I think that at this point people are pretty sick of the recently graduated broadcasting to everyone they know how much their lives suck.
As such, I’m not going to get into it. Suffice to say that the past couple months have been heavy on the job rejection front (I have received 2 in the time I have been writing this blog post!).
But, the truth is, people who spend all their time feeling sorry for themselves are annoying. In the interest of not being one of those people (and Monday being, as always, the start of a New Game), today I present a list of pick-me-up books. You know. Those books that inject a much needed bit of encouragement, or just humour, into your life right when you need it.
The time has come for me to ignore my TBR and turn instead to some old favourites.
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
This book will probably fit into every single list I ever write. The simple fact is that I always feel like it was written for me.
Cath is the anxious type. The thrown-in-at-the-deep-end feeling of the first year of university isn’t helping any. Her anxious parts are in overdrive. For the first few weeks she can’t even make herself go into the cafeteria.
(I loved this detail because for my first week of university, I lived off of cheese biscuits and a giant jar of Nutella. I too, had a lot of trouble leaving my room. It seems silly now).
But, despite her resistance, she makes friends. She meets a guy. She copes without even realising that she’s doing it.
What I like so much about this book is the speed at which Cath’s life opens. Coping, for Cath, is something that happens slowly. It’s in every action, rather than a rushed montage-like chapter after which she has her entire universe sussed. For Cath, Okay is a process. There is something incredibly comforting in that which brings me back to this book whenever I get down.
I Was Told There’d be Cake – Sloane Crosley
Sloane Crosley’s writing bridges the distance between laugh-out-loud and melancholy in a way that is very appealing when dealing with a serial crappy day scenario. While many of her essays tell stories that are outlandish, they remain authentic and relatable.
She writes a lot about the distancing of friendships that starts to happen when you get older and move in different directions. She writes about getting rid of the toy pony collection she built up in gifts from various ex-boyfriends. She also talks about the annoying questions people ask when you say you’re vegetarian, which I appreciated (asking someone but what do you eat? makes you a dick 100% of the time, btw).
Maybe my favourite essay in the book is about the time she threw a dinner party for three friends and one of their asshole boyfriends, and found, when they had left, that one of them had taken a shit on her bathroom floor.
Sloane’s voice is a comforting presence on a bad day.
The last chapter of this book never fails to make me cry. But it’s sort of for good reasons. If you have a copy and you haven’t read it in forever, please go read the last chapter now. Trust me.
Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens grew up in a graveyard. He had to hide there in order to be safe from the dangers of the world.
Until he didn’t.
‘There was a passport in his bag, money in his pocket. There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill; and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion.
But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.’
I really love fish-out-of-water stories (Legally Blonde is one of my favourite movies). Within that, I love when characters succeed simply by being their awesome selves, and gradually getting recognition for that from their peers, rather than by wreaking some epic revenge. This is not to say that I don’t believe in Matilda-ing the hell out of a situation when necessary. Sometimes you have to make your scary, force-feeding head teacher think that her house is haunted and drive her out of town.
Other times, you’ve just got to be your awesome self, like Elle Woods and Arnold Spirit, and wait for everybody else to catch up.
Arnold has the kind of life where the prospect of hope is in the opposite direction of home. He lives on the Spokane Indian reservation. There is a lot of poverty. His parents are alcoholics.
Nobody ever really leaves the reservation. So when Arnold decides to get out and attend the all-white high school in town miles away… people are kind of mad. People at the all-white high school are kind of mad, too.
But despite all this – the traumatic home life, school days filled with racist discrimination and a whole lot of tragedy and grief, Arnold survives. And thrives. He’s an impressive guy.
I recommend this to anyone who’s starting to think they might need to leave their tribe.
Because memoirs by ladies heal all (insubstantial) wounds.
Of Mindy Kaling’s two memoirs, this one is the best, in my opinion. While the first one is totally enjoyable, I can’t help but feel like she puts more of herself into this second offering. In the introduction she states that she’s done with wanting to be liked, and is instead now much more interested in being known. That is an attitude I can get behind.
This book is about work and being a woman and dating. It’s about 4am worries and the secret to success (spoiler alert: it’s hard work, apparently).
It’s also really really funny and 100% guaranteed to lift the sort of self-involved, churlish sadness that has been the subject of this blog post.
Do you have any books that you automatically reread when times get crappy? Let me know. I can always use more mood-boosting reads.