Well, this was a pleasant surprise. I rarely read celebrity memoirs, but earlier this week, while looking for something to listen to, I decided to give the audiobook for Jessica Simpson’s memoir, Open Book a try. As a teen in the era of pop stars and boybands, and not to mention a bit of a gossip-addict in the early 2000’s, I was curious to hear Jessica’s story. What I found was a well-done book that is truly heartfelt and personal, with the audiobook being narrated by Jessica herself. She shares stories from childhood, her rise to fame, her relationships, her struggle with alcohol, and her life now. She is honest and open about the body image issues that developed as she entered the music industry and the pressures placed on her to lose weight and fit into the pop star mold of the time. Thinking back to that era and remembering all the tweens and teens trying to emulate that image (myself included), and now knowing that in Jessica’s case she was miserable, uncomfortable, and starving in order to fit that image herself. An image dictated by a man in a suit.
I enjoyed listening to Jessica tell her story, from the emotional, difficult topics to the more lighthearted and fun. She has a great sense of humour and doesn’t take herself too seriously. With her memoir, you do get to know her as a person, and I couldn’t help but feel sad for the way she had been treated and mocked by the media and the public. This book definitely leaves you with a sense of the individual who is telling her story, and how genuine and kind she is. She seems to be in a better place now, and I hope she is happy.
If you are looking for an audiobook to listen to and enjoy memoirs, or maybe have a curiosity about the pop star-centric world of the 2000’s, I feel that Open Book is definitely worth a listen.
“Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible; the invisible become forgotten. But the snail… the snail kept my spirit from evaporating.”
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a unique and beautiful story of Elizabeth Tova Bailey’s observations of a snail that made a home on her nightstand. A mysterious illness drastically changes Elizabeth’s life, keeping her bedridden and detached from everything that once brought familiarity and comfort. The lack of mobility results in isolation and lengthy days, with a common woodland snail as an unexpected form of fascination and interest.
“We are all hostages of time. We each have the same number of minutes and hours to live within a day, yet to me it didn’t feel equally doled out. My illness brought me such an abundance of time that time was nearly all I had. My friends had so little time that I often wished I could give them what time I could not use. It was perplexing how in losing health I had gained something so coveted but to so little purpose.”
With the illness, Elizabeth lacked the strength to hold a book and was sensitive to the noisiness of a television, so the little snail was a welcome and surprising new companion. The book is incredibly well written and a provides a nice, quiet journey. The focus is mainly on the snail and the author’s observations, along with everything she learns about the snail from her research. Elizabeth’s illness and other people are more in the background, which results in a very powerful story as a whole. One that is a beautiful message of finding connection and hope in the midst of incredible loss.
“Survival often depends on a specific focus: A relationship, a belief, or a hope balanced on the edge of possibility. Or something more ephemeral: the way the sun passes through the hard seemingly impenetrable glass of a window and warms the blanket, or how the wind, invisible but for its wake, is so loud one can hear it through the insulated walls of a house.”
After repeatedly missing the mark, I realized that a simple fairy tale formula seemed about as realistic as, well, a fairy tale. Perhaps there was more to life than finding “The One.” It dawned on me that while I was pining away for a partner and beating myself up for being single, I was missing out on another life right in front of me – a single life full of autonomy, self-discovery, adventure and indulgence.
I began to look at life differently and saw that the ingredients to living a fantastic single life were there all along. I scooped these up and assembled them into the nine fundamental lessons for living life fully as a single woman. These stories and lessons allowed me to start looking at my single life with a renewed sense of excitement.
This lovely little book is a great combination of personal stories/experiences and friendly, helpful advice. It is written in a very relatable and straightforward way that makes it an easy read, and one that feels like a conversation with a good friend. A friend that is sharing encouraging and empowering advice. Through stories of various experiences and lessons learned, the authors provide points on what should be taken away from each chapter, all of which end with a list of suggestions/exercises one can do in order to apply these lessons to their life. This is a really nice read that provides helpful advice on living a great single life and being confident in your own skin. Highly recommended. 🙂
“… everyone yearns for a little magic. Everyone wants the Gates of Paradise to open for them, and when I wrote my letter to Juliet, it was one last knock on the door. It was one last attempt at a happy ending.”
Juliet’s Answer contains real stories in which the author recounts his experience of traveling to Verona and joining a group that is dedicated to answering the many letters that are addressed to Juliet. That is Juliet of Romeo and Juliet. After the city of Verona began receiving numerous letters from all over the world addressed to Juliet, all having to do with woes of love, a group was established that came to be known as Secretaries of Juliet. Glenn Dixon, who was a teacher for over twenty years and taught Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to his classes, decided to travel to Verona and volunteer his time in answering the letters to Juliet. He does this in an effort to heal, understand heartbreak, and maybe learn something about the ever complicated subject of love.
“… the sentiments were all the same. All of them were asking about love. All were asking about this soul-wrenching experience that is both our deepest sorrow and our greatest joy.”
This is a nice, breezy, and enjoyable read for fans of soul-searching memoirs, as well as lovers of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The book is presented and organized beautifully into three “acts” containing photos as well as a map and a reader’s guide. The author takes turns talking about his experiences in Verona, flashing back to his struggle with heartbreak, and also dissecting and discussing the play of Romeo and Juliet in one of his classes. Each section is interesting and there is a really nice flow to the structure of the stories, particularly the way the author’s class on Romeo and Juliet is mixed in. A lovely read that tackles the subject of love and brings Verona to life.
“I had thought my younger self assumed everything would work out – that I was possessed of some reckless confidence you only have in youth. Otherwise, how could I have been fool enough to try? But the journal wasn’t quixotic, it was fearful. The terror was so present, yet I was doing it anyway.”
With her trademark sense of humour, actress Anna Kendrick delivers a delightful collection of essays on the ups and downs of life, love, and career pursuits. From her early start in theatre to her successful movie career, along with “dating experiments,” she presents stories in a voice that is funny, genuine, honest, and self-aware.
“I worried that luck and timing and opportunity (and my little frame and goofy face) might never align at the right moments, but for all the inexorable insecurities that live inside my head, I knew what I was capable of. I just had to be patient.”
I am a big fan of Anna Kendrick and her sense of humour, so her collection of autobiographical essays was a must-read for me. Scrappy Little Nobody does not disappoint, as Anna’s voice and humour comes through each story, exploring various aspects of her life. She comes across very relatable and as someone you want to be friends with, and this book just confirms why we all want to be friends with Anna Kendrick. A great read for fans.