3 stars · Book Reviews · non-fiction

Review | The Hidden Power of F*cking Up

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The Hidden Power of F*cking Up by The Try Guys
Dey Street Books, 2019
Non-Fiction
288 pages
3/5 Stars

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Trigger Warnings: Mention of racism, homophobia, childhood mental illness, diet culture.

GoodReads Synopsis:

The Try Guys deliver their first book—an inspirational self-improvement guide that teaches you that the path to success is littered with humiliating detours, embarrassing mistakes, and unexpected failures.

To be our best selves, we must become secure in our insecurities. In The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, The Try Guys – Keith, Ned, Zach, and Eugene – reveal their philosophy of trying: how to fully embrace fear, foolishness, and embarrassment in an effort to understand how we all get paralyzed by a fear of failure. They’ll share how four shy, nerdy kids have dealt with their most poignant life struggles by attacking them head-on and reveal their – ahem – sure-fail strategies for achieving success.

But they’re not just here to talk; they’re actually going to put their advice to work. To demonstrate their unique self-improvement formula, they’ll each personally confront their deepest insecurities. A die-hard meat-lover goes vegan for the first time. A straight-laced father transforms into a fashionista. A perpetually single sidekick becomes the romantic lead. A child of divorce finally grows more intimate with his family. Through their insightful, emotional journeys and surprising, hilarious anecdotes, they’ll help you overcome your own self-doubt to become the best, most f*cked up version of yourself you can be!

Review:

Let me start by saying that I’m a pretty big fan of the Try Guys. I’m not like, a die hard fan, nor can I say that I’ve seen every single one of their videos or anything like that… but I really like them, and I know all of their partners’ names, so I think that qualifies me as a ‘pretty big fan’.

That being said, I was really disappointed by this book. I listened to the audiobook, and I thought I would love it, because I enjoyed the few episodes of their podcast that I listened to, but I felt like the narrator changed too often without being identified, which confused me.

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There was also a lot of diet culture talk which I found extremely disappointing. For example, Keith was talking about how since eating less meat and exercising more frequently, he feels so much more healthy… and then immediately followed that with how he’s lost a pants size. He then goes on to say that it’s about health, not weight loss, which simply isn’t true if he found his weight loss meaningful enough to mention in his book.

I also was disappointed that the guys never seemed to acknowledge the privilege behind many of their suggestions and experiences. This was super disappointing to me, because I never get that vibe from their videos. In their videos, they seem to be very aware of their privileges and mention it when necessary, but they seemed just so out of touch in this book, and it made me really sad.

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Similarly, many of their suggestions and experiences don’t seem to take things like mental health or class into account. The only mention of mental illness and health is when Zach talks about his experience with major depression as a child, which don’t get me wrong, was very interesting. But none of the guys really talked about how they take care of their mental health as adults besides exercise and meditation (which are very good things, but many, many people need medication, therapy, or other treatments for their mental health). A lot of their suggestions simply don’t seem sustainable for those who struggle with their mental health more than they do.

I still like the Try Guys. I still plan on watching their videos, but this book didn’t seem to be written by the same men you see on YouTube.

Perfect for Try Guys fans who watch the videos and think “wow, I really wish these guys were less likable.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.
3 stars · romance

Review | Float Plan

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Float Plan by Trish Doller
St. Martin’s Griffin 2021
Romance
272 pages
3/5 Stars

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Trigger Warnings: Suicide, Addiction, Self-harm

GoodReads Synopsis:

Critically acclaimed author Trish Doller’s unforgettable and romantic adult debut about setting sail, starting over, and finding yourself…

Since the loss of her fiancé, Anna has been shipwrecked by grief—until a reminder goes off about a trip they were supposed to take together. Impulsively, Anna goes to sea in their sailboat, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.

Review:

When I was a little girl, my grandfather took my sister and I sailing in the Hudson River. We cried the entire time as the boat rocked back and forth in the New York night. I hated every minute. Meanwhile my grandfather was a sailor who had sailed the Caribbean and had sailing in his blood, so he enjoyed it immensely.

But. This book made me want to give sailing another shot so that I can sail the Caribbean and find myself. Okay, fine. Find the handsome Irish sailor of my dreams.

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This was a lovely book. I really appreciated Anna and Keane’s adventure and their growth as individuals. Is Keane the man of my dreams? I mean, he is Irish Catholic, and I’m Irish American Catholic, so probably.

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Please note that there were graphic mentions of suicide at times, which I found unnecessary and triggering, but also understood that it made sense for Anna’s inner monologue.

Perfect for dreamers and people looking to let go of the past.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3 stars · Book Reviews · literary fiction

Review | Normal People

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Normal People by Sally Rooney
Hogarth Press, 2019
Literary Fiction
273 pages
3/5 Stars

Katie, a white woman, holds a copy of "Normal People" by Sally Rooney.

Trigger Warnings: Abuse, suicide, self-harm.

GoodReads Synopsis

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

Review

This book took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions and opinions and thoughts. This book was… a lot.

I started out absolutely loving it. The way it was written reminded me of a lot of the books I read as an English major in college, and it took me back. And then… it got weird.

There was a lot of unexpected stuff. Not plot twist unexpected, more like wait where did this come from and why is this being brought up unexpected. it was a lot. I found it difficult to read and seriously thought about DNFing it, but I’m actually glad I didn’t.

While the ending wasn’t what I wanted, it was realistic and also hopeful enough to make me feel like the characters weren’t completely shitty people. If you’ve hung out here a bit, you’ll know I’m a sucker for a good ending. While this ending didn’t redeem the book entirely for me, it did help me appreciate it and the characters a little more.

But not enough to want to watch the Hulu series. I’ve had enough of Marianne and Connell.

Perfect for former English majors who want to relive their glory days.

Rating: 3 out of 5.