Celebrity Memoirs: Because Actors Are People Too

It seems like there have been a ton of celeb. memoirs coming out in the past few months, Bryan Cranston, Trevor Noah, Carrie Fisher, Lauren Graham, Anna Kendrick, Mara Wilson… and those are just the ones I’ve read (well, technically still working on Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime).

I can’t exactly complain because I generally enjoy celebrity memoirs, but goodness, I can’t read so many back to back!
Some of the recent releases have been a little hit or miss for me, but I still felt the need to read them. But it also made me want to compile a list of some of my favorite celebrity memoirs that I’ve read in the last few years, soooo here ya go:

 

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Warwick Davis Size Matters Not

I picked this book up during one of my fairly frequent phases of Star Wars obsession (I’m married to a total Star Wars nerd who can tell you just about anything about the extended SW universe). We had just watched some of the live stream of Star Wars Celebration, where Warwick Davis hosted many of the panels we got to watch, and I was infatuated. This guy is so funny. We soon after decided we were going to buy tickets to next year’s SW Celebration in Orlando, partially in hopes that Warwick may be hosting again.
Anyhow, his book; Warwick is charming, hilarious, and clever. His retelling of his journey into becoming an actor is delightful. His story is frequently funny, relatable, and at times utterly heartbreaking (you can find out why on your own).

 

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Craig Ferguson American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot

One of my first read and favorite celeb memoirs. Excuse me for using the word hilarious far too often (I’ll pull out a thesaurus one day, I promise) but seriously, Craig Ferguson is one of the funniest, and at times raunchiest, comedians. I was totally obsessed with The Late Late Show when he was hosting (and can I just say how sad I am that he wasn’t still hosting during the Trump campaign and impending presidency, the impressions would have been amazing, I’m sure). While Craig is obviously a very funny Scot, he gets very real about growing up in Scotland, his own insecurities, his addictions and subsequent stint in rehab, and his moving to and becoming an American citizen. He is pretty transparent and lays it bare (I’m sure there is a joke to be made there) and it’s refreshing to see a funny guy call it like it is and be pretty humble about his life experiences.

 

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Betty White If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)

I had to put at least one of Betty White’s book on this list, if only for the pure and simple fact that Betty White is so sweet and funny. Who doesn’t like Betty White? Honestly, send them my way so I can punch them in the throat. She’s super nice, absolutely loves animals, and everyone has something nice to say about her. I absolutely adore her.
This book is pretty much what you would expect, a collection of Betty White’s stories of life in show business. But told in her own awesome Betty White way.

 

 

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Dick van Dyke My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

I am quite fond of Dick van Dyke, mostly because I’m fond of some of his more famous characters. I’m also, in generally, kind of fond of older TV shows (it’s my mom’s fault!).
I first saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in elementary school, and while yes, a totally cheesy movie, I loved it. Anyhow, my fondness for Mr. van Dyke began there I think, and then on to the charming Burt from Mary Poppins.
Dick van Dyke’s book was an interesting look into the journey of a charming gentleman from a humble upbringing. It was also intriguing to me because it consists of stories about being in show business through various decades, as well as working with a plethora or Hollywood’s biggest names.
This also introduced me to The Dick van Dyke Show, which I now adore, even though every time I watch I get insanely jealous of all of Rose Marie’s glorious 1950’s style A-line dresses. Also, it’s just a silly, wholesome show.

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Tina Fey – Bossypants

In case it hasn’t been made perfectly clear, I like funny women. Tina Fey’s book was sort of an introduction to my liking female comics. I’m not entirely sure what got me to even read this book as just a few years ago I really had no interest in famous people, SNL, or comedians let alone female ones busting through industry stereotypes. This ended up being one of my favorite books and it introduced me to a whole slew of hilarious female writers and actresses, and maybe kinda contributed to being more of a feminist (oh no, the other F word).

