A Thought

One thing I’ve heard multiple people in relationships say is that when you’re in a good, happy relationship, you’re the best version of yourself. That it’s ideal to find a significant other who brings out the best in you, makes you want to be your best self.

What I’ve never heard anyone say is this epiphany I recently had: the opposite is also true. When you feel chronically unloved, it turns you into the worst version of yourself.

Links of the Week

Ready for another week of links?

The suffering of children in Syria is so terrible, they need a new term for it. Also in Syria, an article about a Jesuit doing some good work there.

I have been saying from the beginning that Trump voters are not worthwhile human beings- I’m actually not sure we should even consider them human beings at all. You absolutely should not keep Trump-supporting friends and family members in your life. On that note, this.

When everything is so crazy, it’s hard to figure out how to measure the crazy. This is a good guide for that.

I’ve had a really hard time trying to figure out why so many Trump voters refuse to believe real, verifiable facts. This is the first thing I’ve read that actually clicked for me and helped me understand why some of them are that way.

I AM NEVER LEAVING MASSACHUSETTS.

Wednesday was International Women’s Day. While feminism on the Internet often infuriates me, some feminists do say things that really click with me, and one of them is the great writer Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie.  Also, here’s how so many unqualified men end up in positions of power.

I’d never heard of Charley Parkhurst, a stagecoach driver in the 1800s who was born Charlotte and eventually ended up living as a man, but his story is fascinating. I looked it up this week after a friend told me it had come up in a reading she did with her fourth-grade class.

Okay, this is pretty funny.

I am SO excited to see Come From Away in May! Even more so now that I’ve heard the whole cast recording.

Tom Hanks is the man.

I love cursive, and I almost always write in cursive rather than printing (I mean, it’s faster! You don’t have to lift the pen!) so this is welcome news.

This is beautiful and romantic and touching.

This, though? This actually really disturbed me. I mean, if it makes that woman happy, great, but the idea of being in a similar situation is horrifying to me.

Dating is hard and awful, but it sounds like it might be even worse in the cities this writer visited.

I will have to try this.

A couple of links more personal to me- my old high school had a lot of cool murals done by students over the years, and turns out there are pictures of most of them online. Also, here’s a nice article about Stacy DeBroff, whom I interned for in college. (I walked, though, so I wasn’t one of the ones clogging up the driveway!)

Some food for thought:

Yep. Hate is the coat we wear to avoid the cold.

A post shared by Glennon Doyle (@glennondoyle) on

 

And let’s end with this- a cool, bizarre, surreal animated short that was nominated for an Oscar a few years ago:

 

 

 

 

Playlist of the Moment: 1997

I’ve been hearing a lot on social media this week about how it’s the 20th anniversary of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show. I never watched Buffy (vampires aren’t my thing), but it occurred to me that the 20th anniversaries of a lot of other things I loved as a teenager will be coming up.

How was 1997 twenty years ago?

This Buzzfeed article is all about the music that came out that year, and I just cannot believe it’s been that long. While I muse about how old I am, I will post this playlist of the songs mentioned in the article, which Buzzfeed somehow neglected to provide.

Links of the Week

The Oscars are tonight! I’m super excited- I’ve seen seven out of the nine Best Picture nominees. I’m not all that invested in who wins, but it was interesting to read the Boston Globe’s annual “Will Win/Should Win/Was Robbed/Shouldn’t Be Here” list.

I laughed so hard at this and I don’t know why. Maybe because my friend who teaches fifth grade is a Lego robotics coach.

In other foreign head-of-state-related news, it’s like Canada is taunting us with Justin Trudeau.

It makes me so angry to hear about the awful way some women are treated at work.

This is a really sweet essay about a nontraditional family.

I recently read Big Little Lies and loved it and started watching the new miniseries next week. I was surprised to hear that the author of the book, Liane Moriarty, is more popular in the US than in her home country, Australia.

This is a fun interview with Hamilton‘s conductor and orchestrator, Alex Lacamoire. I had no idea he used to perform on the Spirit of Boston, the boat where we used to have our office holiday party!

 

I don’t ever want to become desensitized to the plight of migrants. This is horrible. And for the Christians among us, this is a good reminder. (I freaking love Jim Martin.)

