So here it is: the long-awaited review of Lisa Alcalay Klug's latest book, Hot Mamalah: The Ultimate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe (affiliate link).
Lisa's publisher very kindly sent me a copy of the book to review, so that's my disclosure.
When I first started reading this book, I felt completely overwhelmed. It really reminded me of some Jewish women that I know, and am somewhat afraid of - you know, those loud, bossy, neurotic types. It looked like this book was a handbook for becoming one of those, and I didn't really want any part of it. I argued with the book, with its lovely line drawings and wild typography, its luscious recipes and brazen declaration of female fabulosity.
But then, it started to grow on me. It made me laugh. It reminded me not to take it, and myself, so seriously. It reminded me that every one of those intimidating hot mamalahs in the gym was a daughter of G-d, a human with strengths, weaknesses and her own lovability. It reminded me that having fun is an important part of the human experience, that laughing and crying and being sexy and fabulous and funny and enjoying every delicious morsel you put in your mouth is our birthright as women, whether Jewish or not.
I've been blogging recently about akrasia, about the lizard brain and our tendency to self-sabotage. So many women have trouble with the Imposter Police, the feeling that you are not your true self in your professional persona, that you will be unmasked as a fraud any minute and taken away for impersonating someone you are not. So depressing.
Hot Mamalah is an antidote to this self-doubt. Deliberately working on an image of yourself as fabulous, strong and mistress of your own destiny, whether you follow the cocktail recipes in the book or not, has got to boost your self-esteem in all areas of life. At the very least, you can't brood while giggling your head off at some really preposterous statement. You don't really want to be someone whose "neuroses have neuroses", but you know somebody just like that. At the very least, be grateful you aren't her. How about "You know you are a Hot Mamalah because your hobbies include baking, knitting, eating and impassioned debate." Or "You know you are a Hot Mamalah because sultry, raucous, and nubile describes you ... and your appetizers."
The book is structured in the form of a meal (of course!). Starting with Aperitifs, continuing with Hors d'Oeuvres, through Le Plat Principal to Dessert. Each section contains lists, jokes, recipes and even some thoughtful advice about life, as well as the best kind of handbags to buy.
This is probably a good place to mention the fabulous giveaway at Modern Tribe. Lots of chances to win seriously cool merchandise! But don't delay, the winner will be announced on December 3rd. Also, do not forget Lisa's previous book, Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe (also an affiliate link).
In summary, this is a book that will make you love it despite yourself, just like the Hot Mamalah herself. Nu, go ahead and buy it, it couldn't hurt.