Just leave a comment on the Hello Giggles post and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Wentworth Hall and a $50 Sephora gift card! You can buy so much fancy mascara with that. I’ve been into a Sephora exactly once in my life and it was a magical experience. I kind of wish I could win this gift card, but I can’t, so take advantage of this opportunity and enter to win!
Friday night, H. and I watched Jane Eyre.
Obviously, as a woman with a Creative Writing degree, I enjoy Jane Eyre. That’s, like, a requirement for graduating. I’ve only read it once, in high school, but I have mostly good memories (even though at first I hated it. Too much boarding school; I stand by my opinion). The trailer looks BANANAS, right? Using the Suspiria theme is kind of an emotional shortcut, but it really does get across the weirdness of Jane Eyre.
Before we watched it, I tried to explain to H. that Jane Eyre is a weird book/film. It seems like it’s going to be a semi-normal love story if you don’t know much about it, but it is actually super strange! I also warned him that he would not be able to suspect the weirdest surprise.
H: “Is she really a man?”
ME: “LISTEN, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO GUESS, OKAY?”
When the surprise twist was revealed, he actually yelled “Whaaaaat?” at the screen, so I guess I was right.
Here’s the thing about this adaptation: It is very, very beautiful. There are so many lovely shots, and everything’s lit by candle/fire light, and it’s all just moody and dark. You know who else is moody and dark? Mr. Rochester, amirite, ladies? Mr. Rochester is basically a huge babe (duh) and Michael Fassbender is in FINE FORM here. He’s angry a lot, he shoots some stuff, and oh man. I feel like I can’t mention Michael Fassbender without mentioning that there were assault charges against him but the charges were dropped. Do with that information what you will.
I feel like the film assumes you already have a basic knowledge of Jane Eyre, because it skimps out on kind of a lot, story-wise. I mean, there is hardly any boarding school, which is fine by me. But the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester isn’t developed much at all. This was no problem for me, since I’m heavily invested in their relationship/problems already, but I think it might seem a little sudden for someone who didn’t know the backstory. H. agreed.
Conclusion: Do you like Jane Eyre? Do you like slow movies? Do you like weird, high-waisted pants on men? Do you enjoy candlelight? Then this is the movie for you. If you get bored easily and you’ve never read Jane Eyre, maybe not. Also, go read Jane Eyre. What is wrong with you?!
I almost forgot about this week’s Hello Giggles post…Bloomability by Sharon Creech!
It was so awesome to see all the Sharon Creech fans on HG. A girl on Twitter even showed her Bloomability tattoo! That’s some serious dedication. Oh, and Sharon Creech herself tweeted that she liked the article. You know, no bigs. I wish I could call 12-year-old me and explain this to her. I would’ve had to get ahold of myself on my sweet Clueless headset phone.
There were buttons you could press that would say, “I’m outtie!” “What-ever!” or, my fave, “SOMEone is LIStening.” Please tell me someone else had one of these.
Honestly, I’m getting a little tired of the term “pleasantly plump.” I mean, talk about a backhanded compliment. How about they just stop at “pleasant,” as in “Bess Marvin is pleasant.” I’ll take that.
Do I like some ice cream now and then? Sure. But do I think that makes me worthy of fat-shaming? No way. I’m tired of George snarking at me everytime I take seconds. Bitch, please. I swear to God, if we weren’t cousins I’d never hang out with her.
I made the mistake of looking at my Wikipedia page today. Never again. “Bess often is seen involved in the same activities as Nancy, at a lower skill level, including dancing, art, music, acting, and stunt horseback riding.” Excuse me? At a lower skill level? Has it ever occurred to anyone that I’m just letting Nancy win at all these things becuase she’s got crazy-low self-esteem that she channels into being perfect and solving stupid mysteries?
Speaking of which, everyone acts like I’m such a huge baby. You know why I’m scared? Because Nancy’s “mysteries” are dangerous. Instead of putting myself in harm’s way just so that Ms. Titian Hair can get her rocks off, I’d rather be shopping, or flirting, or (yes, George) eating. Frankly, I don’t care to follow perfect Nancy and her perfect boyfriend and her perfect everything into another cave, or go traipsing through the woods, or check out an old clock. I could not give less of a shit about a mystery surrounding some old clock. The only mystery is why you care so much, Nancy.
Anyway, I have to go now. George needs to buy some new flannel shirts and she wants me to drive her to the mall. Whatever.
