I had an AMAZING summer reading season but the minute fall came around I hit a major slump! I couldn’t focus on any of the novels I started and entered into my nonfiction era.
Making a Scene by Constance Wu
In this intimate, emotionally complex, and enthralling memoir Constance Wu, best known for the television show Fresh of The Boat, recounts the people and places that shaped her understanding of life. Wu comes off as a passionate extroverted theater kid who feels everything deeply and makes a compelling narrator of her own life. I find some memoirs to be very rote and enjoyed how this book jumped around to different points her life and isn’t in chronological order.
The headline from this book is Wu’s sexual assault by a producer of Fresh of The Boat. I thought it was brave the way she called out the men of the production for forcing her to hide it. She also details a date rape she experienced and it’s probably one of the toughest reads of this book.
I think it’s interesting that Wu and Eddie Huang, whose life her show is based on, are the same age and had vastly different experiences growing up Asian in the white suburbs. Wu’s life didn’t follow the narrative that the TV show sets out and I sensed there was some tension between her and Huang over it. I read and enjoyed Huang’s books and I’m glad we are seeing a diverse range of Asian American stories and there isn’t just one.
When I picked this book up I had forgotten that Wu was raised in the neighborhood where I currently live and it was a TRIP seeing so many places I’ve experienced being referenced. She has a great chapter about lessons she learned while making bread at a local bakery and the way I’m headed over there.
Cultish: The Language of Fantacism by Amanda Montell
In Cultish, a portmanteau of cult and English, Amanda Montell sets out to look at the language of cults and how it’s used in modern culty groups like Crossfit, Multi-Level Marketing and internet wellness influencer circles.
This book has some extremely polarizing reviews on Goodreads and I think it’s because this book sounds like it will be an academically researched look into linguistics–when it’s really more of a pop-y read. This is my first time reading non-narrative nonfiction and I found Montell’s style to be accessible and digestible. While I was familiar with much of the cult and MLM information (each topic she mention has at least one podcast and 2-3 documentaries), the chapters around cult fitness studios were new to me.
True crime fans will find a lot to like in here. While I’m not sure I am on board with everything the author posits this has got me side-eyeing every group activity with its own insider language.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.