The Opposite of Love

I’m starting to realize that every book I will review on here will probably be one of those “just do it” books with no real review necessary, including the one below. You’ll just have to take my word for it. But if my word isn’t good enough (and WHY not??), I’ll keep doing reviews to keep my readers satisfied. My legions of readers. (Hi, Kirstin.)

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum is up there in my top five favorite books all time. I’d even go as far to say top three. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (yes, people, GIFFIN. Not Griffin.) and The Opposite of Love both hold an extremely special place in my heart because their heroines are completely wonderful and I feel that they are me. And this is cool.

Yeah, they used poor coloring for the first 3 words. But I still love it. Don't judge...you know the rest.

I picked up The Opposite of Love not too long after I went through a terrible break up. Gut-wrenching, to be honest. I had been, in fact, been in a relationship before for a much longer period of time, but I was the dumper for that relationship’s demise, not the dumpee as I was this time. This book was so awful to read yet so perfect.

The main character, Emily Haxby, is a lawyer at a big law firm. (My favorite books seem to involve lawyers as the main character. I work in lawsuits. Coincidence? Probably not at all. Just thought I’d point it out.) She technically hates her job, but doesn’t really know it because she just doesn’t really feel anything. She has a perfect-beyond-perfect boyfriend named Andrew who she dumps right in the beginning of the book because…because…well, you’ll find out her underlying reasons throughout the book, but basically she dumps him because she knows he’s going to propose to her. For some reason, this is deplorable to Emily. Her friends think she’s nuts, her grandfather (Grandpa Jack!) thinks she’s nuts, and so does her grandfather’s BA lady friend Ruth (a former attorney).

Emily, on the other hand, is “blah” about the whole situation. She is a lot like me in that she’s bubbly on the outside, possibly, or even maybe not bubbly, but content on the outside, but inside, it’s a whole ‘nother story. I feel that a lot of women (maybe even men? I don’t know. never been a dude) can relate to this. Not to quote Buffy songs, but Emily’s definitely “going through the motions” in her life and is completely lost.

I think the overarching theme in the book is lost and losing. Lost in your direction, lost in love, lost in life, lost in mind. Losing your direction, losing your love, losing your life, losing your mind. The characters are all complex and I love that. I have read this book about 10 times now and it never fails to surprise me and suck me in. No pun intended, I get “lost” in this book. Emily is so self-deprecating, yet has bitter humor, and that is what I relate to. She is real.

Her emotions, when she lets them happen, are complex and real as well. If you’ve ever been through a break-up, you can relate to her. (Yes, I realize most of my descriptions of characters are that they’re “relatable” and “real,” but you know what, sorry I’m not sorry, this is what I love about books.) To quote one section of the book where I literally sobbed and choked on my own tears and saliva:

“I miss Andrew so much that I stop and keel over and put my head between my knees. I miss Andrew so much, I begin to rock back and forth, hugging myself to make it stop. I miss Andrew so much that I throw up in the bathroom, emptying my body into the bowl in one violent motion. I miss Andrew so much, I flush it all away.”

I mean, UGH. That hollowness. When you fall asleep (finally) and you wake up in the morning, completely fine, until you remember again that they’re gone. And you’re hollow again. This doesn’t just pertain to a break up. A death can punch you like this times 100. Sometimes I dream about my grandparents (by sometimes, I mean like every dream is set inside their house) and I wake up, happy, until I remember again that they’ve been gone for 10 years. And I am hollow again. It’s strange when you feel something so strongly and then it’s put into words and you feel it again, but it’s not so bad. Because someone else feels it, too.

Another quote (I swear I’m not spoiling anything):

The opposite of love isn’t hate; it isn’t even indifference. It’s f*cking disembowelment.

