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Showing posts from August, 2022

Book 44 of 52: I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I listened to the audiobook of Jennette McCurdy's I'm Glad My Mom Died while packing for and then starting my road trip to the national parks of Minnesota and Michigan, and often had to stop the recording to process what I'd just heard.  It is one of the most harrowing celebrity memoirs I've ever read. It comes with every kind of content warning you could imagine. I'm going to share some of what she wrote about here, so if you need to click out of this one, I completely understand. McCurdy was a child star pushed into show business by her mother, an abusive narcissist who taught her daughter how to be anorexic, did "exams" on her into her late teens, didn't let McCurdy shower herself (and often showered her together with her teenage brother), and didn't even let her wipe herself after she went to the bathroom until she was at least eight years old (she describes the behavior at that age but if she said when it ended, I didn't catch it).  The b

Book 43 of 52: Fly Girl by Ann Hood

Fly Girl by Ann Hood is a "look behind the curtain" type memoir. After college, and before becoming a successful novelist, Hood worked as a flight attendant for TWA, "at the end of those glamour days," she writes, starting her job a time when flying was something you dressed up for, and ending after deregulation started to shrink prices but also amenities, seats and leg room.  Those glamour days were also more sexist, where flight attendants couldn't be married, couldn't have children, were chosen in large part based on their looks, and had to maintain a specific weight (and could be fired for going over, especially in their first six months of "probation"). That didn't discourage women though. At the time Hood applied, TWA had acceptance rates lower than Harvard. It was an in demand job.  It was a big change from when the role was "courier" and only open to men. In 1930, Ellen Church, a registered nurse, convinced United Airlines to

Book 42 of 52: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

The Man Who Died Twice  by Richard Osman is the second in the Thursday Murder Club Mysteries series, which brings together a group of senior citizens from a British retirement village with two local law enforcement officers and assorted neighborhood characters to solve crime. In this one, the ex-husband of Elizabeth, one of the seniors, comes back into her life, asking for her help. Despite her feelings about him (he cheated on her often), she still says yes. And then everything goes to hell. I don't want to say too much here because details about Elizabeth, her ex-husband or the fellow seniors would be major spoilers for the first book,  The Thursday Murder Club  (which gave the series its name), which you should probably read first. You could do without it, but you might be confused. I read The Thursday Murder Club  last summer and had to refresh my memory as I got into this one.  It's not as much a cozy mystery a la the Murder, She Wrote books , but more along the lines of

Book 41 of 52: Unmask Alice: LSD, the Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson

I don't remember how old I was when I read Go Ask Alice by Anonymous, but I do remember where I was. Until I went to college, I spent most of my summers in a campground at the Jersey Shore. My mom would take us to the beach in the morning, then drop us off at the campground pool on the way back and tell us to stay there until dinner. It must have been July or August because the pool was packed, so much so that all the chairs were all taken, and the only place I could sit was my beach chair. That's where I stayed was on a beautiful summer day, enraptured by the "diary" of Alice, a drug addicted teenager. I hadn't thought about the book in years, until I listened to  an episode of the You're Wrong About podcast that featured Rick Emerson , author of the new book Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries .  They dissected exactly why the book is implausible, which seems obvious to me now in a way that teena

Book 40 of 52: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomedy by Alison Bechdel

This post starts with a book I haven't read: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and the Body in Healing Trauma  by Bessel Van Der Kolk, which I bought months ago and kept picking up and put it down. Earlier this month, I finally told myself "You're finally going to read it, damnit." I even painted my nails the same color as the stars on the cover, and took a picture holding the book. And yet. I've been thinking enough about trauma lately and couldn't bring myself, in this exact moment, to read about what it's done to me. We're coming up on the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, a terrible tragedy I covered and told myself for a long time could not a big deal to me personally since I was safe and I didn't lose my home. I was just the channel through which other shared their despair and anguish, what's the big deal? I grew up in a "brush it off" household. I should have been able to brush that off too. Spoiler: I did not. And near

Book 39 of 52: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

I've put off writing a review of Mary Balogh's Someone to Wed  because I don't have much to say about it. I read her books when I want a pleasant distraction from whatever hellfire is consuming our politics/planet on that day. They're well written regency romances where of course there's a happily ever after, but without some of the tense plots these books can bring, like someone is going to die or be murdered if the two leads don't act promptly.  In this book, which is part of the Westcott series, we have Wren Heyden, heiress to a glass works company and fortune who is largely a recluse, due largely to a birthmark on one side of her face (and what previous people have said about it, which is revealed late run the book).  She proposes a marriage for very practical reasons to Alexander Westcott, who has unexpectedly found himself as the Earl of Riverdale for reasons that aren't really worth getting into here (but are a plot line through the series). He needs

Book 38 of 52: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

As I've mentioned before, I have a subscription to Libro.fm , which lets listeners buy audiobooks through an independent bookstore. With a subscription, I pay a monthly fee for one audiobook a month (plus I get discounts on additional audiobooks should I choose to buy more). Generally, one a month enough for me, but in July I found myself with a week between finishing a book and my new credit going live.  So I turned to the Libby app, which I access for free through my library, and decided why not: I'll give The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis a whirl. If I read any of the Chronicles of Narnia as a child, I don't remember. As a four hour audiobook, it didn't seem like a huge investment of time. And...eh? It was fine. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for a Christian allegory, especially not right now. I don't think I can add much to the discourse about it, but I can say that it wasn't a complete waste of time because I got to listen to the wonderf