This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins

(Forgive me cleaning out my 2019 book reviews, half of which I had written and never posted.)

Read for the March theme (Non-Fiction) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | This Will Be My Undoing on Goodreads

I’d heard really awesome things about this series of essays, though now I can’t remember where. Aside from a couple “fun” essays that did not quite fit in with the others in tone and seemed like filler, the book as a whole was great. It was well written, easy to follow, relatable, heartbreaking, enlightening. I highly recommend it. 

Recommend?: Yes, yes, yes.

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

(Forgive me cleaning out my 2019 book reviews, half of which I had written and never posted.)

Read for the March theme (Non-Fiction) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | How to Be a Bawse on Goodreads

This book was not for me. Lilly Singh is someone I’ve seen through the videos of other youtubers and always seemed awesome. I loved her energy and upbeat attitude. Unfortunately that didn’t translate to loving her book. As someone who once spent actual money on a (used) copy of Kimora Lee Simmons’ Fabulosity, I am no stranger to a word-inventing, motivational self-help book. 

However, having watched none of her individual videos, the tone of the book may have been a little lost on me. I’m not familiar with her usual style, but having read a little bit of other youtubers books, I am familiar with the casual, conversational style that tends to be used, bringing a bit of the video style into the book…and it doesn’t always translate well. (I’m honestly wondering if the editors ask them to do this, knowing their typical audiences.) I’m sure the audiobook, narrated by Singh herself, is closer to what she seemed to be going for – something friendly and intimate, inviting her fans into her world. I probably should have chosen to go that route, but I’ve always had a hard time with audiobooks. My mind wanders. 

It’s funny, because I appreciate a lot of the messages that Singh includes in her book – like the need to control your reaction and attitude when you cannot control a situation or refusing to beat yourself up over a mistake, but instead, using it as a learning opportunity. It’s so basic, yes, but it’s solid advice. Someone picking the book up, wanting to hear it from IISuperwomanII is not going to be mad about that. While these points are delivered are in clear, explicit language, they’re also shown through belabored metaphors. They are not ill-fitting comparisons, but they go on for pages, saying the same thing 12 different ways. I can see how, in a visual medium, this might go over better, if something is acted out or animated, or even just spoken straight to the camera as the point is driven home over and over, you can vary the expression. And honestly, when you need to self-motivate, sometimes it does help to be beat over the head a bit with your goals, just to see them really clearly in front of you. But I didn’t need the beating and it just exhausted me to read that way. I 100% get (now) that this book was aimed for a high-school or younger audience and I should have known that before I picked it up.

I did like the few glimpses into Singh’s life, particularly her writing about mental health. It wasn’t presented as juicy gossip to learn about her and she keeps it mostly surface-level, but it was worth mentioning all the same. Especially for someone who has to self-motivate and run her own business, she wrote well about the obstacles that her mental health can throw at her and how she worked (and continues to work) to get past those challenges.

I still like Lilly Singh just as much as I did when I picked up the book, even though I can’t say I enjoyed the book itself. I think she’s interesting and has a lot to say. I am way more interested in her video output now, more than if she writes another book.

Recommend?: Only if you already like the author and if you pick up a physical copy. The e-book formatting was bizarre and annoying.

To Watch: I’ll definitely check out her late night show

Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison

Monticello 2010-10-29

Read for the March theme (Non-Fiction) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | Jefferson’s Daughters on Goodreads

History was always my worst subject and while I’m comfortable being ignorant some aspects, like super specific details of wars or dates of…anything, I don’t want to be an idiot. For some reason, and I’m not complaining because it was interesting as hell, a lot of my education – from what I can remember – was about the Egyptians and the Aztecs. So, I am not well-versed in American history at all. This book was me trying.

I downloaded this on a work trip and when I needed something to relax with, this was a terrible pick. It was really interesting and I ended up learning a lot about the education of French girls and the construction of Monticello, but it wasn’t a light, breezy read. This was my own bad decision, which was why it took me until the end of April to finish. 

Unfortunately, there was less than I hoped for about Jefferson’s black daughter, through no fault of the author. It’s clear she did a lot of research and gave several educated guesses about what happened to her, but I wish I had known how little was known going in. But of course I didn’t, because history slides right off my brain! Having personal histories makes it a little easier for me to digest and I definitely feel like I absorbed some actual knowledge.

Recommend? If you’re interested in knowing what life was like for different classes of women in this time period, for sure. You need to know nothing going in, which was really helpful.