Cover Image: From the Corner of the Oval

From the Corner of the Oval

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Member Reviews

From the Corner of the Oval is a wonderful summer read. In the first novel by Beck Dorey-Stein, we get stories of a twenty something stenographer in D.C. She is broke, exhausted, dating and trying to establish a career ...or at least a job to repay student loans. This book is laugh out loud funny and I am definitely anxious for Beck's next book. Other reviewers say this is West Wing meets Sex in the City which is a great description.  A great candidate for a fast paced, beach read this summer for anyone who stills misses the Obama administration as much as me.

Update:

A love letter to 44, The Obama family, The Bidens, Washington DC and last but not least, patriotism in America. Beck Dorey-Stein reminded me of every moment that made me fall in love with Barack Obama all over again. She captured how she felt, I felt...how America felt after Sandy Hook, Charleston's church shooting, the Pulse shooting in Orlando. I lived it all over again with her amazing way with words. This memoir made me laugh, cry, cringe and remember and I couldn't be more thankful for having the opportunity to read it. Thank you Beck Dorey-Stein and Netgalley for this lovely book. I will definitely recommend this one!
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I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I imagined it would be light and it was, but it was also smart, entertaining, gossipy, enlightening, and reflective. I bet it would be fantastic on audio as well.
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If you're looking for a juicy tell-all about the Obama White House that will give you absolutely no political insight but tons of office gossip, From the Corner of the Oval Office is for you. In it, Beck Dorey-Stein tells her story of being hired as a White House stenographer after answering a craigslist ad. She went on to travel on Air Force One with the White House entourage across the globe and into many co-worker's hotel rooms. This isn't the serious tell-all you'll get from another member of the administration, but reading about Beck racing against President Obama on the hotel treadmills will never be something I can turn down. I was enthralled from the first page and you will be too.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC of this book. 
I had a serious love/hate relationship with this book. Maybe because I was taking guilty pleasure from a book I should have hated but I couldn't put it down. The author's turbulent love life should not have been of interest but it was the personal part of this book that tied it all together. It is mostly well written and, yes, the author is a writer. The parts about Obama made me almost cry. Serendipitously, I finished the book on the day of Trump's Helsinki summit and the contrast between the two presidents is overwhelming. 
4.5 stars rounded to 5 because, yes, I really liked it.
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I couldn't put it down! This behind the scenes peek at life in the White House, on Air Force One, and in D.C. is perfect for fans of politics (or West Wing fans). Loved it!
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A compelling view from the inside of the Obama White House.  Great emotion, great detail and can only make readers nostalgic for what was a critical and amazing time in our political system.
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Wonderful book, wonderful author! Beck Dorey-Stein is a treasure for sharing her appealing adventure with her readers. The audiobook is terrific, too.
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This is not your grandma’s White House biography.

Non fiction is not a genre that I read a whole lot of. Non fiction—especially biographies etc—aren’t not my thing, but ever once in a while a non fiction book comes up that captures my eye and this was one of those books.

The summary promised the most random story—a woman lands a job at the White House via Craig’s List.

Yes you read that right. Craig’s List. The White House. Stenographer for the President. Yes—THE POTUS. What the actual *&%????? Sold. I was absolutely onboard with this book!

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand.

On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal.

Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process (summary from Goodreads).

This book is Bridget Jones meets the Oval Office. From the very beginning, I could not put this book down. When I first started this book, I had a lot of questions. Why in the name of God would the White House post such a unique position on Craig’s List? And second, do they actually still need stenographers?

Dory-Stein answers all these questions and more in her memoir. If you are looking for an Obama tell all or something more sophisticated—keep looking. This book is not your grandmothers biography—this is non fiction meets chick lit rather than a polished biography about our former president. It is unique and totally binge worthy. I read it in almost one sitting.

While I loved this book and easily counted it as one of the best reads all year—there were times when I absolutely loathed the authors decisions.

We’ve all made mistakes in our twenties and I thinker’s safe to say that we’ve all been ‘hung up’ on a significant other at one point or another but Dory-Stein takes it to a whole new level. I couldn’t believe how much of a train wreck her personal life was but yet at the same time, I couldn’t say that I haven’t been in her place before—hooked on a guy who will never treat you the way that you wish they could. She falls in love with peoples potential and I am 100% guilty of this in former relationships—so maybe that was why this book was hard to read at times.