This map of Massachusetts stereotypes is pretty funny, and as a lifelong Masshole, I agree with it.

This headline made me do a double-take.

No one can accuse John Green (who’s actually been in Boston this weekend for NerdCon!) of refusing to answer hard questions.

 

 

I can’t believe I’d never heard about this.

Not funny.

The week in Trump: there’s this, from a Muslim White House staffer who quit. Gabby Giffords is braver than all the Republicans in Congress put together. And I agree with this– Trump voters are worthless and reaching out to them is a waste of time.

And while it was kind of nice to have unseasonably warm weather this week, I’m feeling this– I could use a little more snow before winter ends!

Links of the Week

Happy (I hope) long weekend to you!

Here’s another week’s worth of links for you.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a jewel of a human being. I don’t know what I love more- the Galentine’s Day playlist he made or the fact that his Spotify username is his dog’s name plus a Les Mis reference.

Speaking of LMM, here are two original Hamilton cast members singing a cut song from Moana.

And for more on musical theater, I was already excited for Come From Away, an upcoming musical about the town in Newfoundland that welcomed all the people who were on the diverted planes on September 11th, and this gorgeous song has made me even more so.

In awful Trump administration news: this story about undocumented domestic abuse victims being targeted is horrible. And this one about migrants choosing to be arrested in Canada rather than staying in the US. And these horrifying photos of detention centers.

In resistance news: I see no value in maintaining relationships of any kind with Trump supporters, and although I’m past my roommate days, I’d be just like these people if I still had roommates. This is advice I need to remember. This guy has way more patience than me- I’d never be able to handle that kind of environment. Katherine Fritz provides Valentine’s Day cards to send to your senators.

I used to like the “Frog and Toad” books as a kid, but I never knew much about the author, Arnold Lobel.

Little racist comments add up.

On love for humans and love for dogs.

I hate it when people tell me I shouldn’t love the things I love. Someone agrees with me.

Now for some good news! Bill Gates has a lot of it- despite how things may look, in many ways, the state of the world is improving. Melinda Gates also wrote a letter about the importance of contraceptives in improving living conditions. This is a sweet story- I love hearing about nice things people do for others in private. And two awesome people eating together.

 

 

 

TV Shows I’ve Seen

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It’s been a long time since I wrote about what I’ve been watching, so I need to add the disclaimer, so that you don’t think I do nothing except lie on my couch watching TV, that these were all watched over a long period of time. Here we go:

Broadchurch

My thoughts on this would probably be a lot different if I hadn’t watched Gracepoint, the short-lived US show based on this British one, first. Gracepoint really didn’t change very much, except for adding a few plot twists to make it three episodes longer, so I knew every single thing that was going to happen. I only saw the first season, though, so maybe at some point I’ll watch the rest.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Love this show. When the new episodes came out, I watched them all in one night. Everyone is fantastic on it- Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, and freaking Jon Hamm (I laughed so hard when he showed up). I could never get into 30 Rock despite my love for Tina Fey, but I think this show takes her humor and makes it more…sweet? Optimistic? In any case, this is one of my new favorites.

Bloodline

I was so disappointed in this show, not because it’s awful but because I feel like it should have been so much better. It’s by the creators of Damages and is also full of flashbacks and flash-forwards,  so I was expecting more from the show and its end-of-season revelations than what we got. It’s got a fantastic cast- Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Sissy Spacek- but the best performance is by Ben Mendelssohn, whom I’d never heard of before I saw this. And the route they decide to go with his character is…disappointing, to say the least. I didn’t bother with Season 2.

Garfunkel and Oates

I’ve posted before about how much I love Garfunkel and Oates, so I’m sad that their show only lasted one season. It’s cute and funny, although the way they insert the music videos for their songs into the episodes can be a bit awkward.

Freaks and Geeks

This was as good as I’d heard. It’s sweet and funny, and although it takes place before I was even born, the characters feel like real people and are super-relatable. Also, the parents are awesome- as the Snark Ladies would say, they definitely score high on the Sandy Cohen Eyebrow Scale of Non-Negligent Parenting.

