Playground by Jennifer Saginor

playground2This 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 img_2482also 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. 

carrie leighIn 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!

img_2483playgroundThis 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

Thanks for reading.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Thanks for reading.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

judy blume2I read last November in Entertainment Weekly that Judy Blume has finally sold the film rights to her famous book, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Since I’m in full swing of my reading kick, I got ahead of the game prior to hearing anything about the film being in motion. To be honest, I can’t remember if I read this book when I was younger or not. I definitely read other Judy Blume books growing up, as she’s wildly popular for the age group. Disregarding the title, my knowledge of Judy Blume had me believing that this would be a story of a young girl starting to grow into a teenager. While that is definitely still a theme of the novel, religion is also the major discussion.

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Margaret doesn’t have a religion, as it has created outstanding problems for her family. Her father was Jewish and her mother was Christian, and both of their families had strong opinions on the matter. As a result, Margaret is told that she could decide for herself when she got older. And yet, she finds herself talking to God in the way that a young girl might write in her diary. As a part of an independent school project, she starts to explore different faiths by attending different places of worship with friends. We watch Margaret try to navigate this difficult subject on her own, while also being pulled in a variety of directions from her family.

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Naturally, Margaret and her friends also navigate growing up items for girls such as their first periods, stuffing their bras, and kissing boys at their class supper parties. Most of what Margaret is trying to learn here leads her back to her discussions with God. She prays for her breasts to grow; she prays to not be the last of her friends to menstruate. She communicates with God regularly, but says she cannot find him in religion. She only feels him when she is alone.

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The relationships between Margaret and her family prove to be the most interesting. She is close with her Grandma, who treats her a lot like an adult. There’s also a lot of tension created as a result of religion. This is heightened when Margaret’s other grandparents come to visit, ruining her spring break with her Grandma. These grandparents have not spoken with Margaret or her parents for over 14 years, as a result of a disagreement on religion. Naturally, during their visit, a fight breaks out on the subject.

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It’s honestly satisfying to see a child be right and adults be wrong about something so serious and profound as religion. In Margaret’s self discovery for faith, she is exploring options and seeing where she feels God. She is reaching out in times of need, questioning things happening around her, and wishing to be the best version of herself. To me, that’s exactly what faith should be about. And yet, the adults focus on arbitrary traditions and rules in a way that affects everyone’s relationship to each other. The grandparents push Christianity, the Grandma pushes Judaism, and Margaret’s parents end up pushing NO religion as a result – proving that no one actually wants to let Margaret figure it out on her own.

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I found this topic wildly fascinating, specifically through the innocent eyes of a young girl. You can find Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret anywhere fine books are sold. The cover has been updated many times over the years, and the most recent includes the modern looking text format. Just as an aside, you can also find Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea, wherever books are sold as well, if you are a Chelsea Handler fan.

Thanks for reading!

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

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READ THIS BOOK. Take the quiz. And read this book.

This book addresses the fact that different things hold different levels of importance to different people. An act that you consider small may be monumental to your partner. There are so many different ways to communicate, and its important to understand which languages means the most to both you and the person that you love.

5 Love Languages:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Giving Gifts

I took the quiz and made Ryan (my boyfriend) take it as well prior to reading the book. Just looking at the five love languages, I could spot mine right away: Words of Affirmation. I mean, I was a Communications major… words are important to me. Still, I took the quiz and was validated in my suspicions. Ryan’s answers were surprising in some ways.

My Responses:                          Ryan’s Responses:

9 Words of Affirmation           8 Quality Time

7 Physical Touch                       8 Words of Affirmation

7 Quality Time                           7 Acts of Service

6 Acts of Service                        4 Physical Touch

1 Receiving Gifts                       3 Receiving Gifts

The book speaks about spouses, but I don’t think this applies only to married people, or even just people in relationships. I think that the way you communicate in love says a lot about who you are and can help you to learn more about yourself and your relationships.

I’ve learned that I am extremely sensitive to words. When Ryan and I are able to communicate well and tell each other all these nice things, I feel good. And on the flip side, if words exchanged are negative, I hold onto them for a long time. Luckily, my need for Words of Affirmation is frequently met through meaningful text messages, small notes, and daily “I love you”s. I still think it’s important for Ryan to recognize that Words of Affirmation is my primary love language for whenever we get into fights or arguments. Knowing that words are important to me means that he can say things like “I’m sorry” and “Everything is fine” a few times and my demeanor will drastically change. I am definitely influenced largely by what is said to me.

Even though Ryan’s top two are tied, I think that Quality Time suits him best. It means a lot to him when we share experiences together or spend time doing things at home. Since Receiving Gifts clearly doesn’t hold a lot of significance to either of us, a lot of my birthday and Christmas presents involved tickets to something. We also enjoy doing small, cheap dates on Friday nights such as dinner and/or the movies. I know that planning and spending time together is something that means a lot to him (and myself as well). On the flip side, he gets upset when we are together but I am not present. There are nights where I will fall asleep early, and the next day he will tell me that I was a zombie. I try not to spend too much time on my phone when we are out or on a date, except for taking a couple pictures for Snapchat.

I would love to dive more into what makes Ryan happy after he reads the book. He doesn’t enjoy reading as much as I do, but has agreed to read sections of the book that I block off for him.

What’s important to remember is that what will make a difference in a relationship is effort. Ross Mathews has a theory about relationships, saying, “You need to meet me 100% at the 50 yard line.” Both parties need to be willing to say, Hey, I care about you and our relationship and doing what I can to make it a good one. I’m lucky to have this, but the author of the book is a marriage counselor and often talks about his theories saving marriages. I definitely think it’s possible to apply his theories to positively influence your relationship (or marriage, or love life or whatever), but only if both parties are willing to put in the effort.

Once the effort is there, a little goes a long way. 

More to come after I block of sections for Ryan and get his feedback. Thanks for reading.