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Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion

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4.30  ·  Rating details ·  14,679 ratings  ·  1,899 reviews
Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly in a culture that revolves around the self. In each essay, Jia writes about the cultural prisms that have shaped her: the rise of the ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 303 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Random House
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  14,679 ratings  ·  1,899 reviews


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Roxane
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an outstanding, rigorously researched and written collection of cultural criticism. I really admired the depth of thought here. I felt like each essay was a master class on how to write cultural criticism. I was definitely taking notes. Some of the essays ran too long and could use some tightening but that is a subjective opinion. I was particularly interested in the essay about the UVA rape case and the one about uncritical feminism and how it can flatten discourse in really troubling ...more
Melanie
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'd read Jia Tolentino's grocery lists if she let me.
Thomas
4.5 stars

I have to start this review by sharing that when I finished the last essay of Trick Mirror, “I Thee Dread,” I literally started clapping and whisper screaming “oh my god, Jia really did that” and “ugh, queen of delivering a fatal blow to the capitalist patriarchal wedding industrial complex, we stan a self-aware icon.” Mind you, this fanboying took place while I sat alone on my couch in my apartment, where I’m typing this review right now. “I Thee Dread” serves both as an essay about
...more
Jiaqi
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I feel awful terrible giving such a low review because i was so so so excited for this to the point where I refused to read any press so I could have a pure unmediated experience... but only like 3 of the essays in here were good: the ones where she reflects on her own life. Which is funny because I used to get kind of annoyed at the way she would unnecessarily drop in details about her life into unrelated articles à la girl-who-went-to-Barthelona.

I think there really is an inherent difference
...more
Michael
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2019
Lucid and enlightening, the essays of Jia Tolentino’s debut collection Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion consider what it means for Millennial women to navigate a culture of spectacle, scam, and oppression. In sharp prose across nine essays Tolentino takes on everything from the troubling rise of athleisure to America’s obsession with reality television, difficult women, and weddings. Sketching brilliant fragments of cultural criticism for the digital age, the author demystifies ...more
Oriana
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recently my rad friend B and I got into it about Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist, which I loudly do not like. B argued that it was wrong of me to judge it so harshly because I was not taking into account the deep biases I bring to my own reading. I remain unrepentant because those essays are extremely bad, but I do acknowledge that I am only a combination of my life's influences: I grew up solidly middle-class, I am a cis-het woman and a Jew of European heritage, I went to a good liberal arts ...more
Julie Ehlers
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
So what's a trick mirror, anyway? Seriously, what is it? I googled three different ways and all I found was references to this book. (If you know, please tell me in the comments! Edit: Thanks, Marchpane!) I'm assuming a trick mirror is a mirror that shows you something different depending on how you look at it, blurring the lines between what's real and what isn't. If I'm right, it's an apt title for the book as well as an apt description of the experience of reading it.

When I began Trick Mirror
...more
Elyse  Walters
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Audiobook... narrated by the author, Jia Tolentino.

I really enjoyed listening to Jia read her book - (9 essays).
She’s bluntly insightful about the times we are living in without being preachy.
I admire the way Jia formulates her thoughts—brilliantly!

I became so curious about this magnificent woman, ( never knew of her until now), that I spent time listening to her YouTube interviews. I liked her even more!

There is something of value for everyone in this book.
I would have paid full price just
...more
Blair
I don't know if I’m going to have the time to write about this in the depth I would like, so I will just say that I finished Trick Mirror feeling I’d probably read any article Jia Tolentino writes about any topic, and I’d definitely read her memoirs. The personal stories woven through these essays bring the book to vibrant life. The autobiographical essays tend to be the strongest, particularly ‘Reality TV Me’, in which Tolentino revisits her experience of competing on a TV show at the age of 16 ...more
Maxwell
Sep 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoy Tolentino's writing a lot. The standout essay to me is still "Ecstasy" which I read back when it came out in the New Yorker earlier this year. Some of her ideas are left a bit unexamined, in my view. They were more explanatory than critical, so as a primer in contemporary topics, it's great. But it did leave a bit to be desired.
Hannah
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, non-fiction
This is an incredibly strong essay collection, brought down by a first essay that did not work for me and made picking this back up difficult for me. But once I finished that first essay, Jia Tolentino gives the reader an incredibly well-structured and presented collection. I know why this was one of my most anticipated reads for this year.

Jia Tolentino writes about many different things but always through a lense of feminism and internet culture – something I particularly adore as a feminist
...more
Lisa
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, audiobook
[3.5] I can see why this collection has been received with such acclaim. The focus on cultural criticism with a theme of self delusion is perfect for our times. Tolentino is smart, insightful and her essays are well researched.
Yet... I personally feel oversaturated with input on our consumer and millennial culture. I am mostly lukewarm about her essays on the internet, reality tv, optimization, Ecstasy, and scamming. Finally though - her last three essays really struck a chord in me! I woke up
...more
Matthew Quann
An easy personal stand-out for personal non-fiction book of the year, Trick Mirror is an essay collection that touches on feminism, its intersection with the internet, our modern preoccupations with external appearance, and honestly staggering amounts of other good stuff. It's a bit tough to summarize a book that features an essay of complex analysis of the institute of marriage alongside one about taking ecstasy, religion, and DJ Screw.

