cathartic yet completely truthful way. Once getting her second cancer diagnosis, it’s like she dove headfirst into the insight of her life and decided actively on how she wanted to spend the rest of it. Her strength is admirable – both in her reflections and in her struggles through cancer.
The way that Molly writes is real, raw, and contains incredible clarity. You can see her thought processes laid out on the pages, and her authenticity shines through. It’s a true gift that she was able to find and share her voice, even if in the last chapter of her life.
To read Molly’s story, you can order the book on Amazon or other various vendors. I also highly recommend listening to the podcast as well, Dying For Sex, to hear Molly’s voice.
This is one of my absolute all-time favorite books of my entire life! I’ve read this book multiple times, and probably find my way back to it every several years (just like Go Ask Alice). I’m a HUGE fan of Playboy, and this book was what opened the doors into all of my Hugh Hefner knowledge. Honestly, no one can convince me that this isn’t one of the greatest books that exists – it’s freaking amazing.
This is the very real story of Jennifer Saginor, whose dad was a very well-known doctor in LA. He also happened to be best friends with Hugh Hefner, and was known as “Dr. Feel Good”. He spent ample time at the Playboy mansion, and brought his daughters along with him. Jennifer’s life is never the same after her first trip to the mansion, where she sees a playmate screwing John Belushi at just six years old. The infamous playground and the lifestyle that comes with it becomes intoxicating to Jennifer and starts to swallow her whole. From wild parties with A list celebrities, to a secret affair with one of Hef’s girlfriends, to all the drugs anyone could ever want – the journey is quite a crazy ride.
In a weird way, this book has wildly impacted my life. The book made me fascinated by all the mansion adventures, intrigued by the LA lifestyle, and absolutely obsessed over the true identity of Kendall (My best guess is Carrie Leigh, but even after hours of research, I’m still not 100% sure!) It’s helped me to escape from reality, understand my sexuality, and gave me unique and amazing insight into a legendary empire. I respect and admire Jennifer so much for everything she’s been through, and for being willing to be vulnerable and share her story. I actually recently reached out to her on Instagram as a fan, and got a really nice response!
This a fascinating, interesting, heartbreaking and infatuating story, and I HIGHLY suggest getting your copy wherever fine books are sold. I’m currently going into a full Playboy deep dive, so stay tuned as I make my way through more books as well as the full series of The Girls Next Door!
I was fascinated by Brittany Renner since the first second I ever laid eyes on her, via Instagram of course. I pressed that follow button instantly and let @bundleofbrittany level up my Instagram feed. She has this incredible bad bitch confidence – someone you want to both be and be with at the time time. She published a “tell-all” book in 2018, where she told the stories of seven high-profile men she’s had experiences with. After seeing her constant reposts on her Insta stories of everyone reading her book, I finally caved and decided I needed to see what all the drama was about.
Judge This Cover is a compilation of seven stories with seven different men – all whose names have been changed. Now with a bit of digging on the internet, someone on Twitter was able to find the clues that led to who is who. I read the article that listed the real men behind the stories in this book, and HOLY FUCK. Like, we are talking HIGH high profile. She definitely did what she could to hide things – she flipped Tyga to an athlete, and talked about attending a game rather than a performance. And with Drake, she referred to his “team”, which also could have him mistaken for an athlete. But ya know, leave it to Twitter to uncover all the breadcrumbs.
Her early life and what she’s been through was really interesting; I could have read an entire book on the stories that were quickly covered during the intro section. I think this project was cathartic for her, but she chose to only focus on the men in her life that hurt her. I’ll admit that it would certainly be harder to be this vulnerable with family, but it definitely would have been an interesting read.
The seven chapters with the seven men are really not split up evenly whatsoever. The first man actually takes up the entire first half of the fucking book, so he’s clearly made a big impact on her life. I mean, she did leave school and sports for him, and the whole situation was really wild. (It should really be made into a movie or TV series someday.) The rest of the men were quick stories to flip through, but each one made an impact in its own way. I appreciate her honesty in recounting the events, as she was not afraid to tell things like it is. The way she wrote this overall was really interesting, as it was written to the men. She recounted events and feelings as if she was writing them each their own love letter. She’s speaking directly to them, while the whole world reads. This kind of vulnerability is really powerful and makes such a statement. I was truly intrigued.
I enjoyed reading this book much more than I was expecting to. I found that I can relate to her in the fact that her story seems tied up in other people, yet she’s fiercely independent and can completely stand on her own. She is such a captivating human, and the way she loves is unique and passionate. All these stories have clearly affected her life quite a bit, and love makes you do crazy things.
