Read Any Good Books Lately?

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I recently finished 2 books. OK, technically "audiobooks" since that's what seems to work best for me these days. I've been using the Audible app which I think is reasonably priced at $14.95 for 1 credit/month and offers unlimited returns on books, so if one were inclined to return a book and reuse that credit, one could...

I was excited to read How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. I truly think she is one of the funniest and sharpest modern feminist writers out there.

The story focuses on the teenage years of a self-proclaimed fat girl, growing up in a poor family with her many siblings, who  spends a good amount of her free time "wanking" and the rest of the time listening to alternative bands and lusting after boys.  I was confused -- having read How to Be a Woman, which is memoir, I recognized some details from Moran's life, but others didn't sound right.  I looked it up afterward and saw it was actually a very-semi-autobiographical novel.  Oh!  Makes sense.

Moran's writing is highly self-deprecating and confessional.  I personally related to her rock-star-fixated character, having been the same way as a teenager, and let's face it, I still am.

Despite dropping out of high school, she manages to get a job as a rock critic, and establishes herself by ripping to shreds any band she reviews.  In reality, Moran herself got her start as a writer in similar fashion.

One thing I marveled at (enviously) while reading was the apparent ease with which teenagers can write.  What I wouldn't trade for the naiveté required to simply put something down on paper, without the highly tuned inner critic of an adult, and a bit less regard for offending the reader.

The best part about this book was a passage in which the main character posits the theory that every great thing that's ever been done has been inspired by unrequited love:

Since I met you, I feel like I can see the operating system of the world - and it is unrequited love.  That is why everyone's doing everything.  Every book, opera house, moon shot and manifesto is here because someone, somewhere, lit up silent when someone else came into the room and then quietly burned when they didn't notice them.  On the foundation of the billion kisses we never had, I built you this opera house, baby.  I shot the president because I didn't know what to say to you.  I hoped you'd notice.  I hoped you'd notice me.  We turn our unsaid things into our life's work.

-Caitlin Moran, How to Build a Girl

Beautiful sentiment.  Beautifully written.

I also recently read listened to Yes Please by Amy Poehler, another funny and feminist lady, and a Boston native.  This memoir is a collection of stories, essays, and even some silly haiku poems on topics like divorce, cosmetic surgery, career, and motherhood.

If you're a fan of Poehler's work on Saturday Night Live, or Parks and Rec, you'll enjoy chapters which go into some detail on her creative experiences on these shows.  Because I'm not a big TV-watcher, these chapters were slightly less interesting to me, but overall I found the book very entertaining.  I also appreciated seeing a hugely-successful TV star get on her soapbox about gender equality issues in the workplace in her humble, funny way.

Another thing I appreciated is the way she shared personal anecdotes without over-sharing.  When she wasn't comfortable going into detail about the circumstances of her divorce for example, she acknowledged it, and instead shared her observations on what going through divorce was like, for her, without focusing on her ex or throwing anyone under the bus.  Reading this book was part of what inspired me to start blogging again and sharing more of my own experiences.

Currently, since a friend recommended it as their favorite book ever, I'm taking on Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.  I've never read the book/seen the movie/watched the musical and am a total newbie to this tale.  The audio-book I'm listening to is about 56 hours long.  So yeah.

Last one!  The kids and I have been listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallowsduring any of our medium to long car rides.  (The Jim Dale-narrated audio-books, always.  Now available on Audible, hooray!)  It takes us a while to finish the books this way, but that's part of the fun.

My son and I listened to the entire series when he was 7-8 years old, on many long trips back and forth during an inter-state divorce and life-relocation that we were going through at the time.  The stories provided us with a richly imaginative escape during a truly stressful time.

Now that my son is 15, I think he has been enjoying listening to the series all over again with his little sister, now 8, almost as much as I am.  I love these books SO, SO much and had to mention them here.

Have you read any good books lately?  I would love to hear what you recommend!