I can’t imagine the courage it took to write this book. She was so honest and real—even when the truth was ugly, she never shied away from her past and choices. I commend her for her honesty. This was not only a cautionary tale, but it gave readers a good hard look at the things that go through women’s minds and the ways that women try and justify their emotions or choices. I loved the grit and honesty in this book.

While working at the Oval Office sounds terribly glamorous, in this book readers get a completely different view. Working for POTUS sounds like the ultimate dream job right? As a stenographer, Dory-Stein had unobstructed access to some of our nation’s biggest moment, decisions, and conversations. I can’t imagine that kind of power and access to history. But like everything, it comes with a price. Working for the White House now seems far less appealing after I read this book. What a lonely lifestyle—and in many ways—toxic. I can’t imagine following POTUS on the campaign trail or visiting multiple countries in a matter of days.

On one hand—-HELLO DREAM JOB—but on the other hand—your life isn’t your own and it’s a lot less glamorous than it sounds. The way that Dory-Stein writes really highlights the darker side of the ‘dream job’. Even if she doesn’t necessarily say it—being on the road is lonely and her personal life suffering the consequences of a dream job. Though stenographer wasn’t her ‘dream job’—it was more A JOB, than dream job—she really shows the reader how much she sacrificed for this job.

I was totally annoyed with her by the end, mostly because of her relationship choices, but I was happy with the spot that she ended up in. I wish there had been more info about what she’s doing now, maybe a epilogue with more info or just a little blurb at the end about what she’s doing now, but I also read that she was writing another book so maybe in that book there will be more details.

A film company has already bought the rights to this book and I will absolutely go see it when and if the movie gets made. This book made the White House sexy and I absolutely loved it! Thank you Dory-Stein for writing something raw, real, and honest!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dory-Stein 

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 10th 2018 by Spiegel & Grau
ISBN 0525509127 (ISBN13: 9780525509127)
Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book counts toward: NA

Hosted by: NA
Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 5 out of 5

Genre: non fiction

Memorable lines/quotes:
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I received an advanced reviewer copy from the Publisher (RandomHouse) through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

What It’s About: Beck is a young DC transplant who has a temporary job, Beck's goal is to enjoy DC for the three months of her job then move on, however she falls in love and decides to stay. She desperately looks for a job and applies for a stenographer job on Craigslist, lo and behold this job is to serve as a stenographer in the white house. She takes the job and stays for five years in the Obama white house. This book is a collection of her time working for Obama, focusing more on the personal/fun side then the day to day of her job. 

What I loved:  I liked scenes from the tragedies in Obama's time: Sandy Hooke, San Bernadino, Pulse, and Charleston to name a few, I loved reliving a time where the President generally cared and getting insight into what it was like working for POTUS during these times. Additionally, while I had a lot of problems with the book (we will get into this), it clearly presents the idea that even people in these powerful positions don't have it together. Someone who looks like the greatest person in the world could be an emotional wreck. White house staffers they're just like us. 

What I didn’t like so much: This book pitches itself as the West Wing meets The Devil Wears Prada, it actually feels more like the latter. This book has nothing to do with policy or anything, which is fine because Dorey-Stein was fairly low level on the ranks in terms of policy. I think that this is supposed to be a book where we see those working in the White House as close friends and who have each other's back and want to really change the world. But I wasn't entirely convinced of this or felt like it had the power of West Wing, it felt like The Devil Meets Prada in terms of the mean girls and the girl who falls apart when she becomes exposed to the high powered, high stress career. I got frustrated with reading about Beck's personal mistakes and the constant repeating of how lucky she was, I just wasn't here for it. 

Who Should Read It: People who love a fun, gossipy book with elements of the relationship drama and some aspects of the Obama's years of hope. 

