Memoir & Nonfiction

Scrappy Little NobodyScrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just finished this on audio, and I loved the experience! Anna is funny, honest, and easy to listen to. This was probably my favorite celebrity memoir that I’ve read. I realize that she doesn’t have a lot of life experience, but I enjoyed hearing her journey and how even as she is attending red carpet events, she still can’t afford the “celebrity lifestyle”.

Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being ThemselvesStrong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautiful book with over 100 inspirational young girls and young women featured in stunning photographs. Reading through it, the strength of these girls will rub off onto you allowing you to feel more confident and radiant. Beauty is everywhere, and it doesn’t mean you have to dress up and sport heels to find it. Sometimes the most beautiful moments are when you’re sweating, playing, laughing, and just being yourself.

This is a book I will keep on my coffee table, or maybe my desk, so I can thumb through it whenever I need inspiration or a confidence boost.

BossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one much better than Amy Poehler’s and Mindy Kahling’s books. Listening to these memoirs through audiobook is definitely the best way to enjoy and appreciate them. Tina Fey is funny and I laughed out loud a few times.

Although, I think I may be “over” celebrity books now. They all are a bit repetitive, focusing on the same subjects (beauty tips, Hollywood biz, comedy shows, etc.)

Yes PleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m really glad I listened to this as an audiobook because I don’t think it would have held my attention if I read it on my own. There were funny moments, but hearing Amy’s laugh, her jokes only for the audio listeners, and the guest speakers made it so much better.

I enjoyed the chapter about her charity work in Haiti the most. It felt like the most real and raw chapter, and I liked seeing that side of Amy. Even though I have never seen Parks and Rec, the behind the scenes look into the show, the characters, and the “Hollywood Biz” was also entertaining.

 

Why Not Me?Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just finished this one on audio, and while it wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be, I definitely giggled a few times. Mindy Kahling offers honesty and a true look inside Hollywood and herself. I thought the ending chapter on confidence was something worth thinking about, and the wedding chapter was definitely the funniest.

I’m convinced I should start watching reruns of “The Office” now.

The Magician and the SpiritsThe Magician and the Spirits by Deborah Noyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was obsessed with Harry Houdini biographies when I was younger, but this one (also geared towards children) gives a whole new side to him that I never knew about. It was fascinating to read about spiritualism in the late 19th/early 20th century and how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the biggest advocate/believer of mediums and seances! I can’t wait to see a finished copy with all of the gorgeous illustrations!

Read This Before Our Next MeetingRead This Before Our Next Meeting by Al Pittampalli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick read and reference guide to eliminating unnecessary meetings and making your current meetings more productive. There are some great lines and points, and my book is already filled with highlights, but the whole second half was just summarizing the first half. Since this book is all about saving time and money, just read the first half.

Also, this only covered meetings that are held to make decisions. Maybe it’s because I’m still in an assistant role and I don’t make decisions, but I feel like it’s rare to have those types of meetings. There was one bullet point on general update meetings, and I think those are the meetings that drain the most time from people’s days. I wish that section was fleshed out more instead.

I agree that everyone should be more committed to reading memos and emails so we can avoid informational meetings and even update meetings. Also, I like that culture is moving away from everyone needing to speak during a meeting–if you have nothing of value to say, don’t say anything. Adding trivial dialogue does nothing but prolong the meetings.

You can skim this little book in less than an hour, so although it could use some work, it’s worth it to read it, especially those who often pull together and facilitate meetings, because a few correctly implemented ideas will definitely save your teams time and stress.

My Life on the RoadMy Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I learned so much from this book. Before reading this, I knew that Gloria Steinem was an inspirational and important figure in the feminist movement, but I didn’t know much more about her. The book tells about her own travels and experiences, yet it doesn’t come across as pretentious, or self-serving; it’s educational and full of life lessons. A lot of readers were confused by Gloria’s structure since it isn’t chronological, but I actually thought it was structured perfectly for her purposes. Each chapter expresses a theme, so different times in her life support each theme in a unique way; thus this format strengthens her anecdotes.

There are a plethora of quotable passages, and after reading books like this, I wish I was back in school so I could hear the inspired thoughts of my fellow classmates at Mount Holyoke. I also didn’t realize that Gloria attended Smith College, our sister school. It’s always inspiring to see amazing and influential women rise up from the small women’s college network. The chapter about college campuses was actually my favorite, followed closely by the taxi driver chapter!

The political chapter near the end was a bit slower for me, and although I agree with Gloria on most political standpoints, those chapters seemed to have a bit of a hidden agenda encouraging support for certain political figures. I realize that politics and the feminist movement are almost impossible to separate, yet I think this book could reach a lot more people if it focused less on the political aspect of democrat vs. republican.

Overall, I’m so glad that I delved into this work. It’s not something I would have picked up on my own had it not been for my book club, and I think I’ll be able to think more intelligently about these issues in the future thanks to Ms. Steinem.

Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aziz Ansari teamed up with Eric Klinenberg to do a sociological study and analysis on modern romance. I don’t read much non-fiction that isn’t memoir, so the fact that I read it all the way through and enjoyed it, says a lot. I did, however, expect this book to be much funnier than it was. There were moments I found myself chuckling about Aziz’s absurd analogies and examples, but I wasn’t enthralled. I did learn a lot from the study that I found fascinating–trends, statistics, etc., and it does make you think deeply about connections and online interactions vs. face-to-face interactions. I was most fascinated with the changes in romance across generations and even the idea that marriage was built on completely different values. I, for one, feel lucky to be part of the digital age where you can meet people online. I think it’s important to be able to take those online interactions and quickly transfer them to the “real world”, so to speak, but there are so many more opportunities to meet people–both friendships and relationships, alike. You are also given the opportunity to talk to people from different places and cultures and become a more well-rounded person as a whole.

