Review: The Best American Essays 2012

The Best American Essays edited by David Brooks


Have you guys heard of Longreads? If you haven’t, it’s a website that aggregates the “best” (I use quotation marks to denote the subjectivity of this claim, not to be sarcastic) long-form stories on the Internet. While they do highlight fiction, I’m much more interested in the nonfiction essays. Between Longreads and Autostraddle’s fantastic feature “Things I Read That I Love”, I’ve come to love and adore the essay over the past year, so it was really a no-brainer to pick up The Best American Essays 2012 when I saw it on the new shelf at my home library. I usually don’t pick up collections like this, but I thought it would be a nice thing to peruse over the holidays.

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Review: Rock and Roll is Here to Stay

Rock and Roll is Here to Stay edited by William McKeen

Every summer, I like to have a project, and this summer, it was supposed to be acquainting myself with film. Towards the end of the summer, however, it ended up acquainting myself with rock music. Part of the reason I read so voraciously is that I lack a lot of context, and one of those contexts is popular music. Hence The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll. But while I was poking around the 800s in the nonfiction section at the library, I stumbled across this anthology and thought it sounded very interesting, so I determined to read it once I had an overview. And I ended up reading a six hundred page anthology while I desperately needed to boost my posting buffer. Of course.

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Review: Bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Confession: I don’t watch 30 Rock. Not because I don’t want to, but television as a medium hasn’t been motivating me at all lately. Plus, I’d need to start over from the beginning; I’m a completionist. But what I have seen—namely, the episode that ends with a threesome involving James Franco, a body pillow with an anime character on it, and Liz Lemon—I’ve really liked. And, naturally, as a woman of letters in current American culture, I just like Tina Fey. I have fond memories of her on Saturday Night Live, although her greatest moment on the show came after she left. No, not her Sarah Palin impression, but her fervent declaration that “bitches get stuff done”. Is it any wonder her book is in the library at my women’s college?

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Review: The Influencing Machine

The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone

While I listen to Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! in podcast form, I’m not what you would call an avid listener of National Public Radio; in my car, I’m usually switching between three radio stations and my own mixes. So I didn’t know who Brooke Gladstone was until I read Laura Miller’s review of her new book, The Influencing Machine. And of course it went right onto my reading list. Y’all know how I feel about Laura Miller; you can only imagine the conniption fit I had when she commented on my blog last September. But this is the second work of graphic nonfiction I’ve read in the past few months (the other being Fun Home), and I’m becoming very interested in understanding the medium better—my next graphic read will be Understanding Comics, I think.

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Booking Through Thursday: In Public

Do you carry books with you when you’re out and about in the world?

And, do you ever try to hide the covers?

When I was a wee lass, my mother asked me to refrain from bringing my copy of Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down, which features the author seated on a toilet (with his pants down but his boxers up), into any public place. That was the last and only time I didn’t carry the book I was reading at the time with me into the world.

I am never without a book. Paperbacks, naturally, are easier to stash in my bag, but, as a student with a backpack, one more hardcover will only make my back stronger, right? I read during any spare moment I can get, so I need to have my current print read on me at all times. I don’t try to hide covers; I’m never ashamed of what I’m reading. (Plus, the nature of how I read, with notecards and Post-Its and pens, tends to make me look a lot more studious than I would otherwise.) In fact, I love cheesy covers—as evidenced by my love for cheesy speculative fiction paperbacks from the eighties and nineties—so the sillier the better, really.

Review: Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite comedians. I only have one of his albums—Werewolves and Lollipops—but it’s not just his bitingly funny comedy I enjoy. Not only is Oswalt a fine actor and a dedicated writer, but he’s also one of us, us being both readers and geeks; he recently called for the downfall of nerd culture in order to build it up again, a sort of screed against instant accessibility. I don’t agree with the article, but Oswalt’s earnest desire to have his daughter experience, briefly, the secret handshake of underground geek culture is still endearing and well-written. So when I learned that Oswalt had written a book, I immediately swung down to the library to snatch it up.

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Review: I’d Rather We Got Casinos

I’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts by Larry Wilmore

I’ve been a fan of Larry Wilmore ever since his opinion on The Princess of the Frog was shown on the Daily Show three years ago. It always makes my day when he shows up on the Daily Show. Something about his wry contempt for the stupidity around him and his particular brand of racial satire just makes me laugh so much.

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