With excitement and a sense of adventure, I re-entered academia and quickly discovered that … I hated it.
Going to class was borderline torture. I had naively assumed class-time would resemble the fun, casual ambience of a book club meet-up, imagining a gaggle of lit geeks sitting around drinking tea and discussing plot and character. There was some of that (with booze replacing the tea in one particular theory class), but foremost, we were each expected to contribute to the body of knowledge through presentations and other public displays—something this wallflower with self-esteem issues felt neither prepared for nor particularly interested in. Three semesters in, I gave grad school the heave-ho. Six years on, I’ve no regrets.
Now, I’m back at post-BA, pre-MA square one, reading books for the sheer pleasure of the experience. I’m currently on a autobiography kick, pulling inspiration from the lives of some extraordinary women who share several traits in common: Courage, creativity, and authenticity, among others. If you could do with a dash of inspiration coupled with some good laughs and maybe a tear or two, too, add my recommendations to your summer reading list.
And tell me, what are yours?
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys
by Viv Albertine
Viv Albertine played guitar in a late-‘70s band called The Slits, which, contrary to the vibe of the name, wasn’t as punk rock as it sounds. What is totally punk rock is that Albertine survived (and thrived in) the male-dominated, rough-and-tumble art and music scene in ‘70s and ‘80s London. Her DIY attitude, her sensitivity, and her uncompromising creativity bring this book to life, and her humanizing portraits of the company she kept back in the day (Sid Vicious, Mick Jones, John Lydon) add depth and perspective to an era often portrayed in the mediain a one-dimensional way. I’m still reading this one, and will be very sad 10 pages from now when I have to say goodbye!
Girl in a Band
by Kim Gordon
Maybe you’re like me, and grew up listening to Sonic Youth, enjoying the band’s unique brand of weird(ish), experimental pop music and trying decide whether or not you actually really liked it. The history of the band is only one part of this book; Gordon’s fascinating childhood and young adult years are juicy and revelatory, and the introduction to her non-musical artistic side is an unexpected bonus. Yes, she dishes about her breakup with Thurston Moore, but this book is less about him/them than it is a very personal look at the life of a quiet, creative soul on the brink of a new phase of her life.
by Tina Fey
Ok, this one’s been out for a while, but it’s a real gem. I never considered myself a true Tina Fey fan (sorry, Tina, but your movies and TV roles don't do it for me), but I became one after reading this smart, extremely funny, poignant, sassy memoir of growing up Greek, hyper-intelligent, and creative in mainstream America.
How to Grow Up
by Michelle Tea
Messy, honest, and loaded with very personal San Francisco memories that mirror many of my own from the same grungy epoch, this book felt like a good, tea-soaked gab session with my best girlfriend on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If you’ve ever felt out of control of your life or that your problems were beyond repair, this marvelous memoir will rekindle your faith in your own resilience and inspire you to trust in your own amazing abilities.
and up next…
Not That Kind of Girl
by Lena Dunham
Have you read it yet? What did you think? Would you recommend it?