Posts Tagged: books

What I’ve Been Reading

Long time, no blog. I’m still among the living, but (obviously) I haven’t been posting here at Welcome to Ladyville nearly as often as I used to. I was going to write a lot of reasons why that is, but

A) No one cares, and
B) It’s basically just that I work a lot, and that sometimes the internet makes me mad.

But I’m still here, still writing for HelloGiggles and sometimes popping up other places (in fact, very very soon I’ll be able to share something else I wrote!). And, of course, I’m still reading. I promise to try to convert some of the blog posts I constantly write in my head into actual blog posts soon, but until then, here’s what I’ve been reading.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
It feels silly to even talk about this book, because if you want to read it you’ve probably read it by now. But IT IS SO GOOD. It’s funny, but it’s mostly full of advice that will make you remember you should be more of a badass at all times. Amy Poehler reminds me a lot of my friend Lauren (more about her later), who takes less shit than probably anyone I know. If Lauren doesn’t want to do something, she isn’t even going to entertain the possibility of doing it. She recently told me, “My favorite part of being an adult is not doing what I don’t want to do and saying no frequently.” And she does! It’s truly something to behold, as well as a philosophy all of us could take to heart. Anyway, we should all be more like Amy Poehler and Lauren and just not ever take shit from anyone. Remember that Amy P. quote from Tina Fey’s Bossypants? “I don’t f*cking care if you like it?” I think about that all the time. This was a really bad description of Yes, Please, but you should just read it.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
This was funny! If you read The Toast or The Hairpin, then you’re well acquainted with the Texts From series. I read somewhere that this book is still fun to read if you haven’t read the source material, but I’m going to respectfully disagree with that. I’ve read a good portion of the books covered (back when I was an English major/bored high school student), but I had no idea what was going on in the texts about the ones I hadn’t read. If you read a lot of classics but also enjoy making fun of them, this is a good read.

The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe
Lauren recommended this book to me, and I trust Lauren’s book recommendations more than I trust anything from anyone else. This book is a fine entry into the genre of Sad Girl Lit, which is a designation I think I made up. I love books that spend a lot of time inside young women’s heads as they navigate truly tough or terrible experiences. This book reminded me a lot of Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, a book I was so disturbed by that I vowed to never read it again (it’s not actually that disturbing, I’m just irrationally affected by Lorrie Moore). Much like AGATS, The Girls from Corona del Mar features upsetting scenes that will HAUNT YOU. In a good way. Sort of. It also features a lot of stuff about motherhood and traumatic childbirth, which I love reading about for some reason. Lauren also interviewed Rufi Thorpe, so go read that right now.

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter
This is another recommendation from Lauren. I wasn’t lying when I said I read whatever she tells me to read! This is just a Lauren appreciation blog now, sorry. This book is so weird, upsetting, and good and I still can’t stop thinking about it. You know how men often write books that highlight how our bodies are just sacks of meat? I’m thinking of Chuck Palahniuk here, and I realize you might not know what I mean, but this was supposed to be a quick roundup. I always thought I didn’t like that kind of book, but it turns out I don’t mind if it’s written by a woman! So I guess I’m just tired of reading a man’s POV of women’s bodies and sexuality. Ugly Girls gets pretty, well, ugly. It’s also wonderfully creepy and there’s a sense of dread that gets louder and louder the more you read, which is one of my favorite things in a book.

Feel free to let me know what you’re reading and I promise to be back soon!

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).

My Interview With Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins_Credit Destinee Blau_large
If you’re a YA fan (or a fan of contemporary romantic YA especially), then you know Stephanie Perkins. She’s pretty much the gold standard when it comes to romance. The first time I read Anna and the French Kiss, it was like a lightbulb moment for me–like, Oh, you can do this? Just make a book about romance and kissing and love and make it smart and funny and awesome? Well, Stephanie Perkins can. Her books are the YA equivalent of your favorite romcoms, and her newest book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, is superb.

So of course I was honored and thrilled to get the chance to interview her for HelloGiggles. She said so many smart things, like:

“I like to remind aspiring writers that people like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens didn’t take any creative writing classes. They learned how to write by studying those who came before them. Books are incredible teachers.”

So great, right? You can read the whole interview on HelloGiggles.

Ladyville Book Club: ‘Friendship’ by Emily Gould

friendship emily gould

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been reading Emily Gould’s writing since I was in college. I’ve always loved her voice and sense of humor, even though I live in Ohio and she writes a lot about very New York specific things. So of course I was super excited to read her new novel Friendship, and guess what, guys? I was not disappointed!

One of my least favorite things that people say about books (even though I’m guilty of saying this, even in this week’s HelloGiggles column) is “I really related to the characters!” I mean, yes, sometimes it’s really great to read a character’s thoughts and think, “Whoa, that’s me!” But, at the same time, I don’t really think that whether or not you relate to a character has anything to do with the quality of the book. This is all my way of saying that, although lots of the reviews I’ve read have praised the relatability of the friendship between Gould’s characters Amy and Bev, they didn’t seem like any friends I have. This is probably due to the fact that I’m a boring person living in the Midwest, not a hip person living in New York. All of my friendships are very Midwestern.

So I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to relate to these characters to really love this book. I didn’t agree with basically anything Amy said and I still loved reading every single thing she thought. I really loved Bev. This was a pretty short book, but honestly, it could’ve been twice as long and I still would’ve enjoyed reading it. It’s so funny and compulsively readable. Emily Gould is very good at writing dialogue that flows naturally and at making you care about flawed characters.

It just felt good to read a book that was primarily concerned with the relationship between two female friends. There isn’t really a romance in this book (I know, it’s not like me to read a book without a driving romance, but whatever)..it’s just about, as the title implies, friendship.

If you’re still on the fence, first of all, get off that fence. That’s dangerous. Then listen to this great interview with Emily Gould on Julie Klausner’s How Was Your Week. It starts off with a lot of cat talk, so you know it’s good.