When Rooting for the Underdog Pays Off

For those of you who don’t know Augusten Burroughs, take a gander at Running With Scissors or Wolf At the Table whenever you are feeling like a giant pile of poop.
His childhood (and adulthood) will remind you of why your life is perfect!

Lust and Wonder

This is a memoir (another!) of his adulthood post sobriety, though the early few pages are still him immersed in a relapse.
This memoir chronicles three very important relationships he had as an adult, including both of his marriages.


If you are familiar with him, you will appreciate his ongoing sense of humor in his writing- about his mental illness, his catastrophizing, his impulsive jewelry buying.
What is new is the love story that this memoir produces.
You’ve always rooted for him given the horrible life he’s had, and this book gives you a chance to celebrate what he’s done with it.

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On top of it, he mentions that one of his therapists looks like Joyce Carol Oates from the 70s. He mentions her numerous times, and gets her style. Love him even more now.

My husband and I were lucky enough to meet him at a recent book signing and hear him read an excerpt from the beginning of the book- where he is visiting a therapist regarding his lack of sexual feelings towards his boyfriend. He’s as hilarious in person as he is on the pages. He’s also WAY MORE philosophical in person, though this excerpt is pretty amazing:

“Diamonds appeared oily upon magnification. Rubies were busy inside. Sapphires sometimes appeared to contain a galaxy, and emeralds could blind you with green. Opals reminded me of a beehive. Sometimes jade looked like sticky rice, and inside some alexandrites, it appeared to be raining. 

Was it a universal truth that the closer you looked at something, the more you would see but the less you would understand what you were looking at?”

Amazing.

 

My Non-Hyperbole about Hyperbole and a Half

Just finished this today and had to share my thoughts immediately.
Wow.
What an amazing book and she is an amazing writer and person.
Prior to reading this, I had heard of the cartoon Hyperbole and a Half, and knew there was a blog associated with it, but I never checked it out. I had only really seen the random memes that showed up on FB.
I had also heard a little scuttle about the author, Allie Brosh, especially when the blog stopped producing new stuff.
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Turns out Allie is a scientist by trade, but a cartoonist and memoirist at heart. She has crippling bouts of depression, and expresses them BEAUTIFULLY here. The stories are hilarious, moving, captivating, and hilarious again. She writes a lot about her mom, her (crazy/stupid) dogs, and her battle with depression. All while being brutally and hilarious and sweary (which of course endears her to me).
 
I am lucky, and have never personally experienced depression like this, but I know people who have (maybe not even this bad, Allie’s is serious business). She even details about how she wanted to end her life, and knew she needed to tell someone that, but had NO idea how to start that conversation without becoming the soother instead of the soothee….I’d never even thought about that- she makes it crystal clear. Of dying she says she never wanted to kill herself, she just wanted her life to end. The CRAZY thing is that Augusten Burroughs almost said the exact same thing word for word last night at the reading we went to!
 
Read it. It’s thick, but super quick since it is a graphic novel. Fills the graphic novel box if you’re doing a book challenge. HIGHLY recommend this. If the depression talk is a trigger, then just read the mom and dog sections. FREAKING. HILARIOUS.

Is Solitudelust a Word? Because Now I Have It.

Just finished this quick book…so fascinating!

 

The Stranger in the Woods

It is the true story of Christopher Knight…a self-imposed isolationist that lived for 27 years in a makeshift camp in the Maine wilderness. In that time, he only spoke to four people, who were hiking in the area….he didn’t even speak to himself out loud. For 27 years (seriously?).
To survive, especially the brutal Maine winters, he expertly broke into camps and cabins near the lake not far from his campsite. For 27 years (seriously) he carefully and stealthily broke into homes to steal clothes, soap, frozen hamburgers and other items to stay alive. Until he finally got caught.


For years he was a local myth. People tired of having their stuff stolen left bags of books for him or paper to write a wishlist that they would fulfill. He never accepted them, further adding to his mystique.
The author spends months with Knight after his arrest, learning about what drove him to disappear into the woods, what entertained him there, and most importantly, what kept him there.

I learned a TON from this book, not just about how Mr. Knight survived in the woods for (OMG) 27 years, but also about the author Michael Finkel’s troubled career and stolen identity (you can’t make THIS story up!). I also learned that there was a weird fad in the 18th century where wealthy people found it fashionable to house a hermit on their grounds, and show him off at dinner parties. I also learned that their is an entire hermit community that you can only join if you can totally prove you are a hermit. Which is very hard to do since using a computer is the antithesis of hermitism (new word, Webster’s!).

Not going to lie, after reading this, I started to wonder how many days I’d last in a self-imposed silent camp. Is that isolationlust? Solitudelust? Sololust? Whatever it is, my husband is ready to try it. And maybe I am too….

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Feminist Nerds Unite!

Hey schoolteachers! Want a book to introduce your students to female scientists? This is the one!

Easy to read, even for those not familiar with science-y language. This book highlights just a few of the amazing women who have worked in STEM fields since there were STEM fields.

Women in Science
Full of stories of women not allowed to attend college, or meetings with their male counterparts, forced to flee Nazi Germany and leave their research, pushed to work in basements, sheds and janitor closets but who preserved anyway. Watch for the researchers who died because of what they were studying. Also watch for the women whose work was stolen by men, and for the man who won a Nobel prize for the work he did with his wife, who then failed to thank or recognize her during his speech (spoiler alert: the marriage didn’t last!).

A few names are recognizable..Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, May-Britt Moser…but most were new to me. Have your laptop ready to go for additional Googling of these amazing women.

A separate section of the book includes more women listed as honorable mentions.
Beautiful artwork accompanies each 2 page bio, which is surrounded by extra juicy factoids. The artwork is whimsical, and makes the book timeless. No photos of out of date hairstyles or clothing to see here.

There are additional sections on what STEM is and what its subjects are. There is also a glossary, a section on the types of equipment these women use in their research (think pipettes, burettes, etc.) and a list of websites to check out for more information.

So many new women here that I was introduced to, and so glad to know of them…many who were never appropriately recognized for their work.

Thanks Blogging for Books for providing this copy in exchange for an honest review.