9. Alida Nugent – Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse

After my last disappointing read, I was looking for something that I would really enjoy…and I certainly found that in Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent. The book is under 200 pages so I read the whole thing yesterday, but it was a great read.

Alida Nugent - Don't Worry, It Gets Worse (photo taken by me)
Alida Nugent – Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse (photo taken by me)

The book is sort of a memoir, as Nugent tells stories about her postgraduate life and its disappointments. After graduating college, she struggled to jump into a career immediately, as a lot of people have in the past few years and continue to do today.

I had a feeling I would like this book before I even started it, because even though I still have a little over a year until I graduate, I feel like I’m not going to have a plan once I do. It was nice to read a story from someone who didn’t have her whole life planned out when she graduated, and Nugent’s stories are funny.

She gained popularity on tumblr before she wrote this book, which is a website that I love. Nugent is funny and relatable, and I think this book is a great read for anyone who will be graduating college soon or has in the past couple of years, especially if you feel like you’re in over your head.

One thing that I really liked about this book was the ending. Throughout most of the book, you read about Nugent’s struggles in life – from having to move back in with her parents, to working retail even though she has a degree, to her unsuccessful love life. However, the book does not end on a sad or depressing note. I really like the way Nugent concludes the book, on an uplifting note describing her happy life in New York City. It gives the reader hope that even if your life isn’t going the way you imagined it would, there are always positives to life and things can always improve.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was funny, interesting, easy to read, and left me feeling good. As I said, I would definitely recommend this book to people in their 20s whose lives may not be playing out as they had planned.

8. Jennifer Egan – A Visit From the Goon Squad

I go to school in Connecticut, so due to winter storm Juno, I had a snow day this past Tuesday. If I were a good student, I could have spent the day doing all my homework for classes, but of course I felt like being lazy. I decided to read a book so that I wouldn’t be completely lazy, because in my opinion, reading is at least a little bit productive (more so than watching Netflix all day, at least).

I chose A Visit from the Goon Squad off my bookshelf, because I figured a YA book would be a nice, easy read that I could probably get through most of on my day off. I ended up reading about half of the book on Tuesday, and then another large chunk on Wednesday, and I just finished it up last night.

Jennifer Egan - A Visit from the Goon Squad (photo taken by me)
Jennifer Egan – A Visit from the Goon Squad (photo taken by me)

I did not like this book. It’s not often that I don’t like a book, but this one just didn’t do it for me. In the beginning of the book, I was confused, because each chapter focuses on a different character, but there was little explanation to that, which just left me to figure it out.

At first, I was thinking, like most books that switch between points of view from chapter to chapter, that it would go between like two or three characters. So after I got to about the fifth chapter and realized that every single chapter of the book focused on a different character (that was somehow related to someone else in the book), I was kind of annoyed. I wish I had known going in that it would be a completely different story in each chapter.

One thing that really rubbed me the wrong way in the book was the final chapter. I think that that chapter is supposed to take place in the future, but the terminology used is so, so corny. Egan includes the characters “T-ing” (a.k.a. texting) each other, and the way they type reminds me of how everyone texted in middle school, only a hundred times worse. Here’s an example: “no 1 nOs abt me. Im invysbl.” That lingo really annoyed me while I was reading it.

Aside from the changing main character with each chapter, another reason I didn’t like this book was that it never fully engaged me. I never particularly liked this book or got really into it, so I had no interest in reading it.

This book was a chore for me to finish, but I’m glad I’m done with it now, so I can move on to a (hopefully) better book.

7. Rachel Dratch – Girl Walks Into a Bar

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. The past week was filled with spending as much time as I could with my boyfriend before I had to leave for school, moving back to school, settling in with my new roommate, and then dealing with the first week of classes. Moving back to school is always really hard for me so I’ve been feeling kind of down lately. Long distance relationships suck no matter how far the distance is, but I’m trying to be grateful that I’m only 4 hours away and I get to see my boyfriend at least once a month.

It’s been a hectic week to say the least, but since it’s the weekend now, I’ve finally had some downtime to read in between showing my new roommate around the town. I had started Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch before I left for school, but only got about 10 pages in, so I basically read the whole thing this weekend.

You probably know Rachel Dratch from SNL (she played Debbie Downer in one of the funniest skits I’ve ever seen) or maybe some small roles she’s had in a few Adam Sandler movies.

Her memoir goes through her college days, moving to Chicago to do improv shows, moving on to SNL, and she talks about her love life and experiences in dating. Basically the book is a log of her life told as a story.

