I never thought a book about anxious Swedish intellectuals engaged in a philosophical back and forth would grip me like an airport read, but here we are. Jenni recommended this book as "perfect, just read it" and she was right. From the first page I was deep in the headspace of our protagonist, Esther, a woman willing to destroy her life for a man who barely acknowledges her. This slim volume explores the power dynamic cultural capital and fame being to a relationship, and the lengths we're willing to go to in order to imagine we're getting what we want. Jenni said: "I want to give this to every person I know who is in a one sided relationship. This will snap them right out of it."
You're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but I do this often and most of the time I am not disappointed. Lately I have been constantly stressed out because I seem to never be able to find time to read but this cover kept staring at me and staring at me so I made time for it. Colleen is young and living life the way we do, working a whatever job and then living a whatever life. Not ideal, but it'll do. She meets a man on the internet, a man with a sort of notoriety that is never clearly explained but it doesn't really matter. She meets him and they fall in love and become famous (famous for what, but it doesn't really matter). They tour and party and live the kind of life you watch unfold over social media, the one maybe you hate-follow or maybe you love-follow but you definitely follow. Each short chapter is divided by a person or a city and it feels like when you first come across someone's Tumblr and become obsessed with them and read it all the way back to the beginning. Except you're more or less reading as it happens, from pre-fame to fame to after fame. It's a story about "now" but without the gross proselytizing that sometimes comes with books about the world we live in today, not so much about growing up as it is about being less young, being wiser only because you're finally able to more or less cut out the bad shit you keep doing over and over again, or at least cut back. I've been a Colleen before maybe I still am, but maybe we all are a little bit too and I have to say I keep thinking about what she'd be doing now, that the book is over and I don't have those constant updates every time I turn the page.
Tonya Hurley's Ghostgirl is the book that I wish I could have read when I was in high school. It tells the story of Charlotte Usher, a lovable misfit who yearns to be seen by the in-crowd at Hawthorne High. Hurley's heroine goes from feeling invisible in the hallways of her school to literally being invisible after choking to death on a gummy bear and becoming an adolescent specter. From that point forward, the dearly departed Charlotte manages to cope with her desire to be popular by learning to love herself while dealing with what feels like a potentially eternal crush and making new friends who can relate to the struggle of being unpopular and being a teen who is also a ghost. Thanks to Hurley's vivid prose, reading Ghostgirl felt cinematic, which is fitting since Matthew Vaughan recently optioned the series opener for the big screen with Honey Ross at the helm as screenwriter (I'm already counting down the days until its release). Reading Hurley's novel reminded me how important it is to not only be myself, but to celebrate the qualities that make me unique, even if others view those qualities as strange.