Review: Unqualified by Anna Faris, Chris Pratt (Foreword)

The road that led me down to pick this book up is a funny one and can be mainly credited to one character: Andy Dwyer. So basically, I was in a funk of watching a bunch of Parks and Recreation videos that started off with this hilarious compilation below of Chris Pratt bloopers that had me nearly choking with laughter, while simultaneously wiping away laugh-crying tears.

I inevitably went down a rabbit hole of binge-watching clip after clip of Parks and Rec, and all this to say, I knew something productive would come of it because this whole preface led me to Unqualified by Anna Faris, since I recalled that Chris Pratt wrote the foreword, and after reading his words, I can only say: Andy would approve.

But the funny thing is, I quickly forgot all about the previous noise when I put on Anna’s easygoing narrative-voice on audio (perfectly made for storytelling), which snared me in right away. I immensely enjoyed the window into her whirlwind world.

Her comic memoir and first book, Unqualified, will share Anna’s candid, sympathetic, and entertaining stories of love lost and won. Part memoir, part humorous, unflinching advice from her hit podcast Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the book will reveal Anna’s unique take on how to navigate the bizarre, chaotic, and worthwhile adventure of finding love.

The book showcases an honest firsthand account of despising high school (“The guiding question of my teenage years was simply, How do I survive this time in my life?”), getting rejected from audition roles (the most exciting one to read about was the Friends audition that later led her to a much bigger role in the show), school-grade crushes (“It was that heady rush of young love that has no basis in logic at all.”), marriage, family, sharing her “penchant for digging into other people’s personal lives,” and more on life and all its aspects. I bonded over the many insights shared from Faris.

The biggest compliment I can pay is that I was so into Unqualified that I continued dreaming about in my sleep, granted I stayed up listening till 1 am and slept for only five hours that night, but still. This book reads of truth. Also, I’m glad I decided to listen to this on audio since her soft-spoken, calming voice has this subtle raspy factor to it that I came to appreciate.

Other essays that stood out for me were about:

  • going to her high school reunion after twenty years and having her 90s romantic movie-worthy ending… just read this passage:

 “I’d been at the reunion for all of one hour, but it was long enough for me to feel like I was in high school again, and to be ready to get out. I mean, Green Day was pumping through the loudspeakers. Chris drove down and picked me up, as we’d planned, and it did feel a bit like the lion rescuing the lioness from the hyenas. It was amazing to watch the reaction as he came through the door. I still felt like headgear-wearing, awkward Anna Faris, but when Chris came in, he was all movie star. There was a collective gasp as he whisked me away and, yes, that was fairly satisfying, I guess. I’m human, after all.”

  • her utterly moving chapter about her son, Jack Pratt. This was the most telling chapter in her memoir where I was continually taken off guard, and I applaud Anna Faris for her ineffable strength and endurance. I felt all the things she described, from the terror of feeling her water break two months before she was due, to the boredom through her bed rest, and then the inevitable scenario of going into labor… All these high-intensity moments stayed with me long after the last page.
  • unfolding the history behind Chris’s fascination with learning to french braid, which had piqued my interest last year when I saw this:

“My mom loves to French braid my hair. It’s a weird thing she does even now that I’m an adult. But she always starts a little too high and I end up looking like a sister wife. Three or four years ago, Chris was watching her do a French braid and wanted to learn. He already knew how to do a regular braid because his sister taught him when they were kids, and he’s into knots in general, from being an outdoorsy guy.”

  • And last but not least, what’s a memoir with sharing some blast from the past photos?

Unqualified 1-- bookspoils“(I’m the short one).”Unqualified 2-- bookspoilsUnqualified 3-- bookspoilsUnqualified 4-- bookspoils


My knowledge of Anna Faris before reading this could be narrowed down to her character Cindy Campbell in Scary Movie (which I definitely shouldn’t have watched at the age that I did), but after reading Unqualified, I feel like I’ve got a more solid perspective on her as a person, which is all I could’ve asked for. Bottom line: I love a good spot-on memoir I can be swept into.

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Unqualified, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Rookie on​ Love by Tavi Gevinson

“My memory of men is never lit up and illuminated like my memory of women.”Marguerite Duras

A single-subject anthology about the heart’s most powerful emotion, edited by Tavi Gevinson. Touching upon love in all its different variations, from “a devotional to dogs” (Durga Chew-Bose) to unrequited love to accepting your self-worth to experiencing intimate friendships with women.