 

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Carrie Fisher – Wishful Drinking

I read this not long after getting into Star Wars (Yeah, I was late to the game, and yes it was because of a boy (who is now my husband). I had seen SW growing up, but wouldn’t have considered myself a fan until a few years ago) (I like writing in parentheses).

I found this read interesting in part because I like Princess Leia (badass) and in part because I’ve always been a bit fascinated by drug and alcohol addiction (and mental health in general, really). But not in a “I totally wanna try this lifestyle” type of way; I’m a lightweight and my drug of choice is caffeine.

Carrie Fisher is pretty much always an open book and very straight forward, and that is certainly the case with this book, as with her other books that I have read, which thus far has only been her autobiographic ones, one day I will get around to reading her novels. Because she is so unfiltered, this makes for an interesting/entertaining read. She talks about growing up with very famous parents, their scandals, her own scandals, depression, drinking, and electroshock therapy… It gets a little crazy. But I like crazy. I’d recommend this to any Carrie Fisher fan, but also anyone who just likes a crazy memoir.

 

 

Celebrity Memoirs that need to happen:

Harrison Ford (although we all know that will never happen)
Mark Hamill
Dana Carvey
Steve Carrell
Stephen Colbert (an account of the real Stephen )
Aubrey Plaza
Kristen Wiig
Melissa McCarthy (Yeah, I really have a thing for female comics, most be the same reason I like crazy female humor writers.)

 

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Books That Might Make You Pee a Little…

So, sometimes I like to read funny books, because who doesn’t like to laugh every now and again? Even psychopaths laugh..

Anyhow, I thought I’d make a little post about some of my favorites that are always good for a laugh/amused feels.

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Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen/Sarah Scribble’s

I wrote a little post about this collection not too long ago, so I won’t yammer on, but it’s hilarious and oh so real. Any introvert who has problems #adulting can relate. Also, following Sarah on social media has me convinced she’s an awesome human being whom I would love to shake hands with, make awkward small talk, and then run away from. Social anxiety, am I right?

P.S. this book just won GoodReads Choice Award for best graphic novel/comic of 2016!

 

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess

If I remember correctly, Jenny Lawson was pretty much my introduction to the “humor” genre, and the 817 section in my library. Okay, even if I’m mistaken and she wasn’t my first, I’m going to pretend that she was because this book is amazing. It was originally recommended to me by my very dear friend Keturah and I thought she was crazy when she described this book (which she is, and I am too.. so I mean really, this makes perfect sense!) 😉
Jenny Lawson is awesome, and a little bit insane? In the best ways possible. Her stories are legitimately hilarious, sometimes cringe-worthy, and occasionally you may fear wetting your pants. Frankly, it isn’t all that often that I laugh out loud at books, but I can’t help myself when it comes to Jenny Lawson.

 

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Furiously Happy also by Jenny Lawson

In case you didn’t catch it in that last blurb, I’m a big fan of Jenny Lawson. Similar to her first book, this one is full of funny/crazy/straight-up-weird stories. But it also full of a lot of truths about dealing with mental illness, and that is, in part, what drew me to this book. Jenny is super upfront and personal about her own struggles and the importance of owning our mental illness and taking care of ourselves. The mental health bits of this book hit home for me; it can be difficult/impossible to explain where you’re coming from to people who can’t grasp the madness going on inside of your head, and that inability to explain yourself, and not being understood by others can make us feel crazy.. BUT we can choose to embrace our crazy, own who you are, and spit in the face of mental illness.

“You might think that this would push me over the edge into an irreversible downward spiral of Xanax and Regina Spektor song, but no. It’s not. I’m fucking done with sadness, and I don’t know what’s up the ass of the universe lately but I’ve HAD IT. I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE.