General Summary: A book that takes place at the White House, but is much more of a story of a girl going through her twenties in the Obama administration, it is very much about the mistakes she makes while working for it and her personal relationships.
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As the two terms of the Obama Administration disappear into the country’s rear view mirror, sometimes I wonder whether Obama really was as amazing as I remember, or whether, as the song goes, “What’s too painful to remember/we simply chose to forget.” Read the rest of my review by clicking on the link below.
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This is another one that is hard to rate, especially because my feelings went totally up and down as I read this. Dorey-Stein's memoir reads like a diary, and I commend her for being so totally open with her experiences in the White House, even the embarrassing moments. You can tell that she really held nothing back, but while this was at times a good thing it led to a) the book being a bit too long for my liking and b) the reader following her through every cringe-worthy, eye-rolling moment of her obsession with her co-worker Jason (who is definitely a sociopath), whom she cheated with on and off for years. 
Now, I don't think Dorey-Stein wants sympathy for how this plays out. She knows she was back on her bullshit more times than she could count and it was a huge mistake each and every time. But after the millionth description of Jason's mint gum and his manipulation and gaslighting, and her inability to take control of her own mind/body/life and stop sleeping with him on away trips, I was just annoyed. 
The parts where this book truly shine are in the behind-the-scenes White House tales. I never thought about a WH stenographer or what they might do, and I admit I never think much about the WH staffers beyond watching the fictional group on Veep. It was fascinating to learn more about their work and especially their travels, and to get a few private glimpses of President Obama, too. I definitely got teary eyed a couple of times throughout the book as Dorey-Stein recounted the tragedies and triumphs of Obama's administration, and its end.
Overall this was fun and at times fascinating to read, and I definitely want more WH memoirs by the women who have worked there.
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I struggled with this one. On the one hand, I admired her honesty and humor. 

On the other, I felt like this book didn't know what it wanted to be. Or, at the very least, wasn't what I wanted it to be. I felt like her job in the White House should have been the focus, rather than her affair that took place WHILE she was working in the White House. I found the way she would talk about a tragedy like Newtown, CT one moment, talking about how that felt to be there and watch the President talk, and then jump to her misguided personal decisions the next moment, difficult. It felt jarring, and I wanted a little more attention paid to the deeper portions of the story.

Ultimately, I ended up giving up on this book partway through, not really feeling like I needed to know how her ill-advised love triangle played out in the end.
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This is a fast, entertaining nostalgic read about a young woman who lands a job as what is termed a “stenographer” in the Obama White House.  The author is her strongest when making biting witty political observations; she falls a bit when chronicling her messed up love life. Unfortunately, she spent a lot of time on this aspect vs the insight of a political insider.  And, do the White House staffers really drink that much?  Be warned, this book will make you yearn for the days when a noble, gentleman occupied the Oval Office.
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I love everything about this book.  I could feel the excitement of being part of something really so awe inspiring.  The parts of the book where the author was talking about her boyfriend I felt like I was back in my 20s listening to my friends talk about their boyfriends.  

Such an amazing experience for a young girl recently out of college, and for her to share that experience with anyone that reads the book really is like a gift.  I could almost feel like I was there while reading it.
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From the Corner of the Oval by  Beck Dorey-Stein

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
The author was a stenographer in the Obama administration for 5 years. This book is her memoir of those years. There was a lot I liked about this book. First of all it was very well written, no doubt about that. I enjoyed some of the background information of life in the Oval Office and how things work. It was fun to “travel” with POTUS and his entourage to foreign lands and famous landmarks. It was also great experience to relive the Obama years,  both the good and the bad. Who can forget Newtown, Ferguson, San Bernardino, Charleston, but also the Affordable Care Act, improving relations with Cuba, the Iran nuclear deal and so many more. Throughout the book there is too much emphasis on the author’s personal relationships, and her very poor choices repeatedly. Her drinking, her crying constantly when things don’t go her way don’t belong to a memoir about her White House years. They would be more appropriate in a diary. To be fair, I have to be able to differentiate between the good writing and the poor personal choices this author has made to rate this book. With all that said, 3.5 stars. 
Thanks NetGalley, the publisher and The author for the advanced copy.
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Dorey-Stein has keen observation skills, and she put them to good use with her front row seat to 5 years in the Obama administration. There's also a lot of fun behind-the-scenes details about what it was like being a part of it. The writing is generally light and fast-paced and makes this is a good fizzy summer read. I appreciated Dorey-Stein's emotional honesty about her relationships (both her friendships and her romances) and think there was a lot most people could recognize and relate to about navigating their 20s (the good, the bad, and the cringe-worthy), but this part of the story got repetitive, and also I think, was perhaps at the expense of exploring some other aspects of her experience that only get glancing mentions or short asides.
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This is a fun read about backstage at the White House. Beck is hired almost by accident to be a stenographer at the White House. This is her actual story of what that life is like, flying around the world on Air Force One, running on the treadmill next to President Obama in the mornings and all of the other situations a young White House staffer finds herself in.

