DNF: Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

I started this audio book in January because it was a popular self-help title, it was available from the library, and it was January. New Year, New You, BLAH BLAH BLAH. I thought, I’ll listen to it right quick, knock out a quick review, start the year off right.

Nope. That did not happen. It is the last day of an extra long February! I’ve had to check this out from the library three times! NOTHING ABOUT THIS HAS BEEN QUICK! (Also, the past two months have felt like an eternity? Like, 2020 has already been its own decade?)

First, I want to say that I’m behind the premise of this. Self care and taking care of yourself are much bigger projects than a good skincare routine: You have to pay your bills and exercise and feed yourself appropriately and sleep. (How do those two sentences go together? Well, I’m about to tell you.) But, whatever road you take to doing those other big and important things is a good road. Skincare, meditation, and weirdly astrology all helped me sort out* depression and a massive generalized anxiety disorder (Thanks, Grad School!) So, Hollis had me at the title. No matter where I am in the world or how bad my day has been I know that at the very least, I can run through the steps of my skincare routine and at least that will be okay. Like, not to brag, but I don’t wear foundation anymore. Like, maybe I color correct, toss a little concealer on under my eyes. I WANTED SO MUCH TO BE ON THIS BOOK’S SIDE.

I couldn’t do it. Hollis’s voice (not her actual voice, as I was listening to the audio book, but her tone and presentation) is off-putting. I can’t tell you how many times I said out loud, “No, I agree with you. I just don’t like you.” Maybe it was that I kept wanting her to put the stuff she was discussing into a bigger frame and talk about the larger cultural processes that might have you feeling like the world is out to get you and that never happened? I don’t know. This book just wasn’t for me.

Normally, even if things aren’t great, I like to stick it out and finish it. Take one for the team, if you will, so I can review the whole thing. But, it has been two months and I haven’t been reading other things because when I sit down to read (or pick up my phone to listen) I feel like I can’t listen to anything else because I have to finish this. But, I haven’t wanted to finish this, so instead of listening to this, or something else, I’ve gone down some real weird YouTube rabbit holes (and some real political podcast rabbit holes). So, I’m done. Over and out. I took How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson to the caucus last week (as an ebook. I wasn’t trying to start a fight…about books. I am always happy to start a fight about politics.) and I’m already way more into that that I was into the Hollis.

So, if you want someone to tell you to wash your face, I guess you could try this book I couldn’t finish? Or, you could just hit me up on Insta, Twitter, or in the comments. I’ll very happily talk skincare with you whenever.

*More or less. Sorting out’s an ongoing, play-the-whole-90-minutes-plus-stoppage-time process.

Kate’s Top 5 of 2019

You’ll notice I am posting half the books Beth posted. She reads more than I do. She also reviews more than I do because she’s an objectively better blogger. In my defense, this year I did move to the other side of the US and start a new job. But, we all know that even without that, Beth still would have read more and reviewed more.

Thus ends the confessional/self-flagellation portion of this Top 5.

This year really feels like five years sandwiched together. So, when I went to look to see what I’d read this year, I was surprised that the books from earlier this year were read this year. Insanity. But, three of them still made the Top Five!

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller. Oh, man, this book. I loved it so much. I loved Circe’s voice, I loved her as a character, I loved the soft tone of the novel. The writing was so good. Ugh, more tales like this, please.
  2. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde. I read this this year. I can’t believe that was this year. I liked this bit of speculative fiction, even if I have some reservations about some of the biology. What if humans hibernated? Well, Jasper Fforde has a possible answer. This is a fun book.
  3. Firebug by Lish McBride. I ripped through this selection for my Pop Culture Homework Assignment. Absolutely shredded it. It is the tale of a woman that can start fires. She works for a vampire! What could go wrong? Many, many things and I loved the story woven around them.
  4. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. This book about sadness and loss and relationships and home and life was… *chef’s kiss*. So good! And, it’s not very long, so get out there and read it, people! I suspect that there will be more reading of Banana Yoshimoto books in my future.
  5. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. Another book I read in the first half of the year. I also tore through this one. The characters were great, the central conflict was interesting and compelling. The writing was good. I’m interested in what Rogerson does next.

Wow, folks, that’s it. That’s 2019. I’m a little flabbergasted this year is over!

Are you Looking for a Challenge?

Well, we have them! Reading challenges for the young and old! Reading challenges to get you out of your comfort zone! Reading challenges to feel challenged!

  1. Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Challenge: This is a challenge with three sub-challenges to get you reading about different subjects, in different genres, and in different kinds of media. You could even cheat a little and count books for multiples in this challenge
  2. Diverse Authors, Diverse Lives Challenge: This challenge focuses on authors. Is it time for you to read new people? Well, this challenge might help!
  3. Diverse Narrators, Diverse Lives Challenge: This challenge focuses on the characters in your stories. Find yourself only reading about dukes or young men on quests? Well, we challenge you to try something new!

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens

I finished this book in January’s 24 in 48. And, it was so good. Why am I just reviewing it now? So I can link to it in my Top 5.

This novel is the story of a woman painter, Isobel, who is patronized by fairies. She paints portraits and is always very careful about what she does and what she asks for as payment. That is, until she meets Rook. Then, as it happens in fantasy novels, they get a little close, they get a little familiar, the portrait makes Rook’s people question his authority and then! Bam! Action! Conflict! Excitement!

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked Isobel as a character so much. I liked Isobel and Rook’s relationship. I liked the outside characters enforcing the bs that drove the central conflict. This was a really fun book and I look forward to reading more from Margaret Rogerson.

Quick Review: Welcome to Nightvale

Welcome to Nightvale! A friend made a reference to this and I did’t get it and she was very surprised that I had never listened to the podcast…well, now I’ve listened to this first book. And, it was fun! And, weird. Sooo weird. But, I’m into it. This was a little mystery, I think that’s how you would describe it, set in a town called Nightvale but might be Fox Mulder’s wet dream of a town. Time is weird, people disappear, not everyone seems to age, you have to be careful of lawn flamingos. This was a fun little book. I recommend it, if you also like weird books.

Review: The Plot to Betray America by Malcolm Nance

Remember, 3,000 years ago, when Larry Wilmore told Milo Yiannopoulos to fuck off? Well, Malcolm Nance was also on that episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Crazy, right?

Anyway, this book turned out to be a really timely read as it is about Russia, the 2016 US elections, hacking, foreign interference in American politics, and the first family. You know, the people getting patents in China while also working in the White House and shooting endangered sheep. I’m glad I read it because it gave a lot of detailed background on things (like the FBI investigation Crossfire Hurricane) that have been popping up in the news lately. So, if you’re looking to go into Christmas armed to do battle against your conspiracy-theory-believing Uncle (understanding, of course, that a lot of cognitive research notes that “just presenting people facts” is not a particularly effective way to change people’s minds. I know, humans! Why are we like this?!), then this is the book for you. If you’d like a very clearly laid out description of Russia and their involvement in the 2016 elections, I also recommend this. If you’re teetering on the edge of “fuck it” or “burn it all to the ground”, then give this one a pass.