Book Review: We Were Young by Fortesa Latifi

26866079Title: We Were Young

Author: Fortesa Latifi

Genre: Poetry, Nonfiction

Date Published: September of 2015

Publisher: Where Are You Press

Synopsis (through Goodreads):

This is the second book by Fortesa Latifi.

In her sophomore collection of poetry, Fortesa revisits themes from past writings with a new maturity. We Were Young explores the heartbreaks, hangovers, and hang ups associated with growing up.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2 of 5)

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I enjoy poetry books in most cases. I love the rawness, the simplicity of how a writer can just pour out his/her heart out on it. It seems like a simple channel of creativity but at the same time a complex one, as well. I feel like poems is such a very close thing to the heart. That’s why I felt a little down upon reading We Were Young. I wanted to like it but half the time I was just reading it–not feeling the words. I couldn’t find any connection with what is in the written word…and I felt like I was doing something wrong or perhaps I might have been distracted? I don’t understand how half the time I was just there, not really understanding what’s happening. I’m not sure if this was a fault of mine upon reading, I mean, I might not have been the general demographic that this work has been going for?

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I Feel Bad: All Day. Every Day. About Everything. by Orli Auslander

31247646Title: I Feel Bad: All Day. Every Day. About Everything.

Author: Orli Auslander

Series: None

Genre: Humor, Nonfiction

Number of Pages (Hardcover): 160

(Expected) Date of Publishing: April 4th of 2017

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Roz Chast meets Allie Brosh in this hilarious, unfiltered, and beautifully illustrated look at the infinite number of reasons the author experiences guilt, shame, regret and self-reproach in her daily life, and that maybe—just maybe—some of us can relate to as well.

In a series of 100 illustrations with accompanying text, Orli Auslander has captured a mood and emotional ambivalence that will be all too familiar for readers: trying to be the best wife, mother, and friend she can be, while simultaneously feeling shitty about virtually everything she does. Confronting her daily experience with dark humor and brilliant and brutal honesty, she shows us how being an overindulgent mother makes her feel as terrible as the times when she can’t stand the sight of her kids; how saying yes to the wrong experiences and no to the right requests is equally bad; how her Jewish heritage complicates her relationships with her overly religious family and irreligious children; and how having a vagina is the ultimate inescapable struggle. With a distinctive, textured ink drawing style which brings to mind a female Robert Crumb and a neurotic Edward Gorey, I Feel Bad is a book that readers will buy for themselves and for a best friend, and where every reader will find the precise moment that Auslander voiced their own deepest anxiety in her poignant and hilarious illustrations.

Rate: 2 of 5

I want to say thank you to the publisher, Blue Rider Press, for giving me the chance to read an advanced reader copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I Feel Bad: All Day. Every Day. About Everything. has a brilliant premise. It’s some part book and some part journal. Well, I suppose it was a journal before since the author takes all the ideas for this book from all the things that make her feel bad. We all have things that make us feel bad and the idea of this book is really interesting with it housing things that most people feel, or in other words, something that is relatable. 

This book caught my attention, undeniably, because of the cover. The cover sparked my interest in it because a.) it’s titled I Feel Bad, b.) a woman standing in front of a mirror, c.) in her underwear, d.) with frizzy hair and e.) there’s a weighing scale somewhere in there. Oh oh! PLUS, it’s illustrated. So, I thought this was a body image type of book but when I read the synopsis online, it made me feel more excited about it because knowing the things that make people feel secretly bad is something I imagine I would enjoy. It’s sorta like Deep Dark Fears (and really I just love that webcomics). Imagine my glee when I got approved for my request of the book. But alas, my joy is short-lived.

I think the title of the book aptly summarizes my thoughts on it. I wanted to like it. It’s a confession-type of thing. It’s an illustrated one. I love those kinds of things. But after reading this, I just can’t shake the feeling that this is too pessimistic for my taste. I don’t mind a dose of reality and rawness in a book, and, yes, I know this is nonfiction and, sure, this might actually be something of a personal preference of the author since this is her personal accounts of events that make her feel bad, but I just can’t let go of the impression that this was just a little all too bleak. That’s really the reason why I gave this a 2-star rating.

Now, I do acknowledge the fact that this is not a bad book, per se. I mean, in the general sense of books, this is not that bad. But, personally, the ring of the entries in the book just made me feel a little uncomfortable that when I reached the first half I felt like it was already dragging–as if there isn’t a gleam of gratefulness in the tone of writing. And I don’t know how to feel about that since I don’t really want to judge a person’s outlook in life since we all have our situations, etc. I reiterate that this book is a series of things that make the author feel bad. And seriously, who am I to say that LOL that shouldn’t make you feel bad! or Seriously, you think of these things?!. Nope, I don’t think I’ll do that anytime soon.

While the theory of this book was something that I would’ve enjoyed if it was attacked through something that I would call a much milder form. I liked the illustrations and the sense of personal sharing that the air of this book has but I guess, again, it just was too pessimistic for my taste.

Do I recommend it? To people who likes a dose of raw sentiments of life (and also cute illustrations!), yes. But for people whose cup of tea is not really that sort, well yeah, no
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*Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads

Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah’s Scribbles, #2) by Sarah Andersen


30754980Title: Big Mushy Happy Lump

Author: Sarah Andersen

Genre: Comics, Humor, Nonfiction

Series: Sarah’s Scribblesno. 2

Number of Pages (Paperback): 128

(Expected) Date of Publishing: March 7th of 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Swimsuit season is coming up! Better get beach-body ready! Work on those abs! Lift those butts!

…Um, or how about never mind to all that and just be a lump. Big Mushy Happy Lump!

