**spoiler alert** This book was superb. There were many parts I didn't like, parts that just traveled way too self-congratulatorily into "scathing" te**spoiler alert** This book was superb. There were many parts I didn't like, parts that just traveled way too self-congratulatorily into "scathing" territory, so I totally understand and back all the three-star conflicted reviews I saw. But I recognize that some of it was hard to read because as a human, I just plain recoil from the nastiness of it all, and not for any shortcoming with the writing. And I think that was kind of the point. The book itself is the ultimate exercise of control -- the great meta-Amy in the sky, leading you down one path and then manipulating you right down another. Just as punishment for thinking you had it "all figured out." And that's life, right?
This is actually pretty far out of the range of stuff I usually pick up to read, but I was so struck by the Cool Girl quote that I put this on my to-read list. I mean, talk about a concept that I had felt creeping over me, and talked myself out of believing so many times, only to have it reaffirmed in front of my eyes over and over again. Yes, it's maybe the sternest and most unflinching possible way to describe the in-love-with-an-idea phenomenon that created the MPDG, but it is wrapped around a solid core of truth so thick that other humans have spent decades making sure I'd believe it (I do, finally! You can stop convincing me, universe!). And in the time since I saw that quote, several different, unrelated people told me I needed to read it ASAP, and that it made them think so much about my situation. While reading, I was overcome with a "this is my life" feeling during the first half of the book. So if I'm "Diary Amy" (and I admit, somewhat begrudgingly, that I am -- the pathetic girl who just shrinks herself and apologizes herself into oblivion to try to win a husband's affection and respect, but she never will, because he's disgusted with her after finding out she's a disappointing ol' Real Person and not a Cool Girl), I have to say my only regret is that I lack the energy or the conviction to become Real Amy. Oh well! Here's to being disappointingly genuine. Thanks for living the dream, Amy....more
Listened to this audiobook while on a trip for work, and it provided a nice backdrop to the otherwise-depressing travel snafus I experienced. I don'tListened to this audiobook while on a trip for work, and it provided a nice backdrop to the otherwise-depressing travel snafus I experienced. I don't love the writing style, and as a whole it's (like Bossypants) pretty manic and disorganized, but its sincerity covers over these blunders. It's delightful to hear about her upbringing, and her assumption that she probably enjoys acting and playing crazy characters because she had SUCH a normal, nurturing childhood. And as someone a little younger than her, it's nice to hear affirmations of some of the wisdom about aging and physical appearance / self-worth in general that I've only truly come to believe wholeheartedly since having a kid. I enjoyed this quote a lot:
"If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks."
That's a nice way to put it. Also, the chapter on divorce is hilarious and poignant and gave me that "I'm glad I'm not the only one" feeling of relief that comes when things you hadn't even verbalized are mentioned as a common struggle by someone else.
If you just want to read this book because you've got a Parks and Rec hangover and you're desperate to have Leslie Knope talk at you for a little while longer, this is a GREAT way to scratch that itch. And I'll be she'd be proud to hear that her identity has so seamlessly integrated with Knope's. :)...more
Okay first of all, I listened to the audiobook of this and it was hilarious. Like, just imagine a really calm and encouraging book talking about persoOkay first of all, I listened to the audiobook of this and it was hilarious. Like, just imagine a really calm and encouraging book talking about personality disorders and other psychological phenomena and giving lots of examples and case studies, but READ BY A GAME SHOW HOST. That is what this audiobook is like. So seriously, listen to it, because there are parts that are unintentionally laugh-out-loud funny. When he does women's voices it's the BEST. Or when he says things like "Bob had a secret gambling addiction" way, way too enthusiastically.
But content-wise it's great, too. It's really sad that there even needs to BE a book about this. But there does. Naive idiots like me need it to at least SPOT the red flags so we can smartly decide how to interact with narcissists / sociopaths / victim-blamers and all the rest, instead of just being willy-nilly about it to our own doom. I hope that most of you wouldn't need to read this, and would be like "Uh, duh. Obvious. Why are you telling me this?" if you do read it. But for the rest of us, you can benefit from hearing things named and called out so that you can overcome them, be kind to yourself, be forgiving, and get through life with less damage to yourself and your family....more
Though there were a few shining nuggets of too-real truth in there (including her analogy about Miss Piggy and Kermit being the weird dysfunctional roThough there were a few shining nuggets of too-real truth in there (including her analogy about Miss Piggy and Kermit being the weird dysfunctional role model couple we grew up with), most of it was one big braggy dose of "the lady doth protest too much, methinks." Most of the chapters launched directly into lengthy cut-downs of one guy or another, going into details about why they were childish or pathetic or whatever, only to end in her sort of going "oh well" and sleeping with them anyway and getting very suddenly graphic about it. I have no idea how that pattern constitutes "lessons learned," as the subtitle of the book implied. I thought this was going to be funny and insightful and sense-making vignettes, but it was a jumpy melange of "oh what cool quirky thing about myself have I forgotten to find a way to mention thus far?" It also makes me queasy that more than the first half of the book is about her *childhood.* Her childhood, people. Sad trombone.
