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Things that I have to say.

This entire post is stream-of-conscious, but I need to get this out. Tonight while out for my sister’s birthday, I was talking excitedly (hand motions and all) to her when a charming gentleman decided to comment that I had “mad cow disease.” While a cleaver way to insult a girl who isn’t a size 4, I’d like to discuss this openly. To start: I’m not looking for compliments. I want to be open and honest about what I’ve faced as a female my entire life and to shed some light on what females face for those who think we are all “overreacting.” I’ve seen a lot (A LOT) of posts lately hating on feminists and in turn, honestly, females. They basically (and I’m paraphrasing) say that women just assume the man is being creepy when he compliments them, that women are rude, overreacting, crazy, psycho, volatile, etc. – in literally every situation known to man. While every person has it in them to be any of these things, I hear these terms directed more towards females than anyone else. I also, from my experience and that of my friends, have had more unsolicited comments about my appearance than I’ve ever heard any guys having. In my bar-going years, I have had the pleasure of men telling me the following: “You’re too thick to be talking to me like that, ” “It’s whale wars up in here with these three [to me and my friends],” “LOOK AT THUNDER THIGHS COMING” – among many others. I’ve analyzed and overanalyzed hearing things like this from men, including tonight’s comment. Am I hearing things? Have I drank to much? Did I look at them wrong? What did YOU do to deserve this? And the answer is always nothing. I didn’t do anything. I am not a bad person. And I don’t make up imaginary conversations with people. I also am not as creative as some of these jackasses to concoct these insults in my head. (Mad cow disease? Fairly clever for a hillbilly asshole.) Upon reflection (and a lot of it, since it does hurt), these comments were literally for no other reason than I was having fun with my friends and ignoring the men who decided to single me out. Zero other reasons. If I had said any type of rude comment to them first, I would deserve these comments in return. However, in each of these instances (and the many more), I have been solely existing in public having fun without acknowledging the presence of anyone else. And this is not ignoring in the sense that they attempted to talk to me and I shot them down – this is actually men trying to bring me down solely because I was not existing to please them in some sort of way. I am not an outright rude person. If you are rude to me first, I generally will snap back. But if you are polite, even if I don’t want to engage in a conversation with you, I will politely tell you this. I shouldn’t even have to explain my behavior in general, but I know that unfortunately there are people out there who will instantly assume that women deserve this kind of treatment. Additionally, I very much realize that not all men are like this. I am thankful and lucky to be friends with SO MANY AWESOME MEN AND WOMEN who would not dream of being even half this awful – but the fact of the matter is, females face this type of bullshit on a regular, maybe even daily, basis from men who are awful and who are everywhere. And every female I talk to about this says that they’ve just LEARNED TO IGNORE IT. Ignoring it is great for our psyche and for our mental health at times, but it doesn’t make it okay and it doesn’t make it not exist. On the flip side, but also strongly related, positive comments about our appearance and ourselves can be just as harassing and unwanted as negative comments about our appearance. When I used to run on my lunch break at the courthouse, AT THE VERY LEAST once a week, I had someone either honking at me + yelling out the window with rude comments (and NOT because I ran out in front of them – I was strictly a sidewalk dweller), or trying to talk to me WHILE I WAS RUNNING, or telling me how “good looking I was,” or something similar. I am not vain enough to believe that this is something they did because I’M SO GORGEOUS THEY CAN’T EVEN STAND IT THEY HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING. I don’t think I’m the only female they feel they need to talk to while wandering the streets…and this is a problem. When I ran every morning in Ann Arbor last year, I had men follow me, attempt to stop me so they could talk to me, and whistle constantly. While I was covered in