And Then Suddenly! Non-Fiction!

Despite the fact that my To Be Read pile is mainly YA fantasy, I ended up reading a bunch of non-fiction last month. I’m not even sure how it happened … but I now have reading recommendations for those who, like me, are not really fans of non-fiction, so, yay?

Hm. Actually. Wait. I do know how this happened.

I’m pretty sure this was all Aziz Ansari’s fault.

I watched a bunch of his stand-up on Netflix and made the decision to buy the audiobook for Modern Romance, which he narrates. It kind of feels like a show that Ansari is performing just for you:

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world. — [X]

I am sure an argument can be made for this one’s crossover appeal, but I feel like it will primarily appeal to young adults and adults who are curious about how technology and romance work together (or not) across countries and cultures. (Do note, though, that the study is still primarily looks at straight, American, middle-class people’s experiences.) I think it could also be a useful writing resource, if realistic fiction is your thing. And if the mentions of data and graphs is off-putting to you, well, be assured that Ansari makes it easy to understand and incredibly funny. If you listen to this one in public, know that you are bound to literally laugh out loud.

The next audiobook I listened to was kind of similar to Modern Romance in that Alida Nugent’s stories add some complexity to the people and the data we hear about in Ansari’s book. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse gives us an honest, heartfelt account of the modern twenty-something arts student’s life:

Don't Worry It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent

In Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse, Nugent shares what it takes to make the awkward leap from undergrad to “mature and responsible adult that definitely never eats peanut butter straight from the jar and considers it a meal.” From trying to find an apartment on the black hole otherwise known as Craigslist to the creative maneuvering needed to pay off student loans and still enjoy happy hour, Nugent documents the formative moments of being a twentysomething with a little bit of snark and a lot of heart. Based on her popular Tumblr blog The Frenemy, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse is a love note to boozin’, bitchin’ ladies everywhere. — [X]

I am definitely biased here, given how much I love The Frenemy’s posts on Tumblr, but this was really fun to listen to. I admit that there are parts that made me just want to go to her Tumblr instead of listen to her audiobook, but either way it reveals how much I like her writing and how her writing makes me feel. I don’t know what Nugent is like IRL, but her writing is friendly and funny and so genuine that, in my case at least, it fills me with confidence and good humour when I need it the most.

The last one has been on my TBR forever and the Vancouver Writers Fest gave me the push I needed to pick it up:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better. — [X]

I don’t think I have anything new to say about Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist that hasn’t already been said a million times. Whatever your thoughts are on feminism, whatever you identify as, whatever you think of Roxane Gay, you need to read this book cover to cover. Gay’s essays are absolutely fantastic. Heartfelt and heartbreaking in turns, Gay’s writes about her childhood, her hopes, her trauma, her media loves/hates, and so much more with great eloquence and tremendous grace. Every sentence seeps with so much intelligence and heart. It is essential reading.

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