Sigh. Love. Ain’t it grand.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not a love story in the traditional sense. It focuses on Emily and her lost love, but also on so much more. Her love for her deceased mother. Her Grandpa Jack. For Ruth. And even, maybe, for her t00-busy-for-his-child-or-father father. Most of all, though, it’s about her love for herself. I think everyone could use a bit of self-love, don’t you? (No, not “that’s what she said.”)

The tone, if you haven’t figured it out by now, isn’t exactly cheery. It has darker humor, it’s pretty melancholy (and the infinite sadness? anyone? bueller?) and it’s downright sad. (I said I sobbed by brains out, remember?) There are parts that will catch you by surprise and you’ll feel what Emily feels. She’ll be puke-stained and hung over and run into Andrew on a train platform for the first time since the break up. You’ll feel her mortification. When she’s in bed for days, you’ll feel her desperation and depression. When she mourns the loss of people close to her unexpectedly (no spoilers), you’ll feel that someone you knew and loved has passed.

That is how amazingly well-written this book is. So go read it. Immediately. Just do it.

Read it. Now.

SPOILER SPOILER : Okay, I know I said I don’t like spoilers, but I’m giving you fair warning on this one. I will spoil something that is a major plot point, but not the most major. I just feel that it is my duty to warn people about a plot point as I wish I had been warned. I will be vague but it won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who I’m referring to in this spoiler. (I don’t think, I could be a master vaguess. I don’t know what that means. You understand.) I’m warning one more time. SPOILER SPOILER! You’ve been warned.

Totally serious, not-attempting-to-be-funny at all paragraph coming up. Alzheimer’s runs in my family. My great-grandma had it, my grandma and when I read this book, my 48-year-old aunt had just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a bitch of a disease and it was beyond awful to watch it take my family members’ minds and lives. One of the characters in TOOL (um, this is a little funny, I’ll admit) has Alzheimer’s. I was NOT ready for that story line and it made the book even more heart-wrenching for me, especially after learning about my way-too-young aunt. So, in knowing many other people affected by this terrible disease, I wanted to give a heads up. Because I know how hard it is to even see commercials for Aricept, let alone read a book where a lovable character is deteriorating. I still love this book, and I’m happy to have read it (multiple times), but there are times where I would not have read it. (Like when I brought it along after not reading it for a year…for the car ride to go say goodbye to my aunt this January…and on the way home got to the part with the character…I had to stop. I had forgotten, ironically, that detail. It is too much.)

END SPOILER. So back to the happy. Just do it. Go read this fabulous book.


Not A Review, Pt. 1

I made this post a “part 1” because I guarantee this won’t be the first time I write a post that’s not a review. I really probably should call this part 1.5 because technically I’d say this post was kind of a review, but kind of (totally) not. But we’ll keep it even for my OCD.

Not a review, pt. 1 is going to still be about reading. And hypochondria. And fear, so it’s a perfect follow up to this bad boyThe Bloggess is my favorite blogger ever and she just posted something that relates to fear, so I figured it was appropriate for sharing. Plus you have to READ her blog so I guess technically I’m suggesting something for you to read whilst giving you a nice review before you read it. So maybe this is a review. I guess it’s a half review so .5 from the other day and .5 from today = Not A Review, Pt. 1. This is starting to feel like Inception. KICK!

The Bloggess tells of her eye doctor appointment and all the fears she has from what the eye doctor says or doesn’t say or “implies” and she is just. like. me. I’m afraid of contracting every disease and I consistently think I have diseases. The other night, I was convinced I had bladder cancer. The jury is still out on that one. So if you enjoy hypochondria and reading, you really should read this post.

Also, you probably should watch this if you’re a hypochondriac like me. Bye!

