What LC Read: Vol. 5-8

Friday, July 20, 2018

It's not that I haven't been reading in the past month. It's that this post format is deeply unsatisfying to create, and probably unworthy of browsing at all. If I were a different sort of girl, I'd want to buy lovely hardcovers and arrange flat lays for each feature, as so many book bloggers do. Unfortunately, I'm a Kindle girl and Still Seeking Instagram/Photographer Boyfriend (Female, 22). So these blocks of text (thoughtfully written as they are) are what we're working with for now. Hope they're not awful.

But anyways, I've been reading books at a much gentler pace in the past month. Here's where my little brain has gone:

01. Nerve | Jeanne Ryan
I saw the last few minutes of the movie adaptation and thought I'd enjoy the book, but this was a bizarre case in which the book was garbage but the film was probably pretty good. A theatre geek who "wears vintage clothes" (lol) is desperate for attention (though this is haphazardly veiled behind teenage angst) and gets paired up with a hot stranger (with his own teenage angst) to complete a set of increasingly dangerous challenges, which are streamed online for paying viewers. I'd describe this as Black Mirror's less interesting stepsister who overedited her Tumblr pictures on Picnik. You know the one.

02. The Perfect Nanny | Leila Slimani
I lost interest in the Thriller genre shortly after my "psychological horror" phase in seventh grade, but I did have a weird erotic dream about a sexy French au pair and I decided it was time to explore that further. I don't remember this book being particularly dark or creepy, just a lot of strange, tense moments between the nanny and mother. The writing felt too indulgent and "drippy" at times, likely because it was originally written in French and I think there's a certain sensuality and gravity in languages that can't be properly translated. I'm also pretty sure we never find out what actually happened. And the nanny wasn't sexy. I tried to imagine her with a bit more spice than what was described, but I think her being drab was part of the plot.

03. The Case Against Sugar | Gary Taubes
One danger here, of course, is that once we insist or pretend that we know the answer based on premature or incomplete evidence (even if we’re pushed against our will to take such stands), we’re likely to continue to insist we’re right, even when evidence accumulates to the contrary. This is a risk in any human endeavor. When Francis Bacon pioneered the scientific method almost four hundred years ago, he was hoping to create a methodology of critical or rational thinking that would minimize this all-too-human characteristic of avoiding evidence that disagrees with any preconceptions we might have formed.*1 Without rigorous tests, as many as necessary, beliefs and preconceptions will persevere because it’s always easier to believe that a single test has been flawed, or even a few of them, than it is to accept that our belief had been incorrect. The scientific method protects against this tendency; it does not eradicate it.
04. Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir | Ngugi wa Thiong'o
It is indeed a tribute to the varied character of the human that even amid such carnage of body, mind, and truth, there are some courageous souls prepared to defy the conventionally accepted, speak truth to power, and risk arguing for our common humanity. In condemning racialized empires - or any empires - we must never forget those who stood up for a decent future for all even when it was unpopular or dangerous to do so. 
05. The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity | Esther Perel (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
We still want everything the traditional family was meant to provide - security, children, property, and respectability - but now we also want our partners to love us, to desire us, to be interested in us. We should be best friends, trust confidants, and passionate lovers to boot. The human imagination has conjured up a new Olympus: that love will remain unconditional, intimacy enthralling, and sex oh-so-exciting, for the long haul, with one person. And the long haul keeps getting longer. Contained within the small circle of the wedding band are vastly contradictory ideals. We want our chosen one to offer stability, safety, predictability, and dependability - all of the anchoring experiences. And we want that very same person to supply awe, mystery, adventure, and risk. Give me comfort and give me edge. Give me familiarity and give me novelty. Give me continuity and give me surprise. Lovers today seek to bring under one roof desires that have forever had separate dwellings. 
06.  Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World | Mackenzi Lee
It's literally based on a series of popular Tweets, so the writing was pedestrian and too casual for me to commit to as an entire book, but wonderfully illustrated. It's a little too bubbly, pussy hat-feminist for me, which is not an affront against feminism but an exasperation over the anesthetized aesthetics of it. If you have a "I'm Ready for Hillary" bumper sticker on your laptop, you'll probably like this.

07. Maybe in Another Life | Taylor Jenkins Reid
Two ways a life could play out, in parallel. I think an unintentional point this raises it that there is no "right" person for you,  no "the one." There are many people to whom you could commit a very happy life. Just fucking pick one (or whatever number is your sweet spot) and then calm your tits.

08. The Only Girl in the World | Maude Julien
Literally "r u ok" the entire time. A very strange father fixated on raising his daughter as a perfect "superhuman" being by keeping her in the most horrifying and cruel of circumstances. A little cult-y. I gave it four out of five stars, but mostly because I felt bad for the chick. It was written with great introspection and thoughtfulness, but otherwise not very memorable. Four stars seems high when I think of iconic works I've also assigned the same rating.

09. Fitness Junkie | Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
My favorite palate cleanser! Which sounds totally degrading, but I don't mean it that way. I think it's actually very difficult to write a feel-good, light novel that isn't so saturated with shitty tropes and lazy rhetoric it becomes a burden to read it.

10. The Futures: A Novel | Anna Pitonioak
This girl graduated from an Ivy League with a degree in art history or something and then realizes that she doesn't know what to do with her life -- which is fine, but I also felt like she wasn't actively trying to figure it out. She also emotionally cheats on her boyfriend. She's a very unlikable character throughout. Like a "coming of age" millennial novel that's supposed to be super relatable, but we all know a girl like her and the novelty of someone with an elite education and zero life skills has long worn off.

So there's that. If you only have time for one, make it The State of Affairs by Esther Perel. A really fascinating and beautiful read.

With great love,

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