Boy Erased by Garrard Conley

conley, garrard - boy erased

thumbs_side ) You know those rumors of homosexuality-correction camps? They really did exist. And Conley gives a much-needed look into his experience at one of the most renowned venues at the time. Further, what brought him there; namely sexual assault as well as being a pastor’s gay son.

Fear and shame were brutally forced. Conley truly wanted to change and made a valiant effort in the beginning. However, it wasn’t long before he saw that everything in the camp was based on lies and bullying. Conley made the decision to accept who he was, and had his mother remove him from the camp. They both turned their backs on his father’s protests.

It’s a unique read with a perspective about an issue we don’t get to hear much. On the other hand, I wouldn’t necessarily say the writing itself is my cup of tea.

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Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle

dunkle, elena - elena vanishing

(thumbs_up ) This is one of the more powerful anorexia memoirs that I’ve read. The style of writing is very gritty and spontaneous.

Dunkle describes her thought process during the time that she experienced very serious anorexia. She was hospitalized, and ultimately began to desire to die.

She also explores the journey she took to heal, including the increased influence of her family. It’s an intense story of struggle, and very well done.

Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

gordon, bryony - mad girl

thumbs_up ) Bryony Gordon has an assortment of mental health issues. This is an interesting read specifically because it shows how different symptoms can appear from one person to another, or even at one time or situation as compared to another.

Gordon makes light of her embarrassing issues in an entertaining fashion, but also separately emphasizes that the burden of mental illness is not funny in itself. One of her compulsive thoughts, due to OCD, is worrying that she is a pedophile. She has never had any inclinations of that sort, but it’s a fear that won’t leave her mind. It’s comedic, but also sad and torturous.

The author is based in the UK, so there may be some phrases thrown about that won’t be familiar to U.S. readers, but it doesn’t detract from the overall story. Good stuff.

It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman

dorfman, andi - its not okthumbs_down ) As much as I’m all about female empowerment and taking charge of your life, I really can’t take a woman seriously who buys Lululemon to make herself feel better. Yes, I know that’s my own biased, so I tried to look past that when reading this book.

However, it didn’t get much better. Yes, Dorfman describes her “traumatic” recovery from two very public, very horrible and “abusive” relationships stemming from the bachelor/bachelorette shows. That storyline would seem interesting if not for that fact that the overall feeling I got from the writing was that the author wasn’t providing full transparency to her readers.

She tries to talk about the best way to get over a breakup is to show them up with your success, but some of the suggestions she “prescribed” just sickened me. This just didn’t sync with her earlier description of being a hermit at home, feeling sorry for herself for weeks on end while getting fat and drunk to deal with the pain. Everything just felt so exaggerated. I know that’s typical in a lot of memoirs – but there was just a ring of entitlement and selfishness behind this that I couldn’t shake.

But again, like I said, it may be my biased against superficial-looking white women that can afford to spend frivolously on a pointless brand of clothing like Lululemon or Ugg boots. The writing just didn’t feel honest to me.

I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart

hart, kevin - i cant make this upthumbs_up ) So I haven’t always been a big Kevin Hart fan, but I have been enjoying comedic authors lately. This book was highly rated so I thought, why not? My level of respect for Hart increased exponentially after reading this memoir. No, I’m still not huge on his style of humor, but I was fascinated by his incredible journey as a person who came from intense poverty, abuse, and an unrelenting atmosphere of discouragement.

Despite many personal struggles, Hart never gave up on his dream of becoming a successful and respected comedian. He found what he loved, and even with repeated set backs and some incredibly saddening sacrifices, he persisted. With so many things working against him, Hart still was able to find a way to get where he wanted.

As a comedian, he reports the hilariously weird things that occur in his life. He even is able to turn his absent, addict father into a good laugh throughout the writing. This book is both serious and fun; I highly recommend it.

A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles by Mary Elizabeth Williams

williams, mary elizabeth - a series of catastrophes and miracles ( thumbs_side ) Cancer is a bitch, plain and simple. And the author is unfortunate enough to have experienced the struggle with both her own body and many of those she loves. However, she’s lucky in that an experimental treatment cured a rare, stage 4 melanoma she had been enduring.

Throughout this time, she chronicles what it is like to still have to balance a career, friends, and family with her treatment. She analyzes discussions she has with those close to her in similar situations, and how she feels blessed to have pulled through.

It’s good writing about a somewhat taboo, depressing topic. The only gripe I have is that there are too many characters introduced for me to follow. I got a little lost, even though the main story was the same.

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

gaffigan, jim - food a love story

( thumbs_up ) Yes yes, I know I have been reading a lot of books about food lately, but this book is from a different point of view altogether.

Gaffigan goes into detail about his adoration for food and all things delicious. He has a strong conviction that the pleasure he feels from eating outweighs any negative health consequences that will arise. He tells stories of his passion for a variety of different cuisines with uproarious comedic insights.

Although I do not share his philosophy, I can definitely understand where he’s coming from within this writing. And it’s a joy to listen to his hilarious anecdotes on this topic.