Tag Archives: Book Review

Review: Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility
By Amor Towles
Penguin Books, 9780143121169, 2012, 368pp.

The Short of It:

Friendship, love, and duty collide amid the backdrop of a glittering New York City in 1938.

The Rest of It:

This is one of those stories that is so full of rich imagery and well-drawn characters that I doubt I can do it justice in summarizing it here. Nevertheless, I shall try.

After Eve accidently dumps a bowl of food into Katie’s lap, the two become fast friends. Eve, or Evey, is beautiful, vivacious and impossible to ignore. Her flirtatious nature and her knack for always knowing where the party is, attracts Katie who is slightly more down-to-earth and sensible. Katie is a working class girl, trying to make a name for herself in the publishing world. But when the work day is over, it’s Evey who takes Katie by the hand and the two find themselves living it up with drinks paid for by others. It’s a fast crowd but not without some memorable finds.

One of those finds is Tinker Grey. Charming, dashing, full of wit and humor, he befriends Katie and Evey and the three of them pal around the city enjoying a lot of gin, and the memorable meals to go with it. But after an accident which leaves Eve in a precarious situation, Tinker, perhaps feeling guilty over his involvement, takes Evey in so that she can rehabilitate in luxury. Although Katie and Tinker are far from a thing, they do share something that he and Evey don’t and so this new living arrangement gives them all pause. How do you cage a wild thing? How can Tinker go on with his life while tending to his sense of duty?

This story gave me a lot to think about. If you enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow, you will enjoy this book as well but it will leave you feeling a little sad which is why I think it took me awhile to finish. Sad, the way nostalgia can make you feel, wistful and longing for how it used to be. These relationships are complicated and fluid and every time I turned a page, I was presented with some new big idea to ponder. This is why I read this book slowly, savoring each interaction.

One big bonus for me is that Katie and Tinker are readers. There is much literature talk and mention of classic books such as Great Expectations. I also cannot help but mention that parts of it reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Overall, I very much enjoyed this story and these characters will stay with me for a very long time.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Broken (In the Best Possible Way)

Broken

Broken (In the Best Possible Way)
By Jenny Lawson
Henry Holt and Co., 9781250077035, April 6, 2021, 304pp.

The Short of It:

I love a good laugh. It can fix many things and let’s face it, we haven’t been laughing too much this past year. If you want to use that muscle again, give this book a try.

The Rest of It:

I knew of Jenny Lawson, AKA “The Bloggess” from my early blogging days but I had never really followed her on any of the social media platforms and then I heard that she had written a book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I remember thinking, good for her. Then a few years later, another book, Furiously Happy. Both books did amazingly well. But they seemed to be humorous in nature and so I never got to them. I love a good laugh but a book of humorous things? Not really my thing.

Then, I was offered a review copy of Broken (In the Best Possible Way) and my memory of her came flooding back to me. Wait a second. She writes about mental illness and depression? After sneaking a few pages in while perusing the copy that was just sent to me, I immediately knew I would read it and I would probably enjoy it a lot. True and true.

Broken is a memoir told through stories. True stories of her struggle with mental illness, depression, and even her debilitating auto-immune disorder which she suffered greatly from until she found the right medication.

Lawson says out loud, what we only think internally.

She writes about many things, mostly awkward encounters with others including neighbors, postal employees, doctors, dentists, you name it. She talks about losing her shoes while wearing them. Yes, literally stepping out of a shoe only to leave it behind somewhere. She talks about using a Shop-Vac to clean up pet food only to realize that in doing so, she has also managed to suck up raw poop sewage which of course is gross. One story after another and somehow this insecure, eccentric woman slowly becomes the friend you never had. As “out there” as some of this content is, none of it is new or odd to me. I’ve had many conversations with friends about some of the things she talks about and sometimes, even with just myself. Yes, weird.

In the section titled Awkwarding Brings Us Together, I had to stop reading because I was crying so hard from laughing. In this section, she shares Tweets that people shared with her in their attempt to one-up her in awkwardness.

Then, she includes a letter to her insurance company. Here, she gets serious. Insurance companies can deny you the one medication that you need to stay alive or they can give it to you at extreme cost. Having battled depressing most of her life, these appeals are the norm and yet in including this in the book, she is speaking to everyone who has ever had to fight for their life. It’s a little “go team!” moment if you ask me.

Broken may not be for everyone. Lawson is very blunt and her self-deprecating humor might get on your nerves a little if you aren’t used to that type of humor. She speaks of body parts quite frankly and there is a lot of  language. She is not pretending to be anyone in what she writes. This feels 100% authentic to me so her style grew on me. If you need something different and you want to laugh, then this is the book for you. And of course, if you suffer from depression, you may find some comfort in what she shares here as well.

Have you read her before?

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.