Today I’m writing about The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by the wonderful (understatement) Sherman Alexie. This book is really something special! I know I say that about every book in the column, but I really do mean it. Things get serious for awhile, and then I relay a zinger from my mom. When I told her about this last week, she said, “I don’t remember saying that…but you have to admit, that was a pretty good one.” Then she went back to washing dishes.
Yesterday The Hairpin posted an article called What Books Make You Cringe to Remember? Naturally, this made me think about high school.
I had friends in high school. Okay? Plenty of friends! But here’s the thing: they all had boyfriends or girlfriends. I, um, didn’t exactly have any boyfriends until I went to college (where, bee tee dubs, I met my first boyfriend the first weekend I was there. Suck it. Why am I trying to defend myself to you? Ugh). So I had a ton of free time to spend by myself. This seemed like the ultimate curse at the time, and I was so miserable over it, but it actually served a great purpose. I read so many books! I didn’t read any specific genres or time periods or authors; I just read everything. If I’d realized that I’d never again have an attention span like that, I might have read more classics.
Maybe I should be ashamed of some of the books I was super into, but I’m not. There’s this Smiths lyric (yeah, I’m going there. This is a post about my high school experience, okay?) that I think about a lot: “Don’t forget the songs that made you smile/and the songs that made you cry.” Sub in “books” for “songs” and you’ll understand my feelings. It seems disingenuous to pretend I’m above all the things that used to get me so worked up. Although I’m not ashamed of the books themselves, my reasons for loving them so much are maybe a little embarrassing. Here goes:
–Ayn Rand. I’ve identified as a social liberal since I was 14, so why did I love books by a woman who didn’t believe in altruism? On paper she really seemed to make sense! I regarded Ayn Rand as a personal hero, all the way up until my freshman year of college when I started to realize that everything she was saying made no practical sense because, like, what about disabled people? What are they supposed to do, Ayn Rand? Answer me that.
–The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This book was so important to me. Something to remember is that I was very lonely, I took myself very seriously, and I didn’t know anyone who liked the same things (books, movies, music) I liked. I spent a lot of time re-watching my favorite movies in my parents’ basement, under the watchful eyes of the Full House cast (my dad has a framed picture hanging up. It makes more sense if you know him). I bought a CD every week with my babysitting money and then listened to it, over and over again, while laying on my bed. I had no idea about alternative culture because the internet barely existed. I literally picked this book up off the Barnes and Noble shelf knowing nothing about it, and then assumed it had been written for me specifically. This is a little embarrassing now because this book is earnest. Like, “Goes To Camp” levels of earnest. But I was totally feeling it at the time. Because of this, I will never reread it.
–Dave Eggers. Let’s get one thing clear: I still love Dave Eggers. I still think he is one of the greatest living authors we have in this country. And his books are one of my biggest reasons I decided to major in creative writing. He hit me at a formative time in my life and he showed me how expressive, emotional, and alive writing could be. But man, oh man, did I abuse his books. I wrote copious amounts of notes in them. Embarrassing amounts of notes. Then I loaned these books out to the boys I knew, as if this would make them like me. Do you know when a high school boy has been attracted to a girl because of her taste in books? Never. That’s when. The boys I knew all liked girls who were Punkish Christian Pixies and played Smashing Pumpkins songs on their guitars, while I was neither punkish nor religious nor small. All the Dave Eggers in the world couldn’t change that.
–Jane Eyre. Once again, this is not the book’s fault. This is the fault of the stupid notes I took…notes that came back to haunt me years later, when Alex used my copy in his senior English class. He emailed me transcriptions of my margin scribblings. Things like “Jane, I fear for you and your insistence on loving him based on what you see inside!” Who was I talking to? What was going on with me? I erased all those notes when I came home, so hopefully when Chase reads it soon there will be no trace of my self-indulgent ramblings. Alex still makes fun of me for this.
–Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. This is another case of Kerry and the Embarrassing Notes. I loved this book, which makes sense. Chuck Klosterman is smart, funny, and pop-culturally savvy, which is a lethal combination for an over-read, under-stimulated 17 year old girl. I thought he was a god. Once I wrote him a very, very long letter that I (Thank God!) never sent. I made lots of notes in the margins, including question marks around points of contention, angry exclamations when he insulted J.D. Salinger, and the intials of my crush by one particularly apt description of my feelings.
So what have I learned from this? Well, for one, I never take notes in books anymore. Also, I learned that a person’s taste in books/music/movies really has nothing to do with whether or not they are a cool person. And I stopped reading books just to impress guys and started reading exclusively young adult books. So far this is working out for me.
