By the time Michelle Obama’s book was published in November 2018, I’d gotten a part-time position at my dream job: I was FINALLY working as a bookseller in a bookstore. A few weeks had passed since I’d started, so I was still getting familiar with the process for books we weren’t allowed to sell before a specified date although customers would visit and call the store often asking “Is it there yet? Can I come by for a copy? Do you have it?”
It was the same with Obama’s book. There was a buildup of great excitement and expectation for her autobiography. People couldn’t wait to get it in their hands, and on the day it was released, we were sold out in minutes. Whenever we received another stack of books, they’d be gone in moments, sometimes before they even got on the shelves. It was even worse around Christmas time as people bought copies for themselves, friends, and family and would place five or 10 copies on hold at a time — all Christmas gifts, everyone in the family getting a copy. I also bought more than one copy. I bought one for myself and gave another to my aunt.
As usual, I didn’t immediately begin reading Obama’s autobiography when I got it. I don’t read many biographies, autobiographies, or even memoirs, and when I do, they’re never about political figures. I’m not a fan of politics, and I always mistrust political figures. But I liked the Obamas and really admired Michelle Obama. I loved her personality. What convinced me to finally purchase her autobiography was an interview she did with Oprah where she spoke about her book, growing up in Chicago, and her time as First Lady. I got curious. I wanted to know more. Furthermore, I loved how relatable Obama was in the interview. She seemed to just “tell it like it is” even when she was trying to be tactful or hold back a bit on some things, she came across as honest. I thought to myself, “I need to read her book.” And I’m glad I did.
It was morning. As always, I was rushing to catch my bus to work but stole some time to look up an audio book to listen to on my way there and while working. Work is boring. Traveling to work on public bus can be aggravating. I needed a distraction.
I pulled up my Overdrive app and scrolled through audio books. I couldn’t find any available for books I’ve already read, which is the best way for me to consume audio books because it’s hard for me to remember or focus on new-to-me reads on audio. Then I said fuck it. Let me just download a random one. I pulled up a list of popular audio books and downloaded the one that snagged my attention first — the black and white cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. I didn’t even know who the dude is, but I knew that a lot of people raved over the book. It could be good, I thought as I popped in my headphones and hopped out the door.
Nonfiction — autobiography, music
A couple weeks ago, I was on a roll reading memoirs about mental health. I started with Susan Cahalan’s Brain on Fire, which pricked my interested, then picked up Madness by Marya Hornbacher, which was absorbing though sometimes unsettling, and moved on to Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, which was totally hilarious.
“In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest.” (Goodreads)
I cut that Goodreads summary short because that’s what the book’s about and all you need to know going in. You don’t even need to read the rest of my review, unless you’re really interested in knowing what I thought of the book, because it’s best to just hop right in. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.
When Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have the piece of shattering knowledge that would finally make sense of the chaos of her life. At age twenty-four, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type I rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disorder.
In Madness, in her trademark wry and utterly self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage — where bipolar always beckons — is at the center of this brave and heart-stopping memoir.
Madness delivers the revelation that Hornbacher is not alone: millions of people in America today are struggling with a variety of disorders that may disguise their bipolar disease. And Hornbacher’s fiercely self-aware portrait of her own bipolar as early as age four will powerfully change, too, the current debate on whether bipolar in children actually exists. (Goodreads)
It’s been such a long time since I’ve done a book review that I feel as if I’ve forgotten how to write one.
“Where most children are proof of their parents’ love, I was the proof of their criminality.”
I picked up Born a Crime in March and read it sporadically until I got hooked and completed it in a few days last month. I don’t often read celebrity bios, but this one caught my attention because there was a lot of buzz about it and it was featured in the New York Times Books section. Plus, Trevor Noah is cute. His winking dimples compelled me to read his book.
Noah is a comedian and the host of the Daily Show, a satirical news talk show that airs on Comedy Central. I hardly watch the show and haven’t seen it since Noah took over from its previous host Jon Stewart, but I’ve heard it’s great. Prior to the Daily Show, I did not know of Trevor Noah. The few times I’ve heard him speak, I assumed he was British. I never would have guessed that he’s from South Africa, which I learned by reading reviews of Born a Crime.