The Top 25 Things Books Have Taught Me

Hi everyone! I’m back from vacation for a very special blog post. Today I’m officially a quarter century old, so to celebrate my 25th birthday, I’ve created my first vlog!

In this video, expertly shot and edited by my brother Nick Jarrett (check out his portfolio at nickjarrett.com), I discuss the top 25 things books have taught me. If you’re familiar with YouTube diva Jenna Marbles, you’ll find the theme similar to her viral videos of what hip hop and Disney movies have taught her.

I poke fun at everything from popular YA books to dystopian classics to Ancient Greek epics. Make sure to watch until the end for some funny bloopers!

I hope you all enjoy this vlog, because blogging at Book Club Babe has made my life so much more fulfilling and I appreciate all of your support. Here’s to the next 25 years!

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Book Review: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself

Cover via Goodreads

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

“The way most people feel about loving being a parent is exactly how I feel about not being a parent. I love it. And I can’t imagine my life any other way.”

Don’t pity Jen Kirkman for her childfree lifestyle. The author is also a stand-up comedian and writer/guest panelist for Chelsea Handler’s talk show. She’s traveling the world and living her dream of making people laugh.

And while she just so happens to not have kids, she finds that most people can’t accept that fact. In her memoir, I Can Barely Take of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids, Kirkman releases her frustration from having to constantly justify her life choices.

Covering all the popular responses, including, “You’ll change your mind,” “You’re selfish,” and “Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?” she refutes all the ignorance with humorous self-deprecation.

While I always enjoy hearing from fellow childfree folk, especially when mainstream media incites so-called ‘mommy wars’ and obsesses over celebrities like  Kim Kardashian and Kate Middleton simply for their reproductive abilities, I felt that this memoir could have had more fun.

I bought Kirkman’s book because I liked Chelsea Handler’s Are You There, Vodka? and I was expecting similarly crazy, crass stories. Unfortunately, after noticing that I’ve rated both memoirs the same, perhaps Handler deserved an extra half-point. Even if Handler’s tales seemed more tall than true, at least they were entertaining.

Definitely something Chelsea Handler would say!

It’s not to say that Kirkman isn’t entertaining (Handler herself played a prank by emailing Kirkman’s sister that her writer was pregnant. Awkward conversations ensued!). It’s just that oftentimes the author sneaked a bit of sadness in her stories.

It’s clear that Kirkman is successful, but I’m not too sure about well-adjusted. The title, “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself,” implies being overwhelmed, but she wasn’t kidding. For much of her life, she was medicated for depression, anxiety, and childhood paranoia. She also recently suffered a divorce after only two years of marriage, something which she never fully explained in the book.

And I’m not saying that childfree people don’t have mental health issues or relationship trouble, but the uber-judgmental parents of the world don’t need any more ammunition when it comes to throwing the side eye at those without kids.

Put another way, Chelsea Handler is also childfree but her books are so full of fun that her status doesn’t even matter. No one has time to give her grief because she’s too busy downing cocktails and making smart-ass jokes.

If Kirkman wanted to prove that she has ‘a Happy Life Without Kids,’ maybe she should have included more life and less kids.

And more of Kirkman’s fav show, “The Golden Girls.” Hilarious!

A Book Lover Listicle from BuzzFeed

Another three weeks have flown by since I last blogged! This past week I was in San Diego for a big data conference, and there will definitely be more business traveling in the near future.

But in the nearer future (4 days to be exact!), I’m heading out to Las Vegas again for another much-needed girls trip! I realize that my love for Sin City may be obsessive, since this will be my 5th visit in about two years (!!!), but what can I say? Nothing like partying night after night with your some of your best friends!

As for catching up on reading, I’m more than half-way into my latest book–Nerds Like It Hot by Vicki Lewis Thompson–which I hope to finish while recuperating during the Labor Day weekend.

Until then, let me share a fun listicle from that site I love to hate, BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed is the online equivalent of cotton candy to me: it’s sweet but with absolutely no substance. I can only read it in small doses (because honestly, how much ’90s nostaglia does one need?), but this post made me smile.

Titled, “17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand,” it highlights the emotions of a die-hard reader. Below I’ve reproduced some of my favorite gifs:

When someone interrupts your reading:

When a book you love gets a harsh review:

When you finish a book and have to wait a year for the sequel:

Click on the link to check out the rest, but beware the BuzzFeed black hole! Before you know it, you’ll be sucked in by cute cats and pop culture references!

And feel free to share your own book lover problems in the comments!