sweat at 6:30 in the morning, unshowered, clearly not looking for attention. (And to be clear, even if I WAS looking for attention, this does not excuse their behavior.) I’ve been told by strangers probably 100 times in my life I need to “smile” (UNBELIEVABLY INFURIATING), and my eyes are just “so pretty.” I have had men talk to me like I was a child and call me “hon” and “sweetie.” I have been addressed as, “hey, good lookin'” more than times in my life than I can count by people who are not my friends or acquaintances. When people question why a female was scared of someone, or why they felt they couldn’t come forward because of something that happened to them, THESE ARE ALL SMALL REASONS WHY. It adds up. When we become used to constant street harassment, rude unsolicited comments, unwanted touching, and more – we begin to think that no one will care when we are upset by something that has happened to us. It’s “normal,” right? And he was totally “just being nice” so you should get over being constantly spoken to like you’re an object and what the fuck are you getting so upset about? And that mentality is so unbelievably upsetting and maddening that I can’t sit back and be silent about it anymore. I’d like to state right now that I have read all of the counter-arguments to what I’m saying, and I’ll state them for you now: some women ARE crazy, some women LOVE when guys buy them drinks and compliment them and they’re so rude at bars and they lead men on, some women just can’t TAKE A COMPLIMENT and it’s totally innocuous and everyone’s oversensitive, some men are just assholes and they’re not the guys you should worry about anyway, you’re just unlucky, YOUARESOPRETTYANDOMGYOUSHOULDBEFLATTERED, life was so much better when women just knew their place in the world, nice guys always finish last with girls who have no obligation to date them even when the guy is in fact nice to them, and it would just be better if you ignored it and didn’t cause any problems. The agency always tends to be on the female to change HER behavior. Why are we not being treated as if we are equals, as if we are human? We are equals. We are human. We don’t exist just to fit some mold. Instead, I’m supposed to just ignore the comments, I’m supposed to take a compliment, I’m supposed to just learn that some people are assholes and I shouldn’t speak out because that’s awkward for other people, I should learn to stand up for myself even when I’m scared of the man who is harassing me – I should be the one to change. And that’s not fair. I also inherently know from the unbelievably misogynistic, racist, bigoted, NOT EVEN CLOSE TO CHRISTIAN posts that I read from people on my “friend’s list” that they will think this entire post is an overreaction. I’m just some CRAZY liberal radical feminist who is a part of the problem with the world today. (She’s not married and she hasn’t had kids yet? GASP. She is not a real woman.) And you know what? I’m okay with that. There’s an unfriend button for a reason. I would rather be “friends” with 100 people who know that this is a problem, can acknowledge it, and be understanding about why this is upsetting even if they’ve never experienced it themselves. I want those 100 friends more than having 1000 people who think I’m being ridiculous. Because for over a decade, I HAVE thought I was being ridiculous when I felt upset over things that happened to me. I thought I was being oversensitive. I thought something about my face made people say mean and weird things to me. I still honestly sometimes think that it’s something about ME that makes people treat me poorly in public. But it’s not me and I shouldn’t be making excuses for the behavior of other people. I can learn to ignore it – I can rise above it – and I have. I am so happy with my life, and I have so many other great things happening (as well as so many other devastating things happening beyond a fucktard at a bar calling me a mad cow) that I can move beyond unsolicited comments. However, I don’t think I should stay silent about it. I don’t think any of us should. If something makes you uncomfortable, you have a right to feel uncomfortable. You have a right to feel however the fuck you want to feel about people saying stupid shit to you. You have a right not to like someone back even though they’re nice to you. And you have a right to speak about it openly and honestly without fear that people will shun you. We get ONE LIFE. We shouldn’t have to live it hiding our feelings and hiding our thoughts. I refuse. And I’m not sorry.