 

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Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I love books where I can completely relate to the author’s total insanity and realize I’m not the only one that has thought some of these insane impulsive things I tend to think on a fairly frequent basis (aka all the damn time). I usually silence many of my crazy impulsive thoughts, but I love that Allie Brosh just owns it. I’m a little sad it took me so long to finally getting around to reading this book. Without really looking into it I merely assumed this would be a dumb kind of funny thing, but I was totally wrong. While Hyperbole was absolutely hilarious at times, Allie Brosh gets a bit deep and lays it all out in a chapter about depression. 

 

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The Potty Mouth at the Table by Laurie Notaro

I’ve enjoyed each of Laurie Notaro’s books that I have read, this just happens to be the first one I picked up (on a whim, because I could relate to being the potty mouth at any given table..) Very much like Jenny Lawson, Laurie’s books are usually a collection of essays and an array of different things, but they’re nearly always hilarious. From topics like Antiques Roadshow to a relatable obsession with buying fabric that piles up in a corner, to hating foodies and getting on fights on Yelp. I just enjoy the writing style and a sassy/sarcastic take on life.

I’m realizing my top humor books are all by kinda crazy women… To be fair that’s pretty much all I read in the humor realm. What can I say? Apparently I relate to funny, slightly bat shit crazy women. I want to be them. Sorry husband, you’re stuck with me now!

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Book Review

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First things first, the title of the book is amazing, and it was the only reason I bothered picking up this book when I came across it at work. Most who know me, know I’m quite curse-y, and rarely have any fucks to give, so naturally, I was quite drawn to this book.

The first few chapters of this book were fantastic, I constantly found myself think “ohh fuck yes” and “amen to that.” In case the title was not indication enough, this book isn’t really for those easily offended by the F word. Or other fun swear words for that matter.

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Now, while I was totally sucked in by the beginning the book, I was constantly afraid it would sort of peter out, and it kinda did.. for me at least. However, while I lost the excitement of the beginning chapters of the book, Manson still made good points and shared interesting anecdotes throughout the remainder of the book.

A handful of the ideas shared by Manson are seemingly counter-intuitive, ie. we need to fail and experience pain. We spend so much time trying to avoid stressful, painful, embarrassing situations, but what do we learn by avoidance? Not very much. In order to grow, change, succeed, and become a decent human being (instead of an entitled little shit) we need to challenge ourselves and own our choices.

This book serves as a nice reminder that life is what you make it. How we interpret our experiences, and how we choose to deal with those experiences makes all the difference in how we move forward in life. Manson talks a bit about taking responsibility for the things that happen to us and the way we feel. While certain things that happen may not be our fault, it is our responsibility to choose what to do with or how to feel about those events.

Not giving a fuck isn’t about being indifferent, entitled, or belittling others, it’s about choosing what matters to us. It’s about our personal values and how we take responsibility for what happens in our own lives. Manson talks about what he calls the “Feedback Loop from Hell,” which is we make ourselves feel bad for feeling whatever it is we feel, and that emotion just spirals out of control. For instance, the Feedback Loop from Hell comes into play when you feel anxious about something, and then in turn feel bad/more anxious about being anxious, as opposed to asking yourself why you feel anxious and just owning it.

 

“Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.”

 

To not give a fuck, is to take ownership of how you feel and respond to your situation. Don’t be overtaken by the things that stress you and bring you down, but rather accept it for what it is and say “what the fuck ever.”

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Or to put it more politely:

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Bryan Cranston: A Life in Parts

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Anyone who has watched Breaking Bad knows that Bryan Cranston is a brilliant actor. As someone who isn’t really even a big fan of Breaking Bad (such a heathen, I know) Bryan Cranston’s acting is part of what made me keep watching. He (obviously) talks about Breaking Bad in his new book; not just the making of the show, but also the development and why he believes it took the world by storm. It was really interesting, and often humorous, to read these stories and it shed a new light on the show for me and made me appreciate it just a bit more.