Sarah Andersen’s hugely popular, world-famous Sarah’s Scribbles comics are for those of us who boast bookstore-ready bodies and Netflix-ready hair, who are always down for all-night reading-in-bed parties and extremely exclusive after-hour one-person music festivals.

In addition to the most recent Sarah’s Scribbles fan favorites and dozens of all-new comics, this volume contains illustrated personal essays on Sarah’s real-life experiences with anxiety, career, relationships and other adulthood challenges that will remind readers of Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. The same uniquely frank, real, yet humorous and uplifting tone that makes Sarah’s Scribbles so relatable blooms beautifully in this new longer form.

Rate: 4 of 5

Get a copy: Book Depository (Paperback) | Wordery (Paperback)

I am one of the thousands of Andersen’s fans with her webcomics, Sarah’s Scribbles. I often found it realistic, relatable and really funny. It’s also one of the first to get me to read more webcomics.

The first book of her comics compilations left me crying of laughter so by all means, I’m gonna tell you that when I had this advanced reader copy on my dashboard I was beyond happy. I was so ecstatic to pick it up and it didn’t fail since it is very funny still! Perhaps what I liked more about this when compared to her first one is the fact that this has several essays sprinkled all over it so that it’s not just a compilation of her art. I did thoroughly enjoy this and I literally finished this in less than an hour.

It’s a super, super light-hearted read but I’m quite pleased that she tackled something deeper in here. I found it endearing that she’s not all humor in this one rather she talked about depression, anxiety, overthinking, etc. in a new light. Once again, it’s nothing but starkly remarkably something you relate with on a spiritual level (lol not really but still.) To find yourself in between pages of a book is very comforting and there are very few comic books (that I have read, that is) that discusses these subjects. I liked that she gets to open up herself to her readers and also let us not forget her cartoons! It’s so beautiful…Kinda makes me wish I could draw like that. I tried…it’s just not for me hahahaha.

This was certainly a nice break from reading the intense and action-packed Queen of Shadows and this made me take ahold of my surroundings once again. Overall, this is a very light-hearted comic book compilation which has certainly deviated from the general format of the first book.

Do I recommend it? Yep.
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*Thanks for the advanced reader copy made accessible to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

**Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads.

The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett

1389703Title: The Lady in the Van

Author: Alan Bennett

Genre: Nonfiction, Humor

Number of Pages (Paperback): 96 pages

Date Published: March 18th of 1999 (first published on January 1st of 1999)

Publisher: Profile Books

Synopsis (via GoodReads page here):

‘Life imitates art in The Lady in the Van, the story of the itinerant Miss Shepherd, who lived in a van in Alan Bennett’s driveway from the early 1970s until her death in 1989. It is doubtful that Bennett could have made up the eccentric Miss Shepherd if he tried, but his poignant, funny but unsentimental account of their strange relationship is akin to his best fictional screen writing.

Bennett concedes that “One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation”, but as the plastic bags build up, the years pass by and Miss Shepherd moves into Bennett’s driveway, a relationship is established which defines a certain moment in late 20th-century London life which has probably gone forever. The dissenting, liberal, middle-class world of Bennett and his peers comes into hilarious but also telling collision with the world of Miss Shepherd: “there was a gap between our social position and our social obligations. It was in this gap that Miss Shepherd (in her van) was able to live”.

Bennett recounts Miss Shepherd’s bizarre escapades in his inimitable style, from her letter to the Argentinean Embassy at the height of the Falklands War, to her attempts to stand for Parliament and wangle an electric wheelchair out of the Social Services. Beautifully observed, The Lady in the Van is as notable for Bennett’s attempts to uncover the enigmatic history of Miss Shepherd, as it is for its amusing account of her eccentric escapades. —Jerry Brotton’

Rate: 4 of 5

*Get a copy from The Book Depository*

Ahh. The price of not reading the synopsis of a book before reading it altogether has got me strapped down again…To start it off, I didn’t know that this was nonfiction. Which really served me well because if I did, I wouldn’t have picked this up. I thought the cover was really artsy and all and so I did read it. Alas, it is so quick a read. I mean, it is so thin compared to other books. I like reading these kinds of books–straight to the point and no fuss.

BUT, I am weirdly broken about the ending. I know, it’s inevitable that soon Ms. Shepherd will (SPOILER!) die because of old age but I’m so broken about it. Oh my heart. Whilst reading the book, it made me feel fond of the quirky Ms. Shepherd. Her life was like on the dangerous side, but not quite. I don’t know how but it’s like that.

As much as I said that me not knowing that this is nonfiction did me good, I have to say, too, that I am partly sorry that I didn’t see this in a new light. If I knew that this happened in true life, I would have laughed harder on Ms. S’s weird but quirky lines, her weird routines in life, and IDK the fact that she lives in a van? She’s so stubborn and cute and enthusiastic and confident and so sure of herself and so unusual. I LOVE HER.

Lastly, I am excited to watch the movie because it really intrigues me as to how this would come off in the screen. The story seems something that you won’t see everyday, so that strikes my fancy! I’m also all the more excited because Professor Minerva McGonagall will be the lady in the van! How awesome is that?!

I did enjoy reading this one albeit so short. I especially liked the diary log form. (I’ve said that for perhaps a thousand times already–I love diary-like books!!!!)

I didn’t know I can read nonfiction again. Hmmm. Is it time for me to pick up nonfiction books again? It seems as if I had been reading some books out of my normal stuff. I’m glad I have a weird mix of books that I read. Anyway…

Do I recommend it? YES. Please, please, please read it.



*Cover image and Synopsis via GoodReads; Gif via Giphy.