Today I want to share a couple of quick reviews of books I read several months ago that I didn’t take any notes on (bad book reviewer!). I also didn’t have very strong feelings about either book, but liked them well enough that I can think of a few readers I’ll be suggesting them too. But enough with the qualifications, on to the reviews!
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch
Every time Allie Brosh posts something new on her hugely popular blog Hyperbole and a Half the internet rejoices. Touching, absurd, and darkly comic, Allie Brosh’s highly anticipated book Hyperbole and a Half showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations.
This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from the website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written.
I love the blog Hyperbole and a Half. Just love it. I’ve never felt like a piece of online writing was more true than the first time I read “This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult.” When I was approved for an advanced copy of Allie Brosch’s book of the same name, I may have squealed. Loudly. Whatever, I know you squeal at books too.
Overall, I thought the collection was a little bit uneven. The essays that hit were amazing, but some of them felt rough around the edges. I think the ones I liked best were those that used more illustrations than text. When Borsch focused more on writing (and hence fewer pictures), I didn’t think the essays worked as well. That said, I’m glad I read the book and plan to buy myself a copy the next chance I get, if only because I want to support Brosch so that she will keep on writing.
Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti
If parenting is making Americans unhappy, if it’s impossible to “have it all,” if people don’t have the economic, social, or political structures needed to support parenting, then why do it? And why are anxious new parents flocking to every Tiger Mother and Bébé-raiser for advice on how to raise kids?
In Why Have Kids?, Valenti explores these controversial questions through on-the-ground reporting, startling new research, and her own unique experiences as a mom. She moves beyond the black and white “mommy wars” over natural parenting, discipline, and work-life balance to explore a more nuanced reality: one filled with ambivalence, joy, guilt, and exhaustion.
I feel like even a mini-review of this book has to start with a few of statements of fact. I’m 27 years old. I don’t have kids. I don’t know if I want to have kids. I have friends with kids, friends who want kids, and friends who have decided they don’t want kids. And I don’t think any of those decisions are wrong.
Why Have Kids? was a pretty buzzy book when it first came out in 2012. As with other books about women and work and kids, there was a lot of criticism and cheering from various circles. Since I don’t, at this point, have strong feels about having children myself, I didn’t have a lot of strong feelings about the arguments in this book. I appreciated that Valenti was willing to look at commonly-held beliefs about having children and choices parents make in a new way. Women can’t make the best decisions for themselves and their families if we’re not willing to have those conversations.
Why Have Kids? was a good read, I’m just not sure what to do with the information right now.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of Hyperbole and a Half from the publisher for review consideration. I checked out a copy of Why Have Kids? from my local library.