Yesterday, through an Instagram Story post I asked you all “What is the last great nonfiction book you read?” because I’ve been wanting to read more nonfiction this year and needed suggestions. Well, I got A LOT of replies, I wasn’t expecting that, to be honest but I am very delighted that y’all took the time to reply, so thank you!
In return I have compiled a list of the books and all will be linked into their Goodreads page so y’all can read more about it and maybe even add it to your tbr lists. Oh and if there’s an (x) thats the total times it was submitted.
After I finished reading THE PISCES by Melissa Broder, I felt lighter and, in a way changed, which is also how I felt after reading Melissa’s So Sad Today. If you guys know me, you know I am a big fan of strange and weird reads, and this book is all that and more. Besides coloring outside the lines, what also impressed me about Melissa was her honesty, how she unapologetically and openly wrote about the ugliness most people often try to hide in order to seem normal or sane and the great lengths some go to seem that way, in fear of not being wanted if they are not. In The PISCES she puts all that and added a merman as a love interest to her narrator, which is what made this cleverly funny. I believe it is Melissa Broder’s humor, which is also evident in her personal essays, that prevents her writing from seeming melodramatic and more relatable.
In this book, we read from the perspective of Lucy, a 38-year-old grad student, right after her devastating break up with a man she has been with for years. The anxiety and depression that comes with the break up begins to eat at her making her unable to think or do anything that isn’t related to filling up her need for love and attention. Like most people who go through this, she begins to react to things in a self-destructive and aimless manner. Eventually her behavior leads her half-sister to offer Lucy some distraction by having Lucy temporarily move to her Venice Beach home to take care of her dog and home while she’s away. Lucy agrees to the distraction and even begins to attend therapy group sessions that focus on love and sex addiction, however, instead of opening herself to it’s guidance, she often contemptuously ridicules her peers. And so in her desperate desire to fill the empty void, she beginning to find men on Tinder, often neglecting everything else including her Sappho dissertation and even her sister’s diabetic pup. But still the Tinder men are not enough to fill the void, and she ends up at the beach at night alone contemplating her life, and there is where she meets a mysterious swimmer, Theo, who actually turns out to be a merman. The two fall for each other but not necessarily for good reasons.
Most people who speak of this book, often describe it as a story of a love affair between a woman and a merman, which yes, technically, it is, however, the bigger narrative here is Lucy’s struggle with anxiety and depression and how she deals with it. Yet, Theo isn’t a prop to her self-discovery either but more of a reflection, in a way, because Theo is also a being that is going through emotional anxiety as he is uncomfortable with his body and afraid of being unloved because of it. She finds in him the similar kind of need that she’s been struggling with throughout the book, however, she underestimates what Theo’s need asks of her.
Once I finished the book, I read other people’s reviews of this on Goodreads, and it annoyed me to see that those that gave this book less than three stars strongly dislike this book either because the protagonist is unlikable or because this book describes how Lucy prepares herself for anal sex by attempting to clean her butthole as best as possible or even how graphic the sex scenes are. They have missed the point of those scenes and the whole book, probably. While in those scenes you get to read what goes through Lucy’s mind while they are happening, we see how Lucy desperately and obsessively tries to put meaning into the nothingness. I am aware that writing about cleaning one’s butthole isn’t graceful nor “profound,” yet that is the beauty of Melissa’s writing, she tells it how it is, without sugar-coating anything so its easier to swallow. The fact that Lucy is going as far as she goes in that scene and, even in another scene where she buys hella expensive undergarments, is proof of her desperation to be perfect so some Tinder guy will find her to be a fantasy and, in turn, make Lucy feel wanted and needed. Yet just as we are privy to her thoughts before and while those scenes are happening, we are also privy to her thoughts afterwards, when she’s all alone by the beach, the moments where she feels even lonelier. Lucy isn’t perfect. She is human. The way Melissa paints her is very real and very human and I effing love that. As much as I can appreciate the elegance of Marcel Proust’s words, I can also appreciate the crudeness of Melissa Broder’s because both have purpose in their respective context.
Whether you agree or not, don’t hesitate to comment.
I’ll leave you guys to check out Melissa’s Twitter @SoSadToday where she writes little longing notes into the void.
Also I highly recommend her collection of personal essays which are a lot like THE PISCES.
I was lucky enough to receive this book from the wonderful people over at MCD/Farrar Straus and Giroux. I had been intrigued by the buzz I was hearing on it but also it seemed to be the kind of book I was looking for at the time; a light and witty read about relatable moments in life. Sure enough, it filled the need wonderfully.
In this late essay collection by Manhattan-based writer, Sloane Crosley, you get the wit and humor she’s known for, yet something different than from her previous collections. However, I should say, I had to go out and get her previous collection of essays I Was Told There’d Be Cake, to feel confident making that statement.
In this collection you get the sense of a woman who is beginning to feel her age. Each essay had a situation which in some way reflected that, which for me made it a bit hard to relate to, since I’m still at the age where I’m too unaware of age, really, lol. However, that’s what Crosley is good at, getting anyone hooked on whatever she’s putting out there! Even though I didn’t always relate to her situation, I most certainly was entertained and engaged in her life moments.
My personal favorite was the second essay, Outside Voices, where Crosley ends up obsessed with the boy living next door, not because of anything pervy but simply because her apartment windows overlook the family next door’s backyard, in which this teenage boy spends most of his time in. All the sounds that come from the backyard she is able to hear clearly, therefore, in a way over time she pretty much becomes an expert on this kid’s life. In many instances, she even acknowledges how this kid is making her an old person before her time, but an idea, which she finally truly faces when the kid goes off to college. That was a hilarious and deep essay, though it may not seem deep while you’re reading it but it’ll definitely hit you after.