The Neighbors

Heh. This is on Hulu and is created by Tommy Wiseau of The Room fame, so…that should give you an indicator of its quality. And it’s mildly amusing at first- people fighting over a live chicken, a princess who is moving into an apartment building for some reason- but it gets old fast.

Fargo

I’ve seen both seasons of this show, and contrary to popular opinion, I liked the first one better. It’s rare for a show to take the tone and setting of a movie and recreate it so well with original characters. The acting is great as well- I was particularly impressed with Allison Tolman in Season 1.

Friday Night Lights

I liked this, although it’s not the favorite that it seems to be for so many other people. Eric and Tami Taylor are both awesome, as is their marriage. How did their daughter turn out so awful? I also don’t get what the big deal is about Tim Riggins- he’s fine, but he doesn’t do it for me. I prefer sweet Matt Saracen, although for the life of me I can’t figure out what he sees in Julie Taylor.

Making a Murderer

Everyone was talking about this a year ago. I remain unconvinced of Steven Avery’s innocence, although I think there was enough reasonable doubt that he shouldn’t have been convicted. And I definitely think Brendan Dassey’s conviction was based on a series of misunderstandings.

Master of None

I love Aziz Ansari- I was a big Parks and Recreation fan and I enjoy his standup- so I was really excited for this show. The first episode is actually the weakest one, but the second episode is the Emmy-winning “Parents,” co-starring Aziz’s real parents, which is excellent and way more indicative of the show’s overall quality. There are also some really poignant episodes about dating that really resonated with me. I wasn’t crazy about how the season ended, but I’ll definitely be watching when it comes back for Season 2.

The People vs. OJ Simpson

This was EXCELLENT. I’m kind of shocked at how good it was. The OJ Simpson trial was going on when I was 10-11, and while I remember it, I wasn’t following it closely. So there was a lot I didn’t know- i.e., I didn’t realize that Robert Kardashian was OJ’s close friend before the trial, or that there was someone else in the Ford Bronco during the chase. Or that his nickname was Juice (this cut of David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian saying “Juice” over and over is hilarious, especially since he’s usually saying it at a really serious moment). But the pacing is just right, the casting is excellent, and wow, Sarah Paulson made me feel terrible for Marcia Clark. I just wanted to tell her, “At least you’ll still be alive in ten years! Cochran and Kardashian won’t!”

Fuller House

I wasn’t expecting quality, just nostalgia, and that’s exactly what I got.

The Path

I started watching this because I love Aaron Paul. It’s about a family in a Scientology-like cult, and it’s a decent show that always seems like it’s on the verge of being great but hasn’t quite gotten there yet. Season 2 just started and so far I’m a bit underwhelmed, but I’m sticking around to see where this season goes.

Stranger Things

Another show I liked but didn’t love. I’m not usually a big sci-fi person, but this, with its 80s setting and kid protagonists, was fun. One of the kids is played by Gaten Materrazzo, whom I know from when he played Gavroche in Les Mis on Broadway.

Outlander

I haven’t read the books, but I’m liking the show so far, although there were definitely some episodes that didn’t hold my interest. Caitriona Balfe is fantastic, and I’m completely unspoiled as to the books, so I’m interested to see where this goes- there are so many possibilities when it comes to time-travel plots.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I caught up with this before the most recent season started and it’s great- funny and sweet. It reminds me a bit of The Office without the mockumentary component in that it’s about a bunch of goofy coworkers who pull pranks on each other and has a cute romance between the two most normal characters. And Andre Braugher is hysterical as the chief.

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

The safari in Botswana motivated me to try this, especially since our safari vehicle was called “No. 1 Ladies’ Safari.” This is based on the book series and ran for just one season on HBO. I think it was a good show on the wrong network- HBO is all sex, violence, and antiheroes, while this is just a sweet dramedy about two women running a detective agency in Botswana. I love the characters at the center of it, played by Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose, and it’s really nice to see something that showcases Botswana, one of the most stable countries in Africa, in a positive light.

Catastrophe

I did not expect to enjoy this Amazon sitcom as much as I did. It’s a funny and kind of unexpectedly romantic show. The premise is that after a man and a woman have a fling while he’s in London from Boston on business, she gets pregnant, and he decides to move to London to be with her and try to make things work. But this isn’t Knocked Up– they’re adults with their lives together, and they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. And I enjoy them, too- the male lead is actually one of my favorite characters in any of the shows I’ve seen lately.