This post has nothing to do with books that aren’t boring. Well, maybe on some small, teensy-tiny scale it does, but probably not. I just wanted to have a place to write my first-ever New Year’s Resolutions (and most likely, New Year’s failures-by-February). In no particular order, here are my resolutions for the year 2012:

 

Get Into Grad School

I want to go back to school and get my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. It is the first program that has made sense to me and it sounds like something I’d enjoy. I love books, I love libraries and I love information! It’s a win-win degree for me, I think. Now I just have to get in…

Do 10 “Real” Push-Ups a Day (or 20 on my knees)

Why do I want to do this one? Because I am a fat, lazy slob. I ran a 5K in 2011 (my first! I completed a goal!) and after that, it was all downhill. It was like I ran out every ounce of energy I had that day. I have not ran ONCE since October 29th. Yeah. That’s pretty pathetic. I also haven’t touched weights since my 30 day stint with p90x in MARCH of last year so that’s cool. I figure if I set myself a lofty goal of working out, such as, “Work out 4 times a week!” I’m destined for failure, so instead I set an easy goal. It feels attainable. It’s not terribly hard. I got this.

Save  Money for Grad School

I live with my parents. I don’t pay many bills except the ones I put upon myself (shopping) and my student loans, car insurance and cell phone. I also have not saved hardly any money since moving back from FL almost 2 years ago. Granted, I make shit money still, but I still don’t have much of an excuse. Did I mention I LIVE WITH MY PARENTS? I need to save money this year. After I pay off my ungodly high credit card bill for January. Please tax money, don’t steer me wrong!

Eat More Whole Foods

Part of me wishes this resolution actually meant the store Whole Foods…because we don’t have one here in lovely Grand Rapids, MI, but alas, it means I want to eat more foods that are not processed. If the food will go bad,  I should eat it; if the food won’t go bad ever (like not even in nuclear war), I shouldn’t eat it. I want more control over my food since I eat out a lot and my parents cook a lot for me (I know, whine whine). I honestly miss cooking for myself and making whatever I want to eat.

Visit Friends

I have friends all over the place. I want to visit them this year. My main goals are Nashville and LA, but if I can, I’ll try to grab another Orlando visit this year and maybe even DC. So basically what I’m saying is if I complete this resolution, my resolution for saving money won’t happen. So there’s that. I’m sure I can balance both, right?

Clean Out My Closet

Eminem knows what’s up. I need to clean out my closet, or rather, my whole fucking room. I am the queen of packratting and it all needs to GO. I hate hanging out in my own room because the clutter stresses me out. I blame my mother for this. She saves EVERYTHING. Well, she saves things that don’t need to be saved and throws away shit I need (such as my brand new KNITTING stuff and an old Betty Crocker cookbook that was VINTAGE). I want to be more of a minimalist this year and not feel so attached to clothing items. I do NOT need to keep every t-shirt from college and high school. Even if they remind me of fun times. And I really like having them around even though I never wear them. But yeah, I’ll totally get rid of them.

Be Thankful

This is probably a good thing to do all-year round, but I need to feel/be more thankful for what I have. Because even though I hate my job and the people I work with, I’m lucky to have a job and that I get to live with my parents. Because even though my boyfriend doesn’t really want to get married any time soon and I don’t know what we’re going to do when I go to grad school, I’m lucky to have him and that he loves me and supports me. Because even though I can’t stop eating and I’m fat as ever, I am healthy for the most part and I can still walk. I just need to remember these things when I’m in a pissy mood tomorrow from not fucking sleeping and making up New Year’s Resolutions all night. FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

Happy New Year’s!

 

Vision In White

This is going to be a multi-faceted post. (I think I’ve always wanted to use that hyphenated word to describe something I did. So…there it is.)

Firstly, if you’re anything like me, you love fall. I totally get it up for fall and yes, even the ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice Latte. Though, I have to say, the recent advertisement boom for my favorite latte is a little annoying. Just call me a wannabe hipster, but I totally drank it before it was in magazine ads. Anyway! I love fall and all things pumpkin. And this. is. hilarious. Pumpkin In Stable Condition After Being Humped by Blogger (stolen from Rachel Wilkerson) – yes it is what it sounds like and yes, you can laugh at yourselves, fellow pumpkin-humpers. That being said, I made these tonight and they are fantastic. Jenna at Eat, Live, Run literally has the best recipes. You can’t screw them up. Go check her out.

