Sunday Book Club! Straight From the Source by Kim Osorio

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “Straight from the Source” by Kim Osorio.

Initial Thoughts:
I don’t remember how I came across this book, but I was intrigued at the idea of learning more about a woman’s role in the Journalism/Entertainment Industry, especially in a position of power. I don’t really know anything about Hip Hop music/culture, so I wasn’t sure I’d understand the story…keep reading to see my thoughts!

Plot:
“SFTS” tells the real life story – according to her – of Kim Osorio & how she works her way up from unpaid Internships to becoming the Editor in Chief of her favorite magazine, The Source. Before reading this I was not familiar with The Source, but apparently it was considered the “Hip Hop Bible”, so working there was a huge career builder, & being in charge was a huge accomplishment. Along the road to fame, Osorio runs into some complications – not being taken seriously because she’s a woman, being disrespected by her male peers/superiors, & dodging questions & assumptions from others about her romantic relationship with certain celebrities. Eventually Osorio sues The Source for sexual harassment & this story is an exposé of what happened during her time there.

Characters:
Kim Osorio – At first I related to Kim while she struggled & jumped from unpaid Internship to unpaid Internship. I sympathized with her because she’s so passionate about Hip Hop & Journalism & wants to make a career out of her passions, but just can’t seem to make the right connections. I know that struggle! However, I became annoyed with her constant name dropping of celebrities & talk of how well connected she was. Most of the story is about Osorio denying that she’s a groupie, but after a while it sort of felt like, “she doth protest too much”. She talks about her relationships with big name celebrities like Nas & 50 Cent to the point that I wonder if they were okay with this book being published. She’s certainly entitled to a relationship that makes her happy, but something about Osorio’s attitude makes it seem like she’s just trying to get her 15 minutes of fame.

Quotes:
– Pg 71: “Sorry, but I didn’t recognize random white chicks who wanted to be down with Hip Hop”
– Pg 272: “I wonder why the hip-hop circle is so damn judgmental” – both quotes from Kim Osorio
This is but one quote in a sea of moments where I felt alienated & judged by Osorio because I wasn’t “down” with Hip Hop. Judgement is part of the reason I don’t really like Hip Hop or the Music Industry culture in general. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE music itself, but I hate that each genre is a clique. Reading Osorio’s judgement made me feel bad because she’s missing the opportunity to share her passion for Hip Hop with a varied audience that might find the same love she has. Then she goes & says that she doesn’t understand why the Industry is so judgmental, she’s part of the problem! Hypocrisies like this are why I’m not a fan of Osorio.
– Pg 260: “…job security was always a [seious] issue…” (I added brackets to point out the spelling error)
I found at least 4 typos along with several missing commas or periods. She was the EIC of a major magazine & couldn’t edit her own book properly!?
– Pg 272: “…I will never be able to recover my reputation…although the girls & I in the network can, as one of my friend jokes, walk up to so many men in the industry & embarrass them by holding our hands up in front of them as a measure of how big or small we know they are…I will never be able to shake my image in the eyes of some people as the girl who slept with a bunch of rappers” – Kim Osorio
This quote continues to confuse me in regards to how Osorio wants to be seen. Sometimes she’s a hardworking, powerful woman that had sexist lies told about her, & other times she says things like this which make her seem like the groupie she keeps denying she is.

Overall:
As mentioned in my “Initial Thoughts” I don’t really have an interest in Hip Hop culture so there were moments where I had little to no idea who or what Osorio was talking about. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t understand the overall story, but there were details that a more educated reader would have found interesting, but were over my head. Osorio’s writing style is interesting, there’s heavy swearing & use of slang. I was intrigued by this story, but Osorio’s hypocrisy became too much to keep track of. Besides the constant “I have sex with lots of Industry men/I’ve only had a few relationships with Industry men” story line, there was another plot point where she talks about how she was forced to make decisions for The Source that she didn’t believe were right & it made her uncomfortable because her name was being signed on work she didn’t think was good. Then at the end of the book she talks about how the work you do speaks louder than the place you work, so she’s lucky to always have her work at The Source to show her skills. Didn’t you spend a majority of the book talking about how your bosses forced you to make bad decisions that you didn’t agree with!? So what’s the part of your work that you’re proud of? I always felt like I was missing something or getting tripped up by Osorio’s BS.

Rating: Originally rated B, but while writing this review lowered to a C
At first I gave this book a B rating because it was a quick read that kept me entertained. However, while writing this Review, I couldn’t wash away the bad taste this book left in my mouth. I think this story was meant to be read specifically by Osorio’s peers that had heard the rumors & were judging her. It was her chance to clear the air/cover her ass/name names/kiss & tell, basically one big mass defense of her actions while at The Source, but ultimately unless you were part of the story or the culture, why would you care? I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are familiar with The Source, Hip Hop culture, or the study of Feminism. There are a lot of Feminist plot points that I can see making interesting discussions in a Literature/Gender/Music Industry class or for personal study if that’s your passion.

Have you read or heard of The Source? Have you read this book or other Industry Autobiographies like this?  If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is May 29th & the book is “The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband” by David Finch.