One Mississippi

This is one of those comedies-that’s-not-really-a-comedy that SNL made fun of recently. I mean, the premise has the main character returning to her hometown after her mother’s unexpected death and confronting her past, which included childhood sexual abuse. But while it’s not that funny, despite starring Tig Notaro, it is very well-done. I like that it doesn’t fall into too many cliches- it would have been really easy to go the culture-clash route, with the liberal lesbian in a small Southern town, but it stays away from that and keeps characters well-rounded.

Mr. Robot

The first episode got my attention right away, but by the end of the first season I’d lost interest. It may partly have been because I was spoiled, but I also ended up finding it kind of tedious- the whole “F Society” thing gets old fast. Rami Malek’s jawline, though.

The Crown

This is great- engaging and extremely well-acted. Claire Foy is fantastic, and I would never have cast John Lithgow as Winston Churchill myself,  but he knocks it out of the park. I found myself Googling things to see what happened (I’d never heard about Princess Margaret’s engagement that wasn’t, so that was sad to watch)

A Series of Unfortunate Events

This is based on a book series, which I have not read. There was also a movie that came out in 2003 that was based on the first three books, but they never made sequels. So I enjoyed seeing this, which is more detailed and apparently closer to the books. Neil Patrick Harris is great as Count Olaf- more sinister and less goofy than Jim Carrey was in the movie, and everyone else is well-cast. Including Patrick Warbutton- freaking Puddy from Seinfeld!- as Lemony Snicket.

The Good Place

Whoa. I don’t want to give too much away, so let’s just say that there is WAY more going on in this show than meets the eye. When it premiered, I was hesitant because I thought the premise- a woman who was a terrible person in life dies and is mistakenly sent to “the good place” in the afterlife- sounded kind of dumb. But it’s from the creators of Parks and Recreation, which I love, and stars Kristen Bell, whom I also love. So I gave it a chance, and it turned out to be anything but dumb. It’s actually really twisty and deep- but it is a sitcom, so it’s also very funny. Seriously, the first season just ended and it was only 13 episodes, so you have plenty of time to catch up on it before next season.

Links of the Week

I am a bit of an Internet junkie, so I come across a lot of interesting links over the course of the week. In the interest of blogging more, I’m going to try to share some of them with you each Sunday! (Or, let’s be honest, as many Sundays as I remember.)

First, for Valentine’s Day- this Buzzfeed article might be the most romantic thing I’ve ever read, and I mean that sincerely.

In Trump news: Steve Bannon is terrifying. And ugly. Trump advisers’ awful views on Muslims. Conservative Christians who face losing their jobs over opposition to Trump.  Here are some interesting insights on the Democrats’ focus on data rather than emotion. And this great article from Teen Vogue‘s Lauren Duca, who previously wrote the great Trump gaslighting piece.

I know nothing about  Mike Tirico, so no offense to him, but I REALLY love Bob Costas, so this makes me sad.

An infuriating number of guys on OKCupid say that they want their wife to take their names when they get married- but God forbid they consider taking hers, of course. I’d love to see how their heads would explode if their kids had the mother’s last name.

As a card-carrying introvert, I mostly agree with this.

Next time I go to New York, I’m going to try to find this dog!

I love Chrissy Metz on This Is Us, and this article about her made me smile.

For my fellow white ladies, here’s one way we can help others by being ourselves.

SNL has been awesome lately, but funnily enough, my favorite thing from this season David S. Pumpkins from last October, which has nothing at all to do with politics. I haven’t laughed this hard at SNL since Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals.

And food! I just made this recipe, from Bookriot of all places, and it was fantastic. 3-ingredient cookie dough truffles from Running with Spoons- I love her recipes and can’t wait to make these! These, too.

Brief Inauguration Post

Washington monument

Eight years ago, the company I was working for had just moved to a new office. There was no cable, so we were trying to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama online. A bunch of us had gathered in a conference room to try to stream it, but it wasn’t working. After a bunch of unsuccessful attempts, someone finally said, “Okay, we’re going to Amrhein’s.” Word spread fast, and just like that, everyone got up, grabbed their coats, and headed to Amrhein’s, the restaurant down the street. It seemed like most of the office was there. We all cheered after he was sworn in, and it remains to this day one of my favorite memories of working there.

