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Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  42,846 ratings  ·  4,853 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 ni ...more
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Random House
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  42,846 ratings  ·  4,853 reviews

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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 w ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'd read Jia Tolentino's grocery lists if she let me. ...more
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
Nov 11, 2020 rated it liked it
technically this book is well written, and i enjoyed a lot of jia tolentino's takes. yet, it felt like the majority of this collection rested on long-winded background info and occasionally tedious, overly intellectual writing that wasn’t necessary. this often made it difficult for me to grasp the actual point of each essay and dulled my enjoyment overall.

the most memorable piece was "ecstasy" and my favorite was "pure heroines"
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 ho
Here is who I recommend this book for: Anyone who has been in a coma for the last ten to fifteen years; a person who just discovered the internet, or perhaps only recently learned how to read; someone over the age of 70 or under the age of 10 who has a suddenly discovered interest in small and generally feminist happenings of recent years.

Everyone else, you’re probably covered.

There is nothing much new here.

This pains me to say, because I like Jia Tolentino a lot. I enjoy her New Yorker articles
Always Pouting
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this actually, even though any collection of essays/stories tends to be uneven. I probably also enjoyed it more since it said a lot of things that I already agree with or thought to begin with. I tend to just like being reaffirmed in my view point, what can I say? I really didn't enjoy the essay on drugs and religion and spiritualism very much. I did enjoy the ones on feminism a little more, like the ones examining the way lodging any criticism at any woman becomes grounds for c ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, recs
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 perplex ...more
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 college ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
A bit of a mixed bag.

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.

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 fel
Jan 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: essays
I don’t know if I can top the review that calls this a “collection of high-functioning book reports” but I’ll try to elaborate.

Tolentino’s whole schtick is to identify topics that are “underarticulated” and expound on them - she’s that person in the meeting who hears the hint of an idea and then takes it and runs with it, never having an original thought or contribution of her own. What’s even more frustrating it that the ideas are trite, and she doesn’t have a strong point of view or thesis at
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
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
Sep 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, owned
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. ...more
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
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
Tom Quinn
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Reading Trick Mirror was eye-opening - I so rarely read commentary on what's happening here and now, instead tending towards "retrospectives" which comment on the events of some decade past. Whether it's Chuck Klosterman making me giggle about the sillier stuff of the 90s or Tom Wolfe relaying what the hippy-dippy 70s were all about, I'm always out of step with the current times. Hell, I am more prone to reading old Newsweek and Time articles from archives of their 1950s and 60s material instead ...more
Lucy Dacus
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I felt like this book was written for me. As a marriage dubious, Christian raised, Virginian who recently came to love reality TV and made a note years ago to write an essay comparing Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, and The Awakening, it pretty much hit all the stops. But even if none of these descriptions apply to you, I recommend this book. It's smart and insightful and funny and strikes the balance between cultural criticism and personal account very well. ...more
Derek Ouyang
This was a frustrating read. I can understand the hype because of Tolentino's overall on-point-ness and refreshing honesty on thorny cultural topics, but diving into the actual writing, I couldn't help but shake the feeling that these were like outstanding AP English essays whipped out by a student who had been partying all night with basic friends but could effortlessly crank out the winning formula of criticism topped with literary reference and personal anecdote in the hours before class bega ...more
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
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, arc
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 wh
Skyler Autumn
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
2 Stars

Trick Mirror is just that a trick. Jia Tolentino has written a book that is compiled of essays in which she sums up, reiterates, or recaps major events that have circled all our lives for the last 30 years. Events that we have all heard of in some form whether through television, internet, newspapers, carrier pigeons or if you just blindly stumbled out into the world and talked to another human soul for a few minutes. Basically it's impossible not to know about the majority of the event
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 e ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm pleased to report that it's every bit as good as everyone says it is.  Jia Tolentino probes the oddities of modern [female] life with the precision of a scalpel; she's a tremendously talented writer and a skilled observer, a critical combination when it comes to this sort of essay collection.  My favorite essay was the one about Tolentino's time on a reality tv show as a teenager, and my least favorite was the last essay about weddings, but I think each of those speaks to my personal interes ...more
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.
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
Some essays were monumentally better than others but, overall, I still wasn't too big of a fan. I guess I didn't agree with too much Jia wrote about, and there was nothing that "wowed" me. ...more
This is the first book I've read that ever made me feel like I am knocking on the door of elderly (yes I'm well over 50). There is something about Tolentino's writing that lets me know squarely that another generation is becoming mainstream and that generation acquires and takes in information differently. The digital revolution of the 80s and 90s ushered in much more than access to data. The shear volume of information that comes at us daily is daunting. The younger generations have learned to ...more
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.
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
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