Let’s Talk Books (Again)

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The thing I miss most about life before business ownership is crushing books like I did in 2020 and most of 2021. Still, I’ve read some great ones. Let’s talk about ’em.

Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Peterson

This book had me shouting “preach” the whole time. Everything from performative Slack messages to “prove” you’re working, companies abusing the ability to hire people as 1099 contractors to avoid paying for any benefits, and the constant desire to monetize hobbies. Because we can’t afford the world as it currently is. Highly recommend.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo

Mediocre exposes a whole lot of ugly truths. Though, none are especially surprising for anyone with a realistic view of American history. Murder, war, incompetence, the scapegoating of women and people of color in leadership positions – it’s all here. Definitely worth a read.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Man, I loved this debut novel. It’s smart, funny, satirical. So, so good. This book tackles race, ambition, and cult-like sales culture so well. Great read.

Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

I laughed so hard reading this book. As a recovering corporate zombie who used Slack as a primary communication tool, I felt this book big time. It’s written entirely in Slack conversation, and though I used Slack daily, I had no idea about the :dusty-stick emoji until I read this book. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Seems no one really knows. If you’ve experienced office gossip, office politics, or the feeling that you’ve become one with your job, you will love this.

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green

True Crime usually isn’t my genre, but this is a good one. It’s about the Last Call Killer who preyed upon gay men in New York City in the 80s and 90s. Because of the AIDS epidemic and the fact that the victims were gay men, these killings did not get the kind of attention that other serial killers historically receive. Having been entrenched in the gay community in Denver for much of my 20s, I can picture the victims and the bar at the center of this story. Warning: it is a bit gruesome in parts.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

This was my first dive into Colleen Hoover who seems to be everywhere these days. I have to say, she’s an incredibly captivating storyteller. I couldn’t put this one down toward the end. There are themes of generational trauma and abuse that were tough to read, and I have some issues with the ending of the story. Still, a great read.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A movie star of old Hollywood seeks a writer to tell the story of her life, specifically her seven marriages. Who was the love of her life? What did she hide from the public? I’ve read a few books by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and this one is by far my favorite. Such a great story, and the end just hits you in the gut.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Second dive into Colleen Hoover, and this book seems to be everywhere right now. I know she released a new edition with an additional chapter. I have not read that yet. Honestly, I don’t know that I even want to say much about this book except that its creepy as hell and supremely fucked up. Read it.

These are just a few books I’ve read and loved. I hope you find one you enjoy!

Read, Read, and Read Some More

Oh my goodness, I’m so behind updating this. I may be fully vaxxed, but it’s still an extra good time for reading since all the ding-dongs refusing to get vaccinated are making it very difficult to get back to normal. Anywho, here’s run-down of the books I read in February, March, and April. (These are my opinions. If I didn’t like a book, but it sounds interesting to you, read it anyway. I am not the authority on good books).

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This book is crazy and was my first real dive into the Horror genre. It’s a bit of a slow build, but when everything starts to unravel, it is nothing that you expect it to be. The lead character is witty and smart and the exact kind of female lead we all want to root for. It’s very driven by visual descriptors and explores race and eugenics. It’s very nightmare-ish but in the best way possible.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

I read The Warmth of Other Suns last year and was blown away. Truly one of the most important books I’ve read. This book absolutely met that mark, as well. We don’t typically associate the word “caste” with the United States, but Wilkerson eloquently and brilliantly argues that Black Americans continue to be the lowest tier of the American caste system using the history of the Indian caste system and Nazi Germany as the backdrop of her argument. It’s a must-read.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

If you’re a person who asks yourself a lot of “what if” questions, this is a lovely read. What if I had chosen that path instead of this one? How would life be different and would it be better? What would be missing from that life that I have in my current life. Be aware that there are themes of depression, suicide, and substance abuse.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

I wanted to continue to explore the Horror genre with this one, and I wanted to like this book so much. It didn’t click for me. I was excited to read something with Native American representation because I value learning about different cultures through more than just non-fiction works, but I found the story a little hard to follow and a little slow in parts. A lot of people love this book, so totally give it a try if it sounds compelling.