Suffice to say that this is an audiobook that is packed to
...more
Kelly
I really loved this. I’ve been reading Jia Tolentino’s stuff ever since she started at Jezebel- we’re roughly the same age and she got assigned stuff I was guaranteed to click on, so I’ve read a fair amount. Some of her NYer pieces were even better, after she was freed from needing to write in Internet witty speak all the time and could show other tricks and styles she had up her sleeve. And I’d say those two voices and experiences are about equally on display here, to mostly utterly fantastic ...more
Nicola
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
A bit of a mixed bag.

Highlights:
The first essay, The I in Internet, is excellent.

Always Be Optimizing had some great ideas but a bit circular and seemed to be holding something back.

The personal experience essays, Reality TV Me and Ecstacy were diverting enough, I enjoyed them.

Downsides:
Some of the essays cover some really well-worn ground at this point. Often, the context and asides are too heavy on research and info-dumping that isn’t fully relevant, or it’s just dull. Several times I
...more
Conor Ahern
If the attendees of my gay book club and various members of grouptexts are any indication, the Jia hype is for real. She has become something of a tribune for the millennial generation: funny and razor sharp, introspective and curious, she writes in a way that very often feels inspired. I followed Jia as she developed through stints at the Awl, the Hairpin, Jezebel, and finally the New Yorker, where she seems to have finally encountered an audience commensurate to her talents and the importance ...more
Sarah
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get used to Jia Tolentino's style of writing (the essays jump around a bit at times and get a little stream of consciousness-y) but there are some real gems in this collection. For me she's at her best when talking about social media, gender, women and media, but I found something to admire or enjoy in almost all of the essays in this personal collection.

Thank you Netgalley and 4th Estate for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Perry
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-most-loved
RTC.

An essay collection that's Fresh, Brilliant, Cerebrally Stimulating and Boundary-Expanding (for this Gen-X male, to be sure).

The New Yorker has to be proud to have Jia Tolento as its millennial cultural critic.

For the first time since I do not recall when, I am fired up about spending a few hours of my weekend revisiting several favorite parts of a book and writing a 5-star review.

I am grateful to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC.
Vanessa
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wowee this girl knows how to write! Articulate, insightful, intelligent and informative. A true voice of her generation.
Dan
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing


Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self Delusion includes nine essays focusing on ”American identity, culture, technology, politics, and discourse”. Tolentino wrote the essays in 2017 and 2018. Reflecting on this period, Tolentino writes that ”throughout this period, I found that I could hardly trust anything that I was thinking. A doubt that always hovers in the back of my mind intensified: that whatever conclusions I might reach about myself, my life, and my environment are just as
...more
Claire Reads Books
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic The nine essays in this razor-sharp collection circle around the notions of identity and the self that have become all-important and inescapable in the Internet era. With remarkable clarity and her formidable intellect, Tolentino highlights the distortions and self-delusions that have festered on digital platforms and begun to spread into our analog lives—and she considers the intellectual rewiring that might be necessary to free us from our overinflated selves. Highly recommended – ...more
Alice
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had to take breaks between these essays. They are so sharp and juicy and confronting, and needed time to absorb. This is the kind of book that makes you want to avoid reading anything else for a while, so that its ideas can keep ping-ponging around your brain undiluted. Between the waves of dread and horror at what the world (and more specifically, my own generation) has become, this book has also given me a thread of hope and clarity as to how I might change my habits, expectations, and ...more
Lotte
3.75/5. Out of the four non-fiction books I read this month for #NonFictionNovember (all of them feminist memoirs or essays), this one took me the longest to read. In comparison to the other books, Trick Mirror demanded the most from me as a reader — not because of its subject matter (even though a few essays deal with some potentially triggering content, such as rape), but because of how it is written. Jia Tolentino is undoubtedly very, very smart. She writes in a way that's easy to follow for ...more
Jaime
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m not sure I get the hype about Tolentino. Many times, I wanted to scream GET TO THE POINT with these essays. She goes off on tangents and reading this became more of an exercise in perseverance than anything else. I’d give it 2.5 stars but rounded up.
Lou
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Trick Mirror is both a timely and relevant book featuring essays with more heart, soul, power and FIRE in their words than any other work of nonfiction I have enjoyed in 2019. Talented New Yorker Tolentino shows promise in terms of following in the incredibly successful footsteps of writers such as Zadie Smith whose own glorious collections of long-form pieces stoked my imaginatory fire at the time. The pieces are full of breadth and depth that makes them not only a pleasure to read but ...more
Kelly
This was my first time reading Tolentino, but it won't be my last. I've been reading this book off and on since it released two months ago, which might be the best way to approach it. I went in for the Twitter essay that launches the collection -- recommended to me by a friend after I defected from there for my own mental wellness -- but I was treated to so much smart, savvy, well-researched insight into the reality of being a millennial in today's America. Better yet, Tolentino isn't a white ...more
Ash
Dec 04, 2018 marked it as to-read
I've been waiting for this book! She's written so many great, important things, but my favorite is still this review of 'Rude' for The Hairpin.

Rincey
Dec 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I've been reading Jia Tolentino's writing on Jezebel and in the New Yorker for years and she has always been very hit or miss for me. But when she hits, it is a home run, which is why I will probably read everything she writes.
Katia N
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I might write more extended review for this one at some point in future. But for now just a few observations. I liked that Jia sat down and wrote all these nine essays especially for this book. The topics vary from her relationship with Internet to her decision never to get married. The collection is fresh, her observations are sharp and quite witty in the majority of cases. The first essay was about the impact of digital life on all of us and her in particular. I found it the most well thought, ...more
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