What about you guys? What books from your past embarrass you?
People can get really down on self-help books. Ours is a culture that sees asking for help as a sign of weakness, and reading a book about helping yourself is seen as ridiculously passive by some. In reality, self-help should be empowering; you’re taking control, literally helping yourself. I think burying your problems and refusing to acknowledge them because you’re afraid to even deal with them is a far, far weaker thing to do. But a lot of people don’t see it that way. To some, self-help books are silly, unhelpful, and inherantly feminine (which is inherantly bad, obviously). Clearly, I don’t agree. I love talking about feelings. I don’t think there should be any stigma surrounding self-help books, therapy, rehab, or what have you. I enjoy having deep conversations with my friends were I make them uncomfortable by putting my hand on their arm and saying, “I just want you to be happy,” very seriously. This is fun for me. So naturally I know how to get down with a self-help book now and again.
I can’t remember where I read the best description of anti-depressants (it may have been Sarah Silverman’s book, The Bedwetter), but here it is: Anti-depressants don’t “fix” your depression. Instead, they put you in the correct frame of mind so that you can deal with your problems.
I feel the same way about self-help books. If you’re expecting to read a book and have your life magically changed, you’ll be disappointed. But self-help books can drastically affect your attitude, which can put you in a place where you’re ready to make necessary changes. I know that’s definitely true for me; I can directly credit specific books with helping me to start writing again, encouraging me to start submitting my writing, convincing me to move to a new place, helping me reassess relationships and attitudes, and just generally helping me get out of a negative funk and into a place where I’m in control. So by popular demand (i.e., one person asked), I’ll be talking about some of my favorite self-help books. First up is The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick.
The Nerdist Way is, hands down, the best self-help book I’ve ever read, and that’s entirely because of Chris Hardwick’s personality. This book is funny. Laugh-out-loud, quote the lines to my boyfriend funny. This is really rare for self-help books, which tend to take themselves a bit too seriously. But even more importantly than the funnies, Chris Hardwick seems like he really wants to help people. He shares his mistakes and lessons in with an honesty that doesn’t seem desperate for attention; he just seems like a friend who wants to help.
The book’s divided into 3 sections: Mind, Body, and Time. The Body section is interesting because Chris Hardwick has the best attitude about fitness I’ve ever encountered. To be fair, I’ve also read the book Skinny Bitch, so I’m used to people telling me the size of my ass is inversely proportional to how much I deserve happiness. Chris Hardwick shares this revolutionary sentiment with us: Exercise should make you feel good. I know…whaaaat?!?!
The section about Time gives a lot of practical advice, like how to set up your email or how to effectively file your paperwork. But the best section, in my opinion, is Mind. I don’t know about you guys, but I can play some serious head games with myself. It’s so easy to self-sabotage and talk yourself out of succeeding or ever even attempting something, whether you’re doing it because of fear, anxiety, or some misguided belief system. Chris Hardwick gets this, and he lays out all the excuses so clearly it shocked me. How did he get in my head?
Chris Hardwick is pro-self-help, pro-positive thinking, and anti-laziness. Good attitude, good work ethic, and funny? This book not only changed my thinking, it made me develop a weird, student-mentor crush on Chris Hardwick. Whatever, I don’t judge you and your issues. Just let me have this.
I haven’t even mentioned something that most people would find important: the book uses Dungeons and Dragons as a framework. The thing is, though, that I know basically nothing about D&D (not entirely true. I can’t hang out with my boyfriend on Monday nights because that’s his gamin’ time) and that didn’t affect my understanding of the book in the least. Nerds, in this context, are people who are enthusiastic and focused about their interests. If you’re reading this, you probably identify.
Seriously, guys, I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re feeling blocked or stuck, if you have some big dreams you’re going after, if you’re a creative-type, if you have problems with time management, or if you just want to improve…this is your book!
Also, my self-help recommendations are going to get decidedly more “hippie bullshit” from here on out, so be warned.
Today’s post is super-exciting because you can WIN A PRIZE! That’s right. Who doesn’t love prizes? I don’t know anyone who is like, “Oh,a free thing? No thanks. I don’t want that.” All you have to do is leave a comment (on the HelloGiggles post. Not here. Don’t leave a comment here because I have absolutely nothing to offer you) and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Chopsticks and a $25 gift card to iTunes!
It’s an extraordinarily lovely book. Big thanks to Penguin for the prizes!