Review | Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Title: Scrappy Little Nobody (2016)
Author: Anna Kendrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Read: 24th – 29th August 2018
Genre: memoir; humour
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.” At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In her autobiographical collection of essays Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations. Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).”
(Synopsis from the publisher)

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Review | How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb

hownottobeaboyTitle: How Not to Be a Boy (2017)
Author: Robert Webb
Narrator: Robert Webb
Publisher: Canongate
Read: 8th January – 16th February 2018
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“RULES FOR BEING A MAN: Don’t Cry; Love Sport; Play Rough; Drink Beer; Don’t Talk About Feelings. But Robert Webb has been wondering for some time now: are those rules actually any use? To anyone? Looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes (on girls and boys) to discovering the power of making people laugh (in the Cambridge Footlights with David Mitchell), and from losing his beloved mother to becoming a husband and father, Robert Webb considers the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life. Hilarious and heartbreaking, How Not To Be a Boy explores the relationships that made Robert who he is as a man, the lessons we learn as sons and daughters, and the understanding that sometimes you aren’t the Luke Skywalker of your life – you’re actually Darth Vader.” (Synopsis from the publisher)

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Review | This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

thisisgoingtohurtTitle: This Is Going to Hurt (2017)
Author: Adam Kay
Read: 5th – 12th November 2017
Genre: memoir; non-fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships . . .

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.” (Synopsis from publisher)

Book awards aren’t everything, but there is a reason that this book smoothly scooped the Books Are My Bag Non-Fiction Book of the Year, Books Are My Bag Readers’ Choice Award, Blackwell’s Debut Book of the Year, and iBooks’ Book of the Year awards – it’s immensely readable. At times tragic, at times side-splittingly hilarious, Adam Kay’s diaries from his time training and working as a doctor (one and the same) are glib and matter-of-fact and you definitely don’t need to be a doctor to find them compelling and addictive, but I’m sure if you are, this book would resonate on every single sleep-deprived level.

“Whatever we lack in free time, we more than make up for in stories about patients. Today in the mess over lunch we’re trading stories about nonsense “symptoms” that people have presented with. Between us in the last few weeks we’ve seen patients with itchy teeth, sudden improvement in hearing and arm pain during urination.”

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Review | My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

Title: My Salinger Year (2017)
Author: Joanna Rakoff
Read: 23rd – 27th September 2017
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back… Poignant, keenly observed and irresistibly funny, My Salinger Year is a memoir about literary New York in the late 1990s, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself swept into one of the last great stories and entangled with one of the last great figures of the century. Above all, it is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer and a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Review | The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Title: The Princess Diarist (2016)
Author: Carrie Fisher
Read: 24th July – 3rd August
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Review | Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

talkingasfastasicanTitle: Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between (2016)
Author: Lauren Graham
Read: 21st January 2017
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

No one can deny that Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can was released at the perfect time for maximum exposure; with Netflix’s Gilmore Girls revival premiering in the same month, every fan of the show was eager for more. More episodes, more behind-the-scenes, more Lorelai Gilmore. (In fact my one critique of the book would be I would have liked a little more!) But that is what this is – it’s a funny, light-hearted, and, at times, heart-warming memoir of the woman behind Lorelai Gilmore, Lauren Graham. If you like Lauren, you will like this memoir, which seems like an obvious thing to say but let’s just establish that now. If you don’t already like her, I wouldn’t say this is ground-breaking and will change your mind. It’s for fans of Lauren, fans of Gilmore Girls, and (I presume) fans of Parenthood, though I still haven’t got round to watching that yet. Although this book reminded me of that fact, it principally just reinforced why I love Gilmore Girls so much.

“Because who wants to Fast Forward anyway? You might miss some of the good parts.”

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