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

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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 intention 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.”

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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”)
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My Most Personal Review: Einstein and the Rabbi by Naomi Levy

My interest was piqued regarding Einstein and the Rabbi simply with this featured post:

And the book recommendation did not disappoint one bit, upon starting.

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe, ‘ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings as something separate from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness…” –Albert Einstein

When Rabbi Naomi Levy came across this poignant letter by Einstein it shook her to her core. His words perfectly captured what she has come to believe about the human condition: That we are intimately connected, and that we are blind to this truth. Levy wondered what had elicited such spiritual wisdom from a man of science? Thus began a three-year search into the mystery of Einstein’s letter, and into the mystery of the human soul.

Back in late 2016, looking desperately for a way to reinvent myself or, at the very least, like when I heard myself talk, I overheard a lesson by Rabbi Reuven Fierman on TV that would come to change the course of my life over the next two years.

Sometimes something breaks through to you. It may be an unexpected feeling of ease or even holiness while you are simply enjoying a moment with a loved one. Or it may be the power of the words you read or a melody you hear, the power of being at one with nature, the power of praying in community, the power of a teaching, the advice someone gave you long ago. Suddenly the lesson you need to hear isn’t just washing over you—it hits you deeply.

At the time, influenced by every culture but my own, I was startled to hear a Rabbi state: “Not all that is written in the Torah is the real physical truth as it is,” which was eerily similar to what I’d told my mother before, who was by then already deep into returning to our roots. “The Torah writes what we can understand, not what specifically happened.” And that’s all it took to hook me in.

I started listening and delving deeper into the Jewish philosophies the Rabbi shared, which include lessons on parenting with joy, the truth of love, exposing classic writers and artists for the antisemitism in their works, positive psychology, the different levels of the soul, wartime, Holocaust culture, and so much more that came to shape all that I am today.

It’s become this phenomenon in every book I read or any lecture I listen to, where it all circles back to, “Oh, that’s like Reuven Fierman said in that one lesson.” Or, if I disagree, “Oh, that’s like Reuven Fierman said in that one lesson on how not to act.”

The past year I’ve delved deeper and deeper into the roots of Judaism, and I never thought it would come to save me as much as it did.

Have you ever wondered: Why do I say stuff I don’t agree with? Why am I so quick to turn to anger? How do I establish more meaningful relationships? How do I turn the world around me into a better place?

The other day, my mom viewed this powerful scene from the film The Edge of Seventeen that clicks everything together about sensitive souls stuck in a place that doesn’t accommodate them.

“And I don’t know how to change it” captures best the feeling of isolation I experienced throughout my growing up, like there was this invisible bubble serving as a buffer between me and the outside world with no handy tools to pop it; I could poke and move the bubble around but it was still very much there.

And I need to remember my contemplative thoughts about how I got through that stage, in case the memory slips away with time, so I’m writing this personal post. In a way I owe it all to my mother; it always comes back to my roots. My mom was the one listening to that fateful lesson by Rabbi Reuven Fierman on TV that I managed to walk right by as he said the puncturing sentence that stopped me in my tracks.

I’ve grown and learned so much about the power behind choosing to be who you want to be, thanks to these valuable and encompassing life lessons. AND IT’S AVAILABLE AT THE CLICK OF A BUTTON… FOR FREE.

My personal favorite lessons in Hebrew (Available for English listeners here and Russian listeners here):

You’re not unnecessary. It’s not all or nothing.

  • Being grateful and voicing it so the other side can feel it too. Saying ‘thank you’ because it is a recognition of the light of Hashem that appeared between you. Also: How do you appreciate what happens to you, not what actually happens to you? It’s not the reality that determines, it’s your absorption: http://www.meirtv.co.il/site/content_idx.asp?idx=22657&cat_id=3702.
  • The biological origins behind anger, the rush of adrenaline it provides, and identifying tiny triggers that sets your body on alarm, all of this revolutionized my perception regarding my anxious thoughts. You’re mind is essentially going through all these loops when little things happen that can spiral down to receiving the rush of adrenaline and anger of “I’m in danger.” So it’s up to you to research yourself in modes of anger: what triggers it (heat, crowds, etc.), what’s the root, how do you react… http://www.meirtv.co.il/site/content_idx.asp?idx=22668&cat_id=3702

And with all that off my chest, this is where Einstein and the Rabbi by Naomi Levy steps in. It took me quite some time to fully complete this reading journey, only upon reaching the chapter Knowing You Are the Right Man for the Job did I realize what kept me from reaching for this book throughout the month: the author spent half of Einstein and the Rabbi, talking about neither Einstein nor the Rabbi, but rather focuses on themes and ideas they represent.

I came to cherish this book for the vulnerable tales from the author’s personal life or from the people she encountered, so it took me quite some time to push through those chapters that are just full of advice. I do have to say, the author knows how to tell a story expertly and make us live through it, instead of revealing all the details ahead of time.

Key moments from the book that stayed with me:

  • Judith and her Buchenwald boys. This chapter made me blink back one too many tears, starting with this passage:

“The adults were expecting to receive pitiful, well-mannered children grateful for any drop of kindness. That’s not at all what they got. The boys were exploding with rage. They were suspicious of everyone. They were petrified of doctors, who reminded them of Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous sadist of Auschwitz. The boys hardly spoke at all. They were violent, and they obsessively stole and hoarded food.
Many of the boys couldn’t even remember their names. Whenever an adult asked a child, “What’s your name?” he’d answer by calling out his concentration camp number. The boys all looked alike, with their shaved heads, emaciated faces, and the black circles around their cold, apathetic eyes. They didn’t know how to laugh or smile or play.”

There’s rarely any talk of the survivors right after escaping hell on earth, and this was a gripping account.

  • The author, Naomi Levy, coping with the grief for her beloved father.

“We went to visit the Kotel, the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I walked up to the wall and at first I just touched the ancient stones. Then I got closer and closer and I smelled it.
I smelled the Kotel. And the Kotel smelled like my father. It didn’t smell just a little like my dad, it smelled like my father’s armpit!
There I stood, eyes closed, with both of my arms outstretched, leaning against the wall so hard that I couldn’t tell anymore if I was standing up or lying down. Just lying there with my nose in my father’s armpit. And I began sobbing. The wall melted.”

  • The story shared of her friend Rachel that puts explicitly on the page how one moment can change your life, for better and for worse. From being the one judging people to suddenly “She said to me, “I was hated. I was the evil person. I couldn’t show my face to Jack’s family.” It’s frightening to what extent your actions can lead to accepting a pivotal turning point that’ll finally open up your eyes.

“She began praying the morning and night prayers. She told me, “I love that there are words I can say to guide me into the dream state—night is a scary time. And I love that there are words for waking when that harsh pain of returning to reality washes over you.”

This says so much.

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