Nick by Michael Farris-Smith

Another swing and a miss for me, but I did it to myself. I love The Great Gatsby. Love, love, love it. When I saw that someone wrote a prequel about Nick, my gut reaction was, “Why would someone do that?” I read this mostly out of curiosity, and my instincts were correct. Turns out the most interesting part about Nick was always people he knows. This book is about Nick was before Gatsby, yet the most captivating characters are the people he bumps into along the way and not him. It’s well-written, occasionally even beautifully written, but I ultimately hate that it exists.

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

Ali Wong is one of the funniest women in comedy, in my opinion. This book is a series of letters to her daughters. She tells stories about her childhood, the Asian-American experience, dating, marriage, career, and motherhood in the most Ali Wong way possible. It’s funny and honest and gross in all the best ways.

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

While I fully and completely reject the premise of this book (spoiler alert) because there is no god damn way in 2021 America that any woman with any social awareness would invite a possibly mentally disturbed man – or any man for that matter – that she has just met into her car, and then her home FOR MULTIPLE DAYS. No way. That sounds like an excellent way for your friends and family to be interviewed about your mysterious disappearance and murder on a future episode of Dateline. But, that’s kind of the point of the book, I guess. Sometimes we have to trust and let our guard down to help and be helped. I liked this book. It was sweet and lovely despite the fact that it is fully unrealistic and would never, ever happen.

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

It took me a bit to get into this one, but I really liked it. The characters are what drive this book. They’re fun and have interesting quirks and are developed well by the author. The plot was hard for me to grab on to at first, but by the end, it was easy to appreciate the ways that the characters’ lives intersected and the connections that were created.

Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

I am the target audience for this book. It’s for millennial women who have been or currently are a little too into social media. A lackluster writer gig, lying on the internet, and a desire to escape your life – it’s all there. I wouldn’t call it a page turner, but it’s quirky and funny, and not like anything I’ve read.

Just Like You by Nick Horny

I have read all of Nick Hornby’s novels, and most I have really loved. Unsurprisingly, About a Boy, High Fidelity, and Juliet, Naked are my top 3 (those were also the ones that became widely released movies). I also loved A Long Way Down and State of the Union. However, this book really wanted to have a point, but it didn’t. A white woman around 40 and a 22-year-old black man fall in love and turns out that despite all the reasons they shouldn’t work, they do… blah, blah, blah. Any explorations of race were lazy and lacked substance and oh my god-what if the young man wants kids someday, what then? The lady will be shriveled up and barren soon! It was vaguely enjoyable, but I don’t think Nick Hornby (very white guy) was the person to tell this particular story.

Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity by Scott Galloway

This is not a genre I typically read, but Harrison and I saw this guy on Bill Mahar (I know, gag) and he was a spitfire, as they say. I love when someone can explain shit I don’t get (the stock market) to me in a way that is understandable. Lots of interesting stuff in this book about where we are because of COVID and where we could go from here. There’s also a sound argument against free college, which I have historically been in favor of. It’s interesting and accessible to the average idiot. Definitely recommend.

Outlawed by Anna North

A Wild West gang of barren and outcasted lady-robbers led by a non-binary cowperson. This book is fun as hell, while also exploring gender, sexuality, and mental health in an unexpected context. It leaves you feeling hopeful, and also wondering, ‘Why are men?’ Okay, not all men, but like, a lot of them. Loved this.

Currently reading: You’ll Never Guess What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Be my friend on Goodreads and you won’t have to wait three months to see what I’m reading. And also, please for the love of god get vaccinated. She didn’t give us scientists for no reason, ya dopes.

January is for reading

The silver-lining of the last 10 months is that I’ve had way more time to read. As such, I’ve become one of those obnoxious humans who wants to tell you about all the books I’ve read and encourage you to read…something… anything.

Here’s what I read in January:

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

As if it’s any surprise, this book is excellent. And fortunately, it doesn’t feel like a 700-page book. It’s a political memoir that is also a page-turner. It’s not often we get a window into modern history like this. Obama provides so much context for his decisions, and anecdotes from working with members of Congress and his cabinet. It will frustrate you and maybe make you cry. Truly a great read.

