Weekend Shorts: Awesome Ladies on Audio

Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
Why Not Me?Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? on a solo drive a while back and enjoyed the heck out of it, so I was happy to find her new book available when I needed a new audiobook. This edition of Kaling’s memoirs focuses on being a lady, being a lady in Hollywood, and dating cute boys. It’s not super memorable several weeks later, but I definitely enjoyed the listen on my drives and runs.

Awesome essays from the book:

“How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions”, full of advice of varying practicality for regular people. Have lots of hair! Get spray tanned! Tailor everything! Don’t pose the same way in every darn picture!

“Player”, about falling in love with a new friend to the exclusion of everyone else, and how that’s really never a great idea.

“One of the President’s Men”, in which Mindy meets a hot dude and has approximately the most frustrating relationship with him.

“A Perfect Courtship in my Alternate Life”, which is a made-up story told through emails about Mindy Kaling the Latin teacher and, well, a suuuuuper cute courtship.

This was a super fun audiobook and if you’re a Kaling fan or a fan of chicks with opinions in general, you’ll probably like it.

Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson
Furiously HappyAnother excellent second book to follow up an amazing first book. I love Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, whose blog is the most ridiculous and wonderful thing I read on a regular basis. She’s never met a tangent she didn’t want to go off on and she has a way of purposely misinterpreting the world that makes her life, and our lives, better for it.

Lawson writes amazing essays about things that happen to her that start off mundane (going to sit in a cemetery) and end up insane (finding herself accidentally attending a funeral in said cemetery), and also things that start out insane and keep going (corralling her husband into couples therapy because she wants him to get regular therapy and then fearing all the things he might possibly tell the therapist while he’s there without her). This book also includes several essays on the topic of depression, anxiety, and various other mental illnesses that I found really touching and important to listen to as a mentally okay person and that are probably way more empowering for the people who share Lawson’s mental states. This is definitely a book everyone needs to listen to, not leastly because Lawson’s narration is almost funnier than her stories.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), by Felicia Day
You're Never Weird on the InternetThis is Day’s first book and it is uh-mazing. I loved this book the most out of all the books in this post, and that is saying something. The best part is Day’s narration, which, like Lawson’s, feels more like swapping stories with a friend than listening to a performance. It’s full of awesome voice acting and nervous laughter and when Day tells embarrassing stories you can hear that embarrassment in her voice and it is awful and wonderful at the same time.

Also awesome is just hearing the story of Day’s life, from her childhood as a weird hippie homeschool kid right after homeschooling was legalized (Day notes that she doesn’t have a GED but does have a 4.0 double-major college degree) to being the wildly internet-popular chick from The Guild and Geek and Sundry that she is today. I have never been homeschooled or had internet-only friends or been addicted to WoW or started a web video company, but now I basically don’t have to because I’ve felt all the associated feels.

I was surprised to find that Day’s memoir contained pieces on anxiety and mental illness, which she talks about very frankly and smartly and between this and Lawson’s book I’m thinking a lot of internet-savvy ladies will be getting their brain chemistry checked out soon. Yay for healthy brains! I was not surprised to find a chapter on the whole GamerGate/misogynist internet dudes debacle of the last year, although Day admits she almost didn’t write it because who wants to go through that all again, and I was thrilled that she lays out the beginnings of the movement clearly for people like me who only caught the tail end of the blow-up. As she says, she’s not going to change anyone’s minds by talking about it, but maybe people will be a little more moderate in their reactions? On the internet? We can hope?

Overall, an amazing book and one I couldn’t wait to get back in the car to finish listening to but at the same time that I didn’t want to listen to obsessively because then it would be over and what could I possibly listen to next?

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

Let's Pretend This Never HappenedOne of the things I like about the 14-hour drive up to my parents and in-laws is that I get to listen to audiobooks along the way! I so rarely listen to them anymore that it’s nice to have some dedicated time where I’m really not going to do anything else.

I picked this particular audiobook to listen to because I highly enjoy the author’s blog, TheBloggess.com, and I’ve subjected my dear husband to a lot of the more ridiculous stories that she tells, usually starting them with, “So you know that crazy chicken lady?”

I haven’t gone back to read the entire site archives, so I don’t know if most of the essays in the book are also on the blog; I only noticed a couple of familiar entries myself, and those were still funny a second time so I’m not sure it really matters.

If you are not familiar with Lawson’s blog, you will probably still be entertained by this book, which includes your usual memoir fare — growing up, making friends, surviving college and marriage and children — but manages to be anything but usual. Lawson’s childhood involved a taxidermist father who would play practical jokes on his children with roadkill, and her adulthood seems largely comprised of trying to understand people whose parents didn’t do things like that.

Even better is Lawson herself reading the book; she knows exactly how weird most of her stories sound, and how sad some of them really are, and you get exactly the impression that Lawson intended when she wrote them.

I’d say the only downside to listening to this in the car is that sometimes you’ll find yourself so distracted by what Lawson is saying and how that could even be possible that you might, say, miss a turn. Or two. Maybe it would be safest to save this for your regular commute. But it’s definitely most entertaining when shared with a similarly humored friend.

Recommendation: For those who like the memoirs of, say, Tina Fey or Mindy Kaling or David Sedaris, and who don’t mind a dirty word or a thousand.

Rating: 9/10