Rachel Dratch - Girl Walks Into A Bar (photo taken by me)
Rachel Dratch – Girl Walks Into A Bar (photo taken by me)

I’m still not so sure how I feel about this book. Usually, I love memoirs, especially when they’re written by comedians. However, from the start, Girl Walks Into a Bar struggled to get me hooked. The story was pretty fun and interesting, everything I would expect a comedian’s memoir to be, but I just didn’t have a real interest in reading it. As I’ve mentioned in some of my other posts, a lot of books have me hooked and I don’t want to put them down, but this one I kind of just read through to get it over with.

One thing I did really like about this book was the ending. Dratch writes at the end that she wishes there was a way to package the story up with a nice bow and present it as the end of the story, but she can’t. However, I really felt like it was all tied together at the end and it had a really nice ending.

Her story is also a very happy one. At the beginning, you see Dratch struggling as a comedian and later in the story you hear about her troubles finding love. But by the end of the book, she’s in a happy place. Sure, she admits that she doesn’t actually have it all figured out and that she’s just taking life as it comes at her, but I like that. I like seeing that she has a happy and fulfilled life but that she isn’t always 100% sure of what she’s doing. It makes me feel like it’s okay not to know exactly what you’re doing or that maybe it’s okay to not have a set plan.

Although I struggled to stay interested in the book, at the end, it made me feel happy, and because of that, I liked it.

6. Sarah Mlynowski – Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have)

My latest book is Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski. I actually finished this book on Thursday but haven’t had any time to write a post about it. The book is about 350 pages long but I finished it in just one day.

Sarah Mlynowski - Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) [photo taken by me]
Sarah Mlynowski – Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) [photo taken by me]
Ten Things We Did is another Young Adult book, following a high schooler named April through her rule-breaking junior year of high school. Over her winter break halfway through junior year, her dad tells her that he got a new job and the family is moving from Connecticut to Ohio. April does not want to leave her life, school, friends, and especially her boyfriend behind, so she begs her dad to stay. Eventually, she convinces him to let her live with her friend Violet so she can stay in Connecticut. There’s just one thing – Violet’s mother is in a traveling production of Mary Poppins and won’t be home at all while April is living there. April knows her dad won’t approve, so she and Violet come up with a plan to trick April’s dad, including making a fake email address to control all communications between their “parents”.

The book goes through the rest of April’s school year and all the things she does that (as the title suggests) she probably shouldn’t have.

I did not particularly like this book. I can’t point out exactly what I didn’t like about it, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. As with most YA books, it was a very easy read, which is why I flew through it, but it was more out of determination to finish the book as opposed to interest in the story.

The story certainly wasn’t predictable, but the surprises weren’t presented in a way that made them very exciting, so the whole story just seemed a little dull to me. I think some of this might have to do with my college kid cynicism, knowing that no one’s high school experience isn’t that crazy and exciting. The book was just too fake for me and I feel like nothing that exciting actually happened in it.

However, this book was an easy read. I’m sure to a lot of people it’s a good book. And although I didn’t particularly like it, the story seemed unique to me, and there were some parts that surprised me. I would recommend this book to younger readers, or people who really like YA books.

5. Susannah Cahalan – Brain on Fire

Susannah Cahalan - Brain On Fire (photo taken by me)
Susannah Cahalan – Brain On Fire (photo taken by me)

Last night, I finished Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. I read this book over the past few snowy days and read practically all day yesterday to finish it up.

Brain on Fire is a memoir written by Cahalan, who was a 24-year-old journalist at the New York Post when she suddenly started experiencing numbness, hallucinations, and seizures, among other things. Cahalan went into a psychotic and then catatonic state and spent a month living in a hospital while confusing her nurses and doctors.

Throughout her memoir, Cahalan tells the complete story of her illness – as complete as it can be, that is. Cahalan herself doesn’t remember most of her month-long hospital stay, and therefore used her reporter skills to tell the story. She watched videos of herself taken by the security cameras in her room, read through diaries kept by herself and her parents, interviewed people involved and dissected her medical records in order to portray her “month of madness”.

I LOVED this book. Absolutely loved it. I’ve recommended it to practically everyone I’ve spoken to this past week and I bring it up every chance I get. I find it fascinating (yet terrifying) that a young woman in her early twenties can go from perfectly healthy to barely being able to communicate her thoughts in such a short period of time, and then can recover and be able to write a book about it.

One thing I really liked about this book was the short chapters it had. Most chapters were around 5 pages long, which I like because it gives you the ability to stop and put the book down at almost any time without having to stop reading in the middle of something important. I like books that are broken up for easy reading, which is exactly what Cahalan has done here. I also think it’s really nice to have a first person account of a medical problem as opposed to reading it from an outsider’s perspective, because I think it makes it much more personal.

