You know Candace Bushnell from SEX AND THE CITY, the book that defined culture, dating, and fashion for an entire generation of women. (And brought people like us to New York City.) Her latest book, IS THERE STILL SEX IN THE CITY?, focuses on another dynamic group of friends who grapple with the ever-modernizing phenomena of dating and relationships in their fifties.
In this episode, you'll listen in on Candace's bedtime routines (spoiler alert: get ready for some great book recs!), relationship advice (and break up advice, for that matter), and how she's continuing to change the culture for women. We hope you love the conversation as much as we do. Be sure to listen till the very end (it's only 20mins so don't worry-- we know you're busy) to find out if you won our Hungryroot #shelfcare giveaway.
And don't forget to show off your #shelfcare! Tag us on Instagram to be featured on our feed.
Let's rest and recharge together!
kate and lauren
I finished SEVERANCE by Ling Ma recently and highly recommend it for fans of STATION ELEVEN, THE ROAD, or anyone who wishes Karen Thompson Walker could write a book a year (if you haven't read THE DREAMERS or AGE OF MIRACLES-- what are you doing with your life?!). I also recommend that if you're used to using liquid body wash that you make the switch to bar soap. I'm trying to cut down on my plastic use and as it turns out, I actually like bar soap better! Totally a win-win. I'm using Fresh's Sugar Lemon right now but might switch to something cozier (can a scent be cozy?) now that it's starting to get cooler outside.
This week #myshelfcare is Rona Jaffe's THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, which feels like VALLEY OF THE DOLLS for the publishing world. I think this book is on every book-lover's bookshelf, no? I first read this during a period of my life when I was not working in book world, and it was complete torture. Despite the awfulness of what happens to April and Gregg, it made me miss publishing badly. You'll also see Natural Herbal Pain Terminator patches. These were recommended to me by my acupuncturist when I had a foot injury and I slapped these babies on with reckless abandon. The relief was almost instant and helped me sleep and get through my day. Buy them in bulk.
Books and products recommended in this episode:
CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN by Sayaka Murata
FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Kate: So right out of the gate, because we're all busy, we want to know, describe your Shelf-Care.
Candace: Well, my shelf care is a ritual that I do pretty much every single night before I go to bed. And the biggest part of the Shelf-Care is reading. And this is to me, reading is probably the best thing that you can do before you go to sleep. It's not all buzzy and distracting like TV and it's a great...telling your brain stories is very, very soothing before you go to bed. And then it's something that you also can look forward to when you're going to sleep. I always have a book and it kind of depends on, you know, I read a lot of things like I’ll read like what's currently on the best-seller list. And then I'll read, you know, more obscure literary books that I get from my publisher, which is Grove Atlantic.
Kate: They published one of my favorite books of the last year. It's called CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN.
Candace: Oh my God. Yes.
Kate: I love that book.
Candace: So much! And I mean it really makes really made me think, and it made me think about, um, so many, you know, there's so many women's lives out there that we don't see and we have no concept of. And those are the women who are behind the counters. Those are the people who are doing all the behind-the-scenes work.
Kate: And one of the things that I knew you read recently that I too read and cannot rave about enough is FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE.
Kate: I have been dying to know your thoughts on that. For anyone listening that hasn't read about it or hasn't read it yet, please do read it. It's amazing. But it's about a 40-year-old doctor going through a divorce.
Candace: I loved it. I thought it was great.I mean it's hard to pull off and she did a great job and she really captured that. It's that 40 something malaise where things really start to turn around and women kind of get a little bit more power and it's, you know, and the kids and everyone's trying to do it all and have it all and it's just too much. I mean, you can just like feel a franticness of their lives, but I thought he actually came across as being pretty sympathetic.
Kate: Yes, I agree. Especially the last part of it that all the characters I've found very empathetic. Just going back to your shelf care, what in addition to reading do you do in the evenings to help you rest and recharge? Are there any products that you always use?