Now I’m at a new workplace, and a little over two months ago, I was sure that I’d be at work to see the first black president succeeded by the first female president. And while there is an endless list of reasons to be sad about Trump’s inauguration tomorrow, I just want to focus on one: Hillary Rodham Clinton not being the one leading us for the next four or eight years.

I really, really wanted her to be president, and that would have been true regardless of who ran against her. There’s much more I’m thinking and much more I could say- but for now, I’ll leave it at this. I’m still with her, and I am deeply sad at the loss of the chance to live in a country led by President Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Best Books of 2016

As I mentioned in my previous post, I read a LOT in 2016. 109 books, to be exact. (Snuck one more in after that previous post published.) It helps to have a long commute on public transportation, and it also helps to have an awesome library right down the street. I was very methodical about my reading in 2016, aiming to read books in certain categories (i.e. classics, memoirs, nonfiction, self-help) in the same month and planning in advance which ones I wanted to read.

 

And now it is time to tell you my top ten books of 2016. (Meaning top ten books I READ in 2016, not necessarily ones that came out last year.) Without further ado:

 

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

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This list isn’t in any particular order, but if I had to pick a favorite of the favorites, this would be it. And I’m excited to recommend it because I don’t know anyone else who’s read it. I’d read, and raved about, Susan Jane Gilman’s nonfiction, so I was excited to read her fiction debut. It spans 70 years in the main character’s life, from her birth in Russia in the early 20th century to her move to New York as a young girl to her abandonment by her family to her marriage and career owning a successful ice cream company. She turns out to be a not-so-nice person- Gilman has described her as a cross between Scarlett O’Hara and Leona Helmsley- but you keep sympathizing with her in part, I think, because you’ve been following her through her whole life and know all that she overcame. It’s a character-driven story, but the plot moves very quickly, and I just loved how right the character’s voice feels. Warning: this book will make you want ice cream.

 

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

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If you’re a Hamilton fan, this is a must-read. It’s got several essays on the development of the show as well as many of its cast and crew members. It also has the complete lyrics with footnotes provided by Lin that give additional information on historical accuracy, his thought process in writing, references you might not pick up at first, and random trivia. I recommend reading the lyrics while listening to the soundtrack- you’ll notice things you never picked up on before.

 

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

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This was super depressing but incredibly well-written. There are two people who both believe they are the rightful owners of a house: Kathy Nicolo, the alcoholic original owner whose house is foreclosed on due to a bureaucratic mistake, and Colonel Behrani, an Iranian immigrant with a wife and children who buys the house at a reduced price at auction and sees it as a step towards the American dream. It’s told in alternating first-person perspective for most of the book, and while both Kathy and Colonel Behrani are very flawed characters, they both also have legitimate reasons to claim the house and good reasons for wanting to stay there. I was very invested in the story all the way through- while it’s clearly not going to end well, I stayed interested in how we were going to get there.

 

The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinski

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Attention-grabbing title, huh? I saw this book in a bookstore and was intrigued by it. It takes place in a small town in Idaho in the 1970s, where two teenage daughters in a devout Christian family are sent away to a cabin at the edge of town after one of them returns from a mission trip pregnant with what she believes is the child of God. It’s full of characters who could easily become stereotypes but never do. It’s another sad but well-written book, and I love Val Brelinksi’s unpretentious writing style. This is her first book, so I can’t wait to see what else she writes.

 

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

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I decided to read this because I’d heard great things about the musical based on it (which I haven’t seen) and I love Alison Bechdel for coming up with “the Bechdel test.” I almost never read graphic novels or graphic memoirs or graphic anything- in general, I connect with words better than I do with images. So I was shocked that not only is the writing the best thing about this book, but it’s sprinkled throughout with literary allusions and comparisons to characters from fiction and mythology. The cartoons certainly enhance the story, but it’s the writing I really loved. It’s the story of her father, who died after being hit by a truck in what she believes was a suicide. Shortly before his death, she had come out to him as a lesbian, whereupon he revealed that he was also gay. Bechdel strikes a great balance between portraying the emotion she felt in the moment and analyzing her past with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. It’s heartbreaking, sometimes funny, and just very well done in every way.

