Sometimes I Read Nonfiction Too...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I split up my most recent trip to the library into two sections: books on 14-day loan and books that were not on 14-day loan. This also perfectly split my pile of six books into three "memoirs" and three YA books. Let's be real, pretty much all I read is YA Lit, memoirs/books of personal essays, and the occasional cult favorite fiction book (i.e. Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, The Girls, what the hell is it with books with the word "girls" in the title being so popular?

I've been dying to read Lauren Graham's book because she portrayed one of my favorite characters of all time and she discusses Gilmore Girls through recounts and diary entries a lot during this book, which makes my GG loving heart soar. I've heard amazing things about Ann Shoket's book, The Big Life, and always love some career advice from time to time, especially geared towards women my age. I forgot Ashley Graham had a book, honestly, but it was on display in the new arrivals section at the library and I snatched it immediately. She is, beyond just being gorgeous, a really smart business woman and has undeniably helped shift the fashion industry to some degree. 

These three women have unknowingly entertained me for the past two weeks, so thanks, guys! You're the best!

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham

Is the title of this book actually this long? If that's the case, this will make my working debut memoir title much more appropriate: From Acne to Crooked Teeth to Bangs to More Acne to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Then Adult Acne. Too long? It's a work in progress. I can always change it.

This book is told in the quintessential Lauren Graham voice. I read this at lightning speed because that's how she speaks–fast paced, line after line, with cleverness and wit sprinkled in generously. There's no doubt that she wrote this book. Even without being Lauren's personal friend, I know this is just who she is, how she thinks, how she talks. It's LOL-worthy simply because she's just a riot and says lines that you would think came straight from Lorelai herself.

If you're a fan of Lauren, this book will seem like you're hearing stories from your favorite TV mom (shout out to Sarah Braverman too!). She talks briefly about her childhood, her college years, early acting gigs, love, and Gilmore Girls. Lots of Gilmore Girls. She wrote part of this book (namely the diary entries) during the filming of the reboot, allowing the readers to feel like they were alongside her in the moment.

In reading reviews for this (I like to see if people agree with me!), it seems that there is a pretty popular sentiment that I would also say: If you're a Gilmore Girls fan, this is a must-read, for sure. 



The Big Life by Ann Shoket


In terms of career books, this has been my favorite, by far. Ann Shoket, former EIC of Seventeen magazine, targets millennial women in general. I loved that this book was a combination of advice straight from Shoket herself, but also from multitudes of "boss babes" (as she calls them...repeatedly). She had dinners for different groups of women within multiple industries. She had lawyers, bankers, executives, but on the other end of the spectrum, she had assistants, startup workers, women who had to have three odd jobs to be in the city. There was a range of women she spoke to, both in methods and ideology as well as career paths. 

Shoket took examples from her own life, starting at a law magazine and working her way to her position at Seventeen and everything in between. The book is aptly titled, as Shoket is trying to guide women to find their "big" life. That might not mean complete and total success, but it means happiness and passion and feeling fulfilled like you made it. I don't believe success to be directly linked to that feeling, and many of the woman (and Shoket) agreed.

I took issue with one part of this book, but perhaps it was because it hit home too hard. I'm not in any way trying to bring the woman down in the book (her name was changed, so I don't actually know who it was), but mentioning it in the book seemed like it was glamorizing work over mental health. I'm all for working hard and then working harder on top of already working hard, but this part of the book was a little disturbing. All it was missing was taking Adderall at midnight. 

Three jobs in college on top of a 23 credit per semester course load. Four organization, a band. Working on everything from 8 in the morning until 1 in the morning. Having only four days in a semester that were "free" and didn't have assignments due? 12-packs of Diet Coke daily? Then she goes on to say that she got a 4.0 that semester and it was her best semester ever. I suppose it's not my place, but I just had to wonder...was it worth it? 

On the next page, Shoket says, "And yet, I'm very aware of that feeling that there's so much to do and not enough time to do it. That's real. It's not pleasant to suspect that opportunities are slipping through your fingers. But the more you try to bring balance to your life, like it's some kind of Marie Kondo life-changing tidying-up magic, the more you're in danger of creating anxiety that's only going to magnify the mess, rather than harness it to create opportunities. You have to embrace the mess."

Maybe I'm looking too much into just one page and a half of an entire 300-page book, but I told myself I'd mention it, so I did. I'd like to think that there's a way to achieve your "big life" without that type of schedule, at least to that degree for four years straight.

The rest of the book tackles finding a career that you're passionate about (even if you have to create it), getting respect from bosses who have negative opinions of millennials, why "squads" of career women are important, side-hustles, denouncing the work/life balance, and finding a partner who supports your ambitions.



A New Model by Ashley Graham (with Rebecca Paley)


If you're a stranger to who Ashley Graham is, she's a model, both catalog, runway, and now editorial. You probably saw her on the cover of that problematic Vogue diversity issue (when isn't Vogue problematic though?), but also on Sports Illustrated for the 2016 swimsuit issue. Or perhaps in DNCE's "Toothbrush" music video. All jokes aside, Ashely Graham is a gorgeous human being who is a body activism that promotes body positivity and diversity in the fashion industry.

This book is a memoir that details her childhood, growing up at a catalog model, her move to New York when she was only a teenager, and how she built up her career to where she is today. And of course, she tackles the conversation of plus-sized modeling, body acceptance, offering her support to women of all shapes and sizes.

One of my favorite parts of this book was this passage: 

The thing about a woman's size is that it changes, and I don't mean through diet or age or anything like that. Our shape depends on our perception of ourselves and, unfortunately, on that of a lot of others who feel entitled to "weigh in" with their opinions on other people's bodys.
How many times do we say "Oh, this is a bad day for me" when we look in the mirror, scrutinizing our own appearance before anyone else can. I could be the same weight and build for a year straight and depending on things that happen when I'm out in public, I could think two different things about myself. My perception of myself and my body is frequently based on what other people think, which is just not right.

Despite this passage, this book fell a little flat for me. I would've liked to have seen a little more from her. I read this pretty quickly and was neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with what I read. Ashley Graham is an incredibly inspiring woman and I would read the notes section on her iPhone if I could, so if you're a fan, it's always fun to hear about where your fave started out and how they became the people they are today. 

2 comments

  1. These look like some great reads! I'll definitely have to add them to my list!

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    Replies
    1. I would say The Big Life was my favorite of the three, but if you like Gilmore Girls, I would definitely pick up Lauren Graham's book. :)

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