Secondly, I think it’s time again for Things-I’m-Good-At-Thursday (or, GAME DAY SATURDAY BITCHES! GO BLUE!). After spending the labor day weekend in glorious Plymouth, MA (see photo below) for my (extremely successful) cousin’s wedding, I could use some reminders about things I’m good at before I cry myself to (I’m-a-failure-and-I-can’t-get-out-of-bed) sleep. Here’s a couple I had saved in my phone for such a time.

Plymouth Rock - underwhelming.

Making Everyone Feel Awkward

Now, I can’t remember the instance where I decided this was important to add to my list, but I’m sure I blocked it out of my mind due to embarrassment. I say the strangest things sometimes and generally it just makes people uncomfortable. Whether it’s going into too much detail about my missing front tooth (long story – it involves an Amish community, gin and tonic, cement steps and college), or saying something that’s completely out of context to a polite conversation, I’m the champion awkward times creator.

Gift Giving

I love buying people gifts. I don’t even have to know you that well to buy you a gift either; if I find something that I think you’ll love, I’ll get it. (Within reason of course  – this might relate to the “making everyone feel awkward” category above.) I am creative with my gift giving and I love surprising people. You probably should be my friend.

Filling Out Forms

I read a book once where the girl was rich (I think?) and lost everything and realized that the only thing she was really good at was filling out forms. When I read that book, I realized, Hey! I’m good at that too! As we can see from this post and the last one above, I’m good at more things than just filling out forms, but it is another one of my stellar traits. I can probably beat you in filling out medical forms. Don’t even try to race me on a questionnaire. I got that in the bag!

Remembering People I Meet

I suppose most of us all good at this to some extent, or else you probably have that disease where you can’t recognize faces, even people who are your family. (That is sad.) I have a knack for remembering everyone I meet or even hear about in a small capacity, which makes things awkward for people 5 years later when you tell them that you already met at a party of a friend of a friend and they were the ones peeing in the corner on top of the keg. Not that that’s ever happened. Hypothetically. It can either make you sound like a stalker or just crazy. It never really works out well. No one is flattered, really, when they don’t remember you back…which is why I started to pretend I don’t know anyone. I think it’s probably lose-lose, because now people who remember meeting me just think I’m a self-absorbed a-hole.

Remembering Song Lyrics

I’d give my left arm (useless anyway) to be about to be a performer with an Adele-like voice (or even Katy Perry). I want to be a singer. I don’t understand why I can’t be a singer. Voice lessons didn’t help me, either. I just have to live with the curse of being a lyrics savant and not be able to do anything about it. One time, I whined to my good friend Tara, asking, “Why are some people good singers and some people not? It’s not fair.” It was supposed to be rhetorical, but she told me it had to do with the positioning of my vocal cords. I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself that day. Just kidding, I still feel sorry for myself. Sue me.

Well, now it’s your turn to think about things you’re good at. Are you a good singer? If so, sing into my shell right here…

ahh-ahh-ahhhhh, ahh-ahh-ahhh! (That's Ariel singing.)

On my way home from Plymouth, I read the book Visions In White (Bridal Quartet Book #1) by Nora Roberts. My two sappy friends recommended this series to me and at first I wasn’t really interested. I like romance, but Nora Roberts never really seemed like my thing. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book by her before and if I did, I don’t remember it. I was afraid the book would be terribly cheesy, which, I’ll admit, it was a little in some parts, but otherwise, it was good. I look forward to finishing the series.

The basis for the series are four friends who own a successful wedding business together called Vows. Mac, the photographer, is the main character in this first book. She is single (oh, but not for long, I’m sure you can guess) and lives on the property of the business. It is an estate that was owned by Parker’s (the manager, essentially) family. When her parents died, unexpectedly, Parker and her brother inherited the land. That’s when Parker and her friends took over and made it into a business to put happy memories into a sad time.

