Reading wrap-up #54

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Liked it enough
  • (★★): Didn’t care for it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy edited by Kelly Jensen

Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, mental health

GoodReads rating: 4.07 / 5 (1,500 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: (Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a conversation starter and guide to better understanding how our mental health affects us every day. Thirty-three writers, athletes, and artists offer essays, lists, comics, and illustrations that explore their personal experiences with mental illness, how we do and do not talk about mental health, help for better understanding how every person’s brain is wired differently, and what, exactly, might make someone crazy.”

Warning: This book contains mention of eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, transphobia, body dysmorphia, etc.

Thoughts: While the editor did a great job melding all these different authors’ stories into one seamless style and focusing on a range of genders and disorders, some of the stories didn’t impact me as much as others and I didn’t care much for the drawings. I was not expecting to read about trichotillomania (touching on its cousin dermatillomania which I struggle from) and misophonia (which my ex had). The first few stories were my favorites and as a fan of Modern Family, I had no idea Reid Ewing (a.k.a. Dylan) had such a dark past with cosmetic surgery (you can actually read his story here here it was first published).

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar Gossip Girl #1: A Novel (Gossip Girl Series) (9780316910330): Von Ziegesar, Cecily: BooksRating: ★★★

Genre: Young adult, chick lit

GoodReads rating: 3.52 / 5 (59,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

PopSugar prompt: A book you think your best friend would like (Lilli is a fan of the show and it’s a great adaptation from the book)

Summary: In Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the lives of New York’s young elite mangle in two private high schools. Serena’s return to Constance is as mysterious as her disappearance and causes a stir amongst her peers, including her supposed best friend Blair, her picture-perfect boyfriend Nate and outcast Dan.

Warning: This book contains mention of eating disorders.

Thoughts: I (shockingly) really liked this! The show wasn’t my favorite (although I can see why I ended up watching the whole thing, I just wanted to re-watch a few episodes for this post and now I’m sucked in again) but the book seems like such a more immersive experience. This is the perfect kind-of-edgy-but-actually-not-too-bad books for teens to live out their slightly more age-appropriate Sex and the City fantasy. I critique a lot of books for the characters not being realistic but this is clearly the books intention: a peek into a life we will never know. Obviously as an adult, I can separate what it’s actually like being a 16-year-old versus a work of fiction/ escapism, but I can see how it might be problematic for young readers.

Other adaptations: Need I say it? The show is a pop-culture phenomenon. I binge-watched it in college and while I didn’t particularly enjoy it, heck, I can still say I’ve seen it all. Banging 2000’s soundtrack? Check. Razr phones? Check. Rufus Humphrey the DILF? Check, check, check. Such a simple time. This first book is basically the pilot episode with some changes and I reckon the changes just get exponential as the series goes on. For example, in the book Serena has an older brother that’s absent where in the show he’s younger and very much a part of the story and the show focuses on the parents relationships too. The show did a good job of adding even more layers to the drama and creating a world we can’t help but gawk at.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning (9780316453691): Reynolds, Jason: BooksRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, race

GoodReads rating: 4.55 / 5 (27,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

PopSugar prompt: A book found on a Black Lives Matter reading list

Summary: Stamped traces the history of racism and the many political, literary, and philosophical narratives that have been used to justify slavery, oppression, and genocide. Framed through the ideologies and thoughts of segregationists, assimilationists, and antiracists throughout history, the book demonstrates that the “construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, whether financially or politically,” and that this power has been used to systemically and systematically oppress Black people in the United States for more than four hundred years.”

Thoughts: This has been dubbed a shorter (less than 200 pages), more accessible version of Kendi’s Stamped From the Beginning although when I picked it up I was unaware they were two different books, having almost identical covers. Regardless, this is a great introduction to the history of racism mostly in the U.S. and I took forward to reading the lengthier version in the future.

Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

Doing It: Let's Talk About Sex...: Witton, Hannah: 9781526360038: BooksRating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, sexuality

GoodReads rating: 4.10 / 5 (4,600 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

PopSugar prompt: A book by a blogger, vlogger, YouTube video creator, or other online personality

Summary: “Nobody really has sex all figured out. So Hannah Witton wrote a book full of honest, hilarious (and sometimes awkward) anecdotes, confessions, and revelations. Hannah talks about doing it safely. Doing it joyfully. Doing it when you’re ready. Not doing it. Basically, doing it the way you want, when you want (if you want).”

Warning: This book contains mention of rape and sexual assault.

Thoughts: I grew up with next to no practical or useful sex education from my parents or school, so I learned from the Big Bad Internet, namely Tumblr and YouTuber Laci Green. However, Laci has gone off the deep end these last few years (by, you know, dating a white supremacist and all) and I no longer follow her. Although it’s really no skin off my teeth as I now have a strong sex-ed foundation, I worry for the younger generation who are currently receiving no useful sex-ed, particularly in the U.S. I’ve never watched or heard of Hannah Witton before seeing this book in the GoodReads suggestion list. The book happened to be available on OverDrive so I watched a few of her videos (I really enjoyed 6 Myths About Monogamy and Sexy Faves of 2020) and read this and found it fantastic. I also appreciate how she let others write some sections on topics she’s less qualified for (LGBTQ+ issues). If she made a follow-up book, I’d read it.

Have you read any of these? 

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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