Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Writerly Wednesday: An Accidental Set of Memoirs

I push myself to read a lot. I enjoy it, and I feel like it enhances my life and keeps me sharp. In 2017, though, I'm trying to stick right close to the 52-book target and not overachieve. 

The first year of my 52-book reading target, I read 57 books. The next year I did 61. In 2016, the total was 65. You see where this could go, right? It could go down my typical "bigger, better, faster, more" path. That tendency doesn't reflect my best self. What am I trying to win? My prize for 52 books (a badge on Goodreads and a nice, credible list of favorites posted here) is the same as it is for 70. And there are other things to do like watch Big Little Lies on HBO, write resistance emails to Trump-complicit politicians, and hang out with my family. 

Ok, but so far this year, I've read nine books, and four of those have been memoirs. I usually don't clump genres like that. This has mostly been an accident of library holds and hearty friend recommendations. 

Here's what I've learned:
  • I think I might be the only person in the world who didn't love Glennon Doyle Melton's Love Warrior. I do feel curious about her, and I admire that she's made a career of writing and inspiring other people. And there were inspiring moments in this book, but some of the scenes made me feel super uncomfortable and cringey. Of course, that was the point: we should be honest with ourselves and others instead of masking the truth with substances, food, or other addictive behaviors. That makes sense, I guess, but it wasn't really for me.
  • Next up was Jessi Klein's collection of personal essays, You'll Grow Out of It. Less cringey, more funny than Melton's, I zipped through this. The stickiest sentiments: No matter how wonderful your life may look on the outside, you might still feel lonely and less-than. I learned this lesson while laughing out loud. Also, you're not alone, and you'll be okay. And finally, "get the epidural." Don't feel like you have to be a hero all the time. For what? What are you trying to win? As I mentioned, I'm always trying to win everything, so this was for me.
  • My takeaway from Carrie Fisher's 2008 offering, Wishful Drinking was this: Even if things are crazy, even if you're crazy (and who isn't?), just keep trying to do your best and also to make people laugh. This is a quick and pleasant read, and I have a full review coming soon on Literary Quicksand.
  • And finally, I listened to Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. This guy is really something. His anecdotes cover petty larceny, religion, and his complicated relationship with his white father. You can't really boil this book (or any of the others) down to a life-lesson, but that hasn't really been stopping me. Noah says, love your mother, put yourself out there, and fight injustice. 
I'm going to try to do good stuff today, inspired by my reading; but I'm not going to try to beat everyone while I'm doing it.

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The Benefits of "Not for Me" Reading

1 comment:

MQW said...

As usual, your reviews add to my reading list! Glad to see that you are not going to let yourself overachieve. That is tough for you but will leave more time for those other things like your delightful, fun novel. Always proud of you! Love, mom