Candace: The one thing that I have is a lavender pillow spray, which is actually not that easy to find. I mean, I really got hooked on his lavender pillow spray. Definitely when I was on one of my book tours. I find that really helps sleep. Another thing is Sleepy Time Tea. So I do sleepy time tea cause I do think that sleep is really restorative. And then I have, God I have like foot cream.
Kate: Oh that sounds lovely. I did a pedicure so badly. I don't even want to touch my own feet right now.
Candace: It sounds horrible and it sounds so weird and nobody wants to touch their feet but it's, it's a great thing. Like you're lying in bed and you're reading. And I have like a serum and then I also have just like a gel that goes over your, your evening, you know, night cream. So I probably do something around my eyes and then I sometimes do night cream and then we'll do like this gel. So I have that. Oh. And then I have M&Ms with peanuts.
Kate: Oh, those are by far the best M&Ms. It's overwhelming these days. There's so many options for M&M's. Why don't they just keep it simple? It’s just peanut or plain. That's fine. That works. We're so overwritten with choices that it's just a little bit aggressive to have. So a dozen choices for M&M's. But I have a question for you. When you were talking about your sleepy time team, it made me think about how so many people are on the CBD wagon. Have you tried anything? Do you have any thoughts on CBD? Have you done it yourself?
Candace: I mean, CBD really? Like try THC. Um, I, I do sometimes smoke, but I don't do the CBD.
Kate: It's like sugar free cake at a point. It's just like no half the cake. You want the cake.
Candace: You know, I did once try these CBD drops but the tongue and yes they did. W I would say that they did work, but I feel kind of, it felt a little like, eh, the next day.
Kate: I can see that. I know that you spent time in the country after your divorce and you really questioned what you wanted and basically had an existential crisis. And it's funny because I notice in a different way that a lot of women in their thirties also are, you know, having to grapple with these bigger questions like, do I want children? If I want children, what does that mean for my career? Do I actually want kids or am I programmed to want kids? Especially now where women feel more empowered to question what they want versus what they should want. It's funny, I really related to that aspect of your book, just that questioning, okay, what's what, who am I? And especially being recently single, I find that that exasperates it because now I'm just a lot of unknowns. And when you're grappling with these feelings of that existential crisis, what's your favorite way to sort of unwind or how do you react to those? Do you distract or what has helped you to sort of deal with that?
Candace: One of the things that helps me overall and has helped me through all my twenties and thirties is really having work. I mean, it is having in a sense your own life to go back to. And I mean that's always the tricky part about relationship because relationships demand that you make some sort of compromise and give up your own, like you know, for the betterment of the couple. And, and so you give things up and then if you lose the relationship, the question is then what do you have? And you know, you're young so you still have your career. You still have, you know yourself. Hopefully you still have a place to live. I'm assuming that you have income. And you know, so you have a lot of things that really can help you. You still have youth, you know, I mean, you're not 23.
Kate: Thank God. Thank God I would not go back to my twenties for anything.
Candace: At the same time, it's like you're not 23. You know what's going on, you know how to do things. This is not your first time.
Kate: It's not my first rodeo.
Candace: Yeah. It's not your first rodeo. So you know what to do. And I mean for me, like every time I broke up with a guy, I always found that it was a really good time to get back to me, who I am, on my own and not being in a role of relationship to somebody else. And you know, that means you do more of you.
Kate: There’s no one else to do. It’s all me, all the time. I've always prided myself on being fiercely independent. But I've noticed I was so used to living with someone that it does get lonely. And is that something that, I know you're in a relationship now, but how have you sort of dealt with those feelings of loneliness when you've been single for quite some time?
Candace: Well, you know, for me, I feel like I always have something to do.
Kate: Productivity is a great distraction.
Candace: Given time on my own, I'm going to go out there and create something. I mean I’m going to put my brain to work at something and I think that now is a really good time to like look around at your career, what you want to do, what have you neglected because of this relationship?
Kate: This podcast is one of them.