There’s really not a huge plot to this story. It isn’t overtly intelligent or thought-provoking, but I liked that. It was an easy read, but there was still enough depth to keep it interesting. The top three things I liked most about this story were:

1. The information about photography and the description about Mac’s photos. It made me wonder if Nora herself dabbles in photography. I think this added a nice element that made the story more “real.”

2. I love the idea of owning a business with your friends, especially something so fun (most of the time) as wedding planning. Wouldn’t you love to own a business with your friends? Oh, it’d probably tear you apart and ruin your lives? Money changes everything? That’s why this is FICTION. So you can pretend it’d be perfect.

3. I love that we learn bits and pieces about the other characters that will most likely tie into their stories in the other three books. I love any story with connections to other stories. (See : Stephen King books, Emily Giffin books on smaller scales.)

Now there is one thing I didn’t like about this book and it was the dialogue! Well, not all of the dialogue, but some of it. In the nicest way possible, Nora tries to be “young” in her phrases and rhythm of dialogue and it doesn’t always work. The characters are in their early 30s and they say the most ridiculous things sometimes. I’m all about turbo-weird phrases and exclamations (see), but hers were distracting. I can’t even think of an example of one right now, but the characters said some strange,  not-in-anyone’s-vocabulary phrases.

If you’re looking for an easy read this lovely fall day, pick up this book. And maybe a pumpkin spice latte. PUMPKIN HUMPING!

 

Columbine

Before I get into the review for today, which promises to be slightly depressing or at least not light-hearted, there’s two new websites I’ve discovered in the last week that are perfect for any bibliophile. (Love Latin, don’t you?)

First is Which Book. It’s a website designed to find new books that tailor to your interests using a convenient slidey-thing (technical term) that you move to choose your book desires. For instance, you can choose how happy or sad you want your book to be, or even how beautiful or disgusting. I’m not sure who decided to have “disgusting” be the opposite of “beautiful,” but I suppose it works. I would have chosen Extreme Makeover : Home Edition or Criminal Minds as two of my opposites, but I like to use cultural references.

The other website is goodreads. You can make “shelves” of books you’ve read, books you want to read and books you’re currently reading. You can also use it as a social network and add friends who can comment or review books you want to read. You can review books too! I just spent about 2 hours on it finding all the books I’ve read and rating them. It’s like Netflix, except they don’t ship you books every few days. Although…million dollar idea?

From http://www.hellogiggles.com and @sbellelauren 's brain. Hilarious.

So when you’re OBVIOUSLY not getting all your book reviews and new ideas from my blog, you probably should check out those websites. After you read my blog thoroughly. Twice. Okay. Now you can go.

The book that I am reviewing today is Columbine by Dave Cullen.

No caption necessary.

I never used to be much of a non-fiction reader but this is one of the first books I read in recent years that changed that. I’ve always been intrigued by the Columbine massacre, from a Sociological standpoint (my degree makes some sense), but I only ever heard what the media has said about the shooting. The shooters were outcasts right? That girl was asked whether or not she believed in God and died a martyr right? The shooters targeted jocks, blacks and other specific groups right? Wrong.

Dave Cullen, a journalist, spent 10 years attempting to “debunk” myths about Columbine. This book is literally breathtaking. It is full of information that you never could have imagined you’d want to know and maybe you don’t, but I think it’s important to understand the truth behind the senseless tragedy. These two boys were not loners or goth freaks or in a “trenchcoat mafia.” They went to prom, in a limo, with a dozen others. They were well-liked. However, they were emotionally disturbed individuals, possibly one more than the other, and were not victims of bullying as so many thought. There may have been little anyone could have done to prevent this, which is terrifying.

One thing that struck me was the teacher who passed away, Dave Sanders. Long after the shooters died, he laid in the classroom, hurt but alive. He would have most likely lived had he not lain there for 3+ hours while the police tried to figure out what the hell to do. All of the students in the room with him who were trying to control his bleeding were evacuated, but not him. The author speaks to his wife and to me, it is one of the saddest stories in an already terribly sad book.