Book Review: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

So have you ever read any ancient myths and thought to yourself, This is some pretty crazy stuff!

Of course you have! But usually those dry textbooks discuss bestiality and cannibalism like they’re just items on a grocery list. Don’t you wish someone could just narrate these stories with the outlandish attitude that they deserve?

Well, Cory O’Brien is on that, bro. Founder of BetterMyths.com, O’Brien rewrites ancient myths and other tales from the modern dude’s perspective in Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes (2013). The result? Hilarious!

Here’s an excerpt from his retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone:

So Demeter gets real depressed
And when Demeter gets depressed
all the plants die
and everything freezes
and being alive just kind of starts to suck
because she is the goddess of like
crops and seasons and whatnot.
And see, up to this point
no one has even heard of winter
but now they are getting nothing but winter
nonstop and out of control
24/7/365
except actually maybe only for several months
but either way
shit is intolerable.

Despite the title, O’Brien includes myths from around the world, from Norse and Egyptian, to Mayan and Hindu.

And controversially, Judeo-Christian. Now there’s absolutely no doubt that the world’s most popular origin story shares similarities from the religions that came before it. But I get that some people get a little freaked out when painting God with the same brush as Zeus and Thor.

And nothing against Thor, but I’m more of a Loki girl!

Putting all that aside, if you have even the smallest sense of humor, you’ll get a kick out of this version of Genesis:

On day four God invents the sun and the moon
and the stars
which begs the question
WHERE WAS THE LIGHT COMING FROM BEFORE?
And then he’s like “Oh shit, the moon.
Better go to sleep.”
This dude needs an awful lot of sleep for an omnipotent dude
which may explain why wars happen.

Now if you’re not impressed with these tidbits, don’t worry. It was really hard to pick some blog-appropriate excerpts, since this whole book is super profane and raunchy. I especially enjoyed the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh and the secret behind Scientology.

Not gonna happen, Tom Cruise!

There was also quite a twist toward the end. If you’d like to find out for yourself, by all means stop reading, but I can’t review this book without mentioning it and honestly, there are worse spoilers out there (I’m looking at you, “Game of Thrones” Instagram. Close call with those comments!)

O’Brien concludes with “The Prevailing Creation Myth,” aka The Big Bang. So I’m reading this with my fist metaphorically in the air as science finally gets recognized like it should…but then he ends with this:

Me, I don’t see much of a difference between
Science and Religion.
First off, in order to successfully apply science
there are going to be certain things that you’re
taking on faith

Although I’m placated by his assertion that he doesn’t agree with people trying to unconstitutionally place Creation Science beside evolution in schools, his attempt to play referee between scientists and fundamentalists trivializes the real issues at hand.

I absolutely encourage everyone to give themselves a proper education in comparative religion, to incite skepticism and doubt, and to question the ideological status quo. I also recommend that your spirituality be based on love and acceptance of others, not hate and fear-mongering.

But that’s the secular side of me talking, and my book blog is not the place for me to de-convert anybody. On one hand, I agree with O’Brien because I want the world to honor the freedom for–and from–religion.

On the other hand, I understand that this an arduous mission, and sometimes you need to stir up the pot and demand a voice…even when the majority would prefer you stay quiet. When it comes to fighting for equal rights, playing nice is not always an option!

I may be an activist, but here I’m Book Club Babe first, reviewing books so you can decide whether to check them out for yourself.

My verdict? If ancient myths tickle your fancy, and you’re already familiar with a large number of them, I think that you’ll find Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes amusing. O’Brien’s blog also covers literary tales from Shakespeare, Tolkien, Dante, and Dickens, so there’s plenty more chuckles for bookworms.

In fact, I think that a blog is a better medium for these kinds of re-imaginings, since the experience of reading them in this book suffers from slight monotony. Great in the beginning, but the point is belabored once you get accustomed to the comedic style. Probably better to read in short bursts!

Thus, this book was fun to read for a while, but now I better get back to the witty humor in Catch-22!

No Flying Spaghetti Monster, O’Brien? For shame!

Taking Grammar Nazi to a Whole New Level

Don’t sue me, I didn’t make it!

I’ve always wanted to talk about correcting people’s grammar on my blog, because I know how frustrating it can be to have a decently constructed conversation on the Internet. Several people have called me a “Grammar Nazi” in my life, which along with soup and feminists, is a pretty common subject to label “Nazi.”

