BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP – VOLUME 3 ISSUE 9

Happy People Are Annoying
Author: Josh Peck
Publication Date: March 2022
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL

I love throwing (comedic) memoirs into my reading rotation for a change of pace. Like most memoirs, I went into this knowing very little about Josh Peck outside of his time on Nickelodeon. I really enjoyed his commentary and insight on single parenthood paired with being an only child, child acting, network television, growing up fat, weight loss, drug abuse, sobriety, his influence on social media (Vine), chasing fame, and his transition from acting to social media/content creator. If you combined Will Smith’s memoir about fame and Seth Rogen’s memoir about drugs, you’d get this book

I swear there’s some higher book being or power out there who influences the books I read because I had no idea and couldn’t have anticipated how this memoir would parallel James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. Maybe I’m the only person who didn’t know Josh Peck’s struggle with drug addiction and sobriety, but it was definitely interesting to read the two books in tandem (more on James Frey and his credibility later)

Did I expect to cry at 8:12 in the morning in my car while listening to the audiobook when Josh paraphrased an iconic Grace Hopper quote? No I did not, but I feel no shame. Favorite quote: “I’m not going to apologize for being relentlessly human”

Behind Her Eyes
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publication Date: January 2017
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: paperback

Alright, I’d dragged my feet long enough. It was time to see what the hype was about with claims like “the greatest ending of time” and “the ending of this book was absolutely bat shit crazy in the best way possible” and “the ending was so insane that I actually screamed” – you get the point. My immediate reaction upon finishing the last page was, My God, I didn’t think I was going to be shocked, but holy fucking hell

I spent the entire novel hyper fixated on every small detail, considering every possible twist and turn, and I still didn’t see that final twist until the very end. And it was incredibly satisfying. I finished the book late last night and laid there wide awake reviewing the entire book in my head, then again in the morning. I love twists like that, when you get excited to flip back through and see the clues you missed and how each piece fell together perfectly. I didn’t scream out loud, but I had a solid jaw drop moment. It’s a 5 star, I’ll be forcing other people to read this. So happy to have an ARC copy I snagged from a used book sale
Buzzword Readathon: May selection

Between the World and Me
Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Publication Date: July 2015
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL

Every year I set out to read at least five books about race and/or racism in America. Enter, Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’d seen this book cover everywhere in June 2020, but didn’t really have an understanding about what it was. Structured as an emotional and deeply personal letter to his teenage son, Coates shares his experience inhabiting a black body in America

“I am speaking to you as I always have – as the sober and serious man I have always wanted you to be, who does not apologize for his human feelings, who does not make excuses for his height, his long arms, his beautiful smile. You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable. None of that can change the math anyway. I never wanted you to be twice as good as them, so much as I have always wanted you to attack every day of your brief bright life in struggle. The people who must believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your won dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”
Buzzword Readathon: May selection

A Million Little Pieces
Author: James Frey
Publication Date: April 2003
Genre: fiction? memoir?
Method: hardcover

I don’t know how to rate this book. I made a decision to stop rating non-fiction titles unless they were absolute, without a doubt, 5 star reads. But like, is this non-fiction? After the scandal with Oprah, author James Frey has admitted to exaggerating details and falsifying claims related to his criminal past and time spent in jail, and I knew that going in. So to be fair, I started with the expectation and understanding that I was reading Frey’s dramatized account of his struggle and triumph over alcohol and drug addiction

I understand the inherent criticism given Frey’s deception, but I thought it was excellent and well done. Who am I to judge how an author wants to tell their story? Frey’s depiction about addiction feels so visceral, raw, and real. As a healthcare professional who works with recovering addicts (in a physical and functional capacity), I’m grateful for this book and the insight it provides into the mind of one man and his struggles with addiction. In a way I was able to watch this story unfold in my mind like a movie – the violence, the repetitive thoughts, the flat affect, blank stares. Its’s not a favorite book, I don’t feel the need to hold onto it, but I’m thankful for the perspective it provides
Buzzword Readathon: April selection

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism
Author: Amanda Montell
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: nonfiction
Method: audiobook via Libro.fm

Cultish is a nonfiction text about the language of cults, as so clearly stated in the subtitle. But who reads subtitles? Because apparently I don’t, or not very well, rather. Because I went in with the wrong expectations. I was expecting a deep dive into the culture of cults, juicy secrets, and details about unknown rituals and practices. While those topics are included, the true focus is on language, yeah, that subtitle, ya know? Don’t get me wrong, it was still very interesting, fascinating, and insightful – especially the discussions surrounding religion, as a fading Catholic. I would definitely recommend to others – language is power!

“I like Burton’s way of looking at it, which is less about what religions are and more about what religions do, which is to provide the following four things: meaning, purpose, a sense of community, and ritual. Less and less often are seekers finding these things at church”

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn

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