“Love is all around, but its holding place is not always another person. Sometimes you find the best companion in yourself, or the fun of worshipping a teen idol, or the challenge of trying to understand love in its various forms. ”

Before starting, I casually browsed through the table of contents and saw a stellar piece titled “Do Sisters Actually Love Each Other?” by Jazmine Hughes, which I hurried on to read because it was something I really needed. And it was just as spectacular as the title conveys, featuring a group text between a bunch of sisters.

JAVONNE I came back to, like, eighty messages to read and I will not.
Someone fill me in if you want an answer from me.”

When I then saw that Tavi Gevinson had shared a live reading of this hilarious and touching piece, I was over-the-moon:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdwFBuKnBtz/?taken-by=tavitulle

All I need now is the return of the Rookie podcast, which I raved about back in April of 2017.

Rookie on Love, however, didn’t quite embody the expectations I had in mind before starting. More than once I experienced the feeling of really enjoying how a story builds up but then, almost without fail, it would veer off downhill, destroying what it had created in its small space, and end on a completely unsatisfying note. And because of the short length, there wasn’t even a redeeming moment that could’ve saved the narrative.

It also didn’t help the collection of hitting a rough patch in the middle, where none of the essays held my attention and consequently failed to raise any emotion out of me (I mean, other than bitter rage at a certain line in Collier Meyerson’s piece I landed upon while randomly flipping through the collection)… Thankfully though, when I finally reached Victoria Chiu’s written piece, which came in to save the day, as she touches upon her choice to abstain from “(penetrative) sex.” As well as other standout pieces in here that I’d like to feature, such as:

  • Fwd: Letter to Leyb by Tova Benjamin, talking about relationships in the digital age:

“Sometimes I think, I will never forget that I felt this way. And then I do. It seems horribly scary to invest so much time and energy and emotion into something that will eventually wind down to the end of its life, be it 44 days or two years and nine months. And then what?”

  • The Most Exciting Moment of Alma’s Life by Etgar Keret. A quick story on life after experiencing your highest high.

Though for Alma, it’s not really just a question. Sometimes she actually dreams about what happened at the Biblical Zoo. She with her braids and the lion standing so close to her that she could feel his warm breath on her face. In some of the dreams, the lion rubs up against her in a friendly way, in others, he opens his mouth and roars, and then she usually wakes up terrified. So one can say that as long as she keeps dreaming, that moment hasn’t completely passed. But dreaming, with all due respect, is not exactly living.”Rookie on Love 1-- bookspoils

  • Beyond Self-Respect by Jenny Zhang. One of the most important pieces, talking about how love and respect need to go hand in hand, which I also heard a lecture on a few months back and it completely changed my viewpoint.

“The way we talk about respect and teenage girls needs to change. I want girls to learn how to disrespect the men in their lives who cause them harm and violence, I want them to learn how to disrespect patriarchal values that bind and demean. Looking back on my past relationships, I can pinpoint the very moment when I lost respect for the person I was dating. Often, it happened early on—a casually offensive remark that betrayed deeper levels of racism, an unfunny joke that revealed how much he feared and hated women, or even just a delusional comment that showed zero self-awareness—but always, when I was younger, I would continue to date that person, doubling down on my commitment, all the while losing respect for him. That’s the most disturbing part, that I thought I could love someone I didn’t even respect.”

  • Super Into a Person’s Person-ness a conversation between Rainbow Rowell and John Green, “YA powerhouses on writing epic—yet real—teen love.” I can listen to Rainbow Rowell for eternity, as you can tell by my extensive review of my all-time favorite book of hers, Fangirl.

RAINBOW When I’m writing love stories (which I can’t help but do, it’s always a love story for me), I really don’t want to be writing a story that makes it worse for the people reading it. That perpetuates all the lies about love and attraction.
JOHN Right.
RAINBOW But also, if I’m writing about teenagers, I don’t want them to be somehow magically above this bullshit. They can’t be wizened 40-year-olds who know from experience that it’s garbage.
JOHN Well, but also, I don’t think you ever get magically above this bullshit. We’re talking like this is all in our past, but of course inherited ideas about beauty and attractiveness affect adult life, too.
RAINBOW Yes.
JOHN Hopefully over time you develop an awareness that, e.g., your obsession with the perfect nose is completely ludicrous, but it’s not like it all goes away.
RAINBOW You’re still a nose man?
JOHN God, no. I am a PERSON MAN. I am super into a person’s person-ness.”

  • Before I Started Writing These Things Directly to You by Tavi Gevinson, on trying to capture the feelings as they occur.

“I just don’t trust words a whole lot, and wonder if writing this, too, takes the air out of the whole thing, like in the Chekhov story “The Kiss,” where the sad loner shares the story of an improbable romantic encounter with his male colleagues and, upon hearing it out loud, experiences the whole thing as woefully insignificant.”