My Year With Eleanor

Before I get to my review of probably the most important book you’ll read in 2011 (…or 12…whenever you get to it), I wanted to share this pretty rad website – 15 Super Cool Bookcases for the Modern Home. Now, some of them are downright ridiculous and I do not live in a “modern home” by any stretch of the imagination, but everyone’s entitled to their own ugly tastes. The one I absolutely loved was the Contemporary Q one but I’m pretty sure my dad could build that for about $20.00, not $2000.00. I also enjoyed the one that totally looked like a Plinko board, but only because it looked like maybe I could win up to $10,000 if I slid a book down it or something. Love me some TPIS and of course, Drew Carey.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a photo like this of myself.

Anyway, when I heard about the book My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock, I immediately (okay, after I got a gift card for a bookstore…I’m poor, sue me) went and bought it. It had all the elements of a life-changing book for me.

I  am admittedly afraid of everything, but I never realized it completely until I read this book. Sure, I’m a little terrified of being outside my house at night (there could be GHOSTS, people!), I don’t love flying, I’m not really into committing to things and I refuse to eat anything out of a microwave. Just kidding, the last one was a total lie. I just won’t eat anything cooked in PLASTIC out of a microwave. But, overall, I wasn’t aware of how much fear controlled my life and still totally does. (Changing your life takes time, okay?)

Noelle, the author and main character (it’s a memoir!), loses her cushy six-figure-paying job writing about celebs (hello, dream job) and is contemplating her next step. She sees a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt on the chalk board at a cafe – Do one thing every day that scares you. 

This is when the heavens opened and angels started singing.

Noelle set up a plan to do one thing that scares her every day starting on her birthday that year to continue to the next birthday. She researched Eleanor Roosevelt the entire time, weaving stories about Eleanor’s life into her own fear story, and it made me have a newfound respect for that particular FLOTUS. (Or I suppose FFLOTUS…Former First Lady of the United States?) I never knew Eleanor was so BA! She stood up for gay rights (why have we not progressed much in this area since the 1940s?), she was an independent thinker and she put up with a certifiably crazy mother-in-law. I think anyone who can put up with a woman like her mother-in-law deserves accolades and probably something named after her. (This has probably happened, though probably not because of the MIL.) The crazy mom-in-law kept a “birthing room” in her home, designed all museum-like to look just the way it was the day she gave birth to Franklin. If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is. (It’s crazy. Don’t even try to argue. If you want to argue, you’re  probably a mother who is too involved in your son/daughter’s life. Cut the cord, woman!)

In addition to Eleanor’s awesome stories, Noelle’s fear conquering is equally as awesome. Noelle has a lot of support from close friends, her boyfriend “Matt” (names have been changed to protect the innocent…or just for funsies) and from her therapist Dr. Bob. I wish my therapist was Dr. Bob. He helps her discover that fear isn’t just “fear of public speaking” or “fear of being mauled to death by rabid raccoons.” It can be avoidance, which is a caused by a fear of fear. Confusing? No. It makes sense. Do you avoid speaking your opinion in a large group because you don’t want to offend people? Do you work at a job you hate because it’s easier than quitting? Do you pay full price for things at flea markets because you are nervous to barter? Noelle uses a lot of these examples in her book and it completely resonated with me. I avoid EVERYTHING. I even sometimes put off getting ready for bed because it’s so time-consuming and I really hate when my face is wet. What? It’s annoying. Dr. Bob also explained a lot of evolutionary reasons for having certain fears, which was interesting. I can’t think of any good examples right now, but you’ll learn about yourself. And our ancestors. And that babies don’t like to go over cliffs or something. It’ll all make sense when you read the book.

This book will make you want to start really living your life. Maybe you do already and if you do, good for you. Naturally, we can’t all sacrifice a year and do something scary every day. We especially can’t afford it (big props to Noelle’s daddy for giving her some cash for Mt. Kilamanjaro.) But, I’m in the process of making some smaller scale “no more fear” changes in my own life. In all seriousness, I wanted to re-read the book as soon as I finished it. I need more motivation to do what I want with my life instead of what’s easy. I learned that like most perfectionists (guilty), I have trouble finishing tasks and ideas because I’m afraid of failing. Failure is a huge fright for me. I always thought I was even a failed perfectionist – I’m not very motivated, I don’t really like anything (see : My Prerogative) and I’m pretty apathetic about anything controversial – but it turns out all of us perfectionists have these similar traits. It’s all avoidance! If I don’t finish something, I can’t fail! Brilliant plan, Angie. If only there were a job where you received raises on what you don’t finish. I’d have it in the BAG.