 

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

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This is also a graphic memoir, and I read this right after Fun Home. Oddly enough, they’re both about relationships with and deaths of parents. In Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast recounts her relationship with her parents as they lived well into their nineties and slowly began to die of, essentially, their ages. Since dealing with an elderly parent or grandparent is something so many people have experienced, I imagine most people will find this super easy to relate to, even if your parents aren’t hoarders or extremely picky eaters. There are some very poignant moments- towards the end, Roz expresses regret that she and her mother weren’t closer- but despite the grim subject matter, this book is funny more often than not. Her parents seem like characters from a 90s sitcom, for one thing, and although dementia is a very sad thing, sometimes all you can do is laugh at it. And it’s hard not to laugh when Roz’s mother starts telling stories about things that never happened, like her mother-in-law trying to kill her. One thing that did surprise me is that Roz’s husband and kids are very rarely mentioned in the book. On one hand, I like that she kept the focus on her relationship with her parents (particularly since she’s an only child, which makes the family dynamics a bit less complicated), but on the other hand, it would have been interesting to hear about how her parents influenced her own approaches to marriage and parenting. I’m now two-for-two with graphic memoirs, so if anyone knows of some other good ones, send some recommendations my way, won’t you?

 

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

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What an unexpectedly gorgeous book. It has one of the most tragic premises imaginable- the night before her daughter’s wedding, June loses her daughter, her daughter’s fiance, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend in a gas leak that destroys her home. (I wonder if the Madonna Badger story was the inspiration?) But rather than focusing on either the tragedy itself or on June’s life after it, Clegg uses multiple first- and third-person narrators to show us the wider view. We learn all of the backstory that brought the characters to the moment where everything literally exploded, and it’s done with just enough detail to make it moving but not sappy. It also manages, in a way that’s amazingly devoid of cliche, to convey hope in the end. In short, this was beautifully written- well done, Bill Clegg!

 

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

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This was the best young adult book I read last year. Basically, there’s a teenage boy with a ten-year-old sister he’s sure is a sociopath, although no one seems to believe him. It keeps you in suspense throughout, and while it’s clearly building toward something big, the specifics of it aren’t easy to predict. I also really liked that the love interest is a liberal Christian with two moms- it’s super rare to see a portrayal of that kind of Christianity in fiction.

 

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

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Looking over these, I have a lot of really dark and depressing books as favorites. Yeesh! But here’s one that was much lighter. It’s a fun concept- two teenagers in 1996 log onto AOL and are able to see themselves on Facebook 15 years in the future. It strikes a tone that a lot of YA books miss- funny without being a straight-up comedy, romantic without being fluff- and it mostly stays away from high school cliches. And I laughed at a lot of the moments when they don’t understand life in the next century (they’re very confused about why people say they miss Pluto and don’t know what texting is).

 

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

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Mara Wilson is freaking awesome. As a little kid, she was famous for acting in movies like Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Miracle on 34th Street, but as an adult, she’s famous for being cool on the Internet. If you’re familiar with her writing, this book is just as funny, touching, and well-written as you’d expect. One really surprising thing is how easy a lot of her stories are to relate to. No, most of us weren’t on movie sets as young children, but Mara shares stories about girl drama in high school (over show choir, hilariously) and awkwardness around cute guys that most of us can see ourselves in. But there’s plenty of on-set stories, too. If you’re looking for any Hollywood dirt, you won’t find it- while there’s a lot about the pressure they put on people to look a certain way, she actually has nothing but nice things to say about her old co-stars, especially Danny DeVito. (I was fairly indifferent towards him before, but she shares some really sweet stories about him here.) Mara has had to deal with some adversity that has nothing to do with acting- tragically, her mother died of breast cancer when Mara was eight, and she also suffers from severe OCD and some other mental illnesses. But this book has a lot of funny moments and Mara has a great knack for succinctly summing up truths about life. I saw her speak at a book signing when this first came out, and I’m happy to report that she’s also really funny and engaging in person.

 

What were your favorite books of last year?