I am admittedly a person who, without questioning it, believed what was on the news. My parents used to tell me all the time, “You can’t believe everything you read or hear or even see.” I didn’t listen. I don’t think I realized I wasn’t listening. This book made me realize, possibly for the first time, how right they were. The media played up this story and made it sensational. People wanted to believe certain fallacies about the crime to make themselves feel better and they still do. It blows my mind to this day that journalism can be so biased and false.

Read this book. You’ll be glad you did, albeit maybe a little more depressed afterward. It’s worth it.

 

In an attempt to be not-so-pessimistic, I decided to add a little special section to my blog on Thursdays called “Things I’m Good at Thursday.” (It might be on random days of the week, actually, because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being inconsistent.) I think it’s a good idea for everyone to think about what their strengths are, no matter how seemingly silly or weird, just to give yourself a little ego boost once in awhile. So before the book review about Stiff by Mary Roach, here are some things I’m good at:

Being Inconsistent

I think I mentioned this one before. This goes along with my own personal vow to write in my blog every two days. Woops!

Reading Fast

I don’t need any speed-reading lessons or to run my hand over the page while I read (who remembers those commercials!?). I am a viciously fast reader naturally. And I remember what I read. (Unless it’s characters’ names. WHY?)

Guessing Plotlines or Endings

Maybe it’s because I’ve read a ton of books from being a super fast reader, but I can guess an ending like nobody’s business. Or maybe I just read too predictable of books or watch too predictable of movies. Whatever, I’ll take it. I’m good at it, okay?

Following Confusing Storylines

Memento? That’s easy. Inception? Never a confusing moment for me. I’m not kidding. This stuff just makes SENSE, which is weird, because everyday stuff is kind of confusing for me. Like I don’t understand the phrase, “behind the 8 ball.” Don’t even try to explain it to me. I won’t get it. Because I have my OWN way of explaining it okay? Or, I never understood why a goatee was called a goatee until I saw a picture of a goat and my boyfriend said, “Look at his little goatee” while pointing at his goat beard. Ohhhhh.

Remembering Conversations

I will remember nearly every conversation I have with someone…given that I am interested in what the other person is saying. Don’t ever get into a competition with me about what I said or didn’t say. You won’t win. I remember things too clearly sometimes.

Kids Love Me

I am the baby whisperer. Or the child-under-the-age-of-twelve-whisperer. Kids just get me and I get them. I’d love a job working with kids, but I don’t like all kids. And I don’t really want to babysit full time. Sooo where does that get me? Suggestions welcome.

Goateeeeee...ohhhhhh

So now that we’ve established six things I’m good at, you should think about things you’re good at. Now. Before you read the book review.

Okay, now that you’ve thought of your five things, today’s book review is going to be a quick one. This book is hard to explain but you’ll either be into it or not. So go with it. It’s called Stiff as I mentioned and it’s by a columnist/comedian named Mary Roach. Now, I’m not sure if it’s the same Mary Roach we all remember and love on American Idol a few years ago with the major camel toe, but it doesn’t look like it from her author photo. Maybe it’s because the author photo was devoid of camel toe. But irregardless, Mary Roach writes some awesome stuff…and maybe has some pants issues.

Hard to see, but maybe that's a good thing.

Mary (I really have an urge to call her “the roachmeister” but I can’t explain why) wrote Stiff after spending many hours with dead bodies. Yes, dead bodies. She traveled to other countries, many different U.S. states and learned as much as she could about the history of cadavers and what we have done with them historically. This book is incredibly interesting. I’m not really into death – in fact, I’m terrified of it. This sounded like a book I would absolutely hate, but I decided to give it a try and I loved it. Completely, utterly loved it. (It was recommended by the awesome blogger Rachel Wilkerson a while back and she had me convinced it’d be good. Actually, she might have recommended Boink, Mary’s book about sex, but regardless, I knew it would be equally awesome.)