Now obviously, he doesn’t spend the entire book talking about BB, in fact it’s a rather small portion of the book. Cranston also talks about his childhood, youth, and the many crazy adventures that eventually led him to acting. It’s a pretty intriguing read and a cool look into a really nice sounding guy. It would be an understatement to say that Cranston takes his job as an actor seriously, he also takes developing his characters very seriously and he seems to fully embody each characters he plays. From fun, goofy Hal Wilkerson:

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(Some of his stories about working on the set of Malcolm in the Middle are hilarious. And now I want to go watch the entire series on Netflix.)

to the very serious, deep, and intimidating (sometimes downright scary) Walter White/Heisenberg:

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All in all, this was an enjoyable read. Sometimes funny, sometimes deep, but always genuine. I have a lot of respect for Bryan Cranston, props for being a decent human being in Hollywood.

The Snow Queen

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Hans Christian Andersen’s  The Snow Queen, published in 1844, mostly follows the story of two children, Kay and Gerda, best friends and next door neighbors. The children are very close and seemingly do everything together. Meanwhile, an evil hobgoblin (the devil himself) has created a mirror that shows all good and beautiful things as ugly, while all evil/ugly things become uglier. Said mirror then breaks and sends shards of evil down to the earth where they  take up residence in the hearts/eyes of the people. Kay happens to be one of those people who has a shard wedged in both his eye and heart. So not only does he see everything as ugly, but his heart has also now frozen over. He becomes distant from his best friend Gerda, wanders off and stumbles upon the Snow Queen. If you haven’t read The Snow Queen before, picture C.S. Lewis’ White Witch, very similar imagery here, I would be willing to guess Lewis was inspired by Andersen’s Queen.

Anyhow, the Snow Queen sort of seduces Kay to come along with her and then kisses him so he is numbed and forgets his past, his friend Gerda and his family. Gerda is naturally devastated by the disappearance of Kay and becomes determined to find him. The remainder of the tale is of Gerda’s journey through the land to find her friend. She crosses paths with many strange and scary people, until she eventually finds her Kay, she breaks whatever spell type thing Kay is under, and they make their way back home.

This is the second of new editions of Han Christian Andersen books, illustrated by artist Sanna Annukka that I’ve read recently. Previously, I read and reviews The Fir Tree. The style of her artwork is obviously very similar for both, and I find it quite pleasant. Though, to be honest, I was a little more taken with The Fir Tree. I still really like this edition of The Snow Queen, mainly because of Annukka’s illustrations and style.

 

 

I received a copy of The Fir Tree from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.

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Adulthood IS a Myth

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If you aren’t familiar with Sarah Scribbles a) where have you been? and b) get to it! Seriously. I’ll wait.

These comics are hilarious, real, and just so on-point about SO many things. She so perfectly illustrates what being a homebody introvert is like, anxieties a lot of us relate to (but don’t share with each other) and just the realities of being a millennial.

Sarah Andersen also just has a way of speaking to my true weird self. For instance, this comic may be my absolute favorite:

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Not only my weirdness, but she perfectly taps into insecurities we all feel. My husband can verify that this next comic is basically the story of our relationship:

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I highly recommend Adulthood is a Myth if you enjoyed Hyperbole & a Half. If you aren’t familiar with Hyperbole & a Half, please , for your own sake go find a copy, or at least check out Allie Brosh’s site.

The Sarah Scribbles comics can be found on her website and Facebook, so you may not feel the need to purchase this as an ink and paper collection, but personally I just couldn’t resist having such hilarious and relatable at my fingertips and on my bookshelf.

