Audiobook Review: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

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Image: Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5

To say that I like memoirs by female comedians is an understatement. I’ve listened to all the most popular audiobooks, including those by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Samantha Bee, Sarah Silverman, Mindy Kaling, and Chelsea Handler.

So color me surprised that it took me eight months to get around to Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo.

I’ve been a fan of Schumer’s stand-up and have enjoyed watching clips from her show, so I was confident that I’d enjoy this book.

Memoirs are successful when they’re relatable, when they illustrate the arc from starving artist to established fame with a sense of groundedness. After all, nobody wants to read the memoir of a spoiled brat who had everything handed to her and has absolutely no understanding of how the average person lives. (Exhibit A: Ivanka Trump).

Amy is certainly no Ivanka. In fact, it was interesting to hear that her parents accumulated their wealth from their luxury baby furniture business but lost it all to the point where she recalls her dad getting his sportscar repossessed when she was young.

This riches-to-rags-to-riches story brands Schumer as an underdog who had to crawl out of her family’s financial ashes and climb her way to the top. And after listening to all her anecdotes about bombing in comedy clubs and obsessively perfecting her jokes, you can tell how hard she works.

You never get the sense that she takes her fame for granted. For example, after working in the service industry for years, she makes a point to tip extremely well. She supports causes that matter to her and came to the aid of those affected by the 2015 shooting at a film screening of her movie Trainwreck.

If you’re under the impression that Schumer is a sex-crazed party girl with tons of stories about boozing and one night stands, then you’ll be disappointed with this book. Unlike Chelsea Handler, Schumer spends a great deal distancing herself from her onscreen persona and prefers to discuss more serious topics.

Some of these stories can be told with humor, like her penchant for shoplifting that led to her grand larceny arrest at age 21. But others are uncomfortable and downright depressing.

I appreciated hearing her open up about her father’s alcoholism and multiple sclerosis, and my heart broke for her after learning that her first sexual experience was being raped by a former boyfriend.

These stories make her real, but they’re not the superficial “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!” tabloid tales you might expect to read. If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud fest, you’re better off sticking to Schumer’s stand-up.

With that in mind, I’d recommend this book, because I learned a ton about a woman who seems like a genuine, kind-hearted person who’s passionate about her craft. She’s also an unapologetic feminist who has faced countless criticisms about her body—including the tramp stamp that gave the book its title—and refuses to be anyone other than herself.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo doesn’t quite enter the echelon of comedic memoirs that made me laugh until I cried, but it sends an empowering message to readers, and to women especially.

To Ms. Schumer: Get it, girl. Wishing you all the best!

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Top Ten Books When You Just Want to Laugh

Image by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, has us talking about moods. There’s a book for every emotion your heart desires: anger, sadness, and even fear (Side note: Why in the world do people like to feel terrified? I will never understand you, horror fans!)

So what should someone read if she just wants to laugh? Here is my list of my top ten funniest books–and if you can get them on audio, even better!

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Celebrity memoirs

  1. Tina Fey, Bossypants
  2. Amy Poehler, Yes Please
  3. Chelsea Handler, Uganda Be Kidding Me
  4. Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me?
  5. Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck

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Love, lunacy, and LOLs

  1. Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
  2. Alida Nugent, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse
  3. Sophie Kinsella, I’ve Got Your Number
  4. Vicki Lewis Thompson, Talk Nerdy to Me
  5. Mallory Ortberg, Texts from Jane Eyre

So which books have you rolling on the floor laughing? Recommendations are always welcome!

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Image via Amazon

Rating: 3 out of 5

Usually it doesn’t take me an entire month to complete a novel, but life has been keeping me more than busy lately. If it wasn’t for my book club acting as my group of accountability partners, I’d be concerned about getting any reading done right now!

Today the film adaptation for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is released, and the real-life Book Club Babes will be taking a field trip to see it on Wednesday. This week we had tons of fun sharing what we thought of Seth Grahame-Smith’s parody of the Jane Austen classic.

Only a couple women in the group had read the original Pride and Prejudice, and I had to admit that I never finished it. I have always felt that the novel was lacking, from its tittering dialogue to its lack of passion. I much prefer the gothic romance of the Bronte sisters, arguing that Wuthering Heights is the superior story of love vs. money.

That being said, I definitely felt that zombies improved this tale dramatically. My only complaint was that there weren’t enough of them! According to Amazon, about 85% of the original text is preserved, and the remaining 15% includes references and scenes of the walking dead. Popular demand for more zombies even contributed to the release of an “ultraviolent” edition, which I’m bummed was not the version I borrowed from the library.

These sporadic additions are hilarious. I find it amusing how there’s no real explanation as to why zombies have been ravaging England for decades, but the Bennet sisters do a kickass job of keeping them at bay. Mr. Bennet is more concerned with their abilities as warriors, while Mrs. Bennet just wants to see them married.