Aziz did a great job making the reader think about the transformation of relationships, and although it wasn’t as funny as I would have liked, I immensely enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone navigating modern romance, or trying to understand the younger generation’s view towards romance.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed

May 3, 15
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
bookshelves:
memoir, feminist, non-fiction
Read from April 21 to May 03, 2015

An inspirational story that reminds you that even when you’re at your lowest, you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. This memoir has a cohesive flow, and I love that the flashbacks don’t feel forced, which is rare in many books. We are in Cheryl’s mind throughout the novel, and there’s no question that she is strong and brave, and her dedication makes the reader dedicated to the book and watching everything play out. Although there are slower parts, this is a wonderful book that is a perfect read for someone struggling with change and obstacles in their own life. I feel more empowered for having read it.

My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night StandsMy Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands
by Chelsea Handler

April 21, 15
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
bookshelves:
memoir, humor
Read from February 20 to April 16, 2015

Handler’s My Horizontal Life is often humorous, and it’s certainly an easy, quick read. I enjoyed that each chapter could stand alone, so it’s easy enough to read portions of the book just for an extra laugh without needing to commit to the whole memoir.

This book is certainly not for those who are offended easily. It’s offensive to many men and women, and specifically, to midgets, blacks, blondes, and non-drinkers. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already appreciate Chelsea Handler’s humor. That being said, it’s a fun, comical read, and although Handler often uses the same analogies multiple times in her story, her style and writing doesn’t fall flat.

Orange Is the New BlackOrange Is the New Black
by Piper Kerman

Jan 18, 15
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
bookshelves: memoir, non-fiction
Read from January 08 to 13, 2015

Orange Is the New Black is Piper Kerman’s memoir of her year in prison. After graduating from Smith College, Piper searched for adventure and found it with her girlfriend, Nora, and an extravagant life supported by Nora’s involvement in the drug trade. Ten years after laundering money for Nora, Piper faces her past and ends up in the women’s prison in Danbury. Although warned to keep to herself, she discovers that community within and outside prison is the only way she can survive her sentence.

Piper’s story forces the reader to think about the prison system and its flaws, and the importance of support and community. It was a great insight into the federal prison system, and Piper’s writing had vivid descriptions and great prose. It reads almost like fiction since it’s a well-organized and educational narrative.

Piper is able to capture the dynamic women in her story well on paper, and I truly cared about all of the characters.

My only complaint is the end was a bit short. I wished there was an epilogue so we could find out what happened after she was released and a bit of the stories of her friends from prison. However, I understand that the story was about her time in prison, and once she was released, that part of her story was finished. I would highly recommend this story to anyone who wants to know about prison life and read a story that shows the importance of friendships.

Stripping Down: A MemoirStripping Down: A Memoir
by Sheila Hageman

Dec 24, 14
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
bookshelves: memoir, feminist
Read from November 18 to December 23, 2014

I enjoyed the first third of the book and found it strong and a great start to revealing a difficult past, but then the rest of the book became repetitive. Her thoughts were always the same and she was always feeling sorry for herself. After awhile, it was hard to empathize with her anymore and at that moment, the memoir became dull.

LuckyLucky
by Alice Sebold

April 30, 214
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
bookshelves: memoir, non-fiction
Read in April, 2014

Powerful and emotional. This memoir is engrossing and difficult to put down — even when you want to because your stomach muscles tighten and your heart tears with empathy. The descriptions are vivid. The reader feels like they are right there with Alice as she is brutally raped in the first scene; and like Alice, we are helpless. All the emotions Alice feels unfurl from her words into the reader.

It’s a sad reminder of how many people deal with rape on a daily basis, and just because an assault occurred years in the past, it doesn’t mean the victim doesn’t recount the events every day. It’s a reminder of our faulty justice system, of our peers’ closed and uneducated minds, and how coping shouldn’t mean forgetting or ignoring.

An important read, if you can handle it.

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's AddictionBeautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction
by David Sheff

Dec 15, 13
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
bookshelves: memoir, non-fiction
Read in December, 2013

Beautiful Boy tells the somber story of a young man’s addiction through the eyes of his father. Beautiful language describes horrific accounts which help the reader understand the confusion and ambivalence felt by the addict’s family–both hating and loving the addict, Nic. The true-life events in this memoir are difficult and heart-wrenching, however, the author’s words never reflect that sentiment. David Sheff often tells the reader of the hurt, the pain, and the constant day to day worry and fear that permeates his life, but I never physically felt it. This was strange to me because I am an extremely emotional person. I become saddened and cry at the slightest sign of hurt in not only my own life, but anyone’s life I come across. I cry when I see cars mangled on the side of the road; I cry when I hear about disease and sickness; I even cry at commercials and Disney movies. While reading Sheff’s memoir, not a single teared stroked my cheek. This book still contains a powerful message about the disease of addiction. I learned about effects of meth, healthcare, coping methods, and so much more, but this book would have been so much stronger had Sheff been able to not just tell us the story, but show us. I know it was a difficult story for anyone to tell, but it would have positively affected even more people had he succeeded in sharing and expressing every emotion he felt and feared from the moment he realized his beautiful boy, Nic, was an addict.

View all my reviews

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