Open Book by Jessica Simpson

BLOGWell, 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.

Juliet’s Answer by Glenn Dixon

img_3779“… 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.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

img_3414“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.