in which i read three biographies at the same time without getting them confused. well, not *that* confused.

Ahoy-hoy, Internet! It’s a new year, and I’m kicking it off by trying to read three different biographies/memoirs at the same time for some reason and not making particularly good progress on any of them.

First – Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl. I’ve had this book on my Kobo for like a year, and I only read it at night when I can’t sleep. If I ever plug my kobo in, the computer will tell the Kobo it’s an expired library ebook, so I can never sync my kobo or put anything else on it. So the Kobo is really a glorified electronic copy of Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, at this point, actually. Having a dedicated insomnia read is the reason I haven’t really made much progress on it. But it suddenly got more interesting and so I’ve been reading it in non-insomnia situations too and things are really picking up. You never know with books written by people who are famous for something other than writing books, whether they’re going to be good at writing. Especially someone like Brownstein who already seems to be pretty good at an improbably large number of things. It’s like, “oh, maybe WRITING BOOKS is the thing she’s bad at!”

It isn’t. Dammit. She writes really eloquently about music and articulately about her own life in a way that’s pretty jealousy-inducing.

Second – Roxane Gay’s Hunger. I borrowed this from a friend AGES AGO and started feeling super-guilty about not having read it or given it back so I thought, well, I’d better get on with it even though I KNOW it’s going to make me depressed.

Third – my book club is reading Andrew Morton’s Diana: In Her Own Words. I know what you’re thinking: “Jocelyn! What kind of bonkers book club is this?” To which I can only respond: I DIDN’T KNOW THEY WERE GOING TO MAKE ME READ THIS BOOK. And last time was Canadian poetry! It’s been brutal. Luckily some of my favourite people are in this book club, so I’m not close to quitting it, even if the book aspect has been a bit annoying lately, the club aspect is still awesome. Also the snacks are always first-class.

Here’s the thing about this Diana book, though: It’s weirdly fascinating. I was just a kid when Charles and Diana divorced, not old enough to really care about any royal marriage situations, so my background knowledge was pretty much 0. But I learned from the introduction to this book that Diana made the book happen by sneakily meeting with someone, he would interview her and record the interviews, and then he would smuggle the tapes out to Andrew Morton, who wrote the “authorized unauthorized” biography. Like some kind of James Bond nonsense! She also approved the manuscript pages and would write edits on them, and I’m assuming these were passed to her in crowded restaurants, with an elaborate matching-briefcase-switch trick. So if nothing else, I’ve learned from reading this book that Diana was a stone-cold badass. Also, the edition I’m reading includes some transcripts from the interview tapes, and she refers to her Scotland Yard bodyguards as “my policeman,” which is adorable.

Anyway, these three books are bleeding together in my heart in a weird way and making me feel achey and sad about women’s bodies. It might also be the 5 or so hours’ sleep I got last night. (Don’t worry, in between the first three and the last two I was reading Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl, so it wasn’t a complete waste.) When I finish one or more of them I’ll try to come up with some more articulate comments, but that’s all I’ve got for right now.

Also, book club is tomorrow so I gotta get cracking on the Diana biography. I think I can do it. I just have to not take care of my kid at all tonight. And also not engage in my other two recent time-passing obsessions: Playing Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2 and watching Star Trek: Voyager*.

*Note: Carrie Brownstein might be ok on her own, but I feel that both Roxane Gay and Princess Diana could use Captain Janeway’s warm, wise help. And so could I. So could we all.


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