This novel is pretty obscene! The general plot is that an ass-related shaving accident lands our 18 year-old female protagonist in the hospital and follows both her memories leading up to the present– and intermingles them with her present behavior in the hospital.
My initial reaction is that the book was written wholly to shock– there’s something shocking, super-sexual, cringe-worthy or “dirty” (both the literal and figurative meanings) on pretty much every page (literally). You know that feeling you get from watching the “Two Girls, One Cup” or “Tub Girl” videos online, right? (e.g. one thing that our protagonist allegedly likes to do is pull out a tampon, wipe it on the ground, and then pop it back into her vagina). Every page is like that. It felt a little tiresome– almost as if the author was trying too hard.
But then I thought back to the description that I originally read that lead me to acquire this book (where is it, I don’t know). It was all about chucking traditional notions of feminine behavior and unreasonable expectations of feminine chastity and cleanliness and reclaiming sexuality and bodies– and that helped me think of it more as an artistic or political statement. So now I’m thinking that the book might be a little genius even if it was totally intense to read?
Get a copy here.
This book is pretty popular right now– I’ve seen a review of it in almost every magazine that I’ve opened up. Teenage Johanna Morrigan is from a family that is comically bad to epic proportions. After nerdily appearing on TV she makes herself over into a gothy music reviewer named “Dolly Wilde” and gets herself a job at the cool regional rock magazine (it’s the 1990’s so there are still cool regional rock magazines).
It’s quite an entertaining and well-written read, lots of good insight if you’re a fan of– or familiar with the real-live bands that the (possibly semi-autobiographical) character interacts with.
This is one of those cases where I learned that the author was really famous after reading the book. I just looked at Amazon– and goodness, she’s written a ton. I guess she’s on TV too?
I’ve been working with teen boys, and to my immense librarian pleasure, they actually read!
They’re super into urban fiction/ street lit, and general stories about people in intense situations with tough lives who either figure it out or succumb. One of the most commercially successful authors in the street lit genre is Zane, so I decided to check out one of her most popular titles, Addicted.
It’s easy to see why this book is popular. The African American female protagonist is attractive and financially successful from her own company, the writing is often compelling, the subject matter is a little edgy, and there’s lots of hot sex (and aside from 50 Shades, there’s more detail than your average mainstream novel). I read the book voraciously and have no regrets about the time spent. I guess I could have been watching My Drunk Kitchen (which I am presently a little bit obsessed with), but what I’m saying is that this was a fine way to pass the time.
I do, however, take issue with a major part of the book: the causes of the character’s addiction (we’re talking about a sex addiction, btw). I’ll skip over the problematic fact that the protagonist’s set of sexual feelings and actions was labeled an addiction by her therapist, and talk about how this so-called addiction (which seemed more like a sex-negative excuse for some bad behaviors) was allegedly caused by some bad events from her childhood, and how her husband’s sex problem was also caused by his birth mother’s instability and profession. Oh, and then how the end of the book basically degrades into a crude bloodbath in attempt to simultaneously tie up loose ends, solidify the protagonist’s love for her husband, and bring justice to some bad guys.
But I can see why the teens like it. I just wish that each copy of the book could be distributed with a fact sheet. Or that the protagonist’s sexy romp didn’t have to be blunted by the author’s morals.
I totally would have loved this book as a 15 year-old. At my library it’s cataloged as an adult title, and I don’t think that fits. It’s about Kara– our protagonist– and her coming-of-agey teenage times dealing with sex, drugs, music, divorce, independence, and more. Ultimately things go bad at home, she meets some new kids, gets into some bad relationships, falls into using heroin, and OD’s. The bulk of the book is her looking back on these happenings as a now-sober youngish adult. The story itself is pretty captivating, and those of us who grew up in the 1990’s will appreciate the alternative pop culture nostalgia.
For me, it got a little too Go Ask Alice-y near the end, which was kind of a drag. But hey, it’s only one story.
I think it would do really well as a series of interconnected artistic short films.
Find a copy here.
Amazon’s recommendation robots were pretty sure that I’d like this one. I had to order it all the way from Washington via InterLibraryLoan, and it wasn’t a loss (of time). The book itself is a combination of fictiony memoir and screen shoots of texts and/or instant messages. The author/narrator is 21-ish at the time of publication, and like many people, is sexual, complicated, flawed, and curious.
I guess Calloway is popular online, and I’m not really going to try to hunt down her blogs or whatever, but I really appreciate the book’s frankness. There are a buttload of sex scenes, and they are equally hot and awkward, but told in what feels like a really level voice. The moments of sadness/uncertainty/embarrassment are inserted so seamlessly that at first you’re not sure if she’s aware of them or not. The writing nicely captures how fucked up we humans are.
Find a copy here
Totally worth it!
So Lo’s a teenage girl who skates with the dudes in some NorCal suburb in the 90’s.
Everything around her is pretty boring and her family life kinda sucks, and in the midst of it all a crazy reciprocated crush starts happening with a girl from school. They become total BFF’s, but in the meantime something totally nuts happens in the family realm, some other things happen, and Lo ends up going on a wild runaway adventure and tons of interesting stuff happens.
This book is often poetic, and always a little magical. Argo’s capture of the onset of first crushes and queer identity and discovery of identity-shaping things is ridiculously spot-on. She nails how it works in your (ok, my) head. There’s drugs, action, sex, music, ADVENTURE, and a solid story line that keeps you reading until the last page (apparently there’s a sequel in the works, and this is a good thing). Though under 300 pages, the story is dense and you’ll definitely probably take a couple of days to read it.