I wholeheartedly enjoyed this piece by Tavi, wherein she managed to create a solid grip on her relationship with this goofy grinning guy in just one page.Rookie on Love 2-- bookspoils


Overall, I’d say I came to appreciate most of all the pieces that exposed my innermost feelings so successfully that it made me reflect a lot. So even though the collection as a whole was mainly a hit or miss with its forty-something stories, I still came to cherish a handful of pieces.

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Review: My Life by Golda Meir

 “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”

When I first discovered My Life, my excitement regarding this book was sky-high because I had this urgent need, seemingly out of nowhere, to find out everything about Golda Meir, known as the “strong-willed, straight-talking, gray-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people.”

This is Golda Meir’s long-awaited personal and moving story of her life. For the first time, we experience through her own words how it happened that this amazing woman, born in Russia and brought up in Milwaukee, became Prime Minister Israel and one of the political giants of our time, without ever losing the warmth and informality for which she is justly celebrated.

I nearly ran to the library in my excitement and frenzy to know all about this grand pioneering woman. And as I was about to start my reading, holding this whopper of a book in my hands, I had a passing thought that whispered: “this will be something special.”

Thankfully the book started off on a great note as it read like a memoir of her family life. From her radically opinionated sister, Sheyna, who “did what her principles dictated,” to snapshots of Golda Meir’s politically charged adolescence, featuring debates on Zionism, literature, women’s suffrage, and more. To put it mildly, “I hung on their words as though they would change the fate of mankind.”

But then the narrative started jumping around in time, which had me confused as ever trying to keep up, at which point I had to pull up Golda Meir’s Wikipedia page to get a coherent sense of the events being described. And adding the fact that the main focus of the book was being shifted to center less on her personal life and more heavily on the politics set in that period of time. All these combined elements made my initial excitement subside by a landslide, and I had to rearrange my expectations for the following two-thirds of the book.

The only saving grace by this point was when Golda Meir dared to talk about feminism and “the inner struggles and despairs of a mother who goes to work.”

“Naturally women should be treated as the equals of men in all respects. But, as is true also of the Jewish people, they shouldn’t have to be better than everyone else in order to live like human beings or feel that they must accomplish wonders all the time to be accepted at all. On the other hand, a story — which, as far as I know, is all it was— once went the rounds of Israel to the effect that Ben-Gurion described me as ‘the only man’ in his cabinet. What amused me about it was that obviously he (or whoever invented the story) thought that this was the greatest possible compliment that could be paid to a woman. I very much doubt that any man would have been flattered if I had said about him that he was the only woman in the government!”

Had the primary focus throughout the first half of the book been on chronicling Golda Meir’s life, without adding on her many accounts of traveling and talking overseas to crowds and diplomatical figures about X and Y, would’ve made My Life a real tour de force in my eyes.

Like, this paragraph below about her father’s father who died long before Golda Meir’s parents ever met:

“He had been one of the thousands of ‘kidnapped’ Jewish children of Russia, shanghaied into the czar’s army to serve for twenty-five years. Ill-clothed, ill-fed, terrified children, more often than not they were under constant pressure to convert to Christianity. My Mabovitch grandfather had been snatched by the army when he was all of thirteen, the son of a highly religious family, brought up to observe the finest points of orthodox Jewish tradition. He served in the Russian army for another thirteen, and never once, despite threats, derision and often punishment, did he touch treife (non-kosher) food. All these years he kept himself alive on uncooked vegetables and bread. Though pressed hard to change his religion and often made to pay for his refusal by being forced to kneel for hours on a stone floor, he never gave in. When he was released and came back home, he was nonetheless haunted by the fear that inadvertently he might somehow have broken the Law. So to atone for the sin he might have committed, he slept for years on a bench in an unheated synagogue with only a stone at his head for a pillow. Little wonder that he died young.”

It’s passages like these that stayed with me long after I closed the book.

By the time I rolled around to the end of chapter six (‘We Shall Fight Hitler’) and the following chapter (‘The Struggle Against the British’), the pacing had picked up a bit more and settled on issues that I understood and cared for profoundly. And then, of course, there was ‘We Have Our State’ a phenomenal chapter that lifted my spirits with the signing of the proclamation after all the emotional turmoil and unprecedented loss endured beforehand.

So even though it took me some time to get my bearings, to find my way around this heavy read, My Life by Golda Meir is certainly a book I’ll think about for a while to come, for better and for worse.

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying My Life, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!