 

The Fir Tree

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The Fir Tree is a classic Han Christian Andersen tale originally published in 1845. The tale tells the story of a fir tree who yearns to grow big, strong, and tall like the other trees in the forest. He yearns to be used like the others he has seen felled, whom he has heard are sailing across the ocean as ship masts, or being adorned in people’s living rooms. The little fir tree is so focused on growing big and being chosen that he forgets to enjoy the process of growing up. Finally, one day the fir tree is cut from his roots and chosen as someone’s Christmas tree. The tree thinks this is just grand, finally his adventure will begin. He finds himself put on display in a parlor and decorated with candies and candles, surrounded by excited small children picking the candy from his branches. This is so thrilling, thinks the lovely fir tree! But alas, the very next day he finds himself moved to the attic, where he lives until the next spring, the whole time believing he will be brought back out for the excitement, or replanting when the ground has thawed. It finally occurs to the fir tree that he had a pleasant life as he was growing in the forest, but he was so focused on growing big and tall to be chosen, that he hadn’t realized how lovely his life had been.

Prior to reading this new illustrated edition of The Fir Tree I was unfamiliar with the story. As a child I seemed to have missed the fairy tale obsession phase, I was never particularly interested when I was younger. However, I think stories like this mean a little more to me now anyhow. The Fir Tree reminds us we need to live in the moment and enjoy the lives we have instead of just waiting for the next thing. We shouldn’t live our lives like the fir tree, thinking: “Tomorrow I won’t tremble… I will fully enjoy all my glory.”

The illustrations in the edition are absolutely charming. I love all the simple and neat geometric shapes coming together to create these lovely illustrations, the color schemes as well are very visually appealing, using lovely earthy tones in the forest and a classic Christmas color scheme during the Christmas celebrations. A slightly disturbing read if just read literally; a tree wants to grow up to be loved, is cut down and used for a day and then sits in an attic all winter. But also a nice quick reminder to love the life you live, stop waiting for this, that and the other.

 

 

 

I received a copy of The Fir Tree from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.

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All the Little Liars

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I was never a fan of cozy mysteries.. That is until I read the Aurora Teagarden series this past winter/spring. Confession, I learned of this series from watching bits of the made-for-TV adaptations of the series on the Hallmark Mysteries channel with my mom. They aren’t horrible, but I must admit the Hallmark version is certainly cozier. Anyhow, that was my introduction to this series, and then I found myself devouring each book earlier this year when I was sick for like three months straight and spent all my down time in bed. There is certainly a bit of a cheese factor to some of these books, but I enjoyed them all nonetheless.

Sooo, when it was announced that after like 13 years Charlaine Harris was going to write another Aurora book, I was stoked. This is was of one of the books I’ve been most excited for this year. I was considered where the series would pick up as Harris hadn’t written Aurora is over a decade, but I gotta admit, I can’t say I was disappointed.

All the Little Liars picks up right where Poppy Done to Death (book #8) left off. I have to say, that had been a concern of mine for this book. I’m glad she picked up right where it left off instead of jumping ahead 13 years, although it sorta did technology wise with use of Facebook and such.

A newly married and pregnant Aurora is back and, as always, surrounded by trouble and a new mystery. Four kids have gone missing, another has been found dead. One of the four kids is Aurora’s very own half-brother Phillip, who appears a handful of times throughout the series. There is always something chaotic going on in Aurora’s life, and this book is no different. This part-time librarian/part-time amateur detective seems to always have trouble knocking on her doorstep, both figuratively and literally.

One of the things I think I appreciated most about this book is that even more than a decade later, the writing style is very much the same and I appreciate that continuity. For me, it flows quite nicely with the rest of the series. I’d like to point out that while this is the ninth book in this series, it isn’t absolutely necessary to read all of these books in order. It certainly helps (especially if you’re like me and are anal about having missed something) but it’s also a series that lends itself to newcomers and allows you to pick up where ever you want.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this read because I have enjoyed this series and it’s characters. I’m curious to see if there will be any more to come for Aurora Teagarden. The series could probably easily end here, but I’d also like to see a mommy Aurora in the future. If you like cozy mysteries obviously this might be for you, but also if you’re just looking for something fairly light read (though not necessarily light in content, I mean.. there are murders in each book of the series) I’d suggest maybe giving Aurora a try.