She’s recently gotten into a new relationship, which looks sweet and promising. However, it’s definitely changed her Instagram just a smidge, and I noticed that she’s archived a lot of her old posts. I still recommend following her anyway, watching her YouTube videos, and definitely grabbing a copy wherever books are sold. After reading the book, I actually posted a pic to my Instagram story, and she reposted me! I’m still really hype about it.
Go Ask Alice is one of my most favorite books of all time. It’s a classic, it never gets old, and I could read it again and again. Actually, I have – probably over 8 times at this point. Every couple of years I get reminded of it and come back to it, and it never disappoints.
The book is a true story, and is the very real pages of a girl’s diary from the 70’s. Nothing is fabricated – it’s simply a compilation of the pages she wrote about her life. The girl gets mixed in with drugs, and she writes about the rabbit hole she goes down. She also writes about her endeavors to stay away from drugs, and how her old crown torments her. It’s a wildly interesting ride, and I continuously get back in line again and again.
My fascination with this book runs deep, and we have quite a history. The first time I obtained a copy of the book, it was from my hometown library. I wanted to reread the book and forgot to check it out again, and instead just never returned it. I only had to pay them the price of the book, so I essentially bought it from the library for like $10. For whatever reason, I liked that it had the tags and stuff on the spine. It was a special copy for me. Then in college I lent it to this girl, whose idiot brother attempted to return it to their hometown local library. Safe to say I never saw that book again, and I’m definitely still bitter! I purchased a Kindle version years later when I had found my way back to it, and this year purchased a new copy when I found my way back again.
Also, when I was in college, I took a class called “Oral Interpretation”. We basically took pieces of text and had to perform them, thus switching the intended media. For one of the assignments, I took the section of the book in which the girl does LSD for the first time and memorized it for a performance. It was roughly 3 pages stored in my head of her experience of unknowingly doing drugs and the ride she went on. I had such fun, and definitely got an A.
I never realized there was a movie that went along with this book, but it doesn’t do it full justice. The film was made in the 70’s and is only about an hour long. It’s definitely got that 70’s movie quality with the signature bad acting, and kinda felt like an old after-school special. Some lines from her diary entries were read as a sort of voice-over narration for the main character, and some of the lines were exact from the book. The movie overall wasn’t awful, but was very cheesy and definitely low-budget. I did love all the 70’s style clothing and the fact that it featured “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, which is famously known for referencing the “Alice in Wonderland” metaphor as well. Feed your head.
Honestly, please please read this book. It’s so crazy and fascinating and interesting and takes you through so many ups and downs. It’s a quick read, and you will get hooked and fall right down the rabbit hole with her. Available wherever fine books are sold!
I’ve had a long time fascination with the Playboy Enterprises, Hugh Hefner, and the women wrapped up in it all. So going into reading Storms Never Last, I was definitely excited to get a perspective that was from a different time period than I’m used to reading about. However, many things were not exactly what I was expecting.
Since the tagline of the book reads, “Memoirs Of A Playboy Bunny”, I was assuming I was going to read somewhat about the earlier years of Hef (most of the stories in the book took place in the 60’s). However, this woman was not only in Cleveland, Ohio rather than LA, but also never even met Hef a day in her life. After reading that, I honestly almost stopped reading the book. But it was short, and I felt obligated to see it through til the end.
So basically, she worked in the Playboy Club that was located in Cleveland. These clubs were popular in many major cities, and there was a set of rules that came along with working as a Bunny. This was the only part of the book that I really liked or learned anything – when she was describing the rules alongside the job. Their uniforms had to fit certain ways, they had to stand in specific positions, and give branded responses to questions. None of this shocked me, given what I know about how Hef ran things in the mansion.
That being said, the part that involved the Playboy Clubs was very short, as she didn’t even work there for very long. Most of the book was just random attempts at claim to fame. She talked about her husbands (who were all fame-adjacent) and how she attempted to make it big as a model and actress. She had a very strange “little ol’ me” attitude, and honestly didn’t come off as super intelligent. She also spent a long time talking through murders of other women who worked in the clubs, and how she interacted with people who later became known serial killers.
It’s kind of as though this girl thought she was super interesting, or at least desperately wanted to be interesting. So the book is more or less about anything that could even a little bit make her remotely notable. I’m also confused if she had a writer for this or if she just had a nickname, since the author is listed as Joy but the women in the book was named Betty. I wish I had enjoyed the book more so that I was curious enough to figure that out.
I’m pretty sure that this book was given to me as a gift, so it was likely found on Amazon or other places where books are sold. I don’t know that I would recommend this honestly, unless you’ve already read everything else Playboy that there is to read. If you’d like to dive into the world of Playboy, I recommend reading Playground by Jennifer Saginor or Bunny Tales by Izabella St. James. Honestly, I might just reread them both – they’re amazing books, totally worth your time. (Don’t read Holly Madison’s book… definitely NOT worth your time.)