Candace: So it's this podcast and you know, there are probably some other things as well. I mean the fact is when you're not in a relationship, you do have a lot more time. Yes. Because relationships take so, I mean if you're a woman you have to be working your relationship all the time.
Kate: And compromising all the time.
Candace: And compromising all the time in a dozen, little tiny ways. Make a list of the compromises that you made. Like for every superhero movie now what are you gonna do and what are you, you know, what are you going to go and watch that you really wanna watch?
Kate: There’s so much Bravo on in my new apartment, this is basically Andy Cohen all the time. And so also I don't want to do the apps. I feel like if I start doing apps, I'm just going to want a date less and not more. How do you feel about meeting people in real life? Can that happen anymore? And are you someone that supports women hitting on men?
Candace: I have pursued some men, plenty of them. And I think the thinking behind it is that if you pursue a man and you get him, that his feelings for you might not be as strong as if a man pursues you.
Kate: I so do not agree with that, though. Do you agree with it?
Candace: You know, it's about everybody's ego.
Kate: It is so about ego.
Candace: It depends on the kind of person you are. Like if someone's pursuing me. I'm like, you know, please don't, I mean I kind of would rather pursue somebody.
Kate: When I approach a man, it's because there's something about them that leads me to believe they're interesting or they're smart.
Candace: A lot of women are like that.
Kate: Yes, we're more intuitive.
Candace: You know, a lot of women are like that, but the reverse is not true.
Kate: Agree completely. Going back, we were talking a little bit about being 23. I was actually 23 when I moved to New York and I was obsessed with sex in the city, just like all of my girlfriends. When I moved to New York, it was basically welcome to New York by Taylor Swift or that came out after. So it was empire state of mind and Sex And the City. I would listen to empire state of mind and I would watch sex in the city on repeat. Did you ever in a million years expect to be the cultural icon that you are today?
Candace: Yes. But I didn’t think Sex And the City was getting to necessarily be a huge hit. I've always really felt driven to write and to really try to change the culture. And I was and I still am, I'm a feminist and I was when I was very young and sexism is really, you know, one of, I guess one of my platforms. It's something that I've, you know, really worked to try to change. I mean just to try to change women's ideas in their heads of what's possible for them. I really always wanted to smash all of these things that society said about women, you know, from girls being sugar and spice. I grew up in the 60s so we got that kind of messaging constantly. Now what I didn't expect, and I think one of the reasons why it's such a hit is that it's on TV. And TV became more and more of a thing and it was starting to change with Sex And the City. And then you know it was on all the time. And, and so there's, it's really, it's had an incredible reach.
Kate: It has. And one of the things that has separated Sex And The City in addition to the subject matter is there's few shows that have that sort of styling clothes played such an important role on sex in the city, just like Manhattan did clothes and what Carrie wore was constantly being talked about. What role do clothes play in your life?
Candace: I think clothes are exactly what you saw on Sex and the City, their costumes, and you know, Manhattan is New York. I mean, everybody's in a costume. Everybody's in a uniform. And so for me, clothes are costumes and expression. In a city where fashion is one of the biggest industries here. I mean, fashion literally used to be garment district and we're making clothes there.
Kate: Do you remember your first splurge item that you bought for yourself?
Candace: When I went to college, I went to Rice University across the street was Neiman Marcus and I went in there and found this amazing pair of disco Charles Jourdan shoes that were very reduced in price, but still maybe $50, which was a huge amount of money back then, and I bought them and I knew that those were the shoes that were going to take me to New York
Kate: Did they?
Candace: They did. When I got to New York, I had the right shoes.
Kate: That's the most important thing. When I first moved to New York, I'd be so embarrassed at who I am today. I used to judge women that weren't wearing heels. I don't even own a pair of heels these days. Anytime I see a woman in heels, I think, Oh, that must hurt so badly.
Kate: The fashion has changed a lot. Well, Candace, thank you so much. I know you're very busy, so we really appreciate it. This has been such an honor and thank you again for everything.
Candace: Talk soon, bye!