It’s very clear that a man wrote this adaptation, given the over-the-top fight scenes complete with Elizabeth ripping hearts out of ninjas and eating them. I also look forward to watching her roundhouse kick Darcy into the fireplace when I see the film. Our book club agreed that Jane Austen would be pleased with this uber-feminist portrayal of her protagonist.

Another minor issue that I had with this book was its unnecessary Orientalism by fetishizing China and Japan as places to train zombie fighters. It also references that the zombie plague originated in the east, so it inherently positions the region as both the problem and the solution. Jane Austen’s work has already been critiqued by English literature scholars for postcolonial themes, so Grahame-Smith does her a disservice by making Pride and Prejudice sound more racist than intended.

Other than that, if you love Pride and Prejudice, you probably don’t need an excuse to read it again with zombies added. And if you’re like me and never liked this novel…well, at least it’s more entertaining now!

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The perfect wine pairing for your book club!

Book Review: Modern Romance

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a smartphone will send dick pics to women on Tinder.

I kid, but only slightly. It’s safe to say that online dating is pretty much the worst for the straight female population: men who ignore age preferences, messages that have been clearly copy-and-pasted, and sexual harassment at every turn. And don’t even get me started on all the spelling and grammar errors!

 

Women commiserate with each other all the time over these awful experiences, but it’s nice to see sympathy from the few good men left. Comedian Aziz Ansari is one of those guys who just gets it–thanks to his awesome feminist girlfriend, Courtney McBroom.

My book club selected Ansari’s Modern Romance to read in October, and I anticipate it inciting a lively discussion about how dating has changed from generation to generation and how it has fared for the better and worse in the digital age.

Ansari teams up with sociologists, psychologists, and other researchers to analyze historical trends in love and marriage, as well as compares dating in the U.S. to the scenes in international metros like Paris and Tokyo.

There are a ton of interesting statistics, so here’s a sample:

“Between 2005 and 2012 more than one third of couples who got married in the United States met through an online dating site. Online dating was the single biggest way people met their spouses. Bigger than work, friends, and school combined.”

“Another poll, from Gallup, found that infidelity is more universally disapproved of than polygamy, animal cloning, and suicide. So if there were two guys at a bar, one cheating on his wife and another with a cloned pig named Bootsie, it would be the cheater, not Bootsie the pig, getting more disapproving looks.”

“The most popular time to sext is Tuesday between 10:00 A.M. and noon. Yes, we looked this up twice. Strange!”

At first I thought that this would be a memoir primarily based on Ansari’s dating life, but it’s actually more of a research study on dating with some comedy thrown in. His material plays off many of the jokes in his standup, like why you shouldn’t look for your soulmate at a bar:

And why you shouldn’t ghost people like a coward:

And why you should perhaps give marriage a little more thought instead of rushing into it:

I could go on, but you get the gist. I love Aziz Ansari’s humor and found this book insightful and entertaining. It’s obvious that he’s been influenced by wonderful women, and listening to his jokes gives me hope that more men can become feminist allies–and thus, better romantic partners. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, ladies! At the very least, may all your messages be dick pic-free!

Audiobook Review: Why Not Me?

Image via Goodreads

 Review: 4 out of 5

When I heard that actress Mindy Kaling was writing another memoir, I didn’t think twice about buying it. I had enjoyed her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, but had hoped for less childhood stories and more gossip about her celebrity life. Why Not Me? is a great sequel that divulges more of these details.

Kaling focuses on the ups and downs of fame and how exhausting it can be as a role model to curvy women of color. She has a refreshingly honest perspective on living in Hollywood: she looks good because she has a horde of people to make her attractive, and she puts on a smile even when she’s having a bad day, because there’s nothing that pisses off the masses like an extremely wealthy person with an awful attitude.

Even though she’s the creator of her own show with her own name in its title, at the heart of it all, she’s another 30-something woman who just wants to make friends and fall in love. I admit that I don’t follow her closely on television since I gave up watching “The Office” and have never seen an episode of “The Mindy Project.”

However, the reason why I like her memoirs is that she’s relatable, hilarious, and the kind of woman I’d like to go shopping and grab frozen yogurt with. Spending extra money on the audiobook version is worth it, because it further enhances the feeling that you’re listening to a good friend.

And perhaps if I were one of her besties, then she would give me the real scoop on her relationship with B.J. Novak. Because as adorable as her “soup snakes” versus soul mates metaphor was, I just want to hear the hookup stories. Kaling reveals that she loves doing sex scenes on camera, but won’t spill about what goes on behind the scenes? Talk about disappointing!

As much as I love to read about drunken escapades and one-night stands a la Chelsea Handler, that’s not who Kaling is. She’s a theater nerd/sorority dropout/hopeless romantic, and that’s what makes her endearing. I wish her show the best of luck on Hulu and hope to read more of her memoirs in the future!