However, I realize that approaching this topic may lead to my most controversial post to date, given the sensitivity surrounding the Holocaust. Thus, I would like to preface my statements:

By no means am I literally and legitimately comparing the despicable Nazi party to people who complain about comma usage.

As an Armenian-American whose culture has also been ravaged by genocide, I wholeheartedly empathize with the communities affected by the horrors of World War II. Please view this post as intended to be humorous and serve as a reminder that the freedom of speech is one of the many things we fought for 70 years ago.

Okie dokie? We’ll all play nice? Alrighty then, br1ng 0n t43 l0ls!

I actually don’t mind the phrase “Grammar Nazi;” in fact, it bothers me when people of relatively average knowledge of the English language are called it, because the term needs to be revised to discuss the degrees between the occasional hobbyist and the most nit-picky grammarians. Thus, I’ve created a hierarchy of complainers, so you can find out which category you fit into and discover how much better (or worse, depending on your perspective) it can get:

*Insert GIF with subtle use of Nazi salute*

Grammar Schindler

You know English pretty darn well and are considered an “insider,” but you never actually correct anyone and secretly don’t mind casual Internet talk with no capitalization or punctuation. You may even frequently misspell grammar on accident. You believe that aS lOnG aS pEoPlE DoNt TaLk LiKe ThIs, you won’t write them off. (Get it? “Schindler’s List?” Never mind, moving on…)

Only forgivable if you’re a baby!

Grammar SS

You’ve got the makings of a real Grammar Nazi, but you’re still just correcting the basics. You may know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” and “to, too, and two,” but let’s face it: so do 8-year-olds. You still can’t differentiate between “who” and “whom,” and you don’t understand why you shouldn’t (usually) end your sentences with prepositions. But you’re trying, and that’s what counts.

“Superman does good.” Perfect comeback!

Grammar Reichleiter

Now you’re getting somewhere! You not only correct people online, but you also correct people to their faces! No “Can I?,” “I could care less,” and “I’m doing good,” goes unnoticed. (Not even questionable double negatives, as seen in the previous sentence!) Best friend, total stranger, Nigerian princes in need of immediate money orders, there are no exceptions when it comes to making English better, one semi-colon at a time.

Superb grammar: Yet another reason I need to watch Dr. Who!

Grammar Hitler

The Der Führer of Grammar Nazis, you laugh at those who think themselves superior for knowing “fewer” from “less.” You possess supreme understanding of all phrases, clauses, idioms, modifiers, tenses, and voices. You get nauseated when people misuse “nauseous,” and disrespecting the predicative nominative will have you screaming, “Woe is I!” You probably took Latin in school, and if you’re a teacher, you relish in your multiple proofreading utensils of various colors (only amateurs limit themselves to red pens). You’ve corrected everyone so many times that they’re afraid to talk to you. But that’s okay, because you’d rather be feared than loved.

I’d have to say I’m between a Grammar Reichleiter and a Grammar Hitler. I had one classmate of mine unfriend me on Facebook after I pointed out that she was not “lactose and tolerant.” Just this week I replied to a marketing email from Red Robin restaurants, correcting them on their unfortunate subject line of “Being Royalty has it’s perks!”

And my favorite, I took a picture of this monstrosity two years ago:

I'm embarrassed for this valedictorian's friends, who clearly needed a few more semesters of English before graduating.

I’m embarrassed for this valedictorian’s friends, who clearly needed a few more semesters of English before graduating.

Thanks to the my favorite high school English teacher (a true Grammar Hitler) and my two years of studying Latin, my understanding of grammar has greatly improved. However, I understand that grammar is like a second language, and simply speaking English is not a good enough prerequisite. Thus, I try to bite my tongue, because I’ve quickly learned that people don’t like feeling dumb. But boy, do I love when people correct themselves in front of me before I do! Makes me feel like being a Grammar Nazi is worth it when people learn!

So controversial label aside, I love grammatical humor, which the Internet brings in abundance. For more fun, check out these wonderful websites:

And don’t forget to share your own grammatical pet peeves in the comments!

If Children’s Books were R-Rated Movies

Just popped in to share some laughs, courtesy of CollegeHumor. Using movie posters from action and horror flicks, they’ve re-imagined eight of our favorite kid’s books. Check out a few below, and then click the link to see the rest!

Any other stories you’d like to be edgier? What if The Giving Tree decided to take back what’s hers? How would you like to find out Where the Wild Things Are or Where the Sidewalk Ends? And whatever you do, don’t get caught in Charlotte’s Web! The possibilities for little league mayhem and destruction are endless!