What I, especially, found impressive about this collection was how different each essay was with length and topics, yet it all felt connected. I know that’s the strength of Crosley and the consistency of her writing style. Something that lead me to pick up the collection she’s most known for, I Was Told There’d Be Cake from April 1st, 2008, nearly exactly ten years ago.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is familiar with or a fan of Crosley’s previous work. If you’re not then, I’d only recommend this if you’re in need of a feel good book with some substantial mini life lessons ingrained in there. 🙂
I’ve been meaning to write some book thoughts on Anne Garretta’s amazing book Not One Day since I finished it, last month. However, I had been finding it quite difficult to find the right words to express the many thoughts that came through my head as I read it. What I can say with most certainty is that through out the whole book I found myself stopping and rereading parts out loud because they were just too delicious not to hear. The way Garreta writes amazes me. Now, I know this is a translation but I am comforted to know that Garreta worked with Emma Ramadan to translate it from the French to English. I find comfort in this because the way Garreta’s sentences are constructed and the way she elaborates on her desire are as close to what Garreta intended in its original French. In all, I was very seduced by the words.
But let me tell you what this short book is about…
A non-fiction confessional exploration on desire as Garreta thinks back on past lovers and flings. An exploration, where she contraints herself to write for five hours everyday for a month about a woman from her past, then setting them in alphabetical order. Written in second-person, my personal favorite perspective when done right, and with such breath taking sentences where you find yourself being seduced by them. This book was an experience for me, and since I’ve finished it, I have been coming back to it for inspiration.
Reading this book made me think a lot about the lost art of seduction and the patience it takes to fully enrapture oneself with the thrill of desire. Now we have dating apps that do all the work for us. The rules of seduction have been cut down to whether or not one swipes left or right, without ever even speaking to the person whose photo you are looking at. Most of the time, this book made me feel nostalgia for a more romantic time, not romantic in the sense of “finding the ONE” but romantic in terms of finding a connection with someone through glances and conversation. Garreta even touches on the attraction of conversation in this book as well, being attracted to one’s personality and/or intellectual. That stuff may sound cliche but I have experienced it as well, many times, so I know it to be true. How someone moves or speak and what is said can most definitely fuel the desire.
This tiny book isn’t a novel or whatnot but a writing exercise the writer has chosen to share with us. One where we can learn a lot from. I am a huge fan of unconventional and experimental and this tiny book made me an avid fan of Anne Garreta. Yep, I’ll be reading Sphinx, next.
Let me know if you’ve read this and what you’re thoughts are, I’d love to converse about it. 🙂
When I first initially told people I had started reading A Little Life, I received so many comments and direct messages telling me this book either broke them or they had thrown it across the room once they finished it. Such strong opinions only intensified my curiosity for this book, by the time I finished Part One, I was hooked.
This book starts off fun and sweet, then sharply takes a turn, and you beginning to question what went wrong and what’s going on. Then, you’re trapped in misery as you follow along the suffering of one man. Sounds terrible, I know. Why would you wanna read something miserable. Well, because as much misery as there is, there is also much hope in this book. After I finished reading this, I reflected back on how I reacted to characters and events. Somehow this book was powerful enough to change me, gave me the desire to change the bad qualities in me that out-weight the good ones.
This book will remain with me for a long time, and I do see myself rereading it, again.
Now, as much as I did love this book, I acknowledge that there were things about it I simply didn’t. However, I will first list and explain those I did like:
Hanya Yanagihara’s writing was so smooth that I would get so sucked into the book’s world and forget myself. I normally read in coffee shops now, and I would start crying while reading this, forgetting I was in public. Yanagihara’s writing would get so sentimental without it ever being mushy or dramatic, though some events in the book may get well melodramatic. Also, just the way Yanagihara sets up the book is perfect, the going back to the past and forward again, planting scenes and giving enough information to keep you intrigued without fully giving you everything, for the big reveal toward the middle, even then leaving things out. So well planned. Wow.
Friendship and Love
The strength in the love that the main characters all have for each other. This is one of the things that I reflected a lot on, especially within my own character. I am not the most affectionate nor the most patient. Therefore, in the beginning of this book I was easily irritated with Jude’s stubbornness to accept the unfailing love and kindness he is given and often times even found myself calling him selfish. Once I got deeper in the book, I began to feel guilty, for judging Jude so harshly, so quickly. This I knew was a character flaw of mine, one I often yield to in my personal life. I knew I needed to be more understanding, patient, and forgiving in order to truly give love or kindness to someone for I may not know what hardships and suffering they may have gone through. I know theres a quote out there that signifies this but not until now do I truly understand what that means. Anyway, many people try and never give up trying to help and support Jude out of love for him, and even though he rejects their help most of the time, they persist. That’s the power of love, I realized. Also, only those that reciprote that love are the ones who deserve it from you.
Now, the things I didn’t like…
Lack of Women
Now, I suspect this was Yanagihara’s intention, so there could be a focus on the many relationships between men, but it felt strange and unrealistic that not many women were present in a significant way, even Julia’s presence, which is significant in Jude’s life, wasn’t written as if she was.
The Fantasy-like World
Sometimes I found it hard to believe some of the stuff that was happening. For instance the success of all the four friends or how Jude happens to be a prodigny in everything. It sometimes felt too far-fetched. The reason this didn’t sway me too far from liking this book was that I understand this is a work of fiction. It doesn’t have to play into reality, per se. This book had a purpose and it needed things to happen a certain way to get that purpose out.
So, there overall I liked this book. The main reason I do is because it taught me more about being compassionate and empathic.
If anyone wants to discuss more about this, feel free to comment. I would be happy to.