Again, I’m not into spoilers, but here’s a short list of the best things about this book (I really like lists):

1. Noelle is relatable and witty. I could learn a few lessons from her in this area.

2. She does so many cool fear activities that I wish I had money to do and yes, the guts – flying a plane! (Just kidding, that sounds awful…I mean…I need to face my fear!) Swimming with sharks! (um…face my fear…from land!) Trapeze! (I could handle that.) Stand up comedy show! (This so would bomb.)

3. Eleanor Roosevelt. I can’t say it enough. She is the best part of this book, besides, of course, Noelle facing fear. The biographies Noelle used to supplement her memoir are on my list of books to read now because of it. There just are not enough strong female role models in society and I think everyone could learn something from her. Especially me. Who knew nothing about her. At all. Thanks, Kenowa Hills high school social studies classes!

4. Dr. Bob. He says wise things like, “Goofiness is threatening to people who want to be in control of themselves all the time, who want to be serious. What stops us from acting goofy is our fear of being evaluated. But silliness can be empowering. I think you need to stop being afraid to be goofy.” I LOVE being goofy, but I could always be more goofy. Huck-yuck!

I used to work at Disney. I couldn't resist. I apologize.

5. Lastly, I loved that each chapter starts with a quote from Eleanor. I know, I already listed Eleanor as one of the reasons I loved this book, but even if it WASN’T Eleanor quotes, I’d like that there were quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I’m a sucker for quotes.

In conclusion (aren’t you never supposed to write that or something? too bad, I’m facing my fear of breaking proper grammar rules.), My Year With Eleanor is my favorite book I’ve read this year so far. Doing something every day that you’re afraid of would be amazing. I can think of a million excuses why I won’t do it, but I’m pretty sure the point of this book was to stop making excuses, so I think one day I will. Is procrastinating caused by fear? I’ll figure it out tomorrow.

Until next time, go buy this book immediately…or when you get a gift card. (Or better yet, visit your local library! This has been a PSA from the Library Enthusiasts Association.)





Reviews of My Past

I could have thought of a better title for this post. This one sounds like I’m going to review my past. “Yeah, it was okay, she had a lot of awkwardness with some studying thrown in, and there were a lot of times she missed social cues and just kept talking when she shouldn’t have…and shit got weird…”

YEAH, we’re not going to do that.

I was just browsing good ol’ Amazon when I found a list that I made in college (circa 6 years ago) of books I loved titled, “(A Plethora of) The Best Books You’ll Ever Read.” Now, I feel like this list title must have been created for me because that literally sounds like nothing I’ve ever said. But, irregardless, it was interesting to read. I apparently had simpler tastes then, since most of my books were ones I loved as a pre-teen and teen. I mean, most studious girls were into Tolstoy or Anna Karenina (wait…) or something smart like that, and I was all yayyy Princess Diaries. Please don’t judge me. Just kidding. I really mean Sorry I’m Not Sorry I’m in crazy stupid love with these books. (Click that link. Seriously, just do it. I love this blogger and her lessons and rules and she’s just, well, owning it. So click that link. I swear it’s not porn. She might talk about porn from time to time, but it’s totally not porn. Then once you read about owning it, go read every entry on her blog. You go, Rachel Wilkerson.)

So, since I went to a minor league baseball game with my “roommates” (soo NOT my parents) tonight (go whitecaps!), I didn’t have time to review the next book I wanted to :


My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. Yes, that’s a photo from my iphone. What’d I say about judging?

