Ahem… so, let’s not talk about how terribly delinquent of a blogger I’ve been of late. We’ve got lots of books to go through to wrap up my 2016 reading, so let’s just get to work! These will be quick and dirty reviews for all our sakes–’cause there are lots. They also tended to be completely off the map of my usual swords-and-sorcery fare. What can I say–I was a complicated bird in 2016.
In the summer of 2015 I finally got a library card, and in the summer of 2016 I finally met the library in all its online awesomeness. I discovered Overdrive and got quite drunk on my audiobook-downloading power. As illustrated below…
Title: The Historian
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
I already loved the novel, so I thought it would be a safe bet as I started my first real foray into the realm of audiobooks. The production of the audiobook adaption of The Historian is amazing, and I would say it even elevates the original source material because some of it is, within the narrative, being told out loud. The narrators were impeccably cast in this host of characters–and there’s something about that Slavic accent that makes the shadow of Dracula even more imposing.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
This was a first for me in that I had not read the novel before listening to the audiobook. I never expected I would have much skill in going audiobook-only because I am a genuinely terrible auditory learner. But, since I had loved Fangirl so, so much (novel and audiobook) and my ears were still buzzing from the joy of The Historian, I thought I’d give a Rainbow Rowell audiobook a try. I very much enjoyed the premise of the landline going back in time, and thought it was explored very well to both tragic and touching effect. As seems to be the norm with Rowell, the characters were well drawn and gave the stakes real meaning. Because Rowell’s dialogue is so great, audiobook might be the way to consume the rest of her books (which is definitely on my to-do list).
Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Author: Mindy Kaling
This is the beginning of another trend that is quite unlike me–non-fiction books! I’m already a fan of Mindy Kaling’s, so I was excited to listen to her–pretend I was cool enough to have a conversation with her.
Through total personal bias, I very much enjoyed the story of a generally compliant and obedient child who grows up to be a writer (sometimes all these crazy on-the-road-type crazy-writer stories can get a former-IB student and lifelong keener down). It was great to listen to these stories in Kaling’s own voice, and it felt even closer of a conversation as I learned about her trajectory as a writer. In this “girl boss” moment that we all seem to be having and which my “compliant and obedient child” self is trying to find within myself, I found Kaling’s personal examples to be something I might be able to achieve. Plus, it was hilarious–this is Mindy!
Title: Yes Please
Author: Amy Poehler
Continuing the trend, next was Yes Please by another crush of mine, Amy Poehler. As with Kaling, I found Poehler’s essays to make her an even more kindred spirit to myself than I had felt before.
And while, of course, there’s a lot of advice to be mined on what it means to be a professional creative and how to call something finished and own what you’ve created, Poehler’s more personal stories had a lot to offer for this twenty-something. Her essays about her marriage, her divorce, and her kids were profound beyond the realm of “celebrities are just like us!” Again, hearing them read by Poehler herself was probably the best way to experience this–not only because it feels almost like a conversation rather than reading a book, but also because Poehler is so expressive and really seems to hold nothing back as she describes these personal moments.
Title: Paddle Your Own Canoe
Author: Nick Offerman
Now, any book by Nick Offerman should probably only be consumed in audiobook form, experiencing the deep cadence and deadpan delivery of his voice. I have no idea if it could possibly be the same reading this in your own head (even if you were trying to make your internal monologue do its best Ron Swanson impression).
My favourite part was Offerman’s stories from his childhood, growing up in rural Illinois and the mythology of family. There’s a lot on his pursuit of a theatre education and career that was kind of lost of me–I’m definitely not a big enough drama nerd to truly appreciate some of the experiences. Similarly to Kaling and Poehler, Offerman emphasized the idea of owning what you do and make without apology (which is definitely something I need to hear over and over again at this point in my personal growth). What I particularly took away from Offerman was the idea of work ethic–perhaps to a more intense degree than I could ever reasonably achieve, but it helps that I now have Offerman’s voice occasionally pop into my head to ask, “Why aren’t you fucking doing something?” Thank you, internal monologue Offerman. You will serve me well.
Author: Tina Fey
After all that, of course I was on my way to boss level that is Bossypants. Tina Fey’s book seems like it was the kick-off point for a new form of celebrity book and also a touchpoint for the broader conversation about women being bosses.
Having never been an avid SNL viewer and never seeing 30 Rock, it was sometimes hard to follow along in those parts or be particularly invested in them–Kaling, Poehler, and Offerman had a one-up there because I love their shows and loved hearing the behind-the-scenes stories.
Of course, because Fey’s voice has been part of the “bossy” conversation so much, I didn’t find many revelations to be taken from Bossypants alone–but only because I’ve already read those revelations in all these other quotes and interviews and tried to learn and internalize as much as humanly possible. I stand in awe of Fey because she truly just seems like she’s incapable of taking bullshit from anyone, just in who she is. I wish I could make Fey’s wisdom come out of my mouth in practice, but I’m not there yet. One bossy step at a time.