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Literary fiction, classics, dystopian, history, memoir, prize winners, and of course the 1001 books. You really might catch me reading anything!

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Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Sven Beckert
Progress: 220/656 pages

Astonish Me

Astonish Me - Maggie Shipstead

This is Shipstead's second novel, and to date it has not gotten quite the acclaim or recognition of her first.


Astonish Me takes place largely in the 1970s–90s, with some bouncing back and forth. The main character, Joan, has spent her entire life working toward being a top ballerina. And she almost makes it. She gets into a corps, is invited to perform in France—and eventually recognizes that she will never make it any farther, no matter how much work she does.


While Shipstead's plot revolves around Joan, the life she makes after leaving the world of professional ballet, and her closest relationships—there is another side. Shipstead also looks at the devotion, pain, hours, and sacrifices that are required of those who opt for the ballet life. The sacrifices are greater for women—a pregnancy is believed to ruin one's body for ballet forever—but that is not to say that male dancers do not make significant sacrifices as well.


The plot itself is not amazing, but the story makes a quick easy read, and I learned a few things about ballet. I knew next to nothing before.