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Book Review! The Duchess by Amanda Foreman

Hi everyone! Today I will be reviewing a novel called “The Duchess” written by Amanda Foreman. This is a pretty hefty book, clocking in at almost 400 pages with about 40 pages of Notes in the back. To keep the length of this post down, I tried to keep the re-telling of the story to a minimum and spoilers at bay. This is basically exactly what my notes were as I read. Without further ado…

Initial Thoughts:
Foreman wrote this biography based on her doctoral thesis & is supposedly the only person to have ever turned their thesis into a best selling biography.  I thought this was commendable as I’m considering going to Grad school, but the idea of having to write a thesis is very overwhelming. I admire Foreman’s dedication to her education and her passion for the topic. I wanted to read this to get an idea of what a thesis looks like and I wanted to find out more about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I had seen advertisements for the film, “The Duchess”, many years ago when it was released and thought the plot seemed intriguing, but wanted to read the book first.

Plot:
“The Duchess” is the biography of Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, circa 1774. She was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Princess Diana of Wales and was just as big a celebrity. The biography, obviously, tells the story of Georgiana’s life and the dichotomy of her public and personal life. From the outside looking in, Georgiana had it all, money, fame, and popularity. Inside, she was a deeply unhappy woman, plagued by years of insecurity and people pleasing that led her down a dark road of addiction and misfortune. It’s pretty interesting how popular and involved in shaping history she was, yet I’ve never learned about her. Foreman addresses some reasons that shed light on how history has been RE-WRITTEN by our ancestors and we’re not always getting the full story about how things happened. I guess this bio is good for conspiracy theory fans too, haha!

Characters:
– Georgiana Spencer Cavendish is obviously the main character. We share a birthday, June 7th, woo hoo! separated by a few hundred years. When her father died he left behind a fortune that today would equal $74 million, so she was certainly well off and used that money to educate herself in several avenues. Georgiana was like 1700’s Barbie, she did everything. Not only was she involved in politics, fashion, etc, she was a published author, and also “…an amateur chemist & mineralogist of note…” (p 269), among other accomplishments. She openly participated in political campaigning even though it brought her much negative attention. For every person that admired her involvement, there was someone else smearing her name. Despite her wealth, education, and popularity, you have to feel bad for this woman’s personal life. Her husband had a child by a mistress before he & Georgiana were even married. Their marriage was a train wreck, they both cheated, had children with other partners, and came very close to divorcing which was practically unheard of then.
– The Spencer, Cavendish, and other popular families of the time remind me of the Kardashian family. Super wealthy, spoiled, the center of attention and scandal, involved in each other’s business – & that’s just the way they wanted it.

Quotes:
– A passage on page 153 shows how attacks on women haven’t changed much in hundreds of years. It lists specific reasons Georgiana was so heavily criticized by certain members of the public for her political involvement. She was criticized for bringing “her own personality to the campaign in an era when the only women who had public personas were actresses & courtesans…”. There were also double standards between her and male campaigners. For a male to associate with the common people and treat voters as equals earned him the title of “Man of the People”. When Georgiana did the same & earned the title, a “Woman of the People”, it meant she was a whore.
– In a way, the reader never really gets to know Georgiana because everything she did was scrutinized & she had to act a certain way. For example, in a one letter, she writes about how the last few months were the best of her life, then at the end of the letter she complains that she’s never been sadder (p 273). Her emotions ranged so wildly, it was hard to tell how she genuinely felt or if she was just acting.
– P 382 gives a very inspiring and flattering description of Georgiana, listing all her accomplishments and contributions to society. She should be proud to be remembered that way & you can clearly see why Foreman was so passionate about her.

Overall:
– This biography is not for everyone. It’s certainly not light reading for most. I found it hard to keep track of the family trees, relationships, and the timeline of Georgiana’s life. There are huge sections of history information, and while I understand its inclusion, it’s not what I wanted to read about. I wanted to get to the juicy stuff about Georgiana!
– Another aspect of the book I found hard to follow were the footnotes. The print was super small and you had to find the correct footnote that corresponded with the number in the main text – it was a lot of back and forth reading of small print. Why not just include the footnote in the main text? I figured that’s the way a thesis is set up, but I’m not sure.
– While the historical content did become overwhelming, I did enjoy learning about the way women’s rights and family dynamics have changed, or not, since Georgiana’s time.

Rating: B-
Honestly, this book didn’t do much for me because I was more interested in the woman, not the time period and you get “too much” of the latter. I can’t fault Foreman for that, she did an amazing job doing her research, I just wasn’t terribly interested. As I mentioned above, this biography is best suited for someone that has a genuine interest in the time period and political happenings within it, not solely interested in Georgiana’s life. I gave it a low B because I admire Foreman’s work, but I couldn’t get past the abundance of historical material rather than focus on Georgiana’s personal life, so the story didn’t really grab me. I feel like I would be more interested in the film version of the bio which of course will be highly sensationalized to grab viewer’s attention.

Have you read “The Duchess”? Have you ever heard of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire? Please share your thoughts on this review or the biography in the comments down below! As always, I welcome any and all book suggestions you might have – until next time, hit that FOLLOW button on the top right to stay updated with all my posts!