I’m glad Beck realized that she really is a writer because she wrote a really good book. I hope to read more from her in the future. 🙂
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I straight up loved this book. I also straight up love Obama, miss him as POTUS everyday, and will forever be jealous of Beck’s job. As the White House stenographer, she had the opportunity to travel the globe with Obama for his second term and details it in this book.

I also love how real she keeps it in her book. It would be easy to gloss over the difficult, not-my-proudest moments when writing a book like this, but she doesn’t and it really adds to the real-ness of the story. If you miss the Obama administration as much as I do, I’d recommend this book. It will remind you that we made positive change in the past, and even though times may feel a little dark now, we will have positive change again in the future.
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The candy colored cover drops a little hint about the tone of this memoir.  The little tidbits about rubbing elbows with players of the Obama administration fill the book and give this privileged twenty-something tell-all some clout.  The meat of the book, however, takes the reader on an amusement park ride of her relationships in her mid -twenties that can best be described as cringe-worthy.  . . . But.  . . . But.  Like passing an accident on the side of the road, I just couldn't stop reading.  Nor could I stop rooting for her (ok, and maybe yelling at the book for her to just drop that guy . . . and that guy).  And, for this reason, I  recommend this memoir as a juicy summer read.
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I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley and publishers Spiegel & Grau in exchange for an honest review.  This book releases July 10, 2018.

Beck Dorey-Stein accepts the position as President Obama’s stenographer just as the campaign for his second term starts to heat up.  She leaves the position shortly after President Trump moves into the White House.  In between those two bookends of history, she attends President Obama’s speeches, addresses, campaign stumps and  travels on Air Force One with the presidential team.  She was self-aware enough to realize that this was a dream job and the things that she was seeing were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and situations.
The book is extremely readable and Beck is a very good writer in that it reads as an entertaining book of fiction rather than nonfiction.  She kept copious amounts of notes during her time in this position so that she would have a record of everything that she saw and experienced and she cherished the times she actually got to spend with President Obama and the friends that she made at work.  

While I was reading this book, it was impossible not to get that “good feeling” of what it used to be like when President Obama was in charge – that inclusivity, dignity and hope that he managed to convey whenever he spoke and it is hard to imagine what those incredible times must have felt like by the people working for him.  Beck does a tremendous job conveying that excitement and honour.

Now, to the part of the book that I thought diminished her story and the part she played in the Obama administration.  When Beck accepted the position, she was dating Sam, however, it wasn’t very long after she started working at the White House that she began an affair with a staffer, Jason.  Jason also had a girlfriend who lived in California.  Not only did Jason have a girlfriend and Beck on the side, he was also on the prowl continually for other conquests.  It is not my job to judge their actions but I am going to judge how much of the book was devoted to this affair that was on-again/off-again at Jason’s whim.

At one point in the book, Beck states “Lying in my bed that night, I look at the stacks of notebooks I’ve kept since starting this job and realize that my own life is in the margins, Sam and Jason take up most of the lines”.  She certainly got that right as so much of this book was her describing all the drama that comes with affairs and broken hearts.  

I felt like all the drama of the affair overpowered the point of the book which I thought was to be an inside view of what it was like to be on President Obama’s team.  Instead, a good portion of this book was Beck crying over Jason; Beck crying over Sam; Beck drunk because Jason was ignoring her; Beck drunk because she was happy that Jason was paying attention to her that night; Beck sobbing when Jason dumped her etc., etc., etc……..
I am disappointed that I cannot give this book more than three stars because when Beck is busy describing her work and experiences that came with her job, it reads like a five star book.  I just wish she had seriously downplayed all the young adult angst.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of this book for review.
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