I decided to give you this gem of a list from my college years. You’ll enjoy at least one of the books and try very, very hard not to fall in love with my genius, witty and downright beautiful 1-2 sentence reviews.

Without further ado, run along little readers and check out this list. (A Plethora Of) The Best Books You’ll Ever Read. Please don’t judge me. Totally kidding. Sorry I’m not sorry, Miss Nelson Is Missing is as legit as they get.

Oh also, don’t forget to check out my qualifications for being a reviewer – “I’ve read since I was 2.” I mean, really. I’ve been potty trained since I was 2 as well, but that doesn’t make me qualified for anything except for maybe not making an ass (no pun intended) of myself in public with “accidents.”

That probably should be added to my profile somewhere.

First things first, I love http://hellogiggles.com. Hello Giggles is a BA website started by 3 lovely ladies and the articles are incredibly relatable. If you don’t have time to read books (WHY are you here!?), you should at least check out this article: http://hellogiggles.com/things-i-am-learning-from-my-grandma-part-5 – it’s about books and wisdom from grandmas. I miss my grandmas. And grandpa.

Anyway, I’ve been debating on what book to do for the inaugural review and since the cable’s out and I can’t watch “So You Think You Can Dance”* in its entirety, I finally decided on a book.

*Did I mention my love of bad TV? Well, my boyfriend thinks it’s bad, but I don’t. Another one of my loves is dance. Always and forever. All I wanted to see was Lauren Froderman from last year and the cable and the storm and…Oh. Books. Sorry.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children...and creepy photos

I read about this book in a couple of magazines and decided to check it out, mostly because I read that the author, Ransom Riggs, used real old photos that he found to supplement his story. I mean, the photos weren’t REAL old like super old, but I mean like not fake. Just old. I’m a huge fan of building stories around things in real life, which is totally vague and probably only makes sense if you had to write stories from Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick in 5th grade like I did, so I really enjoyed that idea.

Besides the photos, the book centers around a boy named Jacob Portman (blogger’s note – I had to look up his name and I just finished this book 3 days ago. You’ll learn that I am passionate at books, terrible at remembering names in books and some descriptive details like how a character looks. I make it up in my head. It’s the complete opposite of myself in real life which is interesting.) Jacob is very close with his Grandpa Portman, who has always told him fantastical stories of growing up in a children’s home. This children’s home isn’t like any other children’s home, at least not any I’ve heard about. He shows Jacob a select few photographs of his friends there, some of whom are invisible, can lift boulders, float, or even manage not to whine throughout an airplane ride. Oh, sorry, that wasn’t one of them. Girl can dream though, amiright?

As Jacob gets older, he starts to question the stories his grandfather tells him and eventually stops believing in them altogether. An INVISIBLE BOY!? A girl who can FLOAT!? I mean, who wouldn’t question that. (Me. Probably not until I was 20…er…16…12?) Something unfortunate happens to his grandfather SPOILER ALERT: there will be no spoilers in this blog. I promise. Something unfortunate happens to his grandfather which eventually leads Jacob to need to visit the children’s home, aptly named Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Now, I don’t want to go further into detail because this is definitely one of those books I mentioned in my introduction that is a “just go read it. don’t question it.” (Or as Nike formerly and awkwardly said, “just do it.”) But I will say what I loved about this book in the general terms.

1. It was creative. I like any type of story that I haven’t heard a million times before in one form or another. As I mentioned before, his use of photographs? Genius. I wish I’d thought of it for my yet-untitled-not-even-close-to-being-written book. That doesn’t even have a topic.

2. It tied, loosely, back to World War II and is set in Europe which makes me feel like not only am I reading for pleasure, but I’m getting some history, too. I’m really bad at history. This makes me feel smarter. However, since I know close to nothing about history, I don’t even know if any of the “historical” information in the book is correct or relevant. But it makes me feel smart and that’s all that matters.