Two stars instead of one because she does have a defined writing style, and can illustrate a point with enough grammatical punch to make it sound good while still feeling conversational and comfortable.
Probably if you read these quotes I picked from the few-and-far-between nuggets of truth in the book, you don't need to read the actual book:
"If anybody studying psychology wants a concrete example of what a narcissist looks like, I advise them to consider any man who cheats on his wife. These guys are the textbook me-firsters, the ones who think the rules don't apply to them, the ones who tell themselves as long as she doesn't know, there's no harm done. No woman needs to sleep with these guys."
"Sleeping with a musician probably won't be enough for you to feel good about yourself. Even if he writes you a song for your birthday. Don't you know that a musician who writes a song for you is like a baker you're dating making you a cake? Aim higher."
"If you're going to be a musician's girlfriend, you have to know that your man will always love his bandmates in a way you can't even touch, because they are the guys who help him create music. You can only help him create a living human being, with your dumb uterus."
"There are plenty of nerds who fear women and aren’t sensitive, despite their marketing; they just dislike women in a new, exciting way."...more
This book is definitely funny. I think. And...I think I liked it. I'm not sure why I mostly liked it, but I did. There are gems such as an imagined roThis book is definitely funny. I think. And...I think I liked it. I'm not sure why I mostly liked it, but I did. There are gems such as an imagined roast of Nelson Mandela full of uncomfortable laughter ("I'm not saying life is cheap in Africa, but when they make movies over there? They use blood as fake ketchup."), an account of first date small talk with a warlord, a person who *becomes* Kate Moss, and a (seriously poignant social criticism) story about a guy who orders a sex robot and returns her for a full refund because she becomes sentient and falls in love with him. There were parts where I was cackling aloud. There were parts where I was skimming so I could hurry up and get to another "cackling aloud" part. I hope that if Mr. Novak read this review he would say "I liked that review. I'm not sure why, but I did."...more
This is an incredibly real, honest-feeling look into the things that might be going on in the heads of regular kids at a church camp. I could relate tThis is an incredibly real, honest-feeling look into the things that might be going on in the heads of regular kids at a church camp. I could relate to some of the mixed feelings of appreciation and sentimentality with fakeness as well. But mostly, this is just written beautifully. Especially toward the beginning of the book, the surroundings and the feeling of being at summer camp is laid out in a very lush, visual manner, with so much more nuance than say, Wet Hot American Summer. Masterful writing, heartbreaking and heartfelt reality. Loved it....more
I have no doubt that this has lots of correct and pertinent information in it, but I couldn't read much of it because they can't refrain from using CaI have no doubt that this has lots of correct and pertinent information in it, but I couldn't read much of it because they can't refrain from using Capitalization For Emphasis multiple times in every sentence. They try to imitate Miss Manners and do not succeed. Where she wittily and kindly speaks the truth, they come off as catty and generalizing. If you come across these Etiquette Grrls books, do yourself a favor and pick up Miss Manners instead....more
This is beautiful. Funny and heartbreaking and just real. Every awkward instant of teenage love is captured in excruciating, embarrassing detail. EverThis is beautiful. Funny and heartbreaking and just real. Every awkward instant of teenage love is captured in excruciating, embarrassing detail. Every impulse you have to go "barf," is taken away the next instant when you remember "Oh yeah, I said these things. I felt these feelings." It's a good reminder not to take ourselves too seriously.
