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“She is undeniably a funny lady, and her humor translates beautifully — even more powerfully, I’d argue — to the page. Her jokes have more time to build, her punchlines land harder. She’s created an entirely hilarious read that will delight her current fans by giving them a pitcher-sized serving of her normally shot-sized jokes (she is clearly better at booze analogies than I am) and entice new readers who have enjoyed recent books by other humor heavy-hitters (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling — you know the drill).”

I wrote a book review for SheKnows:

Mamrie Hart’s new memoir is a hilarious lesson in radical self-acceptance

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Woman starts feeling strange, within a month she’s nearly catatonic with what the doctors are saying is schizo-affective disorder. Compelling book about the brain issue that caused this and how she is now.

That said, I think what was most compelling was her struggle to find her identity again as she recovered. The brain is who we are, what we are, it’s our observation and our conclusions. So what happens when for a month your brain is wrong? How do you trust yourself again? Who are you now, especially when everyone around you knows what has happened to you? It also has far-reaching implications for psychiatric disorders – how many, like this one, are actually a complication of a physical issue?

It’s a quick read and great if you want to dive in a life that is perhaps very different from yours and get a glimpse of what it means go mad for a month.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Totally enjoyable. There was a little too much about the Upright Citizens Brigade that I didn’t feel I could relate to – it was a lot of name dropping, fun having, and stuff people who are into Improv would enjoy – but other than that, truly pleasant read. She’s personal but doesn’t divulge a bunch of secrets. There’s some solid advice but also some vulnerability and doubt, and that’s cool. 

Read if you want something breezy but pleasant and smart.

Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I’m a big fan of the Sugar columns at TheRumpus.net, spending free time going through the archives and falling into the lull of Strayed’s words and her heartwrenching advice. When I heard about this memoir I knew I needed to have it — but I’d also promised myself that, since I had more time, I wouldn’t give in to spending money. I’d get it through the library.

The first night I got it (after weeks of waiting) I devoured about 20% (I read it on my Kindle). And then it got to the trail, really got to it, and her hours of solitude felt heavy on me and I set it down. I picked it up, got through it little pieces at a time, and thought about how difficult it is to effectively write something with only one person in the scene and keep it engaging. And then, just in time, new people joined her and the scene lightened and I found myself interested again.

That being said, as I read it, I wondered if when I got to the end I would feel disappointed. I’d expected something that would knock me out, over and over, like the Sugar columns, and instead what I got was solid, steady, a woman who was smart and interesting and stubborn but not necessarily a book that I would never let leave my fingertips. I started appreciating her craft — the Strayed/Starved necklace, the black feather, how her feet disintegrated while the rest of her body coped — and when I put down the book I knew that I had enjoyed it but wasn’t quite sure what I would say. I wasn’t sure if it was a new favorite, something I would throw at other people and say here, read this, please, you must.

But when I woke up this morning it was still rattling around inside me, and I realized that while on the surface it didn’t make me weep or make me force Mark to listen to page-long excerpts, it had buried itself deeper and made itself a home. I’m lucky enough to have never been knocked as hard as Strayed, but I could feel something, like I’d been taught a lesson I didn’t know I was learning, something about forgiveness and redemption and the way we are capable of much more than we believe. Read it when you need a book that feels like a deep breath, like a sore body after a long day, something like gratitude and triumph.