I’ve heard of Gone Girl, but I wasn’t really familiar with Gillian Flynn at all. I saw that HBO had released a show based on her novel Sharp Objects, I decided to give her a try and I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not well-versed in murder mysteries, but I was drawn right in. Gillian Flynn is a great writer, and I plan on reading more of her novels in the future as well.
Sharp Objects really holds up as a book. She keeps the story moving and keeps you intrigued, while still slowly setting up the story. Some things are a little cliche, like the small town vibe and the thirst of a journalist looking for the next story. But without giving anything away – the ending is fantastic and something I was not expecting.
She show was almost identical to the book, which I very much appreciated. It was amazingly cast, and I was surprised with how much I liked Amy Adams as the main character. The ending of the show kind of ends on a climax, so you don’t get the falling out details that you get in the book, which I think was a mistake. I very much enjoyed seeing the repercussions in the end and how those around them reacted, and I think those who watched the show were robbed of that. However, I truly have no complaints other than that – it’s really well done.
You can of course find the novel wherever fine books are sold, and the HBO show is still available to stream via HBO Max or other HBO streaming services. If you’re into this genre, I definitely definitely definitely recommend!
When DragCon was canceled, my friend Rachel and I went into a full on depression. It’s literally our favorite weekend of the year, and both LA and NYC were totally out. We were crushed. It was supposed to be this weekend, so in a world without COVID I’d be in LA right now ready to meet the queens. But instead, I’ve just been laying in quarantine, reading RuPaul’s books, and wishing that things were different.
RuPaul is really an intriguing glamazon of a creature, and I’ve been obsessed for a while now. Some of Ru’s ideas/outlooks on life have really stuck with me – two quotes of his in particular. The first is, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” I love this idea that people get up everyday and whatever you choose to put on your body is your “drag.” I think about this sometimes when I’m getting ready, trying to decide what image of myself I want to project to the world. The other quote is, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” I think about this often, especially circling certain events in my life.
So RuPaul has written three books in total, although I only have books two and three in my possession. GuRu is his most recent publication, released in 2018, and Workin’ It! was released in 2010. His first book is called Lettin’ It All Hang Out, but I can’t seem to find a copy of this book that is available for less than like $50. I already made the mistake of spending $60 on RuPaul’s self-made movie entitled Starrbooty, and I’m just not sure that one really worked out for me. So I’m not quite ready to make the investment on his first book – especially since there was a lot of overlap between his second and third books.
I’m not sure the entire timeline of Ru’s life, but Workin’ It! was definitely written sometime after season 2 of Drag Race, but before Raven was working as her makeup artist. The book is a list of many tips, tricks, routines, and rules to live by – everything from make-up tutorials to professional advice. Like I said, I love a lot of Ru’s philosophies, including the idea of “gender fuck”. People can get so hung up on putting gender into certain boxes, and this is the idea of saying “fuck that” and pulling the boxes away. Anybody can be glamorous, pronouns can be interchangeable, and your “between-me-down-there” has nothing to do with how you present yourself. Since Ru has seen and done it all, she’s ready to pass on her knowledge to the generations to come. Truthfully, I’m not sure I needed to know all the ins and outs about Ru’s colon cleaning adventures, but it was a good read otherwise.
GuRu is probably my favorite of the two, and actually makes for a really lovely coffee table book. It’s not so much a novel, but more a collection of Ru’s thoughts, stories, quotes, and pictures. You could really flip to any page in the book and start reading, since most of the pages stand independent from one another. It’s sort of like the most glamorous self-help book you’ll ever read. It’s very very visually appealing, and reminded me of Kim’sSelfie Book with all the pictures – although there’s way more writing. I’d definitely keep this on my coffee table if I was hosting some elegant extravaganza.
You can find these two published works wherever fine books are sold… and good luck finding the first book, but please feel free to point me in the right direction.
I’m sure you know by now how much I love Ross Mathews – I mean, we’re basically friends at this point! We email, I’m involved in the podcast somewhat, and we’re always interacting on social media. So of course, the second that Ross announced that his new book, Name Drop, was available for pre-order, I immediately reserved my copy.
Name Drop is a collection of the “really good celebrities stories” that he “usually only tells at happy hour.” I had to wait about 6 months for the release, but luckily for me, Ross did an exclusive reading at a DragCon panel. He read the first chapter of the book, which was about his incredible interaction with Lady Gaga. It was so awesome to see him do the reading, and it made me super excited to read the whole thing.