At times, I felt like the writing became a little wordy when she was describing medical terms, although I know that those details were entirely necessary for the story. It’s kind of similar to how I felt while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I think most people have had to read for school at one point or another. That book also gets a little overwhelming with medical terms at times which can make it a little harder to follow, but those facts are important and need to be included. In Brain on Fire, I think Cahalan does her best to make everything as easy to understand as possible, but there are just some facts that cannot be left out. She makes the medical jargon as easy to follow as possible.

I would definitely recommend this book to pretty much anybody. It’s an incredibly interesting story and I can’t get over how crazy her story is. This book gives readers a chance to hear from someone firsthand what it is like to go through an ordeal like this, and it really shines some light on important issues in the medical field. I think this book would be a particularly good read for someone who is interested in science or specifically the brain, because it really shows what power the brain has over the entire body, and some of the science aspects of the book are really, really interesting.

I’ve mentioned that I have been recommending this book to almost everyone I encounter, and I envision myself continuing to do so in the future, because this really was an excellent read and I don’t see the story leaving my mind any time soon. I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book. If you haven’t already, you should at least look into reading it.

4. Stephanie Perkins – Anna and the French Kiss

Earlier today, I finished my third book of the year: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Once again, I flew through this book (this isn’t normal for me, it’s only because I’m still on winter break). I read the whole thing in under 24 hours and had a hard time putting it down. If you’re following my posts, you might be sensing a theme here.

Stephanie Perkins - Anna and the French Kiss (photo taken by me)
Stephanie Perkins – Anna and the French Kiss (photo taken by me)

I like to read Young Adult books. I know some people think they’re silly or not worth reading, but I like them. A lot of the time, the stories are pretty predictable, but I think they are still fun to read and nice light reading to break up other types of books. I enjoy switching up my genres from book to book so it’s never predominantly one thing.

In terms of Young Adult books, I think Anna and the French Kiss is better than most. The story is the generic “girl in high school falls in love with a boy but for whatever reason they can’t be together,” but it’s much more interesting than a lot of YA books I’ve read. I’d heard positive reviews of this book from adults, but it still went above my expectations.

The story follows the title character’s school year studying at the School of America in Paris, a boarding school in France for American students. She was sent there against her wishes by her father, so she has a negative outlook going in. Throughout the book, you follow her in her adventures meeting friends and living in the city of love.

As I mentioned before, it’s a teenage love story, but there were a lot of unexpected turns throughout the novel. I really enjoyed this book, it was an easy read but still a really fun and exciting story. I’d definitely recommend this book to someone who likes YA, and I’m really interested in reading Perkins’ other two books in the trilogy, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After. I love her writing style and her ability to make what seems like a generic story into something more.

3. Amy Poehler – Yes Please

Last night, I finished another book. Winter break is great for getting lots of reading done. I’m going to miss all this down time when I go back to school next week.Anyway, I finished Yes Please by Amy Poehler, which I read in three nights.

I love Amy Poehler. Absolutely love her. And this book only made me love her more. Prior to reading the book, I actually didn’t know that much about her as a person. You know how you come to love a character on a show, and then in your mind because you love that character so much, you start to associate all their traits with the actor themselves and just love the actor too even though you know next to nothing about them? Yeah, that’s how I was with Amy Poehler. Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite shows, and if you haven’t watched it already, I strongly suggest it. It’s hilarious.

I really like to read memoirs, particularly if they’re written by a comedian, because it is basically guaranteed to be a great and hilarious read. (I read Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling this past fall, and I’m still obsessed with it.) When I heard that Amy Poehler was coming out with a book, I immediately wanted it, so I asked my boyfriend to get it for me for Christmas.

Amy Poehler - Yes Please (photo taken by me)
Amy Poehler – Yes Please (photo taken by me)

I really liked Yes Please because it’s not just Poehler looking back on her life or telling story after story of things that happened in her life. This book is a mix of a memoir and advice and just things that are important to her. She writes in a very casual way and uses her book as an opportunity to be upfront about how hard the task of writing a book really is.

My favorite parts of the book were her stories about things that happened when she was working on Saturday Night Live and stories from the set of Parks and Recreation. Parks and Rec is one of my favorite shows and I’ll be really sad when it ends after this next season. I almost cried while reading some of the things she wrote about Parks and Rec. 

Overall, this book was great. Her voice is funny when she tells stories of her past and nurturing when she gives advice. The book is setup in a way that makes it very easy to read, short little chapters split up with pictures and notes she wrote when she was younger. I would definitely recommend this book, and I have a new love for Amy Poehler now that I’ve read it.