Audiobook: The View From the Cheap Seats

viewfromcheapseatsby Neil Gaiman
Read by the author.
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s a handful of f-bombs scattered throughout the book. It’s in the creative nonfiction section of the bookstore.

I’ve often said (many times) that Neil Gaiman can come to my house and read my grocery list and I’ll be happy to listen to it. That is still true. I will listen to Gaiman read anything, including works of short non-fiction, from articles and interviews to book introductions and speeches. He has a fantastic reading voice, and I love that it gives depth to his words.

That said, this was more of a dip-in, dip-out book rather than a read straight through one. Even though I love Gaiman on audio, I found myself kind of impatient with the sections (like the one on comics) that didn’t interest me. If I had actually read this one (and many of the pieces are worth reading), I would have picked and chosen the ones (like “What the Very Bad Swear Word is a Children’s Book, Anyway?” or “Make Good Art”) that I was interested in, and left the rest alone.

But, like anything Gaiman writes, when he was good, he was interesting, and the observations were thoughtful and thought-provoking. Though audio maybe wasn’t the best choice for this one.

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Audiobook: Furiously Happy

furiouslyhappyby Jenny Lawson
Read by the author.
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: Lots of swearing. Lots. And lots. You’ve been warned. It’s in the adult biography section of the bookstore.

I’m late to this party. I knew who Jenny Lawson was (I do work in a bookstore, after all) and I was aware of her book. I’d just never picked it up. I have so much else to read, that I figured a small book about a weird upbringing as the daughter of a taxidermist never really appealed to me.

But, when I was looking for a new audiobook, this one jumped out at me. Ann Kingman talked about it on Books on the Nightstand a while back, and so I picked it up.

I had no idea I was missing THIS.

In a series of short, random, wandering essays, Lawson tackles her mental illnesses (ADHD, anxiety, and depression), her crazy life and marriage, therapy, the ways she copes, and her adventures in, well, everything. It’s really random  and often super hilarious. I laughed a TON. Possibly because she’s super deadpan in her reading of the book, which just helped make it that more often. But, I also appreciated her being so candid about things I struggle with. She’s right: it does help to know that there are other people out there talking about struggling with depression, who have ways of dealing with it (or not), to put in perspective your own struggles. It’s wonderful. And the fact she does it with a sense of humor is that much better, too.

I probably should backtrack and get her first book, just to be complete.

Bad Feminist

badfeministby Roxane Gay
First sentence: “The world changes faster than we can fathom in ways that are complicated.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s fewer than 6 f-bombs, and some other mild swearing. And there’s a whole chapter on 50 Shades of Gray which is frank, but not explicit. It’s in the Sociology section of the bookstore.

I really don’t know what compelled me to pick this up. It’s been on my radar for a while, and I always figured I’d get to it, but why now?  No idea.

I’m glad I did, though.

In this series of essays, Gay takes on not only feminism (the Establishment) but race relations, sexism, culture, and Scrabble. (Well, there’s only one essay on Scrabble.) She’s insightful about relationships, critical about the State of Culture, but most of all, open and honest about the fact that she’s conflicted. She laments the lack of people of color on TV but is critical of the idea of diversity for Diversity’s Sake. (She’s not all that impressed with Orange is the New Black. It’s still a white woman’s story and the diverse characters are often stereotypes.) She admits to finding Blurred Lines catchy, while being disgusted at the content. There’s a whole chapter about the disturbing nature of 50 Shades of Grey while addressing the fact that its popularity shouldn’t be dismissed.

And it was this conflict I found I connected with. Because I’m a conflicted feminist. I don’t live up to Establishment Ideals. And it’s so refreshing to hear the voice of someone outside the establishment — in this case, a first-generation Haitian woman — stand up and say that there’s room in feminism for those of us who don’t fit the mold.

I borrowed my copy from the library, but I need to get this one. There’s an awful lot I need to underline and mark up, and it’s definitely one I want all my girls to read.