Rant Review From An Avid Broad City Viewer: I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson

I was over the moon excited when I found this was out in the world and also (low-key) mad that I wasn’t informed earlier of this release. Broad City was one of my highlights of September 2017, when I first discovered and watched the series with the release of season four, and featured my commentary and all the details on the show in my wrap up of the month. In hindsight, I guess some things are better left unread, like angry emails or rant-y reads.

Going into this having left two disappointing books prior, I was hoping for a pick-me-up in the form of Abbi Jacobson’s writing voice. I checked out the audiobook – read by the author – and it was a joy to discover her words read with such intending and meaning; Abbi Jacobson doesn’t just read her words, she lives through them.

While reading, I also realized that this was my first foray into the author’s solo work without Ilana being there to balance out her more every-day-awkwardness. It got me wondering which part of the Broad City duo I essentially enjoy more when they’re apart. After reading nearly three chapters, it dawned on me pretty quickly…

As much as I enjoy a good tangent, I’d like to, at some point in the storyline, reach the bigger picture, you know, the one mentioned in the title and then never elaborated on till the very rapid end… This is usually where Ilana comes in to balance out Abbi’s long-winded talks with humor to light up the scene, so I found that aspect to be repeatedly missing in the essays.

It’s just that I’d rather not be taken through pages of discussion on her junk mail disposing routine and what that fully entails with the many different categories they’re divided in. By the time she gets to the point, on finding a long-lost letter, I’ve already forgotten what the essay title was about. And this effect only snowballed the more she went on. It’s at this point that I was extremely thankful for the 2X speed on audio.

It got me wondering whether a certain word count was trying to be met?? Because Abbi Jacobson had so many worthy components to elaborate on (like discussing the actual seventy-year-old letter that reached her, her road trip which starts off the book but isn’t mentioned for at least three chapters, the actual relationship she first experienced) but she either skims over the highlights in a quick paragraph or wraps it up in a speedy end, opting to discuss detailed throwaway things . And it made me feel slowly more riled up the more I found random tangents thrown my way.

I’m perplexed as to why the audiobook is over six hours when that time could’ve been cut in half with all these rants on what-ifs and building up any possible scenario (that’ll never happen) before and after the event… but then the event itself is barely discussed in detail. Like the chase to hunt down the owners of the seventy-year-old letter, which she spent romanticizing in plenty of paragraphs wondering what if, when in reality it was wrapped up in one page.I Might Regret This- bookspoils

Nonfiction essays are supposed to be a fun, easy-breezy read for me, like I recently experienced while listening to Anne Bogel’s “I’d Rather Be Reading,” which cuts short at just over two hours. I wanted to be left wanting something more, which is what Broad City excels at with its 20-minute episodes. But this book just left me wanting something else. I jumped on any opportunity to be distracted in a google search by her mentions in the book, such as her friend’s chase after the rightful owner behind the developed film found in a blizzard.

I can appreciate a long tangent and vibe if it’s on a topic the writer personally cares about and I get to experience the excitement through her words, but Jacobson chose to elaborate on details that are usually cut in the second draft. There’s a lot of pages filled with dreaming and fantasizing, but little to no actual time spent on the action of the event. She even acknowledges the same:

“I’m going to go farther away from the B&B for a moment, because tangents are the most effective way I have to stall going to what I feel might be an extremely uncomfortable breakfast full of me halfheartedly making small talk over mediocre pastries. ”

She goes again into an ‘I wonder what will happen…’ spiral when staying for the first time at a B&B on her road trip, instead of just skipping straight ahead to what actually went down. This occurs way too many times in her writing to make the book enjoyable to read for me. The fact is that she build-up so many possibilities in her head of what might happen so that it creates this effect of disappointment when the real-life event finally comes around to being discussed and pales in comparison.

I mean, this is when you know the rants are bad: “While we’re here, I also want to touch on the whole saucer issue—” Plus: a whole chapter dedicated to all the items in her car for the 10-hour drive ahead.

This is also where the frustrations hits rock bottom because there are so many moments when it’s acceptable to go in depth with something juicy, like Kelly Rippa holding an article about that same long-lost letter Abbi found from seventy years ago in her mail, which happens way before Broad City, and way before Kelly Rippa even appeared on the show. Like, was that ever mentioned in real life? Did Kelly remember delivering the story? So many details worth to elaborate on but are barely mentioned again. Even something as trivial as her friend’s last name being Bieber.