First Book Club Meetup was a Success!

On Monday night, about a dozen of us young, female professionals met to discuss our first book club selection, Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler.

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That’s one good-looking group of ladies!

We had a fabulous time drinking wine, eating hors d’oeuvres, and making fast friends. Many of the members were transplants to California from the Midwest or East Coast, so it was interesting to learn about everyone’s backgrounds.

As for the book, I’m glad that we went with Chelsea Handler, because she’s controversial enough to divide an audience. While most thought that she was quite hilarious, many found her too obnoxious and mean-spirited.

On one hand, Handler represents the typical, annoying American tourist who drinks too much and refuses to learn about other cultures. She takes great pleasure in playing pranks on her friends and making everyone else around her extremely uncomfortable. On the other hand, if she was well-behaved and stone-cold sober, her travels would not be nearly as entertaining.

We spiritedly discussed everything from Handler’s obsession with little people to her flying her dogs on a private jet while her assistants fly coach. We even debated whether listening to the audiobook was better because it was a more personal experience or worse because you’re forced to hear Handler’s voice for hours.

Despite the divisive personality of the comedian, the general consensus was that Uganda Be Kidding Me was worth a 3.5 out of 5 rating. I think it was an excellent way to open a new book club, because it was fun and easy to read, all while inspiring us to drink copious amounts of wine! We salute you, Chelsea!

Our book selection for August is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, author of What Alice Forgot. This 2013 novel was a NYT bestseller and an Amazon Book of the Month, so I’m excited to give it a try. We voted on this choice for its promise of scandal and intrigue, so if you’ve already read it, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

The First Book Club Babes Selection: Uganda Be Kidding Me

I know that I’ve been late to inform you of the first Book Club Babes selection for this month, so here’s a quick update. For July, my real-life book club will be reading Chelsea Handler’s Uganda Be Kidding Me!

After listening to everyone’s preferences, it was decided that our first book should be fun, lighthearted, and easy to read. A small group of eight women attended the selection committee meeting and narrowed down all our recommendations to the comedic memoir genre.

Our original choice was Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, but since a few people had recently finished the book, we went with Chelsea Handler as our runner-up. I was the only one in the meeting who had read this book, so I’m excited to share the laughs with everyone!

It’s been several months since I first posted my review in the beginning of March, so to celebrate our kickoff book club pick, I’ve reblogged my thoughts on the audiobook version below. Feel free to add this memoir to your reading list this month if you’d like to virtually follow our book club experience!

Enjoy!

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

Chelsea Handler knocks it out of the park again with her latest comedic memoir, Uganda Be Kidding Me. Published in March of last year, the book retells Handler’s traveling escapades in the past few years, including a ski trip at the private Yellowstone Club in Montana and a brief stint in Montenegro.

The majority of the memoir, however, covers her African safari trip with her close friends. A self-labeled ‘professional alcoholic,’ they spend their time guzzling cocktails and hitting on their South African guide named Rex.

“There’s a difference between being a class act and being classy. Peeing off the side of a jeep doesn’t mean you’re not classy, it just means you’re a free spirit with a small bladder.” – Chelsea Handler

Many readers will hate Handler for being the typical ugly American tourist, who keeps asking where the tigers are in the bush and complaining about her bit of vacation weight gain.

And yes, I admit that she is outrageous and abrasive. I’ve seen her talk show “Chelsea Lately” and read her other books, My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, so I know her particular brand of humor well. She is the exact opposite of politically correct, making wise cracks at every minority imaginable–little people, blacks, Asians, and the LBGT, among others.

Sometimes I just have to rock myself back and forth and say, “You’ve offended so many people at this point. Don’t try to keep track now, girl.”

The reason why I enjoy her despite her offensiveness is that she’s also self-deprecating. She has been famous long enough to know just how dependent she is on her countless assistants. It may be humble-bragging when she declares that she doesn’t pack her own suitcases or make her own margaritas, but it also goes to show that you can be a hot mess no matter how much money you make.

Case in point: Last weekend I was visiting my family and had to try to keep quiet late one night in my old bedroom, because I was laughing so hard listening to Handler share her embarrassing story of when she shit herself in her swimsuit while kayaking in the Bahamas. The joke builds and builds on itself until she sneaks into a guest house in the wee hours of the morning, only to drunkenly open the front door for someone without her bikini bottoms on. It had me giggling like a crazy person and was easily the most hilarious portion of the book.

Ultimately, Chelsea Handler is the woman you’d want at a party, because she’s unapologetic about who she is, and she definitely knows how to have fun. She also loves her dogs dearly and never, ever wants children, so I have a feeling we would make fast friends. She may not be the best role model, but I think she’s better than that, because she’s real.