3. The characters are amusing and resilient. They’re mostly kids and despite my airplane jab earlier, I generally like kids more than adults. After working at Disney World for way too long, I quickly learned the kids are never the problem. It’s the parents. Parents are a-holes. Kids, on the other hand, are usually fun and probably smarter than their parents. How does that happen?

4. There is enough supernatural in this book to keep people who love Harry Potter books interested, but it’s not overwhelming. I, as an avid fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, am totally cool with the supernatural, but I prefer it to be human supernaturality. That’s not a word. But irregardless, this book has total human supernaturality. (I know, both not words. So fetch of me.) If you’re not on the same brain pattern as me (aka, mostly no one), I mean that the supernatural business is woven nicely into the “real world.” It seems plausible and it makes you want everything to be real because it’s so cool. In words you Potter-heads can understand, *exclaims slightly whinily* “I want to go to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children!”**

**I swear I’m not making fun of Harry or people who love him. I’ll begrudgingly admit I love him, too. I just sometimes am bitter that I got sucked into it when it’s so trendy to love HP. Now, excuse me while I continue typing on my new Apple MacBook Pro laptop and answer my Apple iPhone whilst watching reruns of Glee…

5. The story made me cry. I think. I cry a lot. It could have been the episode of Buffy I was watching…when Joyce dies…it’s so… Right. This book did make me cry because of the idea of being torn between two places. I think a lot of us can relate to that. Maybe you don’t feel like you belong somewhere, but you’re obligated to be in that somewhere and not where you’re truly happy. It could be familial obligations or work obligations or just comfortable to be there, but you’re not where you’re supposed to be. Your somewhere probably doesn’t have peculiar children, but if it does, email me. I’m so down with that.

6. Lastly, this book was easy to read. I don’t mean that it’s in small sentences and easy reading, but I sped through it. I’m a fast reader as it is, but I definitely couldn’t put this book down. It was bizarre and intriguing and I’m a sucker for a first-person voice. (Can’t you tell?)

Now that I’ve kept my promise of being less articulate and more wordy than paid reviewers, I hope you find the time to read this book. If you’re like me, your list of books to read is about fifty books long, but consider adding it. To the top. NOW.

One last parting gift before I sign off. It has nothing to do with peculiar children or books, but just pure fun. DANCE. If this video with my favorite dancer ever Lauren doesn’t remind you of youthful innocence, I don’t know what could:

Until next time. READ!

My Prerogative

Everybody’s talking all this stuff about me…

Sorry. This is a blog about books, not awesomely-bad 80′s music (or 00′s remakes, Britney fans). I’m a twenty-something college grad (named Angie! Hi!) who still has no clue what to do with my Sociology degree (kids, go be an engineer…you don’t like math? who cares…be an engineer for the love of god) and lacks passion about almost anything except books. And maybe my cat.  I love cats. And beer. Bad TV. A lot of B’s. But books are number one, for sure. A book about cats, beer and bad TV? Heaven. Just kidding. I’m not that nerdy…maybe.

I love books. I assume if you found this blog you do as well. I may have a been a mega-nerd when I was a kid (okay, and now) but books always made me feel cool.

Me, passionate about books. And mega-nerdy

I was and still am always on a quest to find and devour new books. I realized that sometimes it’s hard to find honest reviews about books as most people are probably paid for giving a good review. I can assure you that not only am I NOT paid for any of these reviews, but I’m also probably less articulate and more wordy than other reviewers on book jackets. Appealing, right?

If you’re still into reading my reviews (or sometimes, my statements of “just read it. seriously. you won’t regret it. I’m not even telling you what it’s about. just go get it.”), thank you. I promise you a random selection of books and I hope you can find something new to read.

If you want to know anything else about me, just ask! Unless it’s A/S/L…I’ll probably just make fun of you. And promptly be a little worried you’re stuck in 1995. (Or 1993, like this photo.)