Like, sure, go on a tangent about your junk mail and skip over this… Don’t mind me. There comes a point when you spend so much time wrapped up in fiction and fantasy that you tend to forget how simple and great real life can feel, how intimate and true. And I feel like this book lacked the intimate truths I was waiting to connect with, like those feelings evoked after watching a good episode of Broad City.

So it’s regrettable the good didn’t come to outshine the bad because when Abbi Jacobson focuses on the subject in front of her she shines so brightly in her humor. She nails down so many specifics that had me nodding along. Like her do’s and donts when it comes to her three-week road-trip. In the end, I just wish the author would’ve spent more time talking about herself, rather than wasting so many pages on unimportant details and scenarios that never came to happen.

“Do not listen to Sia’s “Breathe Me.” If you must, do not be driving, especially not in a beautiful landscape. If you are, and it plays, do not by any means put your window down and picture your car driving through the expansive terrain from an aerial drone shot.” 

Her insights are on-point: “SIDENOTE, “will-they-won’t-theys” are always will-theys, right?!”I Might Regret This bookspoils

If you enjoy long-winded, off-the-page, stream-of-consciousness writing then I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson might be your kind of book.

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Book Lovers’ Delight: I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

We are readers. Books grace our shelves and fill our homes with beauty; they dwell in our minds and occupy our thoughts. Books prompt us to spend pleasant hours alone and connect us with fellow readers. They invite us to escape into their pages for an afternoon, and they inspire us to reimagine our lives.”

The audiobook for Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather Be Reading, read by the author, was the perfect companion to a day filled with cooking meals and cleaning my room. It’s lighthearted and a breeze to listen to; I sped through like eight chapters without even noticing.

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(Chapter: “A Reader’s Coming of Age”)

I’d Rather Be Reading is a collection full of spectacular, talkative essays that chronicle and accentuate the simple things in books make us love in them. Bogel’s love for books shines so sincerely in her writing. Her bookish enthusiasm reminded me of why I read in the first place.

Not out of habit or duty, but because reading is part of who they are. It’s in their blood. They’re book people.”

This book also reminded me of the human connection I feel after reading a good Nonfiction essay collection, which I haven’t experienced in a hot minute. Surprisingly, it also brings back memories on all those books that made up your life one by one. The ones that changed the game by making you love reading, the ones that you hate to love and love to hate, the funny books, the childhood favorites, and so many more that came to shape the person you are today.

There’s a love letter to the library next door. Taking the hint when a book arrives at the right time in your life when it seeks you out. Living out her bookseller dreams for a day (and the odd requests received). Being “book bossy” and the treacherous ground of unsolicited advice that accompanies recommending people (especially her kids) what to read. The beauty of rereading a book, which reminded me of a podcast I listened to that hosted BookTuber Ariel Bissett, who talked more in detail on why rereading matters: We read to find books we love and want to revisit.

Coming of age with books and rereading them years late makes you see and uncover different things each time. They’re like photographs, taking you back to the exact moment in time when and where you read.

Rereading can make you remember who you used to be, and, like pencil marks on a door frame, show you how much you’ve changed. ”

Other goodies include a full chapter on Bookworm Problems. The hidden pleasures in reading the acknowledgments and sharing some of the favorite last page excerpts from books the author has read.

“I’m a reader who always wondered what the writing life was like, and not knowing the details, supplied my own—” “But in the acknowledgments, the authors hint at the practicalities of writing books, brass-tacks details that might otherwise never occur to readers.”

I enjoy reading the acknowledgments at the end as well because it makes for a less abrupt switch of mindset between reading and not reading. It also grants me the time to part peacefully from the book, like having trailers after the movie to prepare me for the exit. Also: “I especially enjoy stumbling across miscellaneous goodies and oddities, the things an author can’t include anywhere else”

In short: I’d Rather Be Reading capture the truth of our bookish experience in bite-size chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

Lastly, I have to mention this brilliant idea the author had on getting her hand on her library records. These records show so much of our timeline; our history through our bookish finds. It would be an ineffable experience.

“Based on my borrowed titles alone, I’d be able to clearly see the months and years I spent away from my hometown, the one I’m happy to live in even now. I would be able to spot the summer I got engaged, when I checked out every book on wedding planning in the library system. The month I learned I was pregnant and immediately cleared the shelves of those books. The sudden surge of board book checkouts a year later, after we’d added another tiny reader to our household. It’s all right there, in my library records.”