The stories in the book include interactions with big names, such as Rosie O’Donnell, Christina Aguilera, The Spice Girls and sooo much more! He truly did not disappoint – these stories were amazing. They were short, sweet, but packed full of the gossip you’re looking for. Plus, Ross makes everything fun! So not only is there the collection of stories, but he also includes original cocktails and “ROSSipes” with each chapter.
Here are some of the thoughts I had while reading the book (you may have to read it all for yourself to understand fully what I am talking about):
Barbara Walters … what a bitch! Not just off camera – ON CAMERA! This had me HEATED!!!
Sherry Shepherd and her wigs!! What a woman – this warmed my heart.
Cannot wait to make Twice Baked Cutie Potatoes. YUM.
Sarah Colonna!!! I miss the days of her and Josh Wolf’s podcast. Did you know she’s on Shameless??
Gotta love the Spice Girls!!
A PIZZA OVEN?! A PIZZA OVEN!!!!! HOW DID YOU EVEN TRANSPORT THAT?! WHERE IS THIS PIZZA OVEN TODAY?? I have so many more questions. I can’t let this go.
“Hi folks!” – my favorite Celine Dion quote.
So how can I use my small friendship with Ross to get on Big Brother…
Woah. I’ll never look at Mathew Perry and Matt LeBlanc the same. Friends is one of my absolute favorite shows, but damn. What assholes. I even watched the interview and cringed the whole time. I really lost respect there.
Long live the Divas. Especially Xtina.
Ross, you are absolutely invited to my fantasy celebrity dinner party.
Seriously, take a minute to google Ross Mathews right now and see how much press coverage this book got – there are tons of articles written about his stories! You are not going to want to miss this!
Ross is also going on tour to 30 cities across the US and Canada! He’s got great shows planned with some stand up, games, and insight into some gossip. I’ll be attending The Phoenix show in March – as a VIP, of course! You can visit HelloRoss.com for tour dates or to grab your copy of his book! You can buy Name Drop really anywhere that books are sold – but the Target versions include an extra bonus chapter (which I have not read yet since I pre-ordered my copy on Amazon).
I truly smiled from ear to ear while reading this book. It was seriously next level good. I mean, I read a ton of books by celebrities – but this was in a class of its own. If you only read one book this year, make it Name Drop by Ross Mathews.
I know, I know – I’m really late to the game here. But I want to make my way through a few classic novels this year – including Stephen King’s The Shining. Both my girlfriend and my mom are avid Stephen King readers, and I had no experience with his work at all. After watching the new IT movies, I decided to finally start reading The Shining.
200 pages into the book, and I was not super happy. In my opinion, there was way too much set up. It took til almost page 250 until they were left alone in the hotel. Instead of any scary or thrilling events, we heard the same back stories from multiple perspectives and got multiple tours of the hotel. Things got better once I got past the lengthy exposition.
By the time I finished the book – I mean, yeah, it was scary. But I was definitely expecting it to be way scarier. I think it was hyped up too much in my head. I remember the Friends episode where Joey puts the book in the freezer when it gets too scary – and I really wanted to have that reaction! So honestly, I was a little disappointed. Even though I had never seen the movie, I knew some references – such as the camera work with the tricycle or the girls who talk in unison. However, these were pretty much missing entirely from the book. Maybe this was a decision to add some scary content to the movie? I was definitely hoping it would be a little scarier to see it all come to life. I also knew the ending to the movie is different than the book, which made me more intrigued and added a level of suspense.
The movie. Holy 70’s! Very very vintage, and clearly made 30 years ago. I totally think this movie would kill if they were to remake this. I do think that the fact that this is now an older movie made some things less scary and more funny for me (especially the acting). However, Jack Nicholson is creepy all the time, even when he’s not trying to be. Can I also just say that like.. okay, I know this was a different time period. But the casual use of the N word in both the book and the movie made me wildly uncomfortable. Again, I know it was a different time.. doesn’t make me feel any less weird about it.
The book and the movie had a lot of differences actually, especially in the plot. I was disappointed to see such an awkward interaction between Danny and Mr. Hallorann in the movie, because in the book they were very friendly. The awkwardness doesn’t really explain why Mr. Hallorann was so hell bent on trying to protect him, but their friendship did. Also, the hedges were completely different – which was one of the scariest parts of the book for me! My biggest disappointment was the casting for Wendy. The actress looked like the real life version of a character from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’m pretty sure Wendy was blonde in the book, and I don’t know – she just really didn’t look at all what I was picturing. She and Jack made a super odd couple, and I spent more time laughing at her than I was hoping for her escape.
Overall, I’m glad I read and watched this. The story is cool; I can see why this is a classic. Next up, watching the new Doctor Sleep movie.