There’s not much to say about this book in terms of plot line, naturally, as it is non-fiction, but the book is a fairly fast read, even for people who aren’t crazy fast like me. She adds a lot of humor to her writing, which is refreshing, especially in a book that talks about composting dead bodies in Sweden. No lie. Look it up. It’s interesting, albeit a little (a lot) horrifying. Go green when you die! Let your family grow veggies with you! Just kidding, they recommend non-edible things.

If you’re looking for something different to read, this definitely is your book. You can fill your mind with facts about uses for dead bodies and what really happens when you donate your body to science! You can learn about body snatching! Most importantly, you can learn that maybe death isn’t so terrible. I’m lying. That’s not a message at all in this book. (I wished it was.)

Go read it now. And then don’t forget to think about five things you’re good at. Every Thursday. Or sometimes Tuesday.

 

 

 

Thirteen Reasons Why

Remember how I said I liked books that build stories around things in real life? Well, I also like stories that build around things that aren’t real life, but seem to be. I know, all of that makes a ton of sense, but I promise you’ll get it when I review today’s book Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

The title on the book is written like Th1rteen R3asons Why but I’m not sure that’s how you write it in a review such as this. I like both. But I’m going to stick with the more searchable way to write it. Maybe I should just write 13 Reasons Why because kids these days…lazy, I tell ya. Can’t even write out the number thirteen.

Th1rteen, 13, Thirteen

You may have heard about this book, especially if you read Entertainment Weekly because it is being made into a movie in the near future. I don’t want to go all hipster on you, but I read this book the same year it came out. Probably even days or weeks after it did. I just happened to be perusing the book store and bought it in hardcover. Yeah, so, I knew it before it was cool to know it.

The book centers around two people. In present time, it is around Clay, a boy who receives a box of cassette tapes (what up, 90s) from a classmate named Hannah who has recently killed herself. Naturally, Hannah is the other main character, but we only hear from her via her tapes and in Clay’s memories.

Hannah leaves thirteen tapes, hence the title. She requests that Clay visits locations she specifies and also delivers tapes to people she specifies. (Clay listening to the tapes and us “hearing” it is what I’m talking about in the first paragraph. Make sense? Probably not. But it’s cool.) Clay is understandably horrified as he listens to each tape and discovers the secrets of why Hannah decided to kill herself. He worries if he was one of the thirteen reasons she is no longer alive.

This book is compelling and suspenseful, although the worst thing that can happen has, in theory, already happened. Hannah is gone. But is there something worse? Knowing that maybe you were one of the 13 reasons a young girl killed herself? Was it one big event or a series of small events?

Thirteen Reasons Why will make you second guess every interaction you have with someone. I love that it shows a chain reaction of hatefulness and hurt. (Obviously, I don’t love hate and hurt. I just love the storytelling. Stop thinking mean things about me.) You rarely in real life get to read or hear about the events that lead to someone’s death, and it is a unique thing to be able to “see.” I love that Jay Asher uses Hannah’s voice, literally, to tell the story through her cassette tapes.

Ever since I was a little kid, I wondered if things I had done led to something that harmed someone else. (I KNOW. I’m a weirdo.) Like say I narrowly missed getting hit by a car in my own car, which led to them spinning out of control and getting into an accident. What if I was too preoccupied to notice? Everything you see or read about time travel, in the made up sense, emphasizes that any little thing you change when traveling back in time could affect the future. I feel like this is sort of the same thing. In the book, you read Hannah’s accounts of what happened in her life that led to her death. What if any one of those situations were changed? It could have changed the outcome of her life.

This is one of those “Just Do It” novels. Just read it. It says that it’s a YA novel, but whatever. I know all of you have either read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games and those are totally YA. This book is amazing. So don’t be afraid to venture into the YA section and pick it up. You won’t regret it. Who knows, maybe it could change your future. WoooOOOooo…spooky.

Also, just remember that I knew about it before it was cool. So I guess I’m totally a hipster. Here’s some hipster lessons if you’re not sure how to be one just like me. I’m over it.

