I know that the following information will be a complete and utter shock to you. You’ll wonder, “Do I even know Lauren? Who is this person? How did I not know this about her?” I assure you that it’s a frequent conversation that I have with myself.
I love reading.
I know. Crazy world we’re in, huh? Jokes aside, I really love reading. My dad is the type of guy who would read an entire encyclopedia (sorry kids) just because it was there. He passed that love of reading onto me. Thankfully, there’s more books out there nowadays and I get to pick and choose. Admittedly, I am drawn to fiction books. During my school days (being an English Major and all), we had to read a lot of fiction books. I like to read to escape day to day life. Falling into an adventure or a mystery is one of my favorite things to do. That being said, I do really love biographies, memoirs, and autobiographies. I even pick up Self Help style books every once in a while. My aunt always said that as long as you’re reading (except when it came to Comic Books and Graphic Novels, which was always a sticky subject between the two of us).
I keep toying around with doing book reviews here but I’m really really bad at them. I’ve tried, several times, but there’s this finesse that you need to create a proper book review and I really don’t have those skills. My book reviews are: “This book was really good. Well it was pretty good. You know, it was entertaining… If you like that kind of thing, ya know? Maybe if you have nothing else to read, you can read this!” or “OH MY GOD EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK” or “This is literally the worst and most over hyped book I’ve ever read” (looking at you, The Alchemist – I said what I said). I don’t go into details because once I start telling you about the book I really want to tell you the entire story and since I read a lot of mysteries, I just want to tell you “who done it” and/or how I figured it out before the ending. So don’t expect any book reviews any time soon.
I can tell you what books I enjoyed reading though! So here’s my first Friday Favorites surrounded by books (… that aren’t cookbooks). I was inspired to write this list after reading a fantastic biography as my first book of 2021. There’s a few biographies that I tell everyone they need to read and these are it.
Band dating book, glass castle,
Knockout by Mia Kang
This book is how I entered 2021. I’ve followed Mia Kang for a while. I don’t remember how I first discovered her but I’m sure another Instagram account I follow featured her. Kang is trying to make the modeling world a better and healthier place. As a young teen, she started modeling after discovering the super awesome great world of Eating Disorders – a world that far too many young girls know far too well. Kang dives into growing up as a bi-racial woman, never quite fitting in anywhere, her dysfunctional family, and most of all, her relationship with her body. Everything she talks about, when she was at her lowest spot, is everything that has run through my head at my lowest spot. I’ve never related to a book more… which is both sad and reassuring. If you’ve ever struggled with an eating disorder and/or body dysmorphia, this book is for you. The light at the end of the tunnel is that Kang discovered Muy Thai during one of her lowest spots – when she wanted to give up more than anything else – and it taught her things she never knew she could learn about herself.
Something that has been so important to me with my relationship with my body has been working out. I LOVE working out (now). Like Kang, I would workout simply to burn off the calories of everything I ate (or didn’t eat). It took a long time to figure out how to workout in a good way. I don’t workout now to burn off calories – I workout cause I absolutely love feeling strong and getting stronger and seeing how my body changes with all the muscles. It’s been fantastic and Mia Kang is definitely someone that has helped me through this process.
heavier than heaven by Charles R Cross [about Kurt Cobain]
When you move to Seattle, you get a free copy of this book. Just kidding. Kind of. When I moved to Seattle, I was already a Nirvana fan but a baby fan. I knew the basics (Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, etc) but nothing more. At Pike place, I stumbled into one of the used bookstores and found a copy of this book. I figured I’d give it a shot. I was hooked immediately because Charles R. Cross is a great story teller. This book follows Cobain throughout his entire life and dives into the aftermath of his death. After finishing this book, I dived even deeper into Nirvana – from listening to all their albums and watching every interview I could find. They’re still one of my top favorite bands (even Spotify knows).
scar tissue by anthony kiedis
When I worked at Borders (RIP), a customer told me this was the best autobiography he’d ever read. I am not a huge fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers (being engaged to a big fan makes me a fan by proxy, right?) but the back caught my attention. Anthony Kiedis had a crazy life and I’m not 100% sure how he’s still alive. He doesn’t hold back one bit. He shares all the nitty gritty details of his life (from drug use to sexual activity). I appreciate when an author doesn’t pain this picture of “All this shit was done to me and that’s why I am the way that I am”. Kiedis definitely has enough childhood shit to ride his life through with that phrase but he owns up to a lot of his mess ups. Oh also, Cher was his babysitter and how cool is that?
i don’t care about your band by julie klausner
LOL. I read this book in college because I dated far too many guys in bands and I was fed up. Looks like I wasn’t the only one. This is the only one on the list that’s funny and you’re going to need it after all these really deep books. Julie Klausner goes through all her failed relationships and I related far too hard. I kept thinking that I was the problem (which, in a way, I was because I kept choosing losers) and that I was always making these guys worse because I was too boring for super cool and awesome band dudes. This is all a lie. I would love to say that these guys are all just losers (to be fair, a lot are), but it was just a bunch of crappy matches. There was a quote I read that has always stuck with me: “Don’t you know that a musician who writes a song for you is like a baker you’re dating making you a cake? Aim higher.” Mind. Blown.
the glass castle by jeanette walls
This book messed me up for a while. When I first worked at Borders (RIP), we were required to “push” a specific book each month. The first month I worked there, Glass Castle was up. I finished this in a weekend. I could not put the book down. It’s insane to me that people are just like, allowed to have children and then proceed to be terrible parents. Jeannette Walls goes through her whole life with her completely unstable parents. From the constant moving around (since her dad was a drunk gambler), to her mom literally hiding food for herself to eat (even though her kids were starving)… It’s an incredibly heavy book and it left me with the desire to hug my parents and apologize for all the horrible things Teenage Lauren said about them. The fact that Walls even was able to develop into an intelligent, successful, human is a feat in itself. If you read this one, make sure you have a funny book queued up next. You are really going to need it. Also, don’t watch the movie. Ever.
What is the best biography, autobiography, or memoir that you’ve ever read? Leave it in the comments below! I’m always on the hunt for a good book.