Book Review #61: “Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide”

Girls Auto Clinic - Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

I first heard about this book when Patrice Banks was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast!

Here’s the link from the NPR archives:


I wanted to buy this book the minute I saw the podcast episode in my library.

I’m a bit biased, I think. Being the only child, my dad made sure that I was comfortable around cars from a very early age. Since he was an engineer, he wanted me to be as confident as possible with math and science, and anything related to it. Cars are complicated, don’t get me wrong, but being naturally curious, I learned quickly.

My dad taught me how to change the oil in our Volvo station wagon before I entered middle school. I also learned the essence of a gas and maintenance log, checking tire pressures, and having an emergency kit ready to go.

I also learned that my parents keep their cars for as long as possible. Our family only had/went through five cars by the time I graduated from college in 2011.

  • White Volvo 240 station wagon, 1988-2016
  • Gold/beige Saturn SL sedan, early 1990s
  • Forest green Volvo S70 sedan, 1998-2011
  • Gold/beige Ford Ranger truck, 2005-present
  • Gold/beige Toyota Camry sedan, 2010-present

The only new cars my parents ever purchased, in my lifetime, were the Volvo station wagon, and possibly the Saturn sedan. Everything else was/has been used. I learned how to drive stick on the Ford Ranger when I was in high school, although the Saturn sedan was also a manual transmission. The Camry is my baby, whom I call “Sandy.”


I really appreciate Banks writing this type of guide. It’s important for everyone to know the basics about the car you drive, but especially women. Banks has said this book arose out of her own experiences, and shame, with being incredibly intimidated by mechanics, car repairs, dealerships, and more.

Although I was fortunate to have a wonderful dad who taught me many things about cars early on, I know many women aren’t so lucky. Even some men I know aren’t handy with their cars, and trust their mechanics to fix whatever is wrong.

Banks does a great job with breaking a car down into its basic components, and making everything less intimidating right off the bat. She founded Girls Auto Clinic as a series of workshops, where women were encouraged to bring their cars and be prepared to get their hands dirty. She’s learned from her mistakes, and tries hard to educate others. When she was younger, Banks found she was getting a new car every three-four years, dropping a ton of extra money on repairs because she was ignoring or was intimidated by routine maintenance, and zoning out when mechanics were explaining the work that was being done.

She encourages, implores women (and men) to learn the basics first, then to become very intimate with your vehicle, and to continue a similar relationship with every vehicle after that. Once you’re armed with knowledge, everything becomes easier.

Here are a few basics Banks encourages everyone to learn:

  • How to pop and raise your vehicle’s hood
  • What the lights on your dashboard or instrument panel mean
  • How to check your tire pressure
  • How to add air to your tires
  • How to measure your tire tread
  • How to check your fluids under the hood
  • How to change a tire
  • Finding and keeping a great PCT

Banks doesn’t encourage the common driver to change their own oil, although Al and I do that with our own cars. We know how, and the amount of money spent is a little less than the traditional oil change services.

The biggest tip to keep in mind: Beware of cheap car services. Oil changes aren’t normally $5.00 flat. Your car is a big part of your life – Don’t automatically spring for something cheap to save money.


Now that I’ve read the book, I plan to keep this in my glove box. It’s chock-full of valuable tips, tricks, diagrams, and recommendations.

I hope that she expands the Girls Auto Clinic across the country, too. It’s a valuable organization that empowers women in a male-dominated profession.

For more information, check out https://girlsautoclinic.com/.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #53: “Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America”

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Image Credit: Amazon

This was the second book that Al gave me for Christmas. He’s heard me talk about Barbara Ehrenreich before. I read her book Nickel and Dimed (2001) for one of my early college classes, and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Right out of the gate, Ehrenreich writes about her own battle with breast cancer, and how “fighting cancer with a positive attitude” has permeated our culture. Although this book was published in 2009, nearly 10 years ago, the same sentiments appear to be holding strong. I have my own opinions about breast cancer charities and the amount of money that is spent on research (Susan G. Komen in particular), but let’s just say that Ehrenreich’s words and research fell in line with my thoughts.

Ehrenreich continues with chapters about the economy, life coaches, how “coaching” entered into corporate culture, and so on. One review compared positivity and positive thinking to a fake orgasm. “Fake it ’til you make it” is referenced a lot, and not always in a good way. But, Ehrenreich says, that’s okay. It’s actually healthier to not be positive all the time. Her main point is to not get brainwashed, and make sure you remain in control of your emotions.

While I was reading, I couldn’t help but think of the Pixar movie Inside Out (2016), where the viewers are inside the head of 11-year-old Riley and seeing her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger) interact. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. And I wondered if Ehrenreich had seen it, and what she thought about it. A lot of her writing in this book, years before the movie was released, was spot on with the messages Pixar was sending to moviegoers. We all have Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger among us and in us for a reason and a purpose.

I’m glad that I put this book on my Amazon wish list. I had been thinking about Ehrenreich and Nickel and Dimed a lot last year, and I found myself searching for more books written by her. I was not disappointed. I plan to read several more of her works in the future:

Despite this compelling read, I still have a positive attitude. I’ve always been an optimist – One nonfiction book isn’t going to turn me into a pessimist. However, I’m definitely going to pay closer attention to my surroundings, try not to get caught up in hype, and stay in control of my emotions.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