Firefly Lane

Did you know that most fireflies use their bioluminescence (fancy word for glowy butts) to attract mates, not for warning purposes? From Wikipedia :

Fireflies are a classic example of an organism that uses bioluminescence for sexual selection. They have evolved a variety of ways to communicate with mates in courtships: steady glows, flashing, as well as the use of chemical signals unrelated to photic systems. [Me: Photic systems? This is how people get lost in Wikipedia, clicking to new pages constantly, and then forgetting what they looked at in the first place.] Some species, especially lightning bugs of the genera Photinus, Photuris, and Pyractomena [There are different species?!] are distinguished by the unique courtship flash patterns emitted by flying males in search of females. In general, females of the Photinus genus do not fly, but do give a flash response to males of their own species. [Ladies get the shaft in many species, apparently.]

This has nothing to do with book reviewing except for the title but I always wondered why fireflies have glowy butts and now I know. As long as whoever wrote that page wasn’t lying. If they are, they’re really creative. And weird for lying about bugs.

Glowy butts!

The book for today is by Kristin Hannah. I had never read a book by her until I read Firefly Lane. I had heard many good things about her, but she is so ubiquitous (or so it seemed) that I kind of resisted reading her books. (Just like my resistance to Harry Potter that just ended about 2 weeks ago. I’m in love.)

Pretty glowy butts on a cover!

When I scanned through my nook for titles by Kristin Hannah, this one stuck out to me the most. I’m a sucker for friendship stories (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, anyone??) and this one seemed pretty decent. It was definitely beyond decent. And surprising.

The book centers around Kate and Talullah “Tully” who become best friends in middle school. Kate is the shy, nerdy, intelligent girl and Tully is the exotic, daring, beautiful new girl in town. (Anyone want to guess which one I relate to?) Their friendship, as most friendships seem to be in friendship stories, is unlikely but it works. Tully has a hippie for a mother who comes in and out of her life (“Cloud”) and Kate has the perfect nuclear family. Both, naturally, are jealous of each others’ lives. (Well, I wouldn’t go as far to say that Kate is jealous that Tully has a kooky, dazed-and-confused mother, but she’s jealous can do and wear whatever she wants with no parental supervision.)

The books spans their childhood, growing up on Firefly Lane, to middle aged adulthood. Normally a book that covers that much ground would be choppy or even long-winded, but this book is not. It flows perfectly and you don’t feel as though you’re missing any pieces. Tully and Kate both have goals to become reporters, a la Diane Sawyer, but Tully is the one with the passion for it. She will stop at nothing to get to her goal. I am mega envious of anyone with a passion that strong. I’m just going to blame my perfectionism for my lack of passion.

Kate and Tully have tumultuous periods, like any friends do, and Tully definitely has the stronger personality of the two. You will wind up, if you relate to Kate like I do, feeling angry at Tully for being selfish, but feeling pity for her as well. If you relate to Tully, you feel angry at Kate for letting Tully walk all over her (stand up for yourself, girlfriend!), but feel pity for her as well because she never quite seems to get what she wants like Tully does. Actually, I don’t think  you need to relate to either/or to feel that way. Both of them made me mad and sad at the same time.

The  overall theme of this book is obviously friendship, but also going after what you want in life and not apologizing for it. (Does anyone else notice a theme in all the books I review? I certainly have.) You’ll find out what Kate’s real passion in life is, and maybe you won’t understand. I did and didn’t. You’ll want Tully to settle down, but you’ll want Kate to stop being so settled. This book was about life and learning to live it. It’s also about the unexpected turns that happen in everyone’s lives. You can’t plan for everything. And it may or may not have a happy ending. Or maybe it has a teary ending. Or maybe it has a choke-on-your-own-sobs, ugly cry ending. (I have never looked ugly while crying. Nope.) You’ll just have to read it and find out.

Before you read it though, you probably should watch this video. Don’t worry, it’s sort of about reading…

Told you books and cats are two of my only passions. I can feel you judging. Stop.

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