What I’ve Been Reading

What have you guys been up to in our long period apart? I went to the Bellville World’s Fair and ate apple rings. I went to my 10 year high school reunion (uneventful, but I did have chicken wings). I went to IKEA for the first time with my family and I didn’t even eat meatballs even though clearly I should have. I’ve been listening to a lot of Judge John Hodgman and Bullseye and eating approximately a ton of apples because, you know, fall. I’ve been sort of trying to unpack some boxes but mostly I’ve just been working. But also, I’ve been reading! Here are some of the books I’ve read recently.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
There’s a reason everyone’s been talking about this book–it really is that good. It’s about a kidnapping, which is already something that stresses me out so I probably shouldn’t even have read it. But good luck putting this one down once you start it! It’s extraordinarily violent and disturbing, and it features by far the most upsetting, graphic depiction of sexual violence that I’ve ever read, so keep that in mind. But nothing’s gratuitous; the book is all about trauma and living through things, about how people get through the worst possible stuff and what happens when it’s over. Nothing about this book is cheesy or simple. It features some truly complex people, and I don’t mean the type of characters that people say are complex because, like, sometimes they’re gruff but actually they have a heart of gold! These are people who are racist but also save your life, or people who love you but still make the worst choices. This book just knocked me out.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
Okay, let’s get a little bit lighter. This is a book about a magic, time-traveling phone. Well, the phone itself isn’t time traveling, but it lets the main character talk to a past version of her husband. I just try not to think about time travel too much because I’ve never understood it. I liked that this book was about marriage and the importance of committing to your relationship. Does that sound boring? Don’t get me wrong, I love a book about people falling in love, but I also like a book that is upfront about how marriage can be a lot of work, not all of it fun work, and how that relationship is ultimately more important than anything else. Sure, this one was pretty cute and funny, but clearly I took some additional meaning from it. Which reminds me that An Untamed State also featured a complicated marriage!

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
I read this one for review and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I love books that are set in all-female environments (convents, homes for unwed mothers, all-female boarding schools, the house in Little Women) and while this wasn’t technically an all-female environment, it was all about the ladies. I feel like this book would make a great movie, definitely one that I would watch when I was sick. This is one of those books that will make you be all, “Women used to have so few choices!” and then you realize that things are still sort of the same.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Working in television sounds terrible. That’s probably not the moral of this story, but that’s one of the lessons I learned. Jennifer Weiner books are always compulsively readable and they will always make you feel pretty good. This one features a disabled object of affection, which is so rare that I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever read it. Apparently this book was inspired by Jennifer Weiner’s time working on that ABC Family sitcom starring Raven, of “That’s So” fame. If that’s not enough to make you read this book, then I don’t know what to tell you.

What have you guys been reading lately? I’m currently trying to work my way through the National Book Awards longlist, although I’ll probably give up once I hit a boring one. I’m on An Unnecessary Woman right now, and so far so good. The narrator loves books and hates America. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!

This Week on HelloGiggles

belzhar meg wolitzer
This week on HelloGiggles I wrote about Belzhar, Meg Wolitzer’s new novel that marks her foray into YA. I really loved it, and not just because I always love books about boarding school (although that’s true). It was a dreamy feeling book that really puts you in a different world for awhile. Meg Wolitzer herself favorited one of my tweets about the article, which made me remember that she is a real person. For some reason I tend to think of “adult” authors as people who live in a different universe, one in which they are unable to read my tweets.

In conclusion, Meg Wolitzer is a real person and you should read Belzhar, especially if you are a Sylvia Plath fangirl (but even if you’re not).