This book is super enjoyable and well written. BUY a copy here cuz it’s self published and you’ll probably want it for your bookshelf anyway.
On a softer note than the one from the other day, I have a confession to make.
So we librarians have all these really great readers advisory tools that our employers pay money for. Lots of money. They come in the form of $15-an-issue periodicals, hard-bound books, electronic databases, our big giant brainzzz– but my favorite is still the section of the amazon.com product page that is called “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.” Here are two that were recommended to me in that way:
Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee by Megan Boyle
This book felt a little bit like watching a tv show like the dog whisperer in a hotel room in a new city alone late at night. It’s a steady something, but I really wish that time would speed up and I could be doing something else. That’s not necessarily a 100% negative thing; I kept thinking that I would’ve been really into this book at maybe age 19. I have a habit of not googling writers or literary references until I’m done (see my review of I Love Dick)– turns out Megan Boyle has an internet presence and this book kinda falls into step with it. Get a library copy or a support-the-author money copy.
Whores on the Hill by Colleen Currran
This is one of those books that an alternative kid could read as a teenager and get sartorially and emotionally inspired by. Kind of like how all of us “older” millennials did by The Craft and Tori Amos and maybe the Weetzie Bat books. It’s a series of vignettes about a group of shamelessly sexual and kinda gothy 1980’s teenage friends. Don’t get me wrong, there are some absolutely beautiful sentiments and sentences in this book (these alone make it worth the couple hours’ read), but I thought it really got deflated by adding in the disaster at the end. Not every book needs a moral edge. Find a copy here!
So I got in that bike accident a couple of weeks ago, and found myself medicated, in an arm sling, and unable to do much at all! Thank goodness for library e-books, an open mind, and morbid curiosity! Well, we don’t have TV, so it was something to do… As a librarian, I also have the excuse that it’s important for me to know what the public is reading (or what they were reading months ago when it was still popular). As a further justification, Library Journal somewhat recently thinks it’s really important, so there’s a strong chance that public libraries will catch up one day– and I’ve gotta be ready for that day!
The e-book platform that I use doesn’t keep the original page numbers, so I have only just learned that these three volumes together add up to a whopping one thousand, six hundred and seventy pages. It took about a week to read them. Sheesh.
So here’s the thing. I was laughing as I downloaded the first one. I was giggling between sentences as I read the first couple of pages aloud. There was no way that I was going to read more than a chapter or two– I just wanted to see for myself how bad it was! A couple of chapters later, I wasn’t laughing any more (the writing got better and the story developed). Nor was I reading aloud. Because the thing is, 50 Shades of Grey is not a bad book. The writing is fine, the pacing is decent, and the storyline isn’t too predictable. So I finished the first one. And then downloaded and finished the second one. And then I (put on hold and then) downloaded and finished the third one.
If you’ve somehow never heard of this series, take a second and give it a google (probably not at your job, ok?). So the books have heaps and heaps of erotica in them (and it’s not poorly written), nestled amongst a rather fantastical storyline about a sweet young thing whose world gets really big really fast. There’s sex and car chases and money and tons of firsts and relationship dynamics and more…
But before you let yourself think that I had a serious unconditional love affair with this series, know that I’ve got some issues with it. Lots of them are with the logic/realistic-ness of certain elements:
1. Ana, our heroine, begins the book as an attractive 21 year-old (non-religious) virgin who has never been drunk. for reals.
2. Christian Grey is a sadistic dom because his childhood was monumentally fucked up
3. Grey’s many talents and achievements by the supposed age of 27
4. Ana’s ability to somehow get a (decent and academically relevant) job (in Seattle) straight out of college
5. All the “inner goddess” business (though this would translate nicely into a tv series– like in the same way that Lizzie McGuire often had those little cartoon asides to show how Lizzie was feeling)
6. I don’t know a ton about BDSM, but I have a feeling that some people who are into it are gonna take issue with certain scenes
There are some more, but I’ve momentarily forgotten them. The books get my major props for their straight-talk about sex:
1. This might be the first time that “butt plug” has found its way into a bestseller. I bet they’re selling better than ever before in the sex toy stores.
2. Though their relationship is kind of fucked up, there are some good examples of sexual limit-setting, communication, and negotiation that I’d never previously seen in mainstream media. Maybe it will influence more people (women, specifically) to speak up for themselves in bed.
So there we go. My semi-review, in a somewhat anonymous setting. By the way, I found myself thankful for having access to the e-book versions of these. Sharing a paper version just seems, well, kind of icky (unless you’re into that).
Can we talk about all of the little pockets of genius in this book?!
So Baby’s around 11/12/13, and lives with her dad who’s in his mid-20’s and a heroin user.
Life kind of nuts and he’s kind of erratic, but in the beginning they’ve got this really solid bind, the two of them against the world.
Eventually, Baby’s world gets bigger, and grows to include things like foster care, juvenile detention, a first boyfriend, sex, a pimp, drugs…
This is one of the better books I’ve read this year. Baby, as a narrator, has a really honest/unexpected/pure/unique/calm point of view and tone. And seriously, there are such deep bits of genius writing that have been expertly slipped into unexpected locations in this book. If it wasn’t a library book I would have been underlining them. They’re too good to give away here. read the book.
Find a library copy here.