 

 

Little Shop of Happy Ever After

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Nina Redmond has just lost her job as a librarian as the branch libraries are closing and being moved to a central library. Now facing unemployment,  forced to take a new path, Nina must decide what she will do next. When left to ponder her own dreams, Nina admits she’s always dreamed of owning a small bookshop. With the help of a soon to be former co-worker, Nina toys with the idea of having a mobile bookshop, where she could set up shop where she pleases and reach all sorts of people. Long story short without honestly spoiling much, Nina does indeed buy a large van and stock said van full of books.

This story takes place in Scotland, and while I’m very willing to bet this is a fairly fictional depiction of a small town in the Highlands, Jenny Colgan 100% made me want to go to Scotland, although to be fair, that’s not a new desire. I did get the feeling her depictions of this small town were a bit over the top, a very sugar-coated, Hallmark movie type depiction. Actually, this book could easily get the Hallmark movie treatment. Typically, I don’t like predictable plots nor chick-lit. The reason I stuck it out for this book was entirely for the book-lover, former librarian who just wants to see the world read aspect. Which is an aspect I like very much as a sort of wanna be librarian myself.

I would recommend The Bookshop on the Corner to anyone who considers themselves a book lover, lover of libraries/book stores, and/or enjoys a simple chick-lit, but doesn’t mind a fairly predictable plot.

 

Being Alive Costs: The Invoice

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Imagine you receive an invoice saying you owe some unknown organization 5,700,000 kronor (about $665,000). Clearly, it must be some mistake or a scam, right? But what if it isn’t and you do in fact owe this large sum? How have you acquired such a large bill? Now, imagine that not only is this invoice very real, but it is an invoice for your Experienced Happiness, and you know owe this money to something called World Resources Distribution. As it turns out, everyone has received a similar invoice, of varying amounts based upon their own Experienced Happiness, but somehow you’re debt is double or triple the debt of others.

This is the basic premise of Karlsson’s novel The Invoice. Our narrator, who is never named, receives an invoice for 5,700,000 kronor. Assuming said invoice to be a hoax he ignores the piece of mail until a little while later a new invoice arrives, this time the insane amount plus interest, of course. Upon calling the customer service number provided on the invoice and waiting hours on end to speak with someone, he discovers this invoice is indeed serious and the amount has been calculated based on a survey he filed out absentmindedly in the past to assess his Experienced Happiness.

This was a fun, quick, quirky read. It was a little strange, in a I’m-not-quite-so-what’s-happening way, but I also find it charming at times. The main character is seemingly simple kind of guy who lives alone; a movie buff that works part-time in a video store, and has little family and one close friend. He leads a simple life, so it begs the question, how could he possibly own such a great deal based on his experiences?

The premise of this novel is really quite interesting. People owe a debt based not only on their experiences, but based on how they perceived these experiences. So essentially, those who look on the brighter side and don’t get down as easily having a higher value of life, and therefore their experience costs more. It’s an interesting premise, though at times a little puzzling.

“But how can it amount to so much?” I said, when I could speak again.
“Well,” she said, “being alive costs.”
I said nothing for a while, because I didn’t know what to say.
“But,” I eventually said, “I had no idea it was so expensive. . .”

The main character is a likable guy, and he is part of what makes the story so enjoyable. As a recent-ish college grad, “millennial” who can’t find a decent full time job, some aspects of this book really hit home. For instance, just the premise that “being alive costs” makes my stomach hurt. In The Invoice, every single experience and how it is perceived comes at a price. The stress of that life is unimaginable to me. However, there were some moments in the book that were strangely uplifting. For instance, realizing that even the seemingly small experiences in life matter and/or can mean something, they are all part of the “experience” all a part of the bigger picture. It all sort of came down to a realization that life is what we make it, we each perceive and react to our experiences differently, and that’s sort of what makes life great.

 

 

 

I received a copy of The Invoice from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.
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