Review: Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves

Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves
Hi, Anxiety: Life with a Bad Case of Nerves by Kat Kinsman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am impressed with the life Kat Kinsman has built herself in spite of her anxiety; this comes not from a place of patronizing or condescension, but from the heart of a person who has likewise lived her life in a state similar to Kat’s, though admittedly on the milder end of the spectrum (at least it has been for the last seventeen or so years).

The book is an interesting look at how our genetics, our experiences, and our choices in life shape who we are, as well as how our genetics and our experiences shape our choices.

Her “irrational fears” sections sprinkled throughout hit uncomfortably close to home (to the point of tearing up in several instances), and her descriptions of her fear surrounding her professional and creative life in particular cut me. If you are an anxious person or know someone living with anxiety, this book is a sympathetic, informative (through life experiences and anecdotes), and often funny telling of one woman’s experience. No one person can be emblematic of Anxiety as a whole, but this books seems to have resonated with a lot of us.

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Review: In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown

In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown
In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I honestly had no idea how prolific Margaret Wise Brown was/is in the children’s market; I had a 2 year old, and I picked up this book mainly because I’m often lamenting about the frequency with which I’d been forced to read “Goodnight, Moon,” and wondering a little about the person behind the poem that (at this point) I can now recite from memory.

Her life differed quite a bit from what I had imagined it to be; she was apparently quite privileged, and seemed to move in the same circles as some pretty wealthy/important/high class individuals, which is not what I would have expected of the author of books for pre-schoolers. I appreciated her eccentricities and her creativity, and even her dismay at her seeming inability to write for “grown-ups” – I’m a creative writer who would love to write children’s literature, but everything I write takes a turn for the inappropriately dark (so, same problem in the other direction – I feel you, Margaret).

I’m not sure I loved the narrative style of the book; as pure prose, there aren’t really any interjections of Margaret’s own voice or really, anyone else’s besides the author.

Also, I would love to make it more widely known that Margaret was bisexual. We could always use more representation in all walks of life/forms of media.

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Review: Difficult Women

Difficult Women
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The quality of writing in this book was everything I had been told it would be and more. It’s been a long time since I’ve read short fiction as deftly and honestly written.

I have mixed feelings regarding the actual content; this is not an uplifting or empowering book, at least not in the more mainstream, “grrl power!” sense, but it gives us realized female protagonists with complex desires and backstories; women navigating seemingly impossible situations; women just trying to get by; women trying to reclaim their lives.

It was a heavier collection than I was anticipating, and bleaker than I had been told, but (as I said) brilliantly conceived and written.

As a side note, “Breaking All the Way Down” was an especially difficult story for me to get through, and necessitated several days rest before I could even finish the story. It was incredibly upsetting, which is by no means a criticism of the story – if anything, it’s a testament to the vividness and rawness of the writing – but simply a reader’s note.

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Review: Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded
Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not what I expected. Hannah’s characteristic humor and optimism shines through, even when talking about some incredibly heavy topic, including loss of faith, coming to terms with sexuality, mental illness, and self-harm. I appreciate her honesty in talking about her life and her experiences – I imagine there are numerous of her followers going through their own struggles made to feel less alone and less ashamed of their experiences, as well as more hopeful about their own futures.

Hannah could easily have written a fluff piece and published it, and her followers (including myself, no judgement) would have happily read it. I’m so grateful that she did something more than that, and I’m humbled that she’s opted to share so much of herself with us.

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