If you know me—and I assume that you do if you're reading my blog, because this drivel is way too totally uninteresting for strangers— then you know that I have roughly 7,000 hobbies that I simultaneously adore and neglect. In my short life, I have picked up and put down a whole buttload of amusements because I keep running out of time and money. I promise myself that as soon as I get an extra $100 bucks a month or as soon as I'm done with grad school, I'll pick them right back up. And that's a lie. I mean, I hope it's not a lie, but come on, guys...the only thing I really do consistently is read, like, a ton. Also, I'm always eating gummy bears, as is evidenced by these bloody persistent saddle bags.
Reading is fun, free (sort of), and required (for me, anyway), so right now I do it constantly. You might be surprised to know all the things I get done while reading. I read while I'm walking the dog, watching TV, waiting at red lights, baking, laundering my underwears, sitting in church, pooping...it's true. (I guess you'll be thinking twice before you borrow one of my books.) It's the ultimate multi-tasking task. So I've made this little list of some of the books I've devoured this summer, complete with reviews. Really short ones, though. What, do you think I'm made of extra time? There are important episodes of Master Chef I need to catch up on.
Listen. I know the title of this post makes it sound like this is something I've done, like, more than once. It's not. So could you just ignore that please? Thanks, guys. You're the best.
The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America, Dr. Drew Pinsky
Oh, Dr. Drew. So wise. So very swoonable. And so right about the damaging effects of celebrity narcissism on all of us. I dare you to read this and not start pinpointing narcissistic traits in everyone you have ever known, ever. Everyone who hopes to raise a child successfully in this Reality TV era should read this book. Plus, gaining a little bit of sympathy and understanding for the fame-obsessed around us is helpful. Especially when you live in a toilet like Hollywood.
Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell
The people who haven't heard of this book are the same under-rock dwellers who haven't heard that Geico can save them a bunch of money on car insurance. I mean, this thing is everywhere. So I picked it up to learn what all the cool kids are talking about and let me tell ya, I have mixed feelings about it. Don't get me wrong, I am fascinated by Gladwell's findings. But I gotta say, I'm a tad discouraged. For example, the whole "perfect timing is imperative for success" thing? Doesn't that mean we Millennials are all pretty well screwed, much like those who got married and entered the work force during the Great Depression? Also, have any of us really spent 10,000 hours—the amount of time necessary to truly master something—doing anything? I mean, other than watching Saved by the Bell?
The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Stephen Adly Guirgis
This play was recommended to me by my theater professor friend. He mentioned it as a must-read one Sunday after my church lesson on the Crucifixion, and being the type of person who appreciates semi-sacrilicious, biblically-based fiction, I took his advice and read the crap out of it. It is truly one of the most honest and provocative accounts of Judas I've come across. And it's beautiful. The final scene is wood-burned into my memory planks. I've got goosebumps just thinking about it.
Lives on the Boundary, Mike Rose
When I first started pursuing this Master's degree, I would get all panicky and defensive when people would ask me if I planned on teaching. Do I have to? I mean, can't I just read and talk about what I've read with other people who like to read? Like, you know, a pro book club or something? Fast-forward to six weeks from now when I'm teaching my own college writing classes. Holy...I think I just pooped my pants a little. Rose's account of his experiences in the public education trenches has taken me from "Why would I ever want to teach?" to "What kind of monster wouldn't want to be a teacher?" The fact is, for every Gretta Ruth Parkinson Whalen whose parents nagged her about homework and helped her study for Spanish and dropped her off at Jane Hinckley's for math tutoring, there are about a hundred kids who are struggling to stay afloat in school. Mike Rose knows who these kids are, what they're like, and how we can help them.
Guys, have you read these books? What did you think? I'm itching to discuss them and Rob has read exactly none of them. He has, however, read roughly 1,000 pages worth of The Walking Dead, which gives me comfort since we probably won't be having book club during the Zombie Apocalypse, will we?
But if we do, I'll happily lead the discussion on The Mirror Effect.