Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop Zigzagging Journey To Adulthood
Written and illustrated by Mari Andrew
Listed in the "comics & graphic novels" category, the description is an inaccurate representation of what this book actually is—a beyond brilliant collection of introspective and inspiring illustrations & stories that are more like a visual self-help guide for those navigating through adulthood and all it entrails from romantic rejection to grieving the loss of a parent. This book resonated with me long after I put down its 192 pages; I felt like every word, every vulnerability expressed, was something I have also gone through recently. That kind of empathic insight can be both jarring and reassuring. This is a book that will linger in your heart and soul for days.
I, along with nearly a million others, originally discovered this artist on Instagram and I highly recommend a follow (and picking up her book). One of the best I've read this year.
Written by Big Naked
I love a good memoir. My personal motto in life is "my future memoir is going to be amazing" and I live each day with that in mind. This one written by Canadian punk chanteuse Bif Naked is one of the best I've ever read. It is engaging, heartfelt and raw, detailing a rich tapestry of life experiences from her parent's missionary work in India (where she was adopted in 1971) to being female in a male-dominated industry to diagnosis and survival from breast cancer. There are years where I felt Bif could've written more but that might be pure greed on my part because I didn't want the book to end. As someone whom I've always perceived to be strong and fearless, it was especially helpful for me to read of her vulnerabilities (and, sadly, relate to the unfortunate circumstances that have resulted because of them). Strength and resilience comes in many different forms. This is a must-read.
Favourite line: "I was silenced, hearing what a broken heart sounded like."
Written by Anthony Bourdain
I was deeply saddened this summer when news spread that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide at the age of 61. He was one of my favourite celebrities; a no-nonsense, occasionally brash, but always genuine person who showed sincere interest in the people and cultures he encountered while traveling the world for programs such as "The Layover" and "Parts Unknown". Anthony definitely had a talent for the written word; his prose is infinitely eloquent and engaging. While parts of this book lagged, the majority offered intriguing insight into the world of professional cooking.
Favourite line: "If you are easily offended by direct aspersions on your lineage, the circumstances of your birth, your sexuality, your appearance, the mention of your parents possibly commingling with livestock, then the world of professional cooking is not for you."
In contrast to the above, I also recently picked up 'Wildflower' by actress Drew Barrymore which she notes is not a memoir but rather a collection of essays about her life. She's certainly led a fascinating one ... but this book didn't shine any light on it. I could only make it partly through the second chapter before deciding that my time was better spent elsewhere. This was a cash-grab on behalf of the author and a complete waste of time for the reader.
I also purchased ‘Eating Korea’ by Graham Holliday, a book about the history of Korean cuisine and how it’s evolved over time (for better … or worse, according to the author). It’s marketed as “An Anthony Bourdain Book”, but it didn’t muster the same level of engagement as ‘Kitchen Confidential’. The drudging writing style failed to connect and I admittedly couldn’t be bothered further with a foreigner’s lamentations of change in a country he fell in love with decades prior. I had to put it down after completing chapter six. I think one of my other main complaints is that this is a book about food but it has no pictures. After all, food is as much what you see as what you taste. This title may have been greatly improved if designed and marketed in a different way.