Inbox/Outbox: March 29, 2013

Work, sex, alcohol. These are the themes of this week’s reading. Don’t judge me, internet, at least I’m consistent! Tell me all about the highlights of your reading week in the comments, won’t ya?

Inbox (Books Acquired)

to my assistantTo My Assistant: Things I’ll Never Do to You, But Many Other Crazy Bosses Will by Lydia Whitlock (Three Rivers Press, April 23) — If you’ve ever been overqualified and underpaid, you’re going to want to pick this one up. Inspired by her popular blog, Lydia Whitlock captures her experiences working as a Hollywood assistant and translates “helpful” hints and hilarious moments into short, clever entries that take the form of flow charts, memos, a glossary of boss vocabulary, and more. Reassure yourself that you’ll be able to laugh about your crazy boss someday, and indulge in a little healthy schadenfreude–someone else always has it worse! Oh, and don’t forget to come in on Sunday to submit that TPS report.

How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric (Picador, April 23) — For most of us, there’s real tension between pursuing our passions and paying our bills. Krznaric digs into our competing desires and the social pressure that creates and reinforces them. His cross-disciplinary approach presents ideas from a variety of cultural thinkers to help us make smarter choices about where and how we work, take better risks, and thrive in our careers. If you prefer self-help over humor as a coping mechanism, this latest entry in Picador’s “School of Life” series is a home run, a good read for new college graduates, quarter-life crisis sufferers, and anyone who wants to make a career change but doesn’t quite know how.

Outbox (Books Finished)

tampa alissa nuttingTampa by Alissa Nutting (Ecco, July 2) — Holy shitballs is this book disturbing! I don’t think I’ve ever been so uncomfortable reading anything, ever, and it’s not so easy to make me squirmy.

26-year-old Celeste Price is an 8th-grade-teacher obsessed with satisfying her very particular sexual taste for 14-year-old boys. Yep. You read that right. She likes them “undeniably male but not man.” She finds all the usually-repulsive things about adolescent boys to be irresistible, and she is repulsed by adult men and the outward signs of sexual maturity (for example, her husband’s stubble disgusts her because it reminds her that he’s not a young boy). Celeste narrates the story in first-person, so be ready to spend 250 pages inside the head of a woman who wants to get her rocks off no matter the cost or consequences, and to be along for the ride while she does (literally — homegirl takes her vibrator and her lovers on all kinds of long drives). Nutting plays with the conventions of romance and erotica while turning the notion that it’s every teenage boy’s fantasy to sleep with his hot young teacher on its head. Celeste attributes her fetish to her first sexual experience at the age of 14, but it’s clearly about something more than that, something pathological and narcissistic and dangerous.

This isn’t an easy book to read, but it’s impossible to put down, and it demands to be discussed. I read it in two days and have spent the two weeks since trying to wrap my head around it. So if weird works for you, and you’re willing to be grossed out in the name of a really interesting thought experiment, put Tampa on your summer list. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In the Queue

you are one of them elliott holtDrinking with Men: A Memoir by Rosie Schaap — It’s a memoir about hanging out in bars, and Rosie Schaap is awesome. That’s about all you need to know. Or, it’s all I needed to know to want to buy it. I’ve had this one hanging out for several weeks, and I’m looking forward to taking it off the pile this weekend.

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt (The Penguin Press, March 30) — The bookternet has been raving about this novel for months, calling it one of the best of the year, and I feel like I should get some kind of prize for making it this far without actually knowing what the book is about. And that’s a great thing! I love it when I don’t know anything about a book going in except that people I trust love it. Time to find out for myself!





Your turn, friends! How was your week in books?

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