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.
5 Stars · Book Reviews · non-fiction · Reading

Review | Wordslut

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase an item using my link, I will receive a small commission with no extra cost to you.

Wordslut by Amanda Montell
Harper Wave, 2019
Non-Fiction
304 pages
5/5 Stars

GoodReads Synopsis:

The word “bitch” conjures many images for many people but is most often meant to describe an unpleasant woman. Even before its usage to mean a female canine, bitch didn’t refer to gender at all—it originated as a gender-neutral word meaning genitalia. A perfectly innocuous word devolving into a female insult is the case for tons more terms, including hussy, which simply meant “housewife,” or slut, which meant “untidy” and was also used to describe men. These words are just a few among history’s many English slurs hurled at women. 

Amanda Montell, feminist linguist and staff features editor at online beauty and health magazine Byrdie.com, deconstructs language—from insults and cursing to grammar and pronunciation patterns—to reveal the ways it has been used for centuries to keep women form gaining equality. Ever wonder why so many people are annoyed when women use the word “like” as a filler? Or why certain gender neutral terms stick and others don’t? Or even how linguists have historically discussed women’s speech patterns? Wordslut is no stuffy academic study; Montell’s irresistible humor shines through, making linguistics not only approachable but both downright hilarious and profound.

Review:

I have no idea how I found this book, but I am so glad that I did.

A really big part of my personality are the facts that I’m a raging feminist, and also that I majored in English in college. This book perfectly married two of my maybe four personality traits.

Montell uses humor to explain the history of the English language and the patriarchal background behind many of the words we use.

One of the most interesting parts for me was when she debunked myths behind women’s speech patterns. Different speech patterns that are commonly used by women are often looked at as being ‘unprofessional’, but Montell explains why this isn’t necessarily true. It reminded me of the time a former coworker told me that she didn’t get a promotion because our male manager told her she used the word ‘like’ too much. I now know that using ‘like’ a lot in speech has nothing to do with the speaker’s intelligence, or ability to communicate effectively, and more to do with what exactly they are trying to communicate.

Another part I loved was the part about the history of swearing. I swear like a pirate. My favorite word starts with an ‘f’ and has four letters, and I use it more than is socially appropriate. I also really don’t care. It’s the only word that can properly express my excitement, frustration, sadness, etc. Thank God for the ‘f’ word.

But. Did you know. There is a HUGE difference behind why women swear and why men swear? For men, it’s a normal part of speech, and is rarely given a second thought. When women swear, they are doing so to express a personality, their individuality, humor, and/or a negotiation of their femininity.

I could honestly go on forever about this book. It was so interesting, and I learned so much. I guess I have to put every feminist book about language on my waiting list at the library.

Perfect for Feminist Word Nerds and Washed Up English Majors.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 Stars · Book Reviews · non-fiction · politics · Reading

Review | Where the Light Enters

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Where the Light Enters by Jill Biden
Flatiron Books, 2019
Non-Fiction
210 pages
5/5 Stars

GoodReads Synopsis

An intimate look at the love that built the Biden family and the delicate balancing act of the woman at its center.

“How did you get this number?” Those were the first words Jill Biden spoke to U.S. senator Joe Biden when he called her out of the blue to ask her on a date.

Growing up, Jill had wanted two things: a marriage like her parents’ – strong, loving, and full of laughter – and a career. An early heartbreak had left her uncertain about love, until she met Joe. But as they grew closer, Jill faced difficult questions: How would politics shape her family and professional life? And was she ready to become a mother to Joe’s two young sons?

She soon found herself falling in love with her three “boys,” learning to balance life as a mother, wife, educator, and political spouse. Through the challenges of public scrutiny, complicated family dynamics, and personal losses, she grew alongside her family, and she extended the family circle at every turn: with her students, military families, friends and staff at the White House, and more.

This is the story of how Jill built a family – and a life – of her own. From the pranks she played to keep everyone laughing to the traditions she formed that would carry them through tragedy, hers is the spirited journey of a woman embracing many roles.

‘WHERE THE LIGHT ENTERS’ is a candid, heartwarming glimpse into the creation of a beloved American family, and the life of a woman at its center.

Review:

I got this book a few weeks ago when Audible was having a 2-for-1 sale on select books. I voted for Biden, though I’m not his biggest fan (Being on TikTok over the summer pretty much turned me into a complete Leftist.) and I didn’t know anything about Jill Biden besides that she’s a teacher. And what that one scene of Leslie and Ben going to the White House to play Charades with Joe and Jill showed in Parks and Rec.

So, all I knew about Jill Biden was that she was a teacher, and that she thought Leslie Knope was too competitive.

Jill is an extraordinary woman. Her story follows her from her family background and childhood to her rebellious teenaged years (which to her time as the Second Lady of the United States being a rebellious teenager (which was my favorite thing, honestly) to the Second Lady (This was written before the 2020 election!) of the United States. It shows how she and Joe met (which might be my all-time favorite meet-cute, oh my God.) and how she became a mother to his sons (Fun fact, Joe proposed FIVE times before Jill agreed to marry him.)

I loved how this book was written, and since I listened to it on Audible, I got to hear Jill her story herself. I learned so much about her, Joe, and the rest of the Biden family (If a Biden is reading this, please adopt me.). She is down to earth, and takes her jobs as mother, grandmother, teacher, wife, and Second Lady very seriously. But never ever reluctantly. The way that she speaks of the work that she does, and the way she speaks about her family shows how much she loves all of it, despite the difficulties she experiences attimes.

This book is a beautiful story of how The Bidens we see in the White House became a family. It’s a story of loss and grief, of new beginnings, of faith, but mostly of love.

Recommended For: Anyone who voted for Biden and people who love stories of close and loving families.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 Stars · Book Reviews · mental health · non-fiction

Book Review: The Power of Vulnerability

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The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown
Audible Audio, 2013
Non-Fiction
5/5 Stars

GoodReads Synopsis

Is vulnerability the same as weakness? “In our culture,” teaches Dr. Brené Brown, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.” On The Power of Vulnerability, Dr. Brown offers an invitation and a promise – that when we dare to drop the armor that protects us from feeling vulnerable, we open ourselves to the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Here she dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and reveals that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
“The Power of Vulnerability is a very personal project for me,” Brené explains. “This is the first place that all of my work comes together. This audio course draws from all three of my books – it’s the culmination of everything I’ve learned over the past twelve years. I’m very excited to weave it all into a truly comprehensive form that shows what these findings and insights can mean in our lives.”

Review:

What is the first thought that comes to you r mind when I say the word “vulnerabilty”? Are you like me in that it makes you uncomfortable and want to cringe a little bit? I think that’s the normal reaction to vulnerability. We live in a society that really encourages us to always keep our guard up and be “okay”.

Something I’ve learned in my mental health journey is how necessary vulnerability is to my healing and wellbeing. To me, vulnerability means being honest and forthcoming not only with those in my support system, but to myself. It means taking a good, hard look at myself and my life and saying “I’m not okay” when I’m not okay.

Funnily enough, Brene Brown and her work have been on my radar for years, but it wasn’t until my therapist recommended I listen to this audiobook after a very emotional session in which I talked about the shame I often experience.

And I’m really glad I decided to check it out! Brown works in academia, but she is masterful at presenting information in a very accessible and relatable way. My therapist and I also agreed that she is very funny. I look forward to (finally) checking out more of her work.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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