Among the many noteworthy book recommendations, I’m already on my way to my local library to browse their book shelves. Oh, and, of course, the on theme black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout the book were a joy to look at:I'd Rather Be Reading 1- bookspoils(Chapter: “Windows to the Soul”)
I'd Rather Be Reading 3- bookspoils(Chapter: “Confess Your Literary Sins”)

I'd Rather Be Reading 4- bookspoils(Chapter: “Book Bossy”)

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Rant Review: Risk! by Kevin Allison (Editor)

Oh man, I really was not expecting to be in the position of writing this bitter review, but, alas, here we are…

It’s funny, really, because I went into Risk! the MOST excited after having read the very first story and received such a positive feeling throughout my reading, which is exactly what made me request a copy from the publisher, who kindly provided one. With Great Beauty by A. J. Jacobs is a story set on finding an online match for his babysitter who “happens to be crazy hot.” The author talks to guys he meets online through her profile, which grants him an insider’s look into what it means to be a beautiful woman, living vicariously through her: “because with great beauty comes great responsibility.”

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An incredible start to the collection; it set the mood for what’s to come, in my mind. And yet I continued reading only to discover how utterly mistaken I was. The introducing story is the peak of happiness that this collection hits.

I was expecting this to be in the vein of The Moth Presents All These Wonders by Catherine Burns, where we have a mix between the happy and sad, tragic and wistful. But this is just non-stop tragedy thrown your way, and I felt misled.

The consecutive stories that follow in Risk! all settle for the same damn shock-factor: death. It all comes across quite jarring since nearly every essay settles for announcing these out-of-nowhere deaths and suicides and killings. There’s no build-up preparing the reader; it’s like those jump-scares in horror movies that are only there to shake you up and don’t add depth to the story.

Also, some trigger warnings before certain pivotal stories would’ve been much appreciated. I settled for checking out the Q&A at the end of each essay to get a clue for what’s ahead. There are deeply unsettling stories featured in here that at times made me feel physically revolted, enough to lower my need to reach for this book. It’s sad that these jarring stories came to overshadow those that are full of fragile, wide open, lingering truths.

Taking away filters may be fun for the teller, but I don’t want anyone else to be hurt.

Unfortunately, that’s not even the worst of it all. The worst of it all I can grant to Nimisha Ladva’s An American Family. Oh damn, my heart beats furiously just thinking about where to start with this one.

This story has a) no redeeming quality whatsoever b) literally raised my wrath without even trying, while I read it in the morning, which c) pissed me off for the rest of the day.

And it all comes down to this moment on her wedding day with David, who’s Jewish:

She leans in, puts her hand tenderly over David’s head, and gives him his gift. That is when I see it for the first time.
My mother has painted a swastika on it.

This, instead of being addressed, is then excused as being a part of their culture way before “the evil bad Nazis took it”. UMMM… 

How can the mother be this desensitized to not realize the scope of the person in front of her? Never thought I’d need to write this down, but take a minute before pulling out the swastika and consider the connotations of whether or not it’s appropriate in front of a person who’s clearly not Hindu.

And David, if there’s ever been a clearer sign for a Jew to make a RUN for it (on his wedding day, no less), this is it. But the man wasn’t even fazed. Moral of the story: American culture has him so brainwashed he doesn’t even blink at the sight of a swastika from his own in-laws. I am terrified that my own people are forgetting history this rapidly. Stop depleting your roots, PLEASE.

I feel like the quote from Yosl Rakover Talks to God, on the world moving on all too quickly by not holding Nazis and their silent accomplices accountable, seems all too fitting in here:

“The world will consume itself in its own evil, it will drown in its own blood.

The murderers have already pronounced judgment on themselves, and they will not escape it. But You, I beg You, pronounce Your guilty verdict, a doubly harsh verdict, on those who witness murder and remain silent!

On those who condemn murder with their lips while they rejoice over it in their hearts.

On those who say in their wicked hearts: Yes, it is true that the tyrant is evil, but he is also doing a job for which we will always be grateful to Him.”

After, it was pretty much impossible for Risk! to have any redeeming points. That’s not to say that I didn’t try multiple times to move on. But you know, when you have such a favorable first impression of a book, you subconsciously hold on a little longer hoping for that spark to reappear… But it never did with this one.

This is where the subtitle, “True Stories People Never Thought They’d Dare to Share,” paints a clear picture for why it’s best to keep some things to ourselves.

Expected publication: July 17th, 2018

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