"'I just can't believe that life would give us each other,' he said, 'and then take it back.'"...more
Giving this four stars because I think what it has to say is very eye-opening and true. The first few chapters are just trying to convince you that woGiving this four stars because I think what it has to say is very eye-opening and true. The first few chapters are just trying to convince you that words are important, and I felt like that was unnecessary because duh, I'm sitting here reading a book about improving my communication, obviously I think words are important. But he goes on to describe what ought to be the motivation behind our speech -- we have to go beyond the knee-jerk "I want to win" reaction that's our default, and think about it for two more seconds to realize what we REALLY want, which is the best for the person we're talking to and ourself. So if our end goal was always to lift up and encourage the other person to be their best possible self, we would approach the language we use very differently. I think this helps to table-set and get your mind straight before going into a conversation. Also, the pitfalls Tripp points out resonate with me. He feels that in confrontations most people either blow up and get defensive / yelly, or clam up and never bring it up again. I'm the latter, not out of fear or laziness, but out of deciding a long time ago "Hey, I'm never going to sit around trying to convince someone to change their opinion, or to help me or love me or hang out with me. Life is too short." And I stand by that and think it was right 90% of the time. Why be obsessed that someone see things your way? But it probably also caused me to miss my responsibility to speak truth (gently) to people close to me, because I would just fold and back away as soon as anything got heated. So that's something for me to think about changing as I move forward. My only parting complaint was that I think he tries to wrap this technique up in a little bow, like "If you beat back your pride and just speak like this and this to a person, they will immediately soften too and ta-da, progress occurs! Good job." There could be another chapter called "What if this doesn't work?" But you know, books can't solve all things....more
I loved this book. For anybody who enjoys organizing stuff and learning stuff, the details about the process of becoming and being an astronaut are faI loved this book. For anybody who enjoys organizing stuff and learning stuff, the details about the process of becoming and being an astronaut are fascinating. But I particularly enjoyed his takeaways from what seems to be a very happy life. Just his common sense observations about humility, gratefulness, and how to view your own success. A couple of favorite quotes:
"Saying thank you every once in a while just isn’t enough when you’re demanding that other people make real sacrifices so you can pursue your goals. It’s not only the fun, showy things like vacations that get the message across. You also have to be willing to do what you can to create the conditions that allow your partner the freedom to focus single-mindedly at times. … When you have great backup, as I have always had, you can start to take it for granted or become selfish and just expect that all your needs will take precedence. I’ve tried to guard against that by making sure that when I have any wiggle room in my schedule, Helene is the one who sets the agenda, whether it includes me or not. I also make a point of actively looking for opportunities to spend time together. … Prioritizing family time — making it mandatory, in the same way that a meeting at work is mandatory — helps show the people who are most important to me that they are, in fact, important to me. And it’s not exactly unpleasant for me either."
"If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time. Personally, I’d rather feel good most of the time, so to me everything counts: the small moments, the medium ones, the successes that make the papers and also the ones that no one knows about but me. The challenge is avoiding being derailed by the big, shiny moments that turn other people’s heads. You have to figure out for yourself how to enjoy and celebrate them, and then move on."...more
I'm pretty unqualified to review this book since reviewing it will be tantamount to reviewing its methods and I haven't actually *started* doing BLW yI'm pretty unqualified to review this book since reviewing it will be tantamount to reviewing its methods and I haven't actually *started* doing BLW yet, but it certainly makes a lot of sense to me and I'm excited to try it. The idea that babies actually want to feed themselves and just need a little (messy) time to learn how to do it properly is so ridiculously simple, it makes me feel dumb for never thinking of it before....more
Hilarious. David Sedaris owns the dry, deprecating comedy sub-genre. I could listen to him say things like "rumpus room" in a disdainful voice for houHilarious. David Sedaris owns the dry, deprecating comedy sub-genre. I could listen to him say things like "rumpus room" in a disdainful voice for hours. Actually, I just did!...more
I wish this book had existed when I was 19 years old, because I desperately needed it. Kelly Williams Brown's warmth and dependability come through inI wish this book had existed when I was 19 years old, because I desperately needed it. Kelly Williams Brown's warmth and dependability come through in the text so well that you can't help but want to be her friend IRL. She has clearly pored over all the major etiquette texts, which I think makes her an official friend of mine anyway. And if you think you don't need to know this stuff, trust me -- give it a read. Some things seem so painfully obviously in hindsight, but because you're a huge knucklehead you really just needed to see them typed out in authoritative text to accept it (He's Just Not That Into You, anyone?).
Some of the best gems:
"Intentions are nice, but ultimately intentions don't really matter because they only exist inside you."
"You don't need to make your tastes a self-conscious statement about who you are. Just unapologetically like the things you like."
"From here on out, always, you are a smooth, unblemished surface to which even the most crusty meanness, bitterness, anger, and craziness cannot affix themselves."