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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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.

Audiobook Review: Uganda Be Kidding Me

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.

Audiobook Review: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5

Well, 2015 has started off on a mediocre foot. The first novel that I read, Invisibility, was a subpar paranormal YA romance, and now I’m disappointed by David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day after hearing such great things for so many years. I’ve got to say that I’m regretting my choice to insert this audiobook combo-breaker after listening to a long list of female comedic memoirs.

Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000) is a collection of essays about Sedaris’ childhood in North Carolina, living in New York, and moving to Paris with his boyfriend. He cracks jokes about his Greek Orthodox father and his siblings, whom I knew nothing about except that his sister Amy is also a famous humorist.

I enjoyed the essays that were more self-deprecating, especially about his struggles with language. Whether it was finding creative ways around his lisp as a kid or surviving French lessons with his sadistic instructor, I laughed at his bumbling and atrocious grammatical mistakes. Anyone who has struggled with learning a new language can relate to his verbal roadblocks.

I won’t doubt that Sedaris is a good writer, since it’s obvious that he’s a powerful wordsmith. However, I find issues with Sedaris personally, because to be honest, he didn’t seem like somebody I would enjoy hanging around. Besides his heavy drug use, his adamant refusal to use computers, and his insincere stunt as a creative writing teacher, most of the time he needs–as my mom would put it–an ‘attitude adjustment.’

Sedaris came from a privileged-enough family, raised by a meddling father who forced his children to play musical instruments and constantly berated his daughters about their weight and overall appearance. I’m not saying the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but there were many points in this book where I felt that Sedaris was just plain mean.

Part of this is because he revels in his superiority as a ‘real New Yorker,’ a personality trait which I can’t stomach. NYC is just another city, and living there does not make you automatically smarter and more interesting than anyone else. I hope that becoming an expat–yes, I know he loathes the word–in France instilled a bit of compassion when it comes to dealing with tourists and foreigners.

And even when he’s completely justified, like when a couple of Southern tourists on a train in Paris assumed he didn’t know English and accused him of petty theft, his stories fall flat because there aren’t any punch lines. I kept waiting for him to confront and humiliate the rude couple, but that never happened and instead he goes along his way without a word. His essays include a lot of buildup, but little payoff.

I may be one of the few people who dislike Sedaris, but unless he’s eaten a giant slice of humble pie in the 15 years since publishing this book, I’ll stick to writers who can make people laugh without putting others down–or if comparing him to other caustic yet relatable comedians like Chelsea Handler and Sarah Silverman, at least do a better job about hiding the fact that you think you’re better than everyone.

I’d love to get your thoughts, though! Is Sedaris a literary genius, a pretentious bully, neither, or both? Is his writing any different in his other books, or more of the same? Should I give him another chance?

My 2014 Reading Recap!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

2014 has finally come to an end, and I’ve read some great books in the process! To recap, I have completed 20 books, totaling over 6,877 pages! Eight of these were audiobooks, which goes to show how valuable my commute is in staying on track to meet my quota.

The video above discusses my top five books in detail, but below is the full list from best to worst. 2014 was all about comedic memoirs and chick-lit, with a few YA fantasies and works of literary fiction in the mix. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the new year!

Rating: 5 out of 5
1. Yes Please – Amy Poehler (2014)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
2. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan (2014)
3. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (2014)

Rating: 4 out of 5
4. The Engagements – J. Courtney Sullivan (2013)
5. Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella (2013)
6. Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld (2014)
7. When We Were Orphans – Kazuo Ishiguro (2000)
8. A Well-Tempered Heart – Jan-Philipp Sendker (2014)
9. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (2012)
10. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han (2014)
11. My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler (2004)
12. A Lot Like Love – Julie James (2011)
13. About That Night – Julie James (2012)
14. Love Irresistibly – Julie James (2013)

Rating: 3 out of 5
15. I Know I Am, But What Are You? – Samantha Bee (2011)
16. The Bedwetter – Sarah Silverman (2010)
17. Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham (2014)
18. Deeply, Desperately – Heather Webber (2010)
19. Absolutely, Positively – Heather Webber (2011)

Rating: 2 out of 5
20. Reached – Ally Condie (2012)

So have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? And what were your top five books of 2014?