Memorial by Bryan Washington

I wasn’t sure how much I would like this book initially, but as I got into it more, I really appreciated the honestly of it. From the representation of Queer men, and particularly Queer men of color, to the complicated family situations, to culture, it was just a very honest book. You can love people who have done horrible things to you. You can also have a lot of love in a relationship, but that love may not be enough to sustain it.

How to be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t by Lane Moore

Given my reading history and some of my other favorite writers, I should have loved this book. Alas, I did not. While I hesitate to in any way discount Lane’s lived experiences or personal truths, I found this book to be so incredibly whiney and self-indulgent. If I had to sum it up: “I had the worst childhood ever. My parents were the worst parents to have ever existed. Every man I’ve dated has been shit and it’s all their fault that our relationships failed. I have no one and nothing. But look at how good I am at singing and comedy and writing and babysitting and stuff. I’m just the best… no thanks to my awful parents.” Okay. Like a lot of people, I also did not have the most ideal childhood (that’s a whole other blog post), and in a lot of ways, I’ve overcome a lot of shit to have the (mostly) drama-free life I currently do. I’m all about stories of personal triumph. But good grief, the wallowing and the patting herself on the back…. I started skimming toward the end. She says at one point (after talking about a high school trip to Germany, which is confusing because you don’t go on school trips like that without a liiiittttle bit of privilege and means and semi-present parents – it was a struggle for me to make it to Florida to sing with my choir in high school), “I truly don’t know anyone with a family who doesn’t use them like a fucking credit card with every dollar matched by cash back rewards.” Ex-squeeze me, really? I have a family. It’s broken and whole at the same time (again, that’s a whole other blog post). I have supported myself at least partially since I started working at 16, and since I moved out of the house, I have not once asked my family for money even in times that I was very much financially fucked. Also, unless the progressive revolution is achieved and student loans are cancelled, I’ll be in debt until I die. And I think there are more people like me than those that live off their families well into adulthood. But sure, all of us with families- we got it made baby! Life. Is. A. Breeze. I’m sure Lane is a lovely person, and I’m happy for all she’s overcome and the success she’s found.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

I really liked this book. I am generally sort of impartial to the mystery/thriller genre because they tend be soooooo similar. Someone disappears (spoiler: they’re dead), someone is responsible for said disappearance, but it’s probably not the person you think it is. Insert substance abuse problem (Girl on the Train: drinking) or mental illness (Sharp Objects: cutting; The Woman in the Window: agoraphobia) to make it interesting and someone has a secret (or secrets) and boy will they blow your mind. And there you have it – recipe for a mystery/thriller type novel. And hey, they’re usually fun and quick reads, since for some reason, we as a society are really into murdery things. When No One is Watching is a gentrification-themed thriller, so expect all of the elements you enjoy about that genre plus an exploration of a common social issue primarily impacting communities of color. The only critique I have is that the pace was a little jarring. There was a whole lot of build and then the end happens kind of all at once. But overall, it was really good. Recommend.

One of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying, #2) by Karen McManus

This book was…fine. I read the first one a while ago, and just hadn’t gotten around to the sequel until now. I think this book is categorized as Young Adult, which disturbs me slightly. Sinister games and teen murder… Yes children, read this book! Is it a book? Yes. Did I read it? Yes. Did I vaguely enjoy it? Sure. Would I watch the shit out of a trash TV series based on this book series (think 13 Reasons Why)? Yes. Yes I would.

Currently Reading: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

No I do not want to join your book club

Am I the only reader who wants nothing to do with book clubs? This is a serious question. I love to read, and I love books. But I hate book clubs. Yet, I repeatedly get asked to join book clubs, and I feel like a jerk for declining as many times as I am asked.

Reading is my loner, introvert activity. It always has been. Even when I was a kid, I remember sitting by the window reading a book while everyone else played outside. It’s one of those few things that I can do completely on my terms, unlike most things in life. I choose the book and how quickly I read it, and the experience I have reading the book is completely my own. I don’t have to talk about it with anyone or be influenced by someone else’s experience. Most importantly, I do not have to leave my house to discuss the book with anyone else.

Dear everyone,

It’s not you. It’s me. I hereby decline any present and future invitations to join your book club.