Lady Jam: Metronomy

On Sunday night, H. and I had the chance to see Metronomy at the Wexner Center here in Columbus. The Wexner is not necessarily a concert venue so much as it is a museum/art space, but it does have a very nice stage located somewhere within the bowels of the building (seriously, we went up and down so many stairs and ramps that I would never be able to find that room again). The last time we saw a concert at the Wexner, it was Bill Callahan with Chasey, and the audience was comprised entirely of, like, 17 well-dressed men with weird hair. The crowd was much bigger and more diverse at this show…someone even brought a toddler! At one point before the show, he rolled around on the floor in apparent boredom. As an impatient person, I could relate.

Anyway, Metronomy was great. I mostly went because H. likes them, so I didn’t know a ton of their songs, but they were really high energy and fun. Their bassist was bananas good and the whole band was just so stylish (by which I mean that I majorly admired the drummer’s outfit, hair, and lipstick).

Even though there were plenty of older people there, we were mostly surrounded by 21 year olds with topknots and Urban Outfitters ensembles and I’ve never felt more ancient. I mean, I’ve always been an elderly person at heart, but it’s still a little weird to think that we used to be the target audience for every show and now we’re just slightly older than most of the crowd (except for that time we saw Hall and Oates, when every age was represented because Hall and Oates unite us all). I felt like Schmidt on New Girl.
schmidt youths

If you haven’t listened to Metronomy, you should check them out! And let me know what you’ve been listening to lately! I’ve mostly been into Twin Shadow, Childish Gambino (like usual), and the new One Direction single on repeat.

This Week on HelloGiggles

pointe brandy colbert
This week on HelloGiggles, I gave some of my personal suggestions for those of you who are new to YA. People ask me for reading recommendations a lot, and these are some of my faves for those of us who don’t exactly put the young in young adult. You can check out my picks on HelloGiggles! And, as always, if you have any suggestions for future columns, please send me an email at youngadulteducation@gmail.com.

Link Party!

Guys, it’s been so long. I am still here, but I’m currently covered in a pile of dust from cleaning our old apartment and surrounded by boxes filled with stuff I have to unpack. That said, being in our new house is amazing. I’m pretty in love with it. Come over and visit! But please do not point out all the things we have yet to do. There are a lot. Even though we’ve been super busy, I’ve still been working and coming across a ton of links to share. On with the links!

If you’re looking for something to read, here are 50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person. If you read them all, please report back to let me know if you did, in fact, become a better person.

I’m getting used to using an electric stove here at the house (my previous three apartments had gas stoves). I know people like to talk a big game about how gas is the only way to go, and I get that because I love it too. But honestly, this hasn’t been so bad so far. Dinners I’ve made in our new place include Lemon Chicken Thighs and Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice.

Lauren sent me the link to this amazing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie style blog. Needless to say, I wish I had all of those outfits, although logically I know that I can’t pull of a structured jumpsuit.

Fellow HelloGiggles writer Gina Vaynshteyn shared some solid writing advice. (Personally, I would add the caveat that entertainment reads can have value if want to write entertainment reads, as many people do! Also, sometimes reading not-so-great books is a good way to learn what not to do. That being said, yes, read Toni Morrison).

Pretty excited that Jazmine Hughes is the new contributing editor for The Hairpin!

As always, Roxane Gay is great: The Great Naked Celebrity Photo Leak of 2014 is Just the Beginning.

True story: I had a professor who made us buy his book of poems. He also named dropped CONSTANTLY (“Once Gary Snyder told me…”), talked derisively about how we were all from the suburbs (um, nope), and once passed out an “anonymous” poem for us to critique. It was HIS POEM. He just sat there are basked in the glory. He was insane. Anyway, this is lame.

Love this essay from Rookie. Just read it.

Stuff Drake Does is a pretty great Twitter account.

Here’s why it’s TOTAL bullshit to say that “men just don’t see the mess.” Men are fully capable of cleaning.

And finally: I’m a big fan of WhiskeyPaper (in fact, you may see a little something of mine there in a couple of months!) and its wonderful/talented co-founder Leesa Cross-Smith, so it’s